In last night’s stream, the second part of our Atomic Ecologies series, I was talking about cybernetics, the heart, Mexican cardiologist Arturo Rosenblueth and Eugene Odum’s interest in birds based on their heart beat.
In the comments someone mentioned the importance of the heart to Aztec culture as well as flowers. I think this was spurred by the connections I was making to Ian Griggs choice of the 50 peso Mexican banknote in his digital flower currency video.
I am adding some links, because this does feel important as what we are navigating are the centuries old shock waves of conquest - both of the “Americas,” its original culture, and natural life. The Caribbean and Latin America are on the front lines of conditional cash transfer, impact finance, re-fi “regenerative finance,” and IoT "sustainability to “preserve” abundant “natural capital” and develop new ways for global finance to extract profit based on drone / satellite surveillance, bio-prospecting, and molecular re-design.
It is interesting to me that Vienna does come up again in ethnographic collections. Also a central focus of the Wellcome Trust in the UK that put up an exhibit on the heart in 2007.
“From Mexico came the famous ‘Heart of Copil’ greenstone, a votive sculpture found near the Templo Mayor. According to Aztec myth, their capital city Tenochtitlan was founded on the buried heart of Copil (son of Malinalxochitl, an evil sorceress, enemy of the Mexica people and sister of Huitzilopochtli), from which grew a large prickly pear cactus with an eagle perched on top - the basis for the Mexican national emblem. Copil, killed by the Mexica on orders from Huitzilopochtli, was symbolically if not literally the first victim of Aztec human sacrifice - his heart was thrown into the middle of Lake Texcoco.”
“As the exhibition introduction says: ‘The heart, widely understood as the place where life begins and ends, has always featured as a potent symbol in our religions, myths and rituals… [and] …we remain reluctant to let go of the notion - deeply rooted in everyday language and imagery - that the heart is the home of our emotions and of our true character.’”
"Born in a frontier shack in the American Midwest in 1853, Henry Solomon Wellcome was a phenomenally successful entrepreneur who made a fortune through his pharmaceutical company, Burroughs Wellcome, which introduced medicines in tablet form - an American development - to Europe.
Wellcome was a prodigious networker and friend of the famous: his acquaintances included Oscar Wilde and Lord Kitchener. He was also a compulsive collector. By the time he died in 1936, Wellcome had amassed enough paintings, native artefacts and surgical instruments to fill several museums.
One-and-a-half million objects connected with health care were acquired by Wellcome and his team, who visited auction houses, rag-and-bone dealers and pawns shops for ‘treasures’. In this way, he acquired Florence Nightingale’s moccasins, a collection of shrunken heads from South America, hundreds of amputation saws used by Victorian doctors, Nelson’s razor, a lock of George III’s hair and the ‘Claxton earcap’, a cloth harness that was designed to be worn by children at night to correct their protruding ears."
" Wellcome had a passion for collecting medically related artefacts, aiming to create a Museum of Man. He bought for his collection anything related to medicine, including Napoleon’s toothbrush, on display at the Wellcome Collection. By the time of his death, there were 125,000 medical objects in the collection, of over one million total. Most of the non-medical objects were dispersed after his death. He was also a keen archaeologist, in particular digging for many years at Jebel Moya, Sudan, hiring 4000 people to excavate. He was one of the first investigators to use kite aerial photography on an archaeological site, with surviving images available in the Wellcome Library."
There are some interesting synchronicities between Raul’s newest article at Silicon Icarus about the backstory of signal processing and phone phreaking. I can’t help but think about that trumpeter in the swamp and the tweet of his that went viral of the Peruvian water whistle…The article also mentions the Cowles Commission, which was part of my presentation on the stream last night - linking biophysics to econometrics.
Here’s my slide of the Cowles Commission and the part of the map dealing with teams.
Full deck here: Atomic Ecologies - Google Slides
Raul’s mention of Frank Heart stood out to me this morning.
" In 1959, the conference’s 16th edition was held in Boston, Massachusetts. Chaired by Lincoln Lab’s lead engineer for SAGE’s real-time data processing systems, Frank Heart, the event featured a prototype of the Program Data Processor or PDP-1, which had been designed and built by yet another Lincoln Labs alum, Ben Gurley."
Again HEART - the heart of the Internet, ARPA, psychoacostics
I look over this bio and also see “whirlwind” - the Whirlwind computer. To me @leo this calls to mind hurricanes (parametric insurance) and also the Tempest (Prospero magician - Prosper / CELO)
"Heart, working at Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) in 1968, led the small group of unusually talented BBN staff that bid on and won a contract to build Interface Message Processors (routers) for an expandable, four-node network. This work was being funded by the government’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). "
“Heart entered the computer age in 1950 as an MIT student at MIT’s Whirlwind computer. Whirlwind occupied most of a small building and was less powerful than today’s handheld devices. Later, Whirlwind came under the aegis of MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, and Heart spent the next 15 years at Lincoln, working on the Sage air defense system and on numerous projects connecting computers to real-time data sources, before moving to BBN.”
The digital flower currency and Mexico brings to mind Aztec herbals and medical treatments as well as the co-optation of those indigenous knowledges for western use and profit. Yeah - I’m kind of thinking about Coca-Cola here among others.
There are 96 entries for Aztec in the Wellcome collections.
Among them is the Badianus Codex - a sixteenth-century herbal now in possession of the Vatican. The color image below is of the Datura, I think. It’s from a 1935 paper on the codex sponsored by the Smithsonian and Johns Hopkins.
“Two of the most interesting plants used as a cure for pain are the Tolohuaxihuitl and the Nexehuac (pi. 3). Both of these are Daturas (Solanaceae). The first of these, Tolohuaxihuitl or Tolohua plant, is referred to by Hernandez as D. stramonium. Sahagun '” and Clavigero ^’ refer to it as Toloache. Both the white-flowered and purple-flowered forms of this species occur in Mexico as well as in the United States ; the purple forms are usually called D. tatiila. The white-flowered forms may bear either smooth or prickly capsules, the smooth variety being called D. iiiennis.“’ The adjacent plant, called Nexehuac (Nexeua—the rambler—Simeon, p. 307), is depicted as an erect, white-flowered form with purple, smooth-skinned fruit resembling this type. The flowers are drawn as erect, the fruits pendant, but since all the arborescent Daturas have unarmed fruits we may consider either the drawing or the etymological derivation misleading. Its smooth pods would probably place it as a variety of D. stramonium known as D. incrmis Jacq. Varieties of Datura have been used the world over for their narcotic properties, the effect being due to the presence of the drug atropine.”
This is interesting to me, because in the city of Philadelphia the sprawling type of datura often grows wild in empty lots and waste spaces.
I don’t have access to this article, but it looks super intriguing - about Aztec gardens.
The author, Patricia Granziera, has a very interesting Google scholar page. Her research is focused on goddess worship in Latin America and India.
Anyway - lots to consider about the heart and flowers and medicine. I’ll just leave you with the observation that all of this has me rethinking to imprinting of the famous walk through heart at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Millions of children have gone through it since it was installed as part of the “Engine of LIfe” exhibit in 1953. It is a beloved icon.
Flowers and feathers - to me the idea that the Aztec feather headdress cannot be returned “safely” to Mexico is an indication that the cybernetic “circular” economy technicians continue to seek to dominate the world by overwhelming regenerative and reciprocal dynamic indigenous cosmologies that conceptualize the universe as animist and endowed with unlimited metaphysical potential.
The Vienna / Austrian frame.