Notes for Friedrich Kittler “Dracula's Legacy”

Key concepts: parallel-switched feedback loops, age of technical reproduction.

Motion pictures accomplish phantomizing of Dracula, as Romanyshyn argues television instantiates the waking dream of oral consciousness. Next stage is Lacan being processed by computer software, bringing to life the possibility of self conscious machine subjectivity.

Related theorists: Freud, Lacan, Stoker.

Lacan reading transcribed notes before a microphone addressed media and future listeners, not his immediate human audience.

(50) Only tape heads are capable of inscribing into the real a speech that passes over understanding heads, and all of Lacan's seminars were spoken via microphone onto tape.

Recorded speech needs fossification to escape copyright and other licensing traps for true immortality and universal access.

(50) Speech has become, as it were, immortal.

Now reading on occasion of death of Friedrich Kittler.

(50 note) This article was written on the occasion of the death of Jacques Lacan.

Quoting Lacan who dreamed of philosophizing with electronic computers, this may be the passage Kramer quotes in German. This was realized after realizing the English translation is legacy and meaning, not workshop, so it was not from another text titled Dracula's workshop in another collection Technical Writings, but rather the same text in a German book whose English title could be Technical Writings whose translation in Literature, Media, Information Systems I am reading here. This would be a fun text to hear in German via the symposia software.

(51) All friends of wisdom and deep thinking in Germany, who have pondered signifier and signified, could (if they only wanted to) hear how simple this distinction is. It exists only technically, “in the dimension of writing as such”: “The signified has nothing to do with the ears, but only with reading, the reading of what one hears in the signifier. It is not the signified, rather the signifier which one hears.”

Hypomnesis versus synthesis as a new opposition, where formerly anamesis.

(51) It requires a special gift to be able to play back this chain of signifiers without a technical interface. What the master speaks off-the-cuff—and that means to and about women—is received only by women.

Interesting trail through Freud daughter, Lacan daughter, to feed back through Jacques-Alain Miller.

(52) Even if this daughter (as Anna Freud did) defines her activity as “the restoration of the unity of the Ego.” In actuality she only makes certain that an intact Moebius loop known as text is produced from the ventriloquism of the master. Speech has become, as it were, immortal.

Electronic communications metaphor; later he mentions studies in alternating current.

(52) The discourse of psychoanalysis runs through two parallel-switched feedback loops, one feminine and one mechanical. . . . It is well known that Jacques-Alain Miller directs the media chain that transcribes and puts into text Lacan's seminars, one after the other.
(52) After the fact, these re-lectures indicate that what he said off-the-cuff was not so stupid after all.

Pleasurable feedback for Lacan reading transcriptions of his lectures, themselves dictated into notes that he read aloud into the microphone: compare to my own tapoc journal project operations as works of art in the age of technical reproduction (great quote).

Machine processable (now including computable) media allow stupidity, including questioning ridiculously, to last indefinitely until maybe the time it is remediated as profound, linking to Sterne.

(52-53) In this manner, two parallel-switched feedback loops—the word of the daughter and the transcription of the daughter's husband—create a discourse that never stops inscribing itself: Lacan's definition of necessity. His books, whether they are called Seminar or Television or Radiophonie, are all works of art in the age of technical reproduction. For the first time since man thought, stupidity is allowed to go on indefinitely. . . . In both cases the master “thanks” completely thoughtless recorders that his teachings are not insanity, or, in other words, “not self-analysis.” . . . “From now on you are, and to a far greater extent than you can imagine, subjects of gadgets or instruments—from microscopes to radio and television—which will become elements of your being. You cannot now understand the full significance of this; but it is nevertheless a part of the scientific discourse, insofar as discourse is something that determines a form of social cohesion.”

Nice Derridean/Ulmerian word play on discourse that portends the oscillation between Lacan and Dracula.

(54) If from now on we were to write instead of disque-oucourant or discourse-recording (with a pitiful German play on words) disc(ourse) [Disku(r)s], then Lacan's discourse on disc(ourse) runs more or less like this: “The contemporary disc(ourse), in other words the record, spins and spins, to be precise, it spins around nothing. This disc(ourse) appears precisely in the area from which all discourses are specified and into which all again disappear, where one discourse can speak exactly like any other.”
(55) People who cannot bear these provocations will simply stop listening to the drone of the record, and most certainly put a different one, called
Encore, onto the turntable.

Beginning of pleasurably clever parallel, oscillating, spinning narrative to Dracula that puts postmodern criticism in overdrive (Kellner).

(55) “We are bringing the plague, and they don't even know it,” said Freud to Jung, as their ship moved into New York harbor. . . . Only the analytic discourse on Lacan—if only because of its name Wunderblock (mystic writing-pad)--is protected from the danger of forgetting mystic writing-pads, typewriters, systems, and discourses, as the very name Wunderblock brings these things into play.
(56) And even if the guest of the Count did not visit Freud on his journey, at least poetic justice has spread the rumor that the novelist of the Count had been initiated into the new system of knowledge.
(56) In order to replace the Id with the Ego, to replace violence with technology, it is necessary that one first fall into the clutches of this violence.
(57) The legal assistant of a lawyer from Exeter is supposed to provide the Transylvanian territorial lord with advice and data, which are necessarily missing from his imported and out-of-date reference works.
(58) Dracula, until his dying breath, a double counterfeit between east and west, was never the vampire Dracula.
(58) And Arminius Vambery (1832-1913), the adventurer and professor from Budapest, actually was a sort of vampire.

Do this interpretation of Dracula story with American Socrates and Alcibiades.

(59) The traitor shared different, although not very different, interests with Abraham (“Bram”) Stoker, with whom he met on several occasions in London's Lyceum Club. . . . Stoker simply needed to combine the historical and the legendary, the prince and the vampire, in order to start work on a novel. Arminius Vambery had made the vampire Dracula possible.

Technology of symbols defeats fantasy terrors.

(60) Like Vambery, who wrote his secret travel notes in Hungarian and sewed them into his dervish robes, Harker writes all of his travel journal in stenography. The eye of the Count, however red it may glow through the night, cannot read shorthand. Imaginary terrors pale before this technology of symbols, developed by the most economical of centuries.
(62) This is how it goes when someone reaches the heart of darkness. Conrad's novella, Copolla's film, Stoker's novel—they all lead to that point where the power of the Other or Stranger would become decipherable as their own colonialism, if it were not so unbearable to read the writing on the flesh.
(62-63) Dracula's project, which (in the opinion of a critic who is, not coincidentally, Anglo-Saxon) anticipated Operation Sea Lion, is shattered by women of a sort never before seen in the history of Western discourse formation. . . . By profession Mina Murray is an assistant school mistress, but, not satisfied with this preliminary movement toward women's emancipation, she practices her typing and stenography arduously, in order to do one day “what the lady journalists do” (55).

Democracy needs media machines, for which steno-typists epitomize the human version.

(63) whatever democracy may be, it is supported by the mechanical processing of anonymous discourses (if only because there is no social record apart from discourses). Without the armies of women steno-typists (as women have been called for the last 90 years, who, like Mina, are proficient in both stenography and typing), Houses of Commons and Bundestage would fall apart.
(64) Things went much more smoothly: two weeks of intensive typewriter instruction made seven years of schooling obsolete. . . . Remington's production departments and advertising agencies only needed to discover women in the noteworthy year of 1881, in order to make typewriters into a mass commodity.

Examples from real and fictional knowledge workers of clues gathering scientific paradigm implies problem orientation, to the extent that clues are registered as phenomena made possible by technical reproduction; recall the clever suggestion that Harker may have rode the same train as Freud.

(68) Edison and Freud, Sherlock Holmes and Van Helsing—they all institute, according to Ginzburg's apt expression, a new paradigm of science: the gathering of clues.
(70) According to the discourse-technological conditions of 1890 women have two options: typewriter or vampirism. . . . The two options are thus no longer simply mother or hysteria, as the dispositive sexuality had established them in classical-romantic times. Since our culture has begun to allow women into the sacred halls of word processing, far worse things are possible.
(71) But after the symbol of male productivity was replaced by a machine, and this machine was taken over by women, the production of texts had to forfeit its wonderful heterosexuality.
(71) Mina Harker's typewriter does not copy the bites of a despotic signifier, but copies indifferent paper instead: hand writing and printed matter, declarations of love and land registry entries.

Vampirism as a metaphor for condition of human machine symbiosis; now zombies.

(71-72) And this is a good thing. Even under the conditions of mechanical discourse processing, a balance of terror is maintained. . . . Vampirism is a chain reaction, and can therefore only be fought with the techniques of mechanical text reproduction.

Dracula as bureaucratization narrative.

(73) According to the conditions of 1890, all that matters is the technological ordering of all previous discourse. . . . In this way the typewriter, as only it can, drives all of the remaining hysteria out of the scientific discourse. . . . Stoker's Dracula is no vampire novel, but rather the written account of our bureaucratization.
(74) But since the invention of the typewriter, fire and sword are obsolete. What the distressed counterattack does not reckon with is Mina Harker's clever forethought. . . . Secretaries do not merely collate and distribute information, each evening they bring the neutralizing and annihilating signifiers together into safety.
(75-76) Only after the power of professors has gone to engineers, and the power of teachers to medical doctors, does the greatest wisdom become foolishness.
(77) Once again Van Helsing swings from the scientific to the analytic discourse, from Broca to his great model Charcot.
(78) Every day Mina is placed in a trance by Van Helsing, while the Count is sailing upon the unknown seas and rivers of the East, and a young Viennese doctor is performing his first experiments with hypnosis.
(78-79) As a subject of an experiment in trances and death, Mina Harker makes the euphemism with which the vampire hunters refer to the enemy literally true. Only within the hysteric discourse is there an unconscious. For this reason, Mina Harker speaks, not from where she is, but from where the Count is.

Connect to Sterne as why speech synthesis may be shunned due to its simulacral shortcomings, forever missing the supplemental content of uninterpreted noise.

(79) Only machines are capable of storing the real of and beyond all speech—white noise, which surrounds the Count in his Yellow Submarine.
(79) Wireless data transmission functions even before Marconi's discovery electrified all of the world's battle ships. Hypnosis, as the analytic discourse can call it forth, achieves physiologically what engineers will later implement technically.

Recall initial double inscription feedback loop between Lacan, his daughter, and her husband.

(80) What was formerly transcribed in the unconscious, is now permanently accessible in typescript. Mina Harker herself reads and writes what she received in the place of the Other. Double inscription—in hysteria and typewriter—is the historical trick that can only be accomplished with the inclusion of women in the sphere of knowledge.
(80) After this brilliant deduction by the feminine secret agent, the actual Search and Destroy (as it was called in Vietnam) is only child's play.
(81) Precisely because the discourse of the novel has killed him, “the Other, which we can only identify with feminine desire,” experiences a “resurrection” in other discourses.
(81) But Salomes and Lucys are rare. What they attempted to do, all those brave people in the epoch of Van Helsing and Stoker, Charcot and Freud, was as quickly as possible, and that means as scientifically as possible, to trace the origins of that other desire back to dirty stories. It is no wonder then, that Abraham Stoker kills the Count twice: once with the Kukri knife of his fictional counterpart, and again with the very fictionalization of an historical despot.
(81) It is also no wonder that Freud took back his hypothesis of seduction in the same year in which the novel was published.
(82) Stoker and his novel, Freud and the novel he ascribed to his patients—the liquidation of the discourse of the master is achieved by means of other discourses.
(82) But since the Other alone constitutes our desire, Dracula interpretations are forgetfulness itself.

Motion pictures accomplish phantomizing of Dracula, as Romanyshyn argues television instantiates the waking dream of oral consciousness; next stage is Lacan being processed by computer software, bringing to life the possibility of self conscious machine subjectivity.

(83) The phantomizing of Dracular has been accomplished through motion pictures.
(83) What never comes onto the screen, are Mina Harker's typewriter and Dr. Seward's phonograph. This is how closely connected they are with the film projector.

Disappearance of literature under conditions of technology into undeath of endless ending.

(83) Under the conditions of technology, literature disappears (like metaphysics for Heidegger) into the un-death of its endless ending.


Kittler, Friedrich. “Dracula's Legacy.” Literature, Media, Information Systems: Friedrich A. Kittler Essays. Ed. John Johnston. Amsterdam: Overseas Publishers Assocation, 1997. 50-84. Print.