From: Maurice A. O'Sullivan (email@example.com)
Date: Fri Sep 24 1999 - 19:20:03 EDT
<x-flowed>At 10:27 24/09/99 -0500, you wrote:
>You'll remember the piece several
>years back by Umberto Eco on theological perspectives and preferred
>computer platforms, fascinating but surely composed with a good sense of
Here it is again, Carl, for those who have joined the list in the last
couple of years..
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
Maurice A. O'Sullivan [ Bray, Ireland ]
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