Copying Machines: Taking Notes for the Automaton by Catherine Liu

By Catherine Liu

Literary Theory/Cultural reports Explores literary theory's worry of and fascination with the mechanical. Anxieties approximately solving absolutely the distinction among the man or woman and the mechanical reproduction of the man or woman, the automaton, are as previous because the first visual appeal of the laptop itself. Exploring those anxieties and the efforts they brought on, this booklet opens a window on the most major, if sophisticated, ideological battles waged on behalf of the human opposed to the desktop because the Enlightenment-one that maintains within the wake of technological and conceptual development this day. A sustained exam of the automaton as early glossy desktop and as a curious ancestor of the twentieth-century robotic, Copying Machines deals prolonged readings of mechanistic photographs within the eighteenth century throughout the prism of twentieth-century observation. In readings of texts by means of Lafayette, Molire, Laclos, and l. a. Bruyre-and in a bankruptcy at the eighteenth-century inventor of automatons, Jacques Vaucanson-Catherine Liu presents a desirable account of the way during which figures of the automaton and of the preindustrial computing device hang-out the mind's eye of ancien rgime France and constitution key moments of the canonical literature and feedback of the interval. Catherine Liu is assistant professor within the division of Cultural stories and Comparative Literature and within the division of French and Italian on the college of Minnesota. Translation Inquiries: college of Minnesota Press

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The analogy between the Third Reich’s tactical errors and deconstruction’s own militarized ambitions gone wrong is abundantly clear. ” Lehman’s handling of the story offers us an example of his technique as a literary critic. The action takes place at the summerhouse of Dan, a widower and “the scion of a landed estate”: Dan, a sympathetic fellow, feels estranged from his son Nick, an aspiring novelist. Nick has brought his friend Patty with him, and she is the villain of the piece. Contemptuous of Dan and his ancestral house, Patty spends most of the weekend in an antisocial posture: reading a book Tilghman identifies not by its title but by its author, Jacques Derrida.

In his reading of Hoffmann, Freud identifies the encounter as one that results in a paralyzing, disjunctive recognition. In anthropomorphizing the gaze of the machine, Nathanael falls in love. 5 If he invites us to trade in the text-as-body for text-as-machine, he refuses to accept a certain description of literary criticism that is based on projecting a humanizing or even intellectual outlook that might emanate from any text. 8 This refusal has far-reaching consequences in the debates over the constitution of the literary object, and the terms of literary interpretation, but it most immediately produces an affectual detachment that calls up deep suspicion.

The machine has been framed in order to establish a ground on which the human being can be represented. Lehman’s “mechanical and wooden” theorists allow him to defend the precincts of the spontaneous and the biological. This prejudicial setup can be read, thought through, and theorized as a temporal aberration: machines keep time through thoughtless repetition (this is what theorists, courtiers, and automatons do); the human and the organic live in a temporality free from the constraints of infernal repetition.

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