On a Project of Seven Years, and the Nature of Time

“In America everything goes on forever…The 1950s lasted for a thousand years,” Neil Gaiman wrote in American Gods.

This reminds me of the Spanish word for 50, “cincuenta,” which sounds the same as “sin cuenta,” uncountable, endless.

I wrote a novel, Most Famous Short Film of All Time. It’s about someone in Boston in the mid-2010s who thinks he wants to figure out the nature of time, but really he wants to figure out other things, like who might be trying to hurt him.

It’s about prediction, ethics, choice, and reversibility. It’s about gender and self-knowledge and other-knowledge. About epistemology—how we know what we know, but more pointedly, how some people try to control others and slyly refer to their power as “knowledge,” and whether real knowledge might be an unlearning or unknowing.

I shouldn’t tell you which short film is the most famous of all time, except to give you the hint that it was after JFK’s time.

I worked on this novel for seven years. It’s officially released tomorrow from tRaum Books in Munich. Already, it has one incredible review. For me, it’s the end of a creative era, helping this book have its birthday into the world.

I am grateful for the people who have taught me philosophy and for the ongoing conversations. I am grateful for what I have learned as well as for what I’ve unlearned, and for all the learning and unlearning yet to come.

Philosophy is about truth, and fiction is made-up, so a philosophical novel may seem an odd combination. But I think the wall dividing the realms of truth and fiction is wonderfully sheer.

Sunday’s Sermon: “A Jury of Her Peers”

juryBelow find links to a classic short story by Susan Glaspell that will ask you to consider some important questions about law and literature, relationships, obligations, women and the law, responsibility.


Read “A Jury of Her Peers” here.

Listen to the story here.

Read about the story.

And more here.

Read articles here.

Please join the discussion.

 

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Thanks to the internet!

Open Culture is one of the great doorways to courses and information! For example:

 

When you dive into our collection of 1,300 Free Online Courses, you can begin an intellectual journey that can last for many months, if not years. The collection lets you drop into the classrooms of leading universities (like Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Oxford) and essentially audit their courses for free. You get to be a fly on the wall and soak up whatever knowledge you want. All you need is an internet connection and some free time on your hands.

Today, we’re featuring two courses taught by Professor Richard Bulliet at Columbia University, which will teach you the history of the world in 46 lectures. The first course, History of the World to 1500 CE (available on YouTube and iTunes Video, or fully streamable below) takes you from prehistoric times to 1500, the cusp of early modernity. The origins of agriculture; the Greek, Roman and Persian empires; the rise of Islam and Christian medieval kingdoms; transformations in Asia; and the Maritime revolution — they’re all covered here.

In the second course, History of the World Since 1500 CE (find it on YouTube, iTunes or embedded below), Bulliet focuses on the rise of colonialism in the Americas and India; historical developments in China, Japan and Korea; the Industrial Revolution; the Ottoman Empire; the emergence of Social Darwinism; and various key moments in 20th century history.

Bulliet helped write the popular textbook The Earth and its Peoples: A Global History, and it serves as the main textbook for the course. Above, we’re starting you off with Lecture 2, which moves from the Origins of Agriculture to the First River – Valley Civilizations, circa 8000-1500 B.C.E. The first lecture deals with methodological issues that underpin the course. All of the remaining lectures are available below.

Once you get the big picture with Professor Bulliet, don’t forget to visit our collection of Free Online History Courses, a subset of our big collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

 

Richard Ford podcast

A good suggestion from another SOB! Thanks to Colin Whyte.

 

It’s free. And also awesome. Best booky thing I’ve listened to in ages, esp the stuff about frank bascombe, one of the best characters in fiction ever. (Yeah, ever.)
Charming, honest, hilarious, insightful.

Listen to Richard Ford discuss his family memoir – books podcast from The Guardian Books podcast in Podcasts.

 

Review: Buddhist Enlightenment

What Is Buddhist Enlightenment?Review – What Is Buddhist Enlightenment?
by Dale S. Wright
Oxford University Press, 2016
Review by Bob Lane
Jan 24th 2017 (Volume 21, Issue 4)

King Lear is a play as profound as it is puzzling. It seems to be uncompromising in its attitude to the nature of things. Either its last scene is a powerful continuation of the theme of self delusion or it is an intimation of immortality.

Read the review.

 

 

 


18th-century depiction of King Lear mourning o...

18th-century depiction of King Lear mourning over his daughter Cordelia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)