Our book Frictions: Inquiries into Cybernetic Thinking and Its Attempts towards Mate[real]ization has recently been published by meson press. The open access PDF version is free, and I invite you all to download it. Similarly, print copies can be purchased online from the vendors listed on meson’s website. Please consider recommending our book to your university library, so many in your community can have access to print copies.

The book includes chapters by Eva Schauerte, Isabell Schrickel, Sebastian Vehlken, Wolfgang Ernst, Stefan Höltgen, Rolf Nohr, Thomas Fischer, Andrei Cretu, Hans-Christian von Herrmann, and myself. Check the publisher’s website to know more details. Below the image you will find an excerpt from the introduction.


Cybernetic Thinking and Its Frictions

The research interests and energies that initiated and then pushed the work that is now materialized in this volume are based on two main hypotheses. First, that by transcending the classic cybernetic epoch—i.e., going beyond the historical margins that have been used to frame it (Kline 2015, 4–6; Medina 2011, 20–24; Hörl and Hagner 2008; Pias 2004; Pickering 2002)—a somehow silent epistemic flow has moved from that field towards our present, becoming deeply entangled with contemporary networked societies. Many times discernible in the drive and visions of outcast scientists and short-lived projects, this flow, as well as its resonances, is what is here called cybernetic thinking. Second, it is by studying the frictions that may have determined the trajectories of such a flow—either its advances, setbacks, or changes of course—that we will be able to fully grasp the character and scope of this cybernetic thinking.

Therein lies the central premise of this book: the understanding that, as it were, epistemological progress is in effect the product of a series of frustrating, and sometimes even annoying, tug of war maneuvers. Put differently, the influence this epoch’s underlying knowledge may have in the current state of affairs does not obey simple acts of epistemic concatenation, not even to distributed yet smooth chains of diffusion. Rather, this premise contends that in every single point of contact of those processes of concatenation and diffusion, a deep epistemological battle is held; one that has occasionally become visible through somehow thwarted attempts of implementation, where the symbolic theories sustaining this cybernetic thinking confront the real materiality that promises to concretize its application (Kittler [1989/1993] 1997; Ernst 2018).

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