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In Conversation with Jeremy Fernando:  Kittler, Telos, & Love

In Conversation with Jeremy Fernando: Kittler, Telos, & Love

The conversation that follows is one between Berit Jane and Jeremy Fernando.  The two are continually collaborating on one project or another since they first started working together on the drift project.  Berit Jane originally approached Fernando to be a third editor (along with co-founder April Vannini) on this project that sought and continues to seek the frontier of what peer review can be.  You can read more about this particular project on continent.’s website where the “first two threads” were published in 2013 in a special issue.

In this particular exchange that follows,* Jeremy brings up the topic of Friedrich Kittler’s influence on Berit Jane, a story in and of itself as Berit Jane was in the last seminar given by this mighty media theorist and was handed his notes at the end of the class by Kittler himself (as well as an exchange of words).  More information on her participation in The Sirens Go Silent:  A Memorial Colloquium for Friedrich Kittler can be found here.  Also of note, this particular conversation was published December of 2015 on berfois.com.  Should you care to read it there, you can find it here.


JF 
Can I try asking a question instead?

BSH 
Absolutely, let's begin.

JF 
Clearly Kittler means a lot to you, and there are echoes of his work throughout your thought – even directly in this work, your working with a typewriter.   How does fidelity, love, figure in, into, a work that ostensibly has less to do with a human figure but at the same time is haunted by the spectre of one (or many), and is in some (silent) way a tribute – or could be read as a eulogy – to Friedrich.

BSH 
Ah!  Kittler.  You know, I am in the process of getting the talk I gave in a publishable format for release in an anthology now.  I find it very strange that this completely small thing, him handing me his notes on the class has somehow qualified me for some kind of ....  all the words I can think of are weird to me like ill-fitting clothing ... some kind of inheritance? I'm just warming up, wasn't thinking I'd get a Kittler question right off the bat.

JF
Were his notes handwritten or typed?

BSH
Typed, computer, large format so he could read them.

 JF
...an electronic, printed, transmission.

some of the type written notes, 2014

some of the type written notes, 2014

BSH
And he also spoke quite slowly so I was able to record word for word a lot of what he said during the seminar.

JF
Not a regular inheritance, but one that almost requires the hand, a manuscript, manus.

BSH
Let me describe it this way: there's this thing that always gets me in trouble.  For instance, in seminar with Butler this last summer she kept making comments on the terribly obscure and not formed to academic framework writing of Benjamin.

JF
I recall that ...

BSH
And I am sitting there thinking, but this is what I want to learn.

JF
Oui oui .... (though that makes us 'academically speaking' unpublishable yes).

BSH
We were going through "Critique of Violence", and here in this work he is not only saying a bunch of stuff we can all remember and quote and rehash, but he's writing it in a way that the thoughts do their own thing.  I think Butler even said his obscuritanism was a part of the critique... he's making it visceral... And so to relate this to your original question of Kittler, I actually don't think I've read enough of Kittler to be a "Kittlerian".  I am not an expert. What I think I felt in his class and in our conversations and maybe what he saw in me, although he could have given those notes to anyone - what was * transmitted * between us, was that this is all very serious to us.

JF
I'm certainly not accusing you of being an expert (in any case, I tend to think of 'expert' in a slightly back handed way): I much prefer it when someone has affinity for a particular work, text.

BSH
Yes, affinity is a good word.

JF
Well, to be fair, I'm very partial to love.

BSH
So for Kittler to feel an affinity with my little self, and for me to feel the affinity with him (verily he was one of the reasons I wanted to go to EGS to begin with).  Well, we both have academia as a medium, but we don't find the rules very accommodating.

JF
mmmm

BSH
I've always had the issue of taking things too seriously. But do you think affinity has to do with love?

JF
Insofar as both as relationalities, yes.

BSH
My initial response to the question would be "of course".

JF
I think there might be slight differences: in relation to say 'fidelity'. I'm not sure exactly how it plays out though.

But this is just a hunch.

image taken from the book 99 Problems to be told to a plant & The Excavation of Its Future Memory - the desk where the 99 problems/aphorisms were originally written

image taken from the book 99 Problems to be told to a plant & The Excavation of Its Future Memory - the desk where the 99 problems/aphorisms were originally written

BSH
I'm really curious though, about this fidelity-affinity-love triangle. This morning, talking to my father, he outlined the ancient Greek articulation of eros, phileo, and agape.

JF
I think that's what I'm attempting to explore in my larger work on the notion of fidelity. On what it might mean to 'love' (alongside 'fidelity' 'affinity for' perhaps 'mourning' etc).

BSH
But I don't know if I'm just some sucker for absolutes, or ideal forms or genericisms, but I kept bringing up that it seems that Love for real (agape) is what is a part of all the others. Ooooh, yes, let's get to mourning please. But in a minute.

JF
Though agape is divine. So it might be a condition, but a condition that we remain blind to.

BSH
Yeah, so what if divine just means bigger than we can conceive?

JF
That might well be possible.

BSH
What we need is techne to attempt to approach, but we never will reach, as it were, since becoming is infinite - or eternal if we want to drop that bomb.

JF
I've always gone with a notion of divine (somewhat like how the daemon whispers into our ear).

BSH
All these things have a telosPhileo, eros, fidelity...  maybe not affinity....

JF
I'm very much with you on that relationship between tekhnē and 'art/ beauty/ truth/ good/ eternal'.

BSH
Lies.  Lies are eternal as well.

JF
Perhaps they have a telos, but quite possibly only if you are thinking of it like our buddy Hegel: which is an unknowable kind of telos.

BSH
And the bad.  But I'm a sympathizer.

JF
And lies are not antonymous to loving. To love someone sometimes one has to lie.

BSH
Agreed. Bigger telos. And all that. But there is a reaching. Unknowable telii - what is the plural of telos?

JF
I’m with my buddy Baudrillard on the notion of 'evil as an eternal qn' which continually haunts the good (which, to him, is about ‘the answer’)

plural of telos ... hmmm ... i'm going with television for that...

BSH
HA. But there is a reaching that in the grasp of reaching there is an expectation... And also a reaching where we don't know what to expect.

JF
And a self-consciousness of that grasping, which undoes the self (at least the stable self).

BSH
We are so rigidly taught to form our own grasp. Or that of a telos larger than ourselves.

JF
And our vanity wants us to think that we can know this telos.

detail of image printed in 99 Problems to be told to a plant & The Excavation of Its Future Memory

detail of image printed in 99 Problems to be told to a plant & The Excavation of Its Future Memory

BSH
Oh the shortsightedness.

 JF
See, what we need is 'distant vision' (tele vision).

 BSH
Vanity is the quickest rebound of an echo. Yes, distance is always important.  But then in the material engagement of it all, we are in the stink all the time. An example - remarking on your evil bit - evil is so often quite beautiful....  because it enacts its own justice.  I am also kind of thinking of that glorious criminal of Benjamin's.....

 JF
Though love and vanity might also have a relation no?

BSH
Love and vanity...  vanity only loves a shell. I think.

JF
But to have self-consciousness needs at least a slight moment, a hint at, vanity. Even if this vanity is in vain.

BSH
I think that gets confused once we start talking to other people. But this is also something I have been struggling with. I have a question for you. A couple of them.  Do you tell people you are a philosopher?

JF
Certainly not — the only thing that I’ll call myself (if I have to describe it, say in a blurb, is as 'a writer'). In terms of the academy, I think that philosophy tends to be seen as a discipline, one which I'm not too fond of.  In terms of a 'spirit' of the name, I think it's something that someone else can call you ... when they notice something that you do, when you have taken your craft/ tekhnē in a way that opens questions in them.

BSH
It has been already proven we have an affinity, but this marks another resonance.  Do people call you a philosopher?

JF
Sometimes, but I'm very uncomfortable with it. I don't think I'm ready -- by far -- and haven't thought enough about, done enough, writing for me to be worthy of that term.

BSH
I know my answer to the same question, but why not call yourself a philosopher?  It feels dirty, no?

JF
Mmmm … indeed.

BSH
When you truly love something, it is always uncertain. No? And I really do think (in the vein of Irigaray and D&G) that philosophy is a relationship. When you truly love someone, a person, certainly we have the certitude built into our cultural devices to be able to say—yes I love her!  But to "do" that love - we must always be in a space of not knowing when that person will leave, and if they choose to, we will let them....  So to have this relationship with knowledge or understanding or wisdom—it’s always about to leave.  We may love it, but we can never say for certain if we have some dominion over what it decides to do. Barthes is really handy for this.  But beyond these nominations, do you consider yourself a philosopher?  And/Or do you lead your life as if you were a philosopher without knowing for sure one way or another?

 JF
My relation to philosophy would be closer to — I have greater affinity for — 'philia' than the part on 'sophy'. Not because I don't believe in wisdom (or even truth), but that I think that it is beyond us, has to come to us. So, it's not something that one can worry about, as it were: one's role is to work on one's craft and then at some point when one gets so good at it, there is a chance one gets out of the way and perhaps then the daemon can whisper into one's ear (as you can see, I'm a hopeless romantic that way).

Which opens the question of love: and doing what one loves (and also loving people). Which also comes with the notion of choice: even though one falls in love (and may not have any control over that), one does have to act on it, upon it (which requires a choice, even if choosing might be 'mad', be 'impossible'). So perhaps a blind choice, a choosing fraught with blindness. Which might be where the notion of 'fidelity' lies: are you faithful to the 'what' or the who' (and if there is a trace of the 'who', does this 'who' remain unknowable ... must it, (s)he, remain unknowable, otherwise has one merely consumed, subsumed her/ it under oneself.

image taken from the book 99 Problems to be told to a plant & The Excavation of Its Future Memory - the desk where the excavation part of the text was originally written

image taken from the book 99 Problems to be told to a plant & The Excavation of Its Future Memory - the desk where the excavation part of the text was originally written

In Conversation with the Rev. Dr. Joseph G. Holt Sr.:  Love, Unfolding Reality & Obnoxious Know-It-Alls

In Conversation with the Rev. Dr. Joseph G. Holt Sr.: Love, Unfolding Reality & Obnoxious Know-It-Alls