I Wish I Made That is a segment where we invite some of our favorite voices in pop culture to dive deep into a work of art they did not make but they really wish they did. This time around we are joined by John Darnielle. John is a writer and frontman of the folk rock band the Mountain Goats. He recently released his third novel which is called Devil House. It is an epic story that touches on the true crime fad of today, the Satanic panic of the 1980s and a spooky home in Milpitas, California. When we asked John to pick something he wished he had made, he sent us a list of a few different things. After narrowing down the list, he eventually settled on Speak & Spell, the debut album by new wave legends Depeche Mode.
Johann Hari on life in the most distracted time in human history and how you can reclaim your attention span.
I spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley interviewing some of the leading dissidents there, people who designed key aspects of the world in which we now live. And some aspects of the individual attention component in this are now becoming well understood. It’s important to say, though, that the way big tech wants us to frame this debate is, are you pro-tech or anti-tech? And that framing induces fatalism because we’re not going to give up our technology.
The real question is, what kind of tech do we want and whose interests should it serve?
Hari provides two alternative models. One would be subscription based, like Netflix. The other is as a public utility:
I remember saying to Aza and many of the other people who argue this to me, “Okay. But let’s imagine we do that, what happens the next day when I open Facebook, does it just say, ‘Sorry guys, we’ve gone fishing”? And they said, “Of course not.” What would happen is they would move to a different business model. And we all have experience of two possible alternative business models. One is subscription and everyone knows how platforms like Netflix and HBO work.
Another model that everyone can understand is something like the sewer system. Before we had sewers, we had shit in the streets, we had cholera. So we all paid to build the sewers and we all own the sewers together. I own the sewers in London and Las Vegas, you own the sewers in the city where you live. So just as we all own the sewage pipes together, we might want to own the information pipes together, because we are getting the attentional equivalent of cholera and the political equivalent of cholera.
This reminds me of Eli Pariser’s argument that
St Luke’s Catholic College, a kindergarten to year 12 school in Marsden Park, opens at 6.30am and closes almost 12 hours later. When formal classes finish at 2.40pm, primary aged students can stay for “master classes” run by teachers at after-school care.
On Fridays, parents can opt to pick their primary-aged children up at midday. And three mornings a week, senior high school students can opt for a supervised study session at 8.30, or they can stay in bed and start at 10 – a decision driven by research into sleep and the teenage brain.
Johnno is written in the first person past tense and the narrator is only ever known by the nickname “Dante”. Johnno is heavily autobiographical. The novel is centred upon the friendship between Dante and a schoolmate known as “Johnno” in their adolescence and early adulthood in the 1940s and 1950s in Brisbane.
The relationship between Johnno and Dante is never straightforward, it changes like the city around them. The surviving landmarks from their wartime childhood and the memory of others having made way for newer structures. Both characters search for acceptance, intially with Dante awkwardly seeking Johnno’s childhood friendship. However, as they grow into men the relationship is inverted with Johnno reaching out to an isolated and emotionally distant Dante. As they enter university their paths cross infrequently, Johnno’s wildness having evolved into bouts of public intoxication and a voracious appetite for classical literature, albeit while studying geology. Dante meanwhile withdraws into his study of Latin prose and observes the peccadilloes of his friend and the evolving city around him.
It is Malouf’s reimagining of the life of his childhood friend Johnny Millner. The mystery and unknown elements that are always present between the two reminds me of other literary relationships, such as Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby and Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty in On the Road. As much as we may want to know the truth, it is always something outside of our grasp.
In addition to the relationships, the book is also a means of capturing a particular place in time. As David Malouf has said:
The parts of the book I like best are not about either of the central characters, but all the stuff about Brisbane. It really is a history of Brisbane [in the 1940s and 1950s] which had never been written, and it’s an attempt to produce for readers all the detail of what it was like to live in that atmosphere, with that weather, and with that particular social structure. There is a huge amount of detail in the book and I treat that detail as if it were in a poem, so that there is something sensuously felt and emblematic of something larger. I think that’s probably the most successful aspect of the book.
Malouf also captured this in his autobiography, 12 Edmondstone Street.
As a side note, I listened to this via ABC Listen app where they have made a number of audiobooks available.
the fact remains, he had me hooked. As he had, of course, from the beginning. I had been writing my book about Johnno from the moment we met. Page 18
We were appalled and delighted by him. He gave our class, which was otherwise noted only for its high standards of scholarship, a dash of criminal distinction. Page 21
History was The Past. I had just missed out on it. There was nothing in our own little lives that was worth recording, nothing to distinguish one day of splashing about in the heavy, warm water inside the reef from the next. Page 25
Was I a war child, I sometimes asked. Was there anyone in those days who was not? “Before the war” was a hazy, rose-coloured period I could only vaguely recall. I associated it with the smell of oil-cloth picture books and the little spring chickens we used to eat, a whole chicken on each plate so that everyone had a wishbone. It was simply the earliest things I could remember. The clop of the milkman’s horse in Edmondstone Street just before dawn, and our blue-ringed jugs on the doorstep, their crochet covers weighted round the border with Reckitts-blue beads. Or waiting out front for the iceman to come with his hook, and the huge block dripping all over Cassie’s floor. Was it the war, I wondered afterwards, or some change in me, that made everything in the years before I went to school seem different from the khaki and camouflage years that came after, when even the flowers we made out of plasticine were a uniform grey, the result of a dozen colours that could not be replaced being patted and squeezed into a single colour that was like the dirt-rolls in your palm. Was it only the war that made things change? And what would happen when the war was over? I knew the lights would come on again, all over the world. Even in Queen Street. But what else? Page 26
It had been ruined. Like our girls. Who had been ruined by the high wages they were paid in munitions factories and by the attentions of foreign servicemen, but most of all by their passion for nylon. Things had gone to pieces. Children had been allowed to run wild under the special conditions of Australia at war, and now there was no holding them. For all this and a good deal more Johnno was the perfect model, and other parents than mine must have shaken their heads over him and thanked their stars that they weren’t responsible for the windows he broke or the words he shouted Page 34
For all this and a good deal more Johnno was the perfect model, and other parents than mine must have shaken their heads over him and thanked their stars that they weren’t responsible for the windows he broke or the words he shouted Page 34
The continent itself is clear enough, burned into my mind on long hot afternoons in Third Grade, when I learned to sketch in its irregular coastline: the half-circle of the Great Australian Bight, the little booted foot of Eyre’s Peninsula, Spencer’s Gulf down to Port Phillip, up the easy east coast, with its slight belly at Brisbane, towards Sandy Cape and Cape York; round the Gulf of Carpentaria and Arnhem Land to the difficulties of King Sound and the scoop towards North West Cape where I always go wrong, leaving the spurred heel of Cape Leeuwin so far out in the Indian Ocean that it would wreck every liner afloat, or so close in to the Bight that far-off Western Australia looks as if it’s been stricken with polio. I know the outline; I know the names (learned painfully for homework) of several dozen capes, bays, promontories; and can trace in with a dotted line the hopeless journeys across it of all the great explorers, Sturt, Leichhardt, Burke and Wills. But what it is beyond that is a mystery. It is what begins with the darkness at our back door. Page 52
The library had its own people. You never saw them anywhere else in the city, except there, or on the buttoned-leather couches at the School of Arts: old men with watery red-rimmed eyes and no collar to their shirt, who settled somewhere as soon as the library opened at ten in the morning and stayed put till it was time to queue at the Salvation Army Refuge or the St. Vincent de Paul, about an hour before dusk. Page 59
“I’m going to shit this bitch of a country right out of my system,” he told me fiercely. “Twenty fucking years! How long will it take me, do you think, to shit out every last trace of it? At the end of every seven years you’re completely new — did you know that? New fingernails, new hair, new cells. There’ll be nothing left in me of bloody Australia. I’ll be transmuted. Page 90
I had broken through into my own consciousness; and Paris — Europe — was a different place. Page 109
In the summers I went to Europe, and got to know one or two towns as well almost as I knew Brisbane — better perhaps since the Brisbane I knew was already changing (my mother’s letters kept me informed of old places torn down and of new ones emerging, the Grand Central replaced by a shopping arcade, a whole block in front of the Town Hall ploughed up to make a parking station, the old markets cleared out of the city into a distant suburb, new bridges, new highways); the Brisbane I knew had its existence only in my memory, in the fine roots it had put down in my own emotions, so that a particular street corner would always be there for me in a meeting that had almost changed my life, or in the peculiar fact, half-sweet, half-sad, that it was from there that a certain tram had left, the scene of sentimental adolescent partings. It was the town I would always walk in, in my memory at least, with an assurance I could know nowhere else, finding my way by the smells — a winebar, the fruit barrow in a laneway, a hardware shop, the disinfectant they used in Coles. I could have made my way through it blindfold, as I often did in my sleep, amazed to discover that in my Brisbane the old markets hadn’t been removed at all, and the Grand Central, that extraordinary three-ring circus of my youth, was still in full swing. I could see my own reflections in its mirrors. And Johnno’s as well. It would always be there. Page 115
It is a sobering thing, at just thirty, to have outlived the landmarks of your youth. And to have them go, not in some violent cataclysm, an act of God, or under the fury of bombardment, but in the quiet way of our generation: by council ordinance and by-law; through shady land deals; in the name of order, and progress, and in contempt (or is it small-town embarrassment?) of all that is untidy and shabbily individual. Brisbane was on the way to becoming a minor metropolis. Page 132
Well, the seven years were up. Like a bad charm. And it was Johnno who was gone. Australia was still there, more loud-mouthed, prosperous, intractable than ever. Far from being destroyed, the Myth was booming. There were suggestions that it would soon be supporting thirty million souls. Australia was the biggest success-story of them all. Page 135
Sadly, as I started back at work in the second week of January, I did not have a much a break over Christmas. Just enough time to get a few things done around the house, such as fixing the shower. As well as catching up with a some friends. I had forgotten how much I missed in catch up with people in person. The mixed blessing is that my family and I subsequently stayed around home for much of the school holidays even though we were not in lockdown.
Personally, I have continued reading Proust’s Rembrance of Things Past, while I have been listening to The Weeknd and The Wombats. I have also been watching a lot, including Eternals, Tolkien, The Punisher and various documentaries on WWII and tanks.
Here then are some of the posts that have had me thinking:
Approaching Wordle from the perspective of learning and teaching, Dan Meyer summarises the ingredients that have helped make it work so well.
Rather than simply relying on simpler texts, Alex Quigley discusses some strategies for supporting students with grappling with more difficult texts.
Epic History TV walks through many of the different variables in the process of building the perfect castle.
Audrey Watters pushes back on the idea of the factory model in regards to the history of the school bell.
Whether it be food delivery drivers working for a phantom boss or Amazon workers unable to stop for the toilet, Clive Thompson provides examples of the way in which AI has made some jobs suck.
Ann Powers uses Get Back to reflect upon the myth of ‘band guys’.
Through a series of posts, Kevin Hodgson explores his process of songwriting.
Monks, a polymath and an invention made by two people at the same time. It’s all in the history of the index
Anna Kelsey-Sugg and Julie Street discuss Dennis Duncan research into the index.
Arthur Brooks explains that the challenge with regret is to acknowledge the past and use it for learning and improvement.
Read Write Respond #072
So that was January for me, how about you? As always, hope you are safe and well, especially during this latest wave.
The history of the powerful weapon on land, the tank. Covers its entire history, from paper designs of the early-1900s to the beasts of the present day.
World War II In Colour is a 13-episode British television docuseries recounting the major events of World War II narrated by Robert Powell. It was first broadcast in 2008–2009. The series is in full colour, combining both original and colourized footage. The show covers the Western Front, Eastern Front, North African Campaign and the Pacific War. It was on syndication in the United States on the Military Channel.
If you never pine for a different past, you’ll stay trapped in a cycle of mistakes.
- Connection regret
- Moral regret
- Foundation regret
- Boldness regret
Brooks explains that the challenge is to “acknowledge it and use it for learning and improvement.” To do so, he provides three steps for contemplating the past:
- Kill the ghost by owning the ghost
- Forgive yourself
- Collect your diploma and build on your experience
Learning how to cuff pants or handle a tape measure might not seem like the best training for a life on the run. But Yokoi used what he knew. After his army uniform rotted away in Guam’s tropical heat and humidity, he figured out how to tease fibers from tree bark, spin it into thread, and weave that thread into a burlap-type cloth. This he tailored into surprisingly well-fitting shirts and pants, complete with pockets, belt loops, and properly sewn buttonholes. The garments protected him from the tropical sun and clouds of mosquitoes. The process of making them, which took several months for each set, protected his sanity. “It might actually have been good for my mental condition to keep myself thoroughly occupied with day-to-day business,” he later wrote. “I derived simple delight and satisfaction from every moment of these activities.”
The Narrator’s parents invite M. de Norpois, a diplomat colleague of the Narrator’s father, to dinner. With Norpois’s intervention, the Narrator is finally allowed to go see the Berma perform in a play, but is disappointed by her acting. Afterwards, at dinner, he watches Norpois, who is extremely diplomatic and correct at all times, expound on society and art. The Narrator gives him a draft of his writing, but Norpois gently indicates it is not good. The Narrator continues to go to the Champs-Élysées and play with Gilberte. Her parents distrust him, so he writes to them in protest. He and Gilberte wrestle and he has an orgasm. Gilberte invites him to tea, and he becomes a regular at her house. He observes Mme. Swann’s inferior social status, Swann’s lowered standards and indifference towards his wife, and Gilberte’s affection for her father. The Narrator contemplates how he has attained his wish to know the Swanns, and savors their unique style. At one of their parties he meets and befriends Bergotte, who gives his impressions of society figures and artists. But the Narrator is still unable to start writing seriously. His friend Bloch takes him to a brothel, where there is a Jewish prostitute named Rachel. He showers Mme. Swann with flowers, being almost on better terms with her than with Gilberte. One day, he and Gilberte quarrel and he decides never to see her again. However, he continues to visit Mme. Swann, who has become a popular hostess, with her guests including Mme. Bontemps, who has a niece named Albertine. The Narrator hopes for a letter from Gilberte repairing their friendship, but gradually feels himself losing interest. He breaks down and plans to reconcile with her, but spies from afar someone resembling her walking with a boy and gives her up for good. He stops visiting her mother also, who is now a celebrated beauty admired by passersby, and years later he can recall the glamour she displayed then.
Two years later, the Narrator, his grandmother, and Françoise set out for the seaside town of Balbec. The Narrator is almost totally indifferent to Gilberte now. During the train ride, his grandmother, who only believes in proper books, lends him her favorite: the Letters of Mme. de Sévigné. At Balbec, the Narrator is disappointed with the church and uncomfortable in his unfamiliar hotel room, but his grandmother comforts him. He admires the seascape, and learns about the colorful staff and customers around the hotel: Aimé, the discreet headwaiter; the lift operator; M. de Stermaria and his beautiful young daughter; and M. de Cambremer and his wife, Legrandin’s sister. His grandmother encounters an old friend, the blue-blooded Mme. de Villeparisis, and they renew their friendship. The three of them go for rides in the country, openly discussing art and politics. The Narrator longs for the country girls he sees alongside the roads, and has a strange feeling—possibly memory, possibly something else—while admiring a row of three trees. Mme. de Villeparisis is joined by her glamorous great-nephew Robert de Saint-Loup, who is involved with an unsuitable woman. Despite initial awkwardness, the Narrator and his grandmother become good friends with him. Bloch, the childhood friend from Combray, turns up with his family, and acts in typically inappropriate fashion. Saint-Loup’s ultra-aristocratic and extremely rude uncle the Baron de Charlus arrives. The Narrator discovers Mme. de Villeparisis, her nephew M. de Charlus, and his nephew Saint-Loup are all of the Guermantes family. Charlus ignores the Narrator, but later visits him in his room and lends him a book. The next day, the Baron speaks shockingly informally to him, then demands the book back. The Narrator ponders Saint-Loup’s attitude towards his aristocratic roots, and his relationship with his mistress, a mere actress whose recital bombed horribly with his family. One day, the Narrator sees a “little band” of teenage girls strolling beside the sea, and becomes infatuated with them, along with an unseen hotel guest named Mlle Simonet. He joins Saint-Loup for dinner and reflects on how drunkenness affects his perceptions. Later they meet the painter Elstir, and the Narrator visits his studio. The Narrator marvels at Elstir’s method of renewing impressions of ordinary things, as well as his connections with the Verdurins (he is “M. Biche”) and Mme. Swann. He discovers the painter knows the teenage girls, particularly one dark-haired beauty who is Albertine Simonet. Elstir arranges an introduction, and the Narrator becomes friends with her, as well as her friends Andrée, Rosemonde, and Gisele. The group goes for picnics and tours the countryside, as well as playing games, while the Narrator reflects on the nature of love as he becomes attracted to Albertine. Despite her rejection, they become close, although he still feels attracted to the whole group. At summer’s end, the town closes up, and the Narrator is left with his image of first seeing the girls walking beside the sea.
Proust on writing as a reflection of labour, rather than personality
And then I asked myself whether originality did indeed prove that great writers were gods, ruling each one over a kingdom that was his alone, or whether all that was not rather make-believe, whether the differences between one man’s book and another’s were not the result of their respective labours rather than the expression of a radical and essential difference between two contrasted personalities.
Proust on the beauty of great writers.
So it is with all great writers, the beauty of their language is as incalculable as that of a woman whom we have never seen; it is creative, because it is applied to an external object of which, and not of their language or its beauty, they are thinking, to which they have not yet given expression.
Proust on the genius of the writer.
Similarly the men who produce works of genius are not those who live in the most delicate atmosphere, whose conversation is most brilliant or their culture broadest, but those who have had the power, ceasing in a moment to live only for themselves, to make use of their personality as of a mirror, in such a way that their life, however unimportant it may be socially, and even, in a sense, intellectually speaking, is reflected by it, genius consisting in the reflective power of the writer and not in the intrinsic quality of the scene reflected.
Proust on love of fellow creatures
So that—or such, at least, was my way of thinking then—we are always detached from our fellow-creatures; when a man loves one of them he feels that his love is not labelled with their two names, but may be born again in the future, may have been born already in the past for another and not for her. And in the time when he is not in love, if he makes up his mind philosophically as to what it is that is inconsistent in love, he will find that the love of which he can speak unmoved he did not, at the moment of speaking, feel, and therefore did not know, knowledge in these matters being intermittent and not outlasting the actual presence of the sentiment.
Proust on regret and desire
For, like desire, regret seeks not to be analysed but to be satisfied. When one begins to love, one spends one’s time, not in getting to know what one’s love really is, but in making it possible to meet next day. When one abandons love one seeks not to know one’s grief but to offer to her who is causing it that expression of it which seems to one the most moving.
Proust on unhappiness leading to morals
As soon as one is unhappy one becomes moral. Gilberte’s recent antipathy for me seemed to me a judgment delivered on me by life for my conduct that afternoon. Such judgments one imagines one can escape because one looks out for carriages when one is crossing the street, and avoids obvious dangers. But there are others that take effect within us. The accident comes from the side to which one has not been looking, from inside, from the heart.
Proust on memory
That is why the better part of our memory exists outside ourself, in a blatter of rain, in the smell of an unaired room or of the first crackling brushwood fire in a cold grate: wherever, in short, we happen upon what our mind, having no use for it, had rejected, the last treasure that the past has in store, the richest, that which when all our flow of tears seems to have dried at the source can make us weep again. Outside ourself, did I say; rather within ourself, but hidden from our eyes in an oblivion more or less prolonged. It is thanks to this oblivion alone that we can from time to time recover the creature that we were, range ourself face to face with past events as that creature had to face them, suffer afresh because we are no longer ourself but he, and because he loved what leaves us now indifferent. In the broad daylight of our ordinary memory the images of the past turn gradually pale and fade out of sight, nothing remains of them, we shall never find them again. Or rather we should never find them again had not a few words (such as this “Secretary to the Ministry of Posts”) been carefully locked away in oblivion, just as an author deposits in the National Library a copy of a book which might otherwise become unobtainable.
Proust on noticing and space
It is our noticing them that puts things in a room, our growing used to them that takes them away again and clears a space for us. Space there was none for me in my bedroom (mine in name only) at Balbec; it was full of things which did not know me, which flung back at me the distrustful look that I had cast at them, and, without taking any heed of my existence, shewed that I was interrupting the course of theirs.
Proust on pleasure being like photography.
Pleasure in this respect is like photography. What we take, in the presence of the beloved object, is merely a negative film; we develop it later, when we are at home, and have once again found at our disposal that inner dark-room, the entrance yo which is barred to us so long as we are with other people.
Proust on memory like a shop
Our memory is like a shop in the window of which is exposed now one, now another photograph of the same person. And as a rule the most recent exhibit remains for some time the only one to be seen.
Proust on modifying our surrounds over time
All our lives, we go on patiently modifying the surroundings in which we dwell; and gradually, as habit dispenses us from feeling them, we suppress the noxious elements of colour, shape and smell which were at the root of our discomfort.
Marvel’s The Punisher, or simply The Punisher, is an American television series created by Steve Lightfoot for the streaming service Netflix, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films and other television series of the franchise, and is a spin-off of Marvel’s Daredevil. The series is produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios and Bohemian Risk Productions, with Lightfoot serving as showrunner.
I jumped into this series wondering where these outliers fit within the wider Marvel universe. Along with films like Venom, Punisher is significantly more violent and complicated anti-hero. It is a strange experience to celebrate murder.
One of the things I loved about the series were some of Frank Castle’s dry quotes, such as:
I didn’t murder them, they died from terminal stupidity.
Dawn FM is the fifth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter the Weeknd, released on January 7, 2022, through XO and Republic Records. It features narration by Jim Carrey, guest vocals from Tyler, the Creator and Lil Wayne, and spoken word appearances from Quincy Jones and Josh Safdie. As the album’s executive producers, the Weeknd, Max Martin and Oneohtrix Point Never recruited a variety of other producers such as Oscar Holter, Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia.
The Weeknd described the album’s concept as a state of purgatory—a journey towards the “light at the end of a tunnel”, serving as a follow-up to his fourth studio album After Hours (2020). Musically, Dawn FM is an upbeat record containing dance-pop and synth-pop songs that are heavily inspired by the 1980s new wave, funk and electronic dance music styles. The album received widespread acclaim from music critics, who complimented its production and melodies.
The radio-station conceit does enhance the album’s nostalgic, one-step-removed feel, much the way an early 2010s-mixtape concept did for last year’s Tyler, the Creator album; Tyler guests here (somewhat forgettably) on the very yacht-rock-ish track, “Here We Go … Again.” Perhaps most valuably, the format gives Tesfaye and his producers—primarily his longtime collaborator Max Martin and more recent helpmate Daniel Lopatin (a.k.a. Oneohtrix Point Never)—greater license to indulge their throwback sonic instincts, as well as to transition seamlessly, DJ-style, between tracks. The sudden, always belated realization that the previous song has already ended and a new one begun brings on a pleasantly startled frisson, almost as one might hope about the transition between one plane of reality and another.
I wonder if The Weeknd has been panned for experimenting with a different way of presenting his music. For me, I think Jim Carrey’s commentary help make this album flow together. In some ways it reminded me of Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor mixed with Oneohtrix Point Never’s Magic Oneohtrix Point Never.
Fix Yourself, Not the World is the fifth studio album by British rock band the Wombats, released on 14 January 2022. It was preceded by the singles “Method to the Madness”, “If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming with You”, “Ready for the High”, and “Everything I Love Is Going to Die”. The album will be supported by an America, Europe and Australia tour throughout 2022.
Pieced together over distance, as so many have this last couple of years, the band have swapped plans and files between Oslo, London and Los Angeles to create these songs, and then fired them off to an impressive list of producers to mix them. So this album finds them working with the likes of Jacknife Lee, Gabe Simon and Mark Crossey amongst others, and the result somehow hangs together surprisingly well. Distance, it seems, is no barrier, when there’s something special happening and there’s a drive and determination to make it work.
Described as a “self-help manual for the domesticated malcontent,” their fifth album ‘Fix Yourself, Not The World’ has a recurring theme of fixing throughout. The remarkably cohesive, inventive and forward-thinking guitar pop record finds frontman Matthew Murphy turning a psychological corner and highlights the bands bond and experience to power through such setbacks.
The PG-8X is a virtual synthesizer, inspired by the Roland JX-8P with the PG-800 programmer. The synth architecture is a standard 2-oscillator -> Filter -> VCA design. These elements can be modulated by a common LFO and one of two ENVELOPEs.
The PG-8X is patch compatible with the JX-8P and can read and write JX-8P Sysex data.
It should come as no surprise to close observers of invented histories of education that Gatto would have something to say (in almost all his books, in fact) about the tyranny of the bell. He was, after all, one of the most influential promoters of the “school-as-factory” narrative: that the origins of mass schooling are inextricably bound to the need to reshape a rebellious farming nation’s sons and daughters into a docile, industrial workforce. It’s a powerful, influential story, sure, but it’s a pretty inaccurate history.
But bells weren’t simply — or even primarily — a technology of pedagogy as much as one for announcements and alarms. Although companies like the Standard Electric Time Company (founded in Massachusetts in 1884) sold synchronized clock and bell systems to schools (and yes, factories), an early function of the latter was not to mimic the rhythm of the workplace but rather to warn occupants about fire.