A cool question - Livre d'Or








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livredor
A cool question
Thursday, 07 October 2004 at 08:23 pm
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rysmiel asked me a cool question (well, several, but this is the one I want to talk about):

Of any figures who lived and died before the twentieth century, who would you most like to have on your friends list ? Of any fictional characters ?

Of pre-twentieth century historical figures, I choose Diderot. Because I love having writers on my friends list, and I find Diderot's style so absolutely engaging. Plus, he's a complete polymath, he's interested in and knowledgeable about absolutely everything, philosophy, politics, science, gossip, sex (incidentally, he's author of my absolute all-time favourite literary sex scene) and a whole load of other things. And the sort of person who would know all kinds of fascinating people.

And of fictional characters, I'd choose Cassandra Mortmain from Dodie Smith's I capture the castle. Not so much the sheltered teenager she is in the book itself, but a few years on. I'd be fascinated to see what such a quirky and original personality makes of the real world, and how she develops as a person and a writer (she has such a lovely voice, despite its naïveté, at 17, so I'd love to know what she'll be doing with a bit of maturity). And she's someone I'd very much like to interact with directly, I think, but not someone who would be easy to be close friends with, so reading and commenting on her journal would be a good start.

This is sort of connected to the 'Interview' meme, but I've mutated (exapted?) it to something only vaguely related. Basically, I would welcome any questions about anything that people would like me to talk about. I might not get round to answering them immediately, but I'll certainly bear them in mind for future posts. And if you'd like, I can provide questions in return. The framework is interview-style questions, but I'm not really fussed about keeping strictly to that. Also, I think I'd rather have single questions than sets of five, at least to start with.

Oh, and on the subject of books, I've put up a review of Dorothy Dunnett's King Hereafter.


Moooood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Tuuuuune: Alice Cooper: No more Mr Nice Guy
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rysmiel: vacant and in pensive mood
From:rysmiel
Date:October 7th, 2004 12:48 pm (UTC)
3 minutes after journal entry, 08:48 am (rysmiel's time)
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This is sort of connected to the 'Interview' meme, but I've mutated (exapted?)

I really do not like "exapted" as a concept in discussion of biological evolution, even though it's entirely apropos here, becuase it seems to be sneaking teleology back into the process again.
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livredor: p53
From:livredor
Date:October 7th, 2004 01:01 pm (UTC)
15 minutes after journal entry, 02:01 pm (livredor's time)
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I really do not like "exapted"
This made me laugh, because the entire reason I used the term was in reference to an argument I had with lethargic_man about this exact issue. I can't remember if the discussion in question is on my LJ or his or in correspondence, but the gist of it was that I maintain that exapt has inappropriately teleological connotations, whereas M thinks it's a perfectly reasonable shorthand, one of those cases where vaguely intentionalist language makes it much easier to describe complicated concepts.

even though it's entirely apropos here
Heh. I was also poking fun at the meme concept as used in the LJ sense; in a sentence where I'm using mutate as a transitive verb I reckoned I could probably get away with it.

By the way, if you spell apropos as one word (as opposed to à propos), how do you stress it?
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rysmiel: default
From:rysmiel
Date:October 7th, 2004 01:06 pm (UTC)
20 minutes after journal entry, 09:06 am (rysmiel's time)
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By the way, if you spell apropos as one word (as opposed to à propos), how do you stress it?

"ap-rop-oh", stress pattern as in "majesty".
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shreena: Quilll - from obsessiveicons
From:shreena
Date:October 7th, 2004 05:08 pm (UTC)
4 hours after journal entry, 06:08 pm (shreena's time)
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I have a question: have you ever had serious doubts about Judaism and, if so, how did you overcome them?
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ewx: default
From:ewx
Date:October 8th, 2004 01:35 am (UTC)
12 hours after journal entry, 02:35 am (ewx's time)
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exapt?
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livredor: p53
From:livredor
Date:October 8th, 2004 01:58 am (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry, 02:58 am (livredor's time)

Exapt

(Link)
It's a term from evolutionary biology to refer to a structure which originally serves a particular "function", but turns out over the course of evolution to be useful for something else. Some people argue that the wings of flighted mammals originally arose because there was an evolutionary advantage in the increased cooling possible with a greater surface area to body mass ratio, and later on, some of these wing structures were exapted (acquiring appropriate musculature and so on) to permit flight.

I find it a problematic term for the reasons rysmiel alludes to. It's really hard to use without a lot of teleological implications. I mean, the very fact that you're talking about changing the "purpose" of a particular biological structure suggests strongly that it had a purpose in the first place. Also, it tends towards a Just So Stories view of evolution, which is a kind of dialogue that isn't always scientifically helpful.
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ewx: default
From:ewx
Date:October 8th, 2004 04:48 am (UTC)
16 hours after journal entry, 05:48 am (ewx's time)

Re: Exapt

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Ta.
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