upcoming talk on “deep humanities”

I’m presenting a lecture on Nov. 20 at 6pm at Riverside Church (120th St. and Claremont Ave.) entitled “Deep Humanities: Artificial Intelligence and the Ethics of Persuasion.” It’s my first talk on a new research project on the classical antecedents of our contemporary crisis regarding “deepfake” videos, and I argue that we can locate deepfakes in an ancient tradition of using obvious falsehoods in the service of persuasion. At odds with contemporary scientific and analytic approaches to deepfakes, which seek to test their validity by isolating some kind of criterion of authenticity, my rhetorically oriented approach sees deepfakes as examples of character-based persuasion that operate largely outside the considerations of truthfulness and “fact-checking.” I revisit some of the courtroom literature of Cicero, whose use of caricature and impersonation anticipates the strategies underlying deepfakes.

The event is on Riverside Church’s Floor 11, and it is open to the public.

Open-Access TLL PDFs and Diogenes

Although De Gruyter has long offered an electronic, searchable version of the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, access to this lexicographical database requires an institutional/library subscription (not to mention a speedy network connection). It was exciting news, then, earlier this year when the TLL offices at the Bayerische Akademie made freely available PDFs of most of their published volumes for offline access.

Downloading all these files will take up a few gigabytes of your local storage, and these open access PDFs contain uncorrected OCR text — the search function on your PDF reader might not accurately find something you’re searching for. Despite those caveats, however, it’s still worth your time to have these files on hand, especially now that the PDFs have been integrated into the latest version of Diogenes, the popular text database software for research in classical philology. (Thanks to Durham University for this great tool!) It’s worth upgrading your installation of Diogenes to the new version, released just this fall, which can automatically download all the TLL PDFs from the Bayerische Akademie website and which allows you to reference those PDFs while you browse through the PHI Latin texts.

Once you’ve installed Diogenes, you can use a handy shortcut in the menu to download all the PDFs from the TLL‘s website:

You’ll be asked for a download location, and even if you move your files around, you can always manually point Diogenes to the PDFs by clicking on Database Locations in the same menu above. For the database files of the PHI and TLG, you’ll need to ask the librarian or other specialist at your institution for access.

(Side note: You might notice that the new version of Diogenes uses Gentium, which is a great free font that correctly renders all sorts of Greek diacritical marks! It’s one of my favorites.)

When you’re browsing the texts of the PHI, you can click any word, which will bring up the dictionary entry from Lewis and Short, just like older versions of Diogenes. In the new version, however, you’ll notice a new link for the related entry in the TLL:

Assuming all goes well, clicking that link should automatically open page 102 of the PDF containing the entry for declamator: TLL vol. V 1, 180, 61. (For an explanation of the TLL‘s citation format, see this helpful FAQ).

Since the open-access PDFs of the TLL might contain some OCR errors from scanning the pages, it’s probably best to consult the hard copy or De Gruyter database version of the Thesaurus, but the convenience of the Diogenes links is a dream. Big thanks for the Diogenes developers, and happy searching!

diffuse, vapid, rhetorical, but enchanting

As you say of yourself, I too am an Epicurean. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us. Epictetus indeed, has given us what was good of the stoics; all beyond, of their dogmas, being hypocrisy and grimace. Their great crime was in their calumnies of Epicurus and misrepresentations of his doctrines; in which we lament to see the candid character of Cicero engaging as an accomplice. Diffuse, vapid, rhetorical, but enchanting. His prototype Plato, eloquent as himself, dealing out mysticisms incomprehensible to the human mind, has been deified by certain sects usurping the name of Christians; because, in his foggy conceptions, they found a basis of impenetrable darkness whereon to rear fabrications as delirious, of their own invention. These they fathered blasphemously on him whom they claimed as their founder, but who would disclaim them with the indignation which their caricatures of his religion so justly excite.Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Short, October 31, 1819