Rob Leventhal

Off the Record and Online

Don van Vliet, Stagecoach to Hell (1985)

The Captain has been an enduring inspiration to me.


An Electronic Resumé
Complete CV


Art Spiegelman's MAUS: Parapraxis, Trauma, and the Holocaust (1997)
Nietzsche and Lou Andreas-Salomé: Chronicle of a Relationship 1882 (2002)

Narcissism, Masochism, and Love after the Holocaust:
Paul Mazursky's Film Enemies, A Love Story(1996)

Romancing the Holocaust, or Hollywood and Horror:
Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1996)
Believe the Unbelievable: The American Response to the Nazi Genocide of the Jews, 1933-1945 in Historical Context (1999)

Responses to the Holocaust and Genocide:
A Hypertext Archive for the Humanities

In an essay just published (with Volker Kaiser), "Rewiring the Oedipal Scene: Image and Discursivity in Wim Wenders' Journey Until the End of the World" in: Wilhelm Wurzer, ed., Panorama: Philosophies of the Visible (New York: Continuum, 2003), we examined the primal scenes of two modern myths -- psychoanalysis (the Oedipal) and informatics (the Allegory of the Cave)-- and their undoing -- in Wim Wenders' 1992 film Until the End of the World. Ink Mathematics: The Creative Work of Don Van Vliet, Captain Beefheart (in progress)(2002)
The Equality of Equals: A Review of Adam Phillips Equals in Culture Machine: The Ethico-Political Issue Vol. 4 (2002)
Rewriting the Disaster: A Review of W.G. Sebald's On the Natural History of Destruction in: Culture Machine August 2003
Figures of Entropy: The Second Law, Literature, and Psychoanalysis (in progress)

Theoretical Influences

Michel Foucault
Individuals live and speak within
a matrix of classification and naming
systems, and also define and constitute themselves within and against such systems

Ian Hacking
"If you can spray it, it's real."

Be careful how you name things, they just might happen!


Recent Writing

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.

In my article "Versagen: Kafka und die masochistische Ordnung," which appeared in German Life and Letters 48 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1995), I explored the masochistic machinery operative in Kafka's texts, Die Verwandlung and In der Strafkolonie in particular.



Review of W.G. Sebald's On the Natural History of Destruction, which you can read at Rewriting the Disaster: A Review of W.G. Sebald's On the Natural History of Destruction in: Culture Machine August 2003


Images and Papers in the History of Computer Technology

hollerith machine
A German Hollerith Machine, circa 1922
A Scheutz Calculating Engine
Claude Shannon's A Mathematical Theory of Communication,
which first appeared in the June and October 1948 editions of the Bell System Technical Journal (1948)
-- the papers that basically created the first instance of informatics

The First Digital Automatic Computer (.gif 43k)

Don Van Vliet, Dylisheus (1984)


Interesting Institutes and Organizations

InteLex Corporation, creators of the Past Masters® series of full-text databases and electronic scholarly
editions in the Human Sciences, where I work.
J.G. Ballard's Home Page
The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities
(University of Virginia)

Postmodern Culture

Some pics of instruments and musicians

My old guitar (1961 SG)
Ry Cooder in concert 1983 (.jpg 33K)
Ry Cooder with Guitar
A great shot of Wayne Shorter
Lowell George circa 1973 (.gif 48k)
Frisell Live

Reading Matter

Culture Machine
Slavoj Zizek's Welcome to the Desert of the Real
Bill Joy's Why the Future Doesn't Need Us (published in Wired 8.04, April 2000)
Friedrich Kittler's brief History of Communication Media (ctheory)
Cyberwar, God, and Television: An Interview with Paul Virilio (ctheory)
Laurence Rickels' Nazi Psychoanalysis (excerpt)
Friedrich Kittler's There is no software
Technologies of Writing/Rewriting Technology: An Interview with Friedrich Kittler
(originally appeared in Auseinander, Vol.1, No.3 [Berlin, 1995])

ctheory -- theory, technology, culture
Paul Virilio's Speed and Information: Cyberspace Alarm
Jerome McGann's Radiant Textuality

A Rare Moment

bill burroughs

William Burroughs 1914-1997

New Quotes of the Month 11/4/03

"No, when we have employ'd the loftiest Hyperboles, and exhausted all the celebrating Topicks and Figures of Rhetorick; when we have drest Metaphysical Abstractions in Poetick Raptures; when we have ransack'd what ever things are most Excellent among the Creatures, and having Defæcated them, and Pil'd them up together, have made that Heap but a Rise to take our soaring flight from; when we have summ'd up and left Beneath our Expressions all that we are here wont to acknowledge Above them; nay, when Instructed as well as Inflam'd and Transported by that Inaccessible Light, that is Inhabited by what we Adore, we seem Rais'd and Elevated above all that is Mortal, and above our selves, and say things, that nothing else could either Inspire or Merit; even then, I say, those Expressions, which any otherwise apply'd would be Hyperboles, do but express our Devotion, not the Divine Object of it, and declare How much we honour Him, rather than What He is." --Some Motive and Incentives to the Love of God (Seraphic Love) (1659) An Occasional Reflection upon a Letter, (Receiv'd in April, 1662.) The Collected Works of Robert Boyle Vol 1

"For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods; even rich men and those in possession of office and of dominating power are thought to need friends most of all; for what is the use of such prosperity without the opportunity of beneficence, which is exercised chiefly and in its most laudable form towards friends? Or how can prosperity be guarded and preserved without friends? The greater it is, the more exposed is it to risk. And in poverty and in other misfortunes men think friends are the only refuge. It helps the young, too, to keep from error; it aids older people by ministering to their needs and supplementing the activities that are failing from weakness; those in the prime of life it stimulates to noble actions--'two going together'--for with friends men are more able both to think and to act."
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book VIII


New Quotes of the Month 3/6/03

"Shuddering [Schauer] --The shadow of the net upon the body. In shuddering the skin imitates a network. The net, however, is the world net [Weltennetz]: the whole world is captive in it." Walter Benjamin, Ueber Haschisch, Protocol of the Mescaline Experiment of 22 May 1934

"To get closer to the riddle of bliss in rausch one must reconsider Ariadne's thread. What delight [there is] in the mere act of unwinding a skein. And this delight is quite profoundly related to the delight of rausch, as it is to the delight in creative work. We go forward: but in doing so not only do we discover the bends of the cavern in which we venture forth, but rather we savor this happiness of discovery by virtue of that other rhythmical bliss which comes from unraveling a skein. Such a certainty from the intricately wound skein that we unravel - is that not the happiness of at least every prose form of productivity?"
Walter Benjamin, Ueber Haschisch, Protocol I

New Quotes of the Month 11/11/02
"Our latent psychopathy is the last nature reserve, a place of refuge for the endangered mind. Of course, I'm talking about a carefully metered violence, microdoses of madness like the minute traces of strychnine in a nerve tonic."

"A perverse sexual act can liberate the visionary self in even the dullest soul. The consumer society hungers for the deviant and unexpected. What else can drive the bizarre shifts in the entertainment landscape that will keep us 'buying'? Psychopathy is the only engine powerful enough to light our imaginations, to drive the arts, sciences and industries of the world."

Wilder Penrose, resident psychologist in J.G. Ballard's Super-Cannes

Quote of the Month
This absolute limit is where the history of communication technologies will literally come to an end. Theoretically there remains only the question as to what logic this completion will have obeyed. From Freud to McLuhan the classic answer to this was a generic subject - humanity which before of an indifferent or interferent natural world would have externalised first its motor and sensory interface, and finally its intelligence, in technical prosthetics. However if Shannon's mathematisation of information rested on his "fundamental idea" of inferring, through a conceptual transfer, the "information efficiency of a jammed transmission" from its cryptoanalytical efficiency, interference will only be understandable as the interventions of a hostile intelligence, and the history of communication technologies as a series of strategic escalations. Without reference to the individual or to mankind, communication technologies will have overhauled each other until finally an artificial intelligence proceeds to the interception of possible intelligences in space.
Friedrich Kittler, History of Communication Media


This document was last modified on Tuesday, November 12, 2002 at 22:15EST
Copyright © 1997-2002 Rob Leventhal