Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Aug. 18, 2022, 9:03 a.m. Humanist 36.130 - pubs: Existential Media

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 130.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2022-08-18 07:55:10+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: new book

Let me cautiously recommend what looks at first glance to be an
important new book: Amanda Lagerkvist, Existential Media: A Media Theory
of the Limit Situation (Oxford, 2022).

This from the OUP website:

> Tied to the profundity of life and death, media are and have always
> been existential. Yet, as they are deeply embedded in the lifeworld
> on both individual and global scales, they currently capitalize on
> human existence seemingly without limit, while being mythologized as
> boundless harbingers of the future and as solutions to the
> predicaments of a world now poised on the edge. In this situation it
> is imperative to move beyond either the habitual or the sublime, to
> recognize that media are in fact of limits—situated both in the
> middle of our lives and at the limit they constitute the building
> blocks and brinks of being.
> In order to remedy the existential deficit in the field, in
> Existential Media Amanda Lagerkvist revisits existential philosophy
> through a reappreciation of Karl Jaspers philosophy, and of his
> concept of the limit situation: those ultimate moments in life—of
> loss, crisis and guilt—which we are called upon to seize. Introducing
> the field of existential media studies in conversation with
> disability studies, the new materialism and the environmental
> humanities, the book offers a media theory of the limit situation
> which brings limits, in all their shapes and forms, onto the radar
> when we interrogate media. Lagerkvist argues that the present age of
> deep techno-cultural saturation, and of escalating calamitous and
> interrelated crises, is a digital limit situation, in which there are
> profound stakes which heighten existential uncertainty, vulnerability
> as well as potential fecundity. Placing the mourner—the coexister—at
> the center of media studies, by entering into the slow fields of
> mourning, commemorating and speaking to the dead in the online
> environment, she brings out that existential media ambivalently offer
> metric parameters, caring lifelines and transcendent experiences
> which ultimately display post-interactive modes of being digital in
> slowness, silence and waiting. The book ultimately calls forth a
> different ethos which powerfully challenges ideals of limitlessness,
> quantification and speed, and seeks out alternate intellectual and
> ethical coordinates for reclaiming, imagining and anticipating a
> responsible future with existential media.

Comments welcome, of course.

Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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