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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more


A History of the World in One Hundred Objects

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Just one thing to flag up today, a BBC Radio 4 series that I have been listening to on my commute: A History of the World in 100 Objects. Each fifteen-minute slot features objects from the British Museum, with its director, Neil McGregor, taking us on a journey from pre-history to the present, looking at everything from flints to carved pestles, all the way to Dolly the cloned sheep and the credit card. It is a bravura series, uniting two of Britain's great institutions, the British Museum and the BBC.

Only the latter would have dared to turn over a whole four months of programming to serious history, and ousted book of the week from its evening slot, in order to present this series in full. Neil McGregor from the Museum is an exemplary encyclopaedia of the world's artefacts: lucid, concise and, above all, extremely enthusiastic about the messages from history that each object conveys. The programmes are beautifully produced, sharp snapshots in time; it is mark of its success in describing each object and the craftsmanship that has gone into it that one never feels it would have anything to gain by being shown on television, rather than just talked about on radio.

Nevertheless, the supporting website, which features high-resolution images, is a wealth of digital information. Both are an absolute must - and luckily it will always remain accessible, as the BBC has decided to keep all the programmes on a permanent podcast. This is an archive for the future, as well as a pleasure for the present.

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Posted by Alistair at 8:40 am

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