Some vague and incoherent thoughts

Delphic sibyl

Sort of generated by/riffing off a conversation between a couple of colleagues this morning, the general and recurrent WOEZing about the deleterious impact of the internet on our lives, and having people with whom my connection is solely in the professional sphere doing the cheek-kissy thing.

I am hesitant to suggest that there is any actual connection between people living their lives online and what seems to me (yes, moi, wot lived through the 60s) an increasing level of touchy-feely (cheek-kissy-kissy, hugs) in the real life social world.

I am not against hugs, but I feel that there are people who are in my hug-zone and people who are not, or not yet. While a person may be a nice person, if our main connection is online and we have been in the same room twice, both on academically-related occasions, I am not sure I am ready for the embrace-as-greeting.

Call me a stuffy old dodo, but I don't think cheek-kissing is appropriate in the context of archive negotiations, from intending donor to intended archivist*.

Is this because people feel they have to overcome the anomie of living their lives online, and overcompensating by bringing the flesh into rl encounters?

Is it to do with the way email conversations segue from the initial business-formal of Dear [title] [surname] to first names, to one-line or even one word responses confirming meetings?

Is it all about the erosion of the public/private spheres?

Or is it Just One Of Those Things that happens, and nothing has anything to do with anything else?

*Or am I becoming Katy Carr and her Society for the Suppression of Unladylike Conduct?

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Saturday linkorama

Brush the wandering hedgehog by the fire

From today's Guardian:

Rosie Boycott on the culture of conspicuous public grief. Well yes, and I think I've posted about this before myself: but hey, people used to flock to public hangings and to pelt malefactors put in the pillory and do public shaming rituals, not to mention things like vandalising the businesses of anybody with a German-looking name when WWI broke out. (And doubtless there are people who would do these at a drop of a hat if they had the chance.) Mass emotions are pretty spooky territory.

Alexander Chancellor complicates questions of Scottish/English identity:

For some reason, many English people still yearn to be Scottish and like to lay claim to Scottish connections. I have been going in the opposite direction.

Points for not quoting Dr Johnson on the 'finest sight a Scotsman sees'.

Obituary for Judith Rossner. Best known for Looking for Mr Goodbar, her other novels are less iconic but well worth reading.

A couple of reviews of interesting-sounding books on Medieval-type Stuff:
Gold & Gilt, Pots & Pins: Possessions and People in Medieval Britain
by David A Hinton
and Queen Emma and the Vikings: A History of Power, Love and Greed in 11th-century England by Harriet O'Brien: though the comment 'potent reminder of how pivotal a role women could play even in such an ostensibly macho society', makes me think of the evidence I saw recently in various Viking exhibits in Stockholm and Uppsala concerning the often high position of women within the society.

And Kathryn Hughes on a work of 'chick lit with A levels', Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. I'm not convinced that the Cathars were quite such cuddly bunnies as this book seems to make out (there's a very different picture in some of the works of Simon Raven, apart from anything else I've read which suggests that they were so not all about 'tolerance, ecumenicalism and all things nice"). But I like Hughes' argument that:

Mosse's writing stays firmly within the conventional paradigms of popular historical fiction. At one point Alaïs's hair is described as being like a "waterfall", while Marie-Cecile's eyes resemble a cat's (if, in real life, you stumbled across such peculiar phenomena you would, depending on your sense of adventure, call either the emergency services or the local newspaper at once).

However, it looks as if consciously confining herself to these rules of engagement has allowed Mosse's imagination to leap in other ways. Labyrinth is saturated with a passionate understanding of the region's past in a way that puts more conventional historical accounts to shame.

And I am absolutely there with her remarks about:
those twin goddesses of popular historical fiction, Jean Plaidy and Mary Renault, both of whom managed to convey the texture of various patches of the past with such rich complexity that they were responsible for turning more young women on to history than anyone, including the girls themselves, would probably quite like to admit.

I confess, I confess: I devoured Plaidy's works in my adolescent years; although I found them, unlike Renault, completely unreadable quite a short time later.