The aurality of audiobooks

What’s the difference between these two scenarios: a group of people gathered together around an aoidos (an oral epic poet in Ancient Greece) to hear him recite Homer’s Odyssey; and a London commuter listening to Emily Wilson’s translation of the same poem  narrated in an audiobook? (Wilson’s was the first English translation of The Odyssey by a woman, byContinue reading “The aurality of audiobooks”

Better ‘spiritual’ patrons of the internet

In 1997 the Pope declared St Isidore the patron saint of the Internet. It had been 6 years since the foundation of the World Wide Web and 1361 years since the death of St Isidore, archbishop of Seville. The choice for St Isidore was motivated by the saint’s encyclopedic work. Written around 600 AD, hisContinue reading “Better ‘spiritual’ patrons of the internet”

When the image parasitizes the model

People say many things about the pre-Copernican model of the universe today. That it was geocentric, that it was unscientific, that it was incorrect, that it was dogmatically averse to incorporating observational insight into an outdated conceptual framework. All this is true, of course. But that’s not all. The Ptolemaic system, and any geocentric systemContinue reading “When the image parasitizes the model”

Shorten your text

Ancient and medieval manuscripts taught us to be economical. They taught us to make the most of limited resources. Stone and parchment were expensive, scarce, and hard to write on, so we learned to shorten our words, however long we wanted our prose to be. We invented abbreviations, ligatures and acronyms. Why write ‘et’ whenContinue reading “Shorten your text”

Down the medieval memory lane

Because we live in the Age of Information, we don’t think too much about memory, unless by memory weean storage devices, memory sticks and other depositories of digital information outside of ourselves. We have moved from a way of thinking about how to best memorize as much information as possible to one where the focusContinue reading “Down the medieval memory lane”