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On His Being Arrived to the Age of Four Hundred and Ten

Yes. Today marks the 410th birthday of “the Lady of Christ’s,” John Milton.
On this occasion, I want to call your attention to three things:

1. Milton’s amazing and unputdownable biography, written by the great Neil Forsyth:

Milton Bio

2. Digital Milton, a brilliant and thought-provoking new approach to Milton, assembled by David Currell and Islam Issa:

Milton Digital

3. Last, but certainly not least, a 1631 birthday classic by Milton himself:

Sonnet 7

How soon hath Time the suttle theef of youth,
Stoln on his wing my three and twentieth yeer!
My hasting dayes flie on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.

Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
That I to manhood am arriv’d so near,
And inward ripenes doth much less appear,
That som more timely-happy spirits indu’th.

Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure eev’n
To that same lot, however mean, or high,

Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav’n;
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great task Masters eye.

 

I’ll hear you out now. And happy birthday!

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Scholarly Sale in the humanities (and others) @ Springer

Springer is of course well-known as one of the behemoths of scholarly publishing, and this time they’re giving something back to the community off of which they live.¹

Their Scholarly Sale, featuring up to 50% discounts on books in fields ranging from business & management through cultural & media studies, literature and philosophy all the way to the social sciences, is now on, and it stays on until December 31. From a shelf-space point of view, bad news is that this applies to print books only. From a classic feel point of view, however, the great news is that it applies to print books only, and books published by Springer are pretty well-made artifacts, I must give them that. Oh, and in further good news, all international shipping fees are waived as well.

So head over to the Springer Shop and start filling those carts!

 

I’ll hear you out now.


¹ Somewhat bitter sarcasm, triggered by excessive profit margins applied by the scholarly publishing-industrial complex, intended.

 

Századvég, 88. szám | Századvég, Issue 88

A Századvég…

…egy mérsékelten jobboldali-konzervatív beállítottságú, tudományos igényű munkát végző szakmai folyóirat. Volt. Legfrissebb, 88. számában (amely érdemben az utolsó is) olyan tanulmányok jelentek meg, amelyek a bunkokrata¹ ² ³ Orbán-kormány munkáját és eredményeit megalapozott, tudományos kritikával illették. Az Orbán-kormányhoz közel álló (értsd: zsebében levő) Századvég Alapítványnak ez nem tetszett, ezért „eltávolították az internetről a Századvég folyóirat legújabb számát, majd kirúgták a szerkesztőséget. A lap »új feladata a kormány irányvonalának támogatása lesz«”.

Nem vagyok újságíró, nem tudok objektíven beszámolni erről az undorító aljasságról. Helyette lentebb található néhány releváns cikk és beszámoló a témában, amiket újságírók írtak.

Megjegyzem továbbá, hogy ezidáig (2018. szeptember 26-a, 17 óra) az Orbán-kormány által uralt és pénzelt sajtóban egyetlen cikk említi a sajtószabadságnak ezt a brutális sárba tiprását: a Magyar Időkben ma reggel jelent meg egy hosszabb interjú a Századvég immáron volt főszerkesztőjével, Demeter Tamással (amely interjú mellesleg a kormány ostoba, tudás- és tudományellenes, soviniszta vagdalkozásának dialógusba rendezett összefoglalója).

Demeter szervilis módon megértő aziránt, hogy „a Századvég Alapítvány immár kevésbé tudományos, mint inkább politikai szerepet szán a lapnak” – a lapnak, ami eddig egy tudományos folyóirat volt. Csak a (sarkított) összehasonlítás kedvéért: ez nagyjából olyan, mintha kirúgnák a Science szerkesztőségét, hogy Donald Trump hűséges zombijaival helyettesítsék őket, a magazin pedig – szakmai múltját, presztizsét sutba hajítva – hirtelen a klímaváltozást hoaxként beállító baromságokat kezdene szajkózni, mert hát ez szolgálja az elnök politikai igényeit.

Nevezzük tehát nevükön a dolgokat: az Orbán-kormány megszüntetett egy fontos szakmai folyóiratot, mert az (szakértő módon és igen finoman) kritizálni merte intézkedéseiket.

És akkor vessük ezt össze a Strasbourgban előadott hazugsággal:

Orban_Viktor_hazudik_Strasbourgban.gif

 

A Századvég letiltott száma…

…itt (is) olvasható: Századvég, 88. sz., 2018

 

Az ígért linkek

Index.hu          G7.hu          HVG.hu (1)          444.hu          HVG.hu (2)          HVG.hu (3)

 

 

Most ti jöttök. (azaz „I’ll hear you out now”.)

 

Some Vonnegut-related CFPs for your friendly neighborhood Writerman

Great news, fellow Vonnegutists: there are a decent number of opportunities around to pitch and present your groundbreaking ideas on K’s works, specifically geared towards Vonnegut scholars.

Here they are, listed in order of their submission deadlines:

1. Vonnegut, History, and Making America Great (Again?)

Deadline for the submission of abstracts: September 30, 2018

Location and conference dates: Gaylord National Resort Center (Washington, DC), March 20-22, 2019

Kurt Vonnegut is well-known as a satirist, often critiquing, or at the very least complicating, American ideological assumptions and governmental policies and procedures. His work often challenges traditional notions of history and identity. At times, his commentaries are explicit, and at others, they are implied or metaphorical.

Much has changed in the United States since Vonnegut passed over a decade ago. From the first black president in 2008 and openly white-supremacist rallies in 2017 to a recent ban on transpeople in the military and increasing controversy around abortion rights, the country is divided, and not just along Democratic and Republican lines.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to “Make America Great Again.” Some questioned the assumption that America was no longer great, wondering to what era Trump was harkening. Others agreed that America had drastically changed in ways they wished to reverse. Since Trump took office in 2017, many federal policies have changed, altering both the socio-political and cultural climate. Vonnegut (a member of the so-called “greatest generation”) might have been thought of as wanting to make America great again, too—though in a wholly different register and historical moment. What might the writer have to say about the current social, political, and economic situation(s) we are in? How can his work provide insight into current ideological assumptions being made? What would it look like for Vonnegut to “Make America Great”?

Please send 250-300 word abstracts and a short bio.

 

2. Kurt Vonnegut’s Artistic Horology: The Problem of Time in Troubled Times

Deadline for the submission of abstracts: September 30, 2018

Location and conference dates: Gaylord National Resort Center (Washington, DC), March 20-22, 2019

Kurt Vonnegut’s Artistic Horology: The Problem of Time in Troubled Times

Throughout his career, Kurt Vonnegut’s complex treatment of time—linear and cyclical, and in terms of the past, present, and future—animated complex plot lines, added depth and layering to his characterization, fueled biting social commentary, and posed challenging philosophical questions on matters related to mortality, morality, and the purpose of life. Vonnegut’s body of work, including in his fiction and non-fiction, addresses the problem of time in troubled times. In a sense, Vonnegut’s art can be viewed as a form of artistic “horology.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines horology as “the study and measurement of time,” a concern integral to Vonnegut’s vision.

For example, across his fourteen novels, from his dystopian debut Player Piano (1952) to the so-called “stew” of his final novel Timequake (1997), time alterations and unusual chronologies are central. Vonnegut’s short stories and his non-fiction display a similar obsession with time. Vonnegut begins his last work of non-fiction published in his lifetime, the essay collection A Man Without a Country (2005), with a statement about how his own sense of humor was defined by coming of age in times of trouble: “I grew up at a time when comedy in this country was superb—it was the Great Depression.”

This panel seeks papers related to Vonnegut’s treatment of time in his fiction and non-fiction. Paper proposals may address this theme directly or tangentially. All approaches are welcome.

 

3. And so it goes… Kurt Vonnegut Fifty Years After the Publication of Slaughterhouse-Five

Deadline for the submission of abstracts: November 20, 2018

Location and conference dates: University of Córdoba (Spain), March 20-22, 2019

Kurt Vonnegut’s seminal novel Slaughterhouse-Five was first published in March 1969. The first review of the novel appeared on The New York Times declared the following: “you’ll either love it, or push it back in the science-fiction corner.” Most of the readers clearly loved the book, which became an instant classic and an era-defining book. And so did many prestigious critics, as well, such as Jerome Klinkowitz. As a result, Vonnegut’s famous Dresden novel has been reprinted numberless times and translated to several different languages all over the world. The film adaptation of the novel, directed by George Roy Hill in 1972 (which was awarded with the Prix du Jury at the Cannes Festival) further contributed to Vonnegut’s status as a cultural guru and to the consolidation of the book as one of the most influential American twentieth century narratives.

In March 2019, fifty years will have passed since the first copy of Slaughterhouse-Five hit the shelves. I would like to take this opportunity to invite all members of Vonnegut ’s karass (scholars, readers, fans…) to join us in Córdoba to share some time together reflecting upon Vonnegut and his corpus.

The list of topics proposed include (but is not limited to):

• Kurt Vonnegut’s biography and the resurrection of the author
• Vonnegut’s Dresden experience
• Vonnegut’s status as a (complex) German-American citizen
• Vonnegut’s critical reception
• Vonnegut and (or against) science fiction
• Vonnegut as a Humanist
• Film adaptations of Vonnegut’s work
• Vonnegut’s novels and their translations to other languages
• Vonnegut and censorship
• Vonnegut’s legacy

Those of you interested in joining us should send a short abstract (300 words), including their name and affiliation and a brief bio to the conference email: slaughterhousefive50yearslater@gmail.com or to javier.martin@uco.es by November 20, 2018.

 

I’ll hear you out now (and I’m looking forward to hearing from you indeed).

 

cropped-untitled-adam-t-bogar1.png

 

Celebrate May Day with (almost) free radicals!

It’s May Day again, and a very special one at that: today also marks the 50th anniversary of May Day 1968. Turbulent times all across the globe, with landmark events like riots in many US cities after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the protests, revolts and strikes in France, the Prague Spring (without which we probably wouldn’t have The Unbearable Lightness of Being), or even the ensuing demonstrations on Moscow’s Red Square.

To celebrate the occasion, Verso Books is throwing a flash sale, where they offer 50% off of all books on their May Day reading list.

Amazing and important books, including the  classic May Day Manifesto 1968 by Raymond Williams or Andrea Komlosy’s brand new and unique volume Work, are up for grabs here, so hurry: the deal ends midnight May 2!

In the meantime, for those less lured by the touch and smell of a print book than by the invaluable contents of one, here’s a beautiful online copy of the Manifesto.

“On ne peut plus dormir tranquillement dès qu’on s’est subitement ouvert les yeux.”

I’ll hear you out now.

Bargain*

Sussex University: the start of the Autumn Term, 1974. There was not a seat to be had in the biggest Arts lecture theatre on campus. Taut with anticipation, we waited expectantly and impatiently for the advertized [sic] event to begin. He was not on time—as usual. In fact rumour had it that he would not be appearing at all that illness (or was it just ennui? or perhaps a mistress?) had confined him to bed. But just as we began sadly to reconcile ourselves to the idea that there would be no performance that day at all, Paul Feyerabend burst through the door at the front of the packed hall. Rather pale, and supporting himself on a short metal crutch, he walked with a limp across to the blackboard. Removing his sweater he picked up the chalk and wrote down three questions one beneath the other: What’s so great about knowledge? What’s so great about science? What’s so great about truth? We were not going to be disappointed after all!¹

Against Method (1975) by Paul Feyerabend, published by New Left Books (better known these days as Verso), established its author as the “anti-science philosopher” and the “worst enemy of science.” Some people just don’t get irony, apparently. Feyerabend “felt it necessary to respond to most of the book’s major reviews in print, and later assembled these replies into a section of his next book, Science in a Free Society, entitled ‘Conversations with Illiterates’.”²

By the way, I just picked up a VG, crisp 1975 first edition copy of Against Method for £3 (fourth printing, with light wear to original DJ). Usually this particular edition sells anywhere between £40 and £200, depending on the book’s condition and the bookseller’s nerve. Hence the post’s title.

For those of you interested in the workings of Feyerabend’s mind with regard to this particular book (or just simply enjoy looking at typewritten pages scribbled with notes and such), this document will be a real gem.

I’ll hear you out now.

Feyerabend-Against_Method
Feyerabend, Paul K. Against Method: Outline of an Anarchist Theory of Knowledge. 1st edition, New Left Books, 1975.

* OED, s.v. bargain n.¹ 3.a. and 3.c.
¹ Krige, John. Science, Revolution and Discontinuity. Harvester Press, 1980, p. 106.
² Preston, John. “Paul Feyerabend.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Winter 2016 edition, edited by Edward N. Zalta, sec. 5.2.

A Bokononist Calypso for Ice-VII Inclusions in Diamonds

 

You say, ‘It’s the water I run from the tap,

that’s dripping and keeping me up from a nap,

boils for tea, coffee, freezes to ice,

and is drunk by women and men and some mice,

it fills up boreholes and fills up a cloud’,

you say, and knowing it makes you so proud,

you say, ‘I know this, I go for a hike’,

And You Know Who thinks, ‘If you so like’.

 

map5b25d
Image source: O. Tschauner et al., Science, 9 Mar 2018, vol. 359, no. 6380, pp. 1136-1139.

This is a new Bokononist calypso I wrote today, when I came across the news that ice-VII, a strange configuration of ice was found inside diamonds originating roughly 600 km below Earth’s surface. Previously it was thought that this particular phase of water ice may be found on asteroids and other planets both within and outside our solar system, but on Earth it was only known to exist in laboratories.

 

Currently, there are 17 different known phases of ice, as in frozen water. They’re numbered from ice-I all the way through to ice-XVII. Even without an MSc in theoretical chemistry, this nomenclature may ring a bell to readers of literature: in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, ‘ice-9’ (or ‘ice-nine’, depending on edition) is a seed crystal concocted by Dr Felix Hoenikker, which, coupled of course with human carelessness and short-sightedness, brings about a frozen apocalypse.

This is a somewhat more popular rendering of this recent icy discovery, while this one here is the more in-depth stuff for science-y folks out there. The latter is unfortunately “protected” by a heavily fortified pay-wall.*

 


* Shame on you, Science Magazine. “Access to this Article for 1 day for US$30.00?” Really? De most komolyan, és akkor csodálkozunk a Sci-Hub-on és hasonlókon? We’ll get back to this in the near future, trust me.