Enter the Cut-up Matrix: Some notes on Man and machines in the (Swedish) 1960’s

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

This essay, focusing on a slice of Swedish prose fiction from the 1960-70's, raises some questions concerning the artificial subject, along with discussions of game theory and automation. Torsten Ekbom's "strategic model theatre" Spelmatriser för Operation Albatross [1966; Game Matrices for Operation Albatross] is the main object of study. The (often very bizarre) text fragments in this book are, fictionally, generated by a number of computers. The figures acting in this game are devoid of skeletons; they are merely bodies of information, produced by machines. In dialogue with (among others) Norbert Wiener, Lewis Mumford, John von Neumann and Marshall McLuhan, Ekbom's text is found to illustrate a broader context of cybernetics and subjectivity in the 1960's. Finally, by using the shift of epistemological dominant (described by N. Katherine Hayles) from "presence-absence" to "pattern-randomness", Ekbom's Game Matrices for Operation Albatross finds itself in an historically interesting intersection of subjectivity: the life of Man in the 1960's is becoming increasingly "coded" and "randomized", while the computer is still that huge Machine, not yet, as today, the subconscious of everyday life.

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Patricia Tomaszek