[Humanist] 27.661 and a gift for the New Year

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Jan 1 12:24:48 CET 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 661.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 01 Jan 2014 10:47:48 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: and a gift for the New Year

Two quotations, from the closing Anthology in a most marvellous book and 
catalogue of the current exhibition its title names, Curiosity: Art and 
the Pleasures of Knowing (Hayward, 2013). The first is from physicist 
Richard Feynman's "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out":

> Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined,
> irreverent and original manner possible.

The second is the last in the book, from David Foster Wallace's 
posthumous novel, The Pale King. I recommend you read the following 
with Jon Agar's fine book, The Government Machine: A Revolutionary 
History of the Computer (MIT, 2003) firmly in mind (for Turing's machine 
operationalizes bureaucracy perfectly):

> I discovered, in the only way that a man ever really learns anything
> important, the real skill that is required to succeed in a
> bureaucracy.... The key is the ability, whether innate or
> conditioned, to find the other side of the rote, the picayune, the
> meaningless, the repetitive, the pointlessly complex. To be, in a
> word, unborable.... It is the key to modern life. If you are immune
> to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.

Happy New Year 2014!


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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