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Posts Tagged ‘Kafka

“Questions are never indiscreet; answers sometimes are”*…

 

Once every week, Moiz Syed and Juliusz Gonera add a question to their site “How Wrong You Are“…

After one answers a question, one is shown both the correct answer and the percentage of respondents who picked each choice.

How Wrong You Are is a collection of important questions that people are sometimes misinformed about. We poll you to measure how right – or how wrong – the public is about these important questions.

Every week, we will add a new question. These are all questions that we hope you already know. But if you don’t, don’t worry! You learned something. Share your results, successful or not. Chances are, if you didn’t know this question, other people might not, either.

Find out “How Wrong You Are.”

* Oscar Wilde

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As we agonize over our answers, we might spare a thought for Franz Kafka; he died on this date in 1924. Trained as a lawyer, and settled as a young man into a job with an insurance company, Kafka began to write in his spare time.  The novels (e.g., The Trial) and short stories (e.g., “Metamorphosis”) he produced made him one of the most influential authors of the 20th century; their themes– alienation, physical and psychological brutality, family conflict, terrifying quests, labyrinthine bureaucracy, and mystical transformations– were especially impactful on existentialism.  Camus, Sartre, and Ionesco all cite him as a key influence, as did Marquez and Saramago. But most of this impact came after Kafka’s death: the bulk of his work was published posthumously, mostly by his friend Max Brod, who ignored Kafka’s wish to have his manuscripts destroyed.

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Written by LW

June 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

The Domestic Lives of Great Philosophers, Part 6: Jeremy Bentham’s Recipes…

 

University College London proudly displays the remains of one of its founders, the Father of Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham.  They’re also anxious to display his works…  but they comprise 60,000 manuscript folios– lots of handwriting to transcribe.  The college has been at it since 1959, and the going has been slow– until relatively recently:

The genesis of Transcribe Bentham was in 2009, when the Co-Director of the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, Melissa Terras, was asked by the head of the Bentham Project, Professor Philip Schofield, for advice on procuring funding to digitise the 60,000 folios. “The days for getting funding for pure ‘scan and dump’ digitisation projects are over,” explains Terras, “and I wondered if we could do something more interesting.”

Around the same time, the MPs expenses scandal had broken in the UK, and Terras noticed something interesting: “The Guardian newspaper had built a platform to allow their readers to sift through the thousands of pages of MP’s receipts and I wondered — could we do the same? Could we ask people to read these manuscripts?”

The answer is a definite “yes.” Transcribe Bentham has been a certifiable success, and continues to grow in scale. With funding from the Mellon Foundation, the project has now expanded to encompass the British Library’s collection of 12,500 manuscript folios by Bentham…

[Read the whole story at Gizmodo.uk]

As the digitization has proceeded– in many cases, the first reading of Bentham’s scrawls– some interesting discoveries have been made; the exploration has shed new light, for instance of his stance on animal rights.  But perhaps most surprisingly, volunteer readers have discovered a tranche of recipes (complete with the costs of their ingredients) from the great thinker.  An excerpt from the manuscript page above:

Walnut shell pickle 

1/2 lb—
The husks of ripe
walnuts at the time
They separate most
easily from the walnut
& before they begin
to rot—
6 tb — 1d
Salt 1 tb 1
Labour 1/2
21/2

Pound the husks adding the  salt when they are nearly bruised into an uniform mass so that it may be perfectly mixed.  This & all other pickles must be kept in close vessels, casks headed down, jars with bladder tied over the mouth, or cloth or paper covered with melted pitch &c. When a stone vessel is opened it should be emptied into smaller ones, so that no more than sufficient for two or three weeks consumption may be put into each.

See Bentham’s other culinary creations– and the rest of his work– at Transcribe Bentham.

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As we clear our palettes, we might send unorthodox birthday greetings to Otto Gross; he was born on this date in 1877.  A psychoanalyst  by training (he was an early disciple of Freud), Gross became a champion of an early form of anti-psychiatry  (“depth psychology“) and sexual liberation, and an anarchist.  His impact on psychology was limited (though Jung claimed that Gross “changed [his] entire worldview”); but he was an important influence on  D. H. Lawrence, Franz Kafka, and other artists– including the founders of Berlin Dada.

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Written by LW

March 17, 2013 at 1:01 am

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