In his opening remarks, Friedrich Kittler raised the subject at the outset: we have only begun to think media, to consider the history of thinking it, here at the end of European metaphysics. He's speaking after Heidegger, the philosopher whose intensity of attention brought asphalt and reading glasses back into the discussion, the printing and the radio, the media which sustain philosophy and ontology themselves. For Kittler, Heidegger's attention opens the discussion again, after Aristotle, giving us a chance to redefine "media" and how we analyze it. His high-speed transit from Aristotle's discussion of sensory impressions to Heidegger in 1963 describes a history of applying heritage concepts of form and matter that make it easy for the European tradition to attend to the thought and forget the medium of the thought. At the end of European ontology, the logics of philosophy have been taken from "the Professor's chair" and instantiated in circuits, and this "end of philosophy is the task of thought." Kittler suggests new forms of analysis: "Technical media are the face of the moon whose dark side"--"that is Pink Floyd," he murmurs--"is technical mathematics and physics. To destroy the distinction of form and matter, we need to know how to read the technical architectures, the blueprints and the motherboards. We can look back to the whole recursive history of media theory, we could learn to spell out this new trinity of commands, addresses, and data, a new ontology of data." He expands this following a question from Mario Biagioli: To begin thinking from the basis of media, that is, processing, storing, and transmitting as the fundamental categories, rather than our inherited metaphysical arrangement.
Pause on that note, on processing, storing, transmitting, to trace another thread that starts with Kittler's talk: a theme of philosophical geometry. He presents a wonderful notion, a topological theory of stuff--Heidegger's "Thing Itself" essay, as Kittler reads it, has a mathematical theory of objects and their use. Heidegger discusses the importance for us of the fact that the amphora is a hole, something to fill with liquid for humans or the gods. Kittler laughs: "A geometry, the hole in a shoe or a glass, or a coffee cup, with a hole and a hole for a handle!" Later, Sha-Xin Wei will draw intersecting cones in describing Whitehead, and Ken Goldberg will consider the Reauleaux tetrahedron as a way of thinking about gathering places, the Heideggerian fourfold, in the drawing together of four spheres as the vertices of the tetrahedron.