Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Celebrating Prester John

For some reason, I was thinking of Prester John today. He was said, in the Middle Ages, to rule over a kingdom somewhere in the East, or at least somewhere not in Europe. He was reputed to have magical instruments, most amazing among them his "speculum," through he see could every one of his near and distant provinces. Like on television...

Scholars were caught up in this legend, and began calling their surveys and encyclopedias "specula" - speculum literature. There was a speculum of history, of astronomy, of alchemy, of morals. Even a speculum on fools.

Prester John's speculum, in other words, had expanded in its powers, to encompass not only the physical world but the realm of ideas. You know, like the Internet...

But does it matter what we call our wondrous devices today? Whether television, or Internet, or iPhone, what matters is they are real.

Our technology has taken us from the realm of myth to what we can keep on tables, or desks, in our very hands.

That's progress worth celebrating.

The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

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