Thomas Jones

Thomas Jones edits the LRB blog, and presents the LRB podcast, from Orvieto.

The illiterate performers who recited or sang epic poems in Ancient Greece did not learn them by rote. (Boris Johnson’s botched renditions of the Iliad are a double failure: failing to learn it by rote and trying to learn it in the first place.) Rather, a poet would improvise his song using formulaic words and phrases. Every performance was in some sense a new composition, but also a seamless continuation of the tradition.

There’s always a darker question lurking behind the one about whether or not robots can be people, and it isn’t about robots but about people, and what it means when they – when we – treat others as if they weren’t human.

On Bill Gates

Thomas Jones, 4 March 2021

On​ 17 February, Bloomberg reported that perhaps as many as fifteen million people in Texas had lost electricity, in ‘undoubtedly the largest forced blackout in US history’. There had been 21 confirmed deaths – some from carbon monoxide poisoning, as families tried to use their cars to warm their houses – and the final toll is likely to be higher. ‘I don’t...

Short Cuts: Diego! Diego!

Thomas Jones, 17 December 2020

Ihave​ a theory – more of a hunch, really – that to be a real football fan you have to commit to a team by the age of six, or eight at the latest. Unlike my friends whose fathers took them to watch Aldershot’s Fourth Division tussles on Saturday afternoons, I don’t remember watching a football match before the 1986 Mexico World Cup, when I was already nine and a half....

Sheets of Fire and Leaping Flames

Thomas Jones, 24 September 2020

Itmust have seemed like the end of the world, and for thousands of people it was. The Younger Pliny was 17 when he witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. He described it many years later in two letters to Tacitus, who had asked him for an account of his uncle’s death. The Elder Pliny, now best known for his encyclopedic Naturalis Historia and for dying under the volcano, was...

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