Friedrich Kittler (1943 – 2011)

Friedrich Kittler, whose name has become synonymous with so-called “German media theory,” passed away this week, on October 18, 2011. Kittler’s proclamation that “media determine our situation,” and his use of the phrase “der sogenannte Mensch” to refer to “us” (i.e. humans and our subjectivities), have long been occasions for controversy: for some, they are signs of Kittler’s “genius,” expressed paradoxically in his unrelenting break with the anthropocentric sympathies that would underwrite any such claim to genius; for others, they are merely signs of antihumanism and technological determinism. Whatever one decides, the significance of Kittler’s work cannot be denied; it will undoubtedly continue to play a controversial role and to exert a variety of influences on our attempts to think media in the future. Here, then, are some links that reflect on Kittler’s legacy:

News of Kittler’s death and reflections on his life and work appeared in virtually all the German newspapers. Die Zeit ran an article by Maximilian Probst here, and the taz had a piece by Stefan Heidenreich here. Norbert Bolz’s article in the Tagesspiegel can be found hereDie Welt reprinted parts of an interview with Kittler from earlier this year (here), as well as an obituary by Ulf Poschardt here. Christian Schlüter’s piece in the Berliner Zeitung is here, and Thomas Steinfeld’s obituary in the Süddeutsche Zeitung is here. Jürgen Kaube’s piece in the FAZ  is here.

Meanwhile, in the blogosphere, Thomas Groh has put together a collection of Kittler video clips on his blog Filmtagebuch here.

Finally, for some English-language reflections on Kittler’s legacy, see Jussi Parikka’s thoughts here on his blog Machinology, and Bernard Geogehan’s obituary at Critical Inquiry’s blog here.


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