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Technologies of Writing: Interview with Friedrich A.

Kittler
Author(s): Matthew Griffin, Susanne Herrmann and Friedrich A. Kittler
Source: New Literary History, Vol. 27, No. 4, Literature, Media, and the Law (Autumn, 1996),
pp. 731-742
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20057388 .
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of Writing:
Technologies
Interview with Friedrich A. Kittler
Matthew

Griffin

and

Susanne

Herrmann

we could begin with your book Discourse Networks


1800/1900.
new
to
edition?
What
have
made
the
book
and how
the
you
Why
changes
do they reflect on your general project for literary studies?

Perhaps

a lot in terms of the book's basic


to
I didn't
change
approach
a few
I made
of writing.
literature and literary studies as technologies
more
to politics and extra-Germanic
literatures. The third
references
of the publisher. Nonetheless,
I am happy
me
is suddenly finding
that the book, which virtually had
blacklisted,
readers after having caused such a scandal ten years ago in literature
in Freiburg.
book almost cost me my position
It's
departments?the
can become
such an
outsider-book
strange for me how a complete
in the sense that the whole world?and
I don't just mean
insider-book,
edition

was more

the desire

of communication.
I'm
universities?is
talking about the materiality
or Paris,
I see exhibitions
like the ones in Marbach
fascinated when
the

with

dealing

writer's

his

tools-of-trade,

writing

material.

These

comment on his typewriter as their point of


take Nietzsche's
"Our writing materials
It wasn't
help write our thoughts."
departure:
exactly the most common practice ten years ago to place that thought at
the computer
the center of a Nietzsche
has
interpretation.
Apparentiy
exhibitions

had

such

widespread

effect

that

everyone

is aware

now

that

so-called

not quite over, has definitely


to
ceased
writing,
although
the state of the art. That's what is suddenly being reflected
represent
in the literary sciences. The book was, so to speak, ahead of its
upon
time, because at night after I had finished writing, I used to pick up the
iron and build circuits. I knew what was in store. I understood
soldering
an
a lot of electronic
I was making
electric circuit was because
what
music back then. And now that it's become
clear world-wide where the
normal

trend

is heading,

the book

has gained

its actuality.

The books popularity could be said to correspond to poststructuralisms


rise
the academy. You yourself came to the Humboldt
in 1993. Like
cultural studies is on everyone s lips these days. What do you
poststructuralism,
understand by cultural studies?
within

New Literary History,

1996, 27: 731-742

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732
The

NEW

of

concept

studies"

"cultural

as new

is not

as

LITERARY

HISTORY

seem.

it may

There

in Germany;
the
are, in fact, five such institutes for Kulturwissenschaften
one at the Humboldt
has existed some thirty years. That was, of course,
else back then. I don't know what it was like. It's not our job
something
not interested
in decon
the past. We're
to rehash and work through
some of the human
like
sciences
have
infinitum
ad
ourselves
structing
ourselves here in the
been forced to do in recent years. We understand
in the face
institute as an attempt to pose cultural-theoretical
questions
of technology.
Does cultural studies still think of itself as a continuation of the sociophilologic
based sciences, if one considers their division into disciplines such as English,
French, and German literatures, and soforth, to be obsolete?
that the movement
Yes and no. I think we all understand
away from
can
I did
monstrous
create
For
basis
the philologie
example,
problems.
for the
and it worked
a recent seminar,
"Aesthetic of the Colonies,"
a
as well as myself
because we could automatically
students
expect
and
the
could
certain philologie
everyone
languages
speak
competency:
had, for the most part, read the books. There has always been in the
basis for
a firm, that means mega-technologic,
disciplines
philologie
no
canon
is
referential
drifts away. There
work. In cultural studies every
no

model,

no

and

standard,

You're

curriculum.

you want, and you have


basis which you yourself
philologie

what

to do

free

essentially

also have

to hope

that the students


a transition figure.
bring as

the

does the study today of culture differentiate itselffrom, say, the critical theory
the Frankfurt School in the sixties, if one takes
practiced by the sociologists of
n?
sociology to be "the study of society

How

that cultural studies is a social science. Either we're


believe
cannot be an
turn or we're right. Sociology
of
the
reactionary
products
the philolo
If you abandon philology just because
ersatz for philology.
own
don't
their
reflect
don't
medium,
you
necessarily have to
upon
gists
to
the one positive thing about philology, namely, its reference
abandon
no
which
to talk instead about a nonspecific
a specific medium,
society
one can grasp. That's the reason why we're here at this institute. The
sciences work almost exclusively with books but don't write
philological
transformations.
a single word on the book in the course of its historical
to
book
the
medium
from
broaden
because
your analysis
you
Just
I don't

the

include

throw

numerous

everything

German

Luhmann

thinker

declares

media

away. Even
at

the

that

moment,

it to be useless

a culture,

constitute

Luhmann
but

is at wit's
what

society

you

don't

is, no

have

to

is the best

end. He
one

for his purposes.

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can

say.

Niklas
gies,

733

OF WRITING

TECHNOLOGIES

Luhmann's system theory is one of themost commonly applied methodolo


next to Derrida's deconstruction, at the moment in the philologies
in
s

to Derrida
which

of analysis
Of

an

however,

Germany?with,
in contrast

concept

shuts

he

course,

important

something

shuts

it seems,

returns,
. .

out:

something

Luhmann

difference.

of text,
out.

the

observer's

s
concept
of system,
to a hermeneutic
theory

blind

spot.

He

can't

so that
take that into account. He has to constantly change his position
is that he naturally can't
he can see yesterday's blind spot. The problem
spot the new blind spot, which has allowed him to spot yesterday's blind
but he doesn't
spot, and so on. He takes all that into consideration,
out of a molehill,
mountain
unlike Derrida who,
make a philosophical
with every sentence he writes, wants to have his cake and eat it.
s blind spot the old blind spot within thephilologies?that
they don't
or
own
medium?
this
the
site
cultural
their
Is
studies
takes
spot
up as
reflect upon
a theme? I am thinking of thePergamon Museum
in Berlin as a prime example

Is Luhmann

of

at

science

blind

work.

colonial

nineteenth-century

Schliemanns
politics.

"
"archaeology of the present. How
past archaeologies?
We

all, Derrida,

have

described

the

your

does cultural studies avoid

and

Luhmann,

are

excavations

You

work

myself,

using

dark
project

side
as

of
an

the blind spot of

methodolo

varying

in turn stem from different


fascinations.
in
Luhmann,
gies, which
contrast to Derrida and myself,
is less interested
in crises, catastrophes,
and violent upheavals.
he thinks in terms of contingency,
Although
a more
role
for him. Derrida
and myself are
important
certainty plays
more

in

interested

the foundation-less
as a structure.

The

then the museum


is in fact
houses
celebrate

the

of white

of

irruption

an

event

in a museum,

artifacts

into

of something

foundation

for

afterwards
are

example,

or

structures

apparent

which

first

functions
acquired,

stands there without


the fact that what it
revealing
the trail of a campaign.
Luhmann
would probably

reduction

noise,

endowment,

the

and

attenuation

of

the

contingency,

in the finished museum,


whereas
the ur-scene of inscription, would

the moment
be of more

reduction

of violent
interest to

me.

These

two

theoretical

tendencies

are

also

evident

as

tendencies

archaeologic

in

the

Pergamon. First, there is thefragmented ruin of the Pergamon temple, which


glorifies history as a process capable of integrating ruptures and breaks. Second,
you have the immaculate, fully reconstructed Ishtar Gate from Babylon, which is
an attempt, brick by brick, to reconstruct a totality at the site a ruin or
of
diaspora.
The

result

is a

simulacrum

of knowledge.

Those

are

for

me

two

examples

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of

an

734

NEW

which

archaeology

hasn

to

't
managed

the shadow

escape

LITERARY

its

of

HISTORY

paranoid

origins:

culture hides in theory s blind spot.


I can't really say. I haven't

been

You would definitely enjoy it. Another


about

the

guided headphone
You

can

critique

is that

Pergamon

say what
and

what

the

I can't

inside.

interesting and slightly disconcerting

majority

of

the museums

like,

Andreas

they

cant

Huyssen

hear
has

We'll

you.

called

the

are

visitors

tour. They wander through themuseum


you

it.

imagine

on

thing

the voice

like zombies. Walkmen.

return

later

"museumphobia"

to the zombie
of

the avant

garde. I wonder, however, if you wouldn 'tmind saying a few words about your
intellectual history. How did you come into contact with French poststructuralism?
is almost part of France, and I spent a lot of time in
Freiburg
we
where
read Lacan in seminars with French psychiatrists.
Strasbourg
in itself, that he spent the
Lacan visited us once, and that was wonderful
entire day with us.
to visit Freiburg
to see where
Derrida wanted
because
he wanted
had
where
had
and
where
eaten,
lived,
Heidegger
Heidegger
Heidegger
had fallen in love, and that's why he liked Freiburg. He never stopped
Well,

talking

about Heidegger.

And Foucault?
in person. The worst
I only have a few letters, I never met Foucault
me
meet
I
is
that
he
died
before
could
him.
He was the most
for
part
me because he was the most historical. That's
all
for
of
them
important
why he's the best to use and carry over into other fields. The people who
apply Derrida's
plagiarists,

and

method
are

for

to other
the most

fields

part

often

boring.

work

Lacan

like
wasn't

imitators
so

good

or
for

and besides I wasn't a psychoanalyst.


Foucault,
however,
appropriating,
concrete methodologies
and leaves so many historical
offers so many
fields open that there are endless amounts of work one can do with him.
on the media.
never expressed
He only used
himself
the
Foucault
a
me.
was
in
And
that
itself
for
medium
library.
breakthrough
You also taught in theU.S. How did that come about? What effect did it have on
your work? And how were your methods received in the U.S. ?
I was having a difficult
time back then in Freiburg and besides you
could still smoke in the early eighties in the U.S. First I was in Berkeley,
then Stanford, and then Santa Barbara on invitations from the Germanists
in Stanford were
The eight months
and David Wellbery.
Ted Anderson
a
on
me.
I noticed
that the whole
the best. That had
major
impact

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735

OF WRITING

TECHNOLOGIES

itself in
couldn't
Franco-Germanic
way of thought
quite maintain
but no one
California. You could explain Goethe, Val?ry, or Descartes,
at
to know so much about them. What the undergraduates
really wanted
Stanford, for example, wanted were short formulas. Then I realized that
to work with the Japanese
and Chinese
they were right. They had
because Asia is actually closer to California
cultures as well as European,
than Europe. They couldn't hold every single European
country under
some
were
a magnifying
There
also
physicists among the under
glass.
to
German
and
learn
about
wanted
who
history
simply
graduates
literature. They asked me what I thought about the theory of relativity.
Since I didn't know a thing about relativity, I went to the library and
of
transformation
then that the technological
started reading. I noticed
what we know, in terms of literary science, is the only thing that can be
transmitted
and, in fact, comes across, indeed, justifiably comes across,
in short, means
the
because
translating and applying
literary science,
to
structures
structures of the Gutenberg
those
of
the
electronic
age.
age
We transport those things that are similar, and the other, which can't be
carried over and communicated?that
is, the poet's Geist, the state of his
soul?we

leave

out.

the nature of writing. That was


typewriter, for instance, changed
as a medium.
In
of the end of the word's monopoly
the beginning
of
his
books
about
Mark
with
have
Twain
all
the
library
Berkeley,
they
one for himself, and I worked
that
the typewriter. Twain had purchased
the
into my writing. Back then the story about the typewriter interested
to
it.
for
In Germany,
hear
about
Americans.
wanted
Edison,
nobody
an
like
American
Goethe
for
for
is
culture,
important figure
example,
there is Edison.
Goethe
and myself
culture. But between
German
do.
don't like to hear this, but naturally Americans
Germans
universities
that in the libraries of American
I still find it remarkable
stand back
and mathematic
the books of the engineering
departments
So you read a little Goethe
for
to-back with those of the philologies.
The

or

transformation

in a natural
German

and

seminar

tomorrow's

entropy

science

you

encyclopedia

about entropy
me to be much

would

have

found

student

literature

at

the

the

Fourier
article

ten years

ago

miserable

small,

Cornell,

library and read up on entropy


through
he would have first encountered
how
probably
The
straight through
transdisciplinary,
physics.
to

about
a well-written

checked

the

trast

read

in a

article

seems to
and a long article on Goethe. The relationship
in America. When Thomas Pynchon was
better balanced
and

twenty-three

and

If you had

lexicon.

out

to find

you want
so you
over
go

then

interdisciplinary,

was

much

easier

he

could

and Bolzmann.
them?later

he

the disciplines,
in America.

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browse

That's
studied
in con

736

NEW

LITERARY

HISTORY

erases the boundaries between the sciences.


Discourse
Networks
1800/1900
The book is broken up into two sections: 1800 and 1900. The first
epistemic break
around 1800 occurs when what you call theRepublic of Scholars dissolves in the
wake of standard alphabetization. Your periodization into Renaissance/classical,
modern, and roughly postmodern corresponds in large toFoucault's division of
the third of theseperiods
European culture in The Order of Things. The end of
"
coincides, as Foucault states, with the end of "man as the central figure of
knowledge. Around 1900 the medium book's monopoly on the word is broken by
new media such as the
gramophone and film. The result is that language becomes
as
a
medium.
Mathematic formulas from Euler and Bolzano serve as
perceptible
epigraphs,

or mathemes,

to each

section.

How

would

you

characterize

these

two

equations?
I had the following
in mind: a sine
(Kitder goes to the blackboard.)
curve can be derived from Euler's equation,
that is, it's an equation
for
on
is
I
other
the
had
Bolzano's,
hand,
analog output;
digital.
originally
mottoes
from Borges and Casta?eda,
but I thought they were too poetic.
the formulas. Euler's formula, which
is actually
So I hid myself behind
more
was
wave
the
sine
than
I've
indeed
described,
just
simple
complex
a breakthrough
some seventy
in mathematics.
Both equations appeared
to the discourse
networks
which
Euler's
years prior
they describe.
sum is from 1830.1
formula is from 1735, and Bolzano's nonconvergent
to place both systems in the shadow of their mathematical
do
wanted
as
constant
of
had
described
functions
such
Euler
ability.
growth
growth
and compound
intro
interest, which are in effect the organic models
in their literature. How does something
duced by Goethe
and Herder
an individual grow more
more
intelli
independent,
grow? How does
is a
more
in
free?
Goethe's
for
Wilhelm
Meister
gent,
question,
example,
of compound
interest. Around
1900 the discrete
systems from
to
to Claude Shannon
The
model
is almost too
appear.
begin
a
it
establishes
because
between
binary opposition
binary and
simple,
a little more
I
it
think
could
be
made
nonbinary.
complicated
today.

question
Bolzano

Everyone wants to know what the discourse network 2000 looks like? I'm
not in such a hurry, besides
it can't be written.
I would
be more
one can't just leave it at the
in 1700 because
of
interested
Republic
have been written
here
in the past few years
Scholars. Dissertations
that is, the age of Leibniz and
which make it clear that the late baroque,
it out to be.
is not so simple as Foucault and myself have made
Descartes,
These

figures

gramophone,
to write
like
Descartes

to

are

part
or
film,
a

book

computer

of

our

radio

present.
are based

about

Descartes

The

mathematics

come
and

from
modern

this

upon
time

which
period.

geometry?from

graphics.

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the
I'd

You

737

OF WRITING

TECHNOLOGIES

the role

mention

in

literature

of

and

processing

transmitting

new

technolo

could be said to be an interdisciplinary model of


gies. Goethe's Elective Affinities
discursive force-fields. Goethe picks up the new theory of electricity and tries to use
it to explain the new social code arising around 1800 with the modern state,
and

bureaucratization,

the nuclear

family.

Pynchon,

one

in

expression

the cinema.

The

V-2

rocket,

at

the end

of

writers,

of your favorite

also transports elements of technology in his writing. Gravity's


describes a discourse network in the twentieth century which has
the novel,

on

Rainbow
its optimal
a

trajectory

from Swinemunde toward the Orpheum Theater in L.A., describes the transfer of
culture industry. What are the
Nazi military
technology to the Hollywood
contradictions between the two media novel and film in the twentieth century, if
for

example,

you

the novel

consider

nineteenth-century

art

form?

Can

the novel

do anything besides describe its own obsolescence? Would you say a few words on
the novel and film as media?
The human
sciences
of the nineteenth
century, such as statistics,
and so forth, are carried over by Goethe,
administration,
cameralistics,
as we've said, into literature. The novel takes part in the development
and rise of the new sciences of the eighteenth
century, for example,
contrast
to
in
the
old
sciences
like medicine
administration,
population
faculties. The whole experimental
research of the
and other medieval
nineteenth

century

record movement.
and
gramophone

to

attempts

find

out

how

one

can

measure

and

I am still interested

of the
today in the development
as
a
means
in
the
first
stylus,
telegraph's
are
too
to
which
fast
be
phenomena

the early
natural
recording
place
observed. Film dealt in the beginning
the movement
of
with recording
bodies. A science which no longer dealt with individuals or subjects, as
the administrative
sciences of the nineteenth
century had done, rather
film. The sciences
with naked bodies, joined up with the new medium
and control of the individual
that deal in turn with the organization
the bourgeois
with
the
subject. Media
theory can dispense
require
of

notion

The

of man

technological

left

over

media,

from

in

the

human

postmodernism's

sciences.

"gay

apocalypse,"

are

means

of

but the object of that revelation can also be a thorn in the side.
as Derrida -writes, the ritual
"Apocalypse" in ancient Hebrew denotes,
unveiling
or revelation of "a part of the body, the head or eyes, also a secret, the sexual
"
you describe Edward Muybridge's
organs. In "Grammophon Film Typewriter"
"
was originally commissioned
"Animal
which
Locomotion,
series,
photographic
as studies of bodies in (slow) motion.
for painters
Muybridge, however, couldn 't
. . .
afew
the
old
medium
He
made
paint.
completely give up
touch-ups to the stills
revelation,

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738

NEW

LITERARY

HISTORY

are
his models
Right. Those are the Stanford pictures. When
facing
on
the camera
have
but
their
when
backs are
trunks,
they
bathing
turned to the camera they're naked. They spin the entire time?he
had
them turning pirouettes?so
effect. The
you can imagine the uncanny
swim

are

trunks

Pennsylvania
for

pictures,

an

he didn't
educational

early

animation

bother.

trick.

They weren't

For

the

intended,

same

project

in

like the Stanford

purposes.

The

blind spot, since Conrad, has been the "heart of darkness" in Western
civilization. Blindness, however, for Nietzsche is a precondition of themedium: he
bought a typewriter because his eyesight had become so bad. Flaubert tells of sitting
the entire evening spellbound with book in hand, hitting a reading-high. Today
people sit for hours infront of their computers surfing theWeb. Can one speak of
a process of a medium-induced
blindness ?
That

the media
influence bodies through emergence
and immersion,
I don't believe
that point we both agree. However,
in the old thesis
to saying,
that thus the media are proth?ses of the body, which amounts
was the body, then came the glasses, then
in the beginning
suddenly
the computer. The mythology
is that
television, and from the television,
frees
the
from
itself
dissolves
and
in
it
everything
body,
again,
submerges

on

in

the

sense

of

emergence

and

immersion,

virtual

reality,

cinemascope,

and hallucination.
Your theory may be true for some of the entertain
ment media,
but I think to be able to describe a general media history,
to work,
it would
be better
like Luhmann,
from the
systematically
histories
of
the
media.
The
media
don't
independent
technological
from
the
rather
for
human
the
book,
emerge
you have,
body,
example,
and the military generals
in considering
how they can subvert the book
or the written word, come up with the
telegraph, namely, the telegraph
to
and
then
the
offset
wire;
military
they come up with the
telegraph,
builds
into his tanks. In England
Alan
radio, which Hitier
or
a
to
Churchill
beat
and
radio
war,
way
Turing
ponder
Germany's
they
to crack the radio signals?and
arrive at the computer
the German
is cooked,
that's the end of the war. A history
like this doesn't
goose

wireless

or a subject that expands


in and through
the
can do without
a
the subjective
of
agency
to
I think, it's a reasonable
historical
that
say
hypothesis
the media,
books and the written word, develop
including
indepen
dendy from the body. Even then, if you want to, you can describe how,
or commercial
the media
influence
and
means,
through
advertising
need

individual

media?such

separate

bodies
a history
actor. Rather,

bodies.

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This
and

739

OF WRITING

TECHNOLOGIES

is not exactly themost typical media


Adomo's

"

Deception

the

critique in thephilologies. Horkheimer

"Culture

Industry:

as Mass

Enlightenment

still seems to be read as the suitable description of our current cultural

The

landscape.

on

chapter

in their

which,

technologies

view,

make

"man"possible

also

make

In contrast to
possible the literal end of mankind in Auschwitz and Hiroshima.
theFrankfurt School's pessimistic assessment, one has the technological positivism
of

media

theorist

Bolz

Norbert

's remark:

"The

conversation

face-to-face

does

not

better than a teleconference. On the contrary, the more technological


"

function

communication

is,

the more

is

communication

progress

the

making.

I don't want to tie myself down with


not. I think Dialectic
of Enlightenment
Horkheimer
wood

the question,
apocalypse now or
is quite clear on that point.
treat Goebbels
'swar propaganda
and Holly

and Adorno
as

propaganda

and

two

facets

of

the other

same

the

but

One

phenomenon.

the authors

examine

is

as

them

commercial,
parallel aspects. That's the appalling
thing about the book. But it also
sense because
a sort of system
makes
it establishes
theory. It would be
nonsense
to say that the technological
media are all fatal and apocalyp
tic because
the apocalyptic
activate and
dangers which we constantly
are
not
engage
only provoked by the media but can also be discovered
military

by them. For instance, no one would know about the hole in the ozone
without
the media. On the one hand, we're probably the first humans
to
a hole in the
torn
have
men
in the ice age did too, we
ozone?maybe
don't

know?while

which

we

we

computer

on

computers,

can

describe

wouldn't

and
know

the

analyze

what

an

other

hand,

are

the ozone
ozone

layer

the

one

tool

layer. Without

with

the

is.

Horkheimer

and Adorno's critique of the technological media as the tools


of
or instrumentalized reason, is
control,
Apollinian
decidedly lopsided: they refuse
to acknowledge theDionysian aspect
of the new media as anything other than self
destructive. You know the linefrom The Who's "Tommy ": "that deaf, dumb, blind
"
kid sure could play pinball. Well, it's still not clear tome what
happens in your
version of history as media history to theproject which relies, as Walter
Benjamin
wrote about the Surrealists, on theDionysian
"forces of intoxication" inherent in
a medialized
body.
I've always
The

liked playing pinball.


It's a way of acquiring
quicker
and Du Bois-Reymond
discovery made
by Helmholtz

reflexes.
showed

that

the

nerves

are

the

slowest

electrical

connections

ten meters

on

earth.

is why a driver's
per second, and no faster, which
reaction time, 0.1 seconds,
is so slow. And that's perhaps also
why you
to train on
have
and other machines,
in a
pinball
technological
Some

advanced

society

or

culture

. . .

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740
The

is more

problem

me

Let

simple.

philologies

my

reformulate

don't know how to use

NEW

LITERARY

statement.

Most

HISTORY

us

of

in

the

other than text

the computer for anything

processing.

It's a sad situation.


courses in programming

I'm finally able?for


here at Humboldt.

the first

time?to

teach

that another form of alphabetization?

Programming?isn't

form. Have you ever had the


and quite an exciting
indeed,
on
that
write
what
you
paper actually happens? When
you
experience
a
is
It's almost like
program
computer,
constandy happening.
something
strike "enter," and then what you just wrote,
magic. You write something,
Yes,

not

learn

You

no

on an entirely

alphabetization
routines.

are

there

assuming

happens,

errors

different

to create

only

in your

also entails

field, which
and

paragraphs

a form

It's

program.

other
also

but

footnotes,

of

a regression
I see this as being
is and how to solve problems.
positive for cultural studies. I can't imagine that students today would
learn only to read and write using the twenty-six letters of the alphabet.
the
the integral function,
They should at least know some arithmetic,
about signs and functions. They should also
sine function?everything
Then
know at least two software
they'll be able to say
languages.

what

something
Under
wear,"

about
society
which

are

much
also

of

part

in terms of a system

examines

the most

happens

That

of

its own.

When

to
or

behave"
we

however,

society.
to
"what

understand

refers

studies

of signs. Cultural

in this new program

comes

to

"how

I think,

culture.

to and

systems.

sign

important

as

contrast

in

the moment,

such

more,

"culture"

What

is at

culture

what
falls

to the old model of critical thinking?


you

your

compare

program

computer

critically.
your literary essay or paper, you're already
thinking
to think historically,
Critical thinking can't be taught. I can teach people
and that in itself is quite critical . . . sometimes. A lot of what we have
the
for example,
touched on here goes back to acts of pure violence,
can
we
is
museum.
that
from
learn
What
of the
history
founding

with

structures

various
be

aren't

code

imported,

eternal.

systems?if
as

far

as

To

return,

the practice
possible,

into

however,

to

the

I have just described


the

human

sciences,

the

of

concept

could
not

really
just

as

or liberal arts student so that


science for the humanities
information
can get a position
in data entry if they can't find a job in teaching,
they
for themselves.
model
rather so that they acquire a methodological
There don't seem to be so many practical applications.

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741

OF WRITING

TECHNOLOGIES

"
/ have problems with terms like "the information highway. As an outsider it
seems tome that despite the outstanding technological advances, the content, that
is, the message of the medium, often remains banal. What do you expect from a
global network like the Internet?
Iwant from the Internet is information
What
you can't find in books.
on computer
the sociocollective
The Web represents
tech
knowledge
ever
could, because books would have to
nology much better than books
to describe
in depth. Today electronic
have thirty volumes
something
a
lead double life, once in tangible form as silicon and again as
elements
as a computer
a logical abstraction,
of itself with all the
description
relevant

not

data,

click

computer.

New

are

stored

you

want

in
to

A virtual
Exactly.
million

make

on

diagram

the wall,

on

can

You

as a

only

the

as

build,

also

as a simulation.

simulate
can

You

memory.
a simulation.

computer's

later

but

its behavior
in a real
on modules,
based
which
today

the circuit X and


are designed
computers

run

the

which

computer,

computer?
no

There's

other

in a

transistors

five million

way

to do

computer's

the moment

it. At

hard

drive,

are

there

that means

and

five
can

you

to the tenth degree.

mistakes

"
You recently published an article with the title "There Is No Software. What
happens with the discourse network between hard- and software of literature and
theory ?
learn something
in the humanities. When
We can definitely
I think
back on my old literary criticism,
the good essays are actually didactic
in programming.
How did Duke Carl Eugen von Wurtemberg
pieces
or
program Friedrich Schiller? I didn't write about Schiller's sentiments
because

religion,

princes
don't

need

What
studies,

programming,

final

which
School

question

an

bare-bones

for a specific
understanding

is a fundamental

a structural

adaptation
Frankfurt

was

I had

or

hardware

you need

hardware,

One

all

the novelist

program

model:

civil function
of

and

to

technology

understanding

automatization,

and

educators

in the state. You


grasp

of concepts
In

regulation.

that.

such

as

cultural

engineer's way of thinking is useful, rather than an


remains entirely on the surface, like you with your
. . .

about

programming.

Goethe's

amanuensis,

J.

P. Eckermann,

is responsible for an image of Goethe in conversation which has informed German


literature for some two hundred years. Would you say that the interview itself has
the quality of a programmable discourse network ?

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742

NEW

LITERARY

HISTORY

so that it
If you can describe
it well enough
and make
it plausible,
doesn't just remain a metaphor,
then I think it's an important
task. The
a
of
discourse
networks
involves
of pro
description
always
knowledge
on
in
con
his
theoretical
the
gramming.
Turing,
computer,
writings
and programming.
On the
standy draws the parallel between education
one hand, how do you program
the machine
and what should
it be
of?
On
the
do
other
what
do
He
with
children?
hand,
you
capable
always
It's at points
the parallels.
like these that the problems
of
emphasizes
cultural studies can be brought together with the problems of technology.
New York
(Translated

by Matthew

Griffin

and Susanne

University

Herrmann)

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