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Love and Other Technologies

Retrofitting Eros for the Information Age

Dominic Pettman

Publication Year: 2006

Can love really be considered another form of technology?Dominic Pettman says it can-although not before carefully redefining technology as a cultural challenge to what we mean by the humanin the information age. Using the writings of such important thinkers as Giorgio Agamben, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Bernard Stiegler as a springboard, Pettman explores the techtonicmovements of contemporary culture, specifically in relation to the language of eros. Highly ritualized expressions of desire-love, in other words-always reveal an era's attitude toward what it means to exist as a self among others. For Pettman, the articulation of love is a technique of belonging: a way of responding to the basic plurality of everyone's identity, a process that becomes increasingly complex as the forms of mediated communication, from cell phone and text messaging to the mass media, multiply and mesh together.Wresting the idea of love from the arthritic hands of Romanticism, Pettman demonstrates the ways in which this dynamic assemblage-the stirrings of the soul-have always been a matter of tools, devices, prosthetics, and media. Love is, after all, something we make. And, love, this book argues, is not eternal, but external.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Love and Other Technologies

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Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xviii

In Hermann Broch’s 1931 novel, The Anarchist, the protagonist, August Esch, wanders through the hallowed halls of the head offices of the Central Rhine Shipping Company, having recently accepted a job there as an accountant. He stops short upon reading a woman’s name on one of...

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pp. 1-15

There is a scene in Tom Tykwer’s rather pedestrian film Run Lola Run (1998)1 when the two protagonists—Lola (Franka Potente) and her boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu)—lie in bed discussing the random nature of love and existence. Lola asks Manni that age-old question which lovers...

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One: Love and Other Technologies

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pp. 16-41

Let us imagine the first handshake. This gesture, ubiquitous in the West and therefore increasingly common throughout the world, extends back into the mythological mists of commerce and community. The handshake signals a greeting, an introduction, a contract made, and an understanding achieved. ...

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Two: The Storable Future and the Stored Past

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pp. 42-69

In the mid-1990s a new technology debuted on our screens. Known colloquially as Bullet Time,1 it employs a full 360-degree ring of cameras which simultaneously capture an object and moment from all angles. This effectively ‘‘freezes time,’’ so that the spectator can virtually move around...

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Three: In the Artificial Gardens of Eden-Olympia

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pp. 70-83

J. G. Ballard’s business park for the technocratic elite, Eden-Olympia, has its own grinning Cheshire cat, a psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Wilder Penrose, whose ‘‘grimace of pleasure seemed to migrate around his face, colonizing new areas of amiability’’ (171). ...

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Four: Facing the Interface

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pp. 84-107

I am sitting on a stationary bus, leaning my head against the window and feeling pensive; as people often do when they are alone on public transport. Presently, another bus pulls up right beside me, forcing a stranger’s face directly into my field of vision, only three feet away and in a similar pensive...

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Five: ‘‘How Was It For Me?’’ Not-Seeing the Non-Spaces of Pornography

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pp. 108-128

In Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut (1999), the protagonist, Dr. Bill Harford (played by Tom Cruise), requires a password to enter the Bletchly Manor. This password is ‘‘Fidelio.’’ He has been banished into the night by his own jealous demons, unleashed by his wife’s confession...

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Six: A Self of One’s Own?

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pp. 129-158

Consider the little games lovers play with each other. You know the kind: ‘‘Would you still love me if I was in a horrible accident and lost both my legs? Or if my face became paralyzed and I always spoke like this? Or if I lost my job and had to clean toilets? Or if I suddenly started wearing...

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Seven: Mind the Gap

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pp. 159-178

At Waterloo underground station in London, all commuters are warned repeatedly by loudspeakers to ‘‘mind the gap’’ when a train approaches the station, a reference to the rather large space between the platform and the carriage. This piece of advice is just as useful when...

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Eight: Asymptotic Encounters: Love Freed from Itself

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pp. 179-197

In that particular genealogy linking Baudelaire to Michel de Certeau via Benjamin, Musil, and The Man with a Movie Camera (1929), the city is figured through a kind of semichoreographed ballet mécanique. While we may not be able to talk of harmony, there is certainly some kind of order...

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Conclusion: Of Mice and Multitudes

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pp. 198-208

We have covered a lot of territory since the opening pages of this book.
From the outset, we noted that technology is, above all, a set of relations. We then established, even more strikingly, that technology underpins the will to relations themselves (even if such a will is initiated for self-seeking purposes). ...


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pp. 209-236

Works Cited

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pp. 237-249


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pp. 251-267

E-ISBN-13: 9780823248131
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823226689
Print-ISBN-10: 0823226689

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Technology.
  • Love.
  • Civilization, Modern -- 21st century.
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