Screwtape in lockdown

A new letter has surfaced from the boiling depths of Sheol. Screwtape’s muddled signature has been found on the dismal document. We’re publishing it here for the first time. My dear Wormwood, It’s been a while since my last letter to you, and I fear you may be thinking I’ve forgotten about you, our missionContinue reading “Screwtape in lockdown”

In defence of misspelling

Although writing was invented over 5,000 years ago, orthographical standards and the strict rules governing how words are written are quite a recent development. Ancient scribes didn’t much care about spelling. The manuscript cultures of the past were rather liberal about the way words ought to be written. Many words in ancient Greek and Latin,Continue reading “In defence of misspelling”

Architecture and networks

Each age has its own cognitive and epistemological models. The ways people remember, think and think about thinking. The myth of progress has it that societies improve over time, but in cultural terms models merely succeed each other. Ages of faith led to ages of reason (grossissimo modo) because the ways of establishing and assessingContinue reading “Architecture and networks”

Swimming mainstream

Some technologies and products take longer than others to become culturally mainstream. The printed book was adopted extremely quickly by European litterati because it made sense and it was extremely useful. Some scribes tried to defend the manuscript book against the new technology, but everyone eventually understood that print would benefit all in the end.Continue reading “Swimming mainstream”

Good habits die hard

‘The Fall of The Roman Empire’ (TFOTRE) should be a registered trademark. One of the most enduring concepts of modern historiography, TFOTRE has shaped the imagination of millions in the West. Rome has fallen. The Empire collapsed. Ancient Rome is no more. The Dark Ages settled in. Ignorance reigned. The culture cafés closed down. WesternContinue reading “Good habits die hard”

A treasure that faileth not

Almost nobody paid attention to the prophetic words of the 5th century Gallo-Roman poet and bishop Sidonius Apollinaris. Referring to a world on the brink of collapse – the Roman world as he knew it –, Sidonius wrote: Now that the old degrees of official rank are swept away, those degrees by which the highestContinue reading “A treasure that faileth not”

The big deal about the minuscule

One of the many unwritten rules of the digital age is this: don’t write an email or a text message entirely in block capitals unless you’re shouting at the other person or sending a distress signal across. Otherwise, it’s just plain rude or a sign of digital illiteracy. If the ancient Romans were here todayContinue reading “The big deal about the minuscule”