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Re: <nettime> Debating German Media Theory in Siegen
Geert Lovink on Fri, 1 May 2009 14:17:33 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Debating German Media Theory in Siegen


Thanks, Stefan, for these important insights. The fact that there is a 
considerable interest, worldwide, in what German media theory is all 
about, and the lack of even basic knowlegde, is striking, and 
illustrates the isolation of this field as a whole.

Let me say it once again. Germans from West-Germany do not like the 
connotation 'German'. It reminds them of the war, Nazis and all that. 

For many outsiders German is a language spoken in large parts of 
Europe, in fact it is the largest one spoken in Europe. They associate 
it with continental Europe. German Media Theory therefore is not an 
attempt from my side to construct or reconstruct some Bismarckian or 
Hitlerian national project aimed to dominate and colonize the EU and 
the world (or accuse people of such an attempt). German in this 
context is a reference to the language in which these texts are wriiten.

The reference to German is made as a concious attempt to wake up 
German policy makers, from both the cultural and academic world  that 
something needs to be done. The world is very interested in the works 
discussed here but have no access to it. We're not only talking about 
translations into English, but in a wide range of languages. In the 
past publishers would do this. This is no longer the case. However, 
throughout the German speaking world, excellent thinkers are still 
waiting for something to happen. But nothing will. The world has 
changed. Apart from translations we also need introductory books and 
anthologies.

Indeed, my definition of German media theory is broad and rather 
subjective. An objective academic approach might fail at this stage. 
Maybe my broad approach comes with distance over the years. One starts 

to see more similarities, whereas insiders are preoccupied with the 
cultivation of the Small Differences (as you explain very well in the 
case of the 90s Kittler circle). The German university system seems to 
set up people against each other and prevent the emergence of larger 
schools of thought.

In my texts on the topic I have often listed authors. It's broad but 
not all that blurry and certainly goes further than the Kittler cloud. 

My references are more 80s, because that's when I first ran into it. 
Just to mention a few that I like and know best, like Theweleit, 
Flusser, Sloterdijk, Hartmann and Winkler. I could go on and on. I am 
still very passionate about it . Just read the recently translated 
book by Cornelia Vismann called Files.

Maybe abstract is not the right term here. Some texts are certainly 
complex, and in the case of Kittler, references are often implicit, 
his style is ironic, extremely compact, and full of humour! With 
Florian Cramer I also see more metaphysical undercurrents and metaphor 
plays than you, Stefan, perhaps would like to admit.

I like the term technical media theory but it suggests more than 
actually exists. In fact theory needs to become more technical as a 
whole, and, as you say, much more contemporary. It's got potential, 
but one that needs to still needs to be realized. In today's world 
something like that grows through global exchanges and common research 
projects. Phase one could be to identify the obstacles but also the 
communalities, in order to tap into the vast potentialities that are 
out there, because the world is really waiting for such a theory 
production.

Geert


On 30 Apr 2009, at 12:57 PM, Stefan Heidenreich wrote:

> having attended the Kittler "Oberseminar" - the phd candidates
> colloquium - during the crucial years form 1992 to 2000 I have to say,
> things look very much different seen from a personal perspective from
> inside.
 <...>


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