Arts and Culture

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Becoming a Polyglot

Planning Ahead to Learn Dozens of Languages

The Tower of Babel (1563-1565) by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Are you thinking of learning many languages? Do you want to be a polyglot, fluent in dozens of tongues? Planning ahead, what would be an ideal approach to learning dozens of new languages efficiently?

Learning Similar Languages First

In order to learn many languages, it makes sense to learn them in order of similarity. Many languages share a common grammar with neighboring languages, and at least a...

The Meaning of Kafka's Metamorphosis

How an Army of Interpreters Buried Kafka's Suffering

The Meaning of Kafka's Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka’s Die Verwandlung (1915), i.e. The Metamorphosis, is a novella of around seventy printed pages. Kafka writes about the life of Gregor Samsa. The book opens with Gregor waking up one morning in his parents’ home. During his sleep, he has transformed into an “ungeheuren Ungeziefer”, a sort of giant dung beetle. Kafka avoids precisely naming the creature, except that it is some sort of insect. Whatever it is, it’s something unhuman.

Before his metamorphosis,...

Permissionless Culture

How Decentralized Technology Will Forever Change the Way We See Art

Painting by Piet mondrian

After literature and music, fine art remains a last bastion of cultural elitism. Arguably, the centralization of paintings and sculptures by the world’s best artists in private collections has robbed society of emotional growth. How much longer will we tolerate this egotistical crime against humanity? Today, emerging internet technologies not only enable permissionless innovation, but also provide tools for people to both create and copy culture in ways that cannot be censored. Like a Beethoven...

Epic Reading

15 Books to Understand the Self and the Other

Always looking for interesting books to read, I put several gems on my ‘to read’ list. The list of books below offer insights about one’s own culture and the cultures of others, about one’s own life and the lives of others. In random order:


In Defense of Black Pete

Is Black Pete a Symbol of “Racist Afrophobia”?

Princess Marianne of Orange-Nassau by Johan Philip Koelman (1846)

At first glance, the Black Pete tradition appears to be rooted in colonial slavery. Princess Marianne of Orange-Nassau (1810–1883), Princess of The Netherlands, was the daughter of King Willem I and aunt of King Willem III, nicknamed King Gorilla for his less civilized behavior. In August 1850 she traveled to Egypt for holidays and brought home with her a fifteen year old boy whom she had purchased from Arab merchants at the Cairo slave market. His arrival made the...

On the Meaning of the Chauvet Cave

The image atop my blog is taken from the Chauvet cave, France. The entrance to this remarkable cave collapsed over 20,000 years ago, preserving the very oldest paleolithic paintings made 32,000 years ago by Cro Magnon man, the early European Homo Sapiens.

In our time, the philosophy of man has diverged between East and West. East being concerned with life, here and now, and the meaning of life. Confucius famously said to one of his...