Joshua Tree.jpg

Universities

Northwestern University – Harris Hall 107 Redux: Bound to Please by Michael Dirda

Harris Hall

Harris Hall

I sat many hours in Northwestern University’s Harris lecture hall 107 during my years as an undergraduate and graduate student from 1968 to 1982.

As an undergraduate I listened to Alfred Appel lecture on James Joyce, Nathaniel West, Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, and the modernist significance of the great jazz artists of the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, and Charlie Parker. How many college lectures have a soundtrack?

Appel’s lectures on Nabokov and the pop culture motifs that form much of the substance of Lolita informed and entertained us. Much of the content of Appel’s lectures on Nabokov and Lolita can be found, mutatis mutandis, in Appel’s still authoritative Annotated Lolita. Students listened in attentive silence to his lectures on Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River” and how Nick Adams found healing and relief for his battle-scarred psyche through fly fishing. This silence was atypical: more often than not, many of Appel’s lectures were punctuated with frequent laughter.

Alfred Appel

Alfred Appel Jr.

Appel made a lot of people laugh. I’ll never forget sitting in a Romantic poetry class on the second floor of University Hall when, just as Professor Gerald Prince was reciting these lines from Keats Ode to a Nightingale, “Away! away! for I will fly to thee, / Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,” Appel walks by the door opening to the hallway, flapping his arms like a bird. The class roared with laughter; Professor Prince, his back to the door, just stared at the class, mouth slightly open, dumbfounded.

In the early 70’s I also remember two other lecturers who held forth in Harris 107: anthropology professor Stuart Struever and, guru to the hippies, Stephen Gaskin.

Stuart Struever

Stuart Struever

Hearing anthropology professor Stuart Struever explain how the Vietnam War was essentially “maladaptive” encouraged students to continue or begin their protests of the war. I was so impressed and moved by the perspectives that an anthropological approach to understanding opened up that I changed my major to anthropology. During the 1970’s Struever was host to 100’s of student assistants who helped in excavating the 10,000 year old Hopewell burial mounds in Greene County, Illinois, about 270 miles south of Chicago. Struever was a colorful character who wore denim jeans and khaki short sleeved shirts as often as a tie and jacket, who interjected into his lectures stories of the years he spent buying and selling artifacts for import and trade in Africa. Think Indiana Jones.

Monday Night ClassOne warm spring evening in 1970 I listened to Stephen Gaskin — eventual founder of The Farm coop that settled in Tennessee — give a talk from a seated zazen half lotus pose, a talk about Buddha, weed, psilocybin, LSD, Jesus, and enlightenment — not necessarily in that order. That lecture was eventually anthologized in Monday Night Class, still in print forty years later. I will also never forget wandering outside after Stephen’s talk to the parking lot along Lake Michigan and being invited into one of the caravan school buses that followed Stephen’s lecture tour from the left to right coast and back again. I hung out for an few hours with a several guys and girls who were sharing a converted school bus. To this day the smell of patchouli oil brings back with hallucinatory vividness that evening and that after-lecture party in a converted school bus.

As a graduate student teaching assistant some 10 years later in the early 80’s, I remember Martin Mueller’s lucid background lectures on Shakespeare, especially his talks about The Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar, and The Tempest. The last lectures I attended in Harris 107 were given by Henry Binder in a course comparing literary and cinematic treatments of the “American West” with evening screenings of Stagecoach, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, and The Wild Bunch.

These memories of hearing experts on various and sundry topics holding forth on their chosen fields of literature, philosophy, religion, politics, history — memories now thirty and more years old — wash over me in mostly, but not always, pleasurable waves of nostalgia. Nostalgia cloys, does not really satisfy, but that is part of its poignancy, part of its seductive charm — the fact that it does not satisfy is part of what makes it what it is.

Bound to Please - Michael Dirda

Recently I discovered Bound to Please, an anthology of a quarter century’s worth of book reviews by Washington Post Book World editor, Michael Dirda. Dirda has spent his professional life reveling in the writings, thoughts, and works of various authors, translators, biographers, artists, and historians who have each individually in turn dedicated their individual lives to exploring the works, thoughts, or times of their chosen subjects and fields of research.

Reading these reviews is like sitting once again as a bearded young man listening to an inspiring, knowledge-laden professor holding forth in Harris 107.

Postscript: By chance I happened to read recently that Harris Hall is being renovated. New generations scholars and, perhaps, a next-gen hippie-guru or two await their turns to lecture in Harris 107 to new generations of current and yet-to-be born Northwestern students preparing for their futures.

Share

Scott Hall, Seabury-Western, Lunt Hall, Alice Millar, Tech Library: Early in the Day

Lunt Hall - Northwestern University

Lunt Hall – Northwestern University

Certain memories continue to fascinate me. I find myself conjuring these memories often — images, places, and scenes from summer 1968 through fall 1977, involving Northwestern, Evanston, and Chicago Museums. Like many (most?), my real life began upon finishing high school and leaving home — for me that meant enrolling and moving into a Northwestern dorm just weeks after graduating from Ridgewood High School. Now, thirty years later, in this month of beginnings, March 2007, just days until the first day of spring, I am finally putting in writing and found images what until now I have done only privately.

I think of Emily Dickinson’s choosing a “certain slant of light” to communicate what must have been a most private, obscure feeling. She clearly hoped someone, somewhere, somehow, sometime similarly had contemplated a ray of light hitting a rug, floor , hosting a myriad of glistening, floating, drifting dust crystals. There is a certain light that colors my memories of Northwestern and Art Institute — memories of the years in which I first began to dream dreams. And the “certain slant of light” that illuminates these memories are no small part of the memories and feelings themselves.

The places with which I became familiar and intimate during those years, the places that came to carry these feelings were each glimpses into what were to me amazing places created by the already achieved and accomplished. My setting foot in them somehow made me feel connected to great possibilities: the Lunt Building classroom where I took differential calculus from Professor “Ma” Clark; the large reception lounge on the second floor of Scott Hall, filled with dark red, green, and black leather chairs and couches, and long, oak reading tables, incandescent reading lights, shaded lamps on the end tables, high, high ceilings, arched stained glass windows; the Tech Library study carrels reached via narrow, spiral metal stairs ; the reception lounges of the Alice Millar chapel — good for many hours of studying; the study carrels in the Seabury-Western seminary library; the Impressionist galleries at the Art Institute; the Bahai Temple in Wilmette; and the Shakespeare Garden.

Share
Calendar
September 2020
M T W T F S S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  
Archives
Politics, Culture, Philosophy
  • Rachel Maddow
  • Frank Schaeffer
  • Roberto Ruiz

Activists draw on successful defense of health care for energy...Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, talks with Rachel Maddow about the role of citizen

Democrats make SCOTUS a national issue beyond GOP Senate rulesSenator Elizabeth Warren highlights the many aspects of American life that will change if Donald Tru

Rachel Maddow 9/21/20Watch the full episode of Monday night's The Rachel Maddow Show.

How Mitch McConnell broke the process for naming a new Supreme...Rachel Maddow tells the history of how Mitch McConnell decided not to allow President Barack Obama t

Ginsburg passing a watershed moment for equality, women's...Dahlia Lithwick, legal correspondent and senior editor at Slate, talks with Rachel Maddow about the

Clinton: Democrats must use every possible procedural obstacle...Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Rachel Maddow about how hard Democrats need to

'A devastating loss for justice and equality': Hillary Clinton...Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Rachel Maddow about the legacy of Supreme Court

Rachel Maddow 9/18/20Watch the full episode of Friday night's The Rachel Maddow Show.

Rachel Maddow 9/18/20Watch the full episode of Friday night's The Rachel Maddow Show.

Rachel Maddow 9/18/20Watch the full episode of Friday night's The Rachel Maddow Show.

Download an Illustrated PDF of this Article Listen to my 2008 interview, “Pro-Life – And In Favor Of

In the 70s and 80s, the Religious Right helped form a new political party in America: The Party of T

Warning: QAnon’s silly lies: “deep state” is satanic, coronavirus is fake, Trump is truth/media is l

How do we make our way back into love, beauty and creation? Discover my book Letter to Lucy: A Manif

Read at Down With Tyranny Down With Tyranny picked up on something from my latest video about Trump’

Trump’s lying about pandemic has had unthinkable consequences. Congratulations Franklin Graham and t

Politico is doing an exclusive report today on new poll-study-11% of Evangelical and Catholic 2016 T

Make no mistake: this is Trump’s America, where protesters are shot by vigilantes as police look on

By David Ignatius Read at Washington Post Reconciling Donald Trump’s self-promoting “Art of the Deal

The president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members, and asked that wounded

After having been unjustly convicted of the bogus charges brought against him in that most infamous

The Philosophy of Christopher NolanEver since I first watched Memento and its fascinating exploration of the philosophical question of

Voltaire - CandideThe philosophical problem of evil—the question of how the existence of unnecessary suffering is poss

Arrow - A Celebration of LoveLife is hard enough as it is. Existence, in many ways, is suffering. Obviously, some have it much wo

If 'Despacito' Were Written by an Evo-Devo BiologistIf you are a geek, you are likely to get excited over things others might find boring, laughable, la

James Baldwin Debates William F. BuckleyJames Baldwin, the great essayist, poet, civil rights activist, writer and orator, would have turned

Genius of the Ancient World - SocratesFew figures have been more important and influential in the history of civilization than the ancient

The PresocraticsAnyone who's ever contemplated Raphael's celebrated painting The School of Athens knows th

President Obama's Farewell AddressAs his presidency sadly comes to an end, President Obama delivered last night what is sure to become

John Berger - Ways of SeeingArt critic John Berger's recent death has left a huge void in the world of art appreciation. Wh

Right Living, Thinking, Etc
  • Two Truths News
  • Natural Living-Healthy Planet

The point of zazen, says Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, is to live each moment in complete combustion, like a

In this commentary from non-diet dietician Jenna Hollenstein, she shares why we need to stop battlin

Water and wave, being and nonbeing, beginning and ending—liberation from all duality, teaches Thich

Lion's Roar Special Projects editorial assistant Sandra Hannebohm looks at wabi-sabi and the pe

How do we hold the realities of racism in our hearts, asks Doshin Mako Voelkel. And how do we hold t

Claire B. Willis and Marnie Crawford Samuelson share how when you allow and accept all of life'

"Aging, illness and death are treasures for those who understand them. They’re Noble Truths, No

Psychotherapy can be a powerful complement to spiritual practice, supporting our inspiration to deve

In the direct, insightful style for which he is known, Bhante Henepola Gunaratana teaches the medita

Alan Senauke reflects on Thich Nhat Hanh’s profound contributions to Buddhism, activism, and the pla

(Natural News) Appearing during a recent episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News, Chinese sc

(Natural News) According to Che Guevara protege and ‘Democratic socialist’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,

(Natural News) A Black Lives Matter (BLM) “protester” who vice presidential hopeful Kamala Harris ur

(Natural News) A lawsuit was filed last week against pharmaceutical firm Merck on behalf of a young

(Natural News) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated their Wuhan cor

(Natural News) Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats released a stopgap government funding bill o

(Natural News) Large global banks such as JPMorgan Chase, HSBC and others have, according to secret

(Natural News) A Black Lives Matter supporter wearing a “Justice for Breonna Taylor” shirt shot and

(Natural News) Nothing can enhance the right person’s reputation like passing on. Ruth Bader Ginsbur

(Natural News) The following editorial is written by a retired police officer and current staff writ

Science News
  • The Universe Today
  • Perimeter Institute
  • Science Daily
  • Sky and Telescope

Dark matter makes up the vast majority of matter in the universe, but we can’t see it. At least, not

The Magellanic Clouds are a pair of dwarf galaxies that are bound to the Milky Way. The Milky Way is

While recent studies suggest that dark matter interactions might create gamma rays, a new study of g

Those lucky few who have the incredible opportunity to see the Earth from space often report the vie

Thanks to the heroic efforts of firefighters, the Mt. Wilson Observatory is now safe from the Califo

A Biosignature Last week, an incredible announcement was made about the search for extraterrestrial

In a recent white paper, a team of scientists proposed that NASA's Artemis astronauts should al

There are two main approaches that humanity can take to living in space.  The one more commonly port

The Search for Life can be a lot messier than it sounds. The three words make a nice, tidy title, bu

The Space Court Foundation hopes to play a pivotal role in the evolving domain of space law, which i

CHIME receives Governor General’s Innovation AwardWednesday Jul 15, 2020The CHIME team is recognized

Perimeter participates in #Strike4BlackLivesFriday Jun 26, 2020Perimeter Institute participated in t

Perimeter among top winners at CCAE AwardsTuesday Jun 16, 2020The Canadian Council for the Advanceme

Four new Simons Emmy Noether Fellows announcedMonday Jun 15, 2020The next group of Simons Emmy Noeth

Anna Golubeva earns Borealis AI FellowshipMonday Jun 08, 2020Perimeter PhD student named one of 10 B

Kevin Costello admitted as Honorary Member of the Royal Irish AcademyWednesday May 27, 2020Perimeter

Flash of insight opens new paths for Luke Santi Award winnerThursday Mar 26, 2020Mackenzie Pereira,

PI-NRC partnership to fuel made-in-Canada breakthroughsTuesday Mar 03, 2020A new collaboration betwe

Introducing three new associate faculty at Perimeter InstituteFriday Feb 21, 2020Researchers in quan

Perimeter research recognized again by Buchalter Cosmology PrizeMonday Jan 06, 2020Perimeter Associa

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has its own far-ultraviolet aurora, data reveal. It is the first tim

A new study of an ancient period that is considered the closest natural analog to the era of modern

Astronomers have discovered a rare molecule -- phosphine -- in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this g

Recent observations have found that something may be missing from the theories of how dark matter be

Scientists have compiled a continuous, high-fidelity record of variations in Earth's climate ex

Early interventions were effective at stamping out coronavirus infections before they spread, accord

Using public transportation, visiting a place of worship, or otherwise traveling from the home is as

Individuals who can unconsciously predict complex patterns, an ability called implicit pattern learn

New research identifies a process that might have been key in producing the first organic molecules

A new study has revealed the size of the legendary giant shark Megalodon, including fins that are as

Observations from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft show that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Geras

Astronomers have found a Jupiter-size planet orbiting a much smaller white dwarf. The discovery show

Firefighting crews held the line as wildfire threatened Mount Wilson; an amateur observatory built b

Jupiter and Saturn continue shining nearly level in the south at dusk. Meanwhile, the stars show the

Confirming phosphine's presence on Venus is difficult from Earth . . . and that makes a good ca

Solar Cycle 25 is here, and forecasts suggest the next decade of the Sun’s activity will mimic the l

Astrophotography can be its own reward, but there are ways to dig deeper. Here are some ways to do q

The moons of Uranus exhibit heat signatures similar to dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt — where the

Astronomers might have found a potential indication of life in the clouds of Venus. The post Potenti

Astronomers studying Hubble Space Telescope images of massive galaxy clusters have uncovered a poten