Demon of Writing Powers and Failures of Paperwork

ISBN-10: 1935408267
ISBN-13: 9781935408260
Edition: 2012
Authors: Ben Kafka
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Description: Since the middle of the eighteenth century, political thinkers of all kinds--radical and reactionary, professional and amateur--have been complaining about "bureaucracy." But what, exactly, are they complaining about?In The Demon of Writing, Ben  More...

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Book details

List price: $29.95
Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: Zone Books
Publication date: 11/2/2012
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 184
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

Since the middle of the eighteenth century, political thinkers of all kinds--radical and reactionary, professional and amateur--have been complaining about "bureaucracy." But what, exactly, are they complaining about?In The Demon of Writing, Ben Kafka offers a critical history and theory of one of the most ubiquitous, least understood forms of media: paperwork. States rely on records to tax and spend, protect and serve, discipline and punish. But time and again, this paperwork proves to be unreliable. Examining episodes that range from the story of a clerk who lost his job and then his mind in the French Revolution to an account of Roland Barthes's brief stint as a university administrator, Kafka reveals the powers, the failures, and even the pleasures of paperwork. Many of its complexities, he argues, have been obscured by the comic-paranoid style that characterizes much of our criticism of bureaucracy. Kafka proposes a new theory of what Karl Marx called the "bureaucratic medium." Moving from Marx to Freud, he argues that this theory of paperwork must include both a theory of praxis and of parapraxis.

Ben Kafka is an Assistant Professor of Media History and Theory at New York University and a candidate at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR), a component society of the International Psychoanalytical Association. He works with adult and adolescent patients through the IPTAR Clinical Center and the NYC Free Clinic.

Introduction
The Psychic Life of Paperwork
The Disciplined State
"The National Assembly Doesn't Give a Damn"
"Shareholders in the Great Social Enterprise"
The Disciplined State
"A Stranger to Everything Happening"
The Demon of Writing
"The Demon of Writing"
"The Physical Impossibility of Doing Otherwise"
"Tiresome Details," "Barbarous Concision"
"As Simple as It Was Bizarre"
Matter, Form, and Power
The State of Want
Writing and Indifference
"Women and White Paper"
Is Tocqueville Kidding?
A Bitter Joke
The Bureaucratic Medium
The Case of Inspector, von Zuccalmaglio
Smashing
Mistakes Are Made
Withdrawal Slip
From the Desk of Roland Barthes
Conclusion
The Wish-Utensil
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

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