Who Understands Comics? Or: How I learned that I don’t draw bad comics, I just read backwards

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To my delight and misfortune, I have been making comics since my 2017 Erasmus plus stay at Aarhus University.

I was never very good at drawing, but someone once told me that I was good at making circles, so I stuck with it. When I shared my early comics with my family, I got mixed reactions. In a WhatsApp correspondence, one family member resorted to “wow”, while the other offered their interpretation: “charming illustrations! I suggest not to try to understand the humor. It’s cool that there is a recurring character that repeats throughout. It creates empathy. Even if I do not understand the humor.” 4 years later I was still at it, and sent some more comics to my …

World Endangered Writing Day: January 23rd, 2024

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World Endangered Writing Day was born out of a suggestion by David Crystal, the author of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, and many other books on language topics.

He was reading through the manuscript of my new book Writing Beyond Writing: Lessons from Endangered Alphabets, and came to the passage where I say that in traditional Balinese culture one day a year, the day consecrated to Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom, Balinese revere their books, and writing itself.

Nothing written may be destroyed, or even a letter crossed out. Each household takes out its books (which in Balinese tradition are oblong pages of palm leaf, written on with a stylus and then bound between wooden slats), dusts them off, …

The Voynich manuscript: the decipherment of ms. 408


Last year I was contacted by someone who claimed to have deciphered the Voynich manuscript. This manuscript is one of the big enigmas of medieval history and, for that matter, linguistics. No one has yet been able to decipher it, and many have tried. It is written in a totally unknown script in an unidentified language.

The manuscript is more than 500 years old. It has been publicly available for a century, and now it is also available online. Nobody has been able to translate the manuscript; there have been many proposals, but all have been rejected. People have claimed it could be written in a form of Hebrew, in a Romance language, in an earlier form of Romani, an …