Posted in History

Notes, 12/14/20

From Around the Internet

On December via Mockingbirds, Looking Glasses & Prejudices… – A beautiful look at this month that’s already almost halfway over!


Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life

Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood

The original title of this book is Living Dolls, which makes so much more sense. Edison’s Eve is less about automata and their history and more about the fascination we humans seem to have with the uncanny, especially when that relates to the human form. Early chapters enumerate the early efforts of automaton makers to replicate the human body or parts of the human body. There is, of course, a chapter on the Mechanical Turk, and another on Thomas Edison’s talking dolls. The last chapter, though, is about the Doll family, four siblings with dwarfism who became circus and film stars in the early half of the 20th century. This was the most interesting chapter to me, probably because it was what I knew the least about.

In all, this book was too philosophical for my taste. I suppose I’m too practical to believe, for example, that when replicating a circulatory system for an automaton that you wouldn’t start with the thing known best: the human heart and vessels. There doesn’t need to be a higher motive for the choice. Also, there was a lot of show biz surrounding automata, and I can’t think of anything less philosophical than creating for the entertainment of others.

Deal Me In

4♥️: “The Best Worst Monster” by Peter S. Beagle
If you’re looking for the Beagle anthology where he plays with fairy tale tropes the most, Sleight of Hand is probably it. And that’s the type of fantasy I like the most (see also, The Last Unicorn). This is another very short tale in which the bad guy is maybe not so bad.


Currently, I’m reading Pride and Prejudice. I might even be enjoying it. Next up, if I finish P&P this week, The Christmas Party by Gillian St. Kevern.


About The Weather

The temperatures are finally down to normal levels; I’m baking things like frozen pies and refrigerated cinnamon rolls, poorly. Winter has been tardy, but at least it’s here now.

I’m writing a little. I’ve also started a film class through MIT’s Open Courseware. Christmas is creeping up and I’ve gotten most things sorted for that. I’m looking through the reading challenges I want to do in the next year and generally getting my ducks in a row, as I like to do at the end of the year.