Sunday, March 21, 2004

Stumbling upon Englightenment (sic)

Given the sheer size and variety of the mass media, and the customary ways in which those media operate, it’s not easy to find anything that isn’t already burdened with advance publicity, which in turn inevitably evokes one’s preconceptions. This can be a boon, if only financially. For example, previews, reviews and associated interviews have warned us off numerous films that we might otherwise have wasted money, and time, on. But then it’s all the more pleasing to stumble across things that we’ve never heard of and have no preconceptions about. Gattaca, for example, was even more impressive, and moving, for being totally unexpected, though we’re still not sure how we managed to avoid reading or seeing anything about it beforehand. Although it’s harder to practise than ever, serendipity still has a lot to be said for it.
Here’s another example. While looking for information on Denis Diderot (for work, not for blogging) we came across this interview with Alan Charles Kors, whom we’d never heard of before, the editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment, which ditto. One of the pleasures of surfing the net is coming across just such items as this (or, for that matter, the pieces found via A Fistful of Euros and Hak Mao, and linked to in previous posts today, whose authors are also unknown to us). We should perhaps feel a bit guiltier about having no idea who Kors is, but it does mean that we can enjoy what he has to say, and recommend it, without being distracted by strictly irrelevant questions - what’s his view on the Iraq war? is he a conservative or a liberal? is he good to his students/ his dog/ his friends/ his colleagues? Whatever about all that, Kors’s answers serve as an excellent introduction to the main themes of the European Enlightenment, which we keep referring to here but haven’t bothered to try to define (something else we might have felt guiltier about). We also liked the typo in the - oh, you know, that thing at the very top of the page - the title bar?
Stumbling on ...

[Today’s BGM: Shostakovich’s quartets, performed by the Fitzwilliam Quartet]

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