Presentation by Braxton Soderman (Miami University).
This paper refashions, or de-fashions, Marshall McLuhan’s statement “The Medium is the Message” in terms of Sigmund Freud’s comment in his The Interpretation of Dreams that “the dream-wish arises like a mushroom out of its mycelium.” Indeed, the dream wish is, in some sense, the essence of the dream, but for Freud it arises at the very moment when the networked threads of dream interpretation are too dense, too thick, to allow for further untangling. This “center” of the dream—which is also a non-center, a “meshwork” which cannot be unraveled—marks the limits of the Freudian hermeneutic. It also marks the anxiety of interpretation faced with the possibility that its work will never end once it is figured as a network of signification without a center. Part of the comfort of McLuhan’s famous adage is precisely its ability to overcome such an anxiety, to replace the “mess-age” of ubiquitous media content with the specificity of the medium itself. In order to understand new media forms, which are increasingly networked phenomena, one cannot rely on McLuhan’s theory of the medium but one must understand the multifaceted fantasies and desires of networked culture from which these new forms emerge.
Braxton Soderman is an Assistant Professor at Miami University in Interactive Media Studies and Comparative Media Studies. He received his PhD from the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University in 2010. His dissertation was entitled Interpreting Video Games through the Lens of Modernity. Within the dissertation he used particular video games to investigate problems associated with the rise of modernity and its current transformation into postmodernity or second modernity.