Wunderkammern

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pages: 322 words: 88,197

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson

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Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Landlord's Game, lone genius, megacity, Minecraft, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, pets.com, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern

.; 23,000 Medals; Inscriptions, one exceeding fair from Caerleon; A fetus cut out of a Woman’s belly, thought she had the dropsy; lived afterwards, and had several Children. By the time of his death, Sloane had assembled more than seventy thousand objects, which he bequeathed to King George II. Sloane’s collection was a particularly accomplished version of what the Germans called Wunderkammerns—literally, “cabinet of wonders.” Wunderkammerns were small shrines to the gods of miscellany, featuring ancient coins, trinkets, embalmed mummies, daggers, rhinoceros horns, and the like. No organizing principle united these objects; to find a home in the cabinet of wonders, objects needed only the capacity to surprise the aristocrats who were invited to survey them. But Sloane’s collection was not only perused by the London elite.

To be a scholar in the centuries before Don Saltero was to be versed in the classics and the Bible; it implied focus and diligence and a deference to the ancient wisdoms. The intellectual imagination that flowered in the 1600s and 1700s was fundamentally different: it was multidisciplinary, global in its scope, intrigued by oddities as much as by classical knowledge. Diderot’s Encyclopédie and the Encyclopaedia Britannica both emerged from the ethos of the collector. In a famous passage from The Prelude, Wordsworth drew upon the Wunderkammern as a metaphor for his desultory intellectual pursuits at Cambridge as a young man: I gazed, roving as through a cabinet Or wide museum (thronged with fishes, gems, Birds, crocodiles, shells) where little can be seen Well understood, or naturally endeared, Yet still does every step bring something forth That quickens, pleases, stings . . . Wordsworth was capturing a sensibility that was enjoyed, during his day, by a tiny slice of the population, but that would become far more mainstream in the years to come: the idea of college as a time of intellectual play, a time to experiment, to dabble in eclectic interests and attitudes.

The “impalpable and uncertain idea” of creatures from Africa or Asia was now, thrillingly, staring straight into your eyes. One of those creatures was an orangutan named Jenny, who had been brought to the zoo in 1837 after the park’s original orangutan, Tommy, died of tuberculosis after only a few months in captivity two years earlier. Stories of manlike apes that lived in Africa had fascinated Europeans for centuries, and a handful of skeletons and specimens mounted by taxidermists had appeared in museums and Wunderkammerns; but until Jenny and Tommy’s arrival, none of the great apes had survived a sea voyage to England. The public’s interest in Jenny was naturally quite expansive, an interest that was stoked by the zoo’s insistence on dressing both Tommy and Jenny up in human clothes. Tommy sported a “Guernsey frock and a little sailor’s hat,” while Jenny was dressed like a proper British schoolgirl. The apes were taught to take tea, and Jenny eventually learned to follow many spoken commands from the zookeepers.

 

pages: 55 words: 17,493

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon

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dumpster diving, Golden Gate Park, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lone genius, side project, Wunderkammern

“The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves. Eventually, you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish. . . . Somehow the more you give away, the more comes back to you.” —Paul Arden If you happened to be wealthy and educated and alive in 16th- and 17th-century Europe, it was fashionable to have a Wunderkammern, a “wonder chamber,” or a “cabinet of curiosities” in your house—a room filled with rare and remarkable objects that served as a kind of external display of your thirst for knowledge of the world. Inside a cabinet of curiosities you might find books, skeletons, jewels, shells, art, plants, minerals, taxidermy specimens, stones, or any other exotic artifact. These collections often juxtaposed both natural and human-made marvels, revealing a kind of mash-up of handiwork by both God and human beings.

 

pages: 687 words: 189,243

A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy by Joel Mokyr

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Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Copley Medal, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, Deng Xiaoping, Edmond Halley, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, framing effect, germ theory of disease, Haber-Bosch Process, hindsight bias, income inequality, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, land tenure, law of one price, Menlo Park, moveable type in China, new economy, phenotype, price stability, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, the market place, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, ultimatum game, World Values Survey, Wunderkammern

Even more rebellious was Nathanael Carpenter (1589–1628) who, in his Philosophia Libera (1621) launched a devastating attack on the “servility to the ancients, mainly Aristotle, and made a strenuous plea for a critical attitude of mind and complete freedom of thought” (Jones, 1961, p. 65).16 The paralyzing respect for the wisdom of previous generations was slowly melting away. The fear of the new and the strange dissipated in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe. Curiosity, which had been condemned by scholastic writers as sinful, began to acquire a more positive meaning. The “hunt for knowledge” of the rare and the freakish was displayed in the proto-museums known as wunderkammern. Weird and exotic exhibits were displayed in these “cabinets of curiosity” and people were invited to gawk (Eamon, 1991, p. 34). Slowly but certainly the fear of the new as disruptive and disturbing was replaced by a fascination with novelty. As Eamon (1991, p. 49) points out, for a book to sell well, it had to be about scientific novelty: discoveries, inventions, secrets, new scientific insights, and descriptions of new lands where Europeans were setting foot for the first time.

., 51 water power, 143 Watson, Foster, 137 Watt, James, 109, 125, 277, 268, 274 weak ties, 191, 296 Weber, Max, 230, 231, 234 Weberian values, and economic growth, 122 Webster, Charles, 86, 87, 94, 159, 194, 229, 235, 238 Webster, John, 235 Wedgwood, Josiah, 66, 84, 185, 277, 283 Weismann, August, 44 Weismann barrier, 25 Wesson, Robert, 164 Western Christianity, 170 Western knowledge, Chinese attitudes toward, 312 Westfall, Richard, 106, 109, 115, 203, 206, 232 Westman, Robert, 158 Westminster Abbey, Newton’s epitaph in, 111 Whigs, 229 Whiston, William, 100, 110 White, Andrew Dickson, 133, 150 White, Lynn, 119, 135, 136, 142, 143 on economic growth, 17 White, Michael, 100 Wieland, Christoph Wieland, 243 Wilkins, John, 87, 93, 94, 153, 155, 229, 238, 255 Williams, David, 68 Williams, George, 30 Willis, Thomas, 91 Willughby, Francis, 94, 229 Wilson, Andrew, 143 Winter, Sidney, 22 Wiseman, Richard, 91 witchcraft, 220 Withers, Charles, 265 Wittenberg, University of, 173, 174 Woeßmann, Ludger, 127 Wolff, Christian, 245 women, and the Republic of Letters, 199 Wong, Bin, 287, 289 Woodside, Alexander, 292, 304, 305, 307, 322 Woodward, Hezekiah, 235 Wootton, David, 55, 160, 201, 213, 216, 218, 248, 270, 272, 318 World Values Survey, 13 Worm, Ole, 158, 240 Wotton, William, 95, 198, 253 Wren, Christopher, 87 Wright, Thomas, 222 wunderkammern, 153 Wuthnow, Robert, 174, 180, 276 Xu Guangqi, 326, 328, 333 Xue, Melanie Meng, 294, 327 Xunzi, 298, 319, 330 xylography, 293 Yan Roju, 328 Yan Yuan, 303 Yang Guangxian, 312 Yates, Frances, 73, 210 Yongle Dadian, 332 Yongle emperor, 300, 332 Yongzheng emperor, 313, 334 Young, Arthur, 276, 328 Yuan dynasty, 299-301, 308, 314 Yuchtman, Noam, 127 Zaccaria, Francesco Antonio, 131 Zagorin, Perez, 76, 78, 79, 132, 233 Zak, Paul J., 13 Zamenhof, Lazar, 257 Zelin, Madeleine, 291 Zheng He, 309 Zhou dynasty, 136 Zhu Shunshui, 311 Zhu Xi, 300, 302, 303, 308, 324, 330 as a cultural entrepreneur, 336 neo-Confucian orthodoxy, 309, 323 triumph of ideas, 308 Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 7, 236 Zilsel, Edgar, 136, 138 Ziman, John, 22, 31, 62 Zingales, Luigi, 13, 14 Zittel, Claus, 78 zoology, 91 Zuñiga, Diego de, 212 zunshi, concept of, 295 Zurich, 171, 204 Zurndorfer, Harriet, 326