LOOK AT THE BUNNY — Totem, Taboo, Technology
Zero Books, 2013
An essential guide to those technological totems and taboos
which help us navigate the chaotic terrain of today's mediascape.
Are totems merely a thing of the distant past? Or might it be that our
sleek new machines are producing totemic forces which we are only beginning to recognize?
This book asks to what degree today's media technologies are haunted by a Freudian ghost, functioning as
totems or taboos (or both). By isolating five case-studies (rabbits in popular culture, animated creatures
that go "off-program," virtual lovers, jealous animal spirit guides, and electronic paradises),
Look at the Bunny highlights and explores today's techno-totemic environment. In doing so, it explores
how nonhuman avatars are increasingly expected to shepherd us beyond our land-locked identities, into a
risky - sometimes ecstatic - relationship with the Other.
"Dominic Pettman doesn't change what one thinks. It changes HOW one
thinks. What starts out as counter-intuitive ends up as so true and
right that one can no longer recall ever thinking otherwise. This book
is only for those courageous enough to venture down the rabbit-hole."
— Jodi Dean, author of
Blog Theory and Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies
ON THE TECHNOPOETICS OF CAPTURE
Fordham University Press, 2014
What impact does current technology have on our relationship to time,
memory, identity, and affinity?
This project is a critical exploration of some of the more significant technologies, histories, politics,
and poetics of “capture." More specifically, it details the ways in which the different media and
aesthetics interweave and influence each other, especially in terms of “capturing” or fixing that which
“escapes” our methods of representation. The primary focus, in other words, is on what has been called
“the bottleneck of the signifier” (Kittler): that is, the gridlock which occurs in every instance of
aesthetic – and even scientific – endeavor (given the tools at our disposal, and the nature of the
inspiration to use such tools in the first place).
IN DIVISIBLE CITIES — A Phanto-Cartographical Missive
Dead Letter Office, Punctum Books, 2013
Italo Calvino rewrites Baudrillard’s
America with a more global eye,
as edited by Roland Barthes.
In Divisible Cities takes Italo Calvino’s classic re-imagining of Venice, viewed in the mind’s eye from
many different metaphysical angles, and projects it on to the world at large. Where the Italian saw his
favorite city as an impossible metropolis of many moods, shades, and ways of being, this unauthorized
sequel unpacks the Escheresque streets in unexpected directions. In Divisible Cities is thus an exercise
in cartographic origami: the reflective and poetic result of the narrator’s desire to map hidden cities,
secret cities, imaginary cities, impossible cities, and overlapping cities, existing beneath the familiar
Atlas of everyday perception. Stitching these different places and spaces together is
a “double helix” or “Siamese seduction” between the traveler and his romantic shadow,
revealing — step by step — a clandestine itinerary of hidden affinities, nestled within the
habitual rhythm of things.
Matter matters. That’s what the drone of the city tells us.
And yet we dream of something beyond these invisible walls.
"Were I an architect-deity, I would create an Escheresque subway
system, linking all the cities in the world. The tunnels themselves, and the people decanted from
one place to the other, would eventually create an Ecumenopolis: a single and continuous city,
enlaced and endless. Were this the case I could get on the F train at Delancey Street, Manhattan,
and — after a couple of changes mid-town — emerge in the night-markets of Taipei, or near the
Roman baths of Budapest. Or perhaps even downtown Urville."
HUMAN ERROR — Species-Being and Media Machines
University of Minnesota Press, 2011 (Posthumanities Series)
Argues that humanity can be seen as a case of mistaken identity.
What exactly is the human element separating humans from animals and machines? Dominic Pettman argues that the most decisive “human error” may be the ingrained impulse to understand ourselves primarily in contrast to our other worldly companions. Human Error boldly insists on the necessity of relinquishing our anthropomorphism but also on the extreme difficulty of doing so.
"This is a powerful account of human exceptionalism, narrated with
the most enchanting of attentiveness to the texts being read. Dominic Pettman writes with such
subtlety, wit, and imagination that every page of this book is a pleasure to think with."
— Rey Chow,
"Reading this book is a seductively creaturely experience. Pettman
combines impressive theoretical sophistication and pitch-perfect
pop-cultural readings with a lightness of touch that pulls us in many
unexpected directions and elicits many surprising feelings. A major
contribution that maps a way past the all-too-human errors of the
— Hugh Raffles,
LOVE AND OTHER TECHNOLOGIES — Retrofitting
Eros for the Information Age
Fordham University Press, 2006
Can love really be considered another form of technology? This book
says it can, although not before carefully redefining technology as a cultural challenge to what
we mean by the “human” in the information age. Using the writings of such thinkers as Giorgio
Agamben, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Bernard Stiegler as a springboard, the book explores the “techtonic”
movements of contemporary culture, specifically in relation to the language of eros.
"The ultimate handbook on love for the
—McKenzie Wark, author of
A Hacker Manifesto
current academic discourse on technology is dominated by naively
triumphalist rhetoric on the one hand, and by Heideggerian fears about
how it is 'denaturing' us on the other. Pettman offers a way out of this
double bind, by thinking 'technology' together with 'love' and
'community'. He is an orginal and deep cultural theorist."
Doom Patrols: A Theoretical Fiction About
AVOIDING THE SUBJECT — Media, Culture and the
with Justin Clemens
University of Amsterdam Press, 2004
What can Roger Rabbit tell us about the Second Gulf War?
What can a
woman married to the Berlin Wall tell us about posthumanism and inter-subjectivity?
What can DJ
Shadow tell us about the end of history?
What can our local bus route tell us about the
fortification of the West?
What can Reality TV tell us about the crisis of contemporary community?
And what can unauthorized pictures of Osama Bin Laden tell us about new methods of popular
These are only some of the thought-provoking questions raised in Avoiding the
Subject, which highlights the feedback-loops between philosophy, technology, and politics in
AFTER THE ORGY — Toward a Politics of Exhaustion
State University of New York Press, 2002
Applying Jean Baudrillard's question "What are you doing after the
orgy?" to the postmillennial climate that informs our contemporary cultural moment, this book
argues that the imagination of apocalyptic endings has been an obsessive theme in
"I read your book with great pleasure, and found it absolutely remarkable."
"The range of cultural and textual readings offered here are complemented
by Pettman’s talent for telling a ‘story.’ Instead of laboring through a dry interpretation of millennial
practices, I listened to a fine storyteller interpret and draw attention to important practices taking
place at the present."
—Todd F. Davis, coeditor of
Mapping the Ethical Turn: A Reader in Ethics, Culture, and Literary Theory
Fatal Strategies, New Edition
Semiotext(e) / Foreign Agents, 2008
Introduction – A Belated Invitation to the Orgy. (Pettman)
When Fatal Strategies was first published in French
in 1983, it represented a turning point for Jean Baudrillard: an utterly original, and for many readers,
utterly bizarre book that offered a theory as proliferative, ecstatic, and hallucinatory as the
postmodern world it endeavored to describe. Arguing against the predetermined outcomes of dialectical
thought with his renowned, wry, ambivalent passion, with this volume Jean Baudrillard mounted an attack
against the "false problems" posed by Western philosophy. If his Marxist days were firmly behind him,
Baudrillard here indicated that metaphysics had also gone the way of sociology and politics:
the contemporary world demanded nothing less than Pataphysics, Alfred Jarry's absurdist philosophy
that described the laws of the universe supplementary to this one. In effect, with
Baudrillard became Baudrillard.
Internationalizing Cultural Studies:
Co-edited with Ackbar Abbas,
John Nguyet Erni et al
Internationalizing Cultural Studies is an unprecedented resource that introduces and consolidates cultural studies literature from diverse locales and intellectual traditions.
Contains forty-four contemporary essays that introduce and pluralize cultural studies work from diverse locales and intellectual traditions.
Covers regions the world over, including Asia, Europe, and Africa. Organizes material around key themes such as race and ethnicity, transnationalism, gender and sexual cultures, media production and consumption, urban life, popular practices, techno-cultures, and visual cultures.
Includes expert introductions from an international panel of editors, and
facilitates customization of content for course use.