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Posts Tagged ‘Henry VIII

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed”*…

Brewarrina Aboriginal Fish Traps, 1883 (source)

The future is not a destination. We build it every day in the present. This is, perhaps, a wild paraphrasing of the acclaimed author and futurist William Gibson who, when asked what a distant future might hold, replied that the future was already here, it was just unevenly distributed. I often ponder this Gibson provocation, wondering where around me the future might be lurking. Catching glimpses of the future in the present would be helpful. But then, I think, rather than hoping to see a glimpse of the future, we could instead actively build one. Or at the very least tell stories about what it might be. Stories that unfold a world or worlds in which we might want to live – neither dystopian nor utopian, but ours. I know we can still shape those worlds and make them into somewhere that reflects our humanity, our different cultures and our cares.

Of course, it is not enough to tell stories about some distant or unevenly distributed future; we need to find ways of disrupting the present too. It might be less important to have a compelling and coherent vision of the future than an active and considered approach to building possible futures. It is as much about critical doing as critical thinking. One approach to the future might be to focus less on the instruments of technologies per se and more on the broader systems that will be necessary to bring those futures into existence…

It might be less important to have a compelling and coherent vision of the future than an active and considered approach to building possible futures. It is as much about critical doing as critical thinking…

AI is always, and already, a lot more than just a constellation of technologies. It exists as a set of conversations in which we are all implicated: we discuss AI, worry out loud about its ethical frameworks, watch movies in which it figures centrally, and read news stories about its impact…

[S]tories of the future – about AI, or any kind – are never just about technology; they are about people and they are about the places those people find themselves, the places they might call home and the systems that bind them all together…

When I returned to Australia in 2017, I wanted to build other futures and to acknowledge the country where my work had started and where I was now working again. I knew I needed to find a different world and a different intersection, and to find new ways to tell stories of technology and of the future – I wanted some different pasts and some different touchstones.

I first saw a photograph of the Brewarrina Aboriginal Fish Traps in a Guardian news article, and the image stayed with me.. That black-­and-­white photograph from the late 1800s showed long, sweeping lines of grey stones arcing across a fast-­moving river. The water flowing around the lines of stones was tipped white at the breakpoints. And although there was no one in the image, the arrangement of the stones was deliberate, human-­made and enduring. It was a photograph of the one of the oldest known human-­built technical systems on the planet. And while there are ongoing debates about its exact age – 4,000 years, 10,000 years, 40,000 thousand years – there are no arguments about its complexity or sophistication…

I came to think that the importance of this place was not about the traps per se. It was about the system those traps create, and the systems in which they are, themselves, embedded. This is a system thousands of years in the making and keeping. This is a system that required concerted and continuous effort. This was something that required generations, both of accumulated knowledge about how the environment worked and accumulated knowledge about hydrology and about fish, and an accumulated commitment to continuing to build, sustain and upgrade that system over time.

The technical, cultural and ecological elements cement the significance of this place, not only as a heritage site but as a knowledge base on which contemporary systems could be built. Ideas about sustainability; ideas about systems that are decades or centuries in the making; ideas about systems that endure and systems that are built explicitly to endure. Systems that are built to ensure the continuities of culture feel like the kind of systems that we might want to be investing in now. This feels like the outline of a story of the future we would want to tell…

Now, we need to make a different kind of story about the future. One that focuses not just on the technologies, but on the systems in which these technologies will reside. The opportunity to focus on a future that holds those systems – and also on a way of approaching them in the present – feels both immense and acute. And the ways we might need to disrupt the present feel especially important in this moment of liminality, disorientation and profound unease, socially and ecologically. In a present where the links towards the future seem to have been derailed from the tracks we’ve laid in past decades, there is an opportunity to reform. Ultimately, we would need to think a little differently, ask different kinds of questions, bring as many diverse and divergent kinds of people along on the journey and look holistically and critically at the many propositions that computing in particular – and advanced technologies in general – present.

For me, the Brewarrina Fish Traps are a powerful way of framing how current technological systems should and could unfold. These present a very different future, one we can glimpse in the present and in the past; one that always is and always will be. In this moment, we need to be reminded that stories of the future – about AI, or any kind – are never just about technology; they are about people and they are about the places those people find themselves, the places they might call home and the systems that bind them all together.

Genevieve Bell (@feraldata) on the importance of stories of systems, serendipity, and grace: “Touching the future.” (via Sentiers)

For more, see her Long Now talk, “The 4th Industrial Revolution: Responsible & Secure AI.”

And for an extended riff on the context and implications of the Richard Brautigan poem that she quotes in her piece, see Adam Curtis’ “All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace” (streaming on Amazon Prime).

And for an apposite look at the Renaissance, when mechanical inventions served as a medium for experimental thinking about all aspects of the cosmos, see “When Engineers Were Humanists.”

* William Gibson (in an interview on Fresh Air in August, 1993; repeated by him– and others– many, many times since)

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As we think like good ancestors, we might spare a thought for Henry, Duke of Cornwall. The the first child of King Henry VIII of England and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, celebrated as the heir apparent, he died within weeks of his birth, on this date in 1511. His death and Henry VIII’s failure to produce another surviving male heir with Catherine led to succession and marriage crises that affected the relationship between the English church and Roman Catholicism, giving rise to the English Reformation.

Michael Sittow’s Virgin and Child. The woman appears to have been modelled on Catherine of Aragon.

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“Eclecticism is the degree zero of contemporary general culture: one listens to reggae, watches a western, eats McDonald’s food for lunch and local cuisine for dinner”*…

 

WHOS READY 4 SRVICE ???!!! BOOM WE’VE GOT THE BLINK 182 BLASTING AND ARE READY TO GRILL IT AND THRILL IT 2NITE !!! READY 2 EAT JIMMY DEAN SAUSAGE W/ CANNED SPRING VEG, FRENCH’S, FRITOS HOOPS + PISTACHIO SOIL. PALATE CLEANSING SHOT OF FERMENTED LAKE MICHIGAN WATER W/ NUTISIONAL YEAST RIM !!!!

 

Say it aloud: Chef Jacques La Merde

What do you get when you cross fast food with fine dining? A brilliant new Instagram account that marries tongue-in-cheek humor with kitchen slang. Chef Jacques Lamerde— a pseudonym for a chef familiar with New Nordic plating techniques — has a penchant for fast junk food and crazy-cool flavor combinations. The chef’s tagline is “small portions | tweezered everything,” but it’s the image descriptions that have us laughing out loud. “Hay-baked Hot Pockets with Hidden Valley Bacon Ranch spheres and a puree of Zoodles” anyone? What would René Redzepi [the king of Nordic cuisine] say?…

More at Eater, and of course, on Instagram.

Jean François Lyotard

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As we tuck in our napkins, we might recall that it was on this date in 1531 that Richard Roose (or Rouse), the cook in the household of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was boiled to death after being convicted of high treason.  It was claimed that Roose had poisoned a porridge (or pottage) served to Fisher and his guests on 18th February 1531.  All who ate it became ill, and two people died.  King Henry VIII enacted a special law decreeing Roose– who argued that he’d added a purgative to the dish “as a jest”– be boiled alive for the offense.  Henry’s decree, with death by boiling as punishment for poisoning, remained on the law books in England until 1863; at least one other person was stewed under its provisions.

Roose being boiled, in a scene from The Tudors

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 5, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people”*…

 

If Marx is right, then Tim Holman is doing his bit to fight back: the site pictured above in just one of the myriad one can find at Tim’s The Useless Web.

* Karl Marx

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As we ponder, then pivot from pointlessness, we might recall that it was on this date in 1536 that William Tyndale was strangled then burned at the stake for heresy in Antwerp.  An English scholar and leading Protestant reformer, Tyndale effectively replaced Wycliffe’s Old English translation of the Bible with a vernacular version in what we now call Early Modern English (as also used, for instance, by Shakespeare). Tyndale’s translation was first English Bible to take advantage of the printing press, and first of the new English Bibles of the Reformation.  Consequently, when it first went on sale in London, authorities gathered up all the copies they could find and burned them. But after England went Protestant, it received official approval and ultimately became the basis of the King James Version.

Ironically, Tyndale incurred Henry VII’s wrath after the King’s “conversion” to Protestantism, by writing a pamphlet decrying Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon.  Tyndale moved to Europe, where he continued to advocate Protestant reform, ultimately running afoul of the Holy Roman Empire, which sentenced him to his death.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 6, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray”*…

 

From Bradley Griffith, a real time display of Emoji being tweeted by people across Earth (well, not all of them– just those that tweeted from a specified location).  Watch the world wear its heart on its sleeve at Silicon Feelings.

* Oscar Wilde

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As we open ourselves, we might send a crying face in memory of Anne Boleyn; she was beheaded on this date in 1536.  The second wife of Henry VIII, Anne was the mother of Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth), but failed to provide the King the male heir he coveted.  Henry shifted his affections to Jane Seymour, and to clear the way for his third marriage, charged Anne with adultery, incest, and witchcraft, charges the veracity of which scholars doubt.  Still, she was quickly convicted (by a tribunal that included both her uncle and the man to whom she been betrothed before she caught Henry’s eye), and briskly executed.  Many historians judge Anne to have been the most important queen/consort of any British king, as Henry’s determination to annul his marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Arragon, in order to wed Anne– and the Catholic Church’s refusal to grant the dissolution– led to England’s break with Rome.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 19, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The map? I will first make it”*…

 

Greg Pass has built a formidable resume– past CTO of Twitter, current Founding Entrepreneurial Officer of the new Cornell Technology Campus being built in New York City– but it is his hobby, his blog Unurthed, that has earned him a place in your correspondent’s Pantheon…

Unurthed is a survey of diagrams, cosmograms, emblems, etchings, sketches, illustrations, yantras, paintings, engravings, photographs, figures, cutouts, seals, depictions, pictures, images, with an eye for that which cannot be diagrammed, cosmogrammed, emblemed, etched, sketched, illustrated, plucked, painted, engraved, photographed, figured out, cut out, sealed, depicted, pictured, imagined.

All of the material is scanned from my personal collection or, in a few cases, drawn by me.

And what material it is!  Consider, for example, “Cramer’s Emblems“:

Six of forty emblems from Daniel Cramer’s 1617 The Rosicrucian Emblems of Daniel Cramer, each presenting a contemplative exercise working upon the heart process of a Rosicrucian meditator. Prefaces Cramer:

“And so, Reader, you have the work of death and life,
The embossings of the Holy page, and a short epigram.
These will be able to show and teach your mind
What your state was once and what it may become today” (p16).

Emblem 34: NEITHER ON THIS SIDE, NOR ON THE OTHER

“‘…we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left.’ (Numbers 20:17)

“Not in this place, not in that;
The heart will go more safely in the middle.
He who rushes from the mean, runs to destruction” (p63).

A plethora of perspicacious pictures to ponder at Unurthed.

* Patrick White, Voss

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As we learn to love to limn, we might recall that it was on this date– the birthdays of the eloquent Dalai Lama (1935) and the not-so-eloquent George W. Bush (1946)– in 1535 that lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, Renaissance humanist, and councillor to Henry VIII of England, Sir Thomas More, author of Utopia, was beheaded by Henry for refusing to accept the king as Supreme Head of the newly-established Church of England.  More was acting in accordance with his opposition to Martin Luther,  William Tyndale, and the Protestant Reformation…  for which he was canonized in 1935 by Pope Pius XI.  (He is remembered by the Church of England as a “Reformation martyr.”)

Hans Holbein the Younger’s portrait of More

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 6, 2012 at 1:01 am

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