The bored ones get the best of Hell

Dante’s Hell is a place of extreme pain and suffering. This is partly the reason why generations of modern readers have found Inferno so much more exciting than Paradiso or even Purgatorio. The farther one moves away from excruciating pain, the boring the story gets, right? This is not how I feel, but I recognise,Continue reading “The bored ones get the best of Hell”

Trinkets for the confined court

Yesterday I wrote that the 12th century was the return of boredom to Europe. How else would we explain all the exciting works written at the time? It is time to give some examples of literary distractions from that period. I’d like to talk about trifles. Not sponge cakes, but trivialities. At least that’s howContinue reading “Trinkets for the confined court”

Getting bored in (not with) the 12th century

There are some truly boring centuries, like the 6th or the 7th. Any honest historian will have to admit that if they had to go into confinement with anything written during those centuries as the only distraction, they’d fall prey to the worst forms of tedium. There are boring centuries, but there are also excitingContinue reading “Getting bored in (not with) the 12th century”

Censorship doesn’t work

That the pen is, if not mightier than the sword, than perhaps just as lethal was something humanity understood rather quickly. The history of writing is also the history of censorship because writing has always been a question of power, and power always leads to control, to distinctions between those who have it and thoseContinue reading “Censorship doesn’t work”

Fake news in history

Not every piece of disinformation is fake news. Not every falsehood qualifies as fake news. Deception deserves its independence, and so does fake news. The number one tautology is this: the age of fake news is upon us. We smell fake everywhere around us, we see a fake story everywhere we look. And why wouldn’tContinue reading “Fake news in history”

In defence of ignorance

We’re not going anywhere these days. So let’s glance back in time. Our stop: the Middle Ages, Homer and creativity. The medieval period has been called many things: the age of faith, the Dark Ages, lowercase/uppercase, the age of chivalry, of castles, the age of the Gothic, the post-classical period, pre-Renaissance, pre-modern, epithets galore, foreverContinue reading “In defence of ignorance”

When bells fall silent

The pandemic has led to the closure in many countries of most public spaces, including all places of worship. The liturgical life of a faith community, based on worshipping and doing things together – the deep meaning of liturgy as leitourgia (public service) – has come to a halt. Liturgy is now, for lack of aContinue reading “When bells fall silent”

Open chronicles in cloistered times

There are many paradoxes out there, but they fall under our radar when we focus on the wrong points. Let me explain using a familiar example. Most chronicles written during the Middle Ages were done by monks. By chronicle I don’t mean any history book, but those long compositions starting from way, way back andContinue reading “Open chronicles in cloistered times”

Speed and writing

The history of writing is many things, but it is also a history of raising the speed bar. From stone and wood to paper and digital, writing went faster and faster. New writing technologies superseded old ones not only because they made records more permanent and reliable, but because they saved time. Parchment replaced papyrusContinue reading “Speed and writing”