Mines of Tartarus


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I am distributed in space and time in ways I never could have been in the past. However, my early email was like letters — in the dawn of the era of SMS I fear mine will never fully make the transition.

Huge Abandoned Coal Mine with Cart Roller Coaster!

What kinds of things are these momentous, undatable events? They are precisely those which result from the generation of new mediations.

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It is a historiographical error to say that the categories humanity, nature and so forth come first and then the mediations come after. To consider this, I juxtapose three entities: Thomas Arnold, the post office and the ticker tape. Thomas Arnold — father of Mathew — was headmaster at Rugby — an elite school which trained the leaders of the British Empire. When Tom Brown went to school, there was a given social order in place fags serving their sybaritic superiors, inordinate capital punishment which dissolved over the period that Arnold served.

Information Collection and Use

The social engineer par excellence worked his magic through the accumulation of small changes all pointed in his chosen direction. Let us abandon at once this picture of heroic change — foresight through mediational change is awarded retrospectively, not earned contemporaneously. There is no visible hand which creates an epoch, nor is there intelligent design which molds our future.

Next is the more interesting case of the post office. Richard John argues persuasively that it was through the infrastructure of the post office, and more particularly the cheap postal rate for newspapers, which permitted the creation of the American state — suddenly folks from California or Oregon could join in with events in Washington or New York in a single national dialogue John, The case for Australia is as strong — when sailboats took six months to venture to Australia, the Governor had a lot of leeway in his decisions, with the steamboat this went significantly down and with telegraphy the center could hold the reins of power Blainey, This pushes us closer to the act of mediation whereby the state itself is constituted by the fabric of its information and communications infrastructure — new infrastructure means a new state, new people, new relations.

John, though, rests at the institutional level. Finally consider the ticker tape. In a brilliant paper, Alex Preda argues that the invention of the stock ticker — which permitted the rapid distribution of stock market figures from Wall Street to investor via investment houses — forged a new temporality and spatiality for the profession of broker Preda, For Preda, the technology itself provides affordances for a new kind of sociality subtended by a new temporality and spatiality: the remorseless ticking of the ticker engaged with previous practices and transformed them.

Much as Arnold did, but blindly. This is of course the wrong question — mediations beget mediations, and if the act of mediation is indeed ontologically prior then the real question is that of the nature of the transformations that occur. This leads to the heart of the historiographical problem. The two great historiographical traditions can be cast as Herodotus opposed to Thucydides. The former gave us a great and for many modern readers a confusing history in which multiple stories were told from various voices, without the historian choosing a single description of the truth.

Thucydides on the other hand gave us the single-voiced authoritative account. If we turn to the Baroque philosophers who preceded the Enlightenment — Montaigne or La Mothe Le Vayer — we get a multiplicity of voices. For Montaigne it is a string of juxtaposed, contradictory anecdotes which nonetheless tell a story. If there is one thing about Enlightenment historiography, whose baleful influence we still experience, it is that there is a one true right and only history — of the human mind or of the forces of production.

It produced a new landscape of mediation in which the categories which fell out as outside of space and time were the universal truths of science and history. By parallel, Enlightenment historiography can be described as a continuous process of the deletion of mediation. The categories which fall out from the act of mediation have never been mediated. This is not a necessary feature of the work of mediation: it is an historical fact about a particular epoch in that history. The act of creating an archive is, within our current configuration, automatically an act of exclusion from the archive Derrida, in the process of creating unmediated truth.


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The trader is the stranger within the state — the person who by their very otherness within defines what is inside and outside of polis. In The Great Wall of China, from History to Myth , Arthur Waldron explores the myth of the wall as a barrier which keeps the barbarian hoards ravaging an unprotected countryside Waldron, First, he notes, the barrier itself acted also as an entranceway.

Several times central powers lost wars to the nomads beyond, who then became the central powers, who then… etc. At any given temporal scale, movements of lesser or greater magnitude can be seen. Secondly, the wall was never a continuous stretch of patrollable boundary — it was shored up wherever the current threat was and elsewhere fell into desuetude. The apprehension of a single wall stretched across the landscape has always been a political statement in the present rather than an historical representation. Thirdly, the site of exclusion — the wall itself — was a rich and stable trading zone between the nomad barbarians beyond and the civilized within.

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It was a site of interpenetration of people, artifacts, food, disease. So the barrier between, and the concomitant set of trading relationships, defined a stable historical relationship between nomads and the civilised which continued to reproduce itself whatever the historical vagaries of the collection of folks each side of the wall.

With new information and communications infrastructures, we get new forms of mediation between people, new forms of insides and outsides. What is great about these infrastructures is that they are precisely that out of which truth emerges encyclopedic knowledge of the world, statistics about our citizenry and that which best expresses our current set of mediations.

As empires expanded, more and more voices were brought into play — and the new tools gave ways of understanding and describing those voices, transforming them in the process. One example of this is classification. The era of binary classification which Linnaeus ushered in as he showed the door to heteronomous cabinets of curiosity spread along with information technologies throughout the nineteenth century: so that we came to see species and knowledge organization in tree form.

The tree of life and the tree of knowledge. Patrick Tort writes wonderfully about the proliferation of genetic, binary classification across multiple sectors of science and bureaucracy Tort, He writes traces the filiation of the systems — how genetic classification moved from biology to linguistics to mineralogy. He does not unfortunately ask the question of what made that filiation possible: the common new mode of organizing knowledge out of which new transhistorical entities were created.

If we turn our attention to the deleted mediations, we can see the inevitability of the unity of the myriad faces of the Enlightenment without having recourse to an epistemology of Truth. What we see is a historically contingent new way of ordering the world. What is interesting about the new forms which are emerging today — still in the very infancy of their long now — is the possibility of creating new forms of ordering, perhaps even forms which permit polyphony.

With our new information infrastructure we should reach back to the Baroque before we are blinded by the light. Babbage, C. London: J. Bensaude-Vincent, B. Lavender , who as Vice-President and General Manager of Phelps Dodge Corporation, conceived and carried out this plan for making the previously unprofitable low-grade copper bearing rock of the area into commercial copper ore.

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Phelps Dodge Corporation opened the Lavender Pit in , at the site of the earlier, higher-grade Sacramento Hill mine. Production through totaled 86 million tons of ore averaging about 0. About million tons of waste were stripped, but a portion of this was acid-leached for additional copper [1]. Turquoise was also a by-product of this mining activity. Bisbee turquoise, also known as Bisbee Blue, is amongst the finest turquoise found anywhere in the world [2]. The Collected Macabre Stories of L. Some of them are among the best ever written.

That remarkable polymath H. Wells was another English writer who more than dabbled in the supernatural. He had an immensely creative imagination, and is arguably at his best when conceiving an unusual idea and following it through to its end. Among her many literary achievements, U. She also wrote an impressive body of supernatural short stories, many of which were collected together in the last year of her life in Ghosts Like Walter de la Mare and her friend Henry James, she is adept at evoking uncannily convincing atmospheres and characters.

Our Tartarus volume Triumph of the Night , adds several more stories to those collected together in the earlier book. Hugh Walpole had a deep and abiding interest in the supernatural and consistently incorporated macabre, mystical and supernatural elements in his work throughout his writing career. Like L.

Champion of the Pit: Destiny's Warrior - Daughter of Erebus and Nyx

Rosalie Parker, November Wednesday, 14 November Why you should read. Thomas Owen. Or, more recently, Jason A.

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