31 Mai 2016 Lasă un comentariu
30 Mai 2016 Lasă un comentariu
The all-conquering Wikipedia? by Peter Thonemann
In the Lower Reading Room of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, there is an entire bookshelf – quite a big bookshelf – filled with concordances to Classical Greek and Latin authors. When I was an undergraduate, I worked at the desk next to it most days. The books are still there, in more or less the same place they always were: the four fat sober grey volumes of A Concordance to Livy; Isabella Gualandri’s Index nominum propriorum quae in scholiis Tzetzianis ad Lycophronem laudantur; A Lexicon to Herodotus, compiled by none other than the young Enoch Powell.
It is little short of a miracle that the concordances, lists of all the words appearing in a given text, have so long survived the librarians’ regular purges of the open shelves stock in the Lower Reading Room. Frankly, the entire C.Index shelfmark could be hauled off and shredded and no one would be any worse off. All 400 lb of them are utterly obsolete, obsolete as few books in history have ever been obsolete. Even out-of-date telephone directories retain some historical interest. Print concordances have no intrinsic interest at all: they are simply bad paper search engines designed for a world which had not yet invented good online search engines. These massive reference works, the products of years of human drudgery, have been entirely superseded by two or three online databases of Greek and Latin literature. If I want to find all instances of the word haimasiē, “low fencing-wall”, in Herodotus, I can do so online in a matter of seconds, thanks to the digital Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (eight hits).
27 Mai 2016 Lasă un comentariu
Some Things Are Worth Forgetting by Rebecca Onion
In his new book, In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies, journalist David Rieff questions the idea that remembering the past is an inherently virtuous practice that will help us solve present-day problems. It’s a philosophical argument that he pursues across the globe, invoking examples drawn from the histories of the United States, Argentina, Spain, Germany, Bosnia, Israel, and Ireland, among others. “What if,” Rieff asks, “a decent measure of communal forgetting is actually the sine qua non of a peaceful and decent society, while remembering is the politically, socially, and morally risky pursuit?”
This brief but powerful volume follows Rieff’s many previous books, on the war in Bosnia, humanitarianism, the global food system, war crimes, and the death of his mother, Susan Sontag. We spoke by phone about the advantages of strategic forgetfulness, the difference between history and collective memory, and the current debate over renaming statues and buildings on college campuses. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
26 Mai 2016 Lasă un comentariu
Aging in the Key of Humor by Timothy Egan
His back hurts. His memory is slipping. He can’t cook, but then he never could. Igloo-making is no longer one of his diversions. The wit is sharp, quick as ever, but now he’s prone to … what’s the word? Oh, and he has Parkinson’s disease.
Michael Kinsley is aging so you don’t have to. The editor in him, the one who held the reins at The New Republic, Harper’s and Slate, and grasped for a few hours the chance to helm The New Yorker, would refine that. Here’s how he puts it, in his guidance to the 74 million baby boomers entering the years of living less dangerously:
“But when it comes to the ultimate boomer game, competitive longevity, I’m on the sidelines doing color commentary.” His chronic disease, which gives him many of the symptoms of old age but which he believes is no more likely to bring him to an early death than slipping on a bar of soap, has presented him with “an interesting foretaste of our shared future.”