On exegesis, sort of!

I know, the title is a clickbait and will disappoint most. Still, those thinking that exegesis is a matter of highly theological speculation, reserved for those educated in the study of scripture, might be wrong. Exegesis hits when you expect it the least. The following text, for instance, is an excerpt from an e-mail that I received in May 2018. It questions the relationship between holy scripture, oaths, and truth :

I noticed that you recently made a random deposit into my bank account for £XXX. 
Please stop making arbitrary deposits, or I will ask the bank to block deposits from your account. 
Until [redacted] decides what is a fair amount of monthly [redacted] for you to pay for [redacted], these one-off pittances are inappropriate and obfuscating.

You may ask yourself how the above relates to sacred scripture. Well, I can’t tell you. At least not now and not here. Just this much: Nothing is sadder than watching pseudo-religious people pretend and mislead!

Note to myself: Be wittier, think faster, and remember the right thing at the right moment, or else they just bulldoze over you.


“Kann ich der Welt nicht durch Gehen, Klettern oder Segeln entkommen, habe ich gelernt, sie auszusperren”.

Stille | Erling Kagge

Not my style of literature, but whoever writes about walking, mountains and silence gets my attention! Werner Herzog’s (@wernerhurtzog) “Vom Gehen im Eis” and Robert Walser’s “Der Spaziergang” remain clear favourites.

There There!

“There There”, a beautifully written novel and incredible storytelling by Tommy Orange. I sometimes read e-samples before buying a book. This one’s caught my attention immediately and read it to the end. I got off the plane and almost went to Dussmann shortly before midnight to buy the book. Luckily they had an open Sunday the next day. I look forward to reading more by @thommyorange.

History of Humanities

Last week, I taught about Anquetil-Duperron, William Jones, the discovery of language similarity and the beginnings of IE Studies. Disciplines such as Iranian Studies or #Indology, as we know them today, would not have been possible without those efforts and contributions. I also made it a point to at least briefly discuss “genesis amnesia” and the critical examination of Oriental Studies offered by @tavak in

  • Tavakoli-Targhi, Mohamad. 2001. Refashioning Iran: Orientalism, occidentalism and historiography. Palgrave Macmillan.

I was glad to discover this morning, the wonderful 2019 themed issue of “History of Humanities“, Vol 4(2), dedicated to “Classics of the Humanities” & edited, it seems, by @rensbod & Kasper Eskildsen. This is the original tweet by Rens Bod:

Our anthology on The Classics of the Humanities has been published, and it’s free!
It includes foundational texts from philology, historiography, art history, literary theory, oriental studies, archaeology, linguistics, digital humanities and more.


As @rensbod writes, the volume “includes foundational texts from philology, historiography, art history, literary theory, oriental studies, archaeology, linguistics, digital humanities and more.”

“Some texts have been translated into English for the first time.” For instance, “Karl Lachmann’s introduction to stemmatic philology” which has until now been available only in Latin.

The original texts are here: historyofhumanities.org/resources/

An autumn course in Zoroastrianism

Pir-e Sabz, Zoroastrian pilgrimage site in central Iran. Photo: Courtesy of Kaiyan Mistree. Copyright: UiB.

The University of Bergen (Norway) and the Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies at SOAS, University of London, offer this autumn (23–27 September 2019) a short course on Zoroastrianism. This free course takes place in Rome and offers international students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the study of this religion with its rich history. The course is taught by Sarah Stewart (SOAS) and Michael Stausberg (Bergen) who will be joined by Jenny Rose (Claremont). Application deadline is 24 June 2019.

This year’s topic is “Zoroastrianism in modern and contemporary Iran”, where Zoroastrianism exists as a recognized religious minority. The course will address matters such as lived religious praxis, gender and community organizations, social, religious and ritual change, memory and visions of history, nationalist ideologies and minority rights.

For more information, see this page.

Japanese cat writing

I love cats, but am not crazy about them and certainly not a cat vs dog person. I like cats a reasonable amount. A while ago, however, I stumbled upon Junichiro Tanizaki’s cat story, read it out of curiosity and absolutely loved it. Months later, I caught myself remembering it as a B&W film, so lucid and expressive is its language and storytelling.

I’ve been going back to it again and again, and so thought of making a little reading project with #Japanese #cat stories. So far, I’ve discovered another four, but suspect there might be more. For the moment, I’ll read three to see how it goes.

The second cat novel in the project is “The Guest Cat” by Takashi Hiraide. This one, also a novella type, is about a cat that visits a couple in #Tokyo as a guest. My children and I can relate to this, as we regularly host guest cats :), mostly in the summer time.

I am undecided as to what to read as the third story. There is the contemplative “The Travelling Cat Chronicles” by Hiro Arikawa, the perhaps funny “If Cats Disappeared from the World” by Genki Kawamura, or Soseki Natsume’s classic “I am a Cat”.

While I’m here: I feel two more reading projects coming up: one with owls and one with wolves. I could start the owl project with “The Owl who Liked Sitting on Caesar”, but how to continue? I will make another post for the wolf project when I start it.

Ritual Matter(s): Nowruz Ceremonies of the Zoroastrian New Year in Tehran – Ajam Media Collective

Another photo essay by Behrad Mistry, again from last year and over at the Ajam Media Collective.

The Zoroastrian New Year coincides with the Spring Equinox. It marks not only the beginning of the calendar, but the renewal of life in its perennial struggle with death. This annual milestone is an occasion for celebration, and involves a series of ritual arrangements and acts.

Source: Ritual Matter(s): Nowruz Ceremonies of the Zoroastrian New Year in Tehran – Ajam Media Collective