Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Deus in MachinaReligion, Technology, and the Things in Between$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Jeremy Stolow

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823249800

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823249800.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Thinking about Melville, Religion, and Machines That Think

Thinking about Melville, Religion, and Machines That Think

(p.183) Thinking about Melville, Religion, and Machines That Think
Deus in Machina

John Lardas Modern

Fordham University Press

This chapter demonstrates that the concept of feedback—as a technological condition, historical ontology, and theoretical frame—challenges traditional ways of conceiving of religion and writing its history. This essay dwells within 1920's America, a moment when the capacity of machines to regulate both nonhuman and human systems reached a point of critical mass and intensity. The chapter addresses responses to this changing technological atmosphere among Anglo-Protestant leaders, American Dada, as well as leaders of the infamous “Revival” of Herman Melville and his long-forgotten Moby-Dick (1851). Historically, the chapter demonstrates how Protestant strategies of self-centering, so pervasive in the early twentieth century, failed to contain the billowing nature of feedback technology. Theoretically, the chapter argues that the principle of feedback allows us to redefine religion not as something primarily ideological—that is, not exclusively about ideas, beliefs, creeds, nor simply as some lived extension or revision of such ideas, beliefs, and creeds. The chapter concludes by arguing that attention to feedback pushes us to consider that religion is not about the freedom to believe but rather about the possibilities that condition our unbelief.

Keywords:   Feedback technology, Moby-Dick, American Dada, Lewis Mumford, Melville Revival, American Protestantism, The Sea Beast, Belief and unbelief

Fordham Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .