28/09/2008

Inchoate

It's maddening - there he goes again! Will self is among the 40 London heroes interviewed in Time Out, and as discussed earlier, he uses a word I've never heard nor could make sense of in the context: inchoate. Do you know it? If not, here's the definition. 

21/09/2008

Exhibiting literature

In between meetings on Tuesday, I went to see an exhibition about the Ramayana in Indian painting at the excellent Museum Rietberg in Z├╝rich. Until now, I was only passingly aware of the Ramayana as an important part of non-European world literature, but thanks to that exhibition, I've gained a glimpse into an epic world I hardly knew existed. The glimpse was made that much more impressive by a live performance of Sanskrit actress Kapila Venu. The highly stylised and codified art form of Nangiarkoothu left me feel like an utter boor for not even having heard of it. But fortunately the exhibition helps to understand at least the Ramayana by displaying a sequence of Indian paintings from different periods and sources that is almost like a storyboard.

This reminds me of another exhibition about an important piece of world literature I saw, but never actually blogged. Earlier this year, Antikenmuseum had an exhibition about Homer, which has moved on unfortunately. As a once student of Latin and thus the antiquities, I felt much more comfortable with the object of that exhibition, i.e. there was much less to learn, but a lot of forgotten stuff to resurface. Nevertheless, I was most captivated by a one man show of H.-Dieter Jendreyko, reciting two books from the Iliad in a way that was probably very authentic. One man's unassisted (Homer didn't need Powerpoint) monologue in classical language for about an hour is well beyond today's regular attention span, but Jendreyko's rhapsodic was so lively and passionate that he never lost his audience for even a second. Great art, indeed.

P.S. Two things I've been wondering about: Why is Rama's skin blue? And why would Bharata refuse to become king?

New "pet"

Obviously, it's not, it's just a robotic vacuum cleaner. Yet it's weird to find oneself giving it a nickname and, worse, talk to it! Cold rationality is apparently only skin deep when faced with something small that moves about on its own, makes little noises and eats dust. It does that exceptionally well, btw. But the design and user interface could do with a shot of Apple ...

20/09/2008

The way out of the moral matrix

Here's an excellent presentation about moral psychology. I particularly like the way in which the speaker comes across as very confident of his own political position despite of the apparent moral relativism (but it's actually moral humility) that he proposes. Being aware of and respecting your opponent's standpoint doesn't have to mean that your own position is weak.

18/09/2008

Craigslist

Cool! I just remembered reading (NZZ) that craigslist has recently become available for Basel - and bingo, here it is! I guess this really gives us a boost in the metropolitan index.