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Brian Eno on culture: "Culture is everything we don't have to do. Eating is necessary, but cuisine is culture. Clothes must be worn, but couture is culture. Haircuts and Shakespeare and early Saxon burial poetry all pose some kind of unnecessary order, he said, that we accept because it stimulates our most distinctive faculty. Imagination…



Brian Eno on culture: "Culture is everything we don't have to do. Eating is necessary, but cuisine is culture. Clothes must be worn, but couture is culture. Haircuts and Shakespeare and early Saxon burial poetry all pose some kind of unnecessary order, he said, that we accept because it stimulates our most distinctive faculty. Imagination is the only thing we're really good at. What we're doing [when we're engaging with cultural objects] is exercising that part of our mind that makes it possible to imagine things being ordered differently, and most importantly, to imagine what's in other people's minds. . . . If something is possible in art, it's thinkable in life."

Posted by Joel Schettler on April 26 2005 • Current Affairs

Rewriting World History


Here is a fascinating story from the Independent. In the past few days, significant discoveries could change the way that we view the world. Scholars have found lost works by the literary giants of Greece and Rome.

"Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed," write reporters David Keys and Nicholas Pyke.

"In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament."

Posted by Joel Schettler on April 18 2005 • Current Affairs

Danger Ahead?


When the blogger blogs, can the employer intervene?  That is the question the New York Times asks in an interesting article today. Reporter Tom Zeller's premise is this: "As the practice of blogging has spread, employees are coming to the realization that corporations, which spend millions of dollars protecting their brands, are under no particular obligation to tolerate threats, real or perceived, from the activities of people who become identified with those brands, even if it is on their personal Web sites."

No legal protections exist for bloggers, outside of those afforded other activities employees undertake on their own time. It's an interesting question. Read this article to learn more. Writes Zeller: "'Lifestyle law' trends of the late 1980's and early 90's - sometimes driven by tobacco and alcohol lobbies - created state laws that protected employees from being fired for engaging in legal, off-duty activities, though no one is likely to be fired simply for blogging, but rather for violating some policy or practice in a blog."

Some say that bloggers should do so annonymously, especially if they are going to blog about their company. Others say no, but if they are going to publicly speak about the company they work for, writes Zeller, there are some things to keep in mind: "don't post material that is obscene, defamatory, profane or libelous, and make sure that you indicate that the opinions expressed are your own."

You can't bring your hobbies to work, so why would the opposite be true? Right? I don't believe in writing about work issues on my blog. I think the two should be separate. I think that may be part of the reason why I gave my blog a theme--to give it some direction and backbone apart from my workaday life. And I don't like the gossipy insider type blogs anyway. I think of myself as a reporter, and I use this blog to simply throw out ideas that occur to me from my reading or web browsing.

Yet, I do include some of my favorite clips from my "work life" here on my site. But, I think of them more  as clips that many writers use to show others what they do. They are samples of my work that I am proud of, nothing more. Any thoughts?

Posted by Joel Schettler on April 18 2005 • Multimedia



OK, so I have been MIA again. I have just returned from a vacation with my wife to Mexico. It was my first visit to the country, and hopefully it won’t be my last. It was eight days of pure relaxation on the Mayan Riviera. More details and pictures to follow.

I did read an interesting book on my vacation: Mediterranean Winter by Robert Kaplan. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in travel and history. Kaplan is a wonderful author and regular contributor to the Atlantic magazine. Here is what the publisher has to say about the book:

“In Mediterranean Winter, Robert D. Kaplan, the bestselling author of Balkan Ghosts and Eastward to Tartary, relives an austere, haunting journey he took as a youth through the off-season Mediterranean. The awnings are rolled up and the other tourists are gone, so the damp, cold weather takes him back to the 1950s and earlier--a golden, intensely personal age of tourism.

“Decades ago, Kaplan voyaged from North Africa to Italy, Yugoslavia, and Greece, luxuriating in the radical freedom of youth, unaccountable to time because there was always time to make up for a mistake. He recalls that journey in this Persian miniature of a book, less to look inward into his own past than to look outward in order to dissect the process of learning through travel, in which a succession of new landscapes can lead to books and artwork never before encountered.

“Kaplan first imagines Tunis as the glow of gypsum lamps shimmering against lime-washed mosques; the city he actually discovers is even more intoxicating. He takes the reader to the ramparts of a Turkish kasbah where Carthaginian, Roman, and Byzantine forts once stood: “I could see deep into Algeria over a rib-work of hills so gaunt it seemed the wind had torn the flesh off them.” In these austere and aromatic surroundings he discovers Saint Augustine; the courtyards of Tunis lead him to the historical writings of Ibn Khaldun.

“Kaplan takes us to the fifth-century Greek temple at Segesta, where he reflects on the ill-fated Athenian invasion of Sicily. At Hadrian’s villa, “Shattered domes revealed clouds moving overhead in countless visions of eternity. It was a place made for silence and for contemplation, where you wanted a book handy. Everycorner was a cloister. No view was panoramic: each seemed deliberately composed.”

“Kaplan’s bus and train travels, his nighttime boat voyages, and his long walks in one archaeological site after another lead him to subjects as varied as the Berber threat to Carthage; the Roman army’s hunt for the warlord Jugurtha; the legacy of Byzantine art; the medieval Greek philosopher Georgios Gemistos Plethon, who helped kindle the Italian Renaissance; twentieth-century British literary writing about Greece; and the links between Rodin and the Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. Within these pages are smells, tastes, and the profundity of chance encounters. Mediterranean Winter begins in Rodin’s sculpture garden in Paris, passes through the gritty streets of Marseilles, and ends with a moving epiphany about Greece as the world prepares for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

“Mediterranean Winter is the story of an education. It is filled with memories and history, not the author’s alone, but humanity’s as well.”

Posted by Joel Schettler on April 14 2005 • Books