Nikinos Brecht on Radio Enzensberger shares with his predecessors Benjamin and Brecht this conviction that one could rundfujk development on a firm basis, and together they are joining a genuine teleological and more or less Marxist perspective on history. This faith of Kommunikationsapoarat media theory in revolutionary kommunikkationsapparat consequences of technical opportunities is an heritage of their ancestors, first of all a legacy of Brecht and Benjamin. A person wishing to look into things closely will be unable to avoid technology, the most obvious matter. Angelic telepathy makes all mediating systems of symbols superfluous, and eliminates all differences between inside and outside, between self—reference and external reference; mind—reading permits no lie, no mask, no role, no hypocrisy, no illusion, and no distinction between information and message. On this principle the radio should step out of the supply business and organize its listeners as suppliers. Blogging here since October The radio could inarguably be kommunikarionsapparat best apparatus of communication in public life, an enormous system of channels —— provided it saw itself as not only a sender but also a receiver.
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As early as — that is, well before Benjamin — Brecht links the analysis of the new medium of film to utopian expectations. This, according to Brecht, rules out "art" in the conventional sense, because art in a capitalist society implies the unique creation of an individual author usually estranged from his audience. Art as it has been known since the end of the eigthteenth century becomes obsolete by an new technical medium. Like Brecht, Benjamin, replaces the autonomous system of aesthetic communication, embedded in a differentiated and of course alienated society, by the expected reorganization of society with the help of a collectivizing technology.
At the same time, Benjamin expects the abolition of the typically modern one-to-many communications, which imply a quantitative and qualitative asymmetry between producer and recipients, between sender and receivers.
The differentiation of communication into these functional roles, he says, is abolished for two reasons. First, members of the audience assume the same attitude towards the actors in the film as a editor or a cameraman The technical apparatus of film establishes a symmetry between the perceptions of the audience and those of the producers. At first in , Brecht merely smiled at the discovery of the radio.
A sensational affair, but what for? For the radio, this means that it no longer be allowed to expose a host of individuals to a constant stream of nonsense, but rather include all members of the audience and weld them together into a collective.
In , Brecht notes It is an apparatus of distribution, it merely allocates. Now, in order to become positive —— that is, to find out about the positive side of radio broadcasts —— here is a suggestion for changing the function of the radio: transform it from an apparatus of distribution into an apparatus of communication.
The radio could inarguably be the best apparatus of communication in public life, an enormous system of channels —— provided it saw itself as not only a sender but also a receiver. This means making the listener not only listen but also speak; not to isolate him but to place him in relation to others. With the aid of this concept, Brecht wishes to abolish the gap between one single sender and numerous receivers.
Friedrich Kittler, Grammophon, Film, Typewriter,  A person wishing to look into things closely will be unable to avoid technology, the most obvious matter. But it is precisely because technology is so close to us that we find it so difficult to analyze. Understanding media? No problem! Just read the blueprints of the circuits, the media technologist Friedrich Kittler is advising.
Sound and image, voice and text exist only as a surface effect, also well—known to consumers under the pleasant name of the interface.
Brecht and Benjamin expected a new social system from the new media. Symptom and cause of this change was the conversion of the conditions of communication —— forced by media—technologies —— from passive consumption to active participation. Recent media theory repeats these utopian hopes with surprising redundancy. Angelic telepathy makes all mediating systems of symbols superfluous, and eliminates all differences between inside and outside, between self—reference and external reference; mind—reading permits no lie, no mask, no role, no hypocrisy, no illusion, and no distinction between information and message.
This may be called proximity: the prefix tele- implying intensity, closeness, and the intersubjectivity of a dense network. All we need, are advanced modern technologies. III The media are new, the utopian dreams old.
The fact that the structure of the hopes of Brecht and Benjamin are so exactly repeated can be seen to support our opening statement that the theory of new media inherits from its Marxist fathers not only the priority of technology as the motor of history, but also its Messianic horizon.
On no account do I insist on denouncing the capacities of media theory. I would like to plead, however, for giving up this hierarchical relationship among media technology, social system, semantics, and sensuousness, and also giving up the primacy of technology. Anyone who believes the evolution of media technology is the key to an understanding of social processes risks being transformed from an analyst to an prophet. The argumentation is still the same, only the media are changing video, film, computer.
One reason for this continuity seems to be the continuation of the desire to equippe analysis with prognostic powers. In case of Becht and Benjamin, they have failed. This is the abolition not only of the Old European difference subject and object, but also —— very explicitly —— of the essential differences among "biologically inspired system theories"; namely, the difference between self—reference and external reference. It must also be emphazised that —— according to Kittler — the "theory of mechanical self—reproduction" passes "ine vitably into technical practice" Friedrich Kittler, Die Nacht der Substanz.
Pfingsten: whitsun functions as a biblical model of immediate understanding. In current semantics, whitsun indicates the surmounting of media- or code-differences.
Radiotheorie – Bertolt Brecht
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