reThinking Mac Aesthetic

NEL SETTEMBRE DEL 1994 Umberto Eco scrisse una Bustina di Minerva sull'Espresso (la rubrica alla fine del settimanale) in cui affermava scherzosamente una tesi destinata a fare scuola nel mondo degli informatici statunitensi: il Mac � cattolico (figlio della contro riforma), il Dos � protestante. Direi che � arrivato il momento di aggiornare la tesi.

All'epoca, infatti, ancora non era arrivato Windows 95 e - argomentava Eco - la liturgia delle icone di Apple, piacevole e conciliatoria - era assimilabile alla liturgia cattolica. Di converso, le difficili decisioni e i drammi di coscienza del Dos alludevano senza possibilit� di dubbio al difficile ambiente protestante, dove la salvezza non � scontata e i credenti devono interpretare le scritture tra mille dubbi ed errori.

Non sono riuscito a trovare il testo in italiano, ma qualche traduzione in inglese � rimasta impagliata in rete. Ve la ripropongo a scopo documentale.


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 find 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
opinion 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 Kingdom 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 all
can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the
program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revelers,
the user is closed 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 allow women and gays to be
ministers if you want to.

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 cabalistic...

(SOURCE: The preceding 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).

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