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John Durham

Peters

Speaking into the air. A history of


the idea of communication

Introduction: the problem of communication


Kommunikasjonsbegrepet
Historiesyn
Solipsismandtelepathy
Latincommunicare
Meanings

Theoreticaldebates1920s

Inshort
4.MartinHeideggerBeing

Problematisk.Mytenomdenperfektedialogenog
fullkomneforstelsenmellomsinn.
ineveryactofhistoricalnarrationaconstructivist
principle(3).
Wordstypicalofthelatenineteenthcentury.Reflect
anindividualistculture.Thewallsofthemindas
impermeableorblissfullythin.
Impart,share,makecommon
>howtheconcepthascometoconnoteidealised
conceptionsofmutuality,good,sharing.
Impartingtogive,tomakeknown
Transferortransmission
Exchange.Leadingthewaytothehighstake
definitionofcommunicationascontact
betweeninteriorities.
Termforvariousmodesofsymbolic
interaction
Themechanismthroughwhichhuman
relationsdevelopallthesymbolsofthe
mind,togheterwiththemeansofconveying
themthroughspaceandpreservingthein
time(CooleyinPeters:9).
Visibleinphilosophyandinsocialthought.
1. Communicationasthedispersionof
persuasivesymbolsinorderotmanagemass
opinion(Lippmann,Lasswell).Mass
communication.Futureofdemocracy.
Communicationasthemanagementofmass
opinion
2. Communicationasthemeanstoeliminate
semanticdissonance.OgdenandRichards.
Sharingofconsciousness.Fearofsolipsism.
3. Communicationasaninsurmountablebarrier.
Alwaysfailingtoconnect.T.S.Eliot,Kafka,
VirginiaWolf.Fearingthatcommunicationin
realityisimpossible.Uselesssalliesfromthe
citadeloftheself.
communicationasbridgealwaysmeansanabyssis
somewherenear(16).
Notadheringtothenotionofcommunicationas

andTime(1927)
Thedisclosureofotherneess

5.JohnDewey(1927)
Theorchestrationofaction

Technicalandtherapeutic
discoursesafterWWII
Informationtheory
(communicationtheory)

Communicationas
therapeuticselfexpression
Petersmessage

mentalsharing.Communicationisaboutthe
constitutionofrelationshuip,therevelationof
otherness.Hisnotionofcommunicaitonwasneither
semantic(meaningsexchanged)norpragmatic
(actionscoordniated)butworlddisclosing(otherness
opened).
Communucationaspragmaticmakingdo.Eschewsa
semanticunderstandingofcommunication.The
universeasmorethanmatterandmindalsoabout
experience/culture:theworldthatopenupbetween
people.Communicationaspartakingandparticipating
inthecreationofacollectiveworld.
Thedevelopmentofcontrastbetweenmass
communicationandinterpersonalcommunicationin
the1930s.
Ofthe1940s.Shannon.Atheoryofsignals(notof
significance).Thediscourseofinformationinfiltrates
allareas(fromneuronstomarriagesandgood
managing).Weaver.Schramm.Imperfectionsof
humaninterchangecanbereadressedbyimproved
technology.
Authenticdisclosure.Bothininterpersonaland
internationallevels(UNin1945).JulianHuxley,
GregoryBateson.CarlR.Rogers.Communicationas
cureanddisease.
Theexpansionofmeansdoesnotnecessarilyleadto
theexpansionofminds.Orchestratingcollective
being.

ONE: Dialogue and dissemination


Themistakeofblamingthe
media

fordistortingdialogue.Rathermediacritiqueshould
beaboutmattersofpower(concentration).Second,
theneedtoavoidtechnological/mediadeterminism.
Mediatechnologiesareapplied.Theirsocial
applicationsarenotinherentintechnology.Third,
dialoguecanbetyrannical,anddisseminationcanbe
just.
Socratescritiqueofwritingpartofalargercritique.
DialogueandErosinthe
Couplingbetweenpersonandperson,soulandsoul.
Phaedrus
Eros,nottransmission.Writingallowsstrange
couplings>worriesabouteroticperversion.
Theconnectionbetweentherefusaltowriteandthe
refusiontopenetrate.Bothareasymmetricalrelations.
Knowingtheaudience Therhetoricianmustfitthetropesandtopoitothe
listenere.Foolishtoscatterwordsuncriticallytothe
masses.Reciprocalcouplingofspeakerandhearer.

Critiqueofwriting Writingcreatesthiskindofscatter.Nofitwiththe
audience.Destroysmemory.
Resembleslatercritiqueof Phaedrusspellsoutclearlythenormativebasisofthe
media critiqueofmedia(whichperhapsiswhyPetersdoes
notbothertodealwithallmedia?).
Acritiqueofpromiscuity ratherthanofwritingperse.
Pretendedlivepresence butinfactembalmedintelligence.
Disseminationasdesirable.
Disseminationinthe
Theparabelofthesoweraboutthediversityof
Synopticgospels
audienceinterpretations.Sortofanencoding
decodingmodel.Theaudiencehavetheinterpretative
burden.
Thewastefulact
Godlikelove/agapeisalwayswastefulandfigured
likebroadcasting.
Onewaycommunicationnot Andreciprocitymaybeviolent:warandvengeance.
necessarilybad
Whatwouldsociallifebeifnothingbutreciprocity
governed.
Giftgivingasanilluminatingparallel.
Petersconclusion?
Nothingethicallydeficientaboutbroadcasting.
Chasmsbetweensenderandreceivernotalwaystobe
bridgedtheyaresometimesvistastobe
appreciatedordistancestoberespected.
Reciprocityisamoralideal,butitsinsufficient.

TWO: History of an error: the spiritualist tradition


Thevisionofsoultosoul
converse
e.g.AugustineandLocke

Spiritualisttradition

Peterstheundesirabilityof
soultosoulcommunication

CHRISTIANSOURCES

1. earlyChristianity
2. Britishempiricism(Locke)
3. spiritualism
>importantforourunderstandingofcommunication
Theinteriorityoftheself
Signasavesseltobefilledwithcontent/meaning.
Theselfasaneternal,selfidenticalsoul.Thesoulas
selfexistentanddetachable.
Etheralmodesofthoughttransference.The
immediatepurityofmeaningminds.
Thedreamofperfectcommunicationi.e.shared
interiorities/thehassleofimperfectmedia.
Firstthismodel/dreamisdangerousdespairatthe
impossibilityofcommunication(cooperationsis
availableandpossibleinanycase).Unnecessaryfair
ofcommunicationbreakdown.Respectingdisdain
forcommunication/interactions.
TheGospelofJohn:thecharacteristicallydouble
mixtureofbreakdownandsoulfulunity.Dialogueas
motivatedbymisunderstandinginthefirstplace.

Theontologicaldative
1.Augustine:thespiritof
theletter
Asign

>possibletothinkofhowpersonscansharespiritual
substance.
Helpedbuildtheideaoftheinteriorselfandthe
dreamofovercomingitincommunication.
Amarkerofinteriorandexteriorrealities.Wordsare
pointerstothingsmentalandmaterialtheirvalue
liesoutsidethem.Thesignisonlyaninterpretive
help.
Thewordissplitintoabody(sound)andspirit
(meaning).Thewordpointstoexternalandinternal
realities.Importantforrevealinginteriorsthought
andspirit.

Yetwritingrankedbelow
speech?

2.Angels:theprincipleof
bodilyindifference

BRITISHEMPIRICISM
Latincommunicare
Psychophysicalspeculations

JohnLocke:private
propertiesofmeaning

Signs
Theideaidea

Twosortsofdiscourse
Languageasconveys

()lettershavebeeninvendedthatwemightbe
abletoconversealsowiththeabsent;buttheseare
signsofwords,aswordsthemselvesaresignsinour
conversationsofthosethingswhichwethink.
Presenceasprioritised.
Difficultpages(7374).
Angelspresentamodelofcommunicationasitshould
be.Anidealspeechsituation.Purebodiesofmeaning.
ThomasAquinas.
Angeologygivestheintellectualbasisforthedream
ofsharedinteriorsincommunication.
Frommattertomind:communicationinthe
seventeenthcentury
withnospecialreferencetosharingthoughts.
FrancisBaconsomelighteffluxionsfromspiritto
spirit.
JosephGlanvillonaethervibrationsfrommindto
mind.Thefusionofmentalandmaterialprocesses.
JohnWilkins:ambitionsofspeedinlongdistance
communication.
NewtonianphysicsandNewtonsdescriptionof
gravity,andgravityastravellinginmedium.
Communicationtodescribethesharingofideas
betweenpeople.Lockesconceptualisationof
communicationminglesoldsensesofthetermwith
innovativeones.Communicationnotasspeech,
rhetoric,discourse,butastheiridealendresult.
asproperty.Themeaningsofwordsasasortof
privatepropertyintheindividualsinterior.The
subjectificationoftheworld.
(Descartes).Humanunderstandingbasedonsenses.
Nodirectaccesstotherealworld.Ideasasraw
materialsofallknowledge.
Theimpossibilitytocommunicatefromsoultosoul?
Theinternalstreamofideasderivingformsensation
andreflection;thepublicorexternaluseoflanguage.
TheinnerwordisauthorativeforLocke.
Languageismeansoftransportingideas.Wordasa
receptableofmeaning,asthebodyisthereceptableof
thesoul.Communicationasaproblemoftransporting
mentalcargo.

Communicationbreakdown

looms.
Communicationparadoxicalconcept:freedomto
combinewordsandideas/hopesforexact
correspondence(whichisimpossible?).
Fromprivateexperiencesto (theinverseproblemofproperty).Howcancommon
commonworld?
meaningcometoexist?
Communication
CombininganAugustiniansemioticofinnterand
outer,apoliticalprogramofindividualliberty,anda
scientificimaginationofcleanprocessesof
transmission.
NINETEENTHCENTURY Agonyofsolitudeandyearningforunity.
Romanticism.
SPIRITUALISM
FranzAntonMesmer(17431815).
Dr.Mesmerandhisfluids
Animalmagnetism(latinanimusspirit).Gravitation
holdsplanetsinorbitanimalmagnetismholdssouls
inloveandhealthandcommunication.Magnetized
fluidsthroughbodies.
>creatingtheimageofthetotalfusionoftwoormore
souls.Enrepport.
Mesmericcontrol>
i.e.appearsinvisionsofmasscommunication.
hypnotism
Mesmerismhelpedshapetheunderstandingofmass
mediaasagentsofmasscontrolandpersuasion.
Mesmerismandtelegraphy<electricalconnection
Spiritualistmediumsand
betweenindividuals.
media
Spiritualismexplicitelymodelleditselfonthe
telegraphsabilitytoreceiveremotemessages.
Spiritphotography.
Ectoplasm
SocietyforPsychicalresearch
Etherfrolics:psychical
>twofoldaimofendingtheanarchyofpopular
research
spiritualismwhilepreservingaproperlyscientific
holdonthesupersensualuniverse.
Ether
Theuniverseheldtogetherbyatranscendentinvisible
principleoforder.
JamesClerkMaxwell
Anticipateswirelesstelegraphy.Theethermedium.
Ether
Survivesasafigureofspeechalthoughdemolished
byEinsteinstheoryofrelativityin1905,
Radio/telepathy
>contactbetweenpeopleviaaninvisiblematerial
linkageradiowavestravellingthroughtheether.
Theelectromagneticspectrum.
Brainwaves
Thepropagationofwirelesssignalsandthesharingof
thoughtsasalliedprocesses.
Alongstringofnotions,dispensingwithmeidation
THEPOINT
andinterpretation,investthemodernnotionof
communication.
Communicationrepresentastateofshared
understandingandsympathybetweenpeople.

THREE: Toward a more robust vision of spirit: Hegel, Marx, and


Kierkegaard
Mainprinciples
Hegelonrecognition

Communication

Spirit

Subjectivityandself
Meaning

Marx(versusLocke)on
money
Locke
DisputebetweenLockeand
Marx

1. theirreducibilityofembodiment
2. thedoublenessofself
3. thepublicnessofmeaning
Phenomenology.
1. Thereisnocontentseparatefromform.No
messageapartfromachannel.Spiritdoesnot
existwithoutabody.
2. Communicationisaproblemoftheobjectas
muchasthesubject.Ansich(ontologically
possible)vs.frsich(explicitely).
Notaboutmovingmindstuff,butaboutestablishing
theconditionsforsubjectstoexistfrsich
recognitionofselfconsciousindividuals.Thereisno
selfwithoutanother.Selfconsciousnessachievesits
satisfactiononlyinanotherselfconsciousness.Is
thissomethingIcanusealsowhendiscussing
relationsofselfidentityandothers?
Geist.Theexperienceofthesimultaneousdiversity
andunityofselfconsciousnesses.I=We.human
natureonlyreallyexistsinanachievedcommunity
[Gemeinsamkeit]ofconsciousness,
Onessubjectivityisinsichwhenithasnotyetbeen
recognizedbyanother.Recognition>subjectivityfr
sich.Theselfhasthusnopriviligedaccesstoitself.
TheconceptionofGeistlocatesmeaningaspublic
ratherthanprivate.Geistconsistsinthematerial
inscriptionsofcultureandintheembodied
communityofinterpreters.
Theobjectivityofmeaning>meaningsareinthings
independentofpeopleinterpretingthem>anaccount
ofcommunicationaptforthemodernmediaage.
Typicallyexpressionsofthehumanspiritseparatedin
timeandspacefromthebodiesoftheproducersof
meaning.
>thebasisformuchofthedeepstructureofmodern
mediaanalysis.Marxcriticizesdisseminativemedia.
Moneyasamediumofexchangeandamediumof
representation.
Natureasanidyllofreciprocity.Welcomes
dissemination.Moneycollectedwithoutanyharmto
onesneighbourgs.
Whethertheoriginaldyadofsubjectandobject
remainsthenormativemodelorreplacedby

Moneyasmass
communication

Dialogicrelations

Petershowever

Kierkegaardsincognitos
Communication

Mediumandmessage

Misunderstandings

somethingmoreextendedandplural?
Moneyturnsdialogueintodissemination.
Marxprefersdialogue,justcommunicationbetween
equalsubjects.Moneydistortsthenormativehuman
relationshipofpersontoperson.Reciprocalityjust
exchange.
Disseminationbroadcastingiswasteful.
Thesubstanceofourcommunicationpracticesasthe
orchestrationofoursocialworldsandasacriterionof
thegoodsociety.
Failuresofcommunicationowelesstosemantic
mismatchesthantounjustallocationsofsymbolicand
materialresources.
TheMarxisttraditionriskswritingoffdissemination
basedonitsonewaytransmissionalone,insteadof
acknowledgingthevaryingrelationsofjusticethat
mightinformit.(127).
Theindividualisincommensurablewithreality.
Meddelelseasapersephilosophicalproblem.
Communicationislessamatterofbetter
understandingthanofstrategicmisunderstanding.As
revealingandconceiling,notasinformation
exchange.Nevertransmissionofpurethought.
Theutteranceistiedtotheethosofitsspeaker.
Asignissomethingdifferentfromwhatit
immediatelyis.
Theimpossibilityofdirectcommunication.
Inevitableinseveralsituations.Inaworldof
paradoxes,easycommunicationisnecessaryfalse.
Communicationdoesnotnecessarilyimprove
relationsorclarifytheunderlyingreasonsofthings.

FOUR: Phantasms of the living, dialogues with the dead


RECORDINGAND
TRANSMISSION
Telegraphfitsintothe
lineageofAugustine
Paralleluniverse
Phantasmsoftheliving

Mediatechnologiesconquertheobstaclesofdistance
anddeath.Teleandgraphy.Spacebindingmedia
andtimebindingmedia(Innis).
andtheangelsandMesmer:communicationwithout
embodiement,contactachievedbythesharingof
spiritual(eletrical)fluids.
Theseparationoftransportationfromcommunication
>conjuringofaparalleluniverse,universeof
replicas.
FredericMyers.fortheapparitions
[ghosts/phantoms]proliferatinginthespiritualist
culture.
Today:Loadsofphantasmsofthelivingappearingin
media.Duplicatinganddistributingindiciaofhuman
presence.

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Parallelingdiscussions
concerningathenticity

Continuingthedreamof
angeliccontact
Newarchivesof
consciousness

Nineteenthcenturyworriesabouttheabilityto
appearapartfromtheflesh.Createdadialectical
crisisofrepresentation.Interactioncouldwiththe
developmentofmediatechnologiesmeaninteraction
withtraces.
Byclaimingtobreakthebondsofdistanceanddeath.

Notonlyashearingandseeingaids.Mediaof
transmission>crosscutsthroughspace.Recording
media>crosscutsthroughtime.
Hawtorneshauntedhouse NathanielHawtornesHouseofthesevengables
(1851).Thealmostspriritualnatureofthetelegraph
andthephotography.
NineteenthcenturyVictorianssearchfor
HERMENEUTICSAS
COMMUNICATION communicationwiththedistantanddead.
Romanticismwithdeath.
WITHTHEDEAD
Existentialfactsabout
1. theabundanceoftracesofthedead.Living
modernmedia
minglingwiththedead.
2. thdifficultyofdistinguishingcommunication
atadistancefromcommunicationwiththe
dead.
Communicationwiththe
Theparadigmcaseofhermeneutics:theartof
dead
interpretationwherenodialogueispossible.
Twostreamsofhermeneutics
1. Scleiermacher,Dilthey,Gadamer:
interpretation>openupsomethingmorethan
text>contactbetweenthelivingandthedead.
2. Morehereticaltradition(Hegel,Marx,
Kierkegaard):awarenessofthe
impossibilities,relationswitheventheliving
asinsomewayhermeneutic,asinthe
interpretationoftraces.
PaulRicoeur
Hermeneuticsisaboutthedistortionofdialogue.Text
transcendsitsauthorsintent,originalaudience,and
situationofenunciation.
Interpretation,notdialogue
Mediationofmodernmedia>interpretationmore
typicalthandialogue.()asitwere,intothevoid,
oratleasttothosewhohaveearstohear.Theyawait
completionoftheloop(151).
Rhetorics:howtogetthemessageacrossthegap
Hermeneutics:howtoreadtextsnotadressedtothem.
Letterwriting
(TheheartofBrazilaswonderfulexample).No
necessarycorrescpondence.
Especiallyaboutletterstothedead.
CemetaryfromGreekkoimeterionmeaning
Emerson:theporcupine
dormitory.Communionbetweenthelivingandthe
impossibilityof
dead.Emersondoesnotbelieveinanysoultosoul
contact
connectionbetweenthelivingandthedeadbutan

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interpretationofthetracesofthedead.

12

Paradigmaticforall
communication

Philosophicalscepticism

Threehorrorsgiventothe
20thcentury
Bartleby:scriveningas
dissemination

moraltyrannyofdialogism
Thephonographand
distorteddialogue
Doortothespiritworld
Modernmedia

DEADLETTERS

>Privateletters

Immediatecontactisneverpossible.Notwiththe
dead,andnotbetweentheliving.Theimpossibilityof
dialogue>theuniverseasaconstanttransmissionto
thosewhohaveearstohear.Messagesdonotevenbe
intendedasmessages(whichmakesalotofsenseif
youthinkofarcheologicalmethods).Whatever
meaningwefindislefttoourpowerofcreative
reading.
Proofofrealityoutsideofourownperceptions?
Forerunneroflaterscepticismabouttherealityofthe
imagesandreportsofthemedia.
Butdoesitmatterwhetheritisauthenticornot?
Emersonseescommunicationasamatterofgiving
andreceivingwithoutanykindofcoordinationofthe
two.
1. aGodforsakenuniverse
2. aselflostinitsownlabyrinth
3. peopledepletedofsubstantivebeing
HermanMevillesBarthelytheScrivener(1853).
Bartlebyastheultimateimpersonalityin
communication.
Thelinkfromtheagoniesofcommunicationofmid
19thcenturytofindesiecleidealismandto20th
centuryexistensialism.Allexaminethemediathat
putsusiincircuitsofcommunicationwiththeabsent.
Notinitselfanadequatecommunicativevehiclefor
bearingthevarietiesofmoralexperience.
Modernmediapreserveotherwiseevanescentghosts.
Butthephongraphismoretypicalsymbolof
modernitythanphotography.Firsttimetocopysound
tocapturetime.
SeeforinstanceFriedlandersGoethestoryinKittler
(page59).
>theexternalizationofthefragileandflickering
stuffofsubjectivityandmemoryintoapermanent
formthatcanbeplayedbackatwill.Thesupposed
easeoftransferwaspaidforwithghosliness(164).
Divisionofgenresbetweenpersonalandpublic
correspondencedevelopedin19thcentury.Letters
weremorelikepostcardsbothprivatelyadressed
andpubliclyaccessible.
1. Poststamp(1840)
2. Envelopes(1849)
3. Streetdropboxes(1858)
Madetheindividualsendersovereignovertheletter.
Transformedlettersfromcreaturesofdissemination
intocreaturesofapparentdialogue.

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Deadletters

Suggestingthepathosof
communicationbreak
down
Comstockandthedangers
ofpostal
dissemination

Theinvasionofprivacyas
dissemination
Commonthread

DeadLetterOffice(1825)forsortingandcollecting
mailwithadressproblems.Theproblemwithdead
lettersisthatmortalbeingsmissgettingintouch(not
thatmindsfailtosharethemeaningofsigns).Dead
LetterOfficedealswiththematerialityof
communication.
Theletterthatneverarrives.
()butwhatisthemeaningoftheletterburnedin
theDeadLetterOfficewhosewriterdoesnotknowit
islostandwhoserecipientdoesnotknowitwasever
sent(171)?
Foughtagainstwhatheperceivedtobethedangerous
disseminationoferoticletters.Oratleastthe
possibility/thepotential.Wrathagainsttheprivacyof
theletters,andwasessentiallyworriedaboutchildren
andyoungpeople.Linkingdistantbodies.
Benjamin:theageofmechanicalreproduction
Bothsexandmediareproducelikeness.
SamuelD.WarrenandLouisD.Brandeistryingto
containdisseminationcriticisingthepressfor
invadingtheprivate,andoversteppinganybordersof
proprietyanddecency.Privacyindanger.
Thewaysthatpersontopersoncommunication,once
recordedandtransmitted,canbreakfreeofitssenders
andreceivers.

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FIVE: the quest for authentic connection, or bridging the chasm


Wirsindsehreinsam

Bifurcatedvisionof
communication
Thequestforremotecontact
acrossmedia

THEINTERPERSONAL
WALLSOF
IDEALISM
Latenineteenthcentury
AngloAmerican
idealism
JosiahRoyce

Maxwellstwooptionsregardingactionatadistance:
1. Actionatadistancecanneveroccur:thereis
alwayssomelineofcommunication/ether
connectingthetwointeractingbodies.
2. Spacealwaysintervenesbetweenbodies:
actionatadistanceistheonlykindofaction
whicheveroccurs.
Thedreamofspirittospiritcontactvs.theprospect
thateventouchisanillusionstemmingfromour
senseorgansinsensitivitytotheinfinitedistances
betweenbodiesandchasmsbetweensouls.
>modernerosemerge.Erosastheattractionand
repulsionbetweenbodies.Theintellectualhistoryof
communicationisarecordoftheerotic
complicationsofmodernlife(180).
Thedesireforthepresenceoftheabsentother.

RoyceandBradley:theexampleofinmatesof
separaterooms.
Homoclausus
Platoscavemeetstheproblemofintersubjective
knowledge.

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F.H.Bradley

Absoluteidealism.
Theinsulationofsubjectiveexperience.Nodirect
connexionbetweensouls.Theonlywayto
communicateisviaourbodies.Opaqueandpeculiar
individualworlds.Communicationisalwaysamatter
ofinterferenceandinterpretation.Wearenottrapped
communicationispossible.
WilliamErnestHocking
Notquiteanidealist,butdealtwiththeproblemof
communication.Exploredalienationfromselfand
others.Communicationbreakdownsoulscannot
toucheachother.Takestheidealisttropeofthewall
installsitinthebody.ButHockingdobelievein
couplingsinthecommonworld.Embodimentcrucial
forthinking.Mindsconnectedtobodies.
Mediationisproductive Descentintophysicalexpressionisaprogressinto
validandactiveexistence.
CharlesHortonCooley
Aclearidealist.
Theoreticaldisembodimenttogetherwithanearly
accountofcommunicationin20thcenturysocial
thought.
Inthewakeofmodernmedia >newconceptionsofcommunication.
Communicationasindependentofphysical
transportation.Theproblemofcommunicationinthe
absenceofthecommunicant.
Twosensesof
1. Communicationastransfer.
communication
2. Transportationandasthecommunionof
psyches.
Meansbothfellowshipinthoughandthedestruction
ofdistance.Bypassingtheflesh.
Communicationmakesgeographyirrelevant.Media
asthemoversofsocialchange.Clearparallelsto
InnisandMcLuhan.
Sincecommunicationistheprecisemeasureofthe
possibilityofsocialorganization,ofgood
understandingamongmen,relationsthatarebeyond
itsrangearenottrulysocial,butmechanical(Cooley
inPetersp.185).Signsmediateourrelations.
Noimportancetothebody
Thebodyhasnoprivilegeasacarrierofpersonality.
perse
Embodimentdoesnotmatter(whichPeterscriticises).
FRAUDANDCONTACT? WillamJamesexplorespsychicalcommunication,
butdiscussesaspectsofcommunicationrelevantfor
JAMESON
thewholehistoryoftheconceptofcommunication.
PSYCHICAL
RESEARCH
ReserchingthemediumPiper Butnotcomprehendedasalivecontactwitharemote
spirit.PiperislessaMarconistationthana
phonographplayingarecordcutyearsago(192).
AgainFriedlandersGoethestory(Kittlerpage59)

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comestomind.

17

Hermeneutics,notspirit
travel
SimiliaritiestotheTuring
test

REACHOUTAND
TOUCHSOMEONE:
THETELEPHONIC
UNCANNY

Frompublictoprivate
Negotiationsofidentity

Kafkaandthetelephone

Allencompassingsigns

Modernmedia
RADIO:
BROADCASTING
AS
DISSEMINATION

Dialoguewiththedeadconcernsinterpretationasin
hermeneutics:authenticating,eavesdropping,and
sourcecriticism(>JameswasafriendofDilthey).
Structuralsimilarities:thestruggletodistinguisha
realhumanbeingfromasimulatedonewhenaccess
totheotherspresenceiscloakedbyanintervening
medium.
Exploresverycentralissuesincommunicationtheory:
Whathappenswhenimagesofpersonstravelapart
fromthebody?Whenisamessageamessage?
Bothtelephoneandwirelesstechnologiescanbe
eitheracentralexchangeformanyvoicesorameans
fofpointtopointcontact.Notsomuchaboutthe
characteristicsofthemediumaswhatconstellationof
speakersandhearershasbecomenormative.Peters
seemstohaveaveryinstrumentalperspectiveon
technology.
Butanideathatwasslowincoming.
Thetelephoneoperatorascyborginhabita
profoundlyliminalspace.
asaresultofthelackingaccesstobodilypresence.
Onedidnotknowwhomonewasadressing.Being
presencebyvoicealone.
Evidentparallelstoclaimsregardingtheanonymity
ofonlineinteractions.Theproblemofknowing
whetheronehasmadecontactatall.
Allhermeneuticsreadingtextsbyanunintented
audience,likeeavesdropping.Audiencesbearthe
wholeinterpretationburden.
TheNeighbor:astoryofdobbelgngeranda
telephone>involvemysterioussplittingsofidentity
andconversation.
Thecasle:again,theburdenofinterpretations
necessaryformodernlife.
Allaroundus,butrefusetotellushowtoreadthem.
Theinabilitytomakecertainwhetherasignisa
projectionoftheselforanutteranceoftheother,an
interpretiveartifactoranobjectivepatterninthe
world()(203).
Whoownsmeaning?
Alimbooflostconnectionsinallmodernmedia.
Publiccommunicationasdeadlettersondisplayatall
times.
Theinherentpublicityoftheradiosignal,but
broadcastingnotselfevident.Theradiofirst
conceivedasameansofpointtopoint
communication.Itspublicreachperceivedasa

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(ANDDIALOGUE)

problem.

19

Instrumentalism,not
determinism

Deformedcommunication
circuit

Theywillnevermakea
junction
DXing/CQ
>newcommunicative
settings
Thefearsofsolipsismand
communication
breakdownreplicated
Compensatorydialogism
Intimacytools

Masscommunication
Hocestcorpus,hocus
pocus
Freudoncommunication

Body/liveness
Adornosfalseconsciousness

Anexhibitoftheprinciplethatculturalpreconcetion
shapestheusesoftechnologyasmuchasitsinternal
propertiesdo,radiobroadcastingwasnotembraced
untilwirelesstechnologyhadbeeninuseforaquarter
ofacentury(207).
Thetransmissionofintelligencewaslefttochance.
Privatelycontrolledtransmissionbutpublicreception
(opositeofcommoncarriage).
CommoncarrriagelikeSokratesinPhaedrus:
guaranteethedeliveryoftheseed.
BroadcastinglikeJesusintheparableofthesower:
scatteringthemessagetoall.
Thetroublingdistancebetweensenderandaudience.
Communicationwithoutbodies.>Idealisms
sperataterooms;telephonysseveringofa
conversationintotwodisconnectedhalves.
Searchforsignalsfromremotestations.Eroticin
nature:yearningforcontact.DXingasanallegoryof
faith.
Invisibilityanddomesticsetting.Whatis
communicationwithoutbodiesorpresence?
Loosenednormsofattentiveness
Theunknownlisteners,thelackofinteraction,the
speakingintotheair.
Inart,literatureandphilosophyintheinterwaryears.
Thesearchfornewformsofauthenticity,intimacy
andtouchnotbasedonimmediatephysicalpresence.
Compensationsforlostpresences.
Intimatesoundspaces,domesticgenres,cozyspeech
styles,radiopersonalities.Thefosteringofweness,
dialogicalinclusion,intimateadressremainedatthe
core.ClearparalleltoEllisssenseofintimacy.
Providingthelistenereswithasenseofparticipation
ormembership.
Doesthusnotcapturethetacticsofinterpersonal
appeal.
Despiteaninterpersonalappeal,therelationshipof
bodytobodycouldnotbeentirelyrestored.
Whathappenswhendyadicform(communication)is
technologicallystretchedtoagiantdegree(mass).
Eachmediumasanattempttocoverahumanlack,to
fillthegapbetweenourselvesandthegods.
Body/painfleshethosauthenticity.
Thelistnertuckedintoacocoonofunreflective
security.Similaritiestothecritiqueproposedby
SocratesinPhaedrus:thewasteofseeds.Authentic
interactioncanonlyoccurwhenonesubject

20

Merton:senseofcommunity

InMaxwellsterms

encounteredanotherinitsobjectivity.
Massritualsasvicariousinteractionsforwhich
directpersonalinvolvementwasirrelevant.
Thepossibilityofthemediamadecommunity.To
Merton,symbolsworkingatadistancecanafford
authenticsociability.
Merton:actionatadistance
Adorno:allimmediacyislacedwithinfinitesimal
gaps.

21

SIX: Machines, animals, and aliens: Horizons of incommunicability


Abyssesofcommunication
threatens

Dialogueastheanswer,butoftenalsothevirus.
Communicationisnotdistincttohumans,speechis.
Communicationrevealsourmechanical,bestialand
etherealresemblances.
Disembodiment
Totalkonthetelephoneistoidentifyanacoustic
effigyofthepersonwithanembodiedpresence
(228).Communicationinfactasasymptomofthe
disembodiementofinteraction(seeLuhmannor
Thompson).
Communicants
Notnecessarilyonlyhumans:animal,cyborg,
machines,divinity
>thehumanbeingatstake.
Hegel Recognitionoftheotherinvolvesthefoundingof
thehumanorder.
Peters deliberationsaboutcommunicationareexercisesnot
onlyinselfknowledge,butinlivingwiththeother
(230).Howwideanddeepcanouremphatyreach.
Aimofchapter
Sketchsomeextremetiesofcommunicationtheoryin
twentiethcentury:machines,animals,extraterrestials.
Background:Descartes
Humansareallltogetherdistinctfromanimalsand
machines:
- responsivenessinspeech
- versatilityofaction
th
Bythe19 century
Themembranesseparatinghumans,animalsand
machinesbecomepermeableagain.
Questionremains
Howcanyoutellahumanfromfake?
THETURINGTESTAND Therelationbetweenhumansandmachines.
AlanTurings1950articleComputingmachinery
THE
andintelligence.Todiscernabodywhenitsnot
INSUPERABILITY
present.Theoriginalform:separatingafemaleand
OFEROS
male(>Butler:gendertrouble).
Canthedistinctnessofbodiesbeevidentindiscourse
alone?
Dethroningofman
Continuityandnotbreakbetweenhumansandthe
mechanical.

22

Interactionmatters

Thediscernibilityof
identicals
Recordingandtransmitting
media
Benjamin

JorgeLuisBorges
Copy
Erosandbodiesmatter

ANIMALSAND
EMPATHYWITH
THEINHUMAN
Communicationwithanimals

Fendofantropomorphism
Wittgenstein
COMMUNICATION
WITHALIENS
SETI
Communicationoutofthe
past

Inapragmatistvein,Turingarguesthatifshared
consciousnessisthecriterionofsuccessin
communication,thencommunicationisimpossible,
andwegetstuckintheimpasseofsolipsism(236).
Kafka(telephone),Benjamin(photographs),Borges
(literature).
>aprincipleofduplicationenteredintowhatcounts
ashuman.
Theworkofartintheageofmechanical
reproduction.
Artworkshaveanaurawhichisirreplacable,cannot
becopyied.Acopywouldbeaspectacleofingenuity;
asimulation,notanexpression.
PierreMenard,AuthorofQuixote
Neverideniticaltoitsorigin.Thecopyneedstohave
itsaurasupplied.
Communicationhasbecomeaproblemofarranging
thetiesbetweendistantbodies.Thedreamof
communicationisthedreamofidenticalmindsin
concert(241).
Betweentheoriginalsandtheirdoublesthereis
alwaysainfinitegulf.Differenceissopervasivethat
itappearsevenorespeciallybetweenexact
replicas.
Animalsasmirrorsofselfdefinition.
Greeks,Schiller,Marx,Arendt:animalshave
societies(cooperation)butnotpolitics(collective
determinationofaction).
Allegoriesofhumanotherness.
Thedangersofprojectingourselvesintoanimal
subjects.
Communicationasaconceptthatallowsforcontact
withoutpresence,indifferenttothebodilyformofthe
communicatorsoreventobiology.
Recognizeanothernessthatdoesnotknowitisother.
Understanding<livedorembodiedworldofcommon
practices+symbolmanipulatingcapacities.
Thedreamofempiricalcontactwithextraterrestrials
asascientificendeavour.
Thesearchforextraterrestrialintelligence.
Ifwecouldntunderstandalionwhospoke,why
wouldweunderstandanalien?(247)
Communicationatadistancealwayscomesoutofthe
pastbutespeciallywithextraterrestrial
communication.
>Theunityofcommunicationatadistanceand

23

Galacticconversations
Borges:Thelibraryof
Babel
Theearthaloneinthe
universe
PlatoandHegel
Surroundedbyalien
intelligence
Pragmatistapproach?
Peirce

Interiorityasother

communicationwiththedead.
Illustratesthegaps(thatalwaysexist?)ofwhich
communicationismade.Galacticconversationswill
necessarilybealternatingbroadcasts.Dialogue
Anallegoryofinabilitytoconnect,theminimalodds
ofourownexistence(andstillweexist).
analogoustotheidealistshumancagedinaroom:
thelongingofnotbeingalone,tofindasingof
somethingthatisnotaprojectionoftheself.
()iftheotherhasnotbodywhosepresencewe
coulddesire,thenwhatmakesusthinkmindscan
makecontact?(256)
Yetlonelyandunabletocommunicate.The
strangenessthatweneversee:ourfaces.Wehaunt
ourselveslikealiens.
Thereisnootherkindofcommunicationthanvia
signs,thosecreaturesofouterandinnerspace.
- PragmatistrevoltagainsCartesianhierarchies
- Asemioticanimismthatascribesobjective
realitytomeaning
- Anefforttoinviteusintoabeloved
community
Mindsassingsmixedwithmortallife.Histheoryof
signsisindebtedtianagewhenintelligencecanbe
storedinmedia.
()interiorityappearsasanother;thatitsformis
polymorphous;thatwefindourinnerlifedispersed
pluralisticallyacrossthefieldsofourexperience
(259).
Wecareaboutourselvesandoursurroundings
becausetheyshareourworldandourshape.

24

CONCLUSION: a squeeze of the hand


Failedsynapses,brokenconversations,crosscutting
THEGAPSOFWHICH
COMMUNICATION betweendistinctlinesofplot.
Facetofacetalkisaslacedwithgapsasdistant
ISMADE
communication.
Dialougeastwopeopletakingturnsbroadcastingat
eachother.
Interaction
hasbecomeareadingoftextualtraces.
Factsofanycommunication
alldiscoursemustbridgethegapbetweenone
turnandthenext
theintendedadresseemayneverbeidentical
withtheactualone
Theotherasthecentreofwhatevercommunication
THEPRIVILEGEOF
means.Communicationisnotaboutthesharingof
THERECEIVER
truths.Representinginteriorityisnotpossibleina
directway.Rathermanipulationofeffectstoevoke
thetruestimageofthemfortheother.
Mercyonothers
THEDARKSIDEOF
COMMUNICATION
Meaningisanuncomplete
project
Petersargument
Understandingcommon

THEIRREDUCIBILITY
OFTOUCHAND
TIME
Thebodymatters

Thechallengeofcommunicationisnottobetrueto
ourowninteriority,buttohavemercyonothersfor
neverseeingourselvesaswedo.(267)
Latincommunicare
butalsofromGreekkoinoo:makecommon,
communicate,share,butalsopollute,makeunclean.
openendedandsubjecttoradicalrevision.
Asignsurrenderstotheinterpretertherightof
completingthedetermination.
Wemisspendhopeinseekingspiritualfullnessin
communication.Notaboutrepresentingtheself
autentically,butthattheotheriscaringlyserved.
Mostofthetimeweunderstand.
Situationandsyntaxmakethesenseofwordsclear.
Communicationisbasicallyapoliticalandethical
problem(ratherthanasemantic).
Touch:themostresistantsensetobeingmadeintoa
mediumofrecordingortransmission.
Seeingcommunicationasthemeetingofminds,
underestimatestheholinessofthebody.Beingthere
stillcounts.
Peoplewhocareforeachotherwillseekeachothers
presence>betteraccesstotheirbody.

25