Quotes About Automata

Quotes tagged as "automata" (showing 1-4 of 4)
D.H. Lawrence
“For God’s sake, let us be men
not monkeys minding machines
or sitting with our tails curled
while the machine amuses us, the radio or film or gramophone.

Monkeys with a bland grin on our faces.”
D.H. Lawrence, Selected Letters

Tom Standage
“You Americans are a very singular people," he later recalled to one of his friends. "I went with my automaton all over my own country—the Germans wondered and said nothing. In France they exclaimed, Magnifique! Merveilleux! Superbe! The English set themselves to prove—one that it could be, and another that it could not be, a mere mechanism acting without a man inside. But I had not been long in your country, before a Yankee came to see me and said, 'Mr Maelzel, would you like another thing like that? I can make you one for five hundred dollars.' I laughed at his proposition. A few months afterwards, the same Yankee came to see me again, and this time he said, 'Mr Maelzel, would you like to buy another thing like that? I have one already made for you.”
Tom Standage, The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine

Jean Lorrain
“March 1898

What a strange dream I had last night! I wandered in the warm streets of a port, in the low quarter of some Barcelona or Marseille. The streets were noisome, with their freshly-heaped piles of ordure outside the doors, in the blue shadows of their high roofs. They all led down towards the sea. The gold-spangled sea, seeming as if it had been polished by the sun, could be seen at the end of each thoroughfare, bristling with yard-arms and luminous masts. The implacable blue of the sky shone brilliantly overhead as I wandered through the long, cool and sombre corridors in the emptiness of a deserted district: a quarter which might almost have been dead, abruptly abandoned by seamen and foreigners. I was alone, subjected to the stares of prostitutes seated at their windows or in the doorways, whose eyes seemed to ransack my very soul.

They did not speak to me. Leaning on the sides of tall bay-windows or huddled in doorways, they were silent. Their breasts and arms were bare, bizarrely made up in pink, their eyebrows were darkened, they wore their hair in corkscrew-curls, decorated with paper flowers and metal birds. And they were all exactly alike!

They might have been huge marionettes, or tall mannequin dolls left behind in panic - for I divined that some plague, some frightful epidemic brought from the Orient by sailors, had swept through the town and emptied it of its inhabitants. I was alone with these simulacra of love, abandoned by the men on the doorsteps of the brothels.

I had already been wandering for hours without being able to find a way out of that miserable quarter, obsessed by the fixed and varnished eyes of all those automata, when I was seized by the sudden thought that all these girls were dead, plague-stricken and putrefied by cholera where they stood, in the solitude, beneath their carmine plaster masks... and my entrails were liquefied by cold. In spite of that harrowing chill, I was drawn closer to a motionless girl. I saw that she was indeed wearing a mask... and the girl in the next doorway was also masked... and all of them were horribly alike under their identical crude colouring...

I was alone with the masks, with the masked corpses, worse than the masks... when, all of a sudden, I perceived that beneath the false faces of plaster and cardboard, the eyes of these dead women were alive.

Their vitreous eyes were looking at me...

I woke up with a cry, for in that moment I had recognised all the women. They all had the eyes of Kranile and Willie, of Willie the mime and Kranile the dancer. Every one of the dead women had Kranile's left eye and Willie's right eye... so that every one of them appeared to be squinting.

Am I to be haunted by masks now?”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

“When she opened her eyes they were confronted by a musical box against the opposite wall - one of those early Bavarian toys where mechanical figures perform to the tune.

'How odd,' she thought. The little stage showed a group of fiddlers, two couples in costumes like those of the ball she had just quitted, and in a doorway at the side, a gypsy or beggar man.

Very faintly the distant waltz came to her ears, but no footsteps ringing in the abandoned halls.

With her hand pressed to her unsteady heart, acting under a sudden compulsion, she pushed down the lever. Delicate plucked music started up; the fiddlers sawed with their clumsy arms in time to an ethereal waltz. The couples moved jerkily out and each raised an arm to clasp its partner. To various clicks and rumbles from under the floor they began to revolve with each other and to orbit round the room. Their movements were sinister because of being both reluctant and predestined. Here they were and this is was what they must do. ("Many Coloured Glass")”
L.M. Boston, Ghost Stories

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