Postliterate Machineries

One might just as well be machinic rather than literate in the way one would “rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”  Literacies are certainly “legion,” but reach semantic saturation or exaggeration against an analog of mediation and machination.  The sheen of the “new” is worn and tarnished yet literacies are wont to saturate while exhaustion sets in against a failure to reduce or subject all to literal experience.  Of course, the saturation half of the thesis is well explored and exploited but the machinic counterpart to the literate is entirely underplayed.  To simplify, literacies signify reading and writing while machineries signify processing and designing; literacies signify acquisition and gatherings while machineries signify diffusion and assemblages.  With no intention of negating the literate, the goal of this chapter is to recognize generations and significations of machineries over time.  By tracing histories of machinic thought and documenting the exhaustion of literacies, this chapter informs and elaborates our conversation about what we have, know, or can acquire with what we became or what is becoming of human-machine assemblages, diffusion, and cyborgenic machinations.  Henceforth and once again, claims staked on dimensions of natural, cultural, and artificial experience are contested: Is it literacies or machineries at work and play?

Machineries, like literacies, are material, metaphoric, and metaphysical and one necessity is rewriting histories and philosophies of the two in analog. This chapter provides a history of machineries and literacies, beginning with a history of the Deus ex Machina. Subsequent sections trace the history of machineries, history of literacies, and contemporary renderings of the postliterate. For a copy of the chapter, email Stephen Petrina.

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