[Humanist] 27.645 pubs: on curiosity and curiosities

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Dec 21 10:21:02 CET 2013

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 645.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 20 Dec 2013 14:21:04 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: the Web of curiosities

Those here who like to connect up the Web with its historical forebears 
and cultural circumstances will, I expect, find James Delbourgo's review 
article, "Triumph of the Strange", in the Chronicle of Higher Education 
for 9 December, valuable. Delbourgo reviews Brian Dillon's intriguing 
Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing, both an exhibition touring 
the UK and the Netherlands 2013-14 and, with Marina Warner, a volume of 
essays, excerpts, descriptions, and photographs published by the Hayward 
Gallery. Delbourgo discusses both the epistemology of collected but 
apparently unconnected things, re-emergent in our time, and the 
politics. He writes,

> Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA raise
> fundamental questions about the intersection of curiosity, the
> Internet, and political power. Is the Internet liberating curiosity as
> never before, or bending it to corporate profit and state
> surveillance? In David Weinberger's heroic vision, spelled out in
> Everything Is Miscellaneous (2007), the Wunderkammer web
> democratically breaks down both intellectual and social barriers,
> allowing us to "confront the miscellaneous directly in all its
> unfulfilled glory." This dream of the Internet as virtual
> Wunderkammer is a dream of both free navigation and total
> information; a naïve dream, that is, at once epistemological and
> political, of unmediated knowledge.

There's much more.

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Research Group in Digital
Humanities, University of Western Sydney

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