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Tony Grist

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Turing [Sep. 2nd, 2004|05:33 pm]
Tony Grist
There's a man sitting on a bench in a Manchester park, just accross the canal from the gay village. The first time I saw him I reckoned there was something not quite right about him. When I got closer I saw he was made of bronze. The effect is creepy.

So it should be. This is the monument to Alan Turing, the father of computing and (by virtue of his work on Axis codes at Bletchley Park) one of the heroes of the Second World War.

Turing was gay. The police harassed him. He avoided prison by agreeing to submit to oestrogen injections. The establishment turned its back on him. He committed suicide aged 42.

He committed suicide in rather a novel way (he was, after all, a genius.) He injected cyanide into an apple, then ate it.

The bronze man is holding an apple in his hand.

A few posts back I said we can't do public sculpture any more. That wasn't entirely true. The Turing monument is a great piece of public sculpture. Mike wanted to see it so I took him there this afternoon. We sat on the bench across from Turing and and he looked at us and we looked at him. The face is bland. It doesn't accuse. It doesn't ask for pity.

Turing's wartime work was hushed up for the longest time (national security don'tcha know) but he did as much to defeat Hitler as Churchill, Montgomery, the Battle of Britain pilots or anyone else you care to mention. He was a very great scientist. He was hounded to death.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-09-02 03:10 pm (UTC)
It's called Breaking The Code. The author is Hugh Whitemore. It was a successful stage play before being filmed for TV. The film has been released on video and may still be available.
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[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2004-09-03 03:01 am (UTC)
Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, which, I am ashamed to say, I did give up on about 500 pages in, features a very sympathetic, if not polemic, portrayal of Turing, his work and his sexuality. It's all embedded in a very very dense and rather right-wing-ish narrrative about insanely difficult maths and cryptography and WAR and MEN that got the better of me, in the end, but it was where I first learned about him. The Jacobi portrayal sounds fascinating, and perhaps less scary on the maths!
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