"I think we're still on that topic, still trying to figure out what computers are, how they change us, why we use them."
- Neal Stephenson
||Cogitator (The Chair of Reflection)
||A device which improves the rationality of the thinking processes.
|However, I cannot pass over a very strange and extraordinary piece of Art which this Old Gentleman inform'd me of, and that was an Engine to screw a Man into himself: Perhaps our Country-men may be at some Difficulty to comprehend these things by my dull Description; and to such I cannot but recommend, a Journey in my Engine to the Moon.
This Machine that I am speaking of, contains a multitude of strange Springs and Screws, and a Man that puts himself into it, is very insensibly carried into vast Speculations, Reflexions, and regular Debates with himself: They have a very hard Name for it in those Parts; but if I were to give it an English Name, it should be call'd, The Cogitator, or the Chair of Reflection.
And First, The Person that is seated here feels some pain in passing some Negative Springs, that are wound up, effectually to shut out all Injecting, Disturbing Thoughts; and the better to prepare him for the Operation that is to follow, and this is without doubt a very rational way; for when a Man can absolutely shut out all manner of thinking, but what he is upon, he shall think the more Intensly upon the one object before him.
This Operation past, here are certain Screws that draw direct Lines from every Angle of the Engine to the Brain of the Man, and at the same time, other direct Lines to his Eyes; at the other end of which Lines, there are Glasses which convey or reflect the Objects the Person is desirous to think upon.
Then the main Wheels are turn'd, which wind up according to their several Offices; this the Memory, that the Understanding; a third the Will, a fourth the thinking Faculty; and these being put all into regular Motions, pointed by direct Lines to their proper Objects, and perfectly uninterrupted by the Intervention of Whimsy, Chimera, and a Thousand fluttering Damons that Gender in the Fancy, but are effectually Lockt out as before, assist one another to receive right Notions, and form just Ideas of the things they are directed to, and from thence the Man is impower'd to make right Conclusions, to think and act like himself, suitable to the sublime Qualities his Soul was originally blest with.
There never was a Man went into one of these thinking Engines, but he came wiser out than he was before; and I am persuaded, it would be a more effectual Cure to our Deism, Atheism, Scepticism, and all other Scisms, than ever the Italian's Engine, for Curing the Gout by cutting off the Toe.
|From The Consolidator,
by Daniel Defoe.
Published by Not Known in 1705
Additional resources -
Compare to the control helmet from Edmond Hamilton's 1938 story Easy Money.
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