Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A New Book From Hyperbole Books, An SDSU Press Imprint: Naief Yehya Interview on Drone Visions: A Brief Cyberpunk History of Killing Machines

Naief Yehya: An Interview with the Author of Drone Visions
Kaylee Arca

In celebration of Naief Yehya's new book Drone Visions: A Brief Cyberpunk History of Killing Machines, Kaylee Arca interviewed Yehya on cyberpunk, technology and inspiration. Buy a copy here.

click to enlarge
Kaylee Arca: Drone visions explores cyberpunk and technopolitics through the lens of film, videogames and technology. What was your inspiration for writing on the influence of cyberpunk on war? 

Naief Yehya: When cyberpunk appeared, it was perceived as an anarchic and liberating force. It was a mix of the technological and the biological, energized by the rebel spirit of punk music, a universe of hybrid beings capable of throwing the world off balance. It was an appropriation of technology by “the street,” imagined as an empowering strategy that consisted in taking technological tools from corporations and governments, improving them, using them for the common good and empowering the imagination. But eventually the trend was inverted and what had been retrofitted and redesigned to be used by the people was retaken and recycled by industry and the military. This applies mostly to software, but it happened all over the technological landscape. I believe that movies and other popular culture artifacts that belonged to that subgenre of science fiction became very relevant in the way we adopted new technologies. Cyberpunk made high tech sexy and brought it to the masses. Suddenly we were surrounded by innovative communication devices, cyborgs, computers, screens everywhere and all kinds of gadgets but also by weapons and killing machines capable, at least in theory, of choosing their targets.

Drone Visions' back cover: Click to enlarge

KA: How and when did you become interested in weapons like drones and missiles? 

NY: I became really interested in missiles and this kind of weaponry during the first Gulf War. Especially, I found myself concerned and terrified by the missile-camera that the USA used against certain targets in Iraq. It was in part a propaganda campaign to prove the smartness of its bombs. These devices turned the war into a spectacle, entertainment pretending to be information. The idea of being able to see the path of the missile all the way to the point of impact and witness, in a flash, the destruction of the lenses, thecamera, the bomb and the building was a reminder of the pornographic image syntax:the obsession of showing the unshowable, a penetrating gaze that tries to reveal more and more, and of the money shot, the external sperm shot that validates the porn narrative.The war drone takes this logic a step further by becoming, in the imagination of politicians and military strategist, an all-seeing eye, an indefatigable, persistent, patient, Never-blinking spying device and precise enforcer. The use of this machine in the theatre of war has been portrayed as prodigious, infallible and a lifesaving resource for the military in a series of never-ending wars. I’m terrified and fascinated by these deadly machines and the way they have been normalized, standardized and accepted as the humanitarian option in war. 

KA: Do you have experience with the weapons you discuss? 

NY: No, just from my research. I don’t like weapons. I like studying them and their psychological, cultural, moral, economic, political impact. 

Page spread from Drone Visions--more below, all are large/high res clickable images
KA: Has tech-noir and cyberpunk personally affected you? 

Enormously. Since I discovered cyberpunk, my work shifted permanently. I received a degree in industrial engineering and have always been fascinated by machinery. So,when I found out that you could actually write about technology and think about The implications of our relationship to gadgets and machines, particularly intelligent machines,I knew I had found my calling. Since then, I have written about cyborgs, pornography, war, the internet and the media sphere from the point of view of how we engage with the technologies that made those phenomena possible. During the 90s these topics were considered unworthy by most of my colleagues, there were not literary enough, too niche and morbid. But now we live in a highly technological time and, in one way or another, we’re all immersed in a techno culture. 

KA: How did you choose Mad Max, Alien, Blade Runner and The Terminator to examine? 

I believe that those films are the canon of cyberpunk. Besides being extraordinary films that were ahead of their time, they were viewed as genre entertainment when in fact they were fascinating masterpieces that spoke about the human condition at a time of fundamental transition. Just like John Ford's westerns showed the transformation of society in a new world when the wild west “opened,” these movies reflected on the inevitable changes to the Human condition at a time when technology was redefining the boundaries of the biological and the mechanical, the evolved and the manufactured, and the appearance of cyberspace. All these films —which started before the massification of the internet, cell phones and the digitization of everything— have sequels, some even have prequels and reboots, and I believe these serials have been amazing at keeping track of the changes that our technologies and dreams of technology have brought. I try to prove in the book that even the lesser products from these franchises and films derived from them are revealing in many ways. 

KA: How is Drone Visions different from your other published works? 

The main difference is that Drone Visions was going to be a part of another book thatI have almost finished and which is a more straightforward history of the war drone.The part of that book devoted to the cultural history of the drone became too voluminous and eventually it became evident that it was a book in itself which gave birth to Drone Visions as an independent project. Technology changes quickly and continuously, making the research and writing process very challenging. And it was difficult to have access to military sources. 

KA: What was your writing process for Drone Visions? 

It took me a long time. I have written extensively about the cyberpunk canon. I wanted to write about how the technological dystopias in these films merged and the way that these ideas have entered the mainstream. I was particularly interested in understanding how some ideas in these films became part of our techno cultural zeitgeist, the most relevant one of those ideas being the notion of the killing robot or artificial intelligence playing the role of executioner. 

KA: Do you think films and video games will continue to change future war technologies? 

Definitely. In ways that we cannot even fathom at this time. It’s clear that drone Technology was heavily influenced by video games and films. Now they are unavoidably linked and, as the nature of digital entertainment evolves, its military counterpart will do the same. 

KA: Do you think technology has created a cultural desensitization to violence? What is technology's role in desensitization? 

Yes, in general, I think that is true. Digital entertainment has made violence extremely appealing, interactive and fun. The abundance of cameras makes it possible for everything to be recorded and eventually broadcasted, the beautiful and the atrocious alike. Special effects and imaging technologies allow for the creation of almost anything imaginable. We have been over exposed to all sorts of violence, brutality and extreme practices in every domain. There are very few things that can shock us now for a prolonged period. Nevertheless, there is a constant search for new technological thrills, it’s part of our nature and the way we are wired. The military drone offers a very special paradigm, by showing scenes happening in real time on the other side of the world as if they were right in front of the viewer. At the same time, these scenes could be imagined as unreal, scenarios of a video game. The viewer can perceive these human beings as playthings to be eliminated in some perverse game. At the same time, drone pilots and operators, in a way, become intimate with the people they spy on, following them for days or weeks, becoming familiar with their world, their everyday lives and, eventually, may receive the order to blow them to pieces. So, in a way, we are becoming more desensitized to violence but also our relationship with what we see on the screen is complex and unpredictable. By turning human hunting into a regular, daily nine to five job, made possible by this peculiar way of telecommuting to war zones and to “suspect hunting grounds” in peace zones, we are creating an unprecedented dilemma. Killing by remote viewing and digital representations is without any doubt one of the most extreme and desensitizing activities we can perform. 

KA: What do you think are the most impactful changes on technologies caused by films and video games? 

Just as many aesthetic choices in films like 2001: A Space Odysseyinfluenced space programs, and design in a great number of areas. Blade Runner and the rest of the sci-fi films I’ve written about have been a major influence in the minds of programmers, engineers, artists and designers who have created most of the gadgets that are part of our lives today. Nobody really imagined 30 years ago that everyone was going to have a powerful portable computer and an amazing communication and entertainment device in their pocket, or that we would become inseparable to our gadgets. It would be hard to find specific movies or games that were responsible for those huge changes in the way we use and relate to technologies. Killing human beings with joysticks is still a morbid irony difficult to accept.

Advance word on Naief Yehya's Drone Visions:

More on the author:

Naief Yehya
Industrial engineer, journalist, writer, film critic and cultural critic, Naief Yehya's writings appear in La Jornada, Letras libres, Zocalo and Art Nexus, among others. He has published three novels, three short stories collections, and essay collections including: The Transformed Body. Cyborgs and our Technological Heritage in the Real World and Science Fiction, War and Propaganda. Mass Media and the Myth of War in the US,and, Pornography, Technoculture, The Intimate Space Transformed in Times of War and Peace and Pornculture. Yehya’s work deals mainly with the impact of technology, mass media, propaganda and pornography in culture and society. Yehya was born in Mexico City in 1963 and has lived in Brooklyn since 1992. 

Twitter: @nyehya
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/naief.yehya

Kaylee Arca was the Marketing intern for Hyperbole Books, late 2019. Hyperbole is an 
imprint of San Diego State University Press.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Coming January 20, 2020 from SDSU Press! DRONE VSIONS by Naief Yehya! #drone #drones #surveillanceculture

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Just in Time for Christmas for that Favorite SDSU Alum in Your Life!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Modular Approaches to the Study of the Mind by Noam Chomsky -- Fresh off the SDSU Press

Modular Approaches to the Study of the Mind

By Noam Chomsky 

Hardcover and Paperback - 1st Edition

About the Author
Noam Chomsky was born on December 7, 1928, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania and began teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1955. Widely published, he's considered a father of modern linguistics. Chomsky spoke out against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and has continued to publically criticize U.S. foreign policy. American theoretical linguist whose work from the 1950s revolutionized the field of linguistics by treating language as a uniquely human, biologically based cognitive capacity. Through his contributions to linguistics and related fields, including cognitive psychology and the philosophies of mind and language, Chomsky helped to initiate and sustain what came to be known as the "cognitive revolution."

Noam Chomsky uses the historical background and nature of cognitive psychology to enable us to better understand several important problems of human thought and perception and the interrelationship of the body and the mind. Chomsky also gained a worldwide following as a political dissident for his analyses of the pernicious influence of economic elites on U.S. domestic politics, foreign policy, and intellectual culture. This book brings scholars into the cognitive science mode of thinking about the logical nature of language and the discrete nature of its elements as applied to linguistic study.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

See you Thursday for MALAS's 3rd Edward Said Cultural Studies Lecture featuring Carlos Kelly, Thursday at 11am, November 21, 2019, in SDSU's GMCS 333. Free and Open to the Public

See you Thursday for MALAS's 3rd Edward Said Cultural Studies Lecture featuring Carlos Kelly, Thursday at 11am, November 21, 2019, in SDSU's GMCS 333. Free and Open to the Public.

Click any image and they will expand in an instant...

Monday, November 11, 2019

Leobardo Saravia Quiroz, Brings You, Line of Fire: Detective Stories from the Mexican Border -- SDSU Press

Line of Fire: Detective Stories from the Mexican Border (Baja California Literature in Translation) Paperback – August, 1996

 Leobardo Saravia Quiroz (Author)

An inside look: In a lecture entitled "The Detective Story," Borges observes that, "The detective novel has created a special type of reader," and adds, "If Poe created the detective story, he subsequently created the reader of detective fiction" (492)..Yet, what Borges describes... draws our attention to what appears to be an insight into the ontology of literature that detective fiction provides. For what literature is, according to Borges, is "an aesthetic event" that "requires the conjunction of reader and text" (491); and what the detective story highlights, he suggests, is the way in which the reader-any reader-forms the conditions of possibility for this "aesthetic event."

"A la pinche modernidad":Literary Form and the End of History in Bolaño's Los detectives salvajes" by Emilio Sauri, MLN (125:2). 

Emilio Sauri's words perfectly describe the worlds found in "Line of Fire: Detective Stories from the Mexican Border," edited by L. Saravia Quiroz. In addition to the editor's introduction, there are evocative stories by G. Trujillo Muñoz, H. Daniel Gómez Nieves, L. Saravia Quiroz, E. Gómez Castellanos, J. Manuel Di Bella, C. Martín Gutiérrez, F. Campbell, H. Polkinhorn, and S. Gómez Montero. From the Introduction by L. Saravia Quiroz: "It is not simply an anthology of detective stories about Baja California, but rather an effort by a group of writers to devise detective fiction that does not conform to the orthodoxy of the genre."

Monday, October 21, 2019

Our Honor to Present, The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis, 6 -- San Diego State University Press

The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis, 6 (The Ralph R. Greenson Training Seminars) Paperback – 2018

Author: Ralph R. Greenson
Editor/Series Editor: Harry Polkinhorn
Ilustrator: William Nericcio

We are proud to make available The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis, 6, by Ralph R. Greenson, a new volume in our SDSU Press Psychoanalysis on the Couch book series edited by the Director of the San Diego Psychoanalytic Center, Dr. Harry Polkinhorn.

A review from the Introduction by Eli Miller:

"To my mind, this is the reason to still read Dr. Greenson, to see the powerful, masterful use of effective technique; to see abundant clinical examples, which link language and affect; and to demonstrate how analytic tact serves to put empathy to active, creative use."

Insightful Criticism form Peter Loewenberg, Professor of History Emeritus, UCLA; Training and Supervising Analyst, Dean Emeritus, New Center for Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles: 

"Ralph Greenson was a gifted charismatic teacher of psychoanalytic technique, premiere in his generation. I and many other students of analysis had the privilege of learning from his clear yet scintillating seminars on dreams and clinical practice. The editor has done a major service to all mental health practitioners in providing these brilliant sparkling Greenson seminars, notes, and papers for our benefit."

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Latinx Comic Book Storytelling -- by Frederick Aldama, Brings You The Next Wave in the History of Sequential Art! -- SDSU Press

Latinx Comic Book Storytelling Paperback – 2016

Take a deeper look into this "the next wave in History of Sequential Art" by Frederick Aldama. Professor Aldama is Distinguished University Professor, Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor of English, University Distinguished Scholar, and Alumni Distinguished Teacher at the Ohio State University. He is the 2018 recipient of the Rodica C. Botoman Award for Distinguished Teaching and Mentoring and the Susan M. Hartmann Mentoring and Leadership Award. He is the award-winning author, co-author, and editor of 40 books. 

Prolific prof Frederick Luis Aldama's latest full-color opus Latinx Comic Book Storytelling: An Odyssey by Interview features over 100 full-color comic illustrations and captures, via delicious interviews, the next wave in the history of sequential art, with Latinx cartoonist superheroes remaking the space of comics, comix, & graphic narrative, and, simultaneously, changing the pace/face (faster, browner) of art history in the process!

"The US comic’s scene is evolving—along with the rest of the culture—slowly, sometimes painfully, but inexorably towards a greater diversity of readers & creators, of new styles & stories. This book gives us a series of intimate conversations with several generations of Latin@ cartoonists (diverse themselves in their backgrounds and interests) juggling craft and art with heritage and language. These pioneers have their noses to their drawing boards and tablets but they keep their eyes on the larger significance of their work."

—Matt Madden, author of 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style

Friday, October 18, 2019

SDSU Press presents... POETICS AND VISUALITY: a trajectory of contemporary Brazilian poetry

Allow me to give you a few scenarios in which a vast knowledge of the history and development of Brazilian poetry would benefit you: an uptight dinner party to attend, the powerful feeling of being absolutely certain that you know more about Brazilian poetry than the person sitting next to you on the trolley, a cool party trick that can dupe your friends into thinking you're a literary scholar, being able to appreciate, perhaps even more than you already do, the growth and development Brazilian poetry has gone through.

But we would never encourage such shallow behavior!

In all seriousness, PHILADELPHO MENEZES' POETICS AND VISUALITY is an incredible account of Brazilian poetry and its various transformations throughout history.

Purchase now!! (let me know which scenario you most benefited from :))