Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘Odysseus’

Sunday Repost: A Call From the Fog

In Technology, Thinkers on March 3, 2013 at 6:00 am

A repost from three years ago:

The Sirens--Who Can Resist Them?

The Sirens–Who Can Resist Them?

We’ve had a couple of days of snow. And more falling–with fog. Maggie and I, as always, walked the Eastern Prom this morning, post-holing our way. There came a call of the fog-horn from the bay, the sound rolling in from the South. I thought perhaps it was Bug Light, but I’m given to understand Bug is only an optical warning. Regardless, it was haunting. The water, the fog, snow, and the warning call.

I find it refreshing that technology hundreds of years old–the harbor bell, the fog horn, the light house–is still used in the age of satellite navigation and GPS. I stood in the snow and listened quietly. It seemed more a beckoning than a warning. Famously, Odysseus was curious as to the call of the Sirens. He had his sailors plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast. He wisely ordered his men to leave him there, no matter how much he begged. And beg he did. But that isn’t the fatalism I’m suggesting. This wasn’t a siren’s death call.

It seemed more a beckoning than a warning. (History is filled with such confusion. Philosophy is doubt, said Montaigne.) But that’s not where I’m heading.¬†Two things. Small things. One: Old technology can still work. Perhaps in the long run we will discover it works best. Secondly, more importantly, stand in the snow, stop and listen. You might be beckoned. Or perhaps warned. Either way, you will miss it with ear buds in.

A Call From the Fog

In Technology, Thinkers on January 19, 2010 at 3:54 pm
The Sirens--Who Can Resist Them?

The Sirens–Who Can Resist Them?

We’ve had a couple days of snow. And more falling. Maggie and I were, as always, on the Eastern Prom this morning, post-holing our way along (why did I give away my snowshoes?) and I heard the call of the fog horn from the bay. The sound rolled in from the South. I thought perhaps it was Bug Light but I’m given to understand that is only an optical warning. Regardless, it was haunting. The water, the fog, snow, and the warning call.

I find it refreshing that a technology hundreds of years old is still used in the age of satellite navigation and GPS. I stood in the snow and listened quietly. It seemed more a beckoning call than a warning, I confess. Famously, Odysseus was curious as to the call of the Sirens. He had his sailors plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast. He wisely ordered his men to leave him tied to the mast, no matter how much he begged. And beg he did. But that isn’t the fatalism I’m suggesting. This wasn’t a siren’s death call.

It seemed more a beckoning than a warning, which is literally what it is–a warning. (History is filled with such confusion. Philosophy is doubt, said Montaigne.) But that’s not where I’m heading.

Two things. Small things. Old technology can still work. Perhaps in the long run we will discover it worked best. Who knows? Secondly, more importantly, stand in the snow, stop and listen. You might hear a call beckoning. Or perhaps a warning. Either way, you will miss it with your ear buds in.