Beckett and the matter of language
Laura Salisbury

What lies behind textual images of the hard surface of the skull in Samuel Beckett's work is nothing but words; linguistic matter that describes cranial interiorities, wounded heads and a way of uttering traced through with lesions and disturbances. Beckett's late work is relatively well-known for its fascination with the interiority of the skullscape. It is perhaps more than felicitous idiom that gathers D'un ouvrage abandonné, Imagination morte imaginez, Bing and Assez into a collection published in 1967 in French as Têtes-mortes, or dead heads. The repetition of violent skull trauma in Beckett's texts is particularly significant because the effects of penetrating head wounds are also articulated. In Beckett's German letter, the attack on language punctures the abscess, causing a hole in its material fabric that allows inside to ooze into outside as the interiority of the cavity becomes topologically continuous with the surface of the skin.

in Beckett and nothing
Open Access (free)
Shane Weller

This chapter offers a philologically orientated analysis of Samuel Beckett's engagement with the nothing as conceived ontologically and ethically. It provides an analysis that focuses principally on his deployment of the words 'nothing', 'naught', 'nihil' and 'void'. The chapter presents consideration of some of the sources by way of which these words entered his literary vocabulary and came to serve as markers for an aporetic experience. These words might themselves be thought of as among Beckett's most important 'unwords'; words that work against what in the letter to Axel Kaun he terms the 'veil' of language in order to disclose that which lies beyond language. In opting for the words 'naught' and 'nihil' in his letter to Sighle Kennedy, Beckett indicates not only the precise textual nature of his encounters with philosophical writings on the nothing over three decades earlier but also the order in which these encounters took place.

in Beckett and nothing
John Borneman

Katherine Verdery, an American anthropologist, was the first to make some systematic observations about the accelerated movement of dead bodies in East-Central Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Empire. She noted that, in this period of political transformation, the corpses of political leaders and cultural heroes accrued certain powers leading to a struggle over appropriating those powers, and to the exhumation and displacement of their bodies. This chapter considers the modes of appropriation of the power of corpses and offers an explanation for their widespread movement in post-socialist states. This movement is a manic reaction to the death of political regimes and to the sense of abandonment that accompanies this end. Although people may understand this reaction as asserting sovereignty over the dead, it in fact demonstrates the inverse: that the dead govern the living.

in Governing the dead
Andrea Ballabeni and Davide Danovi

This chapter explores the possible implementation of novel policies for the funding and communication of science. The chapter’s authors start this journey describing the general landscape and inefficiencies in the system, with particular reference to the process of peer review. Current trends (such as open access journals and new funding schemes) are then highlighted and stemming from these, the opportunity of genuinely disruptive innovation.

in The freedom of scientific research
Yulia Karpova

This chapter introduces the concept of the ‘aesthetic turn’ to describe the gradual broadening of the meaning of aesthetics after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 and the greater openness of the USSR to the outside world that followed. The aesthetic turn resulted in the formation in the USSR of what philosopher Jacques Rancière calls an ‘aesthetic regime of arts’ – a mode of identifying different arts as equal and valuable in their specificity. The chapter analyses the new aesthetic regime of arts by highlighting its key concepts: realism, contemporaneity and taste. These concepts acquired new meanings during the 1950s–early 1960s: realism was now seen as a specific quality of things, not depictions; contemporaneity appeared as a measure of social relevance of an object’ and taste became a tool for probing the limits between authenticity and appearance.

in Comradely objects
Open Access (free)
Nico Randeraad

The series of international statistical congresses ended somewhat abruptly with the Budapest gathering in 1876. Articles published in international statistics journals conveyed the urgency of the need for organisational reforms. Anyone who has followed the debate about the future of the European Union will have seen many parallels between contemporary events and the dealings of the international statistical congresses. The International Statistical Institute (ISI), which was established in London in 1885, was in many ways the congress's natural successor. The founders of the ISI emphasised the professionalism of the institute and limited membership to 150 to keep out the 'free-floating intelligentsia', who in the opinion of many experts had had a disruptive influence on the congresses. ISI publications, in particular the Bulletin de l'Institut international de statistique, addressed the subjects and methods of statistical research more systematically and with greater precision than the congress reports.

in States and statistics in the nineteenth century
Open Access (free)
Farah Karim-Cooper

This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book examines the role of the senses in the reception of art and the experience of intense emotion. It addresses the ways in which the passions, humours and senses merge within the complex physiology of the human body. The book shows us to what extent theories of vision were in flux and how the eyes were seen both as the "most noble, perfect and admirable" of the senses, while being burdened with the notion of 'visual deception'. As a result of this dichotomy, the ability of sense perception to enlighten or harm an individual meant that people were constantly reminded to be vigilant, guarded and to regulate their sensory activities. In addition to hierarchies and dichotomies, the senses are beset by conflict, vulnerable to deception and held hostage to the emotions.

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
Nico Randeraad

In 1855 Parisians believed that their city was the centre of the world. Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Dieterici, who represented the Prussian kingdom in 1855 as he had in 1853, observed a bellicose mood among the French. The absence of the peacemaker, Adolphe Quetelet, may be one reason for Dieterici's about-face and less-than-conciliatory attitude towards the French. Quetelet wrote about Charles Dupin's graphical innovation in his journal, Correspondance mathématique et physique, and announced that an education map of the Netherlands was being prepared. Dupin's linear progress diktat was well suited to the Napoleonic climate. In many ways, Napoleonic statistics foreshadowed the form that statistics would take as the nineteenth century progressed. By the time the second international statistical congress began in 1855, statistics had acquired a permanent place in the machinery of government, in the academies and in public opinion in France.

in States and statistics in the nineteenth century
Reflections on the relationship between science and society from the perspective of physics
Lucio Piccirillo

Piccirillo moves from the premise that science, in any form and format, is a valuable enterprise. If this is accepted, then scientists should enjoy a substantial degree of freedom from various forms of restrictions. Financial restrictions obviously call into question wider issues about the morality of resource rationing. Other forms of restrictions, based on ignorance, fear or political or ideological credo, are harder to justify. Scientific freedom is not just a political or ideological matter. It is also a matter for scientists to actively deal with: it is the role of scientists to explain, in accessible terms, the importance of scientific endeavours that may appear either grand and remote, incomprehensible and detached from the life of many laypeople, or otherwise frivolous and trivial. Piccirillo takes on this role and discusses examples of seemingly grand and frivolous science, such as the Large Hadron Collider and the Markov chain, explains their purposes and importance and shows that there is a big added value to society from small and big science if they work together.

in The freedom of scientific research
Simon Mabon

In recent years, cities have become key sites of political interactions. World Bank data suggests that 65% of the region’s population live in cities, although in the Gulf, this figure is much larger. As a consequence, regulating life in cities has become increasingly important. Legislation designed to regulate life finds most traction within urban areas, where jobs and welfare projects – not always under the auspices of the state – offer a degree of protection. Beyond this, the aesthetics of a city can be used to develop a national identity, which also brings about exclusion. Decisions over infrastructural and development projects are taken for political reasons, driven by domestic and regional concerns, but impacting on the lives of citizens and non-citizens within states and across space. Within the urban environment, identities, groups and networks interact and collide, simultaneously reinforcing and challenging communities, identities and the state itself. Amidst an array of tribal, ethnic, religious, political and ideological loyalties, regulating life within the city is of paramount importance for regime survival. As such, the city is the arena through which networks of patronage – family, tribal, religious or bureaucratic – can be mobilised to retain power.

in Houses built on sand