Stiegler reading group session 2

Session 2 looked at p. 29-43 of Technics and Time 1. this is the opening of the book’s overview of theorisations of technology that Stiegler situates himself amongst to map out the main themes of his study and start to precise his particular contribution. this part looks primarily at Bertrand Gilles’ project. From this Stiegler takes the notions of technology as system, and the dynamic of ongoing adjustment and disadjustment that operates between the technical system and the cultural, political, economic, etc. systems of human being/becoming. TT2 is called ‘Disorientation’ after this concept. For Gilles, modernity is the time when the disadjustment becomes ‘systemic’ as it were, rather than a temporary period after technological change. This is because technological change becomes permanent and increasingly rapid. Stiegler subsribes to this but reads Gilles ‘solution’–better programming of the coordination of the systems as somewhat naive or instrumental. (Even if, in fact, Stiegler’s activism is in many ways best described as something very much like this). At this stage, however, Stiegler points to the need to think adequately about the implicaitons of permanent innovation, given that technology is what conditions experience through its systemic effects on all human spheres. This means it conditions the experience of time, of speed, of change, and this must be carefully thought out before one can think about inproving the coordination of the systemic transformations.

We also looked at the opening chapter of a more recent book, For a New Critique of Political Economy (Polity press), from Stiegler’s much more explicitly activist and engaged recent work. here notions such as tertiary retention were introduced in the less rigorous but more expedient manner of much of this later work. We will read further from this in parallel to the slog through TT1 (the next section on proletarianization is an acute commentary on the history of capital post Marx: as Sy pointed out Stiegler is somewhat critical of the marxist tradition for failing to take account of important changes in capitalism that Marx himself was able to anticipate but not properly theorise as they occured after his death.)

Patrick

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