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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:
From: archyena
2004-09-02 05:10 pm (UTC)
At times I think the reason Turing never shows up is not because he was gay--the Classicists of the past were able to openly disregard Greek homosexuality by simply omitting it from translations sometimes with the note "omitted: a reference to the vice of the Greeks"--but because he invented something that did a world of good while Oppenheimer's group's seminal project was a weapon that has caused nothing but suffering and fear since it first lit the sky. But people are attracted to power and the ability to destroy things outright, to most a few seconds of destruction is worth the millenia of creation up to that point.
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