• Public Policy Forum of Canada, The Shattered Mirror: News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age (shatteredmirror.ca; 26 January 2017)

16: “[A]s early as 1964, Marshall McLuhan observed ‘the classified ads (and stock market quotations) are the bedrock of the press. Should an alternative source of easy access to such diverse daily information be found, the press would fold’.”

Carl Safina, “Thinking the Deep: The Abilities of the octopus offer insight into the evolution of animal intelligence,” The New York Times Book Review (1 January 2017) 9

“In Other Minds: the Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness [(N.Y. 2016)], Peter Godfrey-Smith hunts the commonalities and origins of sentience. He is an academic philosopher but also a diver. Watching octopuses watching him, our author considers minds and meanings. … Our last common ancestor, 600 million years ago, was a wormlike creature. Cephalopods are therefore an independent voyage into complexity. ‘This is probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien’ [writes Godfrey-Smith]. … Bone-free and shape-shifting, octopuses’ ‘body of pure possibility’ lets them flow through cracks the width of their eyes. … With neuron numbers comparable to those of mammals, octopuses’ brains are distributed; their arms harbor nearly twice as many neurons as their central brain (through which, incidentally, their esophagus passes. Not to mention: they have three hearts). Neural loops may give their arms their own form of memory. Their skin itself senses light and responds. An octopus is so suffused with its nervous system that it has no clear brain-body boundary. … Amid explosive evolution, you’d assume that speedy, grasping creatures evolved often. … Only vertebrates and cephalopods developed large, complex nervous systems. Contrary to some philosophers’ assumptions, consciousness doesn’t just project out; it is a relationship in traffic with the other world. … Future work will probably reveal the neural circuitries involved. Language isn’t required. As Godfrey-Smith notes, ‘very complex things go on inside other animals without the aid of speech.’ Octopuses have existed over a thousand times longer than humans. The sea is the original birthplace of the mind. ‘When you dive into the sea, you are diving into the origin of us all,’ Godfrey-Smith writes.

Friedrich Kittler, “Real Time Analysis, Time Axis Manipulation,” trans. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, Cultural Politics 13.1 (2017): 1-18

6: “History’s first … time manipulation technology was, of course, writing, especially in the shape of an alphabet that assigns a spatial position to each graphic sign representing a time-serial element in the chain of speech. Though Marshall McLuhan made this linearization responsible for all the one-sidedness of European culture, in truth and fact linearization is merely a necessary though by no means sufficient condition of written data processing. In order to intervene in a text composed of the finite elements of an alphabet, we need an empty space, the invention of which was always already implicit in that of the alphabet. Neither early Greek inscriptions nor early medieval manuscripts featured separations between words. As a result, any attempt to switch the position of the letters resulted in the same forgetfulness and data loss that occurs in oral speech. The only available intermediate storage device was the inevitably fallible human memory. But once there are empty spaces between words and on margins, individual letters can be manipulated as in a Turing machine.”

Ute Holl, The Moses Complex: Freud, Schoenberg, Straub/Huillet, trans. Michael Turnbull (Zurich-Berlin: Diaphanes, 2017)

16: “Media theories have repeatedly constructed their own Sinai situations. Despite the differences between the historical-materialist media theories of Walter Benjamin or Bertolt Brecht, the models of the Canadian school, or Gilbert Simondon’s differentiation of mechanical, industrial, and postindustrial technical objects as evolutionary forms, correspondences appear between radical media changes and juridical constitutions. Gregory Bateson’s ecological-cybernetic thought, together with systems-theoretical media theory, discourse-analytical, and media-archaeological studies or research into cultural techniques, reminds us that the transcendent is better initially understood as a material and operational relay on which social processes are regulated through recursion. The technical, aesthetic, and political spheres are made dependent on one another in this monitoring circuit. Only in this sense can the Old Testament be understood as the implementation of a universal order: ‘One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.’ The law always needs to be reconceived on the arrival of new strangers, if you decide not to combat unfamiliarity but to optimize communication.”


304:  “Only in an involvement with strangers and the alien can translation be thought of in terms of caesura and difference, … thus [opening up] a mnemohistorical exploration of the present as a psychohistory. Here the symptomatic, which for both Freud and Assmann manifests as the rise of violence in the context of monotheism, has to be deciphered in both directions; not only does the return of the suppressed [sic] point to violence at the beginning and in the dynamic of a progression to sensibility; conversely, it can be argued media-archaeologically and exactly in the tradition of the Canadian school of media studies that with the rise of new technical media—today still electronic according to McLuhan—an uneasiness in culture and memory is actualized and acts on the subject as unreliable and palpably foreign forces, as violent powers that also descend on collectives.”


William Robin, “A ‘New Music,’ Frugging Optional: Morton Subotnick’s ‘Silver Apples of the Moon’,” The New York Times (16 July 2017) [Arts] 10


“Soon after the Electric Circus [discotheque] opened, the label Nonesuch released ‘Silver Apples of the Moon,’ which became a milestone as the first electronic work conceived specifically for the LP medium. . . . Mr. Subotnick’s long career in electronic music, which influenced artists as disparate as Paul McCartney and Kraftwerk, began with an epiphany. While studying composition in the late 1950s as a graduate student at Mills College, he played regularly as a clarinetist with the San Francisco Symphony. ‘I was a divided person,’ he recalled, in a 2008 essay, of his separate roles as composer and performer. But when asked to write incidental music for a ‘King Lear’ production, Mr. Subotnick realized that the electronic medium could help merge this bifurcated identity. Steeped in the media theory of Marshall McLuhan, Mr. Subotnick conceived of what he called ‘music as studio art.’ ‘I could create and perform in my studio, and it would come out as a sound piece, which was at once a musical creation and a performance,’ he wrote.


[Morton Subotnick provided the soundtrack for McLuhan’s film Picnic in Space.]


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