Posted by BE on January 21st, 2017
More than half a century ago, when I was a lecturer in German literature at the University of Canterbury, I was myself taught a lesson about effective pedagogy: Never use a long word when a shorter word will do. Keep it simple, Stupid!
I was lecturing on the Czech/German writer Franz Kafka, some of whose nightmarish novels and short stories you may be familiar with: The Trial, The Castle and The Metamorphosis whose central character wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a beetle.
What did it all mean? Well, if you’ve got a lifetime or two to spare you could read all the scholarly books and articles that have been written on that topic. But basically it comes down to this: some people think the books are religious allegories; other people think they reflect Kafka’s relationship with his domineering father. I belong to the second group. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by BE on January 9th, 2017
One of the finest men I have ever encountered has died. Sir Bruce Slane was a gentle, unpretentious, decent, life-affirming proponent of the very finest human values, the whole leavened with an infectious sense of humour, I am just one among thousands who will celebrate his life and mourn his death.
Posted by BE on December 15th, 2016
When I’m writing a post to appear on my site, I take great care to ensure that what I’m writing is factually correct. I may then draw certain conclusions based on those true facts. The truthfulness of the facts will not, however, guarantee the correctness of my conclusions. Reaching those conclusions requires logic and independence of mind .
Those same qualities are required of those reading what I have written if they are to fairly assess or judge my argument. Race and gender are areas in which logic and independence of mind are most threatened by illogic and mental bias. This is scarcely surprising since those areas also provide the best/worst examples of prejudice against and mistreatment of one social, national or racial group by others.
In everyday conversation and debate, however, I am less likely to be so scrupulous. A conversation in which one weighed every word, sentence or statement of opinion before delivering it would be very stilted indeed. My experience of having given literally thousands of off-the-cuff interviews to journalists, whose editors then decided which bits were interesting or newsworthy and which weren’t, has led me to the firm conclusion that fairness and accuracy are most at risk in the reporting of ad lib chats with journalists on the phone. Read the rest of this entry »