Umberto Eco's back page

Thu, 20 Oct 1994 17:04:00 PDT

[I have deleted the header text for this forwarded message. D. Read]
----------------------------Original message----------------------------

> The following excerpts are from an English translation of
>Umberto Eco's back-page column, "La bustina di Minerva," in
>the Italian news weekly "Espresso," September 30, 1994.
>"Insufficient consideration has been given to the new underground religious
>war which is modifying the modern world. It's an old idea of mine, but I
>that whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me.
> "The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh
>computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the
>that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the
>Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the 'ratio
>studiorum' of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells
>the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the
>of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is
>catechistic:the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and
>sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.
> "DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free
>interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions,imposes a
>subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not
>can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the
>yourself:a long way from the baroque community of revellers,the user is
>within the loneliness of his own inner torment.
> "You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe
>has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the
>Macintosh. It's true:Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big
>ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return
>to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions; when it comes
>down to it, you can decide to allowwomen and gays to be ministers if you want
>"And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you
>prefer)? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is talmudic and