Every year, three thousand people gather in Kalamazoo for the sake of the years 400 to 1400 (approximately) of the Common Era. The International Congress on Medieval Studies, held annually at Western Michigan University, is the largest gathering of medievalists on earth. They come from all over the world to participate in panels like “Attack and Counterattack: The Embattled Frontiers of Medieval Iberia,” “Waste Studies: Excrement in the Middle Ages,” “Historical, Ethnical and Religious Roots of the Thraco-Geto-Dacians and Their Successors: Romanians and Vlaho-Romanians” and “J. K. Rowling’s Medievalism (I & II).” They are literary critics, historians, experts in numismatics and linguistic datasets, and nuns. There are over five hundred sessions: meetings and drinks parties and bookstalls; groups of monks dressed in black; bespectacled, serious, young men; elderly ladies in capped sleeves. Here is a ragtag bunch of human beings all on the same pilgrimage, playing a part in a story that they can’t read, because they’re in it.
It is Saturday, 1 November 2014. I am book-browsing at Barnes and Noble on Fifth Avenue in New York City when my attention is caught by a collection of beautifully produced volumes. I look closer and realise that these books are part of what’s called the Leatherbound Classic series. An assistant informs me that these fine specimens help to ‘embellish your book collection’. Since this exchange, I am reminded time and again that, as symbols of cultural refinement, books really matter. And, though we are meant to be living in a digital age, the symbolic significance of the book continues to enjoy cultural valuation. That is why, often when I do a television interview at home or in my university office, I am asked to stand in front of my bookshelf and pretend to be reading one of the texts.
Since the invention of the cuneiform system of writing in Mesopotamia around 3500 BCE and of hieroglyphics in Egypt around 3150 BCE, the serious reader of texts has enjoyed cultural acclamation. The clay tablets on which marks and signs were inscribed were regarded as precious and sometimes sacred artefacts. The ability to decipher and interpret the symbols and signs was seen as an extraordinary accomplishment. Egyptian hieroglyphics were thought to possess magical powers and, to this day, many readers regard books as a medium for gaining a spiritual experience. Since text possesses so much symbolic significance, how people read and what they read is widely perceived as an important feature of their identity. Reading has always been a marker of character, which is why people throughout history have invested considerable cultural and emotional resources in cultivating identities as lovers of books.
Acum am înţeles de ce are nevoie PNL de un neurochirurg, recte, Leon Dănăilă. Ceva nu merge bine la mansardă.
Dragnea, despre intenţia PNL de a contesta la CCR legea taxelor via Mediafax
„Ultimul sfat pentru colegii de la PNL care ar fi anunţat că vor să atace la CCR această lege, dincolo de faptul că le va fi greu să explice că atacă un proiect pe care l-au votat deja, au un instrument care nu mai are nici un fel de personalitate şi anume Guvernul condus de Cioloş care atacă la CCR. Au atacat legea dării în plată, iniţiată de un parlamentar PNL, susţinută de noi, aprobată în parlament, au atacat legea conversiei, susţinută împreună şi aprobată de noi, lăsaţi-i să atace şi această lege a taxelor ca să nu mai fie nici un dubiu în ceea ce priveşte această ipocrizie”, a declarat Dragnea, în plenul Camerei.
The future isn’t what it used to be. We need new futures.
Science fiction traditionally has had the task of providing us with alternative visions of the future. For the most part, it has done a terrible job. The main reason for its failure is that it assumes global uniformity.
In optimistic visions of the future, there is a liberal and democratic world government, or perhaps an interplanetary federation. In dystopias, there is a single global tyranny. In post-apocalyptic novels and movies set in the aftermath of a nuclear war, nuclear bombs seem to off gone off everywhere in the world, even in places remote from the homelands and allies of the major combatants.
The assumption of uniform conditions in the world of tomorrow saves science-fiction authors and screenwriters the trouble of explaining the Sino-Indian dispute of 2345 AD, allowing them to concentrate on the plot and the main characters. But it is completely unrealistic.