Nils Röller on Tue, 9 Jul 2002 21:58:59 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Ahabs Governementality

Ahabs Governmentality*

Lets build a ship, not any ship but the Pequod.
This ship drowned decades ago. It drowned at the end of Kaptain Ahabs
hunt. Ahab tried to hunt down the Wite Whale, Moby Dick. We are
rebuilding the destroyed vehicle, because we long for a constructive
sensiblity. We are eager to keep in mind that revenge is tricky.

The shipbuilding we intend to engage you will first of all change your
state of mind. Be aware of this procedure (like Ahab was asked by
Starbuck to be aware of himself).

Three reasons are compelling us to think of Ahab. First Gerhard Conrads
film on the german RAF-Member Holger Mainz. The film is titled Starbuck
(like the first mate on deck of Ahabs ship), second, the  analogy
between Ahabs revenge voyage and the western research for islamic
fundamentalist, third the structural analogy between Captain Ahab and
Captain Picard (Commander of the enterprise E engaged in a fight against

Last point first: Captain Picard has learned lessons from fiction.
Fighting the Borg Captain Picard does not commit Ahabs error. Commander
Picard does not constrain his crew to follow him into the death. No,
gentleman Picard is going to be convincend by a woman of the 21th
century, that it is better to rescue his crew and not to risk their
lifes. Why then rebuild the Pequod? Instead of building the Enterprise
and to look for a humanist captain Picard? A man who is governed by
reflection and responsibilty for the others and not by revenge?

First because we are convinced that learning from fiction is not so easy
as displayed in the Enterprise life of the Movie First Contact. We do
distrust Captain Picards insight. We do see him subjected to self
governing principles. We would like to know more about the technologies
of conciousness that are behind him. Because of lack of
Ultra-light-speed devices and the technolgy of the Enterprise-era we
prefer to step back to the 19th century.

Rebuilding the Pequod and the technology that was at Ahabs disposal, we
may gather information about technology and governing principles. This
will lead to insights about the relation between art, technology and

The "Eliot Effect" is an obstacle and a chance. It is a major
mediatheoretical challenge. We have to reconsider the impact of the
dichotomy between text based and oral argumentation. Please join us at
the audio-video-livestream next Wednesday (July, 10) between 16h-18h
(central european time) from ZKM’s Institute for Basic Research. The
oral building session is currently held in German. (
Or direct:
research : current news)

* Seminal inspiration stems from Nettelbecks reading of Moby Dick
(, discussions with Joe Davis helped to find the way
()during a car drive between Jena and Cologne. Hans Diebner and Peter
Weibel are giving the framework for further development (

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