Hiedegger – the Magus of Messkirch

A 1989 documentary about Martin Heidegger, born and raised a Roman Catholic in Messkirch, Baden-Württemberg. An excellent video with well-translated English subtitles. In a number of interview fragments included here, Heidegger explains his thinking with atypical simplicity and clarity. His speech also might be seen to illustrate the rhythm and pacing of his thinking or “philosophizing.” The piece probes some of the more complex and controversial aspects of Heidegger’s thought and life. Unfortunately, given the date of its release, it does not reflect the deep implication, both in thought and action, with National Socialism that has been revealed more recently.

The Magician of Messkirch- Martin Heidegger (Rudiger Safranski, 1989) from Norm Friesen on Vimeo.

Personal note: This video beings by showing a debate between H.G. Gadamer, Jacques Derrida (right) and Jean-Luc Nancy (left) that I attended in Heidelberg back in the day. Sadly, history has shown Gadamer’s insistence on Heidegger’s “shameful silence” in the face of Nazi atrocities to be false.

Posted in Martin Heidegger, Phenomenology | Leave a comment

Old Literacies and the “New” Literacy Studies: Revisiting Reading and Writing

Video “abstract” and paper that recently appeared in the open, online journal Seminar.net.

This paper traces a discontinuous and material history of “schooling,” writing and its technologies, rather than one that would be continuous and etymological or cultural in focus (i.e. going back, say, to Medieval Europe or ancient Greece).

The results, I think, are rather astonishing: Material and communicative practices that we associate with traditional schooling (e.g., frontal instruction, recitation, complex instructional sequences) reappear not over centuries but millenia.

This has significant implications for notions of school, (multi-)literacies and ways that literacy overall is understood. In addition to presenting examples from the discontinuous, material history of inscriptive practice (and its reproduction), this paper focuses on these consequences.    

Download a PDF of the complete paper.

Posted in Media Theory | Leave a comment

McLuhan's 1960 Report on Project in Understanding New Media

Untitled-1This two-volume text was commissioned by the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. In the opening paragraph, McLuhan refers to it as “Project 69,” and memorably explains its purpose as follows:

Project 69 in Understanding Media proposed to provide an approach to media and a syllabus for teaching the nature and effects of media in secondary schools. A new tactic was used, namely to consider not so much the constituents nor the “content” of media, as their effects. I therefore raise the question at once: “Why have the effects of media, whether speech, writing, photography or radio, been overlooked by social observers through the past 3500 years of the Western world?”

In the cryptic note at the top right (on p. 2), McLuhan writes to Harley Parker, with whom he later co-authored Through the Vanishing Point: Space in Poetry and Painting (1968) and Counterblast (1969). Parker also appears with McLuhan in the 28 min 1969 film Picnic in Space, directed by Bruce Bacon.

This text reflects McLuhan’s then-coalescing thought as it relates to both education and to multiple media forms; and the text serves as relatively direct and clearly-written precursor for the 1964 Understanding Media.

The full text of this report is available as a 7.5 Mb PDF file.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Doc. Course: Phenomenological Research & Writing

Untitled-1

Here’s the description: What is the experience of a conversation via Skype or Facetime? What are the experiences of absence or divided attention that technologies of “presence” bring to our everyday lives? The purpose of this course is to give a “hands-on” introduction to the methods involved in the research of the nature and meaning of such lived experiences. Based largely on the work of Max van Manen and Bernhard Waldenfels –but also relying on texts by Heidegger, Gadamer and Merleau-Ponty– it focuses on the practices of writing and analysis that are a part of hermeneutic phenomenological research. Students will learn about and apply hermeneutic phenomenology as it relates to doctoral research projects, particularly in connection with education, technology & new media.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Visiting Prof @ UBC Vancouver

UBC Faculty Card

I’ve taken up an appointment as a Visiting Professor at UBC for the 2014-2015 academic year. (I’ll still be available at my Boise State email.)

At the same time, I’ve transferred some domain names (e.g. phandpr.org, learningspaces.org, normfriesen.info) to new servers, and have started to use UBC’s blogging and wiki server (thanks to Brian Lamb!). I apologize for any interruptions in access during this time.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Heidegger's Anti-Semitic Theory of Technology & Modernity

Heidegger in 1933 newspaperI’ve been working  on a text discussing (briefly) the latest Heidegger “scandal” (one of many in recent years). One strange thing is that some of his more outrageous remarks that link his anti-semitic racism with the core concepts of his theory of modernity and technology (or his entire Seinsgeschichte) do not seem to have appeared in English coverage. Here’s some of the characteristics or terms he ascribes to “World Jewery” (his term):

  • Weltlosigkeit literally “worldlessness,” something that Heidegger (and his student Gadamer) attribute elsewhere to animals
  • Machenschaft, variously translated as “machination” or “manipulative domination” (Guardian)
  • die zähe Geschicklichkeit des Rechnens und Schiebens; something like  “tenacious destiny of calculation and writing”
  • Machtsteigerung, an expansion of power, that…
  • in turn is connected to a Sichbreitmachen einer sonst leeren Rationalität und Rechenfähigkeit: a proliferation of an otherwise empty rationality and calculability.
  • And finally, a Bodenlosigkeit [die] alles sich dienstbar macht, a groundlessness or soil-lessness that instrumentalizes or “puts” everything “into its service.”

The text discussing this is available as a .pdf:

 

 

Posted in Critical Theory | Leave a comment

Translating arte Documentary on the Frankfurt School

I’ve been working on subtitles for translating this fantastic documentary on the Frankfurt School from the French/German cultural channel, ARTE. Saw it originally in Zurich;I think this copy is from YouTube.

The Frankfurt School: “Whoever thinks is not enraged” from Norm Friesen on Vimeo.

So far, I’m 1/2 way done, with the rough results below (audio synching and some subtitles still need finessing).  The original title of the documentary is “Wer denkt is nicht Wuetend” (Whoever who thinks is not enraged), a shortened quote from Adorno:

What once was thought cogently must be thought elsewhere, by others: this confidence accompanies even the most solitary and powerless thought. Whoever thinks is not enraged in all his critique: thinking has sublimated the rage.

Posted in Critical Theory | Leave a comment

How Luther went Viral

kleine-katechismus

A 2011 article from the Economist (listen to audio, above) compares Martin Luther’s use of the then new medium of print in the Reformation, and the use of Facebook in the so-called “Arab Spring.”

In looking at Luther’s use of new media forms and practices from an educational perspective, however, one thing that stands out is his use of print in a rather different way. One startling example is his repurposing of the ancient medium and practice of the catechism. Luther’s Smaller Catechism was also a viral cultural phenomenon. The point was not to convert or persuade but to teach, re-form or indoctrinate:

the Lutheran experiment in mass indoctrination [was] a conscious, systematic, and vigorous effort… to change the human personality through pedagogical conditioning. The chief instrument of this process was the catechism. (Strauss, 1978, p. 175)

How did the catechism accomplish this exactly? And what’s the relationship of this pedagogical technique or technology to education today (or even before Luther, for that matter)? Find out in a short paper I presented recently at AERA (and that interprets Luther and others in the light of some Foucauldian categories and constructions).

See: Catechism and the Self-Dialog as Technologies of the Self (.pdf)

Posted in History, Media Theory, Textbook | Leave a comment

Response Chapter: Is Education the New Philosophy?

companionThis chapter has recently appeared in the Companion to Educational Research from Springer. It articulates response to recent and ambitious attempts to present education or “learning” as some kind of unified “science.” Specifically, it presents a critique of Mary Kalantzis and William Cope’s chapter “Education is the New Philosophy.”

Kalantzis and Cope set for themselves an ambitious and (in part) commendable task in “Education is the New Philosophy:” to re-think the disciplinary underpinnings of education, and to elevate it from an applied sub-discipline to an undertaking on par with “big science.” This chapter explains why a re-thinking of education and its disciplinary positioning is valuable, but it also takes issue with the unqualified reach of Kalantzis and Cope’s argument. To aver that education is an originary science and science for all sciences, is to take the current move to the “sciences” in educational discourse (learning sciences, brain sciences, et cetera) to a level not known in the Western tradition since the optimism of the enlightenment of the eighteenth century. My response concludes by making the case that education is less of a “positive,” unifying metadisciplinary enterprise than it is an engagement with negativity, in its dialectical sense – with that which is not, not yet and not known.

Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

The story of the Textbook as a Foucauldian Genealogy

This is a recording of a presentation I recently gave at the Katholieke University of Leuven in Belgium, thanks to an invitation by Jan Masschelein.

Posted in History, Michel Foucault, Textbook | Leave a comment