The weekend was spent hiking with Susan and friends in the Peak District, around the village of Edale. On Saturday, we went up to the plateau of Kinder Scout (and got absolutely drenched); and on Sunday up Mam Tor and round to Castleton.
On the train there and back I was able to do some reading. On the way there it was Ian Hacking’s The Emergence of Probability, which was of interest not simply because of the subject matter (Leibniz and calculation, especially) but also because of the approach. This is loosely derived from Foucault. In the 2006 Introduction, Hacking says
The version of archaeology that I then adopted was doubtless partial, but everyone now would agree to this much of the idea: Archaeology organises the past to understand the present. It lifts the dust-cover off a world that we take for granted. It makes us reconsider what we experience as inevitable (p. xiii).
On the way back I made a sizable dent in Stephen Graham’s Cities Under Siege. It’s a rich empirical study of the way that cities have so often been the focus of the ‘war on terror’ and related conflicts. There is a lot about how city planning, policing and contingency planning is related to military thinking. Steve is an ex-colleague, and I’d like to think my own Terror and Territory is a good complement to this book, with a rather different geographical focus.
I’ve also recently finished re-reading Luther Blissett’s Q. This is by the Italian collective of writers who are now known as Wu Ming. It’s a book about the religious wars of the 16th century, and it made me realise something about the Diet of Augsburg which now seems really obvious. So it will get a note in the book, even though contemporary novels might be a strange source. Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown was referenced in a similar way in Terror and Territory. Next novel to be read will probably be Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice.