• The Technical Delusion: Electronics, Power, Insanity

    Pages: 448
    Illustrations: 32 illustrations
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
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  • Acknowledgments  ix
    Introduction: On the Spectrums  1
    1. The Technical Delusion  21
    2.Chipnapped  82
    3. The Will to (Invisible) Power  117
    4. The System  175
    5. Targeted Individuals  237
    Epilogue: The Matrix Defense  285
    Notes  301
    Bibliography  387
    Index  419
  • "Sconce has written an important book that lets us tune in to some of the more disturbed and disturbing frequencies on the media-technological spectrum. It will be influential in media studies, and beyond that, in the wider effort to understand what all these devices are doing to us."


  • "Sconce has written an important book that lets us tune in to some of the more disturbed and disturbing frequencies on the media-technological spectrum. It will be influential in media studies, and beyond that, in the wider effort to understand what all these devices are doing to us."

  • “Delusions arrive as visions, sounds, images, rays, and waves—they arrive by way of media apparatuses, which are one condition of existence of the historical ways in which we constantly and inescapably go mad. Jeffrey Sconce's outstanding book is the essential media theoretical guide that does not merely map how we go off the rails, but how and what kind of rails were constructed in the first place.” — Jussi Parikka, author of, Insect Media: An Archaeology of Animals and Technology

    “As Jeffrey Sconce parses the reasonable and the delusional, the reader is taken on a mind-altering journey through which two centuries of media and technological criticism, panic, and uncertainty become a continuous struggle to apprehend some fundamental unrealities of modern life. Speaking directly to the operations of media in a post-truth world, The Technical Delusion makes a major contribution to cultural histories of modernity and media and has enormous potential to expand how we study media and power.” — Charles R. Acland, author of, Swift Viewing: The Popular Life of Subliminal Influence

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  • Description

    Delusions of electronic persecution have been a preeminent symptom of psychosis for over two hundred years. In The Technical Delusion Jeffrey Sconce traces the history and continuing proliferation of this phenomenon from its origins in Enlightenment anatomy to our era of global interconnectivity. While psychiatrists have typically dismissed such delusions of electronic control as arbitrary or as mere reflections of modern life, Sconce demonstrates a more complex and interdependent history of electronics, power, and insanity. Drawing on a wide array of psychological case studies, literature, court cases, and popular media, Sconce analyzes the material and social processes that have shaped historical delusions of electronic contamination, implantation, telepathy, surveillance, and immersion. From the age of telegraphy to contemporary digitality, the media emerged within such delusions to become the privileged site for imagining the merger of electronic and political power, serving as a paranoid conduit between the body and the body politic. Looking to the future, Sconce argues that this symptom will become increasingly difficult to isolate, especially as remote and often secretive powers work to further integrate bodies, electronics, and information.  

    About The Author(s)

    Jeffrey Sconce is Associate Professor of Screen Cultures at Northwestern University, author of Haunted Media: Electronic Presence from Telegraphy to Television, and editor of Sleaze Artists: Cinema at the Margins of Taste, Style, and Politics, both also published by Duke University Press.
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