‘Could a rule be given from without, poetry would cease to be poetry, and sink into a mechanical art. It would be μóρφωσις, not ποίησις. The rules of the IMAGINATION are themselves the very powers of growth and production. The words to which they are reducible, present only the outlines and external appearance of the fruit. A deceptive counterfeit of the superficial form and colours may be elaborated; but the marble peach feels cold and heavy, and children only put it to their mouths.’ [Coleridge, Biographia ch. 18]

‘ποίησις’ (poiēsis) means ‘a making, a creation, a production’ and is used of poetry in Aristotle and Plato. ‘μóρφωσις’ (morphōsis) in essence means the same thing: ‘a shaping, a bringing into shape.’ But Coleridge has in mind the New Testament use of the word as ‘semblance’ or ‘outward appearance’, which the KJV translates as ‘form’: ‘An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form [μóρφωσις] of knowledge and of the truth in the law’ [Romans 2:20]; ‘Having a form [μóρφωσις] of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’ [2 Timothy 3:5]. I trust that's clear.

There is much more on Coleridge at my other, Coleridgean blog.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

The Impact of the 1983 movie "War Games"

I was reading Natch Greyes paper, 'A New Proposal for the Department of Justice’s Interpretation of the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act' [Virginia Journal of Law and Technology, 17:04 (Winter 2012); pdf link], which argues persuasively against the world-spanning draconian powers available to, and often exercised by, the US Govt under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). This passage in particular caught my eye:
Originally, passage of the CFAA was motivated by the 1983 movie War Games, in which a young American “hacker” unwittingly accesses the supercomputer that controls the nuclear arsenal of the United States. The CFAA was originally designed to allow the DOJ to prosecute computer “hackers,” like the protagonist in War Games. It also allowed the prosecution of those individuals who used a computer to obtain “classified information,” “financial or credit records,” or to interfere with the government’s use of a computer.
Golly. Is it true? Turns out it is: Greyes quotes the original documentation:
'Id. at para. 4. See also H.R. REP. NO. 98-894, at 10 (1984), reprinted in 1984 U.S.C.C.A.N. 3689, 3696 (“The motion picture ‘War Games’ showed a realistic representation of the automatic dialing and access capabilities of the personal computer.”).
SF ought to be more careful in its representations of the colossal power of Geeks. Our texts appear directly to be influencing US policy.

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