Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Eco on Operating Systems?

It is probably old news to many that Umberto Eco pronounced in 1994 on the difference between MS-DOS and MacIntosh computers, using the analogy of Christian confessions:
Insufficient consideration has been given to the underground religious war that is transforming the modern world: the division between users of the Macintosh computer and users of the MS-DOS-compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counterreformist and has been influenced by the methodical path of the Jesuits. It tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the Kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelations dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation. ...
And what about the machine language that lies beneath both operating systems? Ah, that is the stuff of the Old Testament, Talmudic and cabalistic.[1]
He probably thought this was funny. Am I the only one who feels that this joke has not aged well?

My humorlessness probably has to do with the fact that I was brought up on the Lutheran Catechism and always believed that the Catholic Catechism was essentially an imitation of the Protestant versions.


1. "La Bustina di Minerva," a column supposedly by Umberto Eco, in the September 30, 1994, issue of the Italian journal L'Espresso.

2 comments:

Jay Dugger said...

I find this joke as funny today as when I first read it. This might well rely upon the fact that, as an atheist, Eco pokes no fun at any of my sacred cows.

MK said...

I don't think this has anything to do with what you believe in. I am an agnostic who, knowing something about the supposed analogies, finds them bombastically misleading.

Nor do I think that my poking fun at Eco is really humourless either :)