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Stephen Mumford

Stephen Mumford

Dean of Faculty of Arts,

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Posts by Stephen Mumford

Being Sensible

Some recent Arts Matters posts might have perpetuated the myth of the five bodily senses. Of course there are many more even if we restrict ourselves to human beings. And if we include animals, we find others besides. Bats make their way around using echolocation, as every philosopher knows because of Thomas Nagel’s paper ‘What …

A Touching Story

There being few lengths to which the author of Arts Matters would not go in order to secure the story, I found it necessary to take my first massage this week so that I could write with authority on the sense of touch. It being common knowledge that there are five bodily senses, this exploration …

Making Scent

An important part of the everyday aesthetic is the sense of smell. While it often works subconsciously, it can be because of an attractive smell that we feel good. With a bad smell, it’s the opposite. Smell is evocative. It reminds us of people or experiences; conjures images of past times. A friend told me …

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They get in the way of wise action, drive you to reckless decisions, have you in tears over small matters, or lead you to sacrifice everything in pursuit of a dream. The emotions are one of the most distinctive elements brought to the world by humanity (and a few other animals). At times they seem …

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Indian, Italian, Lebanese, Spanish, Thai, Nepalese, Moroccan, Chinese; we all have our favourite foods. Increasingly, we enjoy diversity and variety and rotate our cuisine accordingly. New flavours and textures seem initially alien; yet how soon we can educate our palates and develop a taste for them. How soon we can yearn for that exotic dish. …

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Making Sense 2

Being awoken by birdsong is the most peaceful start to the day, something you miss if you live in a city with few trees. Waves crashing against a beach similarly creates a sense of serenity. We are surrounded by sounds, natural and artificial, all of which provide raw materials for our art. Music is a …

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Making Sense 1

Images hit the retina whenever our eyes are open. Mostly we let those images pass by, ignoring them in favour of more pressing thoughts. Sometimes an image deserves our attention and we take a perception, an action that makes sense of the visual manifold. There is a special kind of perception that we can take: …

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Knowing when to stop is one of the most difficult decisions of the creative process. It is not always easy to judge when a work is finished. Perhaps a painting needs one or two more brush strokes in a few places, a poem could do with an extra word added and a couple of them …

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Apology for Narcissus

Valentine’s Day on February 14th is a supposed day of love. But then it’s not for all. Not everyone is in a relationship on that day, and not all of those in a relationship are truly in love. Nevertheless, we can make Valentine’s Day a day for everyone if we broaden it to include self-love …

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The Past is in the Present; and the Present is in the Past

It’s not just writings, data and bytes of memory that can contain information. I’ve always loved the way that a plain old object, dug up from the ground, can tell a story about the past. The object and the information are in the present, yet they relate to some distant age and give us a …

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