Spectral Self-Recording: Occult Communication and Science in the Twentieth-Century


In the long nineteenth-century self-recording instruments emerged as the leading arbiters of truth and objectivity in scientific cultures. In the natural sciences, engineering, and even the occult, automatic instruments translated aberrant and erratic phenomena into objective traces for rational analysis and inspection. From physiology to the occult, self-writing instruments enabled the objective registration of fleeting phenomena at the frontiers of human perception. In the first phase of our research we demonstrated how the rise of self-writing instruments produced knowledge in scientific and occult communities and shaped its circulation across “hegemonic” and “nonhegemonic” cultures. In the second phase of our project we extend this analysis to consider how informational and statistical technologies subsumed and transformed epistemic cultures associated with self-writing instruments of the nineteenth-century. Scientists disturbed by the proliferation of occult and spectral manifestations associated in the “graphical method” found in statistics and electrical communications techniques for overcoming the aberrant manifestations produced by mechanical self-recorders. This new strategy for understanding occult phenomena coincides with the rise of what’s been termed the “control society” of the “society of control” as well as the rise of protodigital and electronic media, wherein circulation, patterns, information, and code came to dominate the management and interpretation of inexplicable traces. While this approach solved many problems associated with the graphical method, we maintain that it also gave rise to “spectral epistemologies” that lodged figures of haunting, absence, and irrationality at the core of twentiethcentury media cultures. We focus on four case studies for documenting this transition: (1) the latenineteenth- century deployment of questionnaires and statistical analysis by philosophers William James and Charles Sanders Peirce to explain psychic phenomena, (2) Gregory Bateson’s cybernetic studies of madness, (3) international scientists’ search for extra-terrestrial communication, and (4) linguist Konstantin Raudive’s studies of ghost-messages in electronic communications. These case studies how the same statistical and informational technologies meant to address the shortcomings of nineteenth-century sciences also incorporated new forms of irrationality and haunting into the heart of modern communication cultures. The result of our study DFG-Vordruck 54.011 – 7/13 Seite 4 von 6 is a new account of how changing technical configurations shape the production and regulation of scientific and occult knowledge in modern cultures of data and communications. 3 Beteiligte Personen 3.1 Antragstellende Personen Bitte erfassen Sie nur die Personen, die Mittel beantragen: Akademischer Grad/Titel: Prof. Dr. Vorname: Christian Nachname: Kassung Staatsangehörigkeit: deutsch Geschlecht: m [x] w [ ] Geburtsdatum: 11.2.1968 Deutschsprachig: j [x] n [ ] E-Mail-Adresse: ckassung@culture.hu-berlin.de Telefon: 030/2093-66295 Anschrift der Institution, an der das geplante Projekt durchgeführt werden soll: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Institut für Kultuwissenschaft Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät Unter den Linden 6 10099 Berlin Abweichende Korrespondenzanschrift: entfällt 3.2 Andere antragsbeteiligte Personen entfällt 4 BeteiligteIn the long nineteenth-century self-recording instruments emerged as the leading arbiters of truth and objectivity in scientific cultures. In the natural sciences, engineering, and even the occult, automatic instruments translated aberrant and erratic phenomena into objective traces for rational analysis and inspection. From physiology to the occult, self-writing instruments enabled the objective registration of fleeting phenomena at the frontiers of human perception. In the first phase of our research we demonstrated how the rise of self-writing instruments produced knowledge in scientific and occult communities and shaped its circulation across “hegemonic” and “nonhegemonic” cultures. In the second phase of our project we extend this analysis to consider how informational and statistical technologies subsumed and transformed epistemic cultures associated with self-writing instruments of the nineteenth-century. Scientists disturbed by the proliferation of occult and spectral manifestations associated in the “graphical method” found in statistics and electrical communications techniques for overcoming the aberrant manifestations produced by mechanical self-recorders. This new strategy for understanding occult phenomena coincides with the rise of what’s been termed the “control society” of the “society of control” as well as the rise of protodigital and electronic media, wherein circulation, patterns, information, and code came to dominate the management and interpretation of inexplicable traces. While this approach solved many problems associated with the graphical method, we maintain that it also gave rise to “spectral epistemologies” that lodged figures of haunting, absence, and irrationality at the core of twentiethcentury media cultures. We focus on four case studies for documenting this transition: (1) the latenineteenth- century deployment of questionnaires and statistical analysis by philosophers William James and Charles Sanders Peirce to explain psychic phenomena, (2) Gregory Bateson’s cybernetic studies of madness, (3) international scientists’ search for extra-terrestrial communication, and (4) linguist Konstantin Raudive’s studies of ghost-messages in electronic communications. These case studies how the same statistical and informational technologies meant to address the shortcomings of nineteenth-century sciences also incorporated new forms of irrationality and haunting into the heart of modern communication cultures. The result of our study DFG-Vordruck 54.011 – 7/13 Seite 4 von 6 is a new account of how changing technical configurations shape the production and regulation of scientific and occult knowledge in modern cultures of data and communications. 3 Beteiligte Personen 3.1 Antragstellende Personen Bitte erfassen Sie nur die Personen, die Mittel beantragen: Akademischer Grad/Titel: Prof. Dr. Vorname: Christian Nachname: Kassung Staatsangehörigkeit: deutsch Geschlecht: m [x] w [ ] Geburtsdatum: 11.2.1968 Deutschsprachig: j [x] n [ ] E-Mail-Adresse: ckassung@culture.hu-berlin.de Telefon: 030/2093-66295 Anschrift der Institution, an der das geplante Projekt durchgeführt werden soll: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Institut für Kultuwissenschaft Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät Unter den Linden 6 10099 Berlin Abweichende Korrespondenzanschrift: entfällt 3.2 Andere antragsbeteiligte Personen entfällt 4 BeteiligteIn the long nineteenth-century self-recording instruments emerged as the leading arbiters of truth and objectivity in scientific cultures. In the natural sciences, engineering, and even the occult, automatic instruments translated aberrant and erratic phenomena into objective traces for rational analysis and inspection. From physiology to the occult, self-writing instruments enabled the objective registration of fleeting phenomena at the frontiers of human perception. In the first phase of our research we demonstrated how the rise of self-writing instruments produced knowledge in scientific and occult communities and shaped its circulation across “hegemonic” and “nonhegemonic” cultures. In the second phase of our project we extend this analysis to consider how informational and statistical technologies subsumed and transformed epistemic cultures associated with self-writing instruments of the nineteenth-century. Scientists disturbed by the proliferation of occult and spectral manifestations associated in the “graphical method” found in statistics and electrical communications techniques for overcoming the aberrant manifestations produced by mechanical self-recorders. This new strategy for understanding occult phenomena coincides with the rise of what’s been termed the “control society” of the “society of control” as well as the rise of protodigital and electronic media, wherein circulation, patterns, information, and code came to dominate the management and interpretation of inexplicable traces. While this approach solved many problems associated with the graphical method, we maintain that it also gave rise to “spectral epistemologies” that lodged figures of haunting, absence, and irrationality at the core of twentiethcentury media cultures. We focus on four case studies for documenting this transition: (1) the latenineteenth- century deployment of questionnaires and statistical analysis by philosophers William James and Charles Sanders Peirce to explain psychic phenomena, (2) Gregory Bateson’s cybernetic studies of madness, (3) international scientists’ search for extra-terrestrial communication, and (4) linguist Konstantin Raudive’s studies of ghost-messages in electronic communications. These case studies how the same statistical and informational technologies meant to address the shortcomings of nineteenth-century sciences also incorporated new forms of irrationality and haunting into the heart of modern communication cultures. The result of our study DFG-Vordruck 54.011 – 7/13 Seite 4 von 6 is a new account of how changing technical configurations shape the production and regulation of scientific and occult knowledge in modern cultures of data and communications. 3 Beteiligte Personen 3.1 Antragstellende Personen Bitte erfassen Sie nur die Personen, die Mittel beantragen: Akademischer Grad/Titel: Prof. Dr. Vorname: Christian Nachname: Kassung Staatsangehörigkeit: deutsch Geschlecht: m [x] w [ ] Geburtsdatum: 11.2.1968 Deutschsprachig: j [x] n [ ] E-Mail-Adresse: ckassung@culture.hu-berlin.de Telefon: 030/2093-66295 Anschrift der Institution, an der das geplante Projekt durchgeführt werden soll: Humboldt-Universität


Spokesperson
Kassung, Christian Prof. Dr. phil. (Details) (Cultural Techniques and History of Knowledge)

Duration of Project
Start date: 09/2015
End date: 12/2016

Research Areas
General and Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Last updated on 2020-25-08 at 09:17