continuum (animated)

In the previous post, I showed page 100 of ‘Continuum’, a work in progress. It’s a comic book in which “Albert Einstein takes a young George W. Bush on a journey through space-time and philosophy.” The page illustrates 60 of the key figures in the history of philosophy, science and mysticism, with several key figures from the hard sciences included (those whose breakthroughs changed the perception of reality). I drew the figures so that each seemed to walk into the one following, using the classic ‘contact/recoil/passing/high-point’ method in traditional animation. Although they were never meant to be animated, I was curious to see what they would look like, if superimposed upon each other:

Drawing these 60 figures took between 2 and 3 months.

The figures in the list are:

Indus Valley; Sumeria and China (all ~3300 BC); Pythagoras (570–495 BC); Socrates (469–399 BC); Plato (423–348 BC); Aristotle (384–322 BC); Ptolemy (90–168 AD); Plotinus (204–270); Augustine (354–430); Aryabhata (476–550); Al Farabi (872-951); Al Hazen (965-1040); Al Ma’arri (973-1058); Avicenna (980-1037) ;Al Ghazali (1058–1111); Averroes (1126–1198); Maimonides (1135-1204); Grosseteste (1175–1253); Roger Bacon (1214–1294); Aquinas (1225–1274); Ockham (1288–1348); Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406); Copernicus (1473–1543); Francis Bacon (1561-1626); Galileo (1564–1642); Kepler (1571-1630); Descartes (1596–1650); Locke (1632–1704); Spinoza (1632–1677); Newton (1642–1727); Leibniz (1646–1716); Berkeley (1685–1753); Voltaire (1694–1778); Hume (1711–1776); Kant (1724–1804); Hegel (1770–1831); Mill (1806–1873); Darwin (1809–1882); Nietzsche (1844–1900); Freud (1856–1939); Husserl (1859–1938); Whitehead (1861–1947); Curie (1867–1934); Russell (1872–1970); Jung (1875–1961); Einstein (1879–1955); Korzybski (1879–1950); Eddington (1882–1944); Eddington (1882–1944); Bohr (1885–1962); Schrodinger (1887–1961); Wittgenstein (1889–1951); Heisenberg (1901–1976); Karl Popper (1902–1994); Von Neumann (1903–1957); Godel (1906-1978); Franklin (1920-1958); Mandelbrot (1924-2010); Sheldrake(1942-).

A quick note: several people have commented that there are only 2 women in the list – implying a bias (conscious or unconscious) on my part. I actively tried to find female figures who were not examples of mere tokenism. Please remember that I am not responsible for the condition of women’s rights in Periclean Athens, Late Antiquity, Medieval Europe – or 20th century Europe/America for that matter. I removed Watson and Crick from the lineup, replacing them with Rosalind Franklin. I’d have added Jocelyn Bell (for the discovery of the pulsar), had the line been more relevant to astronomical discoveries.

Secondly, the list specifically deals with the “infuriating dialectic” between science, religion and mysticism – there are very specific figures in this story (for example: Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Avicenna, Averroes, Al Hazen, Al Ma’arri and Al Ghazali). I’m not discriminating against women, neither am I discriminating in favour of people whose names begin with the letter “A”. This historical record is what it is, and I don’t currently possess a history reset button. But when I get that button, y’all better watch out, because where we’re going, we won’t need roads.

All that said, hope you find the animation interesting. If I had enough time, I could properly animate this, adding the inbetween poses, and smoothing out the walk poses (remember, they were never meant to be seen like this!) Sadly, time is short, so barring a viral kickstart campaign, it’s not going to happen.

My personal favourite in the list is Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri (973-1058), a Syrian agnostic/atheist. Here is a lovely translation of his poem ‘The Luzumiyat’.

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5 Responses to continuum (animated)

  1. Julian Lang says:

    Great. This is very interesting and a cool animation transformation.

  2. Carlos Nani says:

    Very, very nice work !! Congratulations !!

  3. Love the animation work. Very well said in regards to the “missing women” comment. Going back and trying to change history to make it something it wasn’t is misleading. I thoroughly dislike it when agenda-driven folks try to change history simply to fit into their own viewpoints; if you had, in fact, included women just for the sake of it, that would smack of dishonesty.

    • dermot says:

      Thanks Nathan. It really can be exasperating. I had one american nationalist accuse me of bias because I hadn’t got one ‘naturally born American’ in the list. I don’t think he meant Navajo or Hopi either. I was halfway through a reply when I realised the futility of further discussion with him (the entire project was inspired by Carroll Quigley, a ‘naturally born American’, in any case.

      I fear this project, when finished, will bring out the worst in people, as it skewers so many sacred cows – indeed, it skewers an entire way of looking at reality.

      I have managed to find some recent female figures who are 100% appropriate to the list, and germane to the point of the illustration (Mary Midgley for one, Lynn Margulis another). Of course, these only really begin to appear in the mid to late 20th century.

      The updated list has 100 figures; I’m thinking of expanding it to include every historical figure in the comic, which would be closer to 200 or 300.

      You can see the latest version on page 2 of my interview with Toonboom here:

    • dermot says:

      Just found this book (Mary Midgley mentioned Wertheim in her book ‘Are you an illusion?’; stumbled over a mention of Wertheim in a history blog, this book is DEFINITELY on my reading list now:

      QUOTE: A spirited look at the relationship between physics and religion—and the implications for both sexes.

      Here is a fresh, astute social and cultural history of physics, from ancient Greece to our own time. From its inception, Margaret Wertheim shows, physics has been an overwhelmingly male-dominated activity; she argues that gender inequity in physics is a result of the religious origins of the enterprise.

      Pythagoras’ Trousers is a highly original history of one of science’s most powerful disciplines. It is also a passionate argument for the need to involve both women and men in the process of shaping the technologies from the next generation of physicists.

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