Deus in Machina: Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between

By Jeremy Stolow | Go to book overview

Ticking Clock, Vibrating String
How Time Sense Oscillates
Between Religion and Machine

Wolfgang Ernst


Not to Be Confused: Media (Theory) and Religion

When examined from the viewpoint of media archaeology, the relation between media and religion can be seen as concerning regimes of nondiscursive technologies. Are technologies, once in operation, indifferent to whether or not there was a religious bias in their installation, especially if this bias has left an imprint in their technical form? Is there any association between procedural forms such as liturgy and algorithm? What differentiates the general cultural engineering of symbolic, even transcendental systems, such as religion, from genuine media technologies—namely, those based on the laws of physics or mathematics? Is there a noncultural, autopoietic element at work in technical media that escapes any transcendental notion? In this chapter I will demonstrate how religious metaphors both create and obscure media practice by examining the origin of the oscillating mechanical clock in the monasteries of late medieval Christian Europe.1 The results will put into question the epistemological discontinuity supposedly separating Pythagorean cosmology from the electrotechnical and

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