The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
- William Faulkner
We created the Cardano Mythos Collection to honor those great people who came before. Since starting this project, we've learned so much about their lives. Their stories are our stories, and we are so lucky to have had them. Salute!
(the gifs below are previews of the full NFT artwork which are 2400x2932 29.97 fps .mp4 files)
[click any of the above images to jump to that piece]
Cardano Mythos Collection
- nft artwork -
Ada Lovelace's mother was emotionally abusive and manipulative, and Ada was frequently ill as a child. Coincidence? I think not! Her mother hated her father, Lord Byron, and didn't want Ada to end up a poet as well. So she had her educated in mathematics and music (to counter dangerous poetic tendencies, of course). But it didn't work!
Instead of being silenced, Ada became something exceptional: a poet-mathematician. Her language was mathematics, but she wouldn't be bound to traditional rules. She questioned basic assumptions through the lenses of poetry and science. She let herself dream and in the end she stretched the field of mathematics to an entirely new limit when she published the first computer algorithm ever written!
In 1843 Ada and Charles Babbage were working on the absolute cutting edge of technology at the time: the Analytical Engine - the world's first complex computer. During this time, Ada the poet-mathematician made an immense leap of foresight and imagination that no one had ever made in human history: She wrote that computers could be used for "developing and tabulating any function whatever... the engine is the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity."
People must have thought she was insane! A final working version of the Analytical Engine was never even physically built, and she was writing about its infinite possibilities. Reminds me a bit of crypto, tbh. Oh the places we'll go XD
After escaping her abuse laden childhood, Ada had finally hit her stride with the Analytical Engine, and she kept going. Among other projects, she was working on "a calculus of the nervous system," which was meant to model how the brain gives rise to thoughts and nerves to feelings. But Ada's intensely unique point of view was tragically snuffed out when she died of cancer in 1852, at the age of 36. One can only imagine the wonders of mathematics she might have produced had she more time on this Earth.
You won't be forgotten, Ada.
Original Artwork: Ada Lovelace by Margaret Sarah Carpenter, ca. 1836
Like his daughter Ada, George Gordon Byron, aka Lord Byron, grew up with an abusive mother. She was called "a woman without judgment or self-command," and her mood swings would take her from love-bombing him to mocking him for his disability (due to his club right foot). Early on, he developed a devotion to reading (probably to escape his mother!).
Byron's first "dash into poetry" was inspired age of 12 by an "ebullition of passion" for his cousin. No surprise he grew up to be a notorious romantic! All through his life his passions were stirred by his peers regardless of their gender. He's known as the most "flamboyant and notorious" English Romantic poet so you know he got pretty wild!
In fact, he was the first person to fully exploit the Rock Star persona that we've all come to know in modern times. He truly understood the value of self-promotion and would manipulate his public image to generate buzz. And damn if it didn't work splendidly! There was so much excitement around Lord Byron that is wife, Annabella, coined the term "Byromania" to describe this new phenomenon.
Byron innovented a semi-autobiographical character trope, the Byronic Hero, described as "a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection." Pretty Rock Star, right? Edmond Dante, and Johnny Silverhand are each striking examples of this trope.
Byron was a man of many pets, including numerous cats and dogs, as well as a fox, monkeys, an eagle, a crow, a falcon, peacocks, guinea hens, an Egyptian crane, a badger, geese, a heron, and a goat. And they all lived inside, I love it!
Lord Byron is widely regarded as one of the greatest English Poets. He wrote Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, among many other works. He championed liberty in his works and deeds. He fought the Ottoman Empire to help secure freedom for the Greeks in their war of independence.
After taking a wound in battle against the Ottomans, he died of fever in 1824 at 36. Coincidentally the same age his daughter, Ada, would later die, though she was only 8 years old when her father passed. Quite a family!
Original Artwork: Lord Byron in Albanian Dress by Thomas Phillips ca. 1813
Original Artwork: The Fall of Icarus by Jacob Peter Gowy, ca. 1635
Daedalus is a famed craftsman from Greek Mythology. He designed a Labyrinth for King Minos in order to imprison the Minotaur, King Minos’ half-human half-bull son. It worked pretty well, and Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son in a tower to prevent him from sharing his knowledge of the Labyrinth. This prompted Daedalus to invent a whole new thing: wings made of wood, feathers, and wax, meant to carry he and his son, Icarus, over the sea to freedom. As you may have heard, this didn’t end well for Icarus.
But why was Daedalus in King Minos' court in the first place? Because he MURDERED his nephew/pupil, Talos, and was banished from Athens for his crime. Daedalus doesn’t like competition I guess - Talos was an up and coming inventor. Interesting that Daedalus is known as a symbol of wisdom, knowledge, and power, and not as a murderer...
Whether or not he was a real man, as his story was told and retold over the centuries Daedalus became a demigod-like figure who was given credit for creating all sorts of astounding things. They say he came up with the idea to put sails and masts on ships (kind of a big deal). Pliny the Elder wrote that Daedalus was the inventor of carpentry itself, "and with it the saw, axe, plumb-line, drill, glue, and isinglass." (for those not in the know, isinglass is a kind of fish gelatin used in making glue. It’s pretty obvious if you think about it.)
What does this all add up to? I see Daedalus as a man whose only direction in life was to exercise his mind and create wondrous things. It seems like a noble pursuit, but notice how his friends and family keep dying? He was directly involved in
the death of his son, his nephew, and King Minos. Daedalus was a man who valued innovation and his own legacy over the lives of those around him. A powerful beacon of warning.
Original Artwork: Daedalus and Icarus by Joseph Maries Vein, ca. 1754
Original Artworks: Percy Bysshe Shelley by Alfred Clint, ca. 1819.
Portrait of Shelley by Alfred Clint, ca. 1829.
(other elements from various works)
Mary was born in London, the daughter of political philosopher William Godwin (the father of modern anarchism), and Mary Wollstonecraft (philosopher / author / pioneer of feminist thought). Mary’s mother died a month after she was born, so her anarchist father raised her. William remarried, and unfortunately neither Mary nor William's friends liked his new “quick-tempered and quarrelsome” wife.
Mary was home schooled by her father, the anarchist - her political courses must have been intense! She was very bright and often hung out with the various intellectuals who came to see her father. When she was 15, Mary's father said she was “singularly bold, somewhat imperious, and active of mind. Her desire for knowledge is great and her perseverance in everything she undertakes almost invincible.”
During "wet, ungenial summer" of 1816 Mary and Percy Shelley were vacationing in Switzerland with the one and only Lord Byron. This is where Frankenstein was first conceived. It's said that they were telling ghost stories when Byron proposed they each write a ghost story of their own. "Perhaps a corpse would be re-animated", 19 year old Mary noted, "galvanism had given token of such things..." Unable to sleep that night, she wrote the following:
I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.
Mary published Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus two years later, in 1818, when she was ONLY 21 YEARS OLD WHAT. Frankenstein was the first major science fiction novel ever. She invented the character trope of the “mad scientist,” and established a new genre of horror fiction. Very well done, ma'am!
Mary and Percy had three children who died soon after birth. She was mourning at the same time she was celebrating her first novel. That must have been so hard and confusing for her. But her fourth child survived!
Shelley remained politically radical throughout her life. Her parents would have been proud ♥
(She wrote other books as well, including The Last Man, about the lone survivor of a global plague. Sounds familiar!)
Original Artwork: Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell, ca. 1840
Original Artwork: Voltaire by Nicolas de Largillière, ca. 1724
Joseph Goguen was a visionary computer scientist who left his mark on the fields of algebra, logic, and others beside. He was a professor at the Universities of California and Oxford, and held research positions at IBM and SRI International. Goguen approached life and work with an open mind, and as a result was able to find connections between things that others missed. Through his focused yet expansive vision, he inspired his collogues to greater heights.
He invented Initial Algebra Schematics, the Theory of Institutions, and the OBJ programming language. Each of these things are as important as they are confusing to the layperson, trust me!
Prof. Grigore Rosu worked with and was inspired by Goguen. Rosu says Goguen taught him what NOT to work on. "It's very tempting to work on any problem that makes sense and you feel like you can solve it. But Goguen asked Rosu to think "what is the BIGGEST thing that you could do in your area?" "Once you crystalize that in your mind" Rosu said, "you start wondering 'why should I work on anything else, then?'"
This is a POWERFULLY important message that encourages innovation in such a direct and effective way. Goguen reminds us to keep our focus on the important things, to aim for the stars, and not to sweat the small stuff. And in true Goguen fashion, we should look at applying that idea broadly across our work and life.
All aspects of existence follow patterns, and those patterns tend to branch off into a fractal infinity. Knowing when a certain branch is on a path to your goal and when it's just a fascinating tangent is a powerful ability.
Goguen helped Rosu to develop this ability, and infused in him the idea of a universal language framework. Rosu went on to develop the K Framework, a universal framework for programming languages. Rosu says Goguen would have called it "OBJ++." Goguen would be so proud of your accomplishments, Professor Rosu!
Goguen thought outside of the box. In 1994 he became the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Consciousness Studies. This journal asked "How does the mind relate to the brain?" "Can computers ever be conscious?" "What do we mean by subjectivity and the self?" and examined them in plain English.
I think it's important to note that unlike many other journals, the Journal of Consciousness Studies incorporated articles from fields outside of the natural and social sciences, such as humanities, philosophy, critical theory, and comparative religion.
Goguen practiced Tibetan Buddhism for much of his life, and was a faculty member of the science program at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. This was the first accredited Buddhist-inspired academic institution in the USA.
Joseph Goguen passed away in 2006 at age 65. He left behind a shining legacy of inspiration to those who knew him and many important contributions to computer science.
This piece is unique in the Cardano Mythos Collection, because it's an original image of Goguen! There are only a couple pictures of him on the internet and they are very low resolution, so I used a combination of Adobe Photoshop and AI driven tools on top of an existing oil painting of another person. What came out of that process is a portrait of a smiling middle aged Joseph Goguen that I am very proud to have brought to life!
In addition to the high res video file, the purchase of this NFT comes with a high res still image of this portrait as well!
Base Artwork: Stanisław Mniszek by Gérard, ca. 1803