Synopses & Reviews
Always connectand#8212;that is the imperative of todayand#8217;s media. But what about those moments when media cease to function properly, when messages go beyond the sender and receiver to become excluded from the world of communication itselfand#8212;those messages that state: and#8220;There will be no more messagesand#8221;? In this book, Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker, and McKenzie Wark turn our usual understanding of media and mediation on its head by arguing that these moments reveal the ways the impossibility of communication is integral to communication itselfand#8212;instances they call excommunication. and#160;In three linked essays, Excommunicationand#160;pursues this elusive topic by looking at mediation in the face of banishment, exclusion, and heresy, and by contemplating the possibilities of communication with the great beyond. First, Galloway proposes an original theory of mediation based on classical literature and philosophy, using Hermes, Iris, and the Furies to map out three of the most prevalent modes of mediation todayand#8212;mediation as exchange, as illumination, and as network. Then, Thacker goes boldly beyond Gallowayand#8217;s classification scheme by examining the concept of excommunication through the secret link between the modern horror genre and medieval mysticism. Charting a trajectory of examples from H. P. Lovecraft to Meister Eckhart, Thacker explores those instances when one communicates or connects with the inaccessible, dubbing such modes of mediation and#8220;hauntedand#8221; or and#8220;weirdand#8221; to underscore their inaccessibility. Finally, Wark evokes the poetics of the infuriated swarm as a queer politics of heresy that deviates from both media theory and the traditional left. He posits a critical theory that celebrates heresy and that is distinct from those that now venerate Saint Paul.and#160;Reexamining commonplace definitions of media, mediation, and communication, Excommunicationand#160;offers a glimpse into the realm of the nonhuman to find a theory of mediation adequate to our present condition.
...the most brilliant marketing mind of all belonged to Marshall McLuhan. Understanding Media is a timeless analysis of how language, speech and technology shape human behavior in the era of mass communication. The book is a cautionary tale for marketers today who hear the Web's siren call and ignore the power of the spoken word. The MIT Press
andquot;...the most brilliant marketing mind of all belonged to Marshall McLuhan. Understanding Media is a timeless analysis of how language, speech and technology shape human behavior in the era of mass communication. The book is a cautionary tale for marketers today who hear the Web's siren call and ignore the power of the spoken word.andquot;
andmdash; Wall Street Journal
and#8220;At a moment when media theory seems both ubiquitous and amorphous, more necessary than ever, yet often trapped in old paradigms or infatuated with new technology, Excommunication makes a timely and provocative intervention. Thereand#8217;s so much intellectual ferment in this historically informed, radically contemporary volume that it might well be a founding documentand#8212;has the New York school of media theory finally arrived?and#8221;
and#8220;Communicational media permeate every aspect of our lives. But do we really know what media are? And do we really grasp what's at stake in every act of communication? In this book, Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker, and McKenzie Wark explore the obscure but fascinating origins and esoteric limits of communicational media and suggest helpful ways that we might be able to experience and use them differently.and#8221;
and#8220;[A] provocative, unapologetic study.... [T]he open-minded reader is rewarded with a stimulating, scathing theory critique. Recommended.and#8221;
and#8220;[T]he authors provide a salutary shaking up of a discourse often at once moribund or moving all too quickly, while also indicating the absolutely crucial importance that the subterranean energies of soma
, the body, still play in these future directions.and#8221;
This reissue of Understanding Media
marks the thirtieth anniversary (1964-1994) of Marshall McLuhan's classic expose on the state of the then emerging phenomenon of mass media. Terms and phrases such as "the global village" and "the medium is the message" are now part of the lexicon, and McLuhan's theories continue to challenge our sensibilities and our assumptions about how and what we communicate.
There has been a notable resurgence of interest in McLuhan's work in the last few years, fueled by the recent and continuing conjunctions between the cable companies and the regional phone companies, the appearance of magazines such as WiRed, and the development of new media models and information ecologies, many of which were spawned from MIT's Media Lab. In effect, media now begs to be redefined. In a new introduction to this edition of Understanding Media, Harper's editor Lewis Lapham reevaluates McLuhan's work in the light of the technological as well as the political and social changes that have occurred in the last part of this century.
Terms and phrases such as "the global village" and "the medium is the message" are now part of the lexicon, and McLuhan's theories continue to challenge our sensibilities and our assumptions about how and what we communicate.
About the Author
and#160;Alexander R. Galloway is associate professor of media studies at New York University and lives in New York, NY. He is the author of four books on digital media and critical theory, most recently The Interface Effect.and#160;McKenzie Wark is professor of liberal studies at The New School for Social Research and lives in Queens, NY. His books include A Hacker Manifesto and Gamer Theory.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Execrable MediaAlexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker, McKenzie Warkand#160;Love of the MiddleAlexander R. Gallowayand#160;Dark MediaEugene Thackerand#160;
Furious MediaMcKenzie Wark