The Letter and the Cosmos

Author: Laurence de Looze
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
ISBN: 1442628537
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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The Letter and the Cosmos is a sharp and entertaining examination of how languages, letterforms, orthography, and writing tools have reflected our hidden obsession with the alphabet,

Playful Letters

Author: Erika Mary Boeckeler
Publisher: University of Iowa Press
ISBN: 1609384741
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Alphabetic letters are ubiquitous, multivalent, and largely ignored. Playful Letters reveals their important cultural contributions through Alphabetics—a new interpretive model for understanding artistic production that attends to the signifying interplay of the graphemic, phonemic, lexical, and material capacities of letters. A key period for examining this interplay is the century and a half after the invention of printing, with its unique media ecology of print, manuscript, sound, and image. Drawing on Shakespeare, anthropomorphic typography, figured letters, and Cyrillic pedagogy and politics, this book explores the ways in which alphabetic thinking and writing inform literature and the visual arts, and it develops reading strategies for the “letterature” that underwrites such cultural production. Playful Letters begins with early modern engagements with the alphabet and the human body—an intersection where letterature emerges with startling force. The linking of letters and typography with bodies produced a new kind of literacy. In turn, educational habits that shaped letter learning and writing permeated the interrelated practices of typography, orthography, and poetry. These mutually informing processes render visible the persistent crumbling of words into letters and their reconstitution into narrative, poetry, and image. In addition to providing a rich history of literary and artistic alphabetic interrogation in early modern Western Europe and Russia, Playful Letters contributes to the continuous story of how people use new technologies and media to reflect on older forms, including the alphabet itself.

The Gist of Reading

Author: Andrew Elfenbein
Publisher: Stanford University Press
ISBN: 1503604101
Format: PDF, Mobi
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What happens to books as they live in our long-term memory? Why do we find some books entertaining and others not? And how does literary influence work on writers in different ways? Grounded in the findings of empirical psychology, this book amends classic reader-response theory and attends to neglected aspects of reading that cannot be explained by traditional literary criticism. Reading arises from a combination of two kinds of mental work: automatic and controlled processes. Automatic processes, such as the ability to see visual symbols as words, are the result of constant practice; controlled processes, such as predicting what might occur next in a story, arise from readers' conscious use of skills and background knowledge. When we read, automatic and controlled processes work together to create the "gist" of reading, the constant interplay between these two kinds of processes. Andrew Elfenbein not only explains how we read today, but also uses current knowledge about reading to consider readers of past centuries, arguing that understanding gist is central to interpreting the social, psychological, and political impact of literary works. The result is the first major revisionary account of reading practices in literary criticism since the 1970s.

The Way of the World

Author: David Fromkin
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 0307766055
Format: PDF, Docs
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How did we get here? David Fromkin provides arresting and dramatic answers to the questions we ask ourselves as we approach the new millennium. He maps and illuminates the paths by which humanity came to its current state, giving coherence and meaning to the main turning points along the way by relating them to a vision of things to come. His unconventional approach to narrating universal history is to focus on the relevant past and to single out the eight critical evolutions that brought the world from the Big Bang to the eve of the twenty-first century. He describes how human beings survived by adapting to a world they had not yet begun to make their own, and how they created and developed organized society, religion, and warfare. He emphasizes the transformative forces of art and the written word, and the explosive effects of scientific discoveries. He traces the course of commerce, exploration, the growth of law, and the quest for freedom, and details how their convergence led to the world of today. History's great movements and moments are here: the rise of the first empires in Mesopotamia; the exodus from Pharaoh's Egypt; the coming of Moses, Confucius, the Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad; the fall of the Roman Empire; the rise of China; Vasco da Gama finding the sea road to India that led to unification of the globe under European leadership. Connections are made: the invention of writing, of the alphabet, of the printing press, and of the computer lead to an information revolution that is shaping the world of tomorrow. The industrial, scientific, and technological revolutions are related to the credit revolution that lies behind today's world economy. The eighty-year world war of the twentieth century, which ended only on August 31, 1994, when the last Russian troops left German soil, points the way to a long but perhaps troubled peace in the twenty-first. Where are we now? The Way of the World asserts that the human race has been borne on the waters of a great river--a river of scientific and technological innovation that has been flowing in the Western world for a thousand years, and that now surges forward more strongly than ever. This river highway, it says, has become the way of the world; and because the constitutional and open society that the United States champions is uniquely suited to it, America will be the lucky country of the centuries to come. Fromkin concludes by examining some of the choices that lie ahead for a world still constrained by its past and by human nature but endowed by science with new powers and possibilities. He pictures exciting prospects ahead--if the United States takes the lead, and can develop wisdom on a scale to match its good fortune.

The Cosmic Script

Author: Ahmed Moustafa
Publisher: Inner Traditions International
ISBN: 9780500517666
Format: PDF, Mobi
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"A fully illustrated, landmark study of Islamic calligraphy traced back to its deepest historical and cultural roots Explores the sacred geometry of each letter form of the Arabic alphabet as attributed to renowned 10th-century scribe Ibn Muqla Traces Ibn Muqla's system to the cross-cultural encounter between Greek learning and the scientific, artistic, and philosophical pursuits of classical Islam A richly illustrated, two-volume presentation of decades of research with more than 430 full-color illustrations Calligraphy is the central visual art of Islam. At its core resides a perennial challenge: What letter shapes traced by human hands are rightful bearers of the divine message? The answer lies in the "Proportioned Script" of Ibn Muqla, renowned scribe, man of letters, and minister under the great Abbasid Caliphate in 10th-century Baghdad. Emphasizing harmony and geometry, Ibn Muqla's system has governed the practice of Arabic scribal art up to the present day. In this two-volume, richly illustrated study, Ahmed Moustafa and Stefan Sperl analyze each letter form of Ibn Muqla's perfected penmanship and share their decades of research on Islamic letter shapes, revealing the history, linguistics, philosophy, theology, and sacred geometry that underlie this spiritual art form. In volume one the authors reveal the trilogy of prophecy, penmanship, and geometry at the foundation of Ibn Muqla's Proportioned Script. Providing a fully illustrated analysis of Islamic calligraphy's geometrical principles as transmitted in surviving writings and key manuscript sources, they examine the geometric grid of square, circle, and hexagon that informs the pen strokes of each letter shape and explore how the golden ratio appears within the matrix of the grid. They examine the development of Ibn Muqla's system in the context of the sciences, arts, and penmanship of 10th-century Baghdad and trace its origins to the cross-cultural encounter between Greek learning and the scientific, artistic, and philosophical pursuits of classical Islam. In volume two the authors analyze the calligraphic forms of each letter of the Arabic alphabet. They decode the sacred geometry of each form as it appears within the geometric grid, providing letter samples from ancient sources. Unearthing the theoretical and scientific foundations of Arabic calligraphy, this landmark study examines the aesthetic implications of Ibn Muqla's theory for the visual, verbal, and aural arts of Islam as well as the Islamic mystical tradition"--

Impossible Languages

Author: Andrea Moro
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262034891
Format: PDF, ePub
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An investigation into the possibility of impossible languages, searching for the indelible "fingerprint" of human language.

Guns Germs and Steel The Fates of Human Societies

Author: Jared Diamond
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0393609294
Format: PDF, Kindle
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"Fascinating.... Lays a foundation for understanding human history."—Bill Gates In this "artful, informative, and delightful" (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion --as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war --and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth club of California's Gold Medal.

Life as Its Own Designer

Author: Anton Markoš
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 9781402099700
Format: PDF, ePub
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It has been nearly 150 years since Darwin published On the Origin of Species, and his theory of natural selection still ignites a forest of heated debate between scientific fundamentalists on the one hand and religious fundamentalists on the other. But both sides actually agree more than they disagree, and what has long been needed is a third way to view evolution, one that focuses more on the aspect of life and “being alive”, one that can guide us through, and perhaps out of, the fiery thicket. This book, a seminal work in the burgeoning field of Biosemiotics, provides that third way, by viewing living beings as genuine agents designing their communication pathways with, and in, the world. Already hailed as the best account of biological hermeneutics, Life As Its Own Designer: Darwin’s Origin and Western Thought is a wholly unique book divided into two parts. The first part is philosophical and explores the roots of rationality and the hermeneutics of the natural world with the overriding goal of discovering how narrative can help us to explain life. It analyzes why novelty is so hard to comprehend in the framework of Western thinking and confronts head-on the chasm between evolutionism and traditional rationalistic worldviews. The second part is scientific. It focuses on the life of living beings, treating them as co-creators of their world in the process of evolution. It draws on insights gleaned from the global activity of the Gaian biosphere, considers likeness as demonstrated on homology studies, and probes the problem of evo-devo science from the angle of life itself. This book is both timely and vital. Past attempts at a third way to view evolution have failed because they were written either by scientists who lacked a philosophical grounding or New Age thinkers who lacked biological credibility. Markoš and his coworkers form an original group of thinkers supremely capable in both fields, and they have fashioned a book that is ideal for researchers and scholars from both the humanities and sciences who are interested in the history and philosophy of biology, biosemiotics, and the evolution of life.

Letter Perfect

Author: David Sacks
Publisher: Vintage Canada
ISBN: 0307371034
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Letters are tangible language. Joining together in endless combinations to actually show speech, letters convey our messages and tell our stories. While we encounter these tiny shapes hundreds of times a day, we take for granted the long, fascinating history behind one of the most fundamental of human inventions -- the alphabet. The heart of the book is the 26 fact-filled “biographies” of letters A through Z, each one identifying the letter’s particular significance for modern readers, tracing its development from ancient forms, and discussing its noteworthy role in literature and other media. We learn, for example, why the letter X has a sinister and sexual aura, how B came to signify second best, why the word “mother” in many languages starts with M, and what is the story of O. Packed with information and lavishly illustrated, Letter Perfect is not only accessible and entertaining, but essential to the appreciation of our own language. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Letters of Note

Author: Shaun Usher
Publisher: Canongate Unbound
ISBN: 1782112243
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Letters of Note is a collection of over one hundred of the world's most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, based on the seismically popular website of the same name – an online museum of correspondence visited by over 70 million people. From Virginia Woolf's heart-breaking suicide letter, to Queen Elizabeth II's recipe for drop scones sent to President Eisenhower; from the first recorded use of the expression 'OMG' in a letter to Winston Churchill, to Gandhi's appeal for calm to Hitler; and from Iggy Pop's beautiful letter of advice to a troubled young fan, to Leonardo da Vinci's remarkable job application letter, Letters of Note is a celebration of the power of written correspondence which captures the humour, seriousness, sadness and brilliance that make up all of our lives.