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Dorsality: Thinking Back through Technology and Politics

David Wills
Series: Posthumanities
Volume: 5
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In this highly original book David Wills rethinks not only our nature before all technology but also what we understand to be technology. Rather than considering the human being as something natural that then develops technology, Wills argues, we should instead imagine an originary imbrication of nature and machine that begins with a dorsal turn—a turn that takes place behind our back, outside our field of vision.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5668-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-vii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-1)
  4. 1. The Dorsal Turn
    (pp. 2-23)

    The arguments mobilized here, indeed, that mobilize themselves here, do so in the service of what might be called a “technological turn.” I employ the contrived reflexivity of the syntagm “mobilize themselves” to emphasize the ineluctable effect of a certain mechanicity or automaticity. What mobilizes itself in the technological turn is a function of something that cannot but occur, has already occurred, occurs automatically, is itself already in the service of a machine. The technological turn describes the turn into a technology that was always there. The technological turn, therefore, cannot but occur. And cannot but occur as technological, for...

  5. 2. Facades of the Other: Heidegger, Althusser, Levinas
    (pp. 24-65)

    Throughout his 1949 lecture “The Turning,” Heidegger elaborates the relation of technology to the question of Being that he had introduced with his notion of enframing(Gestell)in “The Question concerning Technology.” In the latter essay, as is well known, he develops a distinction between the artifact that is produced via an ideology of causality and instrumentality, and that which is let come forth into presenc(ing). The distinction is not, however, that between artifact astekhneand nature(physis),for, as he clearly states:

    Not only handcraft manufacture, not only artistic and poetical bringing into appearance … is a bringing...

  6. 3. No One Home: Homer, Joyce, Broch
    (pp. 66-101)

    The stressed and distended subject in Levinas finds its echo and, as I have argued, its condition of possibility in a house that is similarly an “abandon of all shelter, exposure to traumas, vulnerability.” A house that creates an interiority for the formation of a subject, but only to thereafter ease that subject (via the feminine) into—and finally expose it more radically to—relations with the outside element, with the space of labor and alienation, and with the other. This is a house that exists on the frontier between interiority and exteriority, a house that is finally nothing more...

  7. 4. A Line Drawn in the Ocean: Exodus, Freud, Rimbaud
    (pp. 102-131)

    Joyce’s 1904 three-master homes to Dublin, back to what were called the British Isles, even if the island in question was home to an Ireland that often and justifiably marked itself as recalcitrantly non-British. The ships home nevertheless to a type of or piece of Europe. In my experience, for what it is worth, there existed a rich mythology of six-month ocean crossings in three-masters or similar that brought “my people” to their new home,¹ but our strongest sense of voyaging, since the beginning of the twentieth century at least, was that of leaving the South Pacific to return to...

  8. 5. Friendship in Torsion: Schmitt, Derrida
    (pp. 132-161)

    Carl Schmitt’s line of 1927, however specific to post-1648 Europe, is drawn as if straight from the mythology of the Red Sea, defining “the specific political distinction” as an “antithesis” of friend and enemy:

    The distinction of friend and enemy denotes the utmost degree of intensity of a union or separation, of an association or dissociation…. The political enemy need not be morally evil or aesthetically ugly; he need not appear as an economic competitor…. But he is, nevertheless, the other, the stranger; and it is sufficient for his nature that he is, in a specially intense way, existentially something...

  9. 6. Revolutions in the Darkroom: Balázs, Benjamin, Sade
    (pp. 162-205)

    We have come to accept the limitations of photographic representation. But that wasn’t always so. Béla Balázs believed that “close-ups are often dramatic revelations of what is really happening under the surface of appearances. … the faces of things. … The close-ups of the film are the creative instruments of [a] mighty visual anthro-pomorphism. … In the isolated close-up of the film we can see to the bottom of a soul.”¹ For Balázs, a silent film such as Carl Dreyer’sPassion of Joan of Arcwas the prime example of the “new dimension of the soul” that Balázs called “microphysiognomy.”²...

  10. 7. The Controversy of Dissidence: Nietzsche
    (pp. 206-243)

    Zarathustra, no doubt otherwise unlike Dolmancé, has his own moment of discursive demurral. As evening falls in section 2 of “The Other Dance Song,” near the end of the third part of Nietzsche’s text, Zarathustra is conversing with, or rather provoking, Life, expressing his love-hate relationship to her, threatening to have her dance to the tune of his whip. Life answers by appealing for calm, insisting that they are too alike not to love each other, but reproaching Zarathustra for a type of infidelity, for wanting to retreat to the darkness of his cave:

    “There is an old heavy, heavy...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 244-263)
  12. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 264-265)
  13. Index
    (pp. 266-269)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 270-270)