The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1504
Oil on panel; Central panel, 220 x 195 cm; Wings, 220 x 97 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid
Just found a fantastically grim long read by Martin Wiegel entitled
All watched over by machines of loving grace?
Notes of disquiet and disbelief
The Bosch section reads:
No strangers to the perils of skating, it was the Dutch who gave us the expression “skating on thin ice”. What appears to be at first glance a boat or sled is actually a giant skate. We’re looking at a tiny man on an oversized ice skate.
Bosch was fond of using oversized objects to represent objects in man’s imagination. Our skating man here thinks he is the one controlling his movement and the direction he’s going in. But his vehicle is imaginary, a figment of his fantasies about his own ability to do things. He’s riding forces much greater than he is. And there in the upper left we witness his inevitable fall through the ice.
For despite all the the powers and joys it is yielding today, and despite all the breathless prophecies of the frictionless future to come, there is a very real possibility that it is our over-sized ice skate. And that while we think we are in control of it, we are in truth riding forces we do not fully comprehend, and which we cannot fully control.
No doubt there will be readers smarting already with righteous indignation. But the fact of the matter is that if we are to make any real, intelligent progress then criticism must be entertained. Technology is a tool, not an article of faith. And to question it is not an act of apostasy.
Room must be allowed for doubt and disquiet. For as the writer and social critic Lillian Smith said, “Faith and doubt, both are needed, not as antagonists but working side by side, to take us around the unknown curve.”
So let’s now exercise a little doubt, try to peer around the unknown curve, and speculate about what potential scenarios and options might await us.
It’s a cleverly fragmented piece, check it out