Fondée par Régis Debray

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What is Mediology ?


par La Rédaction

Publié le : 1er septembre 2014. Modifié le : 23 juin 2024

The aim of mediology is to elucidate the mysteries and paradoxes of cultural transmission. We try to understand how a break in our methods of transmission and transportation provokes a change in mentalities and behaviours, as well as, inversely,how a cultural tradition provokes, assimilates or modifies a technical innovation. Generally, the perspective includes technical and cultural interactions, at the intersection of what have been termed superior forms of social life (religion, art, politics) and the most humble aspects of material life (the usual, banal or trivial).
Mediology is neither a doctrine nor a moral science, and even less a « new science ». Mainly, it is a method of analysis, to understand the transfer in duration of a piece of information (transmission). Not a special field of knowledge (as is the sociology of the medias) but, in a larger sense, an original mode of coming to knowledge, consisting in relaying an historical phenomenon to the mediations, both from those formal learning and practical aspects which have made it possible. One is acting as a mediologist each time one brings to light correlations unifying a symbolic corpus (a religion, a doctrine, an artistic genre, a discipline, etc…), a form of collective organization ( a church, a party, a school, an academy) and a technical system of communication (recording, storage and trace circulation). Or, more simply, when one writes down someone’s words, the way it was said and who wishes to repeat it.
The question, still obscure, of symbolic effectiveness lies at the heart of this inter-discipline. This was its launch pad. Karl Marx said : « an idea becomes a material force when it takes over the masses ». Which mediations (= paths and means) make a word, an image or a text become motion, mentality, movement and action ? How does a Word become Flesh ? Bringing light onto symbolic effectiveness (= power of speech, power of words, influence of the image, etc…) leads to a close examination of the technical variables of message diffusion (logosphere, graphosphere, videosphere, current « hypersphere »), themselves linked to the different modes of transportation through space, as well as the strategies of collective organization which authorize this or that equipment. The medio – in mediology – therefore designates a whole set of devices which serve to vehicle a sign, its means (material) and its agents (social) of circulation (intermediary bodies and formal learning supports).
Numerous and multinational are the trailblazers and precursors of the large field of mediology understood as the exploration of the symbolic world by logistical means : Victor Hugo (« this will kill that »), Walter Benjamin, Valéry, McLuhan, Walter Ong, etc… Mediology attempts to make coherent, intelligible and to extend the intuitions of great pioneers, to contribute to what may one day appear as an ecology of culture.

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