from...CLASSICS list

This is a forward from the CLASSICS list...  --DNW

Date: Mon, 10 Oct 94 16:11:57 -0700
Message-ID: <9410102311.AA29407@mx5.u.washington.edu>

Something that will surely be of interest to members of the list, this 
was sent to me by a former student.  I am not quite sure of the 
etiquette: e.g. whether it is good form to forward a message whose 
original sender one does not know, but this one seems unlikely to 
offend.  I would only add that so far as I have observed, the religions 
of owners of machines seem to be the opposite of what Eco suggests, i.e. 
most Catholics I know own MS-DOS machines
and Protestants Macs.
Michael Hendry
University of Alabama
Forwarded message:

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