Legends and Stories a parable from the Book Lieh Tzu

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Legends and Stories

A Parable from the Book Lieh Tzu

  • Book V of the Book of Lieh-Tzü
  • A book of Taoist teachings from the 3rd century B.C.
  • Book V of the Book of Lieh-Tzü
  • A book of Taoist teachings from the 3rd century B.C.

Khwai Shuh

  • In ancient China: The bringing of a statue to life so that it can serve its master.



Egyptian Shabtis

Egyptian Shabtis

  • Spell 6 of:
  • 'The Book Of The Dead' instructs the Shabti as follows...
  • O Shabti, If ‘the deceased’ be summoned to do any work which has to be done in the realm of the dead, to make arable the fields, to irrigate the land or to convey sand from East to West;
  • "Here I Am", you shall say, "I Shall Do It".


  • A clay giant in Norse mythology. He was built to help the giants defend themselves against Thor. They could find no heart big enough, so he had just a mare’s heart. He crumbled in battle.
  • http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=mabie&book=norse&story=giant


  • Vulcan
  • Peter Paul Rubens
  • Vulcan
  • Blacksmith of the Gods
  • The Forge of Hephaestus
  • Gaetano Gondolfi 1734-1802


  • Vulcan
  • Hephaestus created automata, including tripods that walked back and forth to Mount Olympus.
  • He also created …


  • Vulcan
  • Hephaestus created automata, including tripods that walked back and forth to Mount Olympus.
  • He also created the first woman: Pandora, whose dowry was a bag of evils, thus attaining revenge upon the Titans.
  • Pandora & Hephaestus, Athenian red-figure amphora C5th B.C., Ashmolean Museum

Talos - Τάλως

  • One version of the Talos myth: Talos was forged of bronze by Hephaestus, but he had one vein that ran from his neck down to his ankle where it was closed by a single nail.
  • His job was to guard Crete. He patrolled the island three times a day. He pelted invaders with stones.
  • He attacked the Argonauts in this way. But Medea saw the nail and pulled it out. The lifeblood of Talos ran out and he died.

Talos - Τάλως

  • Talos & the Argonauts, Athenian red-figure krater C4th B.C., Jatta Museum, Ruvo

Talos - Τάλως

  • http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi4187095321/

Golden Female Automata

  • There were golden handmaids also who worked for him [Hephaestus], and were like real young women, with sense and reason, voice also and strength, and all the learning of the immortals; these busied themselves as the king bade them, while he drew near to Thesis …
  • Homer (8th c BC), The Iliad, Book 18.

Autonomous Ships

  • Therefore, Sir, do you on your part affect no more concealment nor reserve in the matter about which I shall ask you; it will be more polite in you to give me a plain answer; tell me the name by which your father and mother over yonder used to call you, and by which you were known among your neighbours and fellow-citizens. There is no one, neither rich nor poor, who is absolutely without any name whatever, for people's fathers and mothers give them names as soon as they are born. Tell me also your country, nation, and city, that our ships may shape their purpose accordingly and take you there. For the Phaeacians have no pilots; their vessels have no rudders as those of other nations have, but the ships themselves understand what it is that we are thinking about and want; they know all the cities and countries in the whole world, and can traverse the sea just as well even when it is covered with mist and cloud, so that there is no danger of being wrecked or coming to any harm
  • Homer, The Odyssey, Book 8

The 2007 Urban Grand Challenge

  • How Realistic Is That?
  • A crash in the DARPA Urban Challenge (Nov, 2007)

Moving Statues

  • http://www.answers.com/topic/moving-statues
  • Some say that a soul moves the body in which it dwells just as it moves itself; as did Democritus, who spoke like Philip the comic poet; for the latter relates that Daedalus (whose name means “cunning worker”) made a wooden Venus mobile by pouring quicksilver into it.
  • Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.), de Anima, Chapter 3

Aristotle Wondered

  • So any piece of property can be regarded as a tool enabling a man to live, and his property is an assemblage of such tools; a slave is a sort of living piece of property; and like any other servant is a tool in charge of other tools. For suppose that every tool we had could perform its task, either at our bidding or itself perceiving the need, and if – like the statues made by Daedalus or the tripods of Hephaestus, of which the poet says that ‘self-moved they enter the assembly of the gods’ – shuttles in a loom could fly to and fro and a plucker play a lyre of their own accord, then master craftsmen would have no need of servants nor masters of slaves.
  • Aristotle, Politics, Book 1, Chapter 4 (1253b)
  • (C 350 BCE)

Pygmalion and Galatea

  • Jean-Michel Moreau le Jeune (Les Métamorphoses d'Ovide, Paris 1806).
  • Recounted by Ovid in about 5 CE

The Mabinogion

  • A collection of 11 stories taken from Welsh manuscripts. The first manuscripts are dated between 1350 and 1410, but the stories are earlier, probably first appearing sometime between 1060 and 1200.

The Mabinogion

  • Math said, ‘Let us use our magic and enchantments to conjure up a woman out of flowers.’ By then Lleu had the stature of a man and was the handsomest lad anyone had ever seen. Math and Gwydion took the flowers of oak and broom and meadowsweet and from these conjured up the loveliest and most beautiful girl anyone had seen; they baptized her with the form of baptism that was used then, and named her Blodeuedd.
  • The Mabinogion (“Math the Son of Mathonwy”)

Rabbi Eleazar of Worms

  • c. 1160 - 1230
  • http://emol.org/kabbalah/seferyetzirah/commentaryeleazar.html
  • How to create a Golem: http://emol.org/kabbalah/golem/index.html

Albertus Magnus

  • Albertus Magnus
  • Joos van Gent, c.1475
  • A story from the New York Times, April 29, 1883
  • 1193/1209 – 1280
  • Bavarian philosopher, theologian, Catholic saint, Dominican friar, scientist, astrologer
  • Advocated the peaceful coexistence of science and religion.

The Automaton of Albertus Magnus?

  • A story from the New York Times, April 29, 1883
  • Albertus is said to have manufactured a life-size animated servant.  In one version of the tale, Thomas Aquinas destroyed the automaton when he encountered it in the street, believing it to be the work of the devil.  The creature - made of metal, wood, glass, wax and leather - is said to have been able to talk and open the door for visitors and to serve dinner to guests.

Albertus Magnus

  • Shelly, Frankenstein, where Albertus is referred to as one of Victor Frankenstein's chosen readings.
  • Hawthorne: The Birth-mark
  • Melville, The Bell Tower.
  • Heinlein, Glory Road, in which the hero, Scar Gordon, reads a book of magic by Albertus.
  • Albertus in later literature:

Roger Bacon

  • 1214 – 1294 English philosopher, scientist, Franciscan friar, alchemist, and astrologist

The Honourable History of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

  • A comedy, written c. 1589 by Robert Greene.
  • In collaboration with another magician, Friar Bungay, Bacon labors toward his greatest achievement: the creation of an artificial head made of brass, animated by demonic influence, that can surround England with a protective wall of the same metal. The brazen head speaks three times, saying "Time is," "Time was," and Time is past"
  • One plot element in the play:
  • Then there is a flash of lightning and a hand appears, which breaks the Head  with a hammer.   
  • But Bacon sleeps through this because his servant Miles doesn't have the wit to wake his master in time.

Medieval Talking Bronze Heads

  • Roger Bacon
  • Pope Sylvester II (Gerbert)
  • Albertus Magnus
  • Virgil
  • Robert Grosseteste
  • Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
  • Faust
  • Enrique de Villena
  • Arnaldus de Villa Nova
  • Among the people reputed to have a brazen head were:

And the Legend Lives On

  • Quoth he, “My head’s not made of brass as Friar Bacon’s noddle was”.
  • - Samuel Butler, Hudibras, ii, 2 (1660-1680)
  • Bacon trembling for his brazen head.
  • - Alexander Pope, Dunciad, iii, 104 (1728)
  • Like Friar Bacon’s brazen head, I’ve spoken, Time is, time was, time’s past.
  • - Lord Byron, Don Juan, I, 217-18 (1819 -1824)


  • Paracelsus (1493 – 1541)
  • A scientist and alchemist who wrote that he could create a miniature human:
  • A man’s semen must be put into a hermetically - sealed retort, buried in horse manure for 40 days, and ‘magnetized’. During this time, it begins to live and move, and at the end of the 40 days it resembles a human form, but is transparent and without a body. It must now be fed daily with the arcanum (hidden mystery) of human blood (arcanum sanguinis hominis), and be maintained at the constant temperature of a mare’s womb, for a period of 40 weeks, and it will grow into a human child, with all its limbs developed, as normal as any child born of a woman, except that it will be much smaller. It may be raised and educated like any other child, until he grows older and obtains reason and intellect, and is able to take care of himself.


  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Faust (1806 -1829)

Rabbi Loew and the Golem

  • The Golem legend from 16th century Prague

Der Golem und die Tanzerin

  • A 1917 film by Paul Wehener

The Golem in Prague Today

  • A children’s book

The Golem in Prague Today

  • A t-shirt

The Golem in Prague Today

Rabbi Loew’s Tomb in Prague

Der Golem, Gustav Meyrink

  • A Review: http://www.laurahird.com/newreview/thegolem.html
  • 1915 (German), 1928 (English)

Avram Davidson – The Golem

  • http://www.art-anima.com/forumi/index.php?topic=397.0
  • A modern story in LA.

Another People From Earth/Clay Story

  • The Chinese goddess Nüwa (女娲)
  • In Chapter 3 of Songs of Chu (Qu Tuan, c. 340 - 278 BC), it is said that Nüwa molded figures from the yellow earth, giving them life and the ability to bear children. After demons fought and broke the pillars of the heavens, Nüwa worked unceasingly to repair the damage, melting down the five-coloured stones to mend the heavens

René Descartes

  • The story goes that Descartes, who had lost his real daughter when she was 5, created the automaton daughter, Ma Fille Francine in around 1640. Francine could do somersaults on a tightrope. All went well until Descartes took it with him on a sea voyage, where it was thrown overboard by either the captain or the sailors, terrified that it was the work of the devil.
  • Descartes was a dualist: he believed that the body operated like a machine but that humans (and only humans) have a mind (soul) that is nonmaterial.

Missing from Our List?



  • Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle returned from a journey when I had placed a curtain of mine having pictures over (the door of) a chamber of mine. When Allah's Apostle saw it, he tore it and said, "The people who will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection will be those who try to make the like of Allah's creations." So we turned it (i.e., the curtain) into one or two cushions.
  • —Sahih al-Bukhari, 7:72:838
  • A hadith is a saying or an act of tacit approval or disapproval ascribed either validly or invalidly to the prophet Muhammad.

So, Is the Idea Important?

  • Does a lack of examples of human-created creatures mean that, in this culture:
  • The idea didn’t occur
  • No one took it seriously?

The Sandman

  • A Story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, 1817.

The Sandman

  • The Sandman visits. Nathaniel (a small child) is terrified.

The Sandman

  • Nathaniel believes that the Sandman is the lawyer Coppelius, who engages in alchemy with Nathaniel’s father.
  • One night, an experiment explodes and Nathaniel’s father is killed.

The Sandman

The Sandman

  • Nathaniel thinks that Coppola is Copelius and he’s spooked.
  • But Spalanzani, the new physics professor says he’s known him for years.

The Sandman

  • Spalanzani has a daughter, Olympia.
  • “A very tall and slender lady, extremely well-proportioned and most splendidly attired, sat in the room by a little table on which she had laid her arms, her hands being folded together. She sat opposite the door, so that I could see the whole of her angelic countenance. She did not appear to see me, and indeed there was something fixed about her eyes as if, I might almost say, she had no power of sight. It seemed to me that she was sleeping with her eyes open. I felt very uncomfortable, and therefore I slunk away into the lecture-room close at hand.”

The Sandman

  • Nathaniel goes home to visit Clara. He reads her a dark poem he’s written. She says:
  • “Nathaniel, dearest Nathaniel, do throw that mad, senseless, insane stuff into the fire! ”
  • He cries at her:
  • “Oh, inanimate, accursed automaton!”
  • Nathaniel and Clara’s brother agree to a duel but Clara stops them and everyone is reconciled.

The Sandman

  • Nathaniel returns and ends up living across the street from Spalanzani and Olympia.

The Sandman

  • Coppola visits Nathaniel selling:
  • "pretty eyes, pretty eyes!"
  • Nathaniel is spooked, but calms himself down and buys a telescope.
  • Mario Laboccetta

The Sandman

  • Nathaniel watches Olympia through his telescope.

The Sandman

  • Nathaniel goes to Spalanzani’s party and is more taken with Olympia, who plays the harpsichord, sings and dances (stiffly).
  • Jeremy Rizza

The Sandman

  • Nathaniel eventually tells Olympia of his passion for her, to which she replies only "Ah, ah!".

The Sandman

  • Nathaniel’s friend says to him:
  • 'Be kind enough, brother, to tell me how a sensible fellow like you could possibly lose your head over that wax face, over that wooden doll up there?'
  • To us - pray do not take it ill, brother she appears singularly stiff and soulless. Her shape is well proportioned - so is her face - that is true! She might pass for beautiful if her glance were not so utterly without a ray of life - without the power of vision. Her pace is strangely regular, every movement seems to depend on some wound-up clockwork. Her playing and her singing keep the same unpleasantly correct and spiritless time as a musical box, and the same may be said of her dancing. We find your Olympia quite uncanny, and prefer to have nothing to do with her. She seems to act like a living being, and yet has some strange peculiarity of her own.'

The Sandman

  • But Nathaniel continues to visit Olympia, reading her the poems and mysticism that had so bored Clara, and Olympia listens to it all and replies only "Ah, ah!", which Nathaniel interprets as understanding.

The Sandman

  • Nathaniel goes to propose to Olympia.
  • Spalanzani and Coppelius are fighting.
  • “Let go - let go! Rascal! - Scoundrel ! - Body and soul I've risked upon it! - Ha, ha, ha! - That's not what we agreed to! - I, I made the eyes! - I made the clockwork! - Stupid blockhead with your clockwork! - Accursed dog of a bungling watch-maker! - OR with you ! - Devil ! - Stop ! - Pipe-maker! - Infernal beast! - Stop ! - Get out! - Let go!”

The Sandman

  • Coppola (Coppelius) wins the struggle, and makes off with the lifeless and eyeless body of Olympia.
  • Spalanzani yells at Nathaniel:
  • After him - after him - what are you waiting for ? Coppelius, Coppelius - has robbed me of my best automaton - a work of twenty years - body and soul risked upon it - the clockwork - the speech - the walk, mine; the eyes stolen from you. The infernal rascal - after him; fetch Olympia - there you see the eyes!

The Sandman

  • The sight of Olympia's eyes lying on the ground drives Nathaniel to madness and he flies at the professor to strangle him. He is pulled away by other people drawn by the noise of the struggle, and in a state of insanity is taken to the mad-house.

The Sandman

  • Nathaniel recovers. But Spalanzani is disgraced.
  • “ .. it was universally considered a quite unpardonable trick to smuggle a wooden doll into respectable tea-parties in place of a living person - for Olympia had been quite a success at tea-parties. The lawyers called it a most subtle deception, and the more culpable, inasmuch as he had planned it so artfully against the public that not a single soul - a few cunning students excepted - had detected it, although all now wished to play the wiseacre, and referred to various facts which had appeared to them suspicious. Nothing very clever was revealed in this way. Would it strike anyone as so very suspicious, for instance, that, according to the expression of an elegant tea-ite, Olympia had, contrary to all usage, sneezed oftener than she had yawned ? 'The former,' remarked this fashionable person, 'was the sound of the concealed clockwork winding itself up. Moreover, it had creaked audibly.' And so on.”

The Sandman

  • Nathaniel goes back to Clara. But then he loses it again and tries to throw Clara off a balcony. She is rescued by her brother.
  • Nathaniel thinks he sees Coppelius. He jumps off the balcony and dies.

The Sandman

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G7g8lG_1T8

The Uncanny

  • The Sandman inspired Sigmund Freud’s essay, The Uncanny.


  • Mary Shelley, 1818

The Nightingale

  • Written in 1844 by Hans Christian Anderson

A Modern Nightingale?

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatsune_Miku
  • Hatsune Miku never misses a beat, fluffs a line or messes up a step.
  • 初音ミク

A Modern Nightingale?

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatsune_Miku
  • Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBucCNH78q4
  • Hatsune Miku never misses a beat, fluffs a line or messes up a step. But then she doesn't really exist.
  • 初音ミク


  • On the outside wall of a building in Monaco.

Big Bang Theory

  • Sheldon (on phone): Hello. This is Sheldon Cooper. I’m leaving a message for Barry Kripke. Barry, It was pleasant seeing you today in the cafeteria. I saw that you purchased the chef’s salad. Apparently, you did not know that the chef’s salad is kitchen trickery, to utilize scrap meat. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed it. I’m following up on our pending friendship, and I look forward to hearing from you regarding its status. Sheldon Cooper.

Big Bang Theory

  • Penny: What’s up with Ichabod?
  • Leonard: Oh he’s trying to make a new friend.
  • Penny: Oh really? Well, good for him.
  • Leonard: Well, unless he’s makes one out of wood like Gepetto, I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

No Woman Born

  • A short story by Catherine Lucille Moore, 1944
  • Deirdre:
  • Posthuman
  • Subhuman ?
  • Superhuman ?

Real Robot Dancing

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vwZ5FQEUFg
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t1NWH6G1f0

With Folded Hands

  • 1947
  • 1947
  • http://www.otr.net/?p=dimx

Robot Gods

  • There may be some important ways in which the Japanese and western views of robots differ.
  • http://ofepicproportions.blogspot.com/2009/07/ave-machina-deus-est-machina.html
  • http://ofepicproportions.blogspot.com/2009/07/ave-machina-deus-est-machina.html

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