Becoming Beside Ourselves — some reviews

Scott Pound (Semiotic Review of Books 18:3 (2009)

“Among cutting edge media theorists with fascinating resumes few compare with French intellectual and journalist Régis Debray who in the late sixties spent time as a Marxist revolutionary fighting alongside Che Guevera and later worked as an adviser to French President François Mitterand on Foreign Affairs, but Brian Rotman comes close. … more.

Andrès Vaccari (Philosophy,Macquarie University)
“Until relatively recently, a mode of thought we now recognise as ‘humanist’ posited a radical ontological separation between the self and its environment, mind and matter, the human and technology. The last three decades have seen a concerted challenge to this world-view, emerging from a number of fields ranging from evolutionary anthropology to cognitive science, and from cultural studies to philosophy. Yet the language of humanism is proving hard to shake off. It is still tempting to talk of the ‘effects’ of technology on forms of consciousness, as if technological forms confronted an unchanging human subject that pre-exists and unfolds outside of technological and material conditions. … more.

Evelyn Fox Keller (ISIS, 100 : 3 (2009), 692-3)
Becoming Beside Ourselves has all the brilliance
we have come to expect from Brian Rotman,
and the introductory preface by Tim Lenoir provides
a superb overview. The book is bold,
imaginative, and deeply original—as provocative
as it is evocative; it clearly deserves to be
read by many. Its central argument is that “any
act of self-enunciation is medium specific” (p.
xxxiii); hence the need to distinguish between
the “I” of gestural self-pointing, of spoken language,
of alphabetic writing, and of the digitally
enabled network technology capable of representing
gestural and haptic modes of communication…. more.

Jeff Pruchnic (Notes on Becoming Beside Ourselves) Rotman takes it for granted that it is currently very difficult, if not impossible, to draw a cleanseparation between “mind and machine,” or, more precisely, between the categories of mind/culture and those of tools/technology (1). The key question of Becoming, then, is not whether a shift has occurred between an earlier time during which when one could make such clear distinctions, but rather how or why this shift has taken place; thus, the central concern of the text will be to trace how human subjectivity has been historically shaped by the “succession of physical and cognitive technologies at its disposal” (1). … more

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