Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Feb. 5, 2023, 6:46 a.m. Humanist 36.378 - a book of interest

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 378.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2023-02-04 18:49:38+00:00
        From: James Rovira <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.376: a book of interest

Yes, that book indeed sounds interesting.

A few years ago I did quite a bit of reading in Derrida: everything of his
published in English from 1953 to 1968 with supporting secondary literature
for the texts that were my focus. This reading was for an anthology
titled Reading as Democracy in Crisis: Interpretation, Theory, History 
The overall thesis of the book is that crises in democracy generate new
reading strategies in response. I contributed the introduction and a
chapter on Plato and Derrida.

I would say that we can't underestimate the significance and influence of
the Holocaust on Derrida's thought. This isn't an original thesis of mine.
It's closer to a fact about his work known among those who have done the
reading. His study of Husserl and geometry is the origin of many of his key
concepts, and he specifically chose to study German philosophy because
(among other reasons) he was an Algerian Jew who wanted to understand what
happened. His study of Husserl so profoundly influenced him that he
considered himself a phenomenologist for life (not a literary critic).
Those 1960s Paris intellectuals were both observing and participating in
riots in the streets. They were aware of the messiness of human history.

Jim R

On Sat, Feb 4, 2023 at 2:04 AM Humanist <> wrote:

> > I argue that liberal technocrats’ 1930s dreams of
> > eliminating aberrancy through noncoercive communicative techniques
> > oriented the informatic programs of World War II and the Cold War.
> > That dream and its paradoxical outcomes started in the rise of
> > Progressive Era philanthropies committed to supporting communication
> > research, traveled through media-driven studies of colonies and
> > mental patients from the 1930s through the 1950s, drove the rise of
> > laboratories in Cold War linguistics and anthropology, and finally
> > roosted in the semiotic adventures of 1960s Paris intellectuals.
> > Across these endeavors, an organizing concept of code—indexed to
> > computing but derived from technocratic social science—lent
> > proponents a powerful trope for reinterpreting the global subjects of
> > the human sciences.
> And pages earlier the author's epigraph from Stuart Hall, “Ideology and
> Communication Theory”:
> "All the repetition and incarnation of the sanitized term information,
> with its cleansing cybernetic properties, cannot wash away or obliterate
> the fundamentally dirty, semiotic, semantic, discursive character of the
> media in their cultural dimensions."
> Read it tonight :-).
> Yours,
> WM

Dr. James Rovira <>

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