Week 1 Summary / Week 2 Preparation – Preface and General Introduction

Thanks to everyone who came last night. I think it was a productive, if somewhat messy, first grapple with the text. We discussed some of the central claims of the general introduction to try and get at what Stiegler thinks his book is trying to do, to navigate the dizzying network of influences that are invoked, and to grasp the import of the ontological claim he is making regarding ‘technical being’.

Next week we start on the book proper, with the first section of the first chapter (please note that I’ve adjusted the page numbers for weeks 2 and 3 slightly to even out the balance). New members should always feel welcome to join!

Reading Strategy
We discussed strategies for organising our approach. I think there is often a sense in which the lone reader goes the deepest and I feel like Stiegler is quite rewarding in that sense; however, we each have our own specialisms, gaps, and sets of concerns that we can take advantage of in the group setting. Consequently, I think it was agreed that we would approach the rest of the text in a fairly linear fashion (despite the fact that Stiegler is perhaps not strictly linear in his thinking) and try to work through the argument a little more methodically – but also to use the online space to comment on or ask questions about the reading in advance of the session, so that we can try and orient our approach accordingly once we get there. So please do post these below over the course of the week.

The reading schedule is on the site – this is open to adjustment if we think we’re going too fast; I think the pacing should be OK and I’m keen to finish by the end of the summer but I do also want to make sure everyone has the time to absorb it as far as possible.

Secondary literature
The question of how much time to devote to some of the referenced or secondary literature came up. There are both benefits and dangers in attending to these (see this post for some reflection on this) and the best approach will probably always involve a dialectical method of departure from and return to the main text. It was agreed that some of the main reference points probably do require closer attention and we thought this week we should also read Heidegger’s ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ (it’s a short-ish essay that is easily Googlable). We all have different time constraints so I should stress that reading this, and other secondary texts that may come up further down the line, is entirely optional (unlike the Stiegler!).

How to deal with these within the group is still very much up for discussion however: I think the general consensus was that, as the time we have available on Tuesday evenings is quite limited, we should probably devote it to the body of T&T itself and that the online space or mailing list might be a better forum for discussing these peripheral concerns – I say ‘peripheral’ on the understanding that they are also in many ways central. At any rate, the point of looking at other texts is to inform our interpretation of Stiegler and so these readings will probably emerge in the main sessions anyway. The possibility of having another breakaway session in the week to look at these was considered; I think we should play this by ear but please don’t let me dictate!

I also want to draw your attention again to the Resources page. Much of the background mentioned last night is linked to there; I might place particular emphasis on the Ars Industrialis glossary of terms (in French but Google Translate fills in some gaps) – this should also be an expanding list, so I’m happy to take recommendations.

Online discussion
I will email the people who turned up last night separately to start a smaller private discussion list. Those who could not attend are welcome to ask to be included on this. I’ve also set up a separate page on the site where we should be able to form a conversation in the comments. If the whim takes any of us, we can also use this space to post up any longer comments or musings that we may have and I may be able to grant admin rights to others for this. I guess we’ll come to a natural consensus over what the best medium is, whether or not we want it to be public or not, and so on.

Practicalities
–     The room was a bit weird with awful acoustics and we were struggling to find a balance between fresh air and wind/noise, so apologies for that. If the weather keeps up then we might consider going outside but let’s stick with it for now.
–     The question of recording the sessions came up. I’d made no plans to do so and don’t really have suitable equipment anyway; I’m happy for individuals to make their own recordings though, as long as the other participants are. Perhaps we can share these as well.
–     My limited budget allowed for a small amount of drinks and snacks last night but I don’t have the institutional support to do this every week unfortunately. Please do bring supplies with you – I think this makes for a more convivial atmosphere.

That’s it for now – looking forward to seeing you all again next week!

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