Markus Krajewski


On his book Paper Machines: About Cards & Catalogs, 1548-1929

Cover Interview of January 29, 2012


What happens if you suddenly realize that your personal card index knows more than you?  How can this sometimes intimate relationship be described?  And what are the poetological effects on the writing scene if you simply communicate with your wooden as well as learned machine—your externalized brain which even promises to write your texts?

The personal slip box offers an interface which is more than just a pleasant sight of an apparatus made either from paper and wood or from bits and bytes.  The apparatus delivers those keywords which stimulate the scholar to further thought production in response to a simple touch of the interface.  The previously silent Other becomes a proper interlocuter. The finely-branched network of connections guarantees that the keywords which are subsequently exchanged appear by no means haphazardly. For over the course of the operation, these keywords gradually cultivate a kind of second memory.  And the apparatus itself serves, to borrow Immanuel Kant’s phrase, as a “midwifery of thought.”

Paper Machines not only gives answers to those questions, it also provides the appropriate praise of the link or cross-reference as a productive way of imagining new thoughts and lines of argumentation.  If reading the book would inspire others to rethink their way of handling information or to start wondering how the media determines our way of thinking itself, a step into a flourishing discipline would have been taken: Welcome to Media Theory!