Schwerpunkt Schalten und Walten

What you are about to read is the very last issue of the ZMK. Since our overall research enterprise, the IKKM, has to cease all of its activities due to the end of its twelve years’ funding by the German federal government, the ZMK will also come to an end. Its last topic, Schalten und Walten has also been the subject of the concluding biannual conference of the IKKM, and we hope it will be a fitting topic to resume the research of the IKKM on Operative Ontologies. Although this final issue is in English, we decided to leave its title in German: Schalten und Walten. As it is the case for the name of the IKKM, (Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie), the term seems untranslatable to us, not only for the poetic reason of the rhyming sound of the words. Switching and Ruling might be accepted as English versions, but quite an unbridgeable difference remains. In German, Schalten und Walten is a rather common and quite widespread idiom that can be found in everyday life. Whoever, the idiom stipulates, is able to execute Schalten und Walten has the power to act, has freedom of decision and power of disposition. Although both terms are mentioned together and belong together in the German expression Schalten und Walten, they are nevertheless complements to each other. They both refer to the exercise and existence of domination, disposal or power, but they nonetheless designate two quite different modes of being. Schalten is not so much sheer command over something, but government or management. It is linked to control, intervention and change, in short: it is operative and goes along with distinctive measures and cause-and-effect relations. The English equivalent switching reflects this more or less adequately.

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