The acrobatics of reading

Anju Dodiya's struggle with books and reading as part of the Conversations On Tomorrow installation @Sadie Coles gallery Mayfair, London (visited this weekend) To believe the meme wisdom of this age, there are very few things more enjoyable than cozying up with a book in bed, on the sofa, on the beach or even under... Continue Reading →

Canary in the mine

No matter how many times I hear it, I still won't pay attention to it. I promise myself to keep an eye on it, to heed the warning, to consider the evidence for it. But I simply won't remember. I will forget and I will err. Not on the side of caution, but in spite... Continue Reading →

Holding the footnotes to the fire

There are words, gestures, behaviours and objects that indicate high status. We all play the status game, negotiating symbols and status indices every moment of our lives. Even when we think we’re acting from a status-free mindset. Books are no exceptions. There are low and high status markers from the first to the last cover.... Continue Reading →

Give the book another chance

When was the last time you read something your didn't like but thought that if you should read it again, you might warm up to it, just one bit? When's the last time you gave a book, a poem, a text, another chance? The best works of literature, and by that I mean the most... Continue Reading →

A question of perspective

The objects in the mirror of history appear bigger than they are. History is the world's largest distorting lens. And the most powerful telescope. Looking back across the curvature of time and meaning, far into the roots of human experience. And the light that comes to us is as refracted as it is brilliant. The... Continue Reading →

For your eyes only

I can listen to the radio and do something else at the same time. I can watch TV, in streaming or live, and I can do something else at the same time. While not focused 100% on the transmission, I can still get something out of it, even if I cook, hoover, chat with friends... Continue Reading →

Vocabularies of vagueness

Linguists assure us that languages tend towards more precision and economy. One word is better than two, it takes less time and effort. Short is sweet. Less is more. Focused words hit better targets. Language is verbal archery. Higher precision is a strategic objective. And yet we indulge in verbal vagueness. We immerse ourselves in... Continue Reading →

Building roads

Isidore of Seville (7th century AD) dividing his work 'Etymologies' into books, France, Amiens, Bibliothèques d’Amiens Métropole, Ms. 108 f. 246v Most scribes and copyists working in the medieval period had no idea how critical their work was. They accepted the ordeal of writing millions of words by hand, day in and day out, but... Continue Reading →

All things being equal

For most of us most of the time, life is a series of back to back meetings. No time for focused work. The gaps in between, where they occur, are merely time to prepare for the next meeting. The majority of meetings shouldn't have been scheduled at all. They are a waste of time. Of... Continue Reading →

The art of simplicity

The oldest words in English are also the shortest. Take verbs. Do, let, go, be, get, short but pregnant with meaning. Multiple meanings, treacherously simple. They're short and they refuse to grow. To become longer, subsume others, swallow a prefix in submission, grow a tail, extra organs, a better life, a modern excrescence. No, they... Continue Reading →

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