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Eco on micros

From:  Peter Graham, Rutgers University Libraries
this is too good to let pass by for this audience...I think.  --pg

From: Peter Verheyen, I agree and hope others enjoy it. To Peter G., thanks.

The following excerpts are from an English translation of Umberto
Eco's back-page column, "La bustina di Minerva," in the Italian news
weekly "Espresso," September 30, 1994.

..."Insufficient consideration has been given to the new
underground religious war which is modifying the modern world.  It's
an old idea of mine, but I find that whenever I tell people about it
they immediately agree with me.

        "The fact is that the world is divided between users of the
Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers.  I am
firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is
Protestant.  Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been
influenced by the 'ratio studiorum' of the Jesuits.  It is cheerful,
friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed
step by step to reach--if not the Kingdom of Heaven--the moment in
which their document is printed.  It is catechistic:  the essence of
revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons.
Everyone has a right to salvation.

 "DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic.  It allows free
interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions,
imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted
the idea that not all can reach salvation.  To make the system work
you need to interpret the program yourself:  a long way from the
baroque community of revellers, the user is closed within the
loneliness of his own innter torment.

 "You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe
has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of
the Macintosh.  It's true:  Windows represents an Anglican-style
schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the
possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with
bizarre decisions; when it comes down to it, you can decide to allow
women and gays to be ministers if you want to.

 "And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or
environments, if you prefer)?  Ah, that is to do with the Old
Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic..."

Peter Graham    psgraham@gandalf.rutgers.edu    Rutgers University Libraries
169 College Ave., New Brunswick, NJ 08903   (908)445-5908; fax (908)445-5888
| Peter D. Verheyen, Rare Books Conservator, Cornell University Library |
|                B-39 Olin Library, Ithaca, NY 14850                    |
|     <wk> 607/255-2484 Email: pdv1@cornell.edu <fax> 607/255-9346      |
                                || ||
                               ooO Ooo

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