Tischleder and Wasserman 2015

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Tischleder, Babette B. and Sarah Wasserman, eds. Cultures of Obsolescence: History, Materiality, and the Digital Age. New York: Palsgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Introduction - Thinking out of Synce: A Theory of Obsolescence, by Babette B. Tischleder and Sarah Wasserman (1-17)

"Although obsolete matter can appeal to our affect, it has eluded our critical attention in part because it is not meant to be seen. The consumer culture most robustly developed in postwar North America fetishizes the new and consequently pushes obsolescence to the margins of our attention." (2)
"Obsolescence as a dynamic is constituted by two opposing tendencies. One tendency is persistence: the obsolete endures. Ideas, habits, and objects may fall out of fashion and use, but they do not disappear. What is outmoded often remains. The other tendency that defines obsolescence is supersession. Super session is premised upon the belief that what comes next will be an improvement over what preceded it. What is key here is that a sense of prolonged duration collides with a sense of the new. A conceptual understanding of obsolscence thus demands that we recognize these competing temporal vectors." (2)
"Our critical engagements with obsolescence is therefore motivated by the conviction that this disjunction between its economic and cultural logics class for attention. Reversing the tendencies of disavowal and forgetting, this book sheds light on the many ways in which obsolescence resists becoming obsolete." (2)

1932 pamphlet, "Ending the Depression through Planned Obsolesce," by Bernard London; "suggests that the nations financial woes could be remedies by government-imposed obsolescence." (3)

new materialism cannot fully account for human purposes and design of vitalist objects (5-6)

"Obsolescence is rife with temporal incongruities: it is equally associated with the death of cultural forms as with a nostalgic mode of restoration. as a cultural paradigm, it reveals the conflicting temporalities of modern culture." (9)
"The past, the present, and the future all inhere in the obsolete, which functions so often as an obdurate reminder of recent pasts and forgotten futures." (9)

Proliferation and Obsolescence of the Historical Record in the Digital Era, by John Durham Peters (79-96)

Lewis Mumford -- storage containers are relatively static and stable

"To store means to make temporarily unusable and stockpiling means holding time for the future. All storage, in other words, is strategic obsolescence, the putting of objects out of commission, with the crucial difference that in storage, the objects are designed to be called back later from their suspended animation. The cryogenic power of storage media often gives them a zombie-like cultural presence. Obsolescence and storage are two faces of putting things away and out of use." (80)

old media as "lifeblood and memory distilled into external form. Each of our bodies will eventually be obsolete, but that doesn't mean it will stop taking up space. Audiovisual and guitar hardware are the memento more for postmodern humans, reminders of what was and is no more. Know thyself: look at dead media. Throwing away old storage media would be like killing the dead." (87)

"Durability is a cultural construct, not a fact of nature." (90)
"Durability is a privilege and so, as we will see, is deletion. In other words, obsolescence marks a weird kind of destruction, not of the material, but of its value." (91)
"Obsolescence can be a form of foregrounding or strange-making, to use the formalist terms. The fantasy of digital content indifferent to platform and thus of an unproblematic future will soon fade when the lineaments of the Internet's are cast into relief by some new successor system that marks its limits and shape." (92)
"The strangeness of our situation is that everything durable wears down and everything transient leaves a trace." (92)