Embodying Technesis: Technology beyond Writing (Studies in Literature and Science)

Embodying Technesis: Technology beyond Writing (Studies in Literature and Science)

Mark B.N. Hansen

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0472066625

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Critics of contemporary culture have argued that critical theory must keep pace with technological change and, in the process, have instituted a theoretical model that restricts consideration of technology's impact on human experience to those dimensions that can be captured in language. In this wide-ranging critical study of poststructuralism's legacy to contemporary cultural studies, Mark Hansen challenges the hegemony of this model, contending that technologies fundamentally alter our sensory experience and drastically affect what it means to live as embodied human agents.
Embodying Technesis examines how technological changes have rendered obsolete notions of technology as machine and as text. Voicing a sustained plea for rethinking the technological, Hansen argues that radical technological changes--from the steam engine to the internet and virtual reality--have fundamentally altered conditions of perception and, in so doing, changed the prevailing structures of modern experience. By emphasizing the dynamic interaction between technologies and bodies, between the diffuse effects of technological shifts and the collective embodied experiences of contemporary agents, Hansen opens the path for a radical revision of our understanding of the technological.
Mark Hansen is Assistant Professor of English, Princeton University.


















now set upon to yield nitrogen, the earth to yield ore, ore to yield uranium . . . ; uranium is set upon to yield atomic energy . . . ( 1 4-1 5/1 8-1 9 ) Herausfordern is made to designate both a mode of production unique to modernity and a mode of revealing like any other. In so doing, Heidegger perpetuates and in fact greatly expands the sway of his early subordination of technology (as Zuhandenheit) to the world-disclosing power of Dasein: he sacrifices his claim regarding the difference

invoked by the aforementioned cultural critics-materialities encountered in cultural and social life, in virtual hardware/software, and in the nonsignifying ele­ ments of language-all comprise examples of the quasi materiality (or rela­ tive exteriority) that Derrida's critique of logocentrism unleashes within the domain of thought. As mere supplements or material supports for the pro­ duction of knowledge/thought/desire, none can furnish the site for a resis­ tance against the imperialism of

Psychology to the mystic writing pad, I will begin with Freud's fully elaborated trauma model from Beyond the Pleasure Principle, where the reduction of exteriority is in full force, and move backward to the topo- logical derivation of external experience developed in the 1895 Project. Reading retrospectively in this way, I shall isolate an important dimension of Freud's initial conception of consciousness that has been subsequently overlooked: the "problem of quality" or the "temporal

for both receptivity and retention, Freud appears to institute an ontogenetic bias formally identical to the one governing Beyond. Despite their functional independence, �-functions remain exclusively in the service of the \If-system: limitless receptivity is required not to facilitate perceptual experience but rather to insure ever new content for the progressive consti­ tution of the \If-system . As in the case of the trauma model, everything here is in the service of the psychic system proper.

mental alterity of technology is simply effaced in a sweeping move that asserts the primacy of its derivative, reductive form. Yet while the operation of metalepsis makes detection of the machine reduction more difficult, by submitting it to deconstruction in the texts of each of the critics discussed in this study, I will uncover the presence of a prior, extensive, and dogmatic reduction of technology to the textual figure of the machine. By liberating technological materiality from its

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