Having read Büro as well as Maren’s stimulating exploration of these exciting pages, I should like to add the following loosely connected issues and concerns to our readings. They come somewhat after the fact, by way of a syncope, because the death of a friend kept me from addressing these issues last week. Thank you all for your patience.
As we have seen, in his analysis of the history of accounting technologies Siegert carves out a space for the “other type of writing” which he simply refers to as “Büro” (33). Early renaissance accounting technologies, double book keeping in particular, Siegert claims, opened the possibility for creating mobile inventories of the things and persons in this world that the Graeco-Roman logocentric type of writing would not have allowed for. As mobile writing privileges the diagrammatic over the temporal presence of the voice it suggests a logic of spatial positioning. Using the smooth res extensa of the page as its key surface and support, the (double) accounting system creates unity, totality and sense which all three remain distinct from the manifold of the world, yet account for it in an unprecedented way.
Continue reading Van Maas: Sitting in a Büro (Session 2)
It wouldn’t surprise me if Bernhard Siegert calls his work ‘office’ Büro. This, of course, is what Siegert called the chapter we have been reading the past two weeks. Even though ‘bureau’ seems to be an outdated term in the English language, German office workers of all kinds still refer to their workplace by using the term Büro. Due to the same etymological roots of Büro and bureau and in anticipation of the next chapter we will read on bureaucracy, I will continue using the term ‘bureau’ rather than ‘office’. Drawing on David Godfrey’s afterword accompanying Harold Innis’s Empire and Communications, Siegert associates the bureau with a type of writing other than constructing sentences based on a “unit of utterance”. This ‘other type of writing’ [Schriftmodell], as Siegert puts it, is constructing algorithms based on a “unit of process” such as “sorting, simulation, comparison, calculation, modelling, inference, transformation, etc.” (33 and Godfrey, 173). Drawing on Godfrey, Siegert refers to such an option of writing as “the Carthage option”.
Continue reading Koehler: Accounts From The Office (Session 2)