Saturday, April 01, 2006

Fact is...

I am reading a textbook that is a history of technology, and how often it creates science, rather than the other way around as most people see it. The only reason I am going to include this excerpt in this blog is because the book was actually written by Maggie, and she had planned to use it in her school co-operative. Also, I wanted to show that the reason that I loved her, and love her to this day, is not just because she was a sultry, sexy thing (which she was) but because she was a genius, musically, academically, and in ways I am only just discovering.
(If you came here looking for sex scenes or breast shots, just keep clicking or scrolling down; there are plenty to go around here on this blog. I apologize for this academic tangent for those of you who came here looking for something else – have no fear; you’ll find both. This is here because I am both a teacher, and a big Maggie fan. I don’t think most people ever saw this side of her, or knew it existed.)
This concept [of a fact] is a relatively new idea, having no basis in the medieval world. What was known as a “fact” to the medieval mind, we would now identify as a “belief”. The medieval mind lived in a world that did not change from year to year; knowledge of the world was limited to personal experience and oral tradition, and one lived in a type of “present” without thought to future innovation or advance. The medieval mind was not less intelligent than the modern one. It simply lived in a world unencumbered as we are today with the need for organized and easily retrievable facts. Their lives were unchanging, timeless, and for the most part, local. People did things the way they had always done them, and to do things any other way even might have been considered a threat to society….
[10 pages skipped]
For the most part, we trust the technology that is a basis for our modern life. A passenger on a modern jet liner does not have to understand the technology or the mechanics of heavier-than-air flight in order to trust that technology. The passenger will simply purchase a ticket and line up at the gate, boarding pass in hand. Similarly, millions of people each day turn on their computers to connect to each other and to their culture via a complicated set of protocols and programs, none of which they understand beyond a rudimentary appreciation of the underlying technologies and the small set of commands that they have mastered in order to make those technologies function. They simply point and click; they do not need to know why it works; it simply does, as a matter of “fact”…. The medieval world was much different in its reliance on “lore”….
[12 pages skipped]
The European version of this medieval world changed, almost overnight in some locales, and within a generation in most others, with the dissemination of a technology which was itself an adaptation of another, centuries old technology, that had fallen into disuse. The obsolete technology was the old-fashioned screw wine press. The new technology was simply a modification of that old technology that gave the wine press manufacturers a market for their wares….
[5 pages skipped]
The technology had actually been originally developed in Korea along with the Korean king Sajong’s simplified alphabet of 24 characters. But this was not only cumbersome and hard to maintain, but was limited in use to reproducing the Chinese classics. Had in been used for Korean scientific and popular literature, and had the type fonts been more easily reproduced, the West sooner might have recognized Korea as the birthplace of the printing press…. Similarly, the Dutch inventor Coster and other experimenters in Bruges, Bologna, Avignon, Oxford, and Copenhagen made early developments in this new technology, but in the West, the honors go to a nearly bankrupt son of a Mainz coiner, who was avoiding his debt collectors by hiding out in an attic over an abandoned wine press. It did not all come at once – his father’s coining knowledge handed down to the son included recent advances in metallurgy, there were also advances in textile dyeing that gave this inventor knowledge of inks and oils, and nearby in Bavaria there were advances in paper production. These and innovations and tireless experimentation on the part of the inventor finally gave us the modern printing press, and the world now knows of Johannes Gutenberg….
From The History of Technology [unpublished] by Maggie. Written in longhand, in a very difficult to understand cursive that is making me nearsighted.
It goes on, maybe 500 pages worth in a loose-leaf binder, examining new technology and how it created science. Funny, how I was always taught the other way around – science breeds invention. I wish I could have been in Maggie’s class. How the hell am I gong to live up to that mind as a teacher for these children?

2 comments:

amber said...

We can't ever live up to her mind...

We can only do the best we can, and remember her and love her always.

TintinSnowy said...

Dear HNT,

No need to feel apologetic about posting something intelligent and non-sexual. I like your blog a lot because you have a natural gift for writing and your equally amazing gift of being uninhibited and writing about your intimacies is beautiful. It’s easy for me to picture your Texas-style domestic bliss and it’s because of your talent. This blogging technology is creating really interesting social dynamics and it will be fascinating to see where it all leads. Thank you for your desire to share.

Clifford