Brian Rotman: Becoming Beside Ourselves: The Alphabet, Ghosts, and Distributed Human Being (2008)

13 October 2013, dusan

Becoming Beside Ourselves continues the investigation that the renowned cultural theorist and mathematician Brian Rotman began in his previous books Signifying Nothing and Ad Infinitum…The Ghost in Turing’s Machine: exploring certain signs and the conceptual innovations and subjectivities that they facilitate or foreclose. In Becoming Beside Ourselves, Rotman turns his attention to alphabetic writing or the inscription of spoken language. Contending that all media configure what they mediate, he maintains that alphabetic writing has long served as the West’s dominant cognitive technology. Its logic and limitations have shaped thought and affect from its inception until the present. Now its grip on Western consciousness is giving way to virtual technologies and networked media, which are reconfiguring human subjectivity just as alphabetic texts have done for millennia.

Alphabetic texts do not convey the bodily gestures of human speech: the hesitations, silences, and changes of pitch that infuse spoken language with affect. Rotman suggests that by removing the body from communication, alphabetic texts enable belief in singular, disembodied, authoritative forms of being such as God and the psyche. He argues that while disembodied agencies are credible and real to “lettered selves,” they are increasingly incompatible with selves and subjectivities formed in relation to new virtual technologies and networked media. Digital motion-capture technologies are restoring gesture and even touch to a prominent role in communication. Parallel computing is challenging the linear thought patterns and ideas of singularity facilitated by alphabetic language. Barriers between self and other are breaking down as the networked self is traversed by other selves to become multiple and distributed, formed through many actions and perceptions at once. The digital self is going plural, becoming beside itself.

With a Foreword by Timothy Lenoir
Publisher Duke University Press, 2008
ISBN 0822342006, 9780822342007
176 pages

Commentary (Ben Pritchett, Mute)
Review (Stevan Harnad, Times Literary Supplement)

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Sergey Merkurov: Soviet Erotic Alphabet (1931)

15 July 2013, dusan

The so-called Sovetskaya eroticheskaya azbuka [Soviet Erotic Alphabet] by the monumentalist sculptor Sergei Dmitrievich Merkurov (1881-1952), the author of numerous monuments to Stalin (including the three largest in the USSR) and Lenin.

Так называемая «Советская эротическая азбука» скульптора-монументалиста Сергея Дмитриевича Меркурова (1881—1952) — автора многочисленных монументов И. В. Сталину (в том числе трех самых крупных на территории СССР) и В. И. Ленину. Знаменитая и крылатая фраза: “В СССР секса нет” имела скорее всего политическую подоплёку. Если самого Лаврентия Берию можно назвать продолжателем дела “секс-машины” Григория Распутина, то, напротив, добропорядочного советского гражданина Сергея Дмитриевича Меркурова, лауреата нескольких сталинских премий, – «строго засекреченным русским Байросом». Данную папку он подписал на обложке: акварельные рисунки И.И. Иванова (1886-1924) и даже указал годы его жизни. Как будто, это имело какое-то значение для работников “карающего меча революции”. Чувствуется сильное влияние французской и южно-немецкой школ живописи.

Commentary: Ross Wolfe (2013)
Erotic Alphabets: A Bibliography (Josh Honn)

Published in 1931
36 pages


Barry B. Powell: Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet (1991)

5 July 2013, dusan

“What caused the invention of the Greek alphabet? Who did it, and why? The purpose of this challenging book is to inquire systematically into the historical causes that underlay the radical shift from earlier and less efficient writing-systems to the use of alphabetic writing. The author declares his conclusion to be a possibly surprising one–that a single man, perhaps from the island of Euboea, invented the Greek alphabet specifically in order to record the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer.”

Publisher Cambridge University Press, 1991
ISBN 0521371570
280 pages

Review: Mabel L. Lang (Bryn Mawr Classical Review)

PDF (10 MB, updated on 2014-3-8)