Flying a kite in memory of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s local connections
‘Students pay tribute to kite philosopher’ said the headline in the Glossop Advertiser on 20 March. It describes a celebration by ‘fine arts and interactive arts students’ at Chunal, the hill outside Glossop, flying kites to mark the centenary of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s aerodynamics experiments at Manchester University’s Kite Flying Upper Atmosphere Station. Wittgenstein would stay at the Grouse Inn near the top of the hill – and just over another hill from Literary Connection’s own home. He boarded upstairs in a room that looked out on the moors where he often walked alone. The picture shows Wittgenstein and by William Eccles with a kite in the summer of 1908. Whilst at Manchester University, Wittgenstein developed and patented a design for a rotary blade of the kind now used in helicopters – before abandoning engineering for mathematics and then philosophy. On the way he found time to fight in the Austrian army in the First World War and become a school teacher. He hated teaching but wrote a spelling manual, commenting of his students’ reactions to his classroom guide: ‘The orthographic conscience had been awakened.’ Continue reading “Flying a kite for philosophy”
Byron urges social networking safety code: but is it the poet’s own work?
Has the enfant terrible turned into a Daily Mail reading Conservative? Byron, who wrote so contemptuously of the Poet Laureate in Don Juan?
Although ‘t is true that you turn’d out a Tory at
Last, – yours has lately been a common case.
It turns out that the headline in today’s Guardian: ‘Byron urges social networking safety code’, is all about teaching children to use the Internet safely. It’s a report by Dr Tanya Byron and is full of sensible advice, though regular reference to what ‘Byron says’ are a little disconcerting to those of us more familiar with the poet. Can you image George Gordon Noel, Sixth Baron Byron, that scourge of conformity and convention, writing: ‘Byron has also recommended a code of practice to cover the moderation of user-generated content’? No, I thought not.
‘Celebrity scandal seems much more his line, whether creating it himself or writing about it at the expense of his enemies. It turns out that, according to another article on the Guardian website today, this is just what today’s teenagers enjoy reading. The list of their best and least loved reading matter makes fascinating reading itself. Number 4 on the ‘Most loathed reads’ list is ‘Magazine articles about skinny celebrities’; top of the ‘Most loved reads’ list is: ‘Heat magazine’. Strangely, as the journalist cannot resist pointing out, ‘the cover and pages six to 12 of this week’s favourite read Heat are devoted to the subject’ of skinny celebrities. But whoever expected teenagers to be consistent?
More on Byron – the poet – here.
Larkin the letter writer and book stealer
Hull academics are eagerly examining letters written by Philip Larkin, once the university’s librarian, Chris Arnot reports in The Guardian. Already reeling from the discovery that the ’eminent librarian had stolen one book from a library in Coventry and another from Blackwells in Oxford,’ I wonder what else they will reveal. ‘Well,’ as he says in ‘The Old Fools’ in High Windows, ‘We shall find out.’ More about Philip Larkin on this page.
‘Boy A’ wins talking point award for ‘The Book to Talk About 2008’
Jonathan Trigell’s controversial novel Boy A has been named as the first winner of the Book to Talk About award, announced to coincide with World Book Day, the Guardian reports. Learn about all the books on the shortlist on the Books to Talk About section of the World Book Day website.
Since the point is to provoke discussion, the book seems well-chosen – ironically, but perhaps not surprisingly, on World Book Day the Forum page said: ‘The discussion part of the Spread the Word site has been suspended due to the large amount of unacceptable and undesirable postings/Spam.’