[Humanist] 24.358 the quieter game?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Sep 23 22:54:34 CEST 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 358.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2010 06:50:24 +1000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: The quieter game

Last night I was one guest among many at a ceremonial dinner to celebrate research activities at the University of Queensland, in Brisbane. As expected at a university known to itself and others primarily for the techno-sciences -- although the great AusLit (http://www.austlit.edu.au) is here -- as a disciplinary being I felt very much like a child who had somehow wandered into a gathering of, say, Viking warriors and hidden himself out of sight to avoid being made the butt of a potentially fatal joke. It was easy to start thinking, amidst an imagined roar of cheers at various conquests, how by appeal to computing might we humanists gain some attention at gatherings such as these? But in the cool of the morning (as it happens, not far from where the Australian novelist David Malouf grew up, in Edmondstone Street), the quieter, long-term game seems far more attractive. Malouf, as always, is inspiration to think that this is a many-dimensioned world and that my imagined Viking warriors will be remembered, if at all, for reasons other than they would now be able to recognize. Take those lads Malouf imagined in his novel Johnno, among whom the narrator is a nobody. 

Last night my imagined child could also not help but think that the cheers and boasts were being exchanged among elders who had forgotten (as so many have) what education is for, but more immediately, what *actually* appeals to those we teach. My own experience suggests that what grabs them (at least until they are given no choice but to think otherwise) are the quite astonishing intellectual vistas that our beloved machine allows us to see, the questions that its application raises. What a time to be a curious child!



Professor Willard McCarty

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