Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Today at Berkeley I'm lecturing on Thucydides and on the suave conjuration of a mirage of objectivity in his account of a war in which he was a general for the Athenian side. Summer surveys almost inevitably assume a certain "greatest hits" coloration whatever your intentions to complicate the narrative, and so readers will be unsurprised to hear that a juxtaposition of Pericles' Funeral Oration and then the Melian Dialogue sets the scene for ironic commentary on self-righteous plutocrats clothing their slaughters in democratic justifications (no, it isn't surprising that Wilson read Thucydides on that famous boat ride to bloodsoaked Europe in the aftermath of the War to End All War). We go on to read Plato's Menexenus, at the solar center of which a satire of Pericles' oration basks the orbiting planets of the dialogue in sarcastic radiation. With today's lecture the first week of instruction is already over. Exhausting in a stunning way, three weeks of material in a burning blur, but summer is like that.