Seven Days (i)


In the end,
There was Earth, and it was with form and beauty.
And Man dwelt upon the lands of the Earth, among the meadows and the trees, and he said,
“Let us build our dwellings in this place of beauty.”
And he built cities and covered the Earth with concrete and steel.
And the meadows were gone.
And Man said, “It is good.”

- Kenneth Ross (Reprinted from The Idaho Wildlife Review, May-June, 1967)

If It’s Worth Writing Down, It’s Worth Writing Down Clearly


Technical terms, jargon and mumbo jumbo might give you the fleeting warmth of belonging to an exclusive club, but they are the enemies of truth. As the anthropologist Margaret Mead once wrote, if you can’t explain yourself to a twelve-year-old child, stay inside the university or lab until you have a better grasp of your subject matter.

“Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.”
– Jacques Barzun

See other: Philosophy of Interestingness

Who First Made A Drama Out Of A Crisis?


In 5th Century Athens, theatre was closely connected to the cult of Dionysus, in whose theatre on the southern slopes of the Acropolis tragedies and comedies were staged at an annual festival.

But the origin of theatre is a much-debated issue. One tradition tells of the actor Thespis (hence the word ‘Thespian’) standing on a cart and playing a dramatic role for the first time around 532BC; another claims that drama began with ritual choruses and gradually introduced actors’ parts.

Aristotle (384-322BC) supposed that the choruses of tragedy were originally ritual songs (dithyrambs) sung and danced in Dionysus’ honour, while comedy emerged out of ribald performances involving model phalluses.

As a god associated with shifting roles and appearances, Dionysus seems an apt choice of god to give rise to drama. But from the earliest extant tragedy, Aeschylus’ Persians of 472BC, few surviving tragedies have anything to do with Dionysus.

Comic drama was largely devoted to making fun of contemporary figures – including in several plays (most famously in Aristophanes’ Clouds) the philosopher Socrates.

See other: Which Greek Legends Were Really True?

20/xi mmxiv


Strabo, in his Geographica, described the Irish as man-eaters who had sex with their mothers and sisters.

Hummingbirds, bees and ants spend 80% of their day doing absolutely nothing.

Religion was illegal in Albania until 1990.

Napoleon had a naked statue of himself commissioned, with a strategically placed leaf hiding his manhood. The British Government later purchased the item and presented it to Wellington.

There are more Irish in New York City than in Dublin, Ireland; more Italians in New York City than in Rome, Italy; and more Jews in New York City than in Tel Aviv, Israel.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Romantic


Attacking, Solid, Intuitive, Emotional

Romantics are full of good ideas. These ideas might be either positional or attacking, but they are always unusual and unique. The Romantic doesn’t usually win by out-calculating his opponent, but rather finds some unexpected and unusual concept that his opponent didn’t expect. Romantic players are very emotional and therefore can be very distraught when they lose, but their moodiness also means that when things are going well, they can be unstoppably brilliant.

“I have seen him totally drunk and singing Ukrainian poetry and then the next day I have seen him give an impressive talk.”
Viswanathan Anand on Vassily Ivanchuk

Vassily Ivanchuk, the Ukrainian grandmaster, is a good example of a modern-day Romantic. A moody, brilliant genius, Ivanchuk is capable of beating anybody on the right day, but his results can be erratic. Ivanchuk’s play is typified by its great humanity, and many call him one of the most talented players ever, ranking as high as #2 in the world at one point. Anand said of him: “You never know which mood he is going to be in. Some days he will treat you like his long-lost brother. The next day he ignores you completely. His playing style is unpredictable and highly original, making him more dangerous but sometimes leading to quick losses as well.”

See other: Chess Personalities

Storge


Storge is the love of family. The love a parent has for a child, or a child has for a favourite aunt or uncle. The love a foster parent feels for the children in his or her care, or the love a grandparent feels for the child adopted by his son- and daughter-in-law.Storge

According to the Greeks, storge is the almost unconditional love that certain people feel for others.

This love could have its base in the genetic relation of parents and offspring, or nephew and niece, and everything in between.

Storgic lovers place much importance on commitment. Living together, or maybe even children, are seen as legitimate long term aims for their bond.

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

However, more modern interpretations of storge also include the love between those who are committed and have a long, meaningful relationship together in which, over time, the physical element has ceased to be a factor – the love of the significant other.

See other: Kinds of Greek Love

Look For New Connections


Always write down things you do not already know. People find this hard, because formal education is all about recycling and repeating other people’s knowledge (some wag once defined education as the process by which the notes of the professor appear in the notebooks of the student, without passing through the mind of either). Interestingness is a lot like humour – it can’t be defined or taught, it’s a spark which arcs between two previously unconnected things.

“Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.” – Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary

See other: Philosophy of Interestingness

What Were The Secrets Of The Greek Mystery Cults?


The secrets were fiercely guarded, and severe penalties were prescribed for anyone who divulged them or who, like Alcibiades, were thought to have profaned them. Initiates were required to undergo initiation rites which may have included transvestism and centred on secret objects (perhaps phalluses) and passwords being revealed.

The aim was to give devotees a glimpse of the “other side”, so that they could return to their lives blessed in the knowledge that when their turn came to die they could ensure the survival of their soul in the Underworld.

Excavations have uncovered tombs containing passwords and instructions written on thin gold sheets as an aide-memoire for deceased devotees. The principal Greek Mystery Cults were those of Demeter, goddess of agriculture, and of Dionysus (also known as Bacchus), god of wine, ecstasy – and of theatre.

See other: Which Greek Legends Were Really True?