[iDC] Alan's questions about media theory/ies

Mark Edward Cote markcote at trentu.ca
Thu Jul 23 00:38:56 UTC 2009

very interesting remarks tony, especially regarding luhmann whose work i
only know peripherally. however, i must disagree with your insistence on
the primacy of language. of course a critical analysis of the discursive
realm is necessary and invaluable. but what of visual culture. more to
the point--and at least for me more relevant for the question of play
and labour in distributed digital networks--is the pre-discursive and
even pre=cognitive.

what i am saying is that the entire realm of the sensorium--the
affective, the visceral--is rife with opportunities for critical
inquiry. i am interested in media theory because i am interested in how
technology (and its attendant practices like, say, social networking) is
embodied. if we set language as a baseline then we overlook how the body
and affect help constitute the actualization of our environment.

just a few thoughts as i'm being rushed off to dinner...

>>> Tony Conrad <conrad at buffalo.edu> 07/22/09 4:31 PM >>>

1. The definitive “epiphylogenetic process” is obviously “culture” (in
broader sense), which is after all the primary “repository of memory
which is
preserved well beyond the lifespans of those who first construct [it];”
the definitive requisite for “culture” in this regard is our capacity
language. The discrimination of tools as “inorganic” culture is clearly
secondary; it is the (language based) instruction set that permits tools
become one aspect of the epiphylogenetic process.

2. The problematic term, “mediation,” apparently splatter-paints
in every discursive direction. For a perspective on the structural
of “communication” that is completely extrinsic to the present
discussion (and to
ontological foundations and Heidegger as well), I recommend looking at
Luhmann’s systems theoretical approach, which radically limits this
splatter by
hypostatizing the underlying issues to a thoroughly different level of
Though Luhmann’s construction is of course no terminal solution, it
casts a
thoroughly different conceptual glare across this whole domain of


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