Cohen 2009

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Cohen, Adam Max. Technology and the Early Modern Self. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

The Clockwork Self: Mechanical Clockwork and Early Modern Discipline

weight-driven mechanical clocks invented at the end of 13c, first used in monasteries, "reminded monks to recite prayers and perform other offices at set hours of the day" (23)

"In religious contexts mechanical clocks soon came to be associated with temperantia, a form of spiritual self-discipline. AS clocks proliferated throughout town squares, palaces, and eventually homes, the monastic discipline encouraged by the invention of the mechanical clock gradually extended into the secular realm." (23)

Henricus Suso, Horologium aeternae sapientiae (Clock of Eternal Wisdom), 1330s (26)

God as universal clockmaker, Nicole Oresme, Livre du ciel et du monde (1377)

Horloge de Sapience, or Wisdom Clock tradition

weight driven clock / escapement mechanism, natural metaphor for temperance (27)

  • "This shift from an external divine attribute to an attainable personal trait coincided with the gradual internalization of the idea of clockwork discipline. Some of the earliest images of weight-driven mechanical clocks in paintings and engravings show the female figure of Temperantia with a clock beside her." (27)

Erasmus, More; festina lente, philosophy of temperance, need to balance competing aspects of the self (42)

Microscopic Perspectives

Grew 1682 serves as an "interesting case study in the pervasiveness of literal and philosophical varieties of double vision" (200)

Grew claims to separate microscopical investigations from those seen with the naked eye, privileging the latter, but Cohen argues "Grew is either unable or unwilling to maintain this distinction" (201)

quotes Panofsky on jan van Eyck's eye as a microscope and telescope at the same time; "despite Grew's best efforts to segregate different types of perspectives on his botanical subjects, his text similarly oscillates back and forth between the microscopic and the macroscopic perspective to produce a sort of paradox: an integrated double vision" (205)

  • perspectival shifting
  • "Grew is forced to admit that the figures in his book possess a certain perspectival multiplicity" (205-7)
"While Hooke looks at objects from different perspectives and under different types of light to produce one integrated coherent vision for his reader-viewer, Grew provides a mosaic or collage in which multiple perspectives are presented simultaneously. Perhaps Grew does this to indicate the many types of lenses through which he believes flora should be studied and admired." (207):"
"In a sense my analysis of Grew's text has relied on a sort of literary critical double vision. To the casual reader's naked eye the Anatomy of Plants appears to separate observations made with unaided vision from observations made with magnifying lenses, but by placing Grew's text under the microscope of close textual analysis it becomes clear that Grew often relies on a new type of double vision enabled and perhaps even encouraged by the nearly simultaneous invention of the telescope and the microscope." (207)