David Porush- Media Revolutions (Winter 2019)


Media Revolutions. Thank you Susan. Thanks
all of you for being here. Who wants to hear the scariest and shortest story in
America today? It’s two words: Trump 2024. That’s an actual meme in the
Twittersphere. That’s an actual- it’s a me- you know, I don’t know if it’s a meme, it’s a growing
thing. And that’s exactly what we’re not going to talk about in the course of my
course. In fact, it’s forbidden to mention the T word. Can you imagine six weeks for two
hours not mentioning the T word? We’re going to talk about another T word. To
get to this T word, I want to ask you, answer for yourselves, what is the
essence of human communication? What is the one thing everybody throughout the
history of humanity has tried to do when they communicate? It’s to get a thought
from one brain into another brain. And what’s the word for that? It’s
another T word. Telepathy. My course is going to be about telepathy. But it’s
not the telepathy of science fiction, or fantasy, or dreaming, or child’s
play, it’s the telepathy that is
technologically mediated. We call it TMT for short. And that TMT includes not
just the Telemedia of today, television, telephones, telegraphs, what’s coming
next, which I think is brain to brain communication through computers. It’s now
a 2.6 billion dollar industry in the United States. Mark Zuckerberg in
2016 said, “I think one day people are really going to be able to use machines
to translate what’s in their brain and get it into the brains of others through
Facebook.” 2016. Elon Musk launched a company called
Neuralink in 2016. Said it’s devoted to creating a telepathy machine. It’s a real
company. We’ve been doing this ever since we had cave paintings. The birth of
writing, pictographs, logograms, the birth of the phonetic alphabet, which shrunk
writing from a thousand symbols to 22. That was like the atomic bomb of the
18th century BCE. One of the most explosive cultural moments in history:
the invention of the phonetic alphabet. Think of it as a technology, and you’re
able to see that it might be a model for understanding what we’re doing today. So
this course is going to be successful if we achieve two things: we never mention
that first T word, and we understand the second T word, which is technologically
mediated telepathy, and use a look at all the historical moments when new media
disrupted culture and put civilization into a complete rearrangement of what we
do with our heads, cognition, what we do with our cells, how we understand the
cosmos, how we achieve new forms of intimacy. We’re going to look at all
those occasions, or at least signal moments in those occasions, and try to
penetrate, try to develop tools and models, to penetrate the fog that we’re
in now, in today’s media revolution. So the course will be successful if we do
those two things: don’t mention the first T word, and understand the second T word
to penetrate the fog we’re in now. Thank you. David, thank you.

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