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Ancient Greece
Photo: GothPhil (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Another week, another selection of journalistic gems, compiled by one of E&M's editors: Frances Jackson on a modern use for ancient philosophy, remembering Srebrenica and a couple of disconcerting developments in Russia.

Frances, Diaphragm / Baby editor

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A word of advice from the ancients

In the run-up to last Sunday’s unprecedented referendum, much was written about the future of Greece, not all of it, I fear, especially helpful. One article, however, that seemed to buck the trend was William Irvine’s piece for the BBC on Stoicism and its applicability to the current situation.

Reminding us that the word crisis comes from the Ancient Greek for "decide" (a point that was incidentally also made by German polymath Joseph Vogl at a discussion I went to last week in Munich), Irvine disabuses his readers of the misconception that the Stoic approach is merely that of the stiff upper lip and highlights instead its inherently practical, vigorous nature even.

Though Irvine focuses on how the Greek people might achieve a degree of control over events in their country, I suspect that we could all probably benefit from the wisdom of the Stoic school of philosophy.  You never know – taking time to consider how things could be worse might actually give us some much-needed perspective on this issue and others.

Published in Good Reads
Monday, 23 February 2015 00:00

Good Reads – Conflicted about conflicts

In this Good Reads issue, E&M’s Diána Vonnák shares with you some articles that got her thinking about our continent. Follow her to discover the multiple ways descendants of victims and perpetrators deal with genocide as well as inside some bits of Bosnian literature about the human facets of the war. And make sure you read it till the end, because there you can find an interesting article analysing Maidan and its revolutionary potential, all framed in a personal way.

 

 

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Diána Vonnák, managing editor

 

When Bosnia was at war: self-appointed humanitarians in Sarajevo

 

Recently I had a chance to visit Sarajevo, this incredible city still somewhat scarred by the horrors of an inhumane siege and yet full of the mundane signs of moving on: the smell of coffee, strolling tourists and lazy stray dogs. Those bloody years in the ´90s were my only childhood exposure to the fact that war could happen so close, and ever since it proved to be a returning theme, as I would assume it has for many of my generation. It came as a coincidence, then, that in the recent issue of Asymptote Magazine I came across a letter exchange between Miljenko Jergović and Semezdin Mehmedinović

Both of them being in the forefront of Bosnian literature they try to get closer to one of the iconic interactions the Anglophone world knows about the war: Susan Sontag's visits and her solidarity with Bosnian people. Jergović recalls Sontag’s visit to his mother, in search for an ‘ordinary resident’ who could give an honest angle to her understanding of the war. Throwing away and thus wasting barely lit up cigarettes by the dozen in the middle of a war-torn city, Sontag acted as an emblem of failed self-appointed humanitarians: she was incapable of turning the war, the object of her amusement and horror, back to what it was - a challenge of empathy where stepping in requires real silence on your side and a readiness to let others’ lives creep into the place of yours.

Published in Good Reads
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