Alhazen’s Lens Opens

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a long time. By training, I am a historian of religion and of Islam, in particular. But I wanted to choose a blog theme that would allow me to wax thoughtful on other topics that stir my passion – such as contemporary politics and imaginative fiction. I am fascinated by how cultures define and redefine their “others” both outer and inner – enemies, barbarians, minorities, heretics, and outcasts – and by how those “others” resist or reshape the dynamics of their definition. That’s a high-falutin’ academic way of saying that I dig weirdos. I will be jumping across time and geography in this blog and may even delve into the personal, at times. But I intend most posts to gather loosely around this theme.

Alhazen, the Latinized form of the Arabic name ibn al-Haytham, was a medieval Muslim scientist and polymath known particularly for his research into optics, both in physics (the nature and behavior of light) and in medicine (the anatomy of the eye and treatment of ocular illness). He is often credited with inventing/discovering the camera obscura, the projection of an inverted image through a pinhole – many view solar eclipses this way. His work and his experimental method helped pave the way for future advances in photography and tele/microscopy. I chose him as my “mascot” because of his interest in shifting perspectives.

I will be adding more information about me, ibn al-Haytham, and my terminology as I get the blog set up.

On the upcoming docket are a series of posts on the conspiracy theory of “creeping shari’a” and a series reflecting on scriptural themes in Battlestar Galactica.

I welcome comments, suggestions, and (civil) disagreements.

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