Saint-Denis’ head as an allegory for a computer

Saint-Denis is the most famous cephalophore (i.e. a martyr saint who is depicted carrying his own head).

In the third century, Saint-Denis was Bishop of Paris. He was martyred in connection with the Decian (from Decius, a Roman emperor) persecution of Christians, shortly after 250 AD.

After his head was chopped off, Denis is said to have picked it up and walked ten kilometres (six miles), preaching a sermon the entire way.

He walked to the place of his burial.

Besides the severed head, Saint Denis is recognizable by his attributes: the miter and the chains.

At the left Portal of the facade of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris stands a statue of Saint Denis .

Image
Leon Bonnat painting at the Pantheon in Paris (The martyrdom of Saint-Denis) is evoked by Michel Serres in a section of his book Hominescence to support his use of the figure of the saint holding his head, as an allegory refering to Serres’ contemporary fellow who often placed, next to him, a head to which has been delegated the burden of memory and computation (the computer),  so that the subject himself, released, can indulge in a new creative work.

Source: Wikipedia

 

 

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