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Showing posts from August 24, 2003
In Shestov�s In Job�s Balance , there is an essay on Tolstoy�s latter writings. LI wants to say there is a brilliant essay on Tolstoy�s latter writings, but one of the effects of the essay is to cast in doubt such unthinking terms as �brilliant.� It is just this kind of flattery, that critical blank of praise, which is a way of turning the reader aside, keeping him from entering the empty room at the heart of the heart of it all. Modern criticism, after all, originated in the royal courts, or at best among the circle around powerful families in Italian city states � and it still retains a lot of the courtier�s arts. Why else do critics feel called upon to praise, to like, or to dislike? It is a way of reconstituting the circle around the patron. So I won�t say use the word "brilliant." I will say this: Shestov is a philosopher � and hence, a writer of death threats. This essay is one of them. He quotes a letter written to Tolstoy by Dostoevsky�s official biographer. I
Bollettino WP's article, today, on the death of writing systems is a bit incoherent . The article's theme is hearteningly democratic. A writing system -- for instance, Sumerian cuneiform -- dies out because there are too many restrictions on its use. That, at least, is the finding of a certain group of scholars: "The collaboration among Houston, University of Cambridge Egyptologist John Baines and Assyriologist Jerrold S. Cooper of Johns Hopkins University began at a meeting that Houston hosted earlier this year to discuss the origins of writing. What resulted was "Last Writing," an essay on script death published recently in the British journal Comparative Studies in Society and History. Its basic conclusion: Writing systems die when those who use them restrict access to them." . But its instances seem to cast that theory into doubt. Since "Both Egyptian and cuneiform survived for 4,000 years, a millennium longer than the Latin alphabet
Bollettino The NYT has a nice story about the peaceful coexistence between Americans and Iraqis in the city of Diwaniya "As the area around Baghdad endured a week of repeated violence, a happier scene unfolded in this city, a two-hour drive to the south. American soldiers, without helmets or flak jackets, attended graduation ceremonies of the Diwaniya University Medical School. At ease with the Iraqi students and their parents, the American marines laughed, joked and posed in photographs. One by one, the students walked up to thank them, for Marine doctors had taught classes in surgery and gynecology and helped draw up the final exams. "We like the Americans very much here," said Zainab Khaledy, 22, who received her medical degree last Sunday. "We feel better than under the old regime. We have problems, like security, but everything is getting better." In goes on in this vein for quite a while, making Diwaniya seem like a candidate for Forbes