War and Machine

Lecture: Yuk Hui

In 1914, when Henri Bergson addressed the outbreak of the First World War, he claimed that Germany’s turn towards industrialism and mechanism was accountable for the war, because instead of “spiritualization of matter,” it produced a “mechanisation of spirit.” Later in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1932), Bergson further stated that wars of the modern time are bound up with industrial characters of the civilization. Bergson’s analysis has little to do with modern military machines, but rather it concerns the relation between human and technology, or in other words, war is result of the “conflict of organs.” In 1948, Norbert Wiener in his Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine responded to Bergson by claiming that the opposition between mechanism and vitalism belongs to a badly posed question because it is now overcome by cybernetics. Did this evolution of machines affect the critique of Bergson? How should we reconsider the relation between war and machine today? By answering these questions, I hope to elaborate on the concept of negative organology and contextualise it in today’s situation.

The second part of the meeting will feature a discussion around Yuk Hui’s book Recursivity and Contingency, published in Polish by The University of Silesia Press, whose Polish premiere coincides with the second edition of the Biennale. The meeting with the author and the discussion around such notions as cosmotechnics and technodiversity will be led by Michał Krzykawski.

Admission free, in English, without translation