Wednesday, February 6, 2013

kings and knights and pondering technology

In a quite distinctly modern take on the King of Swords, we have the man piloting what looks to be a fighter jet of some sort. I say that based solely, of course, on my experiences in the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. One thing I love about DC is that there are so many completely free museums...

But yes, planes, jets, bombers. It's amazing when you think of it, how rapidly aerial technology developed. We spent thousands of years never more than dreaming of flight, and then suddenly two brothers put together a flimsy contraption that manages to take off and stay in the air. Less than two decades later planes are being used in the first world war, with stunningly high casualties for pilots. Scouting missions at first, but well...someone gets the bright idea of shooting from the plane and then everyone does it and then there is bombing, gassing, machine guns mounted on. By the second world war they are made of cold metal, different types, models worked by nascent air forces, day and night bombing, the blitz, firebombings that kill so many millions in certain cities, nuclear bombs dropped too... Now we have drones, man-less aerial craft that can go across borders, spy and kill who knows what and where and why...

Isn't he all about precision, focus, this King?  Isn't he all about coldly judging what to do, using logic, and getting it done? Efficiency, detachment.

And quite similar to the Thoth knight he is too - the same armor but now of course it is a shirt with a modern decal. Instead of the golden steed we have the jet, its windows tinted yellow, the screen in front of the knight so that he may measure, analyze, target. No more need for extended daggers and swords. Now you point and click and things are destroyed, accomplished, undone.

Now you point and click. It boggles my mind, how much of a pain focused, graduate-level academic research must have been before the advent of computers. I have a topic and I type a few words into some search engines and pull up numerous articles going back decades, pull up a list of relevant books, many of which have the parts I need available on google books, others downloadable, or easy to reserve so I only have to stop by the front desk of the library. I can pull up newspaper articles from any number of publications. I can even find documentaries in other languages, programs from the National TV station of Algeria and from Al-Jazeera, and sit back and watch. All of this in a single afternoon, and save everything that looks relevant to my oh-so-easily-searchable gmail account, and voila the bulk of the legwork for an important project is taken care of, to be continued at my leisure.

The same spirit and drive this knight has, in both depictions, and the same goals and purpose. But means change, presentation changes, even attitudes change. Technology does have its drawbacks and I think many of them have more to do with attitudes it engenders than anything else. Why memorize when you can always look up, right? And yes, in many ways memorization is not efficient these days but stretch the brain muscles it does in interesting ways, to be able to recite things at length from memory, lists of names and poems. Even worse is the way so many people use computers and tablets and such in class. I've tried it both ways, and granted, my note-taking is always questionable - but my mad doodling helps me think, and more importantly paper and pen do not offer nearly as much opportunity for distraction and shortcuts which undermine learning processes. I had a classmate in Tunisia who would look up words while speaking in class on google translate, his laptop always open, and yes so you never search for a word but you also never remember the ones you use afterwards.

But so it goes and so everyone chooses for themselves how to use the tools they have, and in many ways, if you are like the king of swords...there is so much you can do with it. There is so much possibility. You can fly so fast and so unimagineably far. Goggles and gloves and glittering wings; even with so much power, he still enjoys the experience, the forward momentum of his ability.

5 comments:

78mirrors said...

I think this deck gives such a fresh perspective on the courts. I like the way you have used the image to link him so effectively with technology. Food for thought as always. :)

thesycamoretree said...

"Now you point and click and things are destroyed, accomplished, undone." - You can't get more detached emotionally than that.

Ah, I remember my college years pulling out drawers from the card catalog, using the microfiche machine, and typing my papers on a portable typewriter. :)

Carla said...

I can tell you how much of a pain it was. You spent a lot of time in the university library basement and you darn well learned how to use periodical indexes! :) Then typing it up on a manual typewriter with footnotes, oh my lord, you have no idea what a pain in the ass footnotes were. Thankfully the stylesheet changed to endnotes before I finished uni.

Sharyn Mallow Woerz said...

wonderful post!

Inner Whispers said...

Love seeing you use this deck again! And yes, technology is a double-edged sword, for sure :)

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