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Genesis ReduxEssays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life$
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Jessica Riskin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226720807

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226720838.001.0001

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Perpetual Devotion: A Sixteenth-Century Machine That Prays

Perpetual Devotion: A Sixteenth-Century Machine That Prays

(p.263) 13 Perpetual Devotion: A Sixteenth-Century Machine That Prays
Genesis Redux

Elizabeth King

University of Chicago Press

This chapter portrays the power of an artificial being to provoke a response in “Perpetual Devotion.” A portrait of Diego de Alcalá is reported. It is believed that Diego's saintly attributes are precisely the small cross and rosary. The automaton monk may be small and portable, but to consider it a toy presents an awkward dilemma for the interpretation of its performance. Artists have long understood the dangers of an overdetermined verisimilitude, for too much realism (or too visible an effort to achieve it) can halt the imaginative motion of the viewer. Size is always a matter of weight and material: the nature of a thing is often a consequence of pure conditional imperative. The story of San Diego, even if no more than contemporary to the monk, helps us to see how invested this machine is with the burden of faith.

Keywords:   Perpetual Devotion, Diego de Alcalá, cross, rosary, automaton monk, faith

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