This introductory chapter examines the figure of the servant from several perspectives, ranging from architectural to literary and scientific contexts. It argues that the server metaphor involves much more than just a cursory formula or a decorative analogy; the term has a rich historical background. As a ministering spirit of communication, the server defies definitions, since the figure it invokes—the servant—fulfills a multitude of historical and media-specific functions. And it is precisely the long, multifaceted history of that figure that may provide assistance in unpacking the metaphor. The chapter shows that the aim of the book is to trace the intricate pathways of service in a broad arc that extends from the present day to the baroque.
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