Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quasi-history: As if Aristotle Taught Alexander about Democracy

 This article is also available in Macedonian | Овој напис е достапен и на македонски
- на Блогерај: Квазиисторија: Аристотел демек го учел Александар за демократија
- на Блогспот: Квазиисторија: Аристотел демек го учел Александар за демократија

In the city of Skopje, by the Vardar River, under the lion of the type called “Cringer” which is nearest to the Kale fortress, there’s a relief which seems to portray the philosopher Aristotle holding a lecture for the young prince Alexander. Aristotle holds a scroll with the inscription “ΔEMO КРАТИYАТА Е ОСНОVA НА СΛОBOΔATA” which can be translated as “The Democracy is the foundation of freedom.”

An ancient student who looks like the future king Alexander II and
an ancient teacher who resembles philosopher Aristotle on a Skopje 2014 relief.
Nine muses in the background.
I found out that the author of this propagandistic work from the Skopje 2014 project is the artist Koki Janev. However the messages of the relief are totally out of sync with the historical data. Based on my general knowledge, it seemed illogical to attribute teachings about freedom and democracy to the king Alexander of Macedon, whose whole career consisted in establishing and maintaining absolutist rule. On top of his perception that he is the absolute earthly ruler, he also considered himself to be a god. Or, in his more modest mood, he only thought of himself as a son of a god.

To obtain more information on Aristotle I addressed prof. Katerina Kolozova, PhD from the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities in Skopje, considering that her academic work also covered analysis of that historical period. For instance, in 2000 she had published the book “Hellenes and Death” („Хелените и смртта“). She responded:

“If the teacher on this relief indeed represents Aristotle, then I would advise the author to read anything by Aristotle, or at least to make an internet search. Aristotle based his political thought on critique of democracy and defended the idea of aristocratic/monarchist rule.”
Macedonian kings, who later become Persian shahs, practiced their power in totally undemocratic manner. Alexander and his father openly acted in despotic and tyrannical fashion, and their kingdom of Macedon lacked any tradition of rudimentary slaveholding democracy as some Greek city-states or Rome. For instance, while freedom of speech ranked among the basic values of ancient democracies (part of the Roman concept of libertas), on one occasion Alexander murdered one of his closest friends, Cleitus, for daring to talk back to him.

We should believe that in ancient times the people spoke the modern Macedonian language but used a combination of contemporary and future scripts to write in it? Cyrillic alphabet was invented over 1000 years later.
In addition, even more illogical is the representation of the “educational” inscription with a mix of three scripts: Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek. The relief also presents a Sun resembling the ancient symbol used in Macedon which featured 16 rays. This one, only has 8 rays.

View of the front side of the basis of the lion statue.

Relief on the opposite side, with a view from the Goce Delchev Boulevard.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Brian K. Sullivan: Design Like Da Vinci

Brian K. Sullivan gave this intriguing and enlightening presentation at SXSW 2013. He wrote:
In this talk, you will learn about five sketching secrets of Leonardo Da Vinci, four rules for generating ideas, and four rules for refining ideas. I call these lessons from Leonardo. You might find a few stories about Leonardo Da Vinci that you did not know. 
Here's the presentation and the recorded audio embedded together in one package, in the style pioneered at conference website back in 2007, so you can listen to the talk and browse/follow up through the slides simultaneously.

Remark: The reproduction of "The Last Supper" in the presentation does not look like the photo...

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
"The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci. Photo by Wikipedia.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Anti-Fascist Poster from Serbia

AFA - Anti-Fascist Action Novi Sad published the following photo collage [sr] on their Facebook page in the form of a medicine commercial (Wikipedia links added). In a few hours it received hundreds of shares.

  • No girlfriend?
  • No job?
  • You were beaten by father (/a cop)?
  • You are not handsome, smart, witty?
  • In general, your life sucks?
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[Logos of 7 Serbian right-wing organizations]

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