I’m not Matthew Wright from the University of Exeter

I recently fielded a query from a group of US students congratulating me on my work in classical literature and requesting an interview in which they proposed to ask me about aspects of Greek tragedy. I had to decline. I write on many subjects, but classical-era Greek literature is not among them. The problem was … More I’m not Matthew Wright from the University of Exeter

Life, the universe, and why people abuse each other over how to classify it

One of the ways humans understand the world is by classifying it – finding categories into which everything slots. This style of thinking has always been around, but it became something of an art form during the Age of Reason, and is still with us today. As I pointed out in an earlier post, the … More Life, the universe, and why people abuse each other over how to classify it

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

It is both poetic and poignant that the armistice signed at 5 am on 11 November 1918 was intended to come into effect six hours later, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The decision was deliberate; but it also meant that fighting in the First World War’s main combat … More On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

Social panics – when the stupid becomes the normal

I am always intrigued by the way that, every so often, western society is seized with a ‘social panic’ in which some recent and usually small-scale event becomes evidence of a supposedly deep-seated problem that is going to bring society crashing down in ruin. The archetype, for me, is New Zealand’s Elbe Milk Bar scandal … More Social panics – when the stupid becomes the normal