Category Archives: 01. Vorwort + Die Rede der Hirten und Pächter (22 Sept.)

Page 9-32 (21 pages)

McMurray: “If more can be had than is had” (Session 1)

[PM: Apologies for sprawl here—feel free to jump to the end for some broad questions/critique.]

The first chapters of Bernhard Siegert’s Passage des Digitalen weave so many threads together, I find myself wanting to tease them all out and follow them to their ends. Sitting at a desk in Cambridge, Mass., in the year 2014, I am surrounded by an odd collection of texts for further rummaging: Claude Shannon’s masters thesis, Oedipus Rex, Heidegger’s “Zeit und Sein,” the Domesday Book (see below) and Michael Clanchy’s From Memory to Written Record. I could likewise easily imagine a post/response to any of the paragraphs in “Vorwort”: on the disciplinary objects left lying around in the Hinterhöfe (backyards) of other disciplines; on the (ambiguous?) relation between Zeichenpraktiken and Kulturtechniken; phrases like neuzeitliche Wissenschaften and claims that “we are all Flying Dutchmen” (19), and of course, the sea—and the other version of this book as a history of the sea. Siegert cites a questionnaire from the Inquisitio comitatus Cantabrigiensis, in which the 12th and final question could well describe his overall way of thinking and virtuosic use of sources: “if more can be had than is had” (29). Or to pose the question aqueously: has the book already overflowed from the outset with its own sources?

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Kromhout: An attempt to sketch the main themes and ideas (session 1)

The introduction to Passage des Digitalen gives, in only eleven pages, a good taste of the scope and complexity of the book. I quickly came to the conclusion that any honest attempt to adequately summarize shatters on the sheer density of the argument and the richness of the material. Nonetheless, I would like to kick off our blog with an attempt to outline what I think are the main themes and threads in the book as introduced in the Vorwort. I identified four:

  • Firstly, the “specific figure of a ‘beginning’ of electrical (electromagnetic, electronic) media.”
  • Secondly, a discourse analysis of “sign practices” [Zeichenpraktiken].
  • Thirdly, a history of (mathematical) analysis.
  • Fourthly, the identification of a rupture, rift, crack or break [ein Riβ] in the classical representational order of writing.

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