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A note on the title.

Viola tricolor hortensis is the Latin name for pansy. The pansy is traditionally symbolic of thought as its name derives from the French ‘pensée’ (as in the Pensées of Blaise Pascal). Happily this scientific name can be read as referring to some of my areas of interest. Viola is one of my favourite Shakespearian heroines. The tricolor is, of course,  the French flag and specifically the flag of the French revolution. Hortensis derives from ‘hortus’ (Latin for garden, as in horticultural, etc) and means cultivated or domestic. I am particularly interested in the cultural construction of identity, particularly in relation to gender, which brings us neatly back to the cross-dressing heroine of Twelfth Night.

The purpose of this site is therefore to express some of my thoughts on a range of subjects which interest me and which I hope may be of some interest to others. Such subjects may include science, philosophy, cinema, history, prehistory, music, psychogeography, the history of science, politics, post-modernism, literature among others. I may also occasionally attempt humour.

I would like to add the caveat that I have no real authority to speak on any of these topics. This is particularly important regarding science. I am not a scientist and will try to avoid writing anything on the subject which may mislead. If I sometimes refer to concepts such as quantum indeterminacy or emergence please don’t get too upset if my grasp of them seems naive.

The pieces here are not intended to set out a coherent (or even incoherent) personal ideology. Think of them more as starting points for debate. It may be useful to distinguish between statements of fact, for example:

  • Homo sapiens evolved in Africa,
  • the plays known as ‘the works of Shakespeare’ were written by one William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon,

opinions:

  • Henry Purcell was the greatest English composer in history,
  • Charlie Chaplin was funnier than Buster Keaton,

and debate positions:

  • chimpanzees should have the same legal rights as children,
  • witchcraft laws should be revived in order to prosecute and execute psychics, astrologers, homeopaths and other charlatans.

I hope the distinction is clear.

If philosophy teaches us anything it is that the dialectic is crucial so I welcome engagement and argument.

A note on notes.

It will be too time-consuming for me to dig out the sources for everything I say. I am, however, happy to provide references upon request.

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4 Comments
  1. Nick Seeber permalink

    I shall add this site to my Google Reader forthwith and read diligently…

  2. Lucy Nevard permalink

    “Charlie Chaplin was funnier than Buster Keaton” – I’m pretty sure this has been scientifically proven (with, like, humour-meters and everything).

    (By the way, there’s a small typo on the fourth line of the third paragraph.)

  3. I am loving the blog Joseph, you are quite prolific. I think we are sharing brainwaves through our shared wall here!

  4. Rob Casey permalink

    Great stuff, sir. I am currently avoiding the temptation to simply reply to each article in the style of The Wire – “True dat.”

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