Richard Coyne: ‘Everything is Code’.

As any student of semiotics knows, speaking in code is what we do — when we communicate. It’s normal. To speak directly is the exception rather than the rule. In the kind of work I’m involved in getting others to do what you think you want them to do is primarily an exercise in subtle influence, persuasion and suggestion, perhaps delivered as a “nudge” rather than an order. It’s the same in advertising. Only crude advertisers direct you to buy Weetabix — obviously, overtly, as a command.

“Re-: An Errant Glossary” – just out from the ICI Berlin.

What’s in a prefix? How to read a prefix as short as ‘re-’? Does ‘re-’ really signify? Can it point into a specific direction? Can it reverse? Can it become the shibboleth of a ‘postcritical’ reboot? At first glance transparent and directional, ‘re-’ complicates the linear and teleological models commonly accepted as structuring the relations between past, present, and future, opening onto errant temporalities.

‘Socialist Bromance’: From ideology to internet memes.

This analysis of ‘socialist bromance’ humour can’t take us far enough to argue that it contributes to the liberalisation of public discourse in China. But we can say that socialist terminology no longer belongs exclusively in its original official field. For what we see here is that the very iteration of ideology imposed by political authorities through language is starting to cause its own demise, bringing inevitable changes to its politically persuasive power.

The Task Ahead: Salvatore Settis and the ‘Classical’.

Asked by an academic friend to name one book I would save if the world were to collapse in an apocalyptic climate change scenario, I thought: ‘it’s too hard’, but then started going though my mental library. ‘You wouldn’t want to save an academic book, would you,’ said my friend, ‘surely a novel, an artist’s book…’. But in those few seconds I had already settled in my head for Salvatore Settis’ The Future of the ‘Classical’ (Polity, 2006, translated by Allan Cameron). Why?