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January 2016 Vol. 53 No. 5

University of Chicago Press

The following review appeared in the January 2016 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email


2014-44823 CIP
Peters, John Durham. The marvelous clouds: toward a philosophy of elemental media. Chicago, 2015. 410p index afp ISBN 9780226253831, $30.00.

Working from the belief that there is meaning in nature, Peters (Univ. of Iowa) posits that media are environmental.  He philosophizes beyond the divides and creates a conversation between the material and the immaterial to navigate the digital landscape.  In seven chapters, Peters sketches the landscape of media theory by examining media via the metaphors of sea, fire, sky, Earth, and the ethereal.  In a particularly interesting chapter, “God and Google,” Peters explores the “right to be forgotten”—the right to have old and unflattering data wiped from the Web.  In the conclusion, he argues that the public sphere has always needed nature as its condition, but now the public sphere needs content as well.  Other fine books have engaged the topic of digital media, among them N. Katherine Hayles’s How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (CH, Feb'13, 50-3050), but until now, none offered a philosophical exploration of media's place at the very heart of human interactions with the world.

--K. L. Majocha, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above; general readers.