“ON THE HAND AND THE TYPEWRITER”: HEIDEGGER, KITTLER, KEHLMANN AND THE RISE OF TECHNO-HUMANITY

September 26, 2010 at 1:30 am | Posted in Books, Germany, Globalization, History, Philosophy, Research, Science & Technology | Leave a comment

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Gramophone, Film, Typewriter

Friedrich Kittler (Author)

Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (Translator)

Michael Wutz (Translator)

See: Heidegger, Martin. “On the Hand and the Typewriter.” 1942-43

Rpt. in Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Kittler, Friedrich A.

Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1986. pp. 198-200

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the hegemony of the printed word was shattered by the arrival of new media technologies that offered novel ways of communicating and storing data. Previously, writing had operated by way of symbolic mediation—all data had to pass through the needle’s eye of the written signifier—but phonography, photography, and cinematography stored physical effects of the real in the shape of sound waves and light. The entire question of referentiality had to be recast in light of these new media technologies; in addition, the use of the typewriter changed the perception of writing from that of a unique expression of a literate individual to that of a sequence of naked material signifiers.

Part technological history of the emergent new media in the late nineteenth century, part theoretical discussion of the responses to these media—including texts by Rilke, Kafka, and Heidegger, as well as elaborations by Edison, Bell, Turing, and other innovators—Gramophone, Film, Typewriter analyzes this momentous shift using insights from the work of Foucault, Lacan, and McLuhan. Fusing discourse analysis, structuralist psychoanalysis, and media theory, the author adds a vital historical dimension to the current debates over the relationship between electronic literacy and poststructuralism, and the extent to which we are constituted by our technologies. The book ties the establishment of new discursive practices to the introduction of new media technologies, and it shows how both determine the ways in which psychoanalysis conceives of the psychic apparatus in terms of information machines.

Gramophone, Film, Typewriter is, among other things, a continuation as well as a detailed elaboration of the second part of the author’s Discourse Networks, 1800/1900 (Stanford, 1990). As such, it bridges the gap between Kittler’s discourse analysis of the 1980’s and his increasingly computer-oriented work of the 1990’s.

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Kittler’s thesis is timely and intriguing. . . . To read this book is to take a wild ride through philosophy, music, the visual arts, popular culture, engineering, psychoanalysis, the history of science, literature, communication studies, film studies, and more. . . . This book belongs on any reading list in media studies, and should be essential for anyone interested in the intersections of comparative literature, literary theory, and media studies. Gramaphone, Film, and Typewriter is a stunning achievement. . . .”—The Comparalist

“Recommended for graduate collections in media studies, especially those including European scholarship.”—Choice

“Friedrich Kittler proves a welcome exception to the standardized academic format of many of his German colleagues. . . . The excellent translation by Geoffrey-Winthrop Young and Michael Wutz is highly readable (no awkward Germanisms) and is preceded by a thorough and incisive introduction. . . . The present volume is Kittler’s most accessible work so far, since it is written for expert and general reader alike.”—Johns Hopkins University Press

“Kittler’s broadband scholarly panoptics afford a sublime techno-discursive vista, and in particular a point of lucid observation on the ongoing relativization of literary production.”—American Book Review

Product Description

Part technological history of the emergent new media in the late nineteenth century, past theoretical discussion of the responses to these media – including texts by Rilke, Kafka, and Heidegger, as well as elaborations by Edison, Bell, Turing, and other innovators – Gramphone, Film, Typewriter analyzes this momentous shift using insights from the work of Foucault, Lacan, and McLuhan. Fusing discourse analysis, structuralist psychoanalysis, and media theory, and the author adds a vital historical dimension to the current debates over the relationship between electronic literacy and poststructuralism, and the extent to which we are constituted by our technologies.

Product Details:

· Paperback: 360 pages

· Publisher: Stanford University Press 1 edition

· April 1 1999

· Language: English

· ISBN-10: 0804732337

· ISBN-13: 978-0804732338

· 360 pp.

· 62 illustrations

Gramophone, Film, Typewriter

Friedrich Kittler (Author)

Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (Translator)

Michael Wutz (Translator)

Friedrich A. Kittler is a professor at the Institute for Aesthetics and Cultural Studies at Humboldt University, Berlin.

Gramophone, Film, Typewriter

· Table of Contents

Table of Contents:

Translators’ Introduction
Preface
Introduction 1
Gramophone 21
Film 115
Typewriter 183
Notes 267
Bibliography 299

Comment:

Heidegger, Martin. “On the Hand and the Typewriter.” 1942-43.

Rpt. in Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Kittler, Friedrich A.

Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1986. pp. 198-200

Fame: A Novel in Nine Episodes

Daniel Kehlmann (Author)

Carol Janeway (Translator)

Review

“In Kehlmann’s wickedly clever novel of nine interconnected stories, fame is something his cast of widely disparate characters seek, avoid, flirt with, and succumb to. . . [They are] luminous creations, and the coincidental devices that link them are brilliant gambits. Kehlmann showcases a flair for devious satire.”

—Booklist (starred)

“[A] darkly comic tour de force…A brazen take on the modern yearning for recognition. Kehlmann is a writer worth reading.”

—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“[A] brilliant study of the fragility and interconnectedness of life. . . Layers of connection, irony, despair, and humor distinguish this masterful work.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Who would have thought contemporary Central European literature could be so fun and so funny? Daniel Kehlmann is who. The young Austrian prodigy, famous everywhere but in the United States, has given us a real beauty of a book, farcical, satiric, melancholic, and humane. Modern fame may have been invented in America, but nobody has dramatized its paradoxes and heartbreaks more entertainingly than the European Kehlmann does here.”

Jonathan Franzen

Product Details:

· Hardcover: 192 pages

· Publisher: Pantheon

· September 14 2010

· Language: English

· ISBN-10: 0307378713

· ISBN-13: 978-0307378712

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this brilliant study of the fragility and interconnectedness of life, Kehlmann (Measuring the World) probes issues of identity in nine overlapping narratives, with each pivoting on a moment where a commonplace event becomes a crack and then a floodgate for existential horror. It begins as computer technician Ebling buys a cellphone, only to discover the number he is assigned belongs to movie star Ralf Tanner; at first resistant, Ebling is soon making decisions that alter Ralf’s life. Later, after his phone has abruptly stopped ringing, Ralf finds his life taken over by an impersonator. Meanwhile, the telecommunications executive whose negligence led to the phone number switch cracks from the pressures of having an affair. In a parallel plot, Elisabeth, a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders, keeps her work secret from her famous boyfriend, the writer Leo Richter, out of fear he will steal her experiences for future adventures of his most popular character. Layers of connection, irony, despair, and humor distinguish this masterful work and announce Kehlman as a worthy heir to Bowles and Camus.

Review

“In Kehlmann’s wickedly clever novel of nine interconnected stories, fame is something his cast of widely disparate characters seek, avoid, flirt with, and succumb to. . . [They are] luminous creations, and the coincidental devices that link them are brilliant gambits. Kehlmann showcases a flair for devious satire.”
—Booklist (starred)

“[A] darkly comic tour de force…A brazen take on the modern yearning for recognition. Kehlmann is a writer worth reading.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“[A] brilliant study of the fragility and interconnectedness of life. . . Layers of connection, irony, despair, and humor distinguish this masterful work.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Who would have thought contemporary Central European literature could be so fun and so funny? Daniel Kehlmann is who. The young Austrian prodigy, famous everywhere but in the United States, has given us a real beauty of a book, farcical, satiric, melancholic, and humane. Modern fame may have been invented in America, but nobody has dramatized its paradoxes and heartbreaks more entertainingly than the European Kehlmann does here.”
Jonathan Franzen

Fame: A Novel in Nine Episodes

Daniel Kehlmann (Author)

Gramophone, Film, Typewriter

Friedrich Kittler (Author)

Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (Translator)

Michael Wutz (Translator)

See: Heidegger, Martin. “On the Hand and the Typewriter.” 1942-43

Rpt. in Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Kittler, Friedrich A.

Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1986/1999. pp. 198-200

    Martin Heidegger, on the Hand and the Typewriter (1942-43)
 Literature in a Postprint World
Man himself acts [handelt] through the hand [Hand]; for the hand is, together with the word, the essential distinction of man. Only a being which, like man, “has” the word (μύϑοϛ, λόγος), can and must “have” “the hand.” Through the hand occur both prayer and murder, greeting and thanks, oath and signal, and also the “work” of the hand, the “hand-work,” and the tool. The handshake seals the covenant. The hand brings about the “work” of destruction. The hand exists as hand only where there is disclosure and concealment. No animal has a hand, and a hand never originates from a paw or a claw or talon. Even the hand of one in desperation (it least of all) is never a talon, with which a person clutches wildly. The hand sprang forth only out of the word and together with the word. Man does not “have” hands, but the hand holds the essence of man, because the word as the essential realm of the hand is the ground of the essence of man. The word as what is inscribed and what appears to the regard is the written word, i.e., script. And the word as script is handwriting.It is not accidental that modern man writes “with” the typewriter and “dictates” [diktiert] (the same word as “poetize” [Dichten]) “into” a machine. This “history” of the kinds of writing is one of the main reasons for the increasing destruction of the word. The latter no longer comes and goes by means of the writing hand, the properly acting hand, but by means of the mechanical forces it releases. The typewriter tears writing from the essential realm of the hand, i.e., the realm of the word. The word itself turns into something “typed.” Where typewriting, on the contrary, is only a transcription and serves to preserve the writing, or turns into print something already written, there it has a proper, though limited, significance. In the time of the first dominance of the typewriter, a letter written on this machine still stood for a breach of good manners. Today, a hand-written letter is an antiquated and undesired thing; it disturbs speed reading. Mechanical writing deprives the hand of its rank in the realm of the written word and degrades the word to a means of communication. In addition, mechanical writing provides this “advantage,” that it conceals the handwriting and thereby the character. The typewriter makes everyone look the same….

Therefore when writing was withdrawn from the origin of its essence, i.e., from the hand, and was transferred to the machine, a transformation occurred in the relation of Being to man. It is of little importance for this transformation how many people actually use the typewriter and whether there are some who shun it. It is no accident that the invention of the printing press coincides with the inception of the modern period. The word-signs become type, and the writing stroke disappears. The type is “set,” the set becomes “pressed.” This mechanism of setting and pressing and “printing” is the preliminary form of the typewriter. In the typewriter we find the irruption of the mechanism in the realm of the word. The typewriter leads again to the typesetting machine. The press becomes the rotary press. In rotation, the triumph of the machine comes to the fore. Indeed, at first, book printing and then machine type offer advantages and conveniences, and these then unwittingly steer preferences and needs to this kind of written communication. The typewriter veils the essence of writing and of the script. It withdraws from man the essential rank of the hand, without man’s experiencing this withdrawal appropriately and recognizing that it has transformed the relation of Being to his essence.
The typewriter is a signless cloud, i.e., a withdrawing concealment in the midst of its very obtrusiveness, and through it the relation of Being to man is transformed. It is in fact signless, not showing itself as to its essence; perhaps that is why most of you, as is proven to me by your reaction, though well-intended, have not grasped what I have been trying to say.

I have not been presenting a disquisition on the typewriter itself, regarding which it could justifiably be asked what in the world that has to do with Parmenides. My theme was the modern relation (transformed by the typewriter) of the hand to writing, i.e., to the word, i.e., to the unconcealedness of Being. A meditation on unconcealedness and on Being does not merely have something to do with the didactic poem of Parmenides, it has everything to do with it. In the typewriter the machine appears, i.e., technology appears, in an almost quotidian and hence unnoticed and hence signless relation to writing, i.e., to the word, i.e., to the distinguishing essence of man. A more penetrating consideration would have to recognize here that the typewriter is not really a machine in the strict sense of machine technology, but is an “intermediate” thing, between a tool and a machine, a mechanism. Its production, however, is conditioned by machine technology.

This “machine,” operated in the closest vicinity to the word, is in use; it imposes its own use. Even if we do not actually operate this machine, it demands that we regard it if only to renounce and avoid it. This situation is constantly repeated everywhere, in all relations of modern man to technology. Technology is entrenched in our history.

from Parmenides (1942-43), trans. Andre Schuwer and Richard Rojcewicz.  Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1992, 80-81 and 85-86.

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