See Part One here.
July A month of very conflicted emotions. On the one hand, back in Berlin; on the other hand, Brexit. On the one hand, the remarkable pleasure to be gained from the Ablehnung of a Ruf, and an opportunity to reflect on the sheer weirdness of German academic appointment processes; on the other hand, Brexit, and the thought that a job in Germany might be no bad thing. On the one hand, some actual research into cheap translations of Thucydides (though not in a REF-able publication, unless the rules change dramatically in the near future); on the other hand, my most-read post of the year on, you guessed it, Brexit…
August was a quieter month, largely because of the need to prepare new classes at the same time as writing papers for several different conferences and vowing not to accept so many enticing invitations in 2017. I did track down one of the more interesting fake Thucydides quotations (which thankfully hasn’t caught on as much as I feared), find an opportunity to sigh despairingly over the state of the Labour Party from the perspective of Greek history, and reflect on what Thucydides would have thought about the burkini and other Very Real Concerns of the modern world.
September was the start of my new job in Exeter. On the one hand, I’d forgotten how much time it takes to create new lectures in a new system of teaching and learning (the narcissism of minor differences is bloody hard work); on the other hand, a commute with more or less reliable free WiFi (thank you, SouthWest Trains!) offered greater opportunity to keep up with posts. So, not so many, but all quite substantial: reflections on technology in the lecture hall (good), the constitution of Thucydidean authority (mostly bad), the post-work world (could go either way) and the thoughts of Zeno of Elea on the paradoxes of Brexit (well, it amused me…).
October The Melian Dialogue really is the all-purpose analogy for everything; it can be applied to any situation in which there’s an imbalance of power, and since that applies to pretty well every conceivable situation (especially when you start reckoning with different sorts of power), it can be applied to virtually any situation. It is most useful – and I would claim this post is gesturing in that direction – not as a means of predicting how people will behave, but as a means of thinking about the situation itself, and the different positions of those involved. And nothing so far suggests that this reading of Brexit is wrong… However, I think my most substantial contribution this month was an attempt at comparing the situations of (humanities) academics and musicians in the gig economy and digital world. I just write stuff I enjoy, and if anyone else likes it that’s a bonus…
November The sort of month when the only sane response was to write tendentious, polemical translations of the Corcyrean stasis and other bits of Thucydides, and hope that reality turns out better… Crass analogies for Trump and his victory continued to proliferate, and my rants against them became ever less temperate; meanwhile, it became suddenly clear that the road to increased viewing figures ran through the gates of Braudelian historiography.
December Analogies, analogies, analogies… The Classical Allusion Fail! Klaxon has been working overtime, not least when Arron Banks clashed with Mary Beard about the Fall of the Roman Empire and I felt called upon to offer a very partial defence of his position. The question of whether the twentieth century was Short, Long or Basically Irrelevant brought further visitors from the followers of DeLong (thanks again!), while I felt called upon to try, yet again, to find something intelligent to say about the Thucydides Trap in full knowledge that it will make No Difference Whatsoever to the runaway success of the idea.