Archive for the ‘Diogenification’ Category

Several years ago, I described a tendency in current societies, a tendency of  Virtualization that is comprised of two hyper-accelerating processes – hyper-universalization and hyper-specialization/-differentitation, fueled by two phantasms that took hold of the imaginary budgets of modern political imagination in the course of the 19th century, which I have sometimes called the phantasm of total control and the phantasm of continuous interioralization. The discourse of medicine and health care was and is one of the  fields where these phantasms, their respective (social) processes and tendencies play out. But, as I have also previously argued, they do affect the political imagination in general and are found at the core of higher education, political action and decision-making, etc., etc.

What I have never done, however, is to claim that this idea is particularly original or novel. What I have argued is, only, that my reflections on current and past developments have led me to a conceptualization of the phenomena in-play, while very likely resembling the expressions of other great scholars, are useful in the way I compose them in light of the semantic agency paradigm.

I have only recently discovered that in his book on Violence (2008: 13f.), Slavoj Žižek does portray a Hegelian distinction that he adopts from Etienne Balibar for the analysis of violence in “virtual capitalism”, which neatly affirms my position conceptually and allows  constructive bridging of our views (minus our different conceptions of what a positive adoption of ‘abstraction’ means, since I am ‘a biological Kantian with a flat ontology’):

“Hegel’s fundamental rule is that ‘objective’ excess – the direct reign of abstract universality which imposes its law mechanically and with utter disregard for the concerned subject caught in its web – is always supplemented by ‘subjective’ excess – the irregular, arbitrary exercise of whims. An exemplary case of this interdependence is provided by Etienne Balibar, who distinguishes to opposite but complementary modes of excessive violence: the ‘ultra-objective’ or systemic violence that is inherent in the social conditions, which involve the ‘automatic’ creation of excluded and dispensable individuals from the homeless to the unemployed, and the ‘ultra-subjective’ violence of newly emerging ethnic and/or religious, in short, ‘fundamentalisms’.”

It is noteworthy that inherently referenced processes of social marginalization have produced both hyper-universalization and hyper-spezialization in ways that make us reconceptualize the issues of globalism versus globalization (Beck) from the point of view of a discursive institutionalism. Within the fields of ideological/religious fundamentalism, we can tentatively diagnose a continuous process of internal fragmentation and specialization: Terrorist groups that are formed around ideological ideas diverge into ever more splinter groups which each create their own version of the ideology, at times proceeding to stages of infighting.

At the same time, we do find an emerging class of the global poor or global precarious, who each live in poverty or precarity as if it was a social structure or institution that is constituted as isomorphism. I distinguish between poverty and precarity. Poverty, in my view, is defined by a lack of access to resources, wherein it is recognized by other social actors that social actors that are poor (we.g.individuals, families, communities, or even [so-called failed/third -world] states) do not have access to resources to even guarantee a level of subsistence. On the other hand, precarity constitutes a lack of  security for loose collectives of individual social actors, regardless of their access to resources and symbolic forms capital (‘access to’ here being very different from ‘possession of’); this means that to belong to the precarious class does not mean you do not have means, such as for example education, quite on the contrary, this spectrum reaches from low- and no-skill workers to people with PhDs. Members of the precarious class do have access to a lot of resources, for example they can make use of a nation’s unemployment service or social welfare in the present, however, whether they can continue to develop their careers, whether they will have health care, etc. in the future, or if they will drop from precarity into poverty is uncertain. Moreover, they are losing their faith in the symbolic currencies, such as contained in the ideas that “better education means a better future” or that “doing a good job means to move ahead in your career”, etc. While a growing number of people is suffering from this kind of disillusionment, social structures of “developed(?)” Western societies, but also a growing number of industrialized (or industrializing) and digitalized (of digitalizing) non-Western societies, still function on the myths on motives of progress  and growth that guided the Western 19th and most of the 20th century and lead to the paradoxical effect that both playing along with these structures as well as abandoning them can doom an individual actor to fall down the ladder, depriving her/him of resources or access to resources. As a result, many actors have fallen to a general pessimistic outlook and a polemic or cynical stance towards their own future and the lives of others, “you’re doomed if you do and you’re doomed if you don’t”. At the same time, another class of actors (individual, corporate, shareholder collectivities [and these constitute different types of agencies and rationales]) who control access and resources directly, have contributed to this an (political-)economy which promotes both the isomorphic structures  and institutions of poverty and precarity while it maintains, at the same time, the believes in symbolic capital, currencies and interests (Bourdieu: ‘illusio‘), including the promotion of the Protestant work ethic.  These ‘elite class of actors’ are yet also hyper-universalized and hyper-specialized. The structures, methods and  the ‘legalities’ in-play are highly universal, while at the same time, these elite actors are, at the same time, very different each: It is is impossible to compare a high-ranking Chinese government official with a p0litician-capitalist like Mitt Romney or a tech-guru like Mark Zuckerberg or a media-mogul like Rupert Murdoch or a celebrity like the ‘Kardashian circus’ or a talking head or pundit like Krugman or Friedman.

Even inside academia, for example, it is unfathomable why one person (usually white, usually male) is showered in research grants and demands between 10,000 and 25,000 just for speaking, while another is teaching insane course loads for scraps and has to drive a cab on the side and still can’t afford to her/his own apartment or a healthy diet.

We are only now beginning to understand what the processes are that we are facing here, and we are not moving fast enough to steer our social systems, specifically our education systems, in directions where emerging generations of students will be able to navigate and master the massive social, ecological, medical problems that are on the horizon: We are currently only seeing the early onset of the troubles to come and many of today’s complaints about health care, financial, ecological crises are more resembling of tourists complaining that the sea water has retracted too far from the beach for them to go swimming, not realizing or wanting to realize the tsunami that follows: The complaint is virtual in the face of the real catastrophe that looms.

We must understand this process of virtualization and make it explicit. At present,  hyper-differentation and hyper-universalization just continue in structuring global and local policy-making, which the current politics and rhetorics in the American election cycle and European debt crises illustrates: In neither case are the visible and audible actors doing anything other than engage in virtual actions on virtual problems: Their handiwork does not take into account or does it interact with actually real people, while at the same time a large enough number of people buy into the virtual economies that they know to be dysfunctional in the hope that still they themselves might be the last one or the clever one to profit from it. But from a realistic point of  view on living as a member the precarity, holding on these myths has become like playing the lottery: Believe it or not, the house always wins.


Beck, Ulrich Power in the Global Age. Polity, 2006

Stingl, Alexander I. “The Virtualization of Health and Illness in the Age of Biological Citizenship” Telos: TeloScope, 2010 at: http://www.telospress.com/main/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=372

Stingl, Alexander I. “Truth, Knowledge, Narratives of Selves” in: The American Sociologist Vol. 42, 2/3, 2011

Žižek, Slavoj Violence, Picador, 2008


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What counts as new in the human world? Not many things. Boris Groys, I think, has suggested over a decade ago that ‘things’ (Sachen) cannot be new for they are not real in the sense that, Groys points out, things “are not what lies behind their cultural descriptions and representations”, what is actually real, he states, are the relations between cultural activities and their products. in his work if I understand him correctly,, he also wants us to understand that the qualification ‘new’ is not something that is bestowed by either authenticity or the market. I have long been puzzling about this issue myself, in particular with regard to the market. It is a consequence of my own theory of semantic agency and, furthermore,  recent theories of relational communicative leadership, thirdness, and narrative empathy have continued to lead me on a path to understanding and conceptualizing this relation as problematic. The ‘new’ as a label is not actually and truly ‘new’. ‘New-ness’ is a narrative device (ambassadorial, at the very least, more likely a broadcast narrative empathy [Suzanne Keen]), embedded in a culture of empathy [Fritz Breithaupt] that is supposing a theory of mind, but a highly reductive concept of mind. That is exactly the point, that is what the market does, it reduces variations and contingencies of new-ness narratives. The market, from the point-of-view of ‘new-ness” narratives is the anti-evolution.

As semantic agency theory assumes, true new-ness would be un-intelligible and un-communicable. It would be a newdity. It would be truly naked – a naked singularity, even? And as such, it would be an object of shame. Not its subject, it would not have to be ashamed, because the culture of the newdity knows no such taboo, but in emerging in our culture (that is market culture and therefore the culture of anti-new, of anti-evolution) the newdity’s appearance as naked causes others to feel ashamed and gaze away not seeing it, even wanting to un-see it. In being so shamed, because it is naked and comes without the apparatuses of seemingness without the cloaks of appearing as ‘novelty or innovation (that is none: a ‘novation’ that is already ‘in’ cannot be truly and actually new)’, the newdity should it feel this shame – which it doesn’t know before for its nudity is not something that would make it stand out among other newditities for that is, after all, their natural state – will have begun a process integration via putting on ‘appearances’: This is why ‘in-vestment’ in ‘innovation’ always is a cloak-and(sometimes)-dagger  affair: Interest in a new thing is vested because it is vestimentary, a fancy dress. This is why we confuse fanciness with newness, and innovation – though never anything truly new – is considered ‘fashionable’: the cell-phone that can store more movies, is garnished  with more bling, and can be furnished with more upcoming and novel apps. However, the true and actual newdity will not be so easily ‘innovated’, upgraded, dressed. It does not commute into these discourse being so un-communicable and un-commutable. For its nakedness, it knows no shame, and therefore, has no excuses (Breithaupt). for it (intelligibility) nor knows it how to make them up (communcability). Newdity is not easily found in contemporary human culture, because to be filtered through the still not dead (or undead and zombie) notion of ‘human'(anthropos), means to dress up in excuses. But if it is always just same old same old, how are we to progress? We need to stop being afraid of our natural state of our nakedness and embrace the (old/new?) culture of newdity.

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Kantianism as negative instruction or negative anthropology is the very gist of  scientific method against Cartesianism: 

So many people are stuck with Descartes; well, of course you can go up to a heap of stones, declare it is a house and sit on top of it, and freeze to death when winter comes. No the good Kantian. A good Kantian who goes to a heap of stones, says, ‘look a heap of stones’ s/he makes a plan (architecture/theory) how to build a house and builds it, sitting in front of a comfy warm fire place in winter, thinking “A good to have tried that architecture thing, dude”. It is puzzling (I am intrigued by the problem as a STS research question), why so many scientists and philosophers (specifically in and around the zone of biomedicine) are stuck with a Cartesian sitting on a heap of stones, even while the Kantians “Cry winter!”.

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Today, any social goal that is currently suggested or any solution to the problems we are facing in communities, individual societies, or as humanity at large is met with questions of the nature: „How is that financed? Who is going to pay for that? Where does the money come from?“

The „nature“ of this sort of inquiry is the larger problem, because it is generally assumed in the contemporary mindset, that this is naturally constitutive of any kind of social or political activity or decision – In other words, any argument, suggestion, alternative solution or policy measure is supposed to address these questions (usually first) in order to be authorized fit for contemporary discourse that count as “pragmatic”, “realistic”, or “true”.

Unfortunately, this is not a natural state of affairs: While the fact that this kind of authorization “rings true” does equip it with a feeling of “truthi-ness” to paraphrase American comedian Stephen Colbert, it doesn’t make it actually pragmatic nor realistic and in no way corresponding to any kind of truth. Given the current spectacles and sensations that play out on the globalized and globalizing stages of mass-mediated politics1, the need to regain action potentials and contingencies would seem to be the priority while, at present, the role of the prime movers is, suspiciously, left unoccupied and the only thing that seems to be moving is the universe around us.

I have yet to hear a suggestion, a debate, even a statement that is not met with and plagued by the paradox that while the world is on growth as if it was on speed, it is also on scarcity as if it was on adrenaline, respectively. On that ultimate high, is it any wonder that it seems as though around and about us we have entered into a state of time stand still? But from there, the step to diagnosing that the globalized society we build is effectively stillborn, despite the claims of our self-declared elites2 that it is also timeless (as in: “eternal”). Any kind of diagnosis of a pathological state or process renders it closer to its “being toward death”3, and in the face of the supposed naturalism the state of scarcity, I am reminded of a little thought-experiment:

Imagine, that somebody alerted us to the universe’s having thrown a big chunk of rock at our world, that is threatening to wipe us out, while we had yet enough time on our hands and, perhaps, even a plan to build a counter-measure, it would be a safe bet4 that we would die simply because we “wouldn’t have the money” for that kind of endeavour. Unfortunately and unlike our favorite Martian Paul “how about we fake an alien invasion” Krugman, I am that kind of a realist that I’d consider the event of the threat extinction not enough of an OCP (Outside Context Problem) that would shake our epistemic and ontological foundations to the point where we’d end up doing something that’s right for a change5. This thought experiment is not that far off reality – indeed, on cosmic scales, the Earth is actually statistically way overdue for such an event, whatever “statistically“ really means – but the current global situation seems dangerous enough to count as a genuine threat to our ways of life and the world as we know it.

1From the European crisis to American ineptitude to make forge any political decisions internally on its multitude of social and procedural deadlocks that have been stocking up for the past three decades and its impotence in recreating even a shadow of its former leadership position internationally, not mention other nations and organizations: the solipsistic elites of France and Britain are either implicitly or explicitly following their national agendas, Germany is constantly deluding itself between intellectually starving its publics and tactically dis-ordering its most important indicators and outward appearances, not to mention its bureaucratic obesity (or, to cannibalize Weber and Deleuze, its continuous creation of micro-fascisms and iron mini-cages, or in mine own words: its bureaucrasia [the emergence of akrasia from bureacracy]) , China has gambled to high and is now standing on feet of clay and brand-new but vacant office buildings and corrupt local officials, India still fails to resolve its internal religious and cultural divisions as well as its resulting precarious situation with neighboring states, most OPEC members still refuses to accept the reality that oil is more an asset of the past than our future, the UN has allowed itself to be stripped not only of its resources but mostly of its moral authority, etc., etc.

2 The rich, the powerful (or, as Parsons would say, they are merely the influential), the political juste milieu, the economists, in short, perhaps this means the 1%?

3And I don’t mean in the good old Heideggerian way.

4 And you can be sure, somebody would actually bet large sums of money on it, just like they bet for and against currencies, produce, people, etc., on our stock-exchanges.

5You can hear the shrill voices of the skeptics already: “The asteroid ain’t real, the science lies, the asteroid is a socialist, it’s the fault of the gay people and Obama to begin with, and can it serve in the military telling everyone that it’s a giant piece of rock, and do we now have to rename freedom fries into stoneless fries to make it go away?”

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Over a century ago, the social and cultural sciences emerged in the promise and hope for the possibility of creating a better future for nations, societies, and humanity at large. A Great Depression, two World Wars and the Holocaust could do away with this attitude. It wasn’t until the spirit of ’68 became inextricably linked with the attitude and gesture of social and cultural theorists, and many of the ringleaders of the student revolution settled too comfortably in the seats of their predecessors in business and academia (gosh, finally they, too, had something to fear to lose in power, profit and privileges), and where those weren’t available, they just created themselves whole new layers of administration and governance to fit and rest in (snoring away the chance for true progress). The major domos and dominatrixes of what is often called  and summarily  executed as the Left are, therefore, little better than the 1% Right of Wall Street (which is supposedly ‘occupied’ while I am writing this). A true kunik would say that in fighting over the primacy of who holds the power, the devil’s left and right hand try to suffocate their other’s half of the brain, killing themselves and the rest of body in the process. A kunik would say something like what I just described.  But there are no more Diogeneses of Sinope around, and the cynics of today are usually busy relishing in infertile polemics and the inter-breeding of memes into incestuous meme-plexes that are riddled with inherited intellectual diseases that account for the smattering of knowledge that does suffice for participants to constitutes their ‘expertise’ in current political discourses, the public understanding of science and scholarship, the media, and contemporary financial markets, and this has already begun to infect the ranks among scholars, scientists, administrators politicians, and business managers themselves. Access to resources and to participation in these discourses is no longer made possible by enabled enunciation, but regulated exclusively through negative selections by constraints and polemics.

In holding on to the dogma and the mechanics that all of society is a zero-sum game, an economy of scarcity (and that its opposite could ‘only’ ever be an utopian and impossible notion of ‘superfluousness’,  ‘affluence’ or ‘unlimitedness’) and that the only criterion of progress is growth (mind you, who among the prophets of growth really understands or, if they do, would want their audience to understand the consequence of growth’s main mathematical quality being that it is exponential), the famous 1%, the Leftist Intellectuals, and the many people who are not rich and powerful but believe that one day they will be, have become impotent in the most crucial aspect of the word, namely with regard to the issue of agency: ‘Devoid of potentiality’.

Where is the social theory that would suggest a model of distribution that is based not on the zero-sum game of scarcity and growth but that suggests that the resources in this world are, while not unlimited, more than sufficient for the human race and that within a couple of generations and with a flexible, plastic, and pragmatic approach we could, indeed, achieve a sustainable distribution, without forsaking profit-making to retain a necessary level of asymmetry in the process? What we need is a model of a society and economy of abundance. Abundance, here, means that there is enough for everybody and just a little bit more for those who lust after it, it means we can do anything even if we cannot do everything, it means to make achievement and efficacy the measure of life and put performance and efficiency as the measure of things in their respective, lower place.

Why has scholarship and science not helped us with this, you may ask? And you would be right to do so. Yes, they haven’t done their jobs properly. Or is that just the problem? They have done their job. They have just not followed their vocation (Almost sorry for going all Weberian on you…not). A job is defined by its constraints, whereas vocation means to seek enablement:

Two social researchers of a public-private institute for social research in Germany, I once met with to discuss potential cooperation in research with, who had very little to offer intellectually and no grasp of the historic and pragmatic scope the concepts they were using to constrain and polemicalize me (funny, they were using the word ‘pragmatism’ in my face, claiming how they were following pragmatism and how I should be like them), these two described their (and supposedly my) job to me: Social science has to produce studies that help people who are in positions of influence, such as political parties or business, make their case, and we have to anticipate who will be influential next and make our research count to them by showing their message can be vindicated by research and numbers, that is how we survive and get money.

Another German social researcher put the role that social theorists should play this way, when I was talking to him about how we should try and create theories that could make a difference: Do you want to play politics, he asked  me, you cannot want that, the last time sociologists tried to accomplish something in society was in the 60s, and look what came out of that, no, it isn’t our job to accomplish something in society, or to have influence or make a difference, our job is make social studies of this or that phenomenon in society and not participate.

Another fun game that social scientists play among themselves is to shove responsibilities and questions to other disciplines. In a recent example, in one of the journals run by the American Sociological Association, one author finished an essay by stating about the problem of intersubjectivity that one of its main aspects sociologists shouldn’t even need to bother or talk about, but ‘happily’ leave it to anthropologists.

I do not exactly ‘blame’ Luhmann, but Luhmann’s systems theory and, more importantly, the way it is used by most of his (many) disciples is illustrative of the larger problem (and most social theorists, at least in Germany, seem to have accepted the constraints stipulated by Luhmann). They argue that there cannot be something like a grand-theory of society (as sociologists up to the 1960s seemed to believe), and Luhmann’s theory was the theory that could finally show that to be the case. Luhmann’s theory, in a way, by being the über-theory of theories, thereby itself a grand-theory, was the grand-theory that was none at the same time. It is the last and final grand- theory by doing away with all the others in showing that there can be no grand-theories at all. Great strategy, indeed. In the Luhmannian frame of reference, the best a society can achieve is a self-description. That point, as you will soon see, is crucial. When describing something, you have the opportunity to derive a theory of it, if you have an adequate theory you can use that theory to try and intervene into that something. If you have a comprehensive  or abundantly sufficent description and derived a comprehensive or abundantly sufficient theory, your interventions should achieve what you set out to do.  However, Luhmann’s frame would put a major constraint on this: You cannot have a comprehensive not even a sufficient view, because that would be very much like a view from everywhere (perhaps a view from nowhere, although, I do not think this says much about the view from anywhere, which is what I may be all about, but decide for yourself, how you want to view it). All that you, as a society, can describe is your own(ed) self,  in your own language from your own (singular) point of view.  This puts a limit on your theory and a limit on your interventions.  in other words, because a description of society (at large) is impossible in this current frame of social science, and all that is possible are descriptions of minute parts of our society (looking inwards and regionalizing our societies interior into fragmented interiors)  no theory of society is possible, only theories of the little parts, therefore, societies are too big to interfere in (whereas banks are too big to fail, the failure of societies could not even register on any scale because we are not allowed to have one), we can only micro-manage tiny little parts. If the addition of these parts does not match up with the whole of it, well, bad luck, but, again, what can be done about that, since that is something that cannot be talked about at all and, if remotely possible, we can say it is another mini-part that is the problem and we can ‘happily’ leave that to someone else.

Well, I am not sorry to say that this isn’t a state of affairs that I am content with. I take Pragmatism seriously, and I do not confuse it with a solipsistic-egocentric utilitarianism as some of my, mostly German,  peers do (waddling increasingly towards pear-shape). It is time we take ourselves seriously again and take up the provocations that I have offered here (kunik-ally not polemically). The mission of social and cultural science was never to change the world single-handedly, its original promise was to provide a bridge over the ‘bifurcation of nature’ that the humanities and natural sciences had created in order not to have to speak with one another anymore. But the social sciences are not the child victims of an ugly divorce, even if they have considered themselves to be that for the past few decades and thus gone from pout to tantrum and back again. We, as social and cultural scientists, are not just made to be stepped upon or walked over, matter of factly, we are forged in a matter of concern: Getting from there to here*. Since it seems that at the moment nobody seems to be getting anywhere, we are not doing our job quite right. I think it’s time for us, as social scientists, to have the kid-gloves come off, grow up, and get alive!

*With the concern for references not made clear, the fact of Sloterdijk’s fanship of Diogenes, means I, a mere pawn ripe for sacrifice, cannot spare you the gambit of an architectural joke of moving Underground with a French Tower: Latour goes to prison in England over the Channel, get it?

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This is a story about seafaring or adventurous folk. Our ship is sailing on the sea of stories, so to speak, and before we can set sail we need to find us or train us our navigator, our hermenaut. So, this is a story, too, about maps, and about map-making, and, of course, about charting new territories.

Map-makers of old, whether making maps of sea or land, so our lore has it, would leave a warning to those adventurers who dare and leave the territories already charted, depart from from trails well-trodden.

The makers would calligraph, perhaps even accompanied by illustration, HC SVNT DRACONES, “Here there be dragons”.

What, I ask, is a dragon?

A dragon is, the most simple answer would be, a known unknown.

Of course, the observant mind may digress and call on me to refer to all kinds of myth and folklore, imagery of snake-like beings, with wings or naught, fangs and claws, once leathery skin, once scales, rare cases even furry, and so forth.

There is much in existence for expressive unfoldedness of this metaphor that is known as dragon in Western and so many other cultures.

But for me, it circumscribes exactly what a known unknown is. The unknown, once we know of it as an unknown, fills us with a strange kind of anxiety: The kind of anxiety that conflates the urgent feeling of a dread before a threat, that may or may not be lurking, with an even stranger curiosity to meander, as if by some accident, way to deeply in that particular fray, just to find out what is there.

Sailing on or wandering off into territory uncharted, terra incognita1, we know that there is going to be some-thing, but what this curious and dreadful thing could be, and whether it would more satisfy our curiosity or our dread, we do not know. And if dread it were, we are yet donfident that somehow we could deal with it, bring it down, slay the dragon.

Hence, there be dragons (although sometimes, they can be quite friendly).

Dragons are something Foucault had an instinct for. He usually traveled about the spaces of our everyday practices, sniffing them out: Dragons are problematizations, and Foucault’s, his vocation (he was the voice in the wilderness), was to make them explicit, for those who are busy drawing them onto the maps.

He was, in other words, a hermenaut. Therefore, he had to give the known unknowns a name and point to where they may lurk, and, sometimes, because it is pretty dark where we have to go, it came in handy that he knew how to make candles, so we can bring some enlightenment.


Footnote 1: “in-cognita”: unknown and not yet experience and conceived, though, also deemed not as impossible to do so, thus, not a terra non-intelligibila, for it is still terra, part of the Earth, of possibly cognizable, mappable space.

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I have, I must admit it, an instinct for dragons.

How unscientific, somebody might have the inclination to say. However, I’d like to think not.

Of course, I could escape the easy way, citing anthropologist David E. Jones’s wonderful book by just that title. But mine is not an anthropologist’s interest in lore and imagery. Therefore, let me begin by addressing the two problems that we find lurking in the title: “Instinct” and “dragons”.

What is an instinct?

An instinct, we learn from Gregory Bateson’s famous metalogues, is a principle that serves us an explanation, an explanatory principle. It explains, we learn, everything we want it to explain. There is, however, no explanation for explanatory principles. They are, he says, black boxes.  I have, respectively, a black box for dragons.

What are dragons?

We all have images in our head when we hear dragon. Most of us do not immediately think of those wonderful animals that live on the Komodo Islands, which have been named dragons for they seem to resemble what we know from fairy tales and folk-lore. This is what, for centuries, people thought of when “dragons” were mentioned: Mythical creatures.

So when reading works written by weird scholars like myself, beware in all your travels and navigation, for on the academic charts we are mapped as “here there be dragons”.

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