Ginger, blah, blah, Ginger

Remember that classic Far Side cartoon "What Dogs Hear" ? You know, the one in which the dog just hears her name and nothing else- "Ginger, blah, blah, blah, Ginger". That's kind of how I felt after reading Umberto Eco's 1998 essay collection Serendipities: Language and Lunacy. While I picked up a few interesting things, overall Eco is verbose, rambling and hopelessly fixated on the esoteric.
     The point of Eco's book, (as far as I can tell, anyway), is to show the reader how discoveries can be made, even if well meaning and industrious people, operating on faulty assumptions take the wrong path in their search for knowledge and understanding. A classic example would be the explorer Christopher Columbus. Despite miscalculating the size of the world, he was still able to bump into the North America. He did not get to China, but hey in spite of his bad geography he still made an impressive discovery of two in the New World.
    Most of Eco's attention is devoted to the field of linguistics, including the mistaken belief that Hebrew was the original language of Adam and Eve. Eco mentions the Jesuit Kircher's mistaken attempts to decode Egyptian Hieroglyphics,(mistaken in the respect that his basic assumptions were incorrect. But because of his relentless work, he helped lay the ground work for others who would eventually crack the code with the help of the Rosetta Stone).
    I  was able to glean a  few interesting lessons and examples from Eco's book, but in the end, I don't think his book was really that great. To me, it was a bit of a disappointment.

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend


Leave a comment

Filed under History

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s