Sorry for the long (in blogtime) hiatus but I am just way overcommitted right now. Two grad courses is a LOT of prep time, and this SSHRC application is a never-ending vortex of additional statements, half-page summaries and so forth. Plus, there’s the semblance of retaining a domestic life, letters of recommendation and sleep.
Luckily, there is also chocolate, for which you can thank the following rantings.
Another One From the Archives
Friedrich Kittler’s, this time, in Gramophone, Film, Typewriter
He’s quoting an 1913 essay from Karl Abraham, one of Freud’s disciples. Abraham instructed his patient not to write down his dreams (only psychoanalysts may write down dreams!) and so the patient instead stumbles over to his phonograph (phonographs at this time, it will be recalled, could record as well as play back).
…he ingeniously tries to save from oblivion the dreams he considers important. He own an apparatus for recording dictations and proceeds to speak the dreams he considers important in the bell-mouth. He Characteristically, he forgets that for the last couple of days the machine has been malfunctioning. As a result the dictation is difficult to understand. Patient is forced to fill in a lot from memory. The dictation had to be complemented by the dreamer’s memory! the dream analysis proceeded without notable resistance, thus we can assume that in this particular case the dream would have been retained even without any recording.
The patient, however, was not convinced by the experience and instead repeated the experiment one more time. Follow a dream-filled night, the machine, which in the meantime had been repaired, delivered a clearly audible dictation. But according to the patient its content was so confused that he had difficulties enforcing some kind of order. . . .
Kittler reads this as part of his several-age schhtick on the almost political opposition between the psychoanalytic and phonographic projects, but I’m just more struck by the machine breaking down (hmmm, sense a theme?) as a mnemonic for consciousness. In my reading, Abraham is exactly wrong, not because as Kittler suggests, he is in competition with the device, but because the interaction with the device, the exteriorization of the dream, is precisely what stimulates insight in the patient. Even the struggle with the more “faithful” (OH PLEASE SAVE ME FROM THE NEVERENDING DISCOURSE OF FIDELITY) reproduction of the fixed phonograph is a call to engagement, if not an “incitement to discourse” as Foucault would have it. But then of course, the whole thing’s taking place in a psychoanalyst’s office, which along with the Catholic confessional, was ideal-typical for Foucault’s whole schtick about the incitement to discourse. Mmmm. A big analytical circle we have here.
Maybe it’s just this: on first reading, the broken version of the phonograph seems to make manifest the actually process of communication, when in fact, the the fixed version actually does a better job, because its perfection, after all, is a total sham. It’s all the more artificial, and all the more engaging. Take that. lo-fi purists! Turns out the better copy is the worse copy, and therefore “better” at engaging the listener.
I feel better for getting that off my chest. And you?
We live in a “bad” neighborhood according to the tenants’ insurance mavens, so in order to be insured, we had to install an alarm. the installation was this afternoon, which of course puts a dent in the workday, but what can you do? I’ve never had one before, but they sure do seem like a pain in the butt. They also encourage paranoid behavior. And I mean that structurally. We mustn’t give out our code to anyone. Must create lots of unique codes for all possible classes of people who might enter or pass through the domicile. Must worry about how potential burglar will come through windows in order to place glass break detector and/or motion sensor. It’s all a ruse as part of our deal on insurance. Actually, the one thing that’s cool is the connection of the fire alarm to their main monitoring system, which might possibly save our cats’ lives in the event of a fire (and of course more of our stuff, too). Even that sounds paranoid, but there’s something about being a documentary scholar that has always had me freaked out about fire. I mean, paper is so, well, flammable. And there goes whatever project I’m working on. Of course, in grad school, I remember that an ethnographer friend shared the same fear, and so deposited some discs in our place that contained all his interview transcriptions, just for safe keeping.
You know what they say about data: it (sic) doesn’t exist unless it exists in three different places.
So Steven Rubio says I should get an RSS feed for my blog, which I’d love since it would lead to more search engine hits and of course make his life easier. Here’s the thing: I barely know how to code this stuff. I just modified a b2 template for this page, and then buried the url in a frameset so you wouldn’t have to type something long and ugly. Plus I get that weird header. All the instructions I’ve found online are way too advanced for my skill level. Anybody have a like to “rss for dummies” or somesuch?