Nr. 09/2 (2018)

Alternative Fakten

Der Schwerpunkt der vorliegenden Ausgabe ist den sogenannten »alternative facts« gewidmet. Diese paradoxe Wortschöpfung von Kellyanne Conway, der Beraterin des amerikanischen Präsidenten, und die sich anschließenden Kontroversen sind für die Kultur- und Medienwissenschaft eine Herausforderung. Nicht nur politisch, sondern auch epistemologisch. Denn wenn man die Denkmöglichkeit »alternativer Fakten« ernst nimmt als ein epistemisches Ereignis, dann wird es für die Medien- und Kulturforschung zu einer dringlichen Aufgabe, die Wissens- und Medienarchäologie des Faktums aufzuarbeiten. Der Grund, warum die Wortschöpfung »alternative Fakten« paradox erscheint, besteht offenbar darin, dass er unserem modernen Faktenbegriff widerspricht, demnach ein Faktum eben deshalb ein Faktum ist, weil es keine Alternative haben kann. Seit dem Linguistic Turn und dem Practical Turn ist es ein zentrales Anliegen der Science bzw. der Science and Technology Studies gewesen, aufzuzeigen, dass und wie wissenschaftliche Tatsachen sozial konstruiert werden. Wie durch die Arbeiten von Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Tim Lenoir, Bruno Latour, Peter Galison, Lorraine Daston und anderen unterstrichen wird, sind daran auch Aufzeichnungs- und Visualisierungstechniken (Medien also) maßgeblich beteiligt. Bruno Latour hat schon 2006 auf die vermeintliche Krise des »kritischen« Denkens aufmerksam gemacht, die sich darin zu manifestieren scheint, dass Positionen, die jahrzehntelang Positionen des sozialen Konstruktivismus, der Dekonstruktion, der Diskursanalyse gewesen waren, nun von Strategen der Republikaner (in den USA) und von rechtsnationalen Lobbyisten des Großkapitals in anderen Ländern als Argumente gegen die Faktizität der Wissenschaften und ganz besonders des Klimawandels angeführt würden. Nun wäre es allerdings angesichts der Geschichte der modernen Tatsache fatal, wenn die Kultur- und Medienwissenschaft (oder auch die Wissenschaftsgeschichte) zwecks Abwehr des Konzepts »alternativer Fakten« zum Glauben an den Tatsachenbegriff des 19. Jahrhunderts und das ihn tragende Konzept von Objektivität zurückkehren würde. Der eigentlich perfide Effekt der »alternativen Fakten« wäre demnach, dass alternative Fakten uns dahin treiben, die Rettung in einer Rückkehr zu positivistischen Wahrheitskonzepten zu suchen. Kein Revisionismus und schon gar kein unter der Fahne des Positivismus segelnder Revisionismus wird uns in Zukunft die mühsame Arbeit von Wissensarchäologie, Dekonstruktion und historischer Medienwissenschaft ersparen.


Editorial Bernhard Siegert, Lorenz Engell

Der Computer in der Küche Christina Bartz

Shitstorm. Das eigentliche Übel der vernetzten Gesellschaft Rupert Gaderer

The Act of Negation: Logical and Ontological Christoph Menke

Aktenunruhen Jörg Paulus

Debatte: Jenseits von Reden Dirk Ludigs, Andrea Geier

Archiv Maschke-Adorno-Briefwechsel

Kommentar Philipp Felsch

Linksruck der Fakten Albrecht Koschorke

Politik und Lüge Ethel Matala de Mazza

Auslagerung des Intellekts Christina Vagt

Das Postfaktische und der Dokumentarfilm Oliver Fahle

Wahrheit, Wirklichkeit und die Medien der Aufklärung Cornelius Borck


Bernhard Siegert, Lorenz Engell Editorial

Das Editorial zur vorliegenden Ausgabe 9/2 (2018).


Christina Bartz Der Computer in der Küche

In 1969, the Honeywell Kitchen Computer was the first data processor that was built explicitly for home use. Resembling something of an oddity, most of all because of its non-user-friendly interface that conflicts with the conditions of non-professional domestic use, the Honeywell Kitchen Computer at the same time shows some aspects which make the use of a computer at home plausible, i. a. the design of the interface and the factor of a kitchen being the place of domestic work.

Rupert Gaderer Shitstorm. Das eigentliche Übel der vernetzten Gesellschaft

The term »shitstorm« describes the phenomenon of people, companies or institutions being abused and degraded via digital technologies. The waves of outrage start with the anger of a few individuals but then rapidly develop into a conflict of many participants due to their media-technological parameters. Despite the scope of the »symptoms«, mediacultural analyses of this phenomenon are few and far between. This in turn refers to an approach of the »shitstorm«-phenomenon taken in the present article: first it will discuss the historicity of digital phenomena, second the technological infrastructures, and third the operations linked with those infrastructures that can be considered a ›Hetzschwarm‹.

Christoph Menke The Act of Negation: Logical and Ontological

The concept of negation is the central operator in distinguishing between historical change and natural evolution, which is constitutive of modern thinking. The crisis of this distinction is therefore the »crisis of negation « (Alain Badiou). The text examines this crisis by first considering Hegel’s concept of »determinate negation« and its impact on the modern understanding of revolution and then discusses two possible alternative understandings of negation: abstract negation (Luhmann) and infinite negation (Agamben).

Jörg Paulus Aktenunruhen

When it comes to papers and documents from the archives, the re-evaluation or re-opening of such records is generally considered to be disturbances of a historically (in)formed and oftentimes contingent peace. As modi operandi of the media, however, upheavals do not only occur in the wake of interventions. Unrests have always been predetermined by records (i. a. via blank spaces). In order to transform those blank spaces into something describable, bundles of data can be drawn up about periods of time in which unrests or times of peace of historical and historically recorded scope overlap. Thus, differently scaled frames of time are brought to the forefront, describing revolutions and prosperous times.

Dirk Ludigs, Andrea Geier Debatte: Jenseits von Reden

It has been a long time since a (scientific) anthology has been discussed so intensely and controversially as it has been the case with the volume of Patsy L’Amour LaLove (Beißreflexe, 2017), who achieved her PhD in Gender studies at the HU Berlin. It is not easy to shake off the impression that the editor, who thinks of herself as an activist »Polittunte« (political pansy) has captured the Zeitgeist of a queer-feminism that is at war with itself: a fact which is reflected in the multitude of rather passionate responses from all kinds of social backgrounds; no other first and foremost academic anthology composed of texts concerning the current constitution of the LGBTIQ*-culture and –scene as well as discussing the current status of academically argued and sometimes lived queer-studies has been able to garner so much attention. The huge success of this work is also reflected in this being the fourth edition within one year since its original publication.
Referring to the debate kindled by the anthology which has been present in different newspapers over the past weeks and months (Zeit, Tagesspiegel, NZZ, FAZ, Süddeutsche), some of the authors have made a public statement as well as other public figures such as Judith Butler, Sabine Hark, Paula-Irene Billa and Alice Schwarzer.
Free journalist and editor, Dirk Ludigs, who is an author of one of the articles from the anthology has since stated that today’s academic discussion concerning queer subjects resembles a dead heat. The practice of positional warfare in culture theories not only fails to evoke a change in the minds of its participants but rather passes by the very people whose circumstances it originally helped to alleviate. Being an author of the Berlin queer-activist scene since the 1980s he states that it is time to challenge the (too) extensive academisation of queer thinking and action and to be on the outlook for other sources of queer activism.
Andrea Geier supports a contradicting position; she, too, acknowledges the crisis of identity politics – the accusation that the fight is mainly about recognition of identity and less about the triumph over it is backed up by new interpretations of postmodern theories as well as the question of whether it is possible to gain emancipatory potential out of academic theory-driven discussions. Her article discussed these developments from an academically educated and critical perspective and expressively supports the call for a culture of debate that, with a keen eye for intersectional themes, discusses the necessarily complex negotiation processes of identity culture and politics in all their facets and inherent problems.


Albrecht Koschorke Linksruck der Fakten

There has been a reversion of political signs in the (academic) field of theory. What has been the subject of left-wing emancipatory critique during the 1950s has become the target of nationalist- authoritarian movements: liberalism, capitalism, globalization, the political principle of representation, the hegemonial character of truth claims. Favoured words of French Theory like ›deconstruction‹ and ›simulation‹ have assimilated with the exercise of power of right-wing populists. Cultural scientists on the other hand now find themselves in the completely foreign position of being tasked with fact checking and to rally against relativization of universally acknowledged scientific findings. This article asks how the emancipatory potential and the gaining of knowledge of poststructuralism can be defended against a ›hostile takeover‹.

Ethel Matala de Mazza Politik und Lüge

Alternative facts are by no means a new phenomenon in politics. Guardians of public policy have always considered lies an appropriate means by which to conserve power. It was only much later that science and the press became interested in ›facts‹ – and they did so with quite different concepts of inquisitiveness. In the meantime both have acquired a mistrust which has been purposefully planted and carefully cultivated. This article investigates the scheming behind the lies and doubts of truth in the current political landscape and tries to answer the question in which cases alternative facts can still be considered a means of reason of state and in which cases they cannot.


Christina Vagt Auslagerung des Intellekts

What is really behind the recent accusations of postmodernism being responsible for preparing the current populistic argument about alternative facts? Based on Bruno Latour’s »Why has Critique Run out of Steak? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern«, this article discusses the genealogy of truth- and evidentness critique before and after the beginnings of the computer.
This will lead to the realization that before all critique concerning truth and evidentness there is already a distrust in the human intellect which comes to an alleged end in the early drafts of artificial intelligence as well as in the outsourcing of intellect into adaptive machine-systems.
It is not by accident that Herbert A. Simon refers to Arthur Schopenhauer’s Welt als Wille und Vorstellung in his standard reference work The Sciences of the Artificial from 1969 when he states that the world resembles more of an artificial, imagined one than a natural. Different from the 19th century, the computer simulation these days promises insight into the complexities of human behaviour that have until now been understood only incompletely and insufficiently.
The result of machine-based critique is an economic-technological complex in which rationality is no longer interpreted as the function of the subject but as the function of the machine, while politics is reduced to the level of affect.

Oliver Fahle Das Postfaktische und der Dokumentarfilm

The talk of post-truth dominates the current discussion concerning the alleged objectivity of news-coverage via audio-visual mass media. An examination of the problems raised by post-truth, however, is nothing new but rather has been discussed in many ways by traditional and contemporary documentary film-theories. This article makes a case for revitalizing the term of post-truth with the help of those theories (as well as cinematic productions) by Vertov, Grierson, Balàzs, Buñuel and Niney.

Cornelius Borck Wahrheit, Wirklichkeit und die Medien der Aufklärung

Challenged by the spread of alternative facts science institutions now call for ›facts without alternatives‹. Time and again the critique of science is partly being held responsible for the current news crisis. The ongoing debate not only choses to ignore the historic-epistemological contingency of modern science, it also remains ignorant of its linguistic constitution and media-dependency. Ideally, in order to answer this challenge society needs a critique of science that includes a media-theoretical approach. Because both science and media are part of the realities in which we live.