Sacred Channels
Sacred Channels
The Archaic Illusion of Communication
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Contents From Aristotle to Hörl by Jean-Luc Nancy Preface to the German Edition Preface to the English Translation The Sacred Channels Introduction Part I In the Shadow of Formalization: A History of Thinking 1 Blind Thinking around 1900: The Turn from the Intuitive to the Symbolic Thinking the unthinkable The symbolic and intuition Leibniz as a prophet 2 The Symbolic and Communication: The Crisis of Thinking Since 1850 The dead skeleton of logic Symbolist subversion Operations research of the human mind Unrepresentable communication Structuralism and field theory 3 The Sacred and the Genealogy of Thinking: Descent into the Aristotelian Underground The pre-Aristotelian situation of understanding The prehistory of the categories Descartes among the savages Paths of reason Part II The Specter of the Primitive: A Hauntology of Communication 4 The Night of the Human Being: Being and Experience under the Conditions of the Unrepresentable Primitiveness and crisis Savage media Sacred communication Note on heresy 5 The End of the Archaic Illusion: Communication, Information, Cybernetics Desacralizing the channels Coding the real Cybernetics and coldmindedness A new mythology of the binary Appendix: Heidegger and Cybernetics Bibliography Notes Index

Reviews and Features

"Hörl’s project is ambitious and original, offering an intellectual history which readers are unlikely to have realised they were missing and which intervenes simultaneously into media theory, anthropology, philosophy and the history of computation."
- Megan Wiessner, Radical Philosophy 2.06 (Winter 2019)

"Erich Hörl’s Sacred Channels is as original and innovative as they come. The book articulates an archaeology of modern notions of the sacred and the primitive and draws upon a wide-ranging theoretical framework that includes philosophy (phenomenology, Heidegger, and deconstruction), anthropology, media theory, and breakthrough developments in modern science. The substantial preface by Jean-Luc Nancy, and the excellent translation by Nils. F. Schott, make Sacred Channels (by now a classic in the German-speaking world) a groundbreaking book finally available to an English-speaking audience."
- Michael Wutz, Weber State University

Erich Hörl

Sacred Channels

The Archaic Illusion of Communication

Erich Hörl's Sacred Channels is an original take on the history of communication theory and the cultural imaginary of communication understood through the notions of the sacred and the primitive. Hörl offers insight into the shared ground of anthropology and media theory in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and presents an archeology of the philosophy of technology that underpins contemporary culture. This singular and unique project focuses on the ethnological disciplines and their phantasmatic imaginations of a prealphabetical realm of the sacred and the primitive but reads them in the context of media cultural questions as epistemic unconscious and as projections of the emerging postalphabetical condition. Drawing inspiration from work by the likes of Friedrich Kittler, Hörl's understanding of cybernetics in the post-World War II interdisciplinary field informs a rich analysis that is of interest to media scholars and to anyone seeking to understand the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the humanities in the age of technical media.

Erich Hörl

Erich Hörl is Full Professor of Media Culture at Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Germany and director of the focus "Rethinking the technological condition" of Leuphanas Digital Culture Research Lab. Before he was Associate Professor of Media Philosophy and Technology at Ruhr-University Bochum. He is the founder of the Bochum Colloquium Mediastudies (bkm), an internationally renown series of diagnostical interventions concerning our contemporary techno-medial situation. He currently works on a General Ecology of Media and Technology.