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Posts Tagged ‘Thucydides’

It’s that time of year again, when I look back over the previous twelve months of blogging and wonder why I bother. Levels of interest and engagement, on every single measure, continue their inexorable decline – the fact that it’s only a 20-25% fall from the already-feeble figures of 2021 is due almost entirely to December, with the combination of my regular Blogs of the Year post piggy-backing on other people’s talent and popularity and a bit of gratuitous snark about #Receptiogate (now removed after a take-down notice from the alpaca whose image I used without permission). Maybe the blog post as a genre will make a come-back as a result of the immolation of Twitter; more plausibly, I should be thinking about how to re-tool my prolix ramblings for the world of TikTok… (more…)

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Time Out

‘The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.’ I spend so much time thinking of ways to correct this misattributed Thucydides quote politely and constructively, and occasionally noting the context (a lot of “We need a President who lifts!” this year…), that I rarely take the time to think about it in its own right, or why it has such a powerful appeal to some people. (more…)

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It’s been a quiet fortnight on Thucydides Twitter – if you discount the 2000-odd P.G. Wodehouse bots continuing to pump out incomprehensible adverts for something that may or may not be linked to World Cup betting. The Social Jukebox bots that used to offer dodgy quotations have vanished, either because they’ve been closed down or because they decided that Space Karen’s far-right takeover was bad for their image; one weight-lifting account announced that ‘We need a President who lifts’, with the inevitable result of a couple of people bringing out the ‘Scholars and Warriors’ quote, and a couple of far-right and/or bot provocateur accounts with Thucydides handles have been churning out ghastliness, but that’s about it – with one minor but interesting exception.

“Man is the most important thing, and everything else is the fruit of man’s labor.” (more…)

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Something even weirder than normal is happening on Thucydides Twitter. I hesitate to use the word ‘invasion’ because of its association with the UK government’s racist anti-migrant rhetoric, but certainly I feel like a scientist in the opening act of one of those movies, puzzled by the suddenly anomalous behaviour of the pond snails he’s been studying, not realising that this is just one small segment of a rapid montage, the dots that will not be joined by anyone except the viewer until Act Two… (more…)

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If Elon Musk is going to destroy the Bird Site, inadvertently or not – the reported wheeze that everyone will get a timeline prioritising tweets from $8/month ‘verified’ users suggests he doesn’t have the faintest idea what makes it great for many people – I am hoping that he either takes his time (couple of years, say) or gets it over with in the next couple of weeks. I have a chapter forthcoming, at some point in the next year or so, exploring references to Thucydides on Twitter both as a window onto his image in contemporary culture and as a snapshot of the dynamics of social media. It would be nice if Twitter retained something of its current significance when the chapter appears – or, I urgently need to rewrite some sections substantially before the book goes to press, to explain why anyone thought this stuff was worth worrying about back in 2019…

This past week has been very much a matter of “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til some pampered egomaniac has stomped all over it and it’s gone’. (more…)

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Events of the present and future will tend to resemble those of the past – or however else you want to paraphrase Thucydides’ key assumption about the usefulness of his work – or at any rate will remind us of them. This week has been very much a case in point, as commentators have looked back to previous disastrous budgets and currency crises in search of a bit of historical context and/or a yardstick for evaluating disastrousness for the present Kwartastrophic Trussterfuck. I’ve been thinking a bit about my early childhood in the early 1970s (and how much this may have influenced my current instincts to preserve vegetables and hoard firewood), but even more my thoughts have turned to the Greek economic crisis, prompted by the wonderfully Thucydidean phrase used by someone from Nomura finance in the early stage of the pound’s collapse, “hope is not a strategy”. Yes, it’s the Melian Dialogue redividus, once again pitting the Batshit Brexit Party against another inexorable facet of reality. (more…)

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Okay, this is a first for me; I’ve just produced a new episode of the Thucydiocy podcast (Podbean link here; iTunes always takes longer to process), without it being based on a previous blog post. As I tend to use the blog as a repository in case I need to check up on misattributions and misquotations, this is potentially slightly tricky, and so I thought I should simply add a rough transcript (or rather, an expanded version of my script notes) for future reference… (more…)

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This weekend, there’s a fabulous-looking conference at Cornell on Thucydides and Aristophanes in honour of the great and wonderful Jeff Rusten. The advertising on the Twitter is slightly less wonderful…

Now, if this were my colleagues organising a conference in my honour, this would be deliberate trolling; (more…)

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‘Doom-scrolling’ is, I imagine, a familiar thing, that many of us have been doing far too much of lately. You may not, however, have come across ‘professional doom-scrolling’, which unfortunately does not mean you get paid for it, but rather involves justification of the activity through some sort of “but I have to do this for work”, addressed to frustrated loved ones and even to ourselves, to explain how this is not simply a deeply unhealthy bit of obsessive behaviour. It’s relevant to this piece I’m working on; I need to cover related issues in class next week; there’s a developing methodological debate that connects to my area. This practice is quite distinct from what we might call ‘catastrophe dissemination’, the uncontrollable urge to link current events to one’s own research in order to write topical social media posts and would-be popular comment pieces, although the professional doom-scroller may indeed end up writing such pieces as a doubling-down on their original justification for spending a deeply problematic amount of time on the Twitter. (more…)

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Only Human

This blog remains, if not in full hibernation, then certainly in a deep torpor; reducing all but essential functions until the warm weather returns, or the rains come and the valley is green again, or whatever other metaphor one chooses for the idea that, some day, I will once again have the sort of levels of energy and mental agility that will allow me to complete all my teaching, teaching prep and essential emails in less than the full working week, thus making space for research, writing and even blogging. Could be worse; there are lots of people having a much harder time of it, and this has actually freed me of the addiction to checking my viewing stats daily and getting depressed about them. Now I can get depressed about the decline of this blog without needing to look at the stats! (more…)

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