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William Gibson on Watches | WatchPaper
“William Gibson is famously credited with predicting the internet. Early works like Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive established him as a major voice in science fiction and the worlds he created still serve as a template for how popular culture views the future. If you’ve seen The Matrix or read any cyberpunk, you’ve seen William Gibson’s influence at work. Equally important, but perhaps less famous are his essays, collected recently in Distrust That Particular Flavour. Highly perceptive and suggestive, they span a range of topics from Singapore’s totalitarianism and Tokyo’s futurism, to the Web and technology’s effect on us all. The volume also contains his glosses on those essays, which were written over a span of 30 years. Brief afterwords, they are his reflections on the content, and on the person who wrote that content at a point and time, and what’s happened since. In his 1997 essay, “My Obsession”, William Gibson chronicled his interest in watches for Wired magazine. [See “My Obsession” ] The essay is as much about the advent of the internet and sites like eBay as it is about watches, and his afterword to the essay reflects:
People who’ve read this piece often assume that I subsequently became a collector of watches. I didn’t, at least not in my own view. Collections of things, and their collectors, have generally tended to give me the willies. I sometimes, usually only temporarily, accumulate things in some one category, but the real pursuit is in the learning curve. The dive into esoterica. The quest for expertise. This one lasted, in its purest form, for five or six years. None of the eBay purchases documented [in the essay] proved to be “keepers.” Not even close.

Undaunted by his placing this interest squarely in the past, something he got over, I wanted to find out what had survived, physically or intellectually, of his obsession. It turns out, quite a lot. We corresponded via email and William Gibson shared his thoughts on collecting, how he got started, what “keepers” remain in his collection and why. We also talked about the Apple watch and what it means for traditional horology.”


"If “old” people, as you mentioned in our recent discussion, are concerned that what they’ve collected will be unwanted, how is that anxiety being manifested? Some watch brands like Patek Philippe use durability, inheritance and legacy as their explicit identity.

I was thinking of someone with dozens of rare military watches. Even if they have children, will the children want their watches? It could be difficult finding the right museum to donate them to, in order to keep the collection intact. I think Patek’s appeal to inheritance and legacy still has some basis, though the wristwatch itself has become a piece of archaic (though still functional) jewelry. You don’t absolutely need one. You do, probably, absolutely need your smartphone, and it also tells the time. Eventually, I assume, virtually everything will also tell the time.

Is there something authentic in collecting we as humans are striving for? What does the impulse represent for you?

I actively enjoy having fewer, preferably better things. So I never deliberately accumulated watches, except as the temporary by-product of a learning curve, as I searched for my own understanding of watches, and for the ones I’d turn out to particularly like. I wanted an education, rather than a collection. But there’s always a residuum: the keepers. (And editing is as satisfying as acquiring, for me.)

Do you think there’s anything intrinsic to watches (their aesthetics, engineering etc.) that make them especially susceptible to our interest?

Mechanical timekeeping devices were among our first complex machines, and became our first ubiquitous complex machines, and the first to be miniaturized. Mechanical wristwatches were utterly commonplace for less than a century. Today, there’s no specific need for a mechanical watch, unless you’re worried about timekeeping in the wake of an Electromagnetic Pulse attack. So we have heritage devices, increasingly archaic in the singularity of their function, their lack of connectivity. But it was exactly that lack that once made them heroic: they kept telling accurate time, regardless of what was going on around them. They were accurate because they were unconnected, unitary.

How do you think the notion of collecting has changed since your preoccupation with watches played itself out? Scarcity (but not true rarity) barely exists any more.

The Internet makes it increasingly easy to assemble a big pile of any category of objects, but has also rationalized the market in every sort of rarity. There’s more stuff, and fewer random treasures. When I discovered military watches, I could see that that was already happening to them, but that there was still a window for informed acquisition. That’s mostly closed now. The world’s attic is now that much more thoroughly sorted and priced!"
watches  williamgibson  ebay  horology  fashion  collecting  collections  learning  howwelearn  2015  esoterica  research  researching  deepdives  expertise  obsessions  cv  immersion  posterity  legacy  analog  mechanical  durability  longevity  inheritance  jewelery  smartphones  understanding  education  self-directed  self-directedlearning  timekeeping  connectivity  scarcity  objects  possessions  ownership  quality  internet  web  online  wristwatches  things  applewatch  pebble  pebblewatch  smartwatches 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Miscellany № 67: irony’s restoration – Shady Characters
Irony is for the dis­tinc­tion of the mean­ing and in­ten­tion of any words, when they are un­der­stood by way of Sar­casm or scoff, or in a con­trary sense to that which they nat­ur­ally sig­ni­fie: And though there be not (for ought I know) any note de­signed for this in any of the In­sti­tuted Lan­guages, yet that is from their de­fi­ciency and im­per­fec­tion: For if the chief force of Iron­ies do con­sist in Pro­nun­ci­ation, it will plainly fol­low, that there ought to be some mark for dir­ec­tion, when are to be so pro­nounced.
language  nanohistory  utopianism  linguistics  esoterica  via:twitter 
august 2018 by Vaguery
Internet Sacred Text Archive Home
all the spiritual and religious stuff, for free, on teh internets
spirituality  esoterica 
december 2016 by krislewisgrinwis
Black Moon Publishing | Magick de la Nuit
It is the Will and mission of Black Cabal / Black Moon to effectively manifest unique and insightful occult Works for the esoteric community in a manner that is unfettered by commercial considerations.
BlackMoon  publisher  publishing  archive  esoterica  occult  magick 
april 2016 by stjp
Twilit Grotto: Archives of Western Esoterica
In 1453, Constantinople fell to the Turks, ending the Byzantine empire. This date also marks the beginning of the Renaissance, since the waves of Greek refugees spread knowledge of Greek throughout Europe. Included with the newly available Greek manuscripts were the Corpus Hermetica, Plotinus, and the works of the Neoplatonists.

Shortly thereafter in 1492, Isabella and Ferdinand expelled the Jews from Spain. This sent waves of Jewish refugees throughout Europe, spreading knowledge of Hebrew and of the Kabbalah.

Renaissance philosophers sought to integrate these traditions with the view of unifying the rapidly disintegrating religious factions and also ending the constant political strife. Thus they are the forerunners or prophets of the Rosicrucian and Illuminati movements.
twilitgrotto  esoterica  archive  magic  magick 
april 2016 by stjp
Lichtenberg figure - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lichtenberg figures (Lichtenberg-Figuren (German), or "Lichtenberg dust figures") are branching electric discharges that sometimes appear on the surface or in the interior of insulating materials.
esoterica  electricity  dataisnature  Lichtenberg  18thC  wikipedia 
december 2014 by chadmeby
[1206.4860] Asynchronous Multi-Tape Automata Intersection: Undecidability and Approximation
When their reading heads are allowed to move completely asynchronously, finite-state automata with multiple tapes achieve a significant expressive power, but also lose useful closure properties---closure under intersection, in particular. This paper investigates to what extent it is still feasible to use multi-tape automata as recognizer of polyadic predicates on words. On the negative side, determining whether the intersection of asynchronous multi-tape automata is expressible is not even semidecidable. On the positive side, we present an algorithm that computes under-approximations of the intersection; and discuss simple conditions under which it can construct complete intersections. A prototype implementation and a few non-trivial examples demonstrate the algorithm in practice.
automata  concurrency  asynchronous-systems  abstraction  esoterica  nudge-targets  consider:taking-an-elegant-formulation-and-making-a-recreation-out-of-it 
march 2014 by Vaguery

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