I am thrilled to announce that Blanks: Word Processing – the English-language translation of my poetry volume Halbzeug. Textverarbeitung – has been published by Counterpath Press in Nick Montfort's Using Electricityseries.
There will be a book launch on November 21st at Room & Board, Brooklyn statt.
You can buy the book here.
From the publisher's page:
“How to translate the process by which a computer ‘hears’ spoken speech and interprets it into a different language? As what other creaturely forms might Gregor Samsa awaken? These are but a sample of the questions asked by Hannes Bajohr in his new book, Blanks. Collected over ten years, the poems and writing of Blanks demonstrate the breadth of lyricism available to the careful curator of machine-generated/machine-intervened literature. Using a wide variety of machine processes, Bajohr maximizes the discoveries one can make inside other texts—from the canonical Metamorphosis to the more mundane of German literotica and business manuals. More than a book of computer-generated work, this book fascinates the reader through the intimacies of translation—not just from source language to target language, but translation and re-articulation of the composition process, yielding new texts faithful to method if not word-by-word parity. From the sorting and sifting of corpora, from extraction and arrangement, Bajohr’s work excites and beautifies the growing realm of computational poetics.
“Blanks is a series of poems generated using various pre-existing source texts including some of Bajohr’s own previous work. Each poem concludes by disclosing the various “programs” used to compose it (like Python, search filters, procedures, and algorithms), but some are also additionally edited “manually” and “selectively” (i.e. libidinally) by the poet. This book presents the facility of the poem as a resource for exploring the turbulent, political terrain cleaved open by the dissolution of distinct boundaries between person and machine, writing tool(s) and text, poem and reading tool(s). Written during a historical period that saw haphazardly designed, discriminatory algorithms rapidly and radically redistribute things like labor, global economics and attention itself, Blanks hovers on the moment when invisible tools designed imperfectly reveal themselves to have been operative independent of user agency.”
The German translation of Judith Shklar's Faces of Injustice as Über Ungerechtigkeit. Erkundungen zu einem moralischen Gefühl – which I edited – was just published by Matthes & Seitz, Berlin. You can order the book here .
From the publisher's description:
What is injustice, what is misfortune? In her groundbreaking investigation, philosopher Judith Shklar investigates an underestimated political problem.
“The difference between misfortune and injustice frequently involves our willingness and our capacity to act or not to act on behalf of the victims, to blame or to absolve, to help, mitigate, and compensate – or to just turn away.”
Judith Shklar shows that the distinction between misfortune and injustice is mutable: what was a misfortune a hundred years ago, such as a famine, is an injustice today because there are means to prevent it. Instead of constructing ideal theories, Shklar asks us to listen to the victim‘s voice. They articulate a sense of injustice that is not accounted for in positive theories of justice. Philosophy has far too rarely thought about injustice and has considered it, if at all, only in the rearview mirror of its theories of justice. Shklar's explorations of this moral sense change that and show how consequential the sense of injustice is for the notion of a liberal state and the lives of its citizens.
October saw the publication of Text+Kritik's special volume on Digital Literature, edited by Annette Gilbert and myself - the "II" in the title refers to the previous volume from 2001, which, after twenty years, is replaced by this one.
With scholarly contributions by Andreas Bülhoff, Dîlan C. Çakir, Karl Wolfgang Flender, Christiane Frohmann, Annette Gilbert, Berit Glanz, Anna Kinder, Elias Kreuzmair, Jasmin Meerhoff, Kathrin Passig, Nils Penke, Sandra Richter, Thorsten Ries, Alexander Waszynski and myself; with artistic contributions by Sarah Berger, Jasmin Meerhoff, Nick Montfort, Fabian Navarro, Allison Parrish, Kathrin Passig, Jörg Piringer, Selina Seemann, and Gregor Weichbrodt.
From the publisher's description:
Literature is as digital as the society in which it takes place. Today, reception and literary production are largely determined by digital technology.
And yet there are differences in the extent to which literature produced under the conditions of a digitally determined world also reflects this condition. In the contemporary novel, into which the digital enters primarily at the descriptive level, the parameters of classical literary form are rarely touched upon. Experiments on social media go further, and here the tools of the platforms produce new ways of writing. Finally, the tradition that can be called genuinely digital literature – which not only uses digital technology incidentally and instrumentally, but also produces its works essentially through computers, algorithms, or neural networks – has regained importance.
This special volume continues the first survey of digital literature in TEXT+KRITIK from 2001 and highlights the differences and continuities that have emerged in this field since then. As a discussion of the state of the art in both technical and literary terms, it is a snapshot of a literature in transition.
The (German-language) volume can be ordered here.
As part of the “Bauhaus Fiktional” series, I spent the summer in one of the Meisterhäuser in Dessau. Together with Alexis Lowry, who curated the works of Charlotte Posenenske, the result of my “residency” can be seen on the Meisterhäuser grounds until April 10, 2022.
From the exhibition brochure: “Bajohr has researched historical documents relating to the Masters' Houses – such as inventories, cost statements, rental agreements and legal correspondence – in his residence in Dessau; he is interested in the archival level of the infrastructure. He has transformed this collected textual material through appropriation and certain textual procedures (such as restructuring the textual material according to conjunctions) into posters with a serial character that are posted outside the master houses, where they refer to the normally invisible historical background of the houses."
Photo: © Yvonne Tenschert
Two recent essays on negative anthropologyhave been published, a topic I have been working on for a while. What this term means and which philosophies can be found under this title, I have investigated for two anthologies.
In 1969, Ulrich Sonnemann published Negative Anthropologie . Its author was located at the periphery of tge Frankfurt School and Tobias Heinze and Martin Mettin now have dedicated an anthology to the book and its author. In it, I explore “negative anthropology” beyond the Negativen Anthropologie . I show that the term was not invented by Sonnemann but, on the contrary, emerged autonomously in various places, contexts, and times. Three basic meanings prevail: The human is undefinable or can only be approached by defining what it is not (apophatic anthropology); the human being is evil or dangerous (pessimistic anthropology); the human being is incomplete or decadent (defective anthropology).
Read the text can be downloaded (German).
These connotations can also be found in a number of philosophies that either use the term literally or can only be described as such retrospectively. In an essay for an anthology edited by Sebastian Edinger and myself – Negative Anthropologie – is devoted to four exemplary negative anthropologies. From Helmuth Plessner to Günther Anders to Hannah Arendt to Sonnemann himself, they stand for a spectrum of differently "strong" conceptions of what negative anthropology is. In a conclusion, I show that they continue to be of current interest, using three topics as examples: Posthumanism, the Anthropocene, and Transhumanism.
You can read the essay here (German).
Continuing with literature about AI - AI literature, to be exact. For Merkur I have written on the occasion of the publication of Daniel Kehlmann's new book Mein Algorithmus und ich (My Algorithm and I) about the limits of a strong model of artistic AI; I argue for an aesthetically and theoretically more sophisticated weak model.
Read you can read the article (German)
For Republik I wrote a text dealing with the always operative ideology of AI, especially that of "big language models". It can be read here (German).
“And” connects and separates, coordinates and keeps at a distance. Yet the relationship between two terms coupled by “and” remains ambivalent, can express both togetherness and opposition. Perhaps because of this vagueness, they are popular as titles especially for major philosophical-literary works: Sein und Zeit, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, Kritik und Krise, Mohn und Gedächtnis.
But is that all? What about Mohn und Zeit, Wirtschaft und Kritik, Sein und KriseMuch remains to be done for future discourse giants. The compendium Wisdom and Repetition gathers the titles of 104,052 books still to be written: a to-do list of intellectual self-employment, created by all possible permutations of the books collected by Hendrikje Schauer and Marcel Lepper in Titelpaare (Works & Nights, 2018).
Im Februar ist Was man muss (Managementkorpus) Gedicht des Monats auf der Seite von Lyrix, dem Bundeswettbewerb für junge Lyrik. Dabei soll es Anregungen geben, selbst digitale Lyrik zu produzieren (in einem Video stelle ich vier mögliche Verfahren vor).
Schön ist auch das Arbeitsblatt für den Deutschunterricht, das zeigt, wie man Schüler:innen an den Gedanken heranführt, dass Text nicht immer ganz neu geschrieben werden muss, sondern immer schon Material ist, aus dem man Neues machen kann – auch mit digitalen Mitteln.