Golden age of analog

Alexander R. Galloway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Digital and analog: What do these terms mean today? The use and meaning of such terms change through time. The analog, in particular, seems to go through various phases of popularity and disuse, its appeal pegged most frequently to nostalgic longings for nontechnical or romantic modes of art and culture. The definition of the digital vacillates as well, its precise definition often eclipsed by a kind of fever-pitched industrial bonanza around the latest technologies and the latest commercial ventures. One common response to the question of the digital is to make reference to things like Twitter, Playstation, or computers in general. Here one might be correct, but only coincidentally, for the basic order of digitality (the digitality of digitality) has not yet been demonstrated through mere denotation. And the second question—the question of the analog—is harder still, with responses often also consisting of mere denotations of things: sound waves, the phonograph needle, magnetic tape, a sundial. At least denotation itself is analogical. This article will aim to define the analog explicitly and argue, perhaps counterintuitively, that the golden age of analog thinking was not a few decades past, prior to the wide-spread adoption of the computer. In fact, the fields of structuralism and poststructuralism that emerged in the middle to late twentieth century, concurrent with the deployment of the digital computer, were characteristically digital, what with their focus on the symbolic order and logical economies. If anything, the golden age of analog is happening today, all around us, as evidenced by the proliferation of characteristically analog concerns: sensation, materiality, experience, affect, ethics, and aesthetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-232
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Inquiry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • General Arts and Humanities


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