Am I turning into a Luddite? My four daftest 2015 moments were all caused by modern inventions supposed to enhance 'progress'.
1. The Head Hunter. Last June a dim but snooty person from what she said was an ‘exclusive head hunter' rang me up and asked if I wanted to be considered for the post of Director of the British Museum. I cackled, assuming she was a friend playing a prank. She wasn’t. So I asked if she had actually researched my views on e.g. colonial rapine of the archaeology of the British Empire, the Parthenon Marbles etc., views publicly identifiable through my blog, website and broadcasts. She acknowledged that she had not done any such research yet. She did not call me back.
|I think it was for reciting a speech of Alcestis|
2. The Spell Checker. I won a ‘Goodwin Award’ from the august American Society of Classical Studies for a book I wrote. The prize certificate, written in Latin, said NOSTRIL instead of NOSTRI (‘our’) because of an illiterate spell checker. The certificate’s other mistake (not technologically caused) was to refer to me with a masculine pronoun. This reminded me of my teenage prize book label (left) for reciting Greek which assumed that as victor I must be a pupil at Nottingham High School for Boys. (I wrought revenge by using the W.H. Smith token to buy a cookery book).
|Autumn Term Garbage (poster not included)|
3. The Health and Safety Ruling. The nice man who used to empty my work rubbish bin has been sacked or moved. Fear of rodents means No More Office Bins at King’s College London. Instead I now work alongside a cardboard box with THREE MONTHS’ (not three days’) worth of rat-friendly prawn baguette crusts and gin bottles, since I never seem to have time to get to Recycling.
4. The Data Ownership Obsessive (aka IP MAXIMALIST). A top academic press has gone bonkers. I co-submitted the typescript of a contracted volume last summer, and the editor demanded letters on file granting someone’s—it seems anyone’s—permission to reproduce every single quotation, image and epigraph, regardless of their antiquity, out-of-copyright or ‘orphan’ status, or claim to
Fair Use (yes, I do know the laws). S/he wants me to get permission (from whom, I ask?) to quote a Sappho poem, an anonymous 16th-century tomb inscription no longer in material existence and lines from Paradise Lost. How to get permission cleared for Online Use from John Milton? Bring back Gutenberg and Caxton say I!
|Anyone got Milton's agent's email?|
|My new Aristotle Hoodie!|
|Aristotle's sad demise|
Resolution. I have signed a contract (NOT with crazed IP Maximalist at said academic press) to write a book about Aristotle's 12 best ideas, which I hope can be Cleared for Digital Use and Electronic Reproduction (World Rights) since he jumped into the waves at Chalcis, Euboea in 322 BC and inconsiderately left no forwarding address. I have donned my best Xmas gift (right) and am about to jump into the Metaphysics! Wish me a less daft 2016!