Patterns of trivialisation

D R Thomson, Lost in the wasteland Our post-industrial cultures have been shaping and exploring various patterns of trivialisation. Trivialisation of friendship. Trivialisation of worth. Trivialisation of sacredness. Of heroism. Of freedom and liberation. Of authority. Of government and citizenship. Of living and dreaming. At the heart of these patterns, there is a strong urge... Continue Reading →

The body of text, the corpse of meaning

Barrie Tullet’s Valley of Disease (Inferno Canto 29 of The Typographic Dante) No matter how much you exercise, how healthy you eat and how carefully you plan, death comes to us all. Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi. It’s the same with words. Language evolved every which way before the advent of Academies,... Continue Reading →

Leading out and leading in

To think that as one moves across the board, things don’t get lost is quite unrealistic. Something always gets lost, pieces get captured. the question is: what’s the trade-off? Has the strategy worked? Has the outcome been achieved? There is always a cost. Sometimes the cost can be computed, sometimes it can’t. The cost of... Continue Reading →

The radical self

Past performance is no guarantee of future outcomes. An increase in quantity won’t lead to a surge a quality. More is not necessarily better, and good yesterday doesn’t mean better today. Yet our mind seems to be wired to believe that the arrow keeps flying and that time, rather than agency, is the real engine... Continue Reading →

The beginning of the end

Fellini's Satyricon (1969) It’s not a coincidence that the first European novel is also one of the weirdest pieces of literature. Petronius’ Satyricon, a work of the 1st century AD, features gay threesomes, warewolves, twisted dinner parties, leather sex toys and cannibalism. It is a monument built on and around irony, but it is also... Continue Reading →

Mental breakthroughs

The calendar page for May in an 11th century manuscript from the Abbey of St Gall, Switzerland (St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 394). The medieval calendar integrated the ancient Roman day-week-month system with the Christian liturgical year. There is a time to innovate and a time to fall back on the certainties of past achievements.... Continue Reading →

‘You can’t sign an ebook’

I attended a book launch yesterday that my company hosted. The author introduced the book and then took questions from the audience. He had brought a few copies to sign and give away. There were not enough books for everyone who wanted one, at which point the author said, don’t worry, I have a QR... Continue Reading →

Shop talk

The best writers have rarely revealed the workings of their workshop. What I wouldn't give to have a contemporary account of how the Iliad became the Iliad. I would pay good money for a tour of the backstage. For hundreds of years, scholars have spent their own money, time and brainpower of getting a peak... Continue Reading →

Ancient wisdom

In cognitive psychology and the cognitive sciences, scholars are rediscovering Plato. In behavioral sciences and popular self-betterment literature, Stoicism is given a new lease of life. In mathematics and speculative cosmology, Dante’s Paradiso is being revisited. In hermeneutics and epistemology, pre-Cartesian models are being unearhed. It looks like serious people are taking pe-modern wisdom seriously.... Continue Reading →

Blog at

Up ↑