Archive for the ‘Arts & Cultures & Societies’ Category


The Social Benefits of Steak Tartare

Written on October 23, 2007 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Arts & Cultures & Societies, Literature


Miguel Herrero de Jáuregui

Our days are witnessing an interesting process: along with the rise of vegetarianism, there is an increasing popularity of dishes made with raw meat or fish: steak tartare, beef carpaccio, Ethiopian kitfo, and Japanese sushi are among the dishes which one is more and more sure to find in restaurants, cook books, or gastronomic conversations. It is well known that steak tartare takes its name from the tradition that the nomadic people of that name used to tenderise meat by placing it under the saddles of their horses for a whole day. But that a savage habit of fierce warriors has turned into a fashionable bourgeois delicacy is paradoxical. A good subject to muse on, therefore.

In fact, the classic book of the great anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss Le cru et le cuit (1964) established the passage from the raw to the cooked as the moment where savage turned into civilized. He used comparative evidence from many cultures, but his idea was above all influenced by ancient Greek elaborations of  the boundary between raw and cooked. The central institution of Greek civic and religious life, animal sacrifice, was a celebration of cookery. Greek sacrifice, as it was explained by another great French structuralist, Jean Pierre Vernant (Mythe et pensée chez les grecs, Paris 1965), is the institution which constitutes and gives cohesion to a social group like the polis (much like elections are in modern democracy). All citizens took part in the ritualized killing, cooking and eating of the sacrificial victims. And those who did not take part in sacrifice were considered as deviationist eccentrics and sometimes as hostile enemies. Vegetarians like the Pythagoreans who believed in reincarnation, for example, were mocked and even prosecuted.

Read more…


John Milton in the Retiro Park?

Written on October 22, 2007 by Arantza de Areilza in Arts & Cultures & Societies

Angel_caido Arantza de Areilza                         (Click here for this post in Spanish)

This weekend, I went to the Retiro Park in Madrid to visit the only statue dedicated to the fallen angel, who names one of the entrances to the gardens.  It was the Duke of Fernan Nuñez, deaf to the exclamations of scandalized fellow members of the Aristocracy of the age, who entrusted the sculptor Ricardo Bellver in 1874, to erect this fountain at the end of the avenue that bears his name.  The author was honored four years later in the National Exposition in 1878. 

This singular monument to the Devil symbolizes the banishment of Lucipher from Heaven for having defied God’s commands. 

In this singular form, the idea of lost Paradise appears once again encompassing History. 

Perhaps the epic poem of John Milton (1608-1674) Paradise Lost is one of the most brilliant works ever written on this subject.  In this epic of more than 10,000 verses, Milton describes the original loss of Paradise and the fall of man into sin.  Milton characterizes this by representing Heaven and Hell as spiritual states, rather than physical ones.  Satan and his court are banished from Heaven to Chaos.  From there, Satan plots his vengeance: to tempt the most perfect creation of God, man, to try the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  It is this act of disobedience to God which provokes their definitive expulsion from original Paradise.  Through the narration of how Lucipher and man have been expelled from Paradise because of their disobedience to God, Milton tries to justify God’s behavior towards man and convey the hope that the son of God will bring after the fall. 

Milton was a great defender of Republican ideas which took force in Cromwell’s England after the English Civil War and supported his beliefs in the Puritan mandate of the inviolability of the conscience.  Milton, a precursor of liberalism, defended the separation of Church and State and a great constitutional liberty.  As such, he moves through History as a theoretician of Animist Materialism, which argued that the universe is composed of only one substance material which is “animate, self-active, and free”.  Milton also defended divorce and the belief that the soul dies with the body. 

I asked myself what would this British poet and philosopher have thought, branded as a heretic in his time, if he could walk beneath the shadow of the Fallen Angel of Bellver in these solitary days in the Retiro.  Do you think he would have smiled? 



Written on October 20, 2007 by DeansTalk in Arts & Cultures & Societies

Fernando Fontes


Estoy seguro que todos hemos pensado alguna vez cual debería ser el equilibrio en nuestras vidas en relación a preocuparnos sólo por el presente o demasiado por el futuro y cómo nos condiciona el pasado.

Acabo de leer “El arte de ser feliz”  de Arthur Schopenhauer,  curioso título para  un libro cuyo autor ha pasado a la historia  como  el filósofo del pesimismo.

Pues bien, la regla nº 19 de este “Arte de ser feliz” versa sobre cómo debemos vivir el presente sin preocuparnos excesivamente del futuro y tratando de no estar condicionados por nuestro pasado.

Os reproduzco el texto:

“No hay que  entregarse a grandes júbilos ni a grandes lamentos ante ningún suceso, porque la variabilidad de todas las cosas puede modificarlo por completo en cualquier momento, en cambio, disfrutar en todo momento el presente lo más alegremente posible: ésta es la sabiduría de la vida. Pero la mayoría de las veces hacemos lo contrario: Los planes y las preocupaciones cara al futuro, o también la nostalgia del pasado nos ocupan tan plena y constantemente que casi siempre menospreciamos y descuidamos el presente. Y, sin embargo, sólo éste es seguro, mientras que el futuro y también el pasado casi siempre son diferentes de cómo los pensamos. Engañándonos de esta manera, nos privamos de toda la vida. Si bien, la búsqueda del pasado siempre es inútil, la preocupación por el futuro lo es a menudo y por eso sólo el presente es el escenario de nuestra felicidad, lo cierto es, sin embargo, que este presente se convierte en pasado a cada momento y entonces resulta tan indiferente como si nunca hubiese existido: ¿dónde queda, pues, un espacio para nuestra felicidad.”

Estoy de acuerdo, prácticamente, en todo, párrafo por párrafo, desde el inicial  “no hay que entregarse a grandes júbilos ni a grandes lamentos ante ningún suceso” hasta la pregunta final “¿dónde queda pues un espacio para nuestra felicidad?”.

Me resulta especialmente inquietante lo que dice de que tanto el futuro como el pasado, casi siempre son diferentes de como los pensamos.

Y, desde luego, creo que está en lo cierto al afirmar que sólo existe el presente y dependiendo cómo lo vivamos,  podremos llegar a ser felices.

Espero comentarios.


Some Thoughts on Kipling

Written on October 19, 2007 by Rolf Strom-Olsen in Arts & Cultures & Societies


Rolf Strom-Olsen

Several days ago, my fellow contributor Santiago Iniguez posted his comments about ‘If’, the well-known poem by Rudyard Kipling, who among other things remains the youngest winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (an achievement that was not threatened by this year’s recipient). Reading those well-known verses, I was reminded how much Kipling remains a fairly misunderstood character. His name is still closely associated with the late nineteenth century jingoism of the British Empire, the poet laureate of the Gatling gun. His reputation, once unassailable, has tumbled along with the British Empire with which he is so closely associated. Much of Kipling’s writings has been eclipsed, or at least coloured by, the perception that he was cheerleading a British imperial impulse founded on exploitation and racial superiority. After all, this was the man who wrote, in response to America’s tentative efforts as an imperial power (in the Philippines),

                        Take up the White Man’s burden–
                        Send forth the best ye breed–
                         Go bind your sons to exile
                         To serve your captives’ need;
                         To wait in heavy harness,
                         On fluttered folk and wild–
                         Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
                         Half-devil and half-child.

Read more…


Recent News in the Humanities

Written on October 18, 2007 by Felicia Appenteng in Arts & Cultures & Societies

It has been an exciting week in the humanities, with the awarding of the Man Booker Prize as well as the Nobel Prize for Literature. Below, please find links to read these award winning authors.


The first chapter of Man Booker Prize winner Anne Enright´s “The Gathering”:


                           An op-ed piece written by Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing.

We use both our own and third-party cookies to enhance our services and to offer you the content that most suits your preferences by analysing your browsing habits. Your continued use of the site means that you accept these cookies. You may change your settings and obtain more information here. Accept