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Re: History of Objectivity

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  • Steve Farmer
    Dear Benjy, Interesting book, despite its rather heavy style.... Not having a full copy yet (I just ordered it), I m curious about what they have to say about
    Message 1 of 25 , Mar 1, 2008
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      Dear Benjy,

      Interesting book, despite its rather heavy style....

      Not having a full copy yet (I just ordered it), I'm curious
      about what they have to say about "true to life" drawings that
      show up throughout the 16th and 17th centuries of the world's
      scientific wonders including, of course, the rare "Bishop Fish."
      This incidentally, from a writer (Johan Zahn) who figures
      largely in traditional histories of pre-photography:

      http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/libr0081.htm

      This is of course true to life: we're told very clearly that
      the man-fish was caught in the Baltic Sea in 1531. Perhaps
      Lars Martin can tell us more. We know there are Bishop Fish,
      of course (probably rare today due to global warming) since
      his existence is attested in a long series of true to life
      drawings of this sort, reaching back 150 years before Zahn's
      definitive true-to-life drawing.

      Do check out some of the other wonderful early true to life"
      drawings at the NOAA site. This example is a favorite for me,
      since when I was right out of grad school I was planning to
      write a little book entitled "Reflections on the Bishop Fish"
      (on correlative cosmologies). Maybe a work for my dotage....

      Happy weekend,
      Steve


      "Benjamin Fleming" <dontread13@...> wrote:

      > Dear List,
      >
      > I have been reading a recently published book, "Objectivity" by
      > Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison (Zone Books, 2007), on the history
      > of objectivity....

      Selections:

      > http://www.safarmer.com/Indo-Eurasian/Objectivity.pdf
      > http://www.safarmer.com/Indo-Eurasian/Objectivity2.pdf
      >
      > The book abstract/blurb is as follows <http://tinyurl.com/2tyets> :
    • Steve Farmer
      On the Bishop Fish , etc., raised in discussion of the book snippets ... It turns out there is no easy way to find these via the one photo I linked to. It is
      Message 2 of 25 , Mar 1, 2008
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        On the "Bishop Fish", etc., raised in discussion of the book snippets
        posted by Benjy, I wrote:

        > Do check out some of the other wonderful early "true to life"
        > drawings at the NOAA site.

        It turns out there is no easy way to find these via the one photo I
        linked to. It is a marvelous collection for a weekend browse. Here
        are links:

        US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

        Link to General Catalog, Treasures of the NOAA Library Collection (16
        Web pages)
        http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/brs/liind1.htm

        The same broken into 4 categories for easier browsing:

        The Natural and Unnatural World (you'll find the "Bishop Fish" and
        friends here)
        http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/library/nat1.html

        Jackets, Frontispieces, and Title Pages
        http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/library/jackets1.html

        Instruments, Diagrams, and Principles
        http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/library/inst1.html

        Exploring and Surveying
        http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/library/explore1.html

        Best,
        Steve

        > "Benjamin Fleming" <dontread13@...> wrote:
        >
        >> Dear List,
        >>
        >> I have been reading a recently published book, "Objectivity" by
        >> Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison (Zone Books, 2007), on the history
        >> of objectivity....
        >
        > Selections:
        >
        >> http://www.safarmer.com/Indo-Eurasian/Objectivity.pdf
        >> http://www.safarmer.com/Indo-Eurasian/Objectivity2.pdf
        >>
        >> The book abstract/blurb is as follows <http://tinyurl.com/2tyets> :
        >
      • Benjamin Fleming
        Dear Steve, Briefly, still reading the book, but I have not found any discussion of true to life drawings, the focus is particularly 18th and 19th century
        Message 3 of 25 , Mar 1, 2008
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          Dear Steve,

          Briefly, still reading the book, but I have not found any discussion
          of "true to life" drawings, the focus is particularly 18th and 19th
          century and they are arguing that the history of "objectivity" is
          surprisingly short -- specifically rising in the 19th century. Their
          category of "truth-to-nature" is likely a related one though. I
          think the authors might have profited from an inclusion of your
          Bishop-fish example as it really makes clear how entirely different
          were early categories of nature; that is, how something as simple as
          observing nature, for example (something we may easily take for
          granted), underwent a long and winding development. This development
          is certainly highlighted in the book, but the authors' examples are
          somewhat less dramatic than the Bishop-fish one, though still
          striking. An example would be depicting fruit and flower of a given
          plant in the same diagram when this never occurs in nature.

          There appears to have been an interesting tension between artist and
          scientist, many scientists couldn't or didn't take the time to learn
          all of the complex etching or sketching techniques required to
          "represent" the natural world, but wanted, at the same time, to
          impose their vision/ideal on what the artist would or could draw
          (and hence what they could "see"). Furthermore, there was rarely an
          artist who would not, in some fashion, impose their own will/vision
          onto an object. You end up with four sets of eyes so to speak. Thus,
          even an idea like "drawing from nature" (i.e., directly) is a
          relatively new phenomenon. The tension between artist and scientist
          manifested in a number of interesting ways (the fruit/flower eg.,
          "ideal" human skeleton -- a synthesis of many examples, among many
          others). The artist was, from the scientist's perspective, suppose
          to suppress his or her will and was ideally the unthinkng
          instrument, much like the camera, is today. But this rarely
          occurred.

          So in this early process (i.e., interaction between artist and
          scientist) what might be observed is not necessarily what would be
          considered "natural"! I assume that the Bishop-fish was some
          earlier, and more fantastical version of this process (the book does
          not discuss this particular example). Really a necessary component in
          this continuum I think.

          At some point, though, the idea of unfiltered Nature (free of both
          interpretation of scientist and artist) became more desirable than
          the truth-to-nature ideals (scientist or artist imposing will). The
          idea of observation w/o intervention coincided with the development
          of technology (not only photography); so humans were to become
          machine-like or they would use machines to achieve the newer ideal
          of "objectivity," an idea/concept they also link to ethics (indeed
          one can only imagine the kinds of shenanigans that "true to life" or
          "truth-to-nature" precedents would inspire).

          I find this book useful so far, in any case, as a history of science
          and as a history of epistemology. Thanks for posting that great
          collection of drawings from the NOAA site. I especially like the sun
          with the smiling face:

          http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/libr0014.htm

          Best Wishes,

          Benjy


          On Mar 1, 2008, at 2:19 PM, Steve Farmer wrote:
          > Dear Benjy,
          >
          > Interesting book, despite its rather heavy style....
          >
          > Not having a full copy yet (I just ordered it), I'm curious
          > about what they have to say about "true to life" drawings that
          > show up throughout the 16th and 17th centuries of the world's
          > scientific wonders including, of course, the rare "Bishop Fish."
          > This incidentally, from a writer (Johan Zahn) who figures
          > largely in traditional histories of pre-photography:
          >
          > http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/libr0081.htm
          >
          > This is of course true to life: we're told very clearly that
          > the man-fish was caught in the Baltic Sea in 1531. Perhaps
          > Lars Martin can tell us more. We know there are Bishop Fish,
          > of course (probably rare today due to global warming) since
          > his existence is attested in a long series of true to life
          > drawings of this sort, reaching back 150 years before Zahn's
          > definitive true-to-life drawing.
          >
          > Do check out some of the other wonderful early true to life"
          > drawings at the NOAA site. This example is a favorite for me,
          > since when I was right out of grad school I was planning to
          > write a little book entitled "Reflections on the Bishop Fish"
          > (on correlative cosmologies). Maybe a work for my dotage....
          >
          > Happy weekend,
          > Steve
        • Lars Martin Fosse
          On mermen: The oldest references to such creatures go back to Old Norse literature, the oldest variety being a creature called marmennil ( little merman ), a
          Message 4 of 25 , Mar 2, 2008
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            On mermen:

            The oldest references to such creatures go back to Old Norse literature, the
            oldest variety being a creature called "marmennil" ("little merman"), a
            diminutive combination of man and fish. You could catch them in your fishing
            net, and you had to be nice to them, otherwise they could take revenge on
            you. But if you were nice, they would be grateful and helpful, and they
            could tell the future (usually in verse).

            Later, they gained in stature, but did not quite look like the picture Steve
            has given us. They were men above the belt and fish below, just like the
            mermaids. Steve's picture therefore does not give a correct representation
            of a merman, it is more likely to be an early Swede with a skin problem.

            Lars Martin


            From:
            Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
            Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
            0674 Oslo - Norway
            Phone: +47 22 32 12 19 Fax: +47 850 21 250
            Mobile phone: +47 90 91 91 45
            E-mail: lmfosse@...
            http://www.linguistfinder.com/translators.asp?id=2164





            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com
            > [mailto:Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
            > Steve Farmer
            > Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2008 8:20 PM
            > To: Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: [Indo-Eurasia] Re: History of Objectivity
            >
            > Dear Benjy,
            >
            > Interesting book, despite its rather heavy style....
            >
            > Not having a full copy yet (I just ordered it), I'm curious
            > about what they have to say about "true to life" drawings
            > that show up throughout the 16th and 17th centuries of the
            > world's scientific wonders including, of course, the rare
            > "Bishop Fish."
            > This incidentally, from a writer (Johan Zahn) who figures
            > largely in traditional histories of pre-photography:
            >
            > http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/libr0081.htm
            >
            > This is of course true to life: we're told very clearly that
            > the man-fish was caught in the Baltic Sea in 1531. Perhaps
            > Lars Martin can tell us more. We know there are Bishop Fish,
            > of course (probably rare today due to global warming) since
            > his existence is attested in a long series of true to life
            > drawings of this sort, reaching back 150 years before Zahn's
            > definitive true-to-life drawing.
            >
            > Do check out some of the other wonderful early true to life"
            > drawings at the NOAA site. This example is a favorite for me,
            > since when I was right out of grad school I was planning to
            > write a little book entitled "Reflections on the Bishop Fish"
            > (on correlative cosmologies). Maybe a work for my dotage....
            >
            > Happy weekend,
            > Steve
            >
            >
            > "Benjamin Fleming" <dontread13@...> wrote:
            >
            > > Dear List,
            > >
            > > I have been reading a recently published book, "Objectivity" by
            > > Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison (Zone Books, 2007), on
            > the history
            > > of objectivity....
            >
            > Selections:
            >
            > > http://www.safarmer.com/Indo-Eurasian/Objectivity.pdf
            > > http://www.safarmer.com/Indo-Eurasian/Objectivity2.pdf
            > >
            > > The book abstract/blurb is as follows <http://tinyurl.com/2tyets> :
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > Yahoo! Groups Links
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
          • Steve Farmer
            Dear Benjy and Lars Martin, Thanks for the explanations. Benjy s of course was serious, while ... Shame on you for making fun of the Bishop Fish, Lars Martin,
            Message 5 of 25 , Mar 2, 2008
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              Dear Benjy and Lars Martin,

              Thanks for the explanations. Benjy's of course was serious, while
              Lars Martin with his typical Nordic flippant wit tells us:

              > Steve's picture therefore does not give a correct representation
              > of a merman, it is more likely to be an early Swede with a skin
              > problem.

              Shame on you for making fun of the Bishop Fish, Lars Martin, shown
              below as he currently (briefly) appears on our homepage! Above all,
              please note that he was no ordinary merman but God's representative
              on earth to the fish world. To claim otherwise smacks of Nordic protestantism:

              http://www.safarmer.com/Indo-Eurasian/bishopfish.jpg

              In fact -- and here I'm quite serious -- the Bishop Fish was not a
              Renaissance joke: his reality was taken quite seriously. The
              existence of such creatures follows from the principles of late-
              traditional correlative cosmologies (think here of Dionysius the
              Pseudo-Areopagite or Dante). Since every 'level' of reality reflects all others, if there are Bishops in the human world, it follows that
              we should find their reflection in the world of animals, fish,
              plants, etc. And this relates to the book Benjy has been discussing:
              theory tells us what we'll find, more often than not, and then we
              go and empirically "find" it.

              Related principles lay behind the famous Rat Trials of the middle
              ages and Renaissance -- a wonderful topic for weekend discussion.
              Rats had a bad habit of breaking God's Law with regularity by
              bringing the plague, eating grain during famines, etc. In such cases
              they were frequently summoned to Court and ordered to leave the
              region. If they failed to obey, they were excommunicated from the
              Church and worse.

              But NB that (unlike those at Guantanamo) they were given fair
              trials and had good defense attorneys at government expense.
              In one famous case in the 16th century, the rats were so
              vigorously defended by a famous attorney (Chasseneuz, who went
              on to greater things) that the rats were acquitted.

              This and many similar cases are retold in this famous 1880 article
              entitled "Legal Prosecution of Animals" in _Popular Science Monthly_
              by William Jones, F.S.A. (Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries).
              Jones retells the story of the famous Rat Trial of Autun and similar
              tales of prosecutions in criminal courts of criminal caterpillars
              and field mice, etc. (Yes, humans have been idiots throughout
              human history; get further details here):

              http://www.safarmer.com/Indo-Eurasian/taking.animals.to.court.pdf
              (900 K download)

              (Huizinga retold some of these stories, esp. re the Rat Trials, in
              his famous _Waning of the Middle Ages_, pub. in 1919 [Eng. trans.
              1924]).

              Medieval Western courts were similarly severe (see again above
              article) on pigs who ate human children, on bulls guilty of homicide
              (duly tried and executed, despite the best efforts of defense
              attorneys to free them), on beetles who destroyed vineyards, and
              leeches that didn't remove themselves as directed from villages.

              Serious question: is there evidence of anything similar in Chinese or South Asian or Middle Eastern documents? I'd be very surprised if there wasn't. (I do know of cases in which Chinese bureaucratic gods were demoted in the celestial hierarchies following villager
              petitions if they didn't do their jobs -- e.g., bring rain, etc.)

              Happy weekend reading,
              Steve
            • Michael Witzel
              Thanks, Steve, for some weekend entertainment. As you say below, trials for animals were not uncommon in South Asia either: ... The case that springs to mind
              Message 6 of 25 , Mar 2, 2008
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                Thanks, Steve, for some weekend entertainment.

                As you say below, trials for animals were not uncommon in South Asia
                either:

                On Mar 2, 2008, at 1:39 PM, Steve Farmer wrote:
                > Related principles lay behind the famous Rat Trials of the middle
                > ages and Renaissance -- a wonderful topic for weekend discussion.
                >
                > Serious question: is there evidence of anything similar in Chinese
                > or South Asian or Middle Eastern documents? I'd be very surprised
                > if there wasn't.

                The case that springs to mind immediately is one that took place in
                Southern Nepal (in the Terai lowlands... a geographical and
                population extension of northern India)

                When I worked in Nepal in the mid-Seventies, an elephant was brought
                to court there for having killed a man. The judge, after careful
                examination of the case (how did they interrogate and cross-examine
                the elephant?) decided to let the elephant go: it was the man's fault
                that he had crossed the path of the elephant.

                On the other hand, you are "awarded 12 years in jail" (sic!) if you
                kill a cow. Or, as as foreigner, at least get kicked out of the
                country. Imagine my horror when I nearly ran over the local lethargic
                bull squatting on the dark road leading to the airport...

                I still have a collection of similar delightful news items, such as
                "White crow sighted. Good omen..." They were seriously reported on
                the front page of the then 4-page Government newspaper "The Rising
                Nepal".

                As we have often discussed, Enlightenment has not struck yet...

                Cheers,
                Michael

                >

                Michael Witzel
                > Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University
                > 1 Bow Street , 3rd floor, Cambridge MA 02138
                > 1-617-495 3295 Fax: 496 8571
                > direct line: 496 2990
                > <http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm>
                > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/>
                > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/compmyth>
                > <http://users.primushost.com/~india/ejvs/> changed to:
                > <http://www.ejvs.laurasianacademy.com/>
                > <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ejvs/ >
              • Lars Martin Fosse
                ... I have tried to look for a bishop fish on the local Internet, Steve, but I am sorry to say that no such creature as a fish bishop has been found. It can
                Message 7 of 25 , Mar 2, 2008
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                  Steve wrote:

                  > homepage! Above all, please note that he was no ordinary
                  > merman but God's representative on earth to the fish world.
                  > To claim otherwise smacks of Nordic protestantism:

                  I have tried to look for a bishop fish on the local Internet, Steve, but I
                  am sorry to say that no such creature as a fish bishop has been found. It
                  can only have been a bit of that nasty popery we were lucky to escape from
                  thanks to the cuius regio principle. But shamefully I shall have to admit
                  that I once again failed as as scholar.

                  On the other hand:

                  > In one famous case in the 16th century, the rats were so
                  > vigorously defended by a famous attorney (Chasseneuz, who
                  > went on to greater things) that the rats were acquitted.

                  Now, really Steve, what's so sensational about this? As far as I can see,
                  attorneys get rats of the hook every day, and make a whopping profit from it
                  at that. Why should it have been different 500 years ago?

                  Lars Martin


                  From:
                  Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
                  Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
                  0674 Oslo - Norway
                  Phone: +47 22 32 12 19 Fax: +47 850 21 250
                  Mobile phone: +47 90 91 91 45
                  E-mail: lmfosse@...
                  http://www.linguistfinder.com/translators.asp?id=2164
                • Heleanor Feltham
                  I can t give a proper reference, but I remember reading about a Chinese bureaucrat who was asked to officially request the local crocodiles to remove
                  Message 8 of 25 , Mar 2, 2008
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                    I can't give a proper reference, but I remember reading about a
                    Chinese bureaucrat who was asked to officially request the local
                    crocodiles to remove themselves from the area or face legal
                    repercussions

                    Heleanor


                    Steve Farmer wrote:
                    [. . . .]
                    > Related principles lay behind the famous Rat Trials of the middle
                    > ages and Renaissance -- a wonderful topic for weekend discussion.
                    > Rats had a bad habit of breaking God's Law with regularity by
                    > bringing the plague, eating grain during famines, etc. In such cases
                    >
                    > they were frequently summoned to Court and ordered to leave the
                    > region. If they failed to obey, they were excommunicated from the
                    > Church and worse.
                    >
                    > But NB that (unlike those at Guantanamo) they were given fair trials
                    > and had good defense attorneys at government expense. In one famous
                    > case in the 16th century, the rats were so vigorously defended by a
                    > famous attorney (Chasseneuz, who went on to greater things) that the
                    > rats were acquitted.
                    >
                    > This and many similar cases are retold in this famous 1880 article
                    > entitled "Legal Prosecution of Animals" in _Popular Science Monthly_
                    >
                    > by William Jones, F.S.A. (Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries).
                    > Jones retells the story of the famous Rat Trial of Autun and similar
                    >
                    > tales of prosecutions in criminal courts of criminal caterpillars
                    > and field mice, etc. (Yes, humans have been idiots throughout human
                    > history; get further details here):
                    >
                    > (900 K download)
                    >
                    > (Huizinga retold some of these stories, esp. re the Rat Trials, in
                    > his famous _Waning of the Middle Ages_, pub. in 1919 [Eng. trans.
                    > 1924]).
                    >
                    > Medieval Western courts were similarly severe (see again above
                    > article) on pigs who ate human children, on bulls guilty of homicide
                    >
                    > (duly tried and executed, despite the best efforts of defense
                    > attorneys to free them), on beetles who destroyed vineyards, and
                    > leeches that didn't remove themselves as directed from villages.
                    >
                    >Serious question: is there evidence of anything similar in Chinese or
                    > South Asian or Middle Eastern documents? I'd be very surprised if
                    > there wasn't. (I do know of cases in which Chinese bureaucratic gods
                    > were demoted in the celestial hierarchies following villager
                    > petitions if they didn't do their jobs -- e.g., bring rain, etc.)
                    >
                    > Happy weekend reading,
                    > Steve
                  • John C. Huntington
                    [Mod note. How not quite true, John? - SF.] Now that s funny! Thank you. Even if it is not quite true. John
                    Message 9 of 25 , Mar 2, 2008
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                      [Mod note. How not quite true, John? - SF.]

                      Now that's funny!

                      Thank you. Even if it is not quite true.

                      John


                      On Mar 2, 2008, at 7:41 PM, Heleanor Feltham wrote:

                      > I can't give a proper reference, but I remember reading about a
                      > Chinese bureaucrat who was asked to officially request the local
                      > crocodiles to remove themselves from the area or face legal
                      > repercussions
                      >
                      > Heleanor
                    • naga_ganesan
                      [Mod. note. This post apparently picks up on a weekend discussion two weeks ago about premodern trials of animals in the West, detailed in this 1880 article:
                      Message 10 of 25 , Mar 13, 2008
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                        [Mod. note. This post apparently picks up on a weekend discussion
                        two weeks ago about premodern trials of animals in the West,
                        detailed in this 1880 article:
                        <http://www.safarmer.com/Indo-Eurasian/taking.animals.to.court.pdf>
                        (900 K download) - SF.]

                        Heleanor Feltham wrote:

                        > I can't give a proper reference, but I remember reading about a
                        > Chinese bureaucrat who was asked to officially request the local
                        > crocodiles to remove themselves from the area or face legal
                        > repercussions

                        Bear convicted for theft of honey in Macedonia:
                        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7295559.stm

                        N. Ganesan
                      • Benjamin Fleming
                        Dear List, Continuing the discussion begun in February when Harvard committed to open-access publications for faculty, yesterday, The Chronicle of Higher
                        Message 11 of 25 , Jul 1, 2008
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                          Dear List,

                          Continuing the discussion begun in February when Harvard committed
                          to open-access publications for faculty, yesterday, The Chronicle of
                          Higher Education announced that Stanford will also be requiring
                          faculty of Education members to submit to free online access to
                          their scholarly articles. This trend appears to slowly be catching
                          on.

                          http://tinyurl.com/5ddshm

                          Benjy

                          ======================================
                          The Chronicle of Higher Education
                          June 30, 2008

                          Stanford's Education School Requires Open Access

                          Open-access advocates predicted that the move last February by
                          Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences and, later, by its
                          Law School to require free online access to all faculty members'
                          scholarly articles would prompt other universities to adopt similar
                          policies. The movement has not exactly snowballed, but another
                          institution did just join in.

                          Last week Stanford University's School of Education revealed that it
                          would require faculty members to allow the university to place their
                          published articles in a free online database.

                          The school's faculty passed a motion unanimously — just as Harvard's
                          two faculties had — on June 10. A faculty member and open-access
                          advocate, John Willinsky, made the policy public last week at the
                          International Conference on Electronic Publishing, in Toronto. A
                          video of his presentation is available.

                          —Lila Guterman
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