Archive for bernard stiegler

A glossary for Here at the end of all things

Posted in Here at the End of All Things, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 1 September 2016 by Ben

No one asked for this, but here is a glossary for my current book project, Here at the end of all things: Fantasy after History. Among other things, the project develops a complex vocabulary for thinking about fantasy as a discourse both in its own terms and in relation to science fiction and horror (in the context of history). These are some of the key terms, many of which are adopted and adapted from other writers (especially John Clute and Bernard Stiegler).

In any case, they may not mean very much on their own, but taken together I think they are suggestive:

affectivity: the nature of story’s relationship with other historical objects and concepts

aftermath: the final stage of disappointment characterized by a permanent state of problem and a final and irrevocable sundering of meaning and being, i.e. subsistence (adapted from Clute’s term)

arrival: the final stage of paradigm characterized by the final joining of meaning and being and therefore an end to existence (replaces Clute’s term “topia”)

cognition: the third stage of paradigm in which the subject assimilates to the novelty produced by the novum—willingly or unwillingly, for good or for ill—which had previously caused her to feel estrangement (replaces Clute’s term “conceptual breakthrough,” which he borrows from Peter Nicholls)

consistence: the perfect congruity of meaning and being characteristic of story and destroyed by paradigm (adapted from Bernard Stiegler)

desirability: the elimination of story’s relationship with other historical objects and concepts, held always in abeyance and never arriving, but ideally achieved by either by return or in aftermath

disappointment: the grammar of horror which begins with sighting and proceeds to thickening, revel, and aftermath; a process of moving from existence to subsistence although this movement is, in the end, finally unrepresentable; associated with anti-history (adapted from Bernard Stiegler)

estrangement: the second stage of paradigm in which the subject becomes confused by the novelty brought into the world by the novum (replaces Clute’s term “cognitive estrangement,” which he borrows from Darko Suvin)

existence: an out-of-syncness of meaning and being, but ideally a temporary one that paradigm overcomes (adapted from Bernard Stiegler)

fantastika: the collective name for the genres inaugurated by the Enlightenment, including fantasy, science fiction, and horror; its various genres react to the Enlightenment and its rationality in various ways (adapted from Clute’s term, although used by many)

fantasy: the genre of fantastika which rejects the Enlightenment and its historical mode of thought as a corruption of story, the true essential state of the world and the grammar of fantasy

horror: the genre of fantastika which rejects the Enlightenment and historical thought as falsehoods which hide the fact that meaning and being are always already permanently out-of-sync; the grammar of horror is called disappointment

novum: the first stage of paradigm in which novelty is introduced to the world which transforms the history of that world in a fundamental, totalizing fashion (adapted from Clute’s term, borrowed from Darko Suvin and Ernst Bloch)

paradigm: the grammar of science fiction which begins with novum and proceeds to estrangement, cognition, and arrival; a process of moving from existence to more existence, although it promises consistence; associated with history (adapted from Peter Nicholls and, more so, Thomas Kuhn)

positivity: both the fact of story as something with a history as well as its relationship with other historical objects and concepts

recognition: the third stage of story in which the subject comes to understand her place within story, which is to say that her being and meaning are at one with one another (adapted from Clute’s term)

return: the final stage of story in which the subject no longer exists but consists (adapted from Clute’s term, which replaced “healing”)

revel: the third stage of disappointment in which the subject accepts her subsistence and either celebrates this acceptance or laments it, either of which likely involves inebriation (adapted from Clute’s term)

science fiction: the genre of fantastika which accepts the Enlightenment and modernity as both problem and the solution to problem; the grammar of science fiction is called paradigm

sighting: the first stage of horror characterized by the subject becoming aware of something already present in the world that conflicts with and thereby destroys the fictions by which she gave meaning to her being (adapted from Clute’s term)

story: the grammar of fantasy which begins with wrongness and proceeds to thinning, recognition, and return; a process of moving from existence to consistence, although this movement is, in the end, finally unrepresentable; associated with ahistory (adapted from Clute’s term)

subsistence: the final and irrevocable sundering of being from meaning characteristic of disappointment and feared by existence which tends to produce it nonetheless (adapted from Bernard Stiegler)

thickening: the second stage of disappointment characterized by the subject becoming increasingly aware that there is more to the world than can be accounted for by the narratives she tells about it, including the narrative called history (adapted from Clute’s term)

thinning: the second stage of story characterized by the subject becoming aware that the world is becoming less than it was during its prelapsarian period prior to wrongness (adapted from Clute’s term)

wrongness: the first stage of story in which the subject becomes aware of a corruption of the world’s essential truth that has caused it to fall from consistence into existence (adapted from Clute’s term)

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Old syllabus: Posthuman Media

Posted in Teaching with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1 February 2014 by Ben

Following a discussion with Marc Weidenbaum via Twitter, here is the syllabus for an old course: Posthuman Media.

ENGL_3116_Daily_Schedule_-_Revised_3

Empires of Disbelief: ICFA 35 proposal

Posted in Conferences, Here at the End of All Things, papers, The Generic, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 30 October 2013 by Ben

I’m working in this general area right now for Here at the end of all things. I actually used the voice recorder on my phone to take notes on this subject as I walked to school yesterday. First time I have ever done that. I would do it again.

Empires of Disbelief

This paper begins with the remarkable coincidence of several historical events (“historical”, here, in a Foucauldian sense). First, John Clute argues in Pardon this Intrusion that fantastika can be traced to the early nineteenth century; the genres of fantastika “are intimately connected with the becoming visible of the engine of history, round about 1800, when the future began.” Second, we have Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, first published in 1807 and a singular influence on Western notions of history as progressive and significant. Third, Foucault traces the advent of disciplinary power to roughly the same period. As the human being entered History (Hegel) as an individual who is the same as all other individuals (Foucault), it began to narrativize its position within that history through forms that could face the end whether that end was understood to be apocalyptic or Paradisaical. These accounts dovetail, I argue, with the project of Western Empires to at once offer a sort of carrot to individuals in the form of a promise of meaning for their lives (the completion of humanity, the Rapture—what Clute would call Healing or Return) as well as the the constant denial of such an end in order to maintain their existence (humanity is never complete, history never actually ends in its perfection, the Rapture never occurs). Over the course of the past two centuries, individuals in the West (a term I use advisedly not to refer to a given unity but to a construction) have been denied what they have been promised so often that rather than believing in the future, they find themselves in a state of what Bernard Stiegler calls “disbelief.”

With reference to key fantasy texts from the last several decades—such as Richard Morgan’s The Steel Remains, China Miéville’s The Scar and Iron Council, Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World, Patricia McKillip’s In the Forests of Serre—as well as secondary/theoretical texts from Clute, Foucault, Deleuze, and Stiegler, this paper investigates how the Story that fantasy “wishes to tell” (of Healing, in Clute’s sense of the term) has, despite constant retellings, become impossible. Of course, Healing has always been impossible, but I argue that Empire now no longer even requires it as a carrot. Whereas the West formerly relied on coherent individuals (in Foucault’s sense) who desire insertion into the History (or Story) or Empire as individuals , it now maintains itself despite the fact that people (as what Deleuze calls “dividuals”) no longer believe in such metanrratives of progress and freedom. With seemingly no possible way out of this situation, we can turn to the impossibilities of fantasies such as those listed here (among others) as models for ways of thinking that resist and overcome our disbelief.

Primary sources

Gilman, Felix. The Half-made World. New York: Tor, 2011. Print.

McKillip, Patricia A. In the Forests of Serre. New York: Ace Books, 2003. Print.

Miéville, China. Iron Council: a Novel. New York: Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 2005. Print.

—. The Scar. New York: Ballantine Books, 2004. Print.

Morgan, Richard K. The Steel Remains. Del Ray trade pbk. ed. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010. Print.

Secondary sources

Clute, John. Pardon This Intrusion: Fantastika in the World Storm. N. p. Print.

Clute, John, and John Grant. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999. Print.

Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge ; and the Discourse on Language. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Pantheon Books, 1982. Print.

Kojève, Alexandre. Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 1980. Print. Agora Paperback Editions.

Stiegler, Bernard. Taking Care of Youth and the Generations. Trans. Stephen Barker. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2010. Print. Meridian : Crossing Aesthetics.

—. Uncontrollable Societies of Disaffected Individuals. Trans. Daniel Ross. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012. Print. Disbelief and Discredit 2.

My Paper Proposal for Frontiers of New Media 2013

Posted in Conferences, Writing with tags , , , , , , on 2 April 2013 by Ben

Here is my proposal for the 2013 Frontiers of New Media Conference, on the theme: The Beginning and End(s) of the Internet: Surveillance, Censorship, and the Future of Cyber-Utopia.

Publicity, Privacy, Anonymity: Futures of New Media

Proposal for The Beginning and End(s) of the Internet: Surveillance, Censorship, and the Future of Cyber-Utopia

Benjamin J. Robertson, English, University of Colorado, Boulder

In 1890, Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, addressing in part concerns over photography, considered the question of a right to privacy in the United States. They begin, “That the individual shall have full protection in person and in property is a principle as old as the common law; but it has been found necessary from time to time to define anew the exact nature and extent of such protection. Political, social, and economic changes entail the recognition of new rights, and the common law, in its eternal youth, grows to meet the new demands of society.”

A century later, in the 1990s, the increasingly public availability and use of the the Internet and the World Wide Web should perhaps have engendered a new consideration about the exact nature of and right to privacy. Of course, discussions of privacy in the digital age happen nearly everyday. Civil libertarians continue debate authoritarians, law enforcement, and commercial interests about the necessity and value of privacy in the wake of warrantless wiretapping, the expectation of privacy in the cloud, and now Google Glass. When, in 2010, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg claimed that privacy is no longer that big a deal, claiming “That social norm is just something that has evolved over time,” it seemed that the largest, newest, and most powerful capitalist interests in the world would, in the future, determine the extent to which private citizens would retain their privacy. When, in late 2012, a Gawker writer (though an analysis of public information), revealed private citizen Michael Brutsch as notorious Reddit editor Violentacrenz, whatever our feelings about Brutsch and his online persona, we were forced to wonder whether, on the Internet, we ever enjoyed any privacy and whether we could ever hope to in the future.

However, our concerns and the contemporary debate about privacy in the age of networks remain, strikingly, mired in the same assumptions behind Warren and Brandeis’ arguments in the late nineteenth century. More precisely, these concerns and this debate have failed to engage with the “political, social, and economic changes”—not to mention the technological changes—of the past several decades. We must wonder if drawing upon a discourse of privacy that began in the early years of traditional photography can have anything to say about a world of Instagram and the WiFi and 4G networks that facilitate it.

This paper investigates the question of privacy, and by extension the nature of publicity (in the sense of one’s being-public) in the context of new media and network technology. It considers whether privacy—as imagined by Warren and Brandeis, dependent on Enlightenment notions of the human and traditional notions of the commons—can survive, should survive, in the contemporary world. If we are to be posthuman or create the posthumanities as a field of study, and if this posthumanism is to be something other than the mere extrapolation of the present (what Bernard Stiegler would call the calculation of the future), perhaps we must rid ourselves of those concepts that depend on and underpin the human itself. However, the end of privacy and, along with it, publicity, need not involve simply turning our data over to capitalists. If the private/public binary involves the movement of an individual from one space to another, from the home to the commons for example, anonymity involves a permanent sort of publicity, one no longer attached, however, to the private identity of the liberal human subject.

Excerpt from my review of Stiegler’s Uncontrollable Societies of Disaffected Individuals

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 30 March 2013 by Ben

A paragraph from my forthcoming review of the second volume in Stiegler’s Disbelief and Discredit, recently translated for Polity by Daniel Ross.

For Stiegler, there are three forms or conditions of “being”: subsistence, existence, and consistence. That which subsists (and therefore does not exist), such as animal life, merely is and leads a life without reason. That which consists (and therefore does not exist), leads a “life” in which being and reason are one, even if the relation between the two remains incalculable (and therefore beyond the scope of political economy). That which exists seeks to avoid mere being by pursuing the incalculable consistency of its being and its reason, at which it will never arrive. Such human being becomes, or individuates in a term Stiegler borrows from Gilbert Simondon, towards a consistence that only manifests on another plane (and Stiegler here draws from Deleuze and Guattari who write of planes of consistency on which assemblages manifest by finding a proper level of abstraction). In order for the existent to pursue its consistence—and avoid the disindividuation, desublimation, and/or disaffection that lead to subsistence—it must have a reason, something in which to believe: a symbol, something that possesses consistence, something whose meaning is at one with its being. In this manner, as well as in a more conventional sense, Stiegler claims that such symbols do not exist.

“There is no dark side of the digital really”: My proposal for The Dark Side of the Digital

Posted in Page a Day, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 6 January 2013 by Ben

Here is my (late as it were) proposal for the upcoming Dark Side of the Digital Conference. (edit: I’m calling this my page of writing for the day, even if it’ snot quite a page.)

There is no dark side of the digital really”

Benjamin J Robertson

In a recent blog post, Jussi Parrika suggests that we should read the “dark” in “dark side of the digital” in terms of “the dark side of the moon” rather than “dark side of the force.” Instead of the evil or malevolent “side” of digitality we should, with Pink Floyd, address the fact that “There is no dark side of the moon really. As a matter of fact it’s all dark.”

These two approaches to this conference theme are not at all at odds with one another. This paper argues that among the darkest (as in the force) aspects of the digital is its darkness (as in the moon) by design if not by nature. That is, the digital is closed to us, an inhuman space much in the manner that Galloway and Thacker suggest that networks stand opposed to humanity. Drawing from Galloway and Thacker—as well as upon Stiegler’s notions of default, disbelief, and discredit—this paper describes the dark side of the digital through nine short discussions:

  • Speak to Me: when we communicate through digital tools, what else do we communicate with?
  • Breathe: the digital gives us so much room, but none in which to pause.
  • On the Run: as in “on the digital”: the pharmacology of speed.
  • Time: history and futurity in the age of hypersynchronization.
  • The Great Gig in the Sky: where is the cloud?
  • Money: not too much credit but too much discredit—no investment where no belief.
  • Us and Them: there is no us and no them—the digital has neither “side” nor “sides”.
  • Any Colour You Like: the perils of choice; hyper-demography—all content directed to the individual.
  • Brain Damage: how damaged? is the digital now the default?
  • Eclipse: the end of the Enlightenment, even the parts we “like”, such as privacy.

Bibliography of Bernard Stiegler’s work in English to date (thanks to Daniel Ross)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 16 January 2012 by Ben

Courtesy of Daniel Ross’ Twitter stream (and with his permission), here is a complete list of Bernard Stiegler’s work translated into English. Many of these translations are by Ross (notably 1, 2, 3, and 8). Not included here are several unpublished works. Also, I have added links to certain texts (namely, several of the collections).

A giant thanks to Ross for doing the actual heavy lifting here and for letting me post that work. Given my current Stiegler focus, and the fact that I plan to teach a class on his work (along side McLuhan and Flusser) in the fall, this bibliography is most timely and useful to me. I hope it is to you too.

For more on Ross, who directed the wonderful film The Ister and wrote Violent Democracy, see his Wikipedia page.

And here it is:

  1. Bernard Stiegler, Acting Out (Stanford University Press): http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=16155
  2. Bernard Stiegler, For a New Critique of Political Economy (Polity Press): http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745648033
  3. Bernard Stiegler, The Decadence of Industrial Democracies, Disbelief and Discredit, volume 1 (Polity Press): http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745648095
  4. Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus (Stanford University Press): http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=2333
  5. Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time, 2: Disorientation (Stanford University Press): http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=876
  6. Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time, 3: Cinematic Time and the Question of Malaise (Stanford University Press): http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=17078
  7. Jacques Derrida & Bernard Stiegler, Echographies of Television: Filmed Interviews (Polity Press): http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745620367
  8. Bernard Stiegler, Taking Care of Youth and the Generations (Stanford University Press): http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=17590
  9. Bernard Stiegler, “Desire and Knowledge: The Dead Seize the Living”: http://arsindustrialis.org/desire-and-knowledge-dead-seize-living
  10. Bernard Stiegler, “The Digital as Bearer of Another Society”: http://www.capgemini.com/insights-and-resources/by-publication/digital-transformation-review-no-1-july-2011/
  11. Bernard Stiegler, “Pharmacology of Desire: Drive-based Capitalism and Libidinal Dis-economy,” New Formations 72 (2011): 150–61.
  12. Bernard Stiegler, “The Pharmacology of the Spirit,” in Jane Elliott & Derek Attridge (eds.), Theory After ‘Theory’ (Routledge): http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415484190/
  13. Bernard Stiegler, “Take Care”: http://arsindustrialis.org/node/2925
  14. Bernard Stiegler, “Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: The Memories of Desire,” in Arthur Bradley & Louis Armand, Technicity: http://arsindustrialis.org/node/2925
  15. Bernard Stiegler, “The Carnival of the New Screen,” in Pelle Snickars & Patrick Vonderau, The YouTube Reader: http://www.kb.se/dokument/Aktuellt/audiovisuellt/YouTubeReader/YouTube_Reader_052009_Endversion.pdf
  16. Bernard Stiegler, “Derrida and Technology,” in Tom Cohen (ed.), Jacques Derrida and the Humanities: http://ebooks.cambridge.org/ebook.jsf?bid=CBO9780511483134
  17. Bernard Stiegler, “Knowledge, Care, and Trans-Individuation: An Interview with Bernard Stiegler,” Cultural Politics 6 (2010): 150–70.
  18. Bernard Stiegler, “The Magic Skin; or, The Franco-European Accident of Philosophy after Jacques Derrida,” Qui Parle 18 (2009): 97–110.
  19. Bernard Stiegler, “Bernard Stiegler’s Pharmacy: A Conversation,” Configurations 18 (3) (2010): 459–76.
  20. Bernard Stiegler, “The Industrial Exteriorization of Memory,” in Mitchell & Hansen (eds.), Critical Terms for Media Studies: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo4126130.html
  21. Bernard Stiegler, “New Industrial Temporal Objects,” in Earnshaw et al. (eds.), Frontiers of Human-Centred Computing: http://www.springer.com/computer/hci/book/978-1-85233-238-9
  22. Bernard Stiegler, “Persephone, Oedipus, Epimetheus,” Tekhnema 3 (1996): 69-112.
  23. Bernard Stiegler, “Technics, Media, Teleology: Interview with Bernard Stiegler,” Theory, Culture & Society 24 (7–8) (2007): 334–41.
  24. Bernard Stiegler, “Technics of Decision: An Interview,” Angelaki 8 (2003): 151–67.
  25. Bernard Stiegler, “Technoscience and Reproduction,” Parallax 13 (4) (2007): 29–45.
  26. Bernard Stiegler, “Telecracy Against Democracy,” Cultural Politics 6 (2010): 171–80.
  27. Bernard Stiegler, “Teleologics of the Snail: The Errant Self Wired to a WiMax Network,” Theory, Culture & Society 26 (2–3) (2009): 33–45
  28. Bernard Stiegler “The Theater of Individuation: Phase-Shift and Resolution in Simondon and Heidegger,” Parrhesia: http://www.parrhesiajournal.org/parrhesia07/parrhesia07_stiegler.pdf
  29. Bernard Stiegler, 36. “This System Does Not Produce Pleasure Anymore: An Interview with Bernard Stiegler,” Krisis: http://krisis.eu/content/2011-1/krisis-2011-1-05-lemmens.pdf
  30. Bernard Stiegler, “Transcendental Imagination in a Thousand Points,” New Formations 46 (2002): 7–22.
  31. Bernard Stiegler, “Biopower, Psychopower and the Logic of the Scapegoat”: http://arsindustrialis.org/node/2924
  32. Bernard Stiegler, “Constitution and Individuation”: http://arsindustrialis.org/node/2927
  33. Bernard Stiegler, “Contempt”: http://www.cultureactioneurope.org/component/content/article/548-le-mepris-contempt?lang=en
  34. Bernard Stiegler, “Nanomutations, Hypomnemata and Grammatisation”: http://arsindustrialis.org/node/2937
  35. Bernard Stiegler interviewed by Irit Rogoff, “Transindividuation”: http://www.e-flux.com/journal/transindividuation/
  36. Bernard Stiegler, “Within the Limits of Capitalism, Economizing Means Taking Care”: http://arsindustrialis.org/node/2922
  37. Bernard Stiegler, “Spirit, Capitalism and Superego”: http://arsindustrialis.org/node/2928
  38. Bernard Stiegler, “The Tongue of the Eye: What ‘Art History’ Means,” in Khalip & Mitchell (eds.), Releasing the Image (Stanford): http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=17340
  39. Bernard Stiegler, The Re-enchantment of the World (forthcoming): http://www.continuumbooks.com/books/detail.aspx?BookId=158826
  40. Bernard Stiegler, Uncontrollable Societies of Disaffected Individuals, Disbelief and Discredit, volume 2 (Polity, forthcoming).
  41. Bernard Stiegler, in Tom Cohen (ed.), Telemorphosis: Theory in the Era of Climate Change, Vol. 1 (forthcoming): http://openhumanitiespress.org/telemorphosis.html
  42. Bernard Stiegler, “The True Price of Towering Capitalism: Bernard Stiegler Interviewed,” Queen’s Quarterly 114 (2007): 340–350.