Sunday, September 16, 2007

Debunking bad archeology

This is an interesting site. Bad Archeology and such places are very useful. There's so much bunkum around.

However, I always treat authoritorial sites with caution, too, because every profession develops elements of religion, or even cultishness. There are things that are true and things that are not true, and sometimes trying to argue against the dogma can lead to a low-grade degree, an unacceptable doctorate, or a wrecked career.

And yet, all the time, we have professionals -- scientists, doctors, engineers etc -- who have to say, "Gosh, perhaps we shouldn't have burned XX at the stake for saying that."

I suppose we could try to take this illustration literally, or interpret the symbols and colorsl, and our interpretations might change with the times.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Autism in Jane Austen

And now for something completely different (though it's a copy of a post to Jo Talk), as they used to say in Monty Python. I just heard about a book called So Odd a Mixture: Along the Autistic Spectrum in 'Pride and Prejudice' by Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer

I haven't read this, though I will, but it's intriguing. I quote from the Publisher's Site

"So Odd a Mixture looks at eight seemingly diverse characters in Austen's classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, who display autistic traits. These characters - five in the Bennet family and three in the extended family of the Fitzwilliams - have fundamental difficulties with communication, empathy and theory of mind. Perhaps it is high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome that provides an explanation for some characters' awkward behaviour at crowded balls, their frequent silences or their tendency to lapse into monologues rather than truly converse with others."

Off the top of my head, I'd want to compare P&P with the other Austen novels and others by her contemporaries, for this might have simply been a style of the times. But I also had another thought.

IMO, Jane was not autistic or Asperger's, but I wonder if Cassandra was. I hadn't thought about it before, but we have many letters from Jane telling Cassandra about the balls and parties she attends, but Cassandra seems to rarely go to such events. That would be typical of someone who found it difficult to communicate easily with or even understand others.

Interesting to think about , eh what?