Currently viewing the category: "Memory, Historry of"

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1963

Here’s a interesting piece of thinking communicated on the construction of a rapid recorder for musical composition, written by John Freke in 1753 to the Royal Society, and published as A
Letter from Mr. John Freke F. R. S. Surgeon to St. Bartholomew’s
Hospital, to the President of the Royal Society, Inclosing a Paper of
the Late Rev. Mr. Creed, concerning a Machine to Write Down Extempore
Voluntaries, or Other Pieces of Music
( on January 1, 1753) in the
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London; Philosophical Transactions
of the Royal Society,
volume 44, pp 445-450. (John Freke, 1688-1756, was a prominent and important early surgeon, served at St. Barts from 1729 to 1755 and was a Governor of the hospital from 1736 to 1756, and was perhaps the first ophthalmic surgeon). The device was proposed by the Rev. John Creed, a machine that was supposed to catch the delicacy and greatness of improvisation, of the moments of creation of music that would could normally be lost to memory or inexactitude. It was not the first of its kind, though it was an early attempt at finding the box of aether.

Music machine graphic
It was a very interesting idea, especially given the time 260 years ago. I wonder if this was influenced at all by the construction of mathematical machines? Blaise Pascal (1623-1662–I don’t have any idea how he did what he did and live to be only 39) constructed his machine that was capable of doing addition and subtraction problems more than 110 years before this machine, and perhaps there was this hopefulness in the mechanically-reasoned approach to saving lost memories of composition. Perhaps there was the belief that since calculations seemingly so impossible as the Earth’s (periodic 304-day that turned out to be 428-day) wobble (by Leonhard Euler, or the illustrated collection of human knowledge in the vast and controversial Diderot/d’Alembert encyclopedia, or the capturing of nature iin the systematic binomial nomenclature of the Swedish Carl Linnaeus–all taking place in this year or so brought something to bear on this seemingly inescapable problem of recording quick and complicated thought?

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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

Children battalion006
I don't know the Illustrated History of Santa and Gun Gifts, but I guess that a book could be written if one already doesn't exist. Well, that or something associating Santa with unusual, or questionable, gifts in his bags of joy could be made into something, something disappointing. I'm not that person to collect those sorts of images because I have always held Santa in very high esteem, and I don't care to have too many of those images floating in my mind, exploiting some dark corners of unknown memories, disturbing the happy bits with unneeded and unwanted visual info. But, well, these pictures below, found in the December 1916 issue of the uncommonly-seen journal, Illustrated World, provides a little glimpse into the manufactured desires of kid-wishes for toys during wartime, and so I'll pass them along. These things do tell us something about the period–like the famous multiple images of Santa hanging cigarette carton Christmas ornaments (seen here in the post on Gift Porn, 1954), or a smoking Santa stuff a stocking with a box of Lucky Strikes–so it makes sense to make sense of them.

Children battalion008

I guess kids have fairly well always wanted toys (or not) guns for Christmas, gifts from Santa, or at least so long as Santa has been around or identified as so, and to see Santa with a rifle would not be so unusual, especially given that this was deep into the second year of the bloody Great War. (I have another interesting image here, somewhere, showing Santa distributing presents to British troops in trenches, riding a tank, but presently I can't find its stack in a stack of stacks.)

Perhaps the issue of playing with guns and cannons and so on was a way of easing fear and distress during wartime; perhaps it meant something soothing for the developing mind of a child. I don't know.

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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post on the History of Memory

About a hundred years after the invention of moveable type printing, there appeared–in 1562–this woodcut in Lodovico Dolce's Dialogo nel quale si ragiona del mondo di accrescere e consertvar la memoria, showing a number of different sorts of high-Renaissance businesses/shops, including one of teh earliest images of a bookstore.

This sort of business has survived for 450-odd years, and longer, without momentous change for 95% of that time. The store of memory is giving place to another memory machine, a digital one that exists mostly in the clouds and electrical aether, growing more accessible by leaps and bounds, become less and less bound to cumbersome end-user machines, growing into what must be a biological interface.

It is somewhat ironic that the first-ish appearance of a bookstore takes place in a book on memory/mnemonics written by a poet. The replacement of the bookstore and of the book itself as the principal storehouse of knowledge is hardly a poetic matter, in spite of what the poet-izers in charge of this restoration might say.


It will be a maatter of debate regarding what the last bookstore will look like.

I suppose the larger issue is the future of the history of memory.