KITTLER, FRIEDRICH A. (1999) GRAMOPHONE, FILM, TYPEWRITER, STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
The media of the present influence how we think about the media of the past or, for that matter, those of the future.
Just as the formalist study of literature should be the study of "literariness," the study of media should concern itself primarily with mediality and not resort to the usual suspects-history, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, and literary and cultural studies-to explain how and why media do what they do. It is necessary to rethink media with a new and uncompromising degree of scientific rigor, focusing on the intrinsic technological logic, the changing links between body and medium, the procedures for data processing, rather than evaluate them from the point of view of their social usage.
Baudrillard argued, that media are neutral technological systems whose social impact depended upon who uses them to say what; rather, it was "in their form and very operation" that they induced social relations. In other words, media are "not coefficients but effectors of ideology" 12ns which was Baudrillard's way of terminologically updating McLuhan's mantra that the medium is the message.
Kittler's archeology of the present seeks to include the technological storage and communication media of the post-print age(s). "Even writing itself, before it ends up in libraries, is a communication medium, the technology of which the archeologist [Foucault] simply forgot. It is for this reason that all his analyses end immediately before that point in time at which other media penetrated the library's stacks. Discourse analysis cannot be applied to sound archives and towers of film rolls" (5).
Reading, in that sense, was an exercise in scriptographically or typographically induced verbal hallucinations, whereby linguistic signs were commuted into sounds and images. With the advent of phonography and film, however, sounds and Sent from my iPadpictures were given their own, far more appropriate channels, resulting in a differentiation of data streams and the virtual abolition of the Gutenberg Galaxy.
After abandoning his malfunctioning machine, Nietzsche elevated the typewriter itself to the "status of a philosophy," suggesting in On the Genealogy of Morals that humanity has shifted away from its inborn faculties (such as knowledge, speech, and virtuous action) in favor of a memory machine. Crouched over his mechanically defective writing ball, the physiologically defective philosopher realizes that "writing ... is no longer a natural extension of humans who bring forth their voice, soul, individuality through their handwriting. On the contrary, ... humans change their position-they turn from the agency of writing to become an inscription surface".
all books are books of the dead,
it is no longer only through writing that the dead remain in the memory of the living."
War on the Mind is the title of an account of the psychological strategies hatched by the Pentagon. It reports that the staffs planning the electronic war, which merely continues the Battle of the Atlantic,40 have already compiled a list of the propitious and unpropitious days in other cultures. This list enables the u.s. Air Force "to time [its] bombing campaigns to coincide with unpropitious days, thus 'confirming' the forecasts of local gods." As well, the voices of these gods have been recorded on tape to be broadcast from helicopters "to keep tribes in their villages." And finally, the Pentagon has developed special film projectors capable of projecting those gods onto low-hanging clouds.41 A technologically implemented beyond ... Page13
among the real, the imaginary, and the symbolic is the theory (or merely a historical effect) of that differentiation. The symbolic now encompasses linguistic signs in their materiality and technicity. That is to say, letters and ciphers form a finite set without taking into account philosophical dreams of
And that the sym-bolic is called the world of the machine undermines Man's delusion of possessing a "quality" called "consciousness," which identifies him as something other and better than a "calculating machine." For both people and computers are "subject to the appeal of the signifier"; that is, they are both run by programs. "Are these humans," Nietzsche already asked himself in 1 874, eight years before buying a typewriter, "or perhaps only thinking, writing, and speaking machines?" 52 Page16-17
Edison's phonograph was a by-product of the attempt to optimize telephony and telegraphy by saving expensive copper cables. First, Menlo Park developed a telegraph that indented a paraffin paper strip with Morse signs, thus allowing them to be replayed faster than they had been transmitted by human hands. Page 26-27
These analogies could be multiplied. The principal difference between the brain and the phonograph is that the metal disk of Edison's still rather primitive machine remains deaf to itself; there is no transition from movement to consciousness. It is precisely this wondrous transition that keeps occurring in the brain. Page 32
The sales catalogues of American record companies warned their customers of the friend who "comes to you and claims that your machine is too slow or too fast. Don't listen to him! He doesn't know what he is talking about. " Page 34
That the psychic apparatus (already technified by its name) can transmit and store data while remaining both permeable and impermeable would remain an insoluble paradox were its analogy modeled upon writing. (At best, Freud's famous "Mystic Writing-Pad, " commented upon by Derrida,44 might be able to carry out both functions. Page 37
The talking machine can only grant artistic satisfaction to musical people. For only musicians possess the capacity for illusion necessary for every enjoyment of art.53 Page 46
Books had been able to store and convey the imaginary corporeal self-images entertained by individuals. But unconsciously treacherous signs like fingerprints, pitch, and foot tracks fall into the purview of media without which they could neither be stored nor evaluated. Francis Galton's dactyloscope and Edison's phonograph are contemporaneous allies. Page 83
In 1908, the psychologist William Stern publishes a "Summary of Deposition Psychology. " This new science is designed to cleanse the oral depositions of court protocols, medical reports, personal files, and school reports from all guile and deceit on the part of the speakers. Old European, that is to say, literary, means of power are not immune from deception. Whether for criminals or for the insane, the traditional "stylized depositions often produce a false impression of the examination and obscure the psychological significance of individual statements." As each answer "is, from the point of view of experimental psychology, a reaction to the operative stimulus in the question,"132 experimenters and investigators provoke countermeasures in their subjects as long as they use the bureaucratic medium of writing. Page 85
"Caruso's singing, though emanating from the bell-mouth of a gramophone, could be transmitted in all its purity to our ears through the roaring metropolis ";176 that is, all the way from Sakrow to Potsdam.177 Slaby's choice of tenors was not coincidental: on March 18, 1902, Caruso had revamped his immortality? Page 95