What We Are Reading Today: Aristotle: His Life and School  

Updated 04 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Aristotle: His Life and School  

AUTHOR: Carlo Natali, Edited by D. S. Hutchinson

 

This definitive biography shows that Aristotle’s philosophy is best understood on the basis of a firm knowledge of his life and of the school he founded.

First published in Italian, and now translated, updated, and expanded for English readers, this concise chronological narrative is the most authoritative account of Aristotle’s life and his Lyceum available in any language. Gathering, distilling, and analyzing all the evidence and previous scholarship, Carlo Natali, one of the world’s leading Aristotle scholars, provides a masterful synthesis that is accessible to students yet filled with evidence and original interpretations that specialists will find informative and provocative.

Cutting through the controversy and confusion that have surrounded Aristotle’s biography, Natali tells the story of Aristotle’s eventful life and sheds new light on his role in the foundation of the Lyceum. Natali offers the most detailed and persuasive argument yet for the view that the school, an important institution of higher learning and scientific research, was designed to foster a new intellectual way of life among Aristotle’s followers, helping them fulfill an aristocratic ideal of the best way to use the leisure they enjoyed.

Drawing a wealth of connections between Aristotle’s life and thinking, Natali demonstrates how the two are mutually illuminating.

For this edition, ancient texts have been freshly translated on the basis of the most recent critical editions; indexes have been added, including a comprehensive index of sources and an index to previous scholarship; and scholarship that has appeared since the book’s original publication has been incorporated.


Miles Davis and all that jazz

Miles Davis teaches actress Jeanne Moreau to play the trumpet. (AFP)
Updated 19 September 2018
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Miles Davis and all that jazz

  • Thankfully, the tapes were rolling on Dec. 19, 1970 — just one more historic evening when Miles changed music forever, before tearing up the rulebook again in pursuit of that most quixotic muse

ROTTERDAM: Miles Davis once claimed to have “changed music five or six times,” and while a man known for neither understatement nor modesty, some argue that the jazz icon sold himself short — biographer John Szwed once traced at least nine musical subgenres either born or shaped by Davis’ innovations. 

The revolutionary shopping list includes inventing cool-jazz in the 1940s, spawning hard bop, modal jazz and third-stream in the 1950s, and pioneering post-bop in the 1960s. However, the stylistic sea change Davis devoted most blood, sweat and tape toward were the ‘70s adventures in fusion most often epitomized by “B*****s Brew”, the first of ten dense double-LPs (plus two singles) recorded in just five years — which over 44 sides of vinyl explored and/or anticipated jazz-rock, funk, ambient, minimalism, worldbeat, psychedelic, space-jazz and even techno.

Trippy stuff, for sure, but not always easily listenable. Not the case with the misleadingly titled “Live-Evil” (1971) — a part-studio, mostly live set which captures Davis’ increasingly oblique electric permutations at their most fun, and funky. The bulk of the 102-minute runtime documents a one-night encounter with guest guitarist John McLaughlin, whose furious fretwork conceals an unusually ragged looseness and bluesy simplicity.

Such a raw approach suits the thick, squelchy grooves conjured by electric bassist Michael Henderson — recently recruited from Aretha Franklin’s band — grounding the untethered attack of drummer Jack DeJohnette’s crazed rock rhythms.

Recorded at the height of his boxing obsession, there’s a controlled aggression to Davis’ playing — the hurried rhythms of jabs and parries, ducks and dives — his horn harshly amplified through a wah-wah guitar pedal in a wholehearted Hendrix homage.

What little harmony there is comes from Keith Jarrett, whose overdriven organ scurries lend a frazzled energy and cerebral counter-balance. Soon after Jarrett — now the most renowned solo pianist on the planet — would quit and disavow electronic instruments altogether.

Thankfully, the tapes were rolling on Dec. 19, 1970 — just one more historic evening when Miles changed music forever, before tearing up the rulebook again in pursuit of that most quixotic muse.