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CUC2022: Otvaranje u zatvorenom svijetu - postdigitalna znanost i obrazovanje / CUC2022: Opening up in a closed world - postdigital science and education

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The problem of mnemotechnic literacy in the narrative-code shift within exteriorized knowledge

This presentation draws heavily on and extends a Stieglerian view (2018) of the evolution of the exteriorization of knowledge and its implications to postdigital research. It will begin by establishing the human capacity to retain and transmit knowledge through its exteriorization (i.e. the capacity of hypomnesic tertiary retention to exteriorize or exosomatize mental content). This capacity has enabled knowledge to become universalized into the forms of knowing that have become the sciences, which themselves continue to evolve biopolitically. Notably, this evolution accelerated once this knowledge was loosened from a shared grid of narrative interpretation in the 20th century (Goetz 2016). It is therefore no longer sufficient today to think of knowledge transference as taking place through the exteriorized symbolic representation of the world through language; rather, it is necessary to think of this symbolic representation in terms of code – or, more suggestively, in terms of codification, and to think of coding as a type of hypomnesic retention – or mnemotechnology. The latter increasingly denied to the psychic and collective individual. Through the possibility to inscribe symbolic knowledge to the machine as fixed capital in the Industrial Age, the individual worker was dispossessed not only of their power over capital but also over mechanical knowledge. More recently, the functions required for knowledge circuits are increasingly integrated into automated mnemotechnical devices using digital memory to retain and perpetuate externalized knowledge, dispossessing individuals of mnemotechnical power. While explanatory and exploratory schemes such as cybernetics, systems theory, and various mental maps and models have been used to extend and retain forms of knowledge pertaining to the social organizations and systems of which technical devices are composed, this knowledge is often expropriated to digitized circuits where it is used to circumvent a psychic individual's ability to think, further melding the technological and the social, as set out by cybernetics, to create network effects that can be used to engineer behaviors. This has been heavily documented (e.g. Cathy O'Neil 2016, Shoshonna Zuboff 2019) and informs some political platforms (e.g. of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Markup). However, this knowledge has yet to become the knowledge of the social body. For this to happen, codification (or mnemotechnic retention) cannot only belong to institutions of certification, publication, and education today - among which, we may note a imbalance, as, for example, more certification is performed by banks than by schools. Rather, it must become law or right – by becoming embodied psycho-somatically as part of a social cohesion. But we do not yet speak of mnemotechnic literacy, or of the ways in which digital hypomnesic tertiary retention is accelerated or emancipates technical tendencies and lineages from ethic milieus, which this paper will also diagnose.

Greta Goetz
Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade

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