zaterdag 31 januari 2015

Pride, Prejudice, Context

Here is a link to a small thingie I did over the weekend. It uses WordTree, the latest addition to Google's webcharts, and lets you see all words in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as a tree. While it works fine for smaller segments of text (words that do not appear too often) it unfortunately needs more work when the Tree gets larger. To prevent it from crashing or returning an empty frame I have added a data limit so when searching for 'Mr' it starts alphabetically end never gets to the 'D' of Darcy. It still occasionally  takes some time or freezes up your browser for a few seconds.

vrijdag 30 januari 2015

Subordination to and participation in a global system

In the preface to a book collecting some of his lectures "The Global Condition: Conquerors, Catastrophes, and Community" (1992) William H. McNeill makes the following statement about his motivation for being a 'world historian'. McNeill's attempts to write world history within the larger patterns of disease and demographics are fully incorporated by writers better know than him (think Charles Mann) but here he explains it with the clarity of an ideology:
Consciousness of the human species as a whole is potential rather than actual. But just as most of the nations of the earth were created by political events, and then, with the help of historians, achieved a common consciousness, so, it seems to me, real human consciousness can only be expected to arise after political and economic processes have created such a tight-knit human community that every people and polity is forced to recognize its subordination to and participation in a global system. We are not far short of that condition in the last decade of the twentieth century, and world historians, if they are able to construct plausible accounts of how that circumstance arose across the centuries, can perhaps do for humanity as a whole what national historians did for emerging nations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and what more specialized historians have done with conspicuous success for a number of aggrieved subnational groups since World War II." - William H. McNeill