the name

What does it mean? It refers to a famous Zen koan or teaching riddle. When asked a foolish question, the Zen sage Joshu answered 'mu!', which means 'no!'. We usually translate this, rather clumsily, as 'unask the question', which is what the sage meant. How do you unask a question? Think about it. Keep thinking about it...

Added in 2010: for more about mu, see the wikipedia entry.

The phrase 'unask the question' found its way into hacker slang since for some questions, it's the only answer, whatever your religious or philosophical persuasion.

the site

This is the website that I use for my teaching and research in the English Department at the University of Birmingham, UK. Most of the things in it were put there on the fly, as part of a busy working life; that's why it's such a mess. It's also quite big, with unexpected depths and twists and turns. If you want to wander round it, you might start here.

the design

This, the third or fourth version (I keep the other versions intact for valid archaeological reasons, not because I am too lazy to change them) is intended to make it easy for students to download and easy for me to update, while still being reasonably nice to look at. This is partly because of cascading style sheets, which I have now fathomed somewhat, with many thanks to Jonathan Laidlow.

The basic idea behind the design I realise I owe to a short chat with my friend Philip Balderson of Webreality.

The images are all taken from pages on this site.


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