‘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 →

Of warrior fish and giggly men

The armor-plated sturgeon (The Times, 4 May 2023) I just love it when unwarranted presuppositions are blasted wide open by the detonations of evidence. For a long time, we’ve considered Western monks, medieval or modern, as the apex of dullness, men tired with life and running away from it, with as much potential for humour... Continue Reading →

Homecomings and goings

Abraham and Sarah travelling to Canaan in search of (a new) home, 14th century, Paris, BnF, Français 15397 f.16r No plant will thrive in an environment in which it doesn’t feel fitted for. We thrive and find meaning inasmuch as we feel at home in the world. Every culture has its own ways of dealing... Continue Reading →

A eulogy for error

Error on Green by Paul Klee, 1930 An old Latin dictum often attributed to the philosopher Seneca says: Errare humanum est. It is human to be wrong. Don’t beat yourself up, the Romans would’ve said, but don’t make it a habit either. Perseverare diabolicum. Error in, error out. This is not just a principle of... Continue Reading →

Boxes and content

The languages we use to communicate with one another is constantly changing. Words change, meaning changes. We thought we’d lock writing in print, but the digital age proved that wrong. Nothing stays the same, well, almost nothing. Though languages have been changing, our capacity for language has not. Nor has the deep grammar of language... Continue Reading →

The benefit of silence

A medieval illuminated Latin Psalter from the 13th century, sold at Christie's in December 2022 for GBP 40,000. Anyone who’s seen an illuminated manuscript from the Middle Ages has also had a glimpse into the drama of the handwritten page. The wild colours, the gilded surfaces, the geometries tempered only by the sacrality of the... Continue Reading →

Artificial mythologies

The very respectable and authoritative website The Conversation asked five AI experts to offer their view on whether artificial general intelligence (AGI) will happen. I wasn't surprised to find that all answered in the affirmative - quite the strong affirmative to boot. Despite the article title being framed as a question, there was not much... Continue Reading →

Where’s the wiring?

"Think of me like this: my hardware is in Iran, my software is in New York with a Spanish upgrade'. That's how a US-Iranian consultant from Madrid I was working with this week liked to describe herself. She also liked to use the word 'wired' a lot in relation to the way the human mind... Continue Reading →

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