The essence of revelation

In his piece on the burbling-but-never-quite-boiling stew of resentment that seems to be following Apple about these days (‘Forget Google – it’s Apple that is turning into the evil empire‘), John Naughton references Umberto Eco’s seminal essay ‘The Holy War” Mac vs. DOS‘:

‘[The Macintosh] 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 achieve salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: Far away from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.’

The piece was published in 1994, with Eco conceding that ‘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 ordain women and gays if you want to.’


Naughton concludes that Eco was both right and prescient, with current Apple products rigorously dogmatic in their application of rules: ‘And if you are foolish enough to break the rules and seek your own route to salvation, then you may find when you next try to sync it with iTunes that it has turned into an expensive, beautifully designed paperweight.’


In contrast, the underlying esotericism of the DOS-based PC, with its beautifully strange fragments of technological dead-ends (see the upgrade video linked a few days ago for details), is like a broad church, barely afloat above a raging sea of confusion. Of course, such metaphorical fun doesn’t cut it in the comments to the Guardian piece. And what special brand of heresy is Linux?


Other things. The Science Behind Traffic Jams. Related, a great little Dynamic Traffic Simulation / Making books is fun! (to watch). See also How to make a book with Steidl / a documentary about Blixa Bargeld / jomc.links, a tumblr / we find ourselves returning monsterbrick’s photostream, epic Lego models / Stolen Moments, a tumblr / Dumblikeapainter, a weblog / Euro Nova, the place for kit cars / Colin Hand Photo, images.


Selectism, a men’s style magazine. See also the recently launched Mr Porter and the (unrelated) Port Magazine / the smooth blog to travel drawing, beautiful notebook sketches / suckerpunch, design site / Nuisance Machines by Andrew Friend / Funktionsorte, a photographic set by Matthias Heiderich.

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