Reuben Hoggett’s ↑cyberneticzoo.com is a true treasure trove of the ‘history of cybernetic animals and early robots.’
‘↑Captain Nemo was a technical anarcho-terrorist.’ wrote Bruce Sterling (1991: 39) about the main protagonist of ↑Jules Verne‘s ‘↓20,000 leagues under the sea‘ (1870). The same can be said about the character Robur appearing in Verne’s ‘↓Robur the Conqueror‘ (1886) and its sequel ‘↓Master of the World‘ (1904). By way of his submarine ‘Nautilus’ Captain Nemo rules the oceans. Robur rules everything above through his vessels, the ‘Albatross’ and the ‘Terror.’ Just recently I learned that around the same time yet another literary ‘technical anarcho-terrorist’ appeared: ‘↓Hartmann the Anarchist‘ by Edward Douglas Fawcett (1893):
↑A sensational tale of the evil Mastermind of Nihilism destroying London and everything else he could get his grimy hands on. A typical ‘nineties tale of urban anxiety and the feeling of politics out of hand. The author (a Socialist—of a sort) gets to fly on the ATTILA, Hartmann’s aerial destroyer made of a specially hardened metal. Hartmann—a member of the professional classes gone bad because of the influence of a malign political theorist, aims to destroy the fabric of a rotten exploitative society stirs up the mobs beneath and watches from above.
The illustrations by Fred T. Jane very much convey the Jules-Verne-touch as you can see especially below. The illustration above is from the first page of the story’s serialization in The English Illustrated Magazine. With Guy Fawkes all around these days I found it apt.
zeph’s pop culture quiz #14
Who shot whom in the scene depicted above? If you recognize the movie from which the screenshot was taken, and if you have watched that movie carefully, you’ll have no problems in answering the question ;-)
Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the ‘Leave a comment’ at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it’s the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I’ve approved a comment, your next ones won’t be held, but published immediately by the system.]
Last Wednesday, 01 February 2012, ↑Angelo Dundee died age 90. He was the famous trainer of world’s greatest, ↑Muhammad Ali, who just recently ↵turned 70.
When I heard the news of Dundee’s passing away, immediately pictures from a comic book filled my mind. As a kid I for the first time heard of Dundee via the album ‘Superman vs. Muhammad Ali’ (O’Neill & Adams 1978). The above is a part of page 32.
Under the menu ↵cyberpunk—↵motion pictures I added the page ↵short films. Very much work in progress as the whole collection, but with direct links. More entries will follow as soon as possible. Above that I added and corrected quite something in all the other cyberpunkish artefacts listings. Nothing is perfect yet, though.
Paul Kent Alkon, professor emeritus of English and American literature, author of ‘Origins of futuristic fiction’ (1987), and ‘Science fiction before 1900’ (1994), in 1997 has published a ↓wonderful article on ↑Winston Churchill‘s relation to the writing and thought of ↑H. G. Wells, science fiction and dystopia in general. More recently Alkon covered the issue even more in-depth in his chapter ‘Imagining science: Churchill and science fiction’ (2006: 155-176). What struck Bruce Sterling the most is Churchill’s premonition of drone warfare:
Have we reached the end? Has Science turned its last page on them? May there not be methods of using explosive energy incomparably more intense than anything heretofore discovered? Might not a bomb no bigger than an orange be found to possess a secret power to destroy a whole block of buildings—nay to concentrate the force of a thousand tons of cordite and blast a township at a stroke? Could not explosives even of the existing type be guided automatically in flying machines by wireless or other rays, without a human pilot, in ceaseless procession on a hostile city, arsenal, camp, or dockyard? (8-9). (Churchill 1929: 221-222 cited in Alkon 1997: 19)
When, ↵like recently, I am talking about the historical significance of cybernetics for contemporary culture and society I more often than not mention that in the process of marking itself off from mechanistic visions (Ashby 1957 : 1-6), cybernetics quite early emphasized a whole array of concepts: networks, complexity, self-organisation, reproduction, adaptation, cognition, aiming at and maintaining goal-states, purposeful behaviour (or action?), and autonomy. This line-up implicitly leads towards a vision of cybernetic systems as independent actors, maybe even gifted with ‘free will’. Therefore it is not astounding that a hypothetical analogy emerged early on: ‘mind to body’ is like ‘information to machine’. (Joslyn & Heylighen 1999, Heylighen & Joslyn 2001)
Additionally I mention that computer technology early on was chosen as the perfect metaphor for cybernetic system.
More or less by chance I today rediscovered ↑Chris Chatham‘s ↑10 Important Differences Between Brains and Computers, which do serve as a fine reality check.
Above these apparent hieroglyphics was a figure of evident pictorial intent, though its impressionistic execution forbade a very clear idea of its nature. It seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful. Behind the figure was a vague suggestions of a Cyclopean architectural background.
The writing accompanying this oddity was, aside from a stack of press cuttings, in Professor Angell’s most recent hand; and made no pretense to literary style. What seemed to be the main document was headed “CTHULHU CULT” in characters painstakingly printed to avoid the erroneous reading of a word so unheard-of. This manuscript was divided into two sections, the first of which was headed “1925 – Dream and Dream Work of H.A. Wilcox, 7 Thomas St., Providence, R. I.”, and the second, “Narrative of Inspector John R. Legrasse, 121 Bienville St., New Orleans, La., at 1908 A. A. S. Mtg. – Notes on Same, & Prof. Webb’s Acct.” The other manuscript papers were brief notes, some of them accounts of the queer dreams of different persons, some of them citations from theosophical books and magazines (notably W. Scott-Elliot’s Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria), and the rest comments on long-surviving secret societies and hidden cults, with references to passages in such mythological and anthropological source-books as Frazer’s Golden Bough and Miss Murray’s Witch-Cult in Western Europe. The cuttings largely alluded to outré mental illness and outbreaks of group folly or mania in the spring of 1925. (Lovecraft 1928 )
So, here is the tie between Cthulhu, the sunken city of R’lyeh and anthropology … but that wasn’t my drift, instead:
See also ↵lovecraftian tintin.