Friday, May 5, 2017

Particles of deep topography - 17

Obscure texts and radio technology

Text: Kittler and the Media (TM - Theory and Media) (Geoffrey Winthrop-Young) - remixed
Illustrations: Rotterdam library, Rotterdam parking garage, WWII radio station near Rendlesham

Make your prose cryptic, with multiple meanings, this brings you closer to the truth:
One frequently has the impression that the author is writing not to communicate, but to amuse himself. His text consists of a tapestry of leitmotifs, puns, and cryptic pronouncements, which at times makes for fascinating reading, but too often resembles free association as much as it does serious scholarship. As in much poststructuralist writing here and abroad, the often-cited rigor is more an assertion of the convinced than a fact of the prose: analysis frequently cedes to apodictic statement; logic repeatedly yields to rhetorical flourishes.
Use conspiratorial themes woven around ubiquitous modern technology, and you will be right:
This war was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted . . . secretly, it was being dictated instead by the needs of technology . . . by a conspiracy between human beings and techniques, by something that needed the energy-burst of war, crying, “Money be damned, the very life of [insert name of Nation] is at stake,” but meaning, most likely, dawn is nearly here, I need my night’s blood, my funding, funding, ahh more, more. . . . The real crises were crises of allocation and priority, not among firms – it was only staged to look that way – but among the different Technologies, Plastics, Electronics, Aircraft, and their needs which are understood only by the ruling elite. (Pynchon 1987: 521)

And place these themes in urban or rural culture, to add layers of meaning:
Speed and acceleration have mandated the creation of special training camps that teach new forms of perception to sluggish people and accustom them to man-machine-synergies. This started in 1914 with the wristwatch and it will not end with today’s combat simulators. We can assume that in the interim period, when wars are not running in real-time, rock concerts and discos function as boot camps for perceptions that undermine the thresholds of perception. You can take the media out of war, but you can never take the war out of media. “Our discos are preparing our youth for a retaliatory strike”.
The more obscure technology references enhance the nostalgia, especially when looking at technology remnants in the landscape:
A world war, the first of its kind, had to break out to facilitate the switch from Poulsen’s arc transmission to Lieben or De Forest’s tube-type technology and the mass production of Fessenden’s experimental procedure”. In response, critics have raised the ironic question of whether this means “that without WWI radio technology would have been gathering dust in the basement[s] of various universities”.
Whether it is a matter of hi-fi technology living off innovations in aircraft and submarine location technologies, or of radio stations exploiting the VHF frequency modulation and signal multiplexing that had been indispensable for the successful coordination of “incredible” Wehrmacht panzer tactics, “the entertainment industry” – to quote one of Kittler’s most (in)famous aperçus – “is, in any conceivable sense of the word, nothing but an abuse of army equipment”.

About this series Over the years I've collected many place descriptions. It's a waste to keep them on my harddisk. So I'll publish them from time to time. I will add some pictures when suitable.
Enhanced and amplified topographies can be found in a broad range of literature. The best ones link to metaphysics or mysticism and (pre-) load the landscape with unexpected layers, sheets, slabs and strata of meaning. We can appropriate all this work to enrich our everyday surroundings.

Previous posts are 1:The paranoid method, 2:Rooftops and sacrifices, 3:Oil and electricity,  4:Sewing machines, 5:Rooftops and apparitions, 6:Woods, 7:Mushrooms, 8:Formlessness (2d), 9:Formlessness (3d), 10:Autumn, 11:Monsters and mad scientists, 12:Empty spaces, 13:Stars and planets, 14:Addiction against emptiness,  15:Suggestive vagueness, 16: Ominous places and books.

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