Faculty in Liberal Studies shared thoughts about their recent work.
Dominic Pettman, Chair of Liberal Studies at the New School for Social Research and Professor of Culture and Media at Eugene Lang College, recently published the book Infinite Distraction (Polity Press, 2015). Pettman shared thoughts about this project (excerpted from the book’s preface):
“This book began its life as a humble Facebook update. In terms of media ecology and technological evolution, this is a bit like starting with a bird and ending up with a dinosaur. Despite being a Professor of Culture and Media – that is, a professional skeptic of technological promises and practices – I certainly surrender an inordinate amount of my time interacting online in social media spaces. For fellow critic Jonathan Crary, this is no doubt in part because I – like everyone else – am obliged to submit to ‘mandatory techniques of digital personalization and self-administration.’ But I would be lying if I pretended that mediated socialization doesn’t bring me many micro-pleasures, along with generous infusions of exasperation, boredom, and spleen. Moreover, I would have trouble denying the fact that for every intellectual observation I post or link to, I upload several more frivolous or trivial info-morsels, designed more to distract than instruct or edify. If accused of wasting time or procrastinating, I can certainly use my job as an alibi. ‘Know your enemy.’ But the truth is that having a critical-theoretical perspective on something does not necessarily make you immune to it. An intellectual understanding of a problem does not prevent an affective investment in the same (as we all know, from our romantic histories, as much as our credit card receipts).
In short, this book explores some of the more troubling effects of what we might call ‘the digitalization of distraction,’ along with its luminous shadow: attention. It therefore touches upon some of the specific technological, cultural, social, and political constellations which solicit these two intimately connected phenomena.”
Other publications include the books Look at the Bunny: Totem, Taboo, Technology (Zero Books, 2013), In Divisible Cities (Punctum Books, 2013), and Human Error: Species-Being and Media Machines (University of Minnesota Press, 2011).
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Bio | Pettman is Professor of Culture and Media and Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs at Eugene Lang College, and Chair of Liberal Studies at the New School for Social Research. He received his PhD from the University of Melbourne. Pettman His work explores topics ranging from digital culture, new media, modern literature, visual culture, audio culture, popular and unpopular cultures, affect theory, libidinal economies, and the increasingly blurry boundaries between humans, animals, and machines.