Two nights ago in London, Brian Eno and I did the second in what I hope will be a long series of public conversations at the wonderful ICA. It was a very special night, and I think everyone seemed to enjoy the discussion, which roamed from Joseph Priestley to the British art school scene of the late 1960s to Twitter and the iPhone application environment. I gather the ICA will upload a podcast of it shortly, and I'll link to that when they do.But my favorite moment of the night came at the very beginning, when Brian announced that, after reading Invention of Air, he had sat down and tried to figure out what it would have been called, had it been released in Priestley's day, using the more elaborating titling conventions of the era. This is what he came up with:
Being a dissertation on the Life and Works of Dr Joseph Priestley of Leeds, including a Survey of his Experiments with Gasses; his Affiliations with the Revolutionary Forces in America; his Diverse Religious Heresies and subsequent Trials at the hands of the British; with digressions into the Formation of Coal, the History of Organic life on Earth; the effects of Energy Flows on Human Affairs; the Discovery of Ecology; all construed within a Novel Account of the Evolution of Human Knowledge.
I think that sounds just about right. When we go back for the next printing of the paperback, we'll have to make that change.