[Humanist] 25.888 Turing

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Apr 12 10:15:21 CEST 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 888.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2012 09:14:14 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: Turing

Some here will undoubtedly know Hugh Kenner's brilliant The 
Counterfeiters: An Historical Comedy (1968; rpt 2005 by Dalkey Archive 
Press). It follows the development of interrelated strands of work from 
Jonathan Swift, Charles Babbage and Alan Turing to Buster Keaton and 
Andy Warhol, among others, seeking "the roots and results of mankind's 
quest to both reproduce and improve upon the natural world... and even 
himself" (to quote the book's back-cover blurb). The Counterfeiters 
provides, I think, sufficient proof of the truth of E. M. W. Tillyard's 
introductory note to his account of the creation of English studies at 

> When a new freedom comes into being, the kind of thing it leads to
> depends largely on the characters of the people who first enjoy it.
> And, character being a less rigid thing than an already fixed and
> limiting set of traditions, the element of chance in the determining
> of events becomes unusually large.... Thus it follows that any
> fitting account, or, to put it more solemnly, any adequate history
> [of how this new freedom was used] must deal largely with persons and
> their characters. It cannot avoid regulations and other academic
> events but it would be superficial and misleading if it confined
> itself to them. It must have as its topic certain people: by what
> accidents they became involved... what ideas they had, and how they
> translated them into action.  (The Muse Unchained, pp. 11-12)

Hence the importance of the re-issued biography, Alan M. Turing, 
Centenary Edition, by Sara Turing (his mother), with a foreword by 
Martin Davis and an afterword by John Turing (his older brother), just 
published by Cambridge University Press.

Read it tonight!

Professor Willard McCarty, Department of Digital Humanities, King's
College London; Professor (fractional), University of Western Sydney;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.isr-journal.org); Editor,
Humanist (www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/

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