Modernity and The Industrial Revolution-The Biggest Thing That Man Has Ever done| Chapter 5| The Death of the Gods and the revolt Against Reason

The European Miracle-Man’s Domestication of Work

I'm just a lonesome traveler, The Great Historical Bum
Highly educated from history I have come
I built the Rock of Ages, 'twas in the Year of One
And that was about the biggest thing that man had ever done-The Biggest Thing Man has ever done, Woody Guthrie


The industrial revolution is the greatest inflection point in human history since Prometheus gave man fire. Because both of these inflection points stem from the same source, man’s ability to produce energy outside of his body. Fire, one of the great chaotic forces of the universe, is quite frankly unmanageable. All we can do with it is make sure it doesn’t destroy everything. What we can do, however, is heat water. Water vapor then spins a turbine creating energy. Now we can sidestep fire altogether, and just have water spin the turbine for you.

Now river you can ramble where the sun sets in the sea,
But while you're rambling river 
you can do some work for me-Roll On Columbia, Woody Guthrie

The industrial revolution is fundamentally the ability to access work over no dimension of freedom (the waterwheel). The railway, one dimension of freedom. The automobile/steamboat, two dimensions. Aeroplane three dimensions of freedom.


The railway

The American Dream in information theoretical terms, is about the ability to voluntarily disassociate across space. The ability for nodes to decentralize their computation across independent geographical areas. Prior to the early eighteen hundreds, if you didn’t like your neighbor, you could always just move. Because why else would people live in Ohio? It is also not a coincidence that when people ran out of space,  the American Civil War started. 

Only after the American Dream died can we now recognise modern day America. Because the national identity that most Americans have is a very recent phenomenon aided by the two “War of the Worlds”. This new national ‘American’ identity, measured in information theoretical terms, is simply that there are now more communications between states than within states as railways decreased the cost of information communication.

The automobile

To the American southern agrarians, the automobile represents the death of America. The automobile accelerated the changes caused by the railway. As the automobile represents a decentralization of the railway. Giving individuals, not groups, the ability to move between spaces. The automobile destroyed the local neighborhood as things are less clustered by walking distance.

The Lindy Effect

The Lindy effect refers to a technology’s ability to be robust towards time. Not the most advanced technology, per se but the most durable. Books are more Lindy than computers as books are robust to solar flares and EMP bombs. Horses are even more Lindy but ohh so not modern. Toyota’s Land Cruiser, the greatest car ever produced, is made less Lindy by a touchscreen. The touchscreen is harder to fix than dials or buttons. The most dated part of the car is the screen and underlying computer. Bugatti, cognisant of this, minimizes the number of screens available in their cars.

A collapse of space-time (technical)

On communicating physical information (its): 

The scale of the firm, is dependent on level of value generated. In addition to, the network over which that value is being generated (economic field). Both are a function of the level of propagation for physical and symbolizable information.  As the costs per unit mass over a period of time become equivilized across geographic distances. The more there is returns to scale, as the advantage of having local monopolies is reduced. Resulting, in winner take all effect. In addition to, greater specialisation via Riccardo’s theories of comparitive advantage.

The ability to transmit physical information (Objects) is dependent on the ability to transport mass over a specific distance and over  a specific time (speed). The relevant information stressors to this process are mass and time. Therefore, the self organizing outcome of the system: The quantity of the lowest unit masses and the lowest geographic distance (ability to transport over time), will create the connections, which self organize first. Therefore, the relevant technology is the ability to transport unit masses over different geography.

The determinant of this technology is the ability to reduce the friction reality with wheels/roads/boats/railways/airplanes. The ability to overcome inertia and maintain motion of a certain unit mass, is dependent on the ability of humans to create and control force through wind/animals/human body/spontaneous combustion engine/waterwheel/steam-engine/nuclear reactor.

What was the Fountainhead? A renormalization of the topography of the information landscape

The Fountainhead, as in the fountainhead of a pen, is an exploration of the archetypes of the Media Industry. In addition to an exploration of the fundamental renormalization from local to national media. It is a function of a proliferation in information technologies, told through the lens of architecture. It is specifically the media coverage of Erudite Howard Roark.

The newspaper represents an increase in shared imagination externalization. Imaginationland, literally increasing in size and density. Resulting in the great mass organization of mass culture that Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World characterized.

The printing press (revisited)

a medieval phenomenon, the printing press would be mass adopted in the modern era. Most people in medieval Europe were illiterate forcing panels to be read in groups. However, by the modern era, national education has made symbolic manipulation ubiquitous in western society.

Typewriter-The variable Symbol machine

The typewriter represents a decrease in the cost of symbol creation. Instead of being forced to write longhand. Symbolic creation is standardized and mechanized.

The telegraph-The variable symbol transmitter (technical)

The telegraph represents, the fundamental inflection points in the information typography. Information, increasingly less local, has been renormalized to the national level with the advent of the telegraph. The original www was not the World Wide Web. But the World Wide Wire. Information broadcasted en-mass via the telegraph.

Mathematically speaking, the World Wide Web would be characterized as a scale free network. A place in space with no marginal cost of communication. With any website, exactly one click away. In the world wide wire, the marginal cost of communication is negligible within a city. Information, however, was still clustered at the city scale. But easily shared between cities, by telegraph wire. The telegraph exited the uSA from its localist Roots.

The newspaper system

The business model of attention products, determine the nature of the product itself. Subscription services caused a dialectic (shared information communication) between publisher and reader. If the attention product does not meet the preferences of the readers they unsubscribe. This makes subscription based services more ideologically committed.

A polarized America

The earlier newspapers were dominated by religious groups. Religion, being the main political issue for that time. Made for a more polarized America (what do you want to say, not clear). Most early Americans were puritans, fleeing religious persecution from Catholic Europe. So it is of no surprise that once Catholics made their way to the new country, they would be treated in kind. Newspapers were used as a way of educating fellow religious followers to the most holy way to vote.

Free Newspapers

Earlier newspapers were a service provided by political parties, religious groups, political groups, and/or some other sponsor. Later newspapers became businesses. Where, newspapers were sold for a loss and the profits were made up with advertising. Advertising based businesses appeal to the lowest common human denominator. Their success is determined by how much attention they can draw. As only the most salient point gets propagated. Giving the reader a skewed view of reality.

Ayn Rand-Student of Mises

Rand is fundamentally a student of Mises. Rand, a noted curmudgeon, was grinning ear to ear. Mises acknowledged her work to be the literary translation to some of his economics. We’ve already established that the Austrian school of economic thought represents an evolution in the symbolic systems used in economics. The previous set of symbolic systems inherited from the natural sciences was inappropriate for praxeology.

Roark is exactly the Misesian entrepreneur theorized. The principal dialectic in economics is between the entrepreneur and isomorphic competition. The first mover, as compared to the second. The pattern is innovation by the first. Only to be copied, by the second. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. The only thing that a member of the herd can do is copy because you will use it to change things. Howard Roark’s existence is an offensive one. Offensive, because to anyone inside the herd, there’s nothing more offensive than someone outside of it. The archetypical representation of the herd’s principle member- Peter Keating.

Rand is not a subtle author. In fact, she often gets accused of being too much on the nose with the characters. What these critics neglect, is that at some point, people do become caricatures of themselves. For I have met my fair share of Ellsorth Toohey. Ellsworth, the principal antagonists. The archetypal representation of the ambitious newspaper columnist. Rand also captures the inherent conflict between the writer and editor newspaper-Gale Wynand. Wynand, the Mark Zuckerberg of the modern era (except not a dork). In this sense, Wynand controls the principal information medium of his time-the newswire and newspaper.

The Poster-A variable image

The successor to the information technology of the painting, was the poster. Prior to the cinema, the variable image medium was the poster. The effect of which cannot be underestimated in a world devoid of color. Uncle Sam was born.

Variable Sound Machine-Radio

The birth of radio is squarely a modern phenomenon. Radio represents the fundamental difference between the information technology of the First and Second World War. Radio, represents the ability to encode audio and electromagnetic waves and broadcast it over an area. Radio, said to be the most personal of the information portals was the main propaganda tool of the third Reich. Europe’s, limited geography allowed for greater radio. In the USA, radio was pioneered by farmers in the countryside with chicken wire. But through the centralization efforts of the FTC, American radio would also follow great centralization. Early radio was known for generic content and large centralized audiences.

Mike and the Mad Dog

Prior to the introduction of Mike and the mad dog, there was no sports talk radio. the first show literally starts out with

Not only was Mike and the mad dog, satisfying preferences, but they also birthed the genre. With every sports show in history, a blatant derivative of two dudes. One is high strung and emotional, the other rugged and monotone.

Variable Image Machine-Cinema

Cinema, invented by the French, was the first true moving variable image technology. The successor to the flipbook. Despite its french origin, and the fact France still produces some of the best films in the world,  it was America’s Hollywood that took film to the next level.

Walt Disney’s Snow White

In terms of the development of film as a medium. The cinema of yesteryear, such as Casablanca and Citizen Kane, prove to be less Lindy, and look more dated Compared to the animation of the time. Walt Disney’s Snow White was, a phenomenon. It was the birth of a unique American art form. In its own respect, Snow White was a triumph of technology. So robust to time, that children essentially decades later are still captivated by it. Live action film, on the other hand, took another half century to develop.

The Death of Comics

Comics are squarely a modern phenomenon. As in the modern era, there was nothing that looked like comics. The vibrancy of the colors was the bleeding edge technology of the time. In addition to being the inspiration for the color pallette of Star Wars. Prior to the rise of cyberspace, comics provided the cheapest and most versatile form of imagination externalization. Making comics was a great method of judging the archetypes and stories which are valued by our society. After all, this happened before the ubiquitous use of television. However, the archetypal representations would follow towards film and television.

Had France not blown itself up, perhaps it would have been the leader in the genre. France comics are a lot more expensive, have a hardcover, and are considered another art form-bande desinee. In Japan, the medium known as manga, is far more respected than Comics are in America.

A Captain America

Comic books provide the best example of America’s shifting zeitgeist and volksgeist. As each of the eras of comic book history (golden, silver, bronze, dark, modern) can themselves be considered as shifts in the zeitgeist. With the inception of a literal captain America. The uSA exited from its local to national roots.

The Golden Age of Comics

The Golden Age of Comics occurred in the modern era. Although the popularity of comics started with superheroes. After World War Two, comics had matured into its own medium with the sale of other genres, surpassing those of heroes. Within America’s golden age of comics, closing with Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the innocent. A movement that destroyed comic books as a medium.

The Comics Code Authority

Comics ceased to be mass culture as they were no longer able to represent culture. Despite an increase in competition from other information technologies such as television and increasingly sophisticated firms, the lower cost structure of comics, despite being in the postmodern era, would have made comics the more salient medium.

The Comics Code Authority is the industry’s attempt at self regulation, prompted by the external pressure of the aforementioned Wertham. Whose, most salacious point, is usually misinterpreted by the media. That Batman and Robin, are living the wish dreams of homosexuals, not that they are homosexuals. An accusation more salacious at the time, than of writing.

The Silver Age of comics-For the love of the Batman

One needs look no further than the evolution of the aforementioned Batman through the eras, Batman seemingly to oscillate from cataclysmically campy with the Silver Age feeling zebra Batman. Batman dresses zebra in zebra camo to a deleteriously distressing mark with modern Batman comics involving the Joker ripping off his own face only to sew it back on again. The reason for the bipolarity is that artists no longer had access to the dark side of Batman during the Comics Code Authority.

Given the fact that we refer to people who work well together as “Batman and Robin.” It seems stupid, nay blasphemous to ask if Batman should have a sidekick. It’s kind of like asking if hamburgers need fries, if movies need sound, and if Lebron needs two All-Stars to win a title.

But to better understand why this is a valid question,  we need to first know the history of Batman and Robin and how they evolved over time. Because Batman, and by extension, Robin will always be a reflection of the zeitgeist, with each era vying for the soul of the Bat.

In the case of Batman when he first appeared (solo I may add) in Detective Comics issue #27, he was very different from the Batman we know now. Firstly, in the Golden Age, Batman kills *nerds gasp at a distance*. He used guns and he protected the rich from the poor. This wouldn’t last for long as comic book publishers felt that Batman needed a younger sidekick to be more appealing to kids. The logic went that prepubescent children would not be able to see themselves as the physical manifestation of vengeance. But they could see themselves as the kid in the booty shorts. This type of reasoning was not unique to Batman . At the time everyone from Captain America (Bucky) to the Human Torch (Toro) were adjacent to small children. It was, by many accounts, a much simpler time.

The Great Inward Shift

This was before the great inward shift that comic books went through. Where comic book publishers spent less time worrying about the kids market, and spent more time worrying about the nerds. This shift represents comics’ fundamental retreat from mass culture.

Introducing Dick Grayson, the first Robin, in Detective Comics #37 allowed for changes in the tone of the character. Because Batman actually had someone to talk to, writers could make his stories lighter, use fewer guns and more puns. Dick was in every way shape and form the embodiment of the ideal American youth of the time. And as writers started to make Batman, dare I say it, happier, they lost track of who the character was meant to be. The Silver Age Batman was very weird, to say the least but very much ahead of his time with his fashion sense:


This trend of making Batman less gritty and campier continued through the 60’s with the Batman TV show on ABC. This is where Batman had his own dance move, the very aptly named Batusi.

And how did he manage to do so?

Well by sending Robin off to college. But this time, instead of Batman protecting the rich from the poor, he would now protect the poor from the rich.

Again it is worth repeating that Batman, more so than almost anyone in fiction, represents the zeitgeist of the era of the comic book. Back in the 30’s America was trying to escape from the great depression. So where better to escape than in the life of a playboy millionaire? By the time 1970 rolled around, people were more cynical. So who better to protect the people without power from the people with power. Then the person with the most power?

The Dark Ages

It will not be until Frank Miller’s Dark Knight, that the genre accepted the audience for comics as “aged”. By the time the aptly named Dark Ages of comics rolled around, a new Robin, Jason Todd was introduced. Although at the beginning he was literally a carbon copy of Dick Grayson (the first Robin) with his parents also being circus acrobats murdered by mobsters. After the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, his story was redrawn. Gone were the days of tights and tightropes, Jason was now a boy from the streets who Batman caught trying to steal the Batmobile’s tires in the same alley, on the anniversary of his parent’s murder.

Which begs the question what size rims does the Batman have?

Introducing this new Robin is very important to the comics because up until now Batman was the character in flux, with the boy wonder being a constant. But the introduction of Jason kickstarted the cycle where Robins could oscillate from light to dark from good to well, bad.

With his new backstory, Robin started to become more and more insufferable to the point where most Batman fans began to hate the little dick (pun intended). After a couple issues of being comics versions of King Joffrey, the editors of Batman had the Joker kidnap the boy wonder and let fans decide if the new Robin lives or dies via a dedicated hotline. After the 10,614 calls were counted, the people decided: Robin dies at dawn. Jason Todd would be ruthlessly, mercilessly and relentlessly beaten into oblivion. Most cheered. The pretender was dead.

Not everyone was happy with the way this turned out in the comic book world. Author Frank Miller described it as “the most cynical thing DC has ever done. [Where] an actual toll-free number where fans can call in to put an ax to a little boy’s head.”

Needless to say, these were in fact the dark ages.