Essay On The Name Of The Rose

“Generally speaking, the people used for such undertakings are never gentlemen, and it’s inconceivable that at least one of them, for a sufficient sum, wouldn’t have spoken.” Eco also notices the odd persistence of the old belief that much global turmoil can be laid at the feet of a group often cited by conspiracy theorists as cold-blooded and treacherous: the Jesuits.

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In the liquid society people often find themselves afloat, aware of the collapse of once-powerful institutions and ideologies, and without the consolation of the beliefs or traditions that provided ballast for centuries.

What is notable, Eco observes, is an “unbridled individualism” prompting people in the liquid society to “move from one act of consumption to another in a sort of purposeless bulimia: the new cell phone is no better than the old one, but the old has to be discarded in order to indulge in this orgy of desire.” In a 2005 essay, he contemplates the cell phone in all of its culture-changing glory, hailing its convenience but regretting the way it has muscled its way into nearly all aspects of human life, forcing “a loss of solitude, of silent personal reflection,” and condemning its users to “a constant presence of the present.

Eco recalls the British army officer who, in the 1990s, received a publisher’s compensation as well as media fame for detailing his extramarital affair with Diana, Princess of Wales.

Organizing a false attack on the Twin Towers would have demanded “the collaboration of hundreds, if not thousands, of people,” Eco writes.

Eco approaches such narratives with his customary common sense.

“I am by nature, out of skepticism, always inclined to doubt any conspiracy,” he writes, “since I believe my fellow human beings are incapable of dreaming up a perfect one.” Moreover, “only naïve Freemasons and followers of bogus Templar rituals believe in a secret that remains unbroken.” Far more frequently, people spill the beans—particularly when financially incentivized to do so.

He continued to hold various academic posts, primarily at the University of Bologna, and died in 2016 at the age of 82.

Eco was at his best addressing scholarly subjects in an engaging, accessible way.

The wide appeal of crackpot history prompts concern about our culture’s continuing inability to know the difference between the imaginary and the real.

(But at least, he cracks, “you no longer need to ask why people read Dan Brown.”) In a 2009 column on living in the computer age, he declares himself “no traditionalist,” noting that he happily supplements his huge print library with easy-to-use digital editions of the , among other tomes, on a capacious hard disk.


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