python vs c#

Alex Martelli aleaxit at
Mon Oct 4 09:44:30 CEST 2004

JanC <usenet_spam at janc.invalid> wrote:

> Alex Martelli schreef:
> > More interestingly, one might infer a desire to recapture for positive
> > self-identification a word that has acquired negative connotations in
> > popular use.  Perhaps the best-known such fight currently going on is
> > for the word "hacker", but, after all, such _is_ the history of quite a
> > few other words... consider "gothic" and "baroque"...
> Well, if you go to a "gothic" record store, you'll find one or more racks
> labeled "medieval", which in reality contains music that's mostly based on
> "early renaissance" music...   ;-)

Oh, definitely.  Part of the problem, of course, is that the boundary
between the middle ages and the renaissance is anything but the sharp
hard line most people appear to believe; of course, Johan Huizinga first
made this point (although it wasn't the one he mostly _intended_ to
make...) *generations* ago -- and I gather there's a reasonably recent
(and quite good, I've heard!) re-translation of his masterpiece, "The
Autumn of the Middle Ages", into English (the previous translation had
been titled "The Waning of the Middle Ages" instead).

Some late medieval / early renaissance developments in Central and
Northern Italy, in particular, show up the transition quite sharply.
Our successful merchants were laying the basis of modern capitalism
(based on such revolutionary tools as "arabic numbers", double-entry
book-keeping, letters of credit, banks, ...), but at the same time had
an account in their books for "messer Domeneddio" ("mister the Lord
God"), treated as a partner in their enterprises, to which they recorded
tithes just as shares of profits were recorded to other partners.  The
three great authors who can be credited with creating the Italian
language (Dante Alighieri, Petrarca, Boccaccio) were all humanists --
but Dante was also a theologian, and a scholar very much in the late
medieval mold, while Petrarca was also a merchant and a mystic, and
Boccaccio (as far as we know, since he destroyed all poetry he had
written, leaving only prose) was entirely rooted in the human reality of
this world and had no interest in writing about angels or demons...

So, music no doubt went through a similarly hard-to-call transition
(even though it's harder to trace than finance, poetry, fiction).  So
did other fields, after all: for example, the beautiful plate armor that
most people associate with "medieval knights" is in fact almost entirely
from the renaissance (at least in Italy... the renaissance came later to
other parts!), a transient attempt to ward off the firearms (and
effective use of pole weapons and arrows by disciplined infantry) that
were spelling the end of the time in which heavy cavalry ruled the
battlefields of Western Europe.

All in all, I find the confusion involved in calling early renaissance
music "medieval" quite understandable and mostly forgivable.  Nothing
like the _huge_ distortion implied by calling _classical_ music the
music made by _romantic_ composers whose main ideological thrust was a
rebellion *against* the aesthetics and ideology of the classical
movement... and yet that's a horror that has long been perpetrated by
all manners of music publishers and stores, isn't it?!


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