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The pure machine's gambit: Walter Benjamin's Thesis I.

How can one think of the future? This question will of necessity remain indeterminate if it is taken as asking what a thinking subject imagines will take place in the future. There are no restrictions in what one is allowed to imagine. Conversely, the question becomes fruitful as soon as the future is related to the subject: How does one figure in the future? How does the future figure the subject? There are two ways of approaching such a problematic. First, the future could be understood in terms of content--this is the utopian impulse. (1) There is an image of the future that the subject strives to conceive as well as to realize. This is the prevalent way of thinking the utopian. However, what this presupposes is a metaphysical distinction between presence and absence, between being and nonbeing. In which case, the subject either has an immediate access to its own thought process or the thought process itself provides an immediate access to reality. Second, the subject can be allowed to figure in a way that configures, as well as disfigures, the opposition between presence and absence--this is the anti-utopian impulse. Here, the future can no longer be conceived in terms of content. Rather, the future is a structural element of the present, that part of the present which makes possible an interruption of a linear notion of time. The subject of this anti-utopian figuration can be called a Doppelganger. This is not an arbitrary choice of term, but the way that the subject was conceived by Jean Paul, the author who coined the word 'Doppelganger'. Jean Paul used the Doppelganger to argue against the attempt to unify a particular subject and its transcendental subjectivity, so that the Doppelganger allows for a finite infinite--a temporality of the present which does not concede primacy to the future. (2)

Walter Benjamin adhered to this prohibition against making an image of the future. The anti-utopian impulse in Benjamin's thought is expressed, for instance, in Thesis B from 'On the Concept of History' (1940). The 'disenchanted future', as Benjamin calls it, is positioned against the 'soothsayers of enlightenment', that is, against the attempt to ground Utopia on a teleological conception of time. However, this is not to reject the Enlightenment project tout court. Rather, as Benjamin underscores, the future is still operative, but now as 'the small gate in time through which the Messiah might enter'. (3) The future is still operative, but not as the principle guaranteeing or legitimating the political. The political, instead, is about the present and how the present allows the subject to judge. (4) Thus, not only is the Doppelganger, in the sense described above, operative in Benjamin; its operative presence counters the utopian project of giving content to the future. In other words, Benjamin shows that time figures the subject by undoing the opposition between presence and absence.

Benjamin's argument against the metaphysics of presence vis-avis the subject is succinctly and memorably presented in Thesis I of 'On the Concept of History'. In Thesis I, Benjamin refers to the image of the Turk, the chess automaton with a man hidden inside it. The Thesis, in its entirety, reads:
 It is generally known [Bekanntlich soll es] that there was once
 an automaton constructed in such a way that it could
 respond to every move by a chess player with a
 countermove that would ensure the winning of the game. A
 puppet wearing Turkish attire and with a hookah in its
 mouth sat before a chessboard placed on a large table. A
 system of mirrors created the illusion that this table was
 transparent on all sides. Actually, a hunchbacked dwarf--a
 master at chess--sat inside and guided the puppet's hand
 by means of strings. One can imagine a philosophic
 counterpart to this apparatus. The puppet, called 'historical
 materialism', is to win all the time [immer]. It can easily be a
 match for anyone if it enlists the services of theology, which
 today, as is generally known, is small and ugly and has to
 keep out of sight [sich ohnehin nicht darf blicken lassen]. (5)

Two points about the Thesis are crucial from the beginning. First, Benjamin describes the unbeatable combination of dwarf/theology and puppet/materialism--the utopian vision of what Edgar Allan Poe (the source of Benjamin's anecdote, as it will be argued) describes as a 'pure machine'. Poe's argument is that the Turk would win if and only if it were a pure machine; or, the other way round, only a pure machine can win all the time. The argument here will be that such a utopian vision can only be sustained if the emphasis is placed upon the 'win'--the win being what happens in the future. Conversely, the thesis allows for a formulation that critiques utopianism if the emphasis is placed upon 'all the time'. That is, there is a construal of the subject in terms of a temporality that does not allow for a vision of a subjectivity (sich ohnehin nicht darf blicken lassen) that gives access to the future. Second, if this is an undoing of metaphysics, it still requires a response to traditional metaphysical oppositions. Such an opposition is registered here as the ensemble of the inner mind of a chess player and its outer mechanical part. The important point is not about the arrangement of what is inside and what outside, but the positing of such an arrangement of interiority and exteriority. (6) The argument here will be that Benjamin in Thesis I performs a gambit in the twofold sense of the word in chess: a sacrifice and an opening strategy. Benjamin presents a metaphysical opposition only to show that it fails--the interior-exterior arrangement is sacrificed. But this failure is also a strategy that positions the subject outside the bounds of individual agency.

Overcoming the 'pure machine' in effect means that the relation enacted by the chess-playing automaton, the Turk, should not be resolved in favour of either the dwarf or the puppet. Rather, it is a relation of complicity; there is no sublation into a synthesis of the part, nor sublimation into a hierarchical higher entity. Moreover, it is a relation that allows for the movement of the chess pieces on the board and hence for the interruptions effected in the game of chess. And since the dwarf stands for the 'small and ugly' image of theology while the puppet stands for historical materialism, this means that, as Rebecca Comay puts it, 'in insisting on the co-implication of "historical materialism" and "theology", Benjamin is neither proposing nor exposing their final unity'. (7) It is precisely this eschewal of unity that indicates the Doppelganger effect. Comay also incisively comments: 'If the large puppet's overt manipulation of the chess-pieces would seem to repeat or reflect (in inverting) the dwarf's covert manipulation of the puppet, it is perhaps less a question of exposing, theatricalizing or expressing the latter's secret than of subverting our habitual assumptions regarding exposure or theatricality as such'. (8) In other words, by holding the secret parataxis of dwarf and puppet--of theology and materialism--in abeyance, 'theatricality as such' becomes the issue. Comay's insight will be misconstrued if the expression 'theatricality as such' is either equated with a specific theatrical performance, or with a universal and essentialized notion of the theatre. Rather, the theatricality made possible by the Doppelganger is that positioning which exposes the subject to a concrete situation and to its universalized counterpart, but fails to reconcile the two. (9) By insisting that the relation 'has to keep out of sight', Benjamin indicates an interruption of the metaphysical presence which seeks to retain the image in the guise of self-reflection. Thus, failure is constitutively linked to theatricality as such.

The theatricality of the Turk gives rise to the political in at least two ways derived from the failure of the subject's unity--from the Doppelganger. Firstly, in relation to the puppet, it is clear from Konvolut Z of The Arcades Project, titled 'Die Puppe, der Automat', that Benjamin ascribes a political significance to the automaton. What holds Benjamin's attention in this Konvolut is not only that puppets and automata acquire a 'sociocritical significance', not only that are they linked to the marxist concern for the means of production, and not only that they are thereby linked to a conception of experience that is psychoanalytically nuanced, but, more importantly, that they are linked to the Aristotelian prediction that slavery will be abolished through the use of automated machinery. (10) Thus, the automaton is already indexed to the history of the oppressed. This is a history made possible by the Aristotelian recognition that it is not merely necessity, but also contingency, and hence history and politics, that characterize the automaton. (11) Secondly, in relation to the subject, it is important that the dwarf is hidden by a 'system of mirrors creat[ing] the illusion that this table was transparent on all sides'. The mirroring effect is, as Adorno for instance has argued, the effect of ideology (12): the subject is posited as either in a state of complete hiddenness or in a state of complete transparency. Thus, the subject is either in the complete isolation required by immediate knowledge of itself, or alternatively the subject presents the future by instituting the law in its own image--that is, the two forms of metaphysical self-reflection that allow for an access to the content of the future. Conversely, because that secrecy is untenable, the mirroring trick is bound to fail. The upshot of both these aspects is that, when Benjamin says that the imaginary 'philosophic counterpart' to the Turk 'is to win all the time' in chess, the emphasis should not be on the winning, but rather on the failure of this formula--as it was manifest to Benjamin in 1940. It is a failure of a specific conception of the 'philosophic', a conception that manifests itself in the necessary and eternal conclusion of the expression 'all the time'. A certain kind of philosophy promised that the automaton would abolish slavery and class division with the co-operation of a learned--a doctored--mind. But the mind is doctored also in the sense of 'tampered with' or impure, a mind infected with automaticity, contaminated with the doctored propaganda of power politics. The Doppelganger critiques the 'doctored subject', which is thereby shown to be unitary only as a result of a mendacity about its own disjunctions. Thus, the Turk may win at all times, but only in a realm of absolute loneliness, bereft of others, and hence a realm in which its only opponent would be a self-reflection in the mirror. This is a win resulting in complete failure.

The fact that Benjamin does not lament this complete failure--he does not even seem to dwell on it at all--should not be seen as an inconsistency or defect. The reason is that with the first few words of Thesis I such a complete failure has been forestalled. 'Bekanntlich soll es'--these are the first words of the thesis: 'It is generally known'. It is not the content of what is known that matters but that it is commonly known. The first phrase of the theses opens up a community of listeners to which it is addressed, as if to an audience at a performance. This gesture acknowledging, even creating, an audience for himself is the gesture of the storyteller as described by Benjamin. Storytelling depends on the presence of the audience and hence it is a narration that is premised on particularity. (13) This particularity counteracts a certain philosophic tradition that insists on a chimeric 'at all times'. In effect, this locates the unfolding of the political in the gaps created between the eternal and the specific, the automatic and the autonomous, the conceptual and the contingent. Such gaps can never be closed with appeals to eternality so long as the starting point is particularity. The failure to bridge this gap re-inscribes the concept of failure so that it can no longer be complete. It is the failure of the unitary subject that is due to the operation of the Doppelganger. However, storytelling still does not adequately outline the operative presence of the Doppelganger. The multifariousness as such of the particular can only be guaranteed by something transcendent. Because of its infinite regress, potentiality is not enough for the Doppelganger; what is also needed is potentiality's arrest in an act of judgement. It needs to be shown how language--or the failure of language, language as failure--is imbued with theatricality.

To show this link, it is necessary to turn to the source of Benjamin's description of the Turk, Edgar Allan Poe's article 'Maelzel's Chess-Player'. (14) Failure features in two distinct yet related ways in Poe's article. First, Maelzel's theatrical presentation of the automaton during the exhibition games is an indication for Poe that the automaton is not what he calls a 'pure machine'. (15) That is, Poe argues that the Turk's operation requires 'immediate human agency'. (16) Poe describes in meticulous detail the performance: 'At the hour appointed for exhibition, a curtain is withdrawn ... and the machine rolled to within twelve feet of the nearest spectators'. (17) Then Maelzel 'informs the company that he will disclose to their view the mechanism of the machine'. (18) Maelzel opens up all the different compartments and drawers of the automaton, so that 'every spectator is now thoroughly satisfied of having beheld and completely scrutinized, at one and the same time, every individual portion of the Automaton, and the idea of any person being concealed in the interior ... is immediately dismissed as preposterous'. (19) During the exhibition, Maelzel also performs various antics. For instance, when 'the Automaton hesitates in relation to its move ... he [Maelzel] has also a peculiar shuffle with his feet, calculated to induce suspicion of collusion with the machine in minds which are more cunning than sagacious'. But these 'mere mannerisms' are merely a trick, because it is clear that Maelzel could not have intervened in the operation of the machine and 'he puts them in practice with a view of exciting in the spectators a false idea of pure mechanism'. (20) In other words, Maelzel tries to throw the suspicious observers off track from what is really the case, namely that there is a hidden chess player and that the identical manner in which the interior of the Turk is always displayed before the commencement of a performance is designed to conceal that chess player. (21) The performative presence of the exhibitor, then, is part of a conjuring trick to disguise the fact that the automaton is no 'pure machine'. (22) And, with this conjuring trick, which seeks to deny a corporeal presence, the figure of the Doppelganger is already in operation: the showcasing also denies, in general terms, the failure to demarcate a sharp boundary between mind and body, man and machine, inside and outside, and so on--all the divisions whose mirrorings structure those notions of subjectivity that remain blind to the Doppelganger.

Yet no matter how hard the endeavour to leave the Doppelganger out of sight, to consign it to the unthought and the unknowable, the Doppelganger always returns. Its return is registered in language, and particularly in those expressions that specifically attempt to negate or deny it. Here, the second feature of failure in Poe's article becomes apparent: namely, in the linguistic apparatus of what Comay calls 'theatricality as such'. Poe meticulously records that: 'When the question is demanded explicitly of Maelzel--"Is the Automaton a pure machine or not?" his reply is invariably the same--"I will say nothing about it"'. (23) This silence, encapsulated in the word 'nothing', can acquire three meanings: first, it is a non-ostensive silence, a silence that does not point out to anything in the environment in, or stage upon, which it is uttered. Thus, it is a silence that guards a portion of that stage--a portion which is to remain invisible and inaccessible, yet, for that very reason, all the more indispensable. Second, it could be construed as a garrulous silence, a denial which in fact says something about what seeks to remain hidden in the stage, a muteness that reveals the hidden element and hence the performative totality. This is Poe's interpretation, according to which Maelzel's 'nothing' merely reveals that the automaton is not 'a pure machine'. However, there is a third possibility. Silence and the word 'nothing' here are to be taken literally, so to speak, that is, as elements of the theatre itself--elements that are neither to be hidden nor to be revealed. Thus, the utterance 'I will say nothing about it' is not primarily an indicative sentence; rather, it is part of the script of the show, it is a gesture of the performance.

The importance of distinguishing the three types of silence--the three nothings--is due to the different ways they allow for the connection between failure, action and language to be conceived. Failure is part of all three versions of silence, but its figuration differs according to how acting and speaking are construed. In any case, there is a connection between actions and words on the stage. This is obvious also from the fact that Maelzel's announcement 'I will say nothing about it' is similar in certain respects to his mannerisms during the performance, such as the 'shuffle with his feet' whenever the automaton hesitates before a move. Both the actions and the expression are gestures related to the possibility or impossibility of the 'pure machine'. Now, the first nothing's construing of the silence as absolute merely means that every gesture contains within it an element of ambiguity which can never be discerned. Consequently, this ambiguity results in the failure of distinguishing between words and actions. On the contrary, the second alternative distinguishes actions and words, but such distinctions are ultimately reconciled in the eventual revelation of the secret. In other words, actions and words fail to conceal a higher realm of reconciliation--their failure being precisely the inauguration of that pure realm where they coincide. As opposed to the first alternative, the third one insists on the distinction between actions and words since the literal and material aspect of each gesture is to be maintained; in addition, as opposed to the second alternative, here no final conciliation is forthcoming, since what matters is the gesture as such. Thus, the third alternative includes both the other two, but not completely--it fails the protocols of both the ubiquitous ambiguity and the permanent conciliation of actions and words.

The third type of failure, nonetheless, succeeds in rupturing the relation between action and speech. This rupture is instrumental if the political is to be understood as the interruptive presence of judgement--judgement as the mediation between the particular and the general, the specific and the abstract, the finite and the infinite or, in the vocabulary used above, between a victorious and a defeated silence. Thus, the nothing in this third type of silence is configured by the Doppelganger, whose effective presence cannot be denied--but also in such a way that the efforts to deny it become part of it. In other words, the failures of subjectivity-failures to hide or reveal the secret, or to achieve immediate self-cognition, or to attain autonomy and so on--only point to the figuration of the Doppelganger. Can this failure that is allowed by, as well as allows, the Doppelganger be called a success? Maybe it can, but only in a qualified manner: a success that fails to determine what it is a success of. A success that never knows where it is passive or active--a subject that persists between the allowing and the allowance. In other words, a success that is endless, and hence a subject--the Doppelganger--that is always underway, in a process of formation, figuring--configuring no less than disfiguring--itself.

It may be countered that such a 'successive failure' is in effect a failure, for it has achieved nothing. And such a counter would be gladly conceded, so long as the 'nothing' is of the third kind discussed above. The reason for such a concession would not be that it would win the argument: for its winning strategy is clear in the gambit that concedes everything to the opponent, so long as the 'everything' is inscribed in a process of endless formation and transformation--which is precisely the import of the third nothing as it has been explicated above. However, the win is merely a secondary after-effect; what matters is the movement of self-inscription--the kind of inscription that counteracts any attempt at self-reflection as a foundation of subjectivity. It was observed earlier that if, according to Benjamin's Thesis I, the 'philosophic counterpart' to the Turk wins every time, then the emphasis should not be on the winning, but rather on the manifest failure of such a philosophic strategy at the time the theses were written. This is not merely to say that 'reality' somehow superimposed itself onto the theses. Rather, the point is that, in Poe's formulation, the automaton 'would always win' if it were a 'pure machine'. (24) The failure to always win, then, is the failure of pure machination. However, this also does not entail the failure of machination tout court. Indeed, machination persists--it persists as the manoeuvre of self-inscription. It was observed that with the opening words of Thesis I--'Bekanntlich soll es'--Benjamin conjured a community of listeners. But also, those same listeners, and by the very same manoeuvre, conjure Benjamin as the writer of the theses. This double gesture, the allowing-cum-allowance, is the effective presence of the Doppelganger. And theatricality is incumbent upon this gesture--theatricality as the staging of this dual relation, as well as its suspension in the non-relations of the nothing. Benjamin, then, when he says in Thesis I that the dwarf/puppet will always win, repeats (or rehearses) Maelzel's expression of 'I will say nothing about it': while the winning formula is being affirmed, that formula is premised on the pure automaton--that is, it is premised on the very notion undercut by the opening of the thesis. What fails, then, is not merely the dwarf, nor merely the puppet. There is an alliance between complete hiddenness and absolute revelation premised on their mutual reliance upon the 'eternally the same'. Self-inscription is the failure of this alliance--the failure of eternality and sameness.

Another way of describing the self-inscription which characterizes the third kind of nothing would be to say that the giving away of self-reflection--the pure machine's gambit--places the demand upon the subject to remain endlessly open. But this is not an openness of either ambiguity or conciliation, but rather the openness of an infinite responsiveness to the other. The word 'gambit' here retains the dual meaning referred to earlier: a gambit in chess is both a sacrifice and an opening strategy--for instance, the 'king's gambit' or the 'queen's gambit'. Thus, gambit is like the third strategy of the nothing described above: it sacrifices something--there is a failure--but this is only part of the game which solicits a response by leaving the game open. This is not an openness of either ambiguity or conciliation, but rather the openness of an infinite responsiveness to the other. The Doppelganger demands this responsibility by the subject. And it is a responsibility also towards the first kind of nothing--the nothing of indistinction and ambiguity, which for Benjamin is a feature of myth; as well as a responsibility towards the second nothing--the nothing of conciliation, a messianic nothing; finally, because the third nothing's infinity is premised on finitude, it cannot offer a vision of the future in terms of content. Thus, the political project of the Doppelganger is not construed in terms of concealment and revelation, but rather in terms of responsiveness and responsibility. However, for that responsibility to come into effect, the subject's self-inscription is indispensable. A self-inscription which, on the one hand, configures the subject in terms of its words and actions, and, on the other hand, disfigures those words and actions, consigning them in a trajectory of a failure to totalize intention and meaning. What persists, however, is the figuration of self-inscription--what persists is the subject, the Doppelganger. A subject that has failed to access the future, because the future is not posterior or anterior, inside or outside, but rather the future is part of its self-inscription. The Doppelganger's present is laden with an imageless future. Hence, also, a contentless and anti-utopian temporality.

(1.) See, for instance, F. Jameson's Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, London, Verso, 2005, which insists throughout that for utopia the future has to have content.

(2.) I have shown how the genesis of the word Doppelganger brings about these concerns in my 'The Critique of Loneliness: The Political Motives of the Doppelganger', Angelaki, vol. 9, no. 2, 2004, pp. 81-101.

(3.) All references to the English translations of Benjamin's work are to the Selected Writings, Vols 1-4, ed. M. W. Jennings, Cambridge, Belknap, 1997-2003. All references to the German edition of Benjamin's work are to Gesammelte Schriften, ed. R. Tiedemann and H. Schweppenhauser, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1991. The references here are to Thesis B in Benjamin's 'On the Concept of History', Selected Writings, Vol. 4, p. 397; Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. 1, p. 704.

(4.) I have taken this topic up in my 'The Subject of History: The Temporality of Parataxis in Benjamin's Historiography', in A. Benjamin (ed.), Walter Benjamin and History, London, Continuum, 2005, pp. 118-36.

(5.) Benjamin, 'On the Concept of History', Selected Writings, Vol. 4, p. 389; Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. 1, p. 693.

(6.) Hence, it is gratuitous to suggest, as Zizek does, that the Turk today should have the machine hidden inside and the mind in view outside. Prior to the organization of the various parts, the very positing of such an interior-exterior organization must be questioned. S. Zizek, The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity, Cambridge, MIT Press, 2003.

(7.) R. Comay, 'Benjamin's Endgame', A. Benjamin and P. Osborne (eds), Walter Benjamin's Philosophy: Destruction and Experience, Manchester, Clinamen, 2000, p. 248.

(8.) Comay, 'Benjamin's Endgame', p. 248.

(9.) This failure is what constitutes for Michel Foucault the subject of modernity as an 'empirico-transcendental doublet'. See The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, London, Routledge, 2002, Ch. 9.

(10.) W. Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. H. Eiland and K. McLaughlin, Cambridge, Belknap, 1999. The references by Konvolut number are respectively to Z1, 5; Z2; Z2a, 1; Z3. These are the same Konvolut numbers as in Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. 5, where the German text can be found.

(11.) Compare with C. Malabou, The Future of Hegel: Plasticity, Temporality and Dialectic, trans. L. During, London, Routledge, 2004, pp. 160-4.

(12.) For instance: 'Mirroring is the primary phenomenon of ideology', T. W. Adorno, Metaphysics: Concept and Problems (1965), ed. R. Tiedemann, trans. E. Jephcott, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2000, p. 189, p. 16.

(13.) See Benjamin, 'The Storyteller: Observations on the Works of Nikolai Leskov', Selected Writings, Vol. 3, pp. 143-66, Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. 2, pp. 438-65.

(14.) Although there is no direct evidence, there is enough circumstantial evidence that makes Poe's article almost certainly Benjamin's source. 1) As Rolf Tiedemann argues, Poe's article was translated by Baudelaire in 'Nouvelles histories extraordinaires' which Benjamin had been using. Tiedemann, 'Historische Materialismus oder politischer Messianismus? Politische Gehalte in der Geschichtsphilosophie Walter Benjamins', P. Bulthaup (ed.), Materialien zu Benjamins Thesen 'Uber den Begriff der Geschichte': Beitrage und Interpretationen, Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1975, p. 118; 2) There is internal evidence, since all the details of Benjamin's description of the Turk are in Poe's article. Thus, Poe mentions the hypothesis about the dwarf, the mirrors and the strings--although, it should be noted, that Benjamin's summary is not faithful to Poe's conclusions; 3) Benjamin does not seem to be aware of the two articles which definitively showed how the Turk worked: The first was published anonymously in the Magazine Pittoresque in 1834 and has been attributed to Jacques-Francois Mouret, who had been one of the chess players hidden inside the Turk. The second was published twenty-three years later by Silas Weir Mitchell, the son of the last owner of the Turk who witnessed how it worked. Both are reprinted in G. M. Levitt, The Turk, Chess Automaton, Jefferson, McFarland, 2000, pp. 221-2, 236-40 respectively. From all this, it is possible to infer that Benjamin almost certainly read the story in Poe's version.

(15.) Johann Nepomuk Maelzel toured the Turk widely around the world and made the automaton famous. However, the automaton was in fact invented by Wolfgang von Kempelen at the behest of Empress Maria Teresa. Its first performance was at the Viennese court in spring 1770. Maelzel managed to raise the Turk's reputation around the globe because he was a gifted performer who sought to highlight the mystery around the automaton. Maelzel's theatrical presentation of the Turk was so crucial that, as Tom Standage observes, 'without Maelzel's showmanship [after Maelzel's death] ... the Turk had become a pitiful shadow of its former self', T. Standage, The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine, New York, Berkley Books, 2003, p. 191.

(16.) E. A. Poe, 'Maelzel's Chess-Player', The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, Vol. 4, ed. R. W. Griswold, New York, Redfield, 1856, p. 349. Poe's early journalistic article was first published in the Southern Literary Messenger in 1836.

(17.) Poe, 'Maelzel's Chess-Player', p. 351.

(18.) Poe, 'Maelzel's Chess-Player', p. 352.

(19.) Poe, 'Maelzel's Chess-Player', p. 353.

(20.) Poe, 'Maelzel's Chess-Player', p. 354.

(21.) Poe, 'Maelzel's Chess-Player', pp. 356-60.

(22.) Poe's article has attracted a lot of attention in the secondary literature on the American author. One of the areas of interest is that the image of man and machine working together in Poe's article offers a challenge to subjective autonomy, precisely because the idea of a 'pure machine' is rejected. Thus, as James Berkley puts it, Poe's 'vision of subjectivity hence implied a quite different relationship between organism and environment than had the subject of liberal humanism' (p. 357); moreover, a relationship that offers 'the possibility of transcending the conventional limits of the individualized human subject' (p. 358). James Berkley, 'Post-human Mimesis and the Debunked Machine: Reading Environmental Appropriation in Poe's "Maelzel's Chess-Player"'.

(23.) Poe, 'Maelzel's Chess-Player', p. 365.

(24.) Poe, 'Maelzel's Chess-Player', p. 361.
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Title Annotation:Part IV: Utopian Theory
Author:Vardoulakis, Dimitris
Publication:Arena Journal
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Previous Article:The illusion of the future: notes on Benjamin and Freud.
Next Article:The Utopian dimension of thought in Deleuze and Guattari.

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