Trauma and Code

by scholastress

“Trauma… serves as the archetypal moment of breakdown that brings into view the extent to which our present and future are entwined with intelligent machines. No longer natural, human-only language increasingly finds itself in a position analogous to the conscious mind that, faced with disturbing dreams, is forced to acknowledge that it is not the whole of mind. Code, performing as the interface between humans and programmable media, functions in the contemporary cultural imaginary as the shadowy double of the human-only language inflected and infected by its hidden presence.”

– N. Katherine Hayles, “Traumas and Code,” 42. In Critical Digital Studies: A Reader.

(Hayles is great. There’s a lot for me to mine in her work, even if it is a bit too focused on language and psychoanalysis for my materialist/phenomenological sensibilities. Also, she’s totally coming to town this fall…)