Cacography or Communication? Cultural Techniques in German Media Studies – Bernhard Sieger (2007)

Cacography or Communication? Cultural Techniques in German Media Studies

Assessing the Situation

Ernst Cassirer

  • “The critique of rea- son becomes a critique of culture” becomes ““The critique of reason becomes a critique of media.”
  • “a rewriting of cultural history as a history of media”
    • results in epochs, with a ‘leitmedien’ – guiding media – books, letter, tv, computer
    • results in heroes – Gutenberg, Edison, Turing

Media history versus media archeology

  • media science of Kassel
  • a history of the soul and senses (instead of through psychology and aesthetics) through media
  • Karl Knies & Gustav Schottle
  • George Prescott’s history of the telephone / photograph (1887)
  • John Ambrose Fleming history of the radio tube (1919)
  • insights through these histories were ‘beyond the reach of the hermeneutic study of texts’

Cultural Techniques

  • “cultural techniques are always older than the concepts that are generated from them” (Thomas Macho, “Zeit und Zahl: Kalender- und Zeitrechnung als Kulturtechniken”)
  • “reading writing and counting are physical rather than mental techniques” (Stieger) – “body techniques” (Mauss)
  • culture = colere and cultura = practical cultivation of the land
  • “Man does not exist independently of cultural techniques of hominization, time does not exist independently of cultural techniques for calculating and measuring time; space does not exist independently of cul- tural techniques for surveying and administering space; and so on.” – entanglement, situatedness, always-ever-mediated
  • Kehre – media anthropological turn
  • can we see cultural techniques as extensions of Mauss’ body techniques?  Perhaps not – e.g.: cooking (Levi Strauss’ quintessential body technique) in a pot cannot be seen as a functional extension, as you can’t cook without some kind of vessel. “You cannot boil anything in a hollow hand without losing your hand in the process.”  Nature and culture are functionally articulated by cooking.

 

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