[Air-l] Re: new media and shock

Stephanie Kent kentcon at sover.net
Sun Jul 10 13:10:53 PDT 2005

Hi all - I generally just lurk, but I was struck by a discontinuity in 
discussion last Thursday and think it bears on this question of 
becoming inured to shock.  There were 6 posts on "London...the internet 
accounts" interspersed with 4 on "AoIR 6.0 Chicago 2005 Registration is 
now open", 1 each on "iCS 8.2", "Call for proposals", and "Internet and 

In the three days since, "London" vanished, some of the other threads 
continued, and new ones appeared.   This is no doubt the nature of most 
conversations on this list, and perhaps everything that could be said 
about shock and bearing up and giving sympathy was expressed in the 
comments that were posted, and/or continuation has moved to other 
venues.  But I had some cognitive dissonance reading the disparate 
threads as business-as-usual went on for many (including me) while 
others were wondering just how "usual" their lives were going to 
continue to be.

I'm not familiar with any of the literature on shock, but some levels 
or layers of protection are evident in the acts of just getting on with 
things, whatever those immediate things that consume us may be.  At the 
same time, I'm aware it would also be counterproductive (at least to 
purposes of peace and justice) to mine the event for all its tragedy, 
as this would play into political efforts to cast the attack in 
symbolic terms that fuel nationalisms and other hatreds.

Shock, by definition, puts one in a state of non-responsiveness; the 
challenge may be the degree to which that lack of response gets carried 
over or continued into the return to the mundane, especially after the 
state-of-shock has worn off.



On Jul 10, 2005, at 3:07 PM, air-l-aoir.org-request at listserv.aoir.org 

> Hello all--a colleague of mine asked me if I could help him with the
> following question.  I'm not an authority on the Frankfurt School or 
> its
> theorization of shock but hope that some of you out there might be.  
> Any
> suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance.
> Ken
> His problem/question is as follows:
> Much ink has been spilt over shock within Frankfurt School writings. A
> concept clearly taken over from Simmel and Freud, shock runs to the 
> heart
> of Benjamin's media theory. But have Benjamin and Adorno appropriated 
> the
> term as face value without ever considering the implications of their
> assertions? Adorno's thinking would seem to intimate that at some 
> future
> date nothing will ever shock us anymore, for the body will have 
> developed
> such a thick protective barrier that nothing harmful will ever get
> through--an idea worth resisting in itself.
> Are there any sustained studies of the question of shock particularly
> within the domain of media Are there any articles within media theory 
> that
> address the matter of shock in a postmodern, digital world?

More information about the Air-L mailing list