Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Introducing Second Nature Journal


I'm proud to announce that I'll be moving over to a new site, Second Nature Journal, to focus on creating a place for people to dialogue about technology and media in light of the Christian tradition. The idea is to bring the people thinking and talking about this to one place with the hope of encouraging more discussion. My colleague, Brantly Millegan and I will be hard at work looking for the best content out there, and we will be accepting multi-media material (articles, visual art, poetry, music, videos, etc). 

Feel free to kick around at Resident Alien to get an idea of what I see as the important strains in media ecology and then get over to Second Nature to see the best new material on the subject. 

You can see my first article there, Thinking Trivially About Radical Orthodoxy, which traces the influence of the Church Fathers in McLuhan's thought and those scholars who identify as "radically orthodox."

Our press release:

April 1st, 2013 – The new online journal Second Nature officially launches today and plans to be the definitive place for critical thinking about technology and new media in light of the Christian tradition, with written articles, images, videos, poetry, and links.

The journal’s co-founders are Benjamin Robertson, Brantly Millegan, and Read Mercer Schuchardt. Robertson and Millegan both studied under Schuchardt, Associate Professor of Communication at Wheaton College (IL). Robertson and Millegan serve as the journal’s Editors, and Schuchardt is the Chairman of the Editorial Board. The other members of the Editorial Board are: Juliette Aristides, Eric Brende, Peter K. Fallon, Geraldine Forsberg, T. David Gordon, Shane Hipps, Arthur W. Hunt III, Eric McLuhan, and Brett T. Robinson. The board members represent a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds, denominational affiliations, and interests in the subject. For bios and pictures, see the journal’s About page.

The idea of the journal came about after Millegan wrote the article ‘Of Mics and Men‘, and couldn’t find a proper publication in which to publish it. In talking to Robertson and Schuchardt, they decided to form Second Nature. “Everybody knows new technologies like the Internet and smartphones are radically transforming our world, ” Millegan said. “So what does the Christian tradition have to offer to help us to think critically about these powerful tools, their meaning and their proper use? That’s one of the driving questions of the journal.”

The journal is now accepting submissions, which may come in the form of written pieces, images, or videos. While submissions should adhere to the general boundaries set by the journal’s description, there is no religious affiliation required for those submitting pieces. See the journal’s Contact page for full submission guidelines.

For launch, the journal has six published pieces: one painting and five written articles, on topics ranging from the eight characteristics of mass audiences created by electronic media, to how the Internet is reuniting families previously kept apart as a result of other technological innovations. The journal plans to publish a new piece every few weeks, bridging the publication schedule between a quarterly journal and a weekly website.

The journal also has a blog, which will be updated weekly with relevant news or other items of interest related to the journal’s topic. Examples of recent blog posts include: an article about an Italian priest who recently smashed a TV on the altar of his church during Mass to remind his parishioners to not become enslaved to technology; pictures from a new tumblr that gives life advice from machines; and a set of videos in which a person tests to see why people are comfortable with security cameras recording them but get very nervous when a person holding a camera does the same thing.

The journal hopes to eventually offer an annual print edition, conferences, and seminars.

The journal may be followed on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, by email, or with its RSS feed. The journal’s web address is http://secondnaturejournal.com.

All questions, comments, media inquiries, and submissions should be directed to contact@secondnaturejournal.com.

Friday, December 7, 2012

McLuhan's Literary Landscape

As soon as you adjust to McLuhan's literary landscape, you will start to look at things in a different way; you will see them as they truly are and learn how to see through them. You will see the grammarian through the guru, literature through technology, and the humanities through media. You will see through the literary origins of McLuhan's media studies, and, from there, you will set off on new explorations of your own. You will learn to apply McLuhan and understand why literature is not a subject but a function inseparable from our communal existence.

--Elena Lamberti, Marshall McLuhan's Mosaic, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Heart of Existence

Technical civilization is man’s conquest of space. It is a triumph frequently achieved by sacrificing an essential ingredient of existence, namely, time. In technical civilization, we expend time to gain space. To enhance our power in the world of space is our main objective. Yet to have more does not mean to be more. The power we attain in the world of space terminates abruptly at the borderline of time. But time is the heart of existence.

--Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath, 1951.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Wayfarer and a Pilgrim

But since it seems appropriate to say a word about The Moviegoer, it is perhaps not too farfetched to compare it in one respect with the science of pathology. Its posture is the posture of the pathologist with his suspicion that something is wrong. There is time for me to say only this: that the pathology in this case has to do with the loss of individuality and the loss of identity at the very time when words like the "dignity of the individual" and "self-realization" are being heard more frequently than ever. Yet the patient is not mortally ill. On the contrary, it speaks well for the national health that pathologists of one sort and another are tolerated and even encouraged.

In short, the book attempts a modest restatement of the Judeo-Christian notion that man is more than an organism in an environment, more than an integrated personality, more even than a mature and creative individual, as the phrase goes. He is a wayfarer and a pilgrim.

Walker Percy
Accepting the National Book Award
for The Moviegoer, 1962

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Culture of Death

Wherever one looks, one encounters this same intent: to restructure society without community

Guy Debord
Society of the Spectacle

Thursday, October 20, 2011

McLuhan's Three Books

With our accelerating cascade of new media it is borne upon us that each represents not an appendix to but a complete retranslation of the Book of the World, and of the reader. As W.B. Yeats sang, in 'Sailing to Byzantium': 

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling...
Vico simply had not distinguished between first and second nature for separate study: nothing in his experience suggested such a distinction would be of any use. Second nature is nature made and remade by man as man remakes himself with his extensions. Separate them: the first is the province of traditional grammar; the second, that of Bacon, Vico, and Laws of Media.

Eric and Marshall McLuhan
Laws of Media 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Liberty, Technology, and the Advent of Social Networking

St. Michael the Boss
Interesting article by  Harvad PhD candidate, Gladden J. Pappin, discussing the intersection of virtue, vice, and social media, with nods to McLuhan and Baudrillard. 

How does technology recast the relationship between liberty and virtue?

"To fashion our network double we have to resolve ourselves into our constituent parts, advance some and suppress others, make ourselves the medium without making our souls the message.

"The community of the Internet is now as spiritual as the communion of saints once was, so it is fitting that McLuhan thought Thomas Aquinas's angelology was important in understanding the media. Through social networking we receive not prayers and graces but links and likes. The church triumphant appears in virtual reality, where all things are possible and everything is realized virtually in the mystical body of the web. As in the resurrection of the body, logging off from your account gives you your body back, this time not glorified but fraught with anxiety, the church suffering after triumph rather than the reverse. Signed off from your account, you are now unaccounted-for. Reality itself becomes the afterlife, the postmodern No Exit where hell is virtual people. The advent of virtual reality, not to say the beginning of modern politics itself, detaches human beings from the consolations of church, city, and family that wayfarers in this life once thought they had. A late-modern Augustine could not see technology as just another dimension of alienation from our heavenly home. We are now aliens twice removed."