Meanwhile, some Math: Review of Becoming Beside Ourselves: The Alphabet, Ghosts, and Distributed Human Being by Brian Rotman

Camelia Elias

    Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewResearch


    Brian Rotman’s book Becoming Beside Ourselves: The alphabet, Ghosts, and Distributed Human Being (2008), ends befittingly with a number of hypothetical situations. As the book revolves around the question of what to do with the archaic, old-fashioned, and now useless system of alphabetization, from reason to affect, Rotman’s attempt to envisage a new system of other possibilities that would end ‘the era of alphabetic graphism’ is worth considering. Already the idea of the possible replacing certainty is an interesting idea, particularly if one is not familiar with the scientific discourse that cuts across pure mathematics, or the area in mathematics, which deals with infinity, and digitalized technology, which challenges the cultural prestige and dominant position of what Rotman calls “infinistic mathematics.” If we thus take it from the end, as Rotman would probably approve, let us make the point that a book such as this one – which performs what it preaches in terms of tackling head-on the interdisciplinary approach to the question of subjectivity, the person, or rather, the agent – all emphasizing the privileged and dominant position of the singular agent over the pluralistic agent as embodying a multitude of relations, or as announced in the title, agent as distributed human being – can only make sense in a system in which the letter of the alphabet still rules the world, if it presents itself as a gesture, or rather if it advances its argument about the plausibility of the possible over the certain as a gesture towards a potential. 

    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)134-137
    Number of pages5
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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