"Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed." - Stanislaw Lem, Solaris, 1961 Source: Stanislaw Lem, Solaris, trans. J. Kilmartin and S. Cox (New York - London 1970;… Continue reading “What lies behind …”
“In order to say Ceci n’est pas une pipe we need words. Images are what they are.” - Carlo Ginzburg Source: C. Ginzburg, “Idols and Likenesses: Origen, Homilies on Exodus VIII.3, and its Reception,” in John Onians, ed., Sight and Insight: Essays on Art and Culture in Honour of E. H. Gombrich at Eighty-Five (London,… Continue reading “Ceci n’est pas”
One day in the spring of 1927, Walter Benjamin sat in an echoey flat on the Rue de Lille in Paris, listening to Robert Eisler – a visiting lecturer at the Sorbonne – introduce a riveting new theory about the trial and death of Jesus. Learn what Benjamin heard in chapter 3 of The Innocence… Continue reading What Walter Benjamin heard
How many fabulously learned books, which never mention Jorge Luis Borges, have been inspired by Borges' fictions about learned books? This is Guy Stroumsa, in a soon-to-be-published memoir: "À la même époque [in the late 1960s], lisant Borges, je découvrais le charme baroque des savoirs ésotériques ..." The rest of that fiction, we could say,… Continue reading Borges, Stroumsa, & “le charme baroque des savoirs ésotériques”
"Having enslaved electricity, captured lightning in the copper wire, man has created a culture that leaves no room for poetry." - Aby Warburg, via Chloe Aridjis in the London Review of Books (5 Nov 2020)
Reading Clement of Alexandria - as I'm sure Nietzsche did - can feel, weirdly, like reading Nietzsche. This is Clement, disillusioning the 'pagans': "By now, even your myths have grown old ... Where is Zeus? ... He has grown old ... See, the myth is stripped bare ... Search for your Zeus. Do not scour… Continue reading Nietzsche in Alexandria
When a young romantic, Herder, took course notes in the 1760s, his lecturer - Immanuel Kant - held the floor in Latin. There is more on why this matters - and much else - in chapter 1 of The Innocence of Pontius Pilate (March 2021).
Why did Friedrich Nietzsche, who'd just finished writing "The Antichrist", sign his letter to the Vatican's Secretary of State, "The Crucified"? There's an answer to this - and much more - in the prologue to The Innocence of Pontius Pilate (March 2021).
On my mind. "Nowhere on earth today is a legitimate power to be found; even the powerful are convinced of their own illegitimacy." - G. Agamben, 2010
It is so deep, and so fitting, that Bach's soulful early cantata is titled in German, “God’s time is the best of all times” (Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit), and in Latin, "The tragic act" (Actus tragicus). Even the best of all times is tragic. Here conducted by Karl Richter.