+ info: OUP USA
Tied to the profundity of life and death, media are and have always been existential. Yet, as they are deeply embedded in the lifeworld on both individual and global scales, they currently capitalize on human existence seemingly without limit, while being mythologized as boundless harbingers of the future and as solutions to the predicaments of a world now poised on the edge. In this situation it is imperative to move beyond either the habitual or the sublime, to recognize that media are in fact of limits―situated both in the middle of our lives and at the limit they constitute the building blocks and brinks of being.
In order to remedy the existential deficit in the field, in Existential Media Amanda Lagerkvist revisits existential philosophy through a reappreciation of Karl Jaspers philosophy, and of his concept of the limit situation: those ultimate moments in life―of loss, crisis and guilt―which we are called upon to seize. Introducing the field of existential media studies in conversation with disability studies, the new materialism and the environmental humanities, the book offers a media theory of the limit situation which brings limits, in all their shapes and forms, onto the radar when we interrogate media. Lagerkvist argues that the present age of deep techno-cultural saturation, and of escalating calamitous and interrelated crises, is a digital limit situation, in which there are profound stakes which heighten existential uncertainty, vulnerability as well as potential fecundity. Placing the mourner―the coexister―at the center of media studies, by entering into the slow fields of mourning, commemorating and speaking to the dead in the online environment, she brings out that existential media ambivalently offer metric parameters, caring lifelines and transcendent experiences which ultimately display post-interactive modes of being digital in slowness, silence and waiting. The book ultimately calls forth a different ethos which powerfully challenges ideals of limitlessness, quantification and speed, and seeks out alternate intellectual and ethical coordinates for reclaiming, imagining and anticipating a responsible future with existential media.