Excommunication: Three Inquiries in Media and Mediation

University of Chicago Press
1
Free sample

Always connect—that is the imperative of today’s media. But what about those moments when media cease to function properly, when messages go beyond the sender and receiver to become excluded from the world of communication itself—those messages that state: “There will be no more messages”? In this book, Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker, and McKenzie Wark turn our usual understanding of media and mediation on its head by arguing that these moments reveal the ways the impossibility of communication is integral to communication itself—instances they call excommunication. In three linked essays, Excommunication pursues this elusive topic by looking at mediation in the face of banishment, exclusion, and heresy, and by contemplating the possibilities of communication with the great beyond. First, Galloway proposes an original theory of mediation based on classical literature and philosophy, using Hermes, Iris, and the Furies to map out three of the most prevalent modes of mediation today—mediation as exchange, as illumination, and as network. Then, Thacker goes boldly beyond Galloway’s classification scheme by examining the concept of excommunication through the secret link between the modern horror genre and medieval mysticism. Charting a trajectory of examples from H. P. Lovecraft to Meister Eckhart, Thacker explores those instances when one communicates or connects with the inaccessible, dubbing such modes of mediation “haunted” or “weird” to underscore their inaccessibility. Finally, Wark evokes the poetics of the infuriated swarm as a queer politics of heresy that deviates from both media theory and the traditional left. He posits a critical theory that celebrates heresy and that is distinct from those that now venerate Saint Paul. Reexamining commonplace definitions of media, mediation, and communication, Excommunication offers a glimpse into the realm of the nonhuman to find a theory of mediation adequate to our present condition.
Read more

About the author

Alexander R. Galloway is associate professor of media studies at New York University and lives in New York, NY. He is the author of four books on digital media and critical theory, most recently, The Interface Effect. Eugene Thacker is associate professor in the School of Media Studies at the New School and lives in Brooklyn, NY. He is the author of many books, including After Life, also published by the University of Chicago Press. McKenzie Wark is professor of liberal studies at The New School for Social Research and lives in Queens, NY. His books include A Hacker Manifesto and Gamer Theory.
Read more
4.0
1 total
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
Read more
Published on
Dec 6, 2013
Read more
Pages
224
Read more
ISBN
9780226925233
Read more
Language
English
Read more
Genres
Literary Criticism / General
Philosophy / General
Read more
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
“The Exploit is that rare thing: a book with a clear grasp of how networks operate that also understands the political implications of this emerging form of power. It cuts through the nonsense about how 'free' and 'democratic' networks supposedly are, and it offers a rich analysis of how network protocols create a new kind of control. Essential reading for all theorists, artists, activists, techheads, and hackers of the Net.” —McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto

 

The network has become the core organizational structure for postmodern politics, culture, and life, replacing the modern era’s hierarchical systems. From peer-to-peer file sharing and massive multiplayer online games to contagion vectors of digital or biological viruses and global affiliations of terrorist organizations, the network form has become so invasive that nearly every aspect of contemporary society can be located within it.

 

Borrowing their title from the hacker term for a program that takes advantage of a flaw in a network system, Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker challenge the widespread assumption that networks are inherently egalitarian. Instead, they contend that there exist new modes of control entirely native to networks, modes that are at once highly centralized and dispersed, corporate and subversive.

 

In this provocative book-length essay, Galloway and Thacker argue that a whole new topology must be invented to resist and reshape the network form, one that is as asymmetrical in relationship to networks as the network is in relation to hierarchy.

 

Alexander R. Galloway is associate professor of culture and communications at New York University and the author of Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture (Minnesota, 2006) and Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization.

 

Eugene Thacker is associate professor of new media at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the author of Biomedia (Minnesota, 2004) and The Global Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture.

The Stone Soup Experiment is a remarkable story of cultural difference, of in-groups, out-groups, and how quickly and strongly the lines between them are drawn. It is also a story about simulation and reality, and how quickly the lines between them can be dismantled. In a compulsively readable account, Deborah Downing Wilson details a ten-week project in which forty university students were split into two different simulated cultures: the carefree Stoners, and the market-driven Traders. Through their eyes we are granted intimate access to the very foundations of human society: how group identities are formed and what happens when opposing ones come into contact.

The experience of the Stoners and Traders is a profound testament to human sociality. Even in the form of simulation, even as a game, the participants found themselves quickly—and with real conviction—bound to the ideologies and practices of their in-group. The Stoners enjoyed their days lounging, chatting, and making crafts, while the Traders—through a complex market of playing cards—competed for the highest bankrolls. When they came into contact, misunderstanding, competition, and even manipulation prevailed, to the point that each group became so convinced of its own superiority that even after the simulation’s end the students could not reconcile.

Throughout her riveting narrative, Downing Wilson interweaves fascinating discussions on the importance of play, emotions, and intergroup interaction in the formation and maintenance of group identities, as well as on the dynamic social processes at work when different cultural groups interact. A fascinating account of social experimentation, the book paints a vivid portrait of our deepest social tendencies and the powers they have over how we make friends and enemies alike.
Interfaces are back, or perhaps they never left. The familiar Socratic conceit from the Phaedrus, of communication as the process of writing directly on the soul of the other, has returned to center stage in today's discussions of culture and media. Indeed Western thought has long construed media as a grand choice between two kinds of interfaces. Following the optimistic path, media seamlessly interface self and other in a transparent and immediate connection. But, following the pessimistic path, media are the obstacles to direct communion, disintegrating self and other into misunderstanding and contradiction. In other words, media interfaces are either clear or complicated, either beautiful or deceptive, either already known or endlessly interpretable.

Recognizing the limits of either path, Galloway charts an alternative course by considering the interface as an autonomous zone of aesthetic activity, guided by its own logic and its own ends: the interface effect. Rather than praising user-friendly interfaces that work well, or castigating those that work poorly, this book considers the unworkable nature of all interfaces, from windows and doors to screens and keyboards. Considered allegorically, such thresholds do not so much tell the story of their own operations but beckon outward into the realm of social and political life, and in so doing ask a question to which the political interpretation of interfaces is the only coherent answer.

Grounded in philosophy and cultural theory and driven by close readings of video games, software, television, painting, and other images, Galloway seeks to explain the logic of digital culture through an analysis of its most emblematic and ubiquitous manifestation –  the interface.

“The Exploit is that rare thing: a book with a clear grasp of how networks operate that also understands the political implications of this emerging form of power. It cuts through the nonsense about how 'free' and 'democratic' networks supposedly are, and it offers a rich analysis of how network protocols create a new kind of control. Essential reading for all theorists, artists, activists, techheads, and hackers of the Net.” —McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto

 

The network has become the core organizational structure for postmodern politics, culture, and life, replacing the modern era’s hierarchical systems. From peer-to-peer file sharing and massive multiplayer online games to contagion vectors of digital or biological viruses and global affiliations of terrorist organizations, the network form has become so invasive that nearly every aspect of contemporary society can be located within it.

 

Borrowing their title from the hacker term for a program that takes advantage of a flaw in a network system, Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker challenge the widespread assumption that networks are inherently egalitarian. Instead, they contend that there exist new modes of control entirely native to networks, modes that are at once highly centralized and dispersed, corporate and subversive.

 

In this provocative book-length essay, Galloway and Thacker argue that a whole new topology must be invented to resist and reshape the network form, one that is as asymmetrical in relationship to networks as the network is in relation to hierarchy.

 

Alexander R. Galloway is associate professor of culture and communications at New York University and the author of Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture (Minnesota, 2006) and Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization.

 

Eugene Thacker is associate professor of new media at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the author of Biomedia (Minnesota, 2004) and The Global Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture.

©2018 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.