Robert Eaglestone reviews the first English translation of Umberto Eco's How To Write A Thesis:
Into this bleak picture comes the first English translation of Eco’s How to Write a Thesis, continuously in print in Italy since 1977. That was a long time ago in academia, and, at first sight, lots of this book looks just useless, rooted in its historic and specific Italian context. Who uses index cards any more? (I mean, I used to, but I wrote my PhD on a computer with no hard drive, using 5¼-inch diskettes, when the internet was still for swapping equations at Cern or firing nukes at Russia.) Who has typists copy up their thesis? The sections on using libraries and research sources sound like an account of a lost, antediluvian culture. But.[more inside]
Journeyman Pictures has uploaded nearly 4000 videos to YouTube. Many of these are trailers for the documentaries they sell, but they have also posted hundreds of full-length videos. Most are for short documentarie, but there are a lot of features too. It's somewhat daunting to explore, but the playlists are a good place to start, and so are the shows: Features, Shorts, News and Savouring Europe, a European travelogue series. Here's a few interesting ones: Gastronauts, about French culinary students working to make astronaut food more palatable, Demon Drummers, about student Kodo drummers, India's Free Lunch, about the effects of free school lunches on Indian society, The Twitter Revolution, about YouTube and Twitter's role in the 2009 Iranian uprising, Europe's Black Hole, about Transnistria, the breakaway region of Moldova, Small Town Boy, about a gay male carnival queen in a small town in England, The Vertigo of Lists, Umberto Eco talks about the ubiquity of lists in modern culture and Monsters from the Id, about scientists in the science fiction films of the Fifties.
We Like Lists Because We Don't Want to Die — Umberto Eco "like[s] lists for the same reason other people like football or pedophilia"
Have you read all these books? Hell, no. Yes, and many more. The answer is yes. No, these are the ones I have to read by the end of the month. Nay, I have written them. No, only four of them. No, and I never intend to live in a house where I can't find a book I haven't read. Not one-tenth of them. No, but I know why I bought each one. Probably not.
"... Giordano Bruno might have been a pantheist. A pantheist believes that God is everywhere, even in that speck of a fly you see there. You can imagine how satisfying that is—being everywhere is like being nowhere. Well, for Hegel it wasn’t God but the State that had to be everywhere; therefore, he was a Fascist.” “But didn’t he live more than a hundred years ago?” “So? Joan of Arc, also a Fascist of the highest order. Fascists have always existed. Since the age of . . . since the age of God. Take God—a Fascist.” Umberto Eco in the New Yorker
I found an American "Grand Prior Chevalier" Knight Templar challenging Osama Bin Laden to a sword duel in the sand while I was trying to find the cool Mac / Neverwinter Nights project Open Knights. The whole thing seemed so much like an outtake from the wonderful Foucault's Pendulum that I had to share.
Why Books Will Always Be With Us... along with almost everything else. Umberto Eco goes all encyclopedic on us (but in a nice way!) summing up (and reopening) the themes of a lifetime of reading, writing and watching. Though I'm sure what he says about the Web and electronic media will be picked to bits here, I'd say that would be a perfect vindication of this extraordinary exercise in common sense. [Via Arts & Letters Daily.]
A monstery mystery. A tale of confused monks, hoarded books, secret passageways, hidden cupboards and, ummm, CCTV.
Who was Count Saint-Germain? I was reading Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum (discussed a bit here) and encountered the Count Saint-Germain, who I had vague recollections of from an episode of ...In Search Of. Turns out he is a pretty fascinating character, and has been labelled a genius, a charlatan, and even a vampire.