All book review posts will be categorized under one of my three readings lists: Media Studies and Japan, Genre Fiction in Japan’s 20th Century, and Posthuman Embodiment and Affect (all of which are detailed in the About page).  Click one of those links to filter by category in order to get an overview of a field, or use the search bar (which frustratingly is only showing up when you click through to a post: will hopefully fix soon) if there’s a specific text you want to find.  One of these days, I might even get around to uploading my full lists here, too.

Johnston – The Allure of Machinic Life

9780262101264Johnston, John Harvey. The Allure of Machinic Life: Cybernetics, Artificial Life, and the New AI. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.  Publisher’s webpage.


Last post for today, again drawing from a prior write-up to work through my backlog!  This is continuing the Simondon theme we’ve already established with my compilation post on the man himself and with the post I published earlier today on Muriel Combes’s interpretation of him.  John Johnston isn’t taking up Simondon per se, but rather making a study of “computational assemblages” he sees as structuring contemporary techno-scientific discourse and practice.  It’s an interesting material-discursive history, so let’s dive in, already! Continue reading “Johnston – The Allure of Machinic Life”

Megamix – Applied Posthumanism

Saito, Tamaki. Beautiful Fighting Girl. Translated by Keith Vincent and Dawn Lawson, with an afterword by Azuma Hiroki. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011. Publisher’s webpage.

Silverberg, Miriam. Erotic Grotesque Nonsense: The Mass Culture of Japanese Modern Times. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.  Publisher’s webpage.


(Note: This post was originally part of a write-up I did for one of my committee members that included Brown’s Tokyo Cyberpunk, covered on this blog last week.  I’ve trimmed most of my discussion of Brown here due to redundancy, but his name still pops up here and there.)

Here’s another quick post for today (and it has to be quick: we’re at T-minus 8 days until the exams!) to work through some of my mounting backlog.  I think of Saito Tamaki’s and Miriam Silverberg’s respective books as two potential approaches to posthumanism “in action” in a cultural studies project.  I had included them on my list in the hopes that they might model a unification of theory and text, a problem with which I frequently struggle in my own work.  Let’s see how they did! Continue reading “Megamix – Applied Posthumanism”

Combes – Simondon and the Transindividual

9780262018180Combes, Muriel.  Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual.  Translated by Thomas Lamarre.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.  2012.  Publisher’s webpage.


Hoo boy.  You know you’re in trouble when the translator’s introduction says, “No really!  There’s a reason her language is so convoluted and opaque!”  This book, originally published in 1999, serves to riff on Simondon’s thought, connecting his theory of technics with a theory of subjectivity and the collective.  It’s really very dense.  I’m going to do my best to be concise here, but I make no promises.  A fun story connected with this book: Lamarre came to my university to talk about it, and said that it took him a while to get the project off the ground because Muriel Combes had dropped off the face of the planet, it seemed, since publishing it.  He said he eventually found out she had decided to go live on the street in some form of political statement.  Is that the praxis that comes out of this book?  Let’s find out!   Continue reading “Combes – Simondon and the Transindividual”

Brown – Tokyo Cyberpunk

51wpq92bxecl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Brown, Steven T.  Tokyo Cyberpunk: Posthumanism in Japanese Visual Culture.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan.  2010.  Publisher’s webpage.


You ever get that sinking feeling that someone may have already written your project seven years ago?  That’s kinda how I felt when I first encountered Steven T. Brown’s book.  I mean, just look at that subtitle!  Granted, when I first came across this slim volume, I didn’t yet have a project as such, so I still had the flexibility to do something else, and in the end, it was moot.  Brown isn’t doing here what I hope to do in my own work, though his questions and objects of study often come close.  Precisely because it looks so similar from the outside, I felt like I needed to have a really firm grasp of it so I can articulate what makes my work different.  I think I have that now, so let’s have a look. Continue reading “Brown – Tokyo Cyberpunk”

Simondon week!

imageSimondon, Gilbert. On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects. Translated by Ninian Mellamphy. University of Western Ontario, 1980. (Though the image is from the new translation that just came out through UMN press recently, the site for which is here.)

———. “The Genesis of the Individual.” Translated by Mark Cohen and Sanford Kwinter. Zone 6 (1992): 296–319.

It’s the week of Gilbert Simondon!  Otherwise known as the week in which I stare really hard at one sentence at a time, piecing their meanings together into what I’m pretty sure counts as a firm handle on the content.  I first encountered the mid-century French philosopher in an anthropology class I took now 4 years ago (that’s 2013, for you visitors from the future-times), and it stuck in my head.  This was the first coursework I’d done specifically on notions of machinic or posthuman subjectivity, or really the relationship between subjectivity and the material world in general, and Simondon’s transductive individual was one of the first philosophies I’d encountered that struck me as doing something new and exciting.  Now granted, what the hell do I know?  My sole background in Western philosophy had been this class (and it WAS definitely more of a philosophy class than anthropology), so maybe this is old news to a lot of people.  But it seems like Simondon is getting a fresh look recently, including by such familiar faces around these parts as Tom Lamarre, who translated Muriel Combes’s book on Simondon a few years back (that one will be getting a blog post down the line a bit).  Reading Simondon’s work with a new set of eyes a few years later, things seemed kinda different than I remembered.  How?  Make the jump to find out! Continue reading “Simondon week!”

Megamix – Bukatman (revisited) and Hayles on Virtual Subjects

Bukatman, Scott. Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993.  Publisher’s site.

Hayles, Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.  Publisher’s site.


Megamix two out of two for this week!  Loyal readers may remember that I reviewed Bukatman’s Terminal Identity a while back on this blog.  With the benefit of another selective reading of that book that I did for my class, I had some more things in mind to say about it, and it seemed fitting to put those thoughts in dialogue with N. Katherine Hayles’s book tackling essentially the same issues.  I think reading them in concert really helped me in thinking through each, so hopefully that comes through in what I have to say below.  Onward!  To the land of flickering signifiers and terminal cyborgs! Continue reading “Megamix – Bukatman (revisited) and Hayles on Virtual Subjects”