Stealing with the Eyes – out in May 2018

I’m very pleased to see the cover of Stealing with the Eyes, my memoir of anthropology and Indonesia, due out from Haus Publishing in 2018.

The cover image is a photograph I took of Saumlaki harbour in Tanimbar back in 1994. I dug it out of a shoebox and scanned the transparency.

Stealing with the Eyes
Stealing with the Eyes

I’ll say more about the book closer to the publication date. I’ve set up a page for it on this website, although it is currently a bit skeletal. The book is also available for pre-order, including from Amazon.

More thoughts on killing

As promised, I’ve just posted the (lightly edited) text of what I was talking about last night at the Cambridge Union, over on my Wayward Philosophy blog. It is about killing, and Levinas, and uncertainty, and ambivalence. I was uncomfortably aware last night that ambivalence is not a strong position to take when engaging in debates of this kind; but then I’m pretty uneasy with strong ethical positions — for reasons that should be clear in the piece.

Read the whole thing here.

Thinking about Killing – at Cambridge Union

This evening, I’m heading to Cambridge where I’m taking part in a Cambridge Union debate on the motion ‘This House Would Kill One to Save Many’. Also debating are Professor Julian Savulescu from the University of Oxford, the prolific philosopher, writer and podcaster Nigel Warbuton, Professor Alexandra Tanensini from Cardiff, Charlotte Knowles from Birbeck, and Lucy Yu, who is head of innovation and New Mobility Services at the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (and who, I imagine, has a professional interest in the problems of speeding vehicles and imperilled members of the public that most of us do not).

It should be a fun and interesting evening, although I’m hoping that we won’t spend the entire evening talking about the famous trolley problem. I have to confess in advance that I don’t really know whether I would or wouldn’t kill one to save many. Nor am I wholly convinced that the debate format is much more than a weird form of entertainment. But hopefully it will be possible to derail things for long enough to allow in some interesting thoughts.

Anyway, I’ll post something about it all after the event over on my (currently rather inactive) Wayward Philosophy blog, and link to it from here.

Now Represented by C+W

I’m very pleased to have found myself a new agent at C+W, where I will be represented by the excellent Emma Fine. I’m very much looking forward to getting started on work with Emma on two non-fiction projects that have been in the works for a long time: one big, single-themed project that ranges across anthropology, philosophy, literature, history and other such things, and also a memoir with Chinese characteristics or 中国特色 (as they say in the PRC). Or at least with Chinese philosophical characteristics. I’ll post more news about both of these projects once they are up and running.

The link to my bio page on C+W’s website is here.

Women in Philosophy Course on Highbrow

I’m really excited to be launching my Women in Philosophy mini-course today over on highbrow. It’s a ten day course that covers everything and everyone from Diotima and Hypatia to Judith Butler and Kimberlé Crenshaw. It’s been hugely stimulating and challenging to write, and has provoked me into thinking once again about the misogyny and sexism of the Western philosophical tradition. Here’s a list of all the philosophers covered:

  • Diotima of Mantinea
  • Hypatia of Alexandria
  • Héloïse
  • Hildegard von Bingen
  • Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Simone de Beauvoir
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Judith Butler
  • Martha Nussbaum
  • Kimberlé Crenshaw
  • Kathryn T. Gines

There are so many other philosophers and thinkers I could have included. But in a mini-course with only ten five-minute lessons, space was limited. If you sign up to Highbrow (the course is a premium course, but you can sign up for a month for free), let me know how you get on.

Teaching at the OU and OCA

After a pause of a few months, I’m pleased to be back to teaching again. I’ve always found teaching and writing mutually supportive, so I’m delighted to be working on the second year of the Open University MA course in Creative Writing, and on the BA in Creative Writing at the Open College of the Arts. Term starts soon, and so I’m looking forward to virtually meeting my new students in the next couple of weeks.

Talking About Orpheus in Sofia

This was recorded last December, but I forgot to post it back then, so I thought I should add this link to a video of my Bulgarian TV interview with the excellent Dessie Mikova about my novel The Descent of the Lyre. It was recorded last December when I was over in Sofia.

In this interview, you will note that I become miraculously fluent in Bulgarian. It really is quite remarkable…

If you are not a Bulgarian speaker, then you can just watch my animated facial expressions and my extravagant gestures, and guess what I am saying. That is more or less what I did when I watched it again this morning…

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