In the runup to the year 2000, a curious phenomenon emerged on the adolescent Internet. While public media spread hysteria over the impending ‘Y2K bug’, competing groups of chronodissidents emerged to embrace what they saw as the impending overthrow of the Gregorian temporal order. Melanie Newton observed that as ‘hysterical hyperlooping twists the millennium into a panic storm, it builds explosively on itself, producing an artificial destiny. Techonomic power splinters across schizophrenically juxtaposed time-systems’. For the Cybergoths, history’s natural calendar began in 1900, and the millennium crisis indexed only its hundredth iteration. An account by Maria de Rosario in 1998 pointed towards an even more fundamental reconceptualisation of the temporal order: this alternative group, she claimed, ‘seem to believe that … there is only one century, that counts from 0 to 99, forever.’
Founded as it is on the logic of the computer, if such a conjecture has any…
“This seminar will focus on two works in progress: “Why the Disunity of Cybernetics Matters to the History of the Human Sciences in the United States, 1940-1980” (which is an extension of research in Professor Kline’s book book Cybernetics Moment); and “Inventing an Analog Past and a Digital Future in Computing” (which is a draft of a chapter on a book in progress on the history of digitalization). The seminar will tie these two papers together under the rubric of “disunity of science” in order to argue that the multiple interpretations of cybernetics and the term “digital” are important to understanding their past (and present and future).
The paper on cybernetics discusses disunity in regard to first-order cybernetics (in the work of such figures as Karl Deutsch in political science, George Miller in psychology and Herbert Simon in management science) and the revision of the field known as second-order cybernetics (in the work of Gregory Bateson in anthropology, who crossed this boundary.)
The second paper discusses why the venerable words analog and digital were appropriated by computer builders in the 1940s, what alternatives were proposed, how they became paired keywords, why closure occurred so quickly in the U.S., the different ways in which digital and analog engineering cultures interpreted the terms. The paper also speculates on the reasons why the concerns raised at the 1950 Macy conference — that the terms were vague and that analog was not the logical opposite of digital — were ignored.”
When Ken says nonsense like “Us knowledge-institution types may prove more adaptable than he thinks” he kind of gives the game away but still worth a read.
“I think Land really was on to something when he pushed geotrauma to its cosmic limit, where “the runaway becoming of such infinite plasticity that nature warps and dissolves before it…” (627) The very interesting writing of Reza Negarastani branches off here. The Land of the noughts pushed this very far: everything since the big bang exploded into subatomic particles has been a huge mistake, each organizational form arising, from atoms to molecules to cells to eukaryotes to vertebrates to human social forms is a reaction to the trauma spilling out of the previous level of organization. A list to which one could add the trauma of the Anthropocene. “Runaway geosmear through seismo-climactic linkage…. Ice-sheet melt meets sea-floor lift.” (483) Positive feedback loops provoke geotrauma, and have done so repeatedly. Land is precociously aware of where this is headed. Or he was, before some less interesting turns distracted this knight of the death drive.”
rest @ http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/3284-on-nick-land