Harvard University-30.jpg

Literature

Poets and Philosophers: Beyond Rhyme and Meter

Poets thrive on paradoxes, creating them, giving them expression; philosophers also thrive on paradox, but by explaining them away. Poets present things as they are; philosophers explain how things come to be.

John Keats

O for a Life of Sensations rather than of Thoughts!

Letter to Benjamin Bailey
22 November 1817

I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable
reaching after fact & reason.

Letter to his brothers
21 December 1817

John Keats

Share

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
Calendar
March 2019
M T W T F S S
« Oct    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
Archives
Politics, Culture, Philosophy
  • Rachel Maddow
  • Frank Schaeffer
  • Roberto Ruiz

Attorney General Barr submits summary of Robert Mueller's findingsTwo days after promising Congress a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's "principal [...]

Katyal: Special Counsel process working as intended so farNeal Katyal, former acting solicitor general, who wrote the Department of Justice regulations defini [...]

Rosenberg: Trump circle not out of the woods on potential chargesChuck Rosenberg, former senior Justice Department official, talks with Rachel Maddow about the ongoi [...]

Congress demands full Mueller report and 'underlying evidence'Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, talks with Rachel Maddow about the i [...]

DOJ careful to avoid Clinton report mistakes with Mueller reportDevlin Barrett, national security reporter for the Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about t [...]

Mueller files 'comprehensive report' in concluding investigationJosh Gerstein, senior legal affairs contributor for Politico, talks with Rachel Maddow about what is [...]

Klobuchar: 'Time for a full disclosure' of Mueller reportSenator Amy Klobuchar, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and 2020 presidential candidate, tal [...]

Nation on edge for next steps as Mueller probe runs its courseRachel Maddow reports on what can be gleaned from Attorney General William Barr's letter to the [...]

Friday's Mini-Report, 3.22.19Today's edition of quick hits. [...]

Rachel Maddow 3/22/19Watch the full episode of Friday night's The Rachel Maddow Show. [...]

Q: Why does AIPAC work with white nationalist Evangelical Trump bigots who shape Trump’s foreign pol [...]

Originally posted Monday, March 18, 2019 at Down with Tyranny Fox White Nationalist Tucker Carlson’s [...]

After years of an idiotic fascist demagogue in the presidency, how do we make our way back into love [...]

After years of a hateful lunatic in the presidency, how do we make our way back into love, beauty an [...]

Sarah Huckabee, please explain why Trump has a fetish for putting himself in compromising positions. [...]

Trump signs Bibles for members of Providence Baptist Church in Alabama with the same hands he put up [...]

If you want the State of Israel to have American support 10 years from now you’ll side with Omar and [...]

BY TIM WU The defining political fact of our time is not polarization. It’s the thwarting of a large [...]

If Trump wins in 2020 here’s how group-think Democrats made it possible. Here’s why (sadly) Trump ma [...]

Republicans and their white evangelical base know, deep in their hearts, that Cohen’s portrayal of T [...]

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

Each Friday, we share three topical longreads in our Weekend Reader newsletter. This week, our edito [...]

The sun doesn’t stop shining just because there are clouds in the sky. Our buddhanature is always pr [...]

Heidi Köppl looks at how Vajrayana visualization practice, when applied correctly, helps us to ackno [...]

The report includes allegations against the organization’s head, Sakyong Mipham, and founder Chögyam [...]

Grief, fear and despair are part of the human condition. Each of these emotions is useful, says Miri [...]

It takes root; it grows; it blooms. Cheryl Wilfong on how meditation practice is cultivated like a g [...]

Buddhist teachers Gina Sharpe and Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara and psychoanalyst Pilar Jennings will discu [...]

Sumi Loundon Kim offers five doable mindfulness tips for busy parents. The post Mindful Parenting, M [...]

This week, the government of Sri Lanka is officially celebrating the Tripitaka, the collection of te [...]

How does meditation work? Phakchok Rinpoche and Erric Solomon say it gives your distracted mind a jo [...]

(Natural News) Some people have falsely accused Natural News of spreading “fake news” for constantly [...]

(Natural News) Warnings from concerned experts about the dangers of wireless communication devices l [...]

(Natural News) Just when you think you’ve heard everything curcumin can do for your health, the supe [...]

(Natural News) In the wake of New Zealand’s worst mass murder, in which avowed “eco-fascist” and Com [...]

(Natural News) When you hear the word formaldehyde, what do you think of? Does it conjure up images [...]

(Natural News) Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicinal approach that applies pressure to cert [...]

(Natural News) It can be daunting to plan your own garden, especially if you’re a beginner. If you n [...]

(Natural News) The financial, social and political instability of the modern world makes it seem lik [...]

(Natural News) Colitis, which is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), is caused by chronic inflammat [...]

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

Recent observations have revealed a pulsar that appears to have been accelerated by the very superno [...]

After undergoing upgrades, the LIGO observatory will be going back online this April, with "alm [...]

Hosts: Fraser Cain (universetoday.com / @fcain) Dr. Paul M. Sutter (pmsutter.com / @PaulMattSutter) [...]

The SIRIUS-19 experiment recently kicked off, with six cosmonauts entering a simulated lunar environ [...]

A new discovery in South America has added further weight to the Young Dryas Impact theory, which st [...]

The milestones just keep coming for SpaceX. After the recent successful test flight of the Crew Drag [...]

A ghost from the old Soviet space program may return to Earth in the coming years. Mimicking a campy [...]

Download MP3 Recorded during the Astrotour to Costa Rica, Fraser talks to Dr. Paul Matt Sutter about [...]

People always want to know how old everything is. And more specifically, they want to know how we kn [...]

This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Allen Versfeld at his Urban Astronomer blog. Click here t [...]

New Simons Emmy Noether Fellows announcedFriday Mar 08, 2019Perimeter is set to welcome the next gro [...]

New Perimeter Institute Director among world’s most influential scientistsWednesday Feb 27, 2019Robe [...]

CONDENSED MATTER THEORIST CHONG WANG JOINS FACULTYFriday Feb 22, 2019For Perimeter’s newest faculty [...]

Perimeter researchers continue hot streak in Buchalter Cosmology Prize competitionWednesday Jan 09, [...]

New fellowships to fuel fundamental physics with radio telescopes in Canada Thursday Dec 20, 2018Per [...]

2018: Perimeter's scientific year in reviewMonday Dec 17, 2018As another year draws to a close, [...]

Perimeter ramps up efforts to support greater diversityFriday Nov 30, 2018Perimeter has taken anothe [...]

Exploring the physics all around usTuesday Nov 13, 2018From climate change to gravitational waves, t [...]

LUKE SANTI AWARD WINNER CULTIVATES CURIOSITY AND GRITWednesday Nov 07, 2018Aidan Richards, a first-y [...]

New fellowships aim to support early-career researchersTuesday Oct 30, 2018Fellowships named in hono [...]

How electricity-eating microbes use electrons to fix carbon dioxideA phototrophic microbe called Rhodopseudomonas palustris takes up electrons from conductive substanc [...]

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rexPaleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosa [...]

Jupiter's unknown journey revealedThe giant planet Jupiter was formed four times further from the sun than its current orbit, and migr [...]

High-fructose corn syrup boosts intestinal tumor growth in miceConsuming a daily modest amount of high-fructose corn syrup -- the equivalent of people drinking abo [...]

Dynamic hydrogel used to make 'soft robot' components and LEGO-like building blocksA new type of hydrogel material could soon make assembling complex microfluidic or soft robotic devi [...]

Inert nitrogen forced to react with itselfDirect coupling of two molecules of nitrogen: chemists have achieved what was thought to be impossib [...]

Engineers demonstrate metamaterials that can solve equationsEngineers have designed a metamaterial device that can solve integral equations. The device works by [...]

How team sports change a child's brainAdult depression has long been associated with shrinkage of the hippocampus, a brain region that pla [...]

Hundreds of bubble streams link biology, seismology off Washington's coastThe first survey of methane vent sites off Washington's coast finds 1,778 bubble columns, with [...]

In a new quantum simulator, light behaves like a magnetPhysicists propose a new 'quantum simulator': a laser-based device that can be used to stu [...]

Hayabusa 2’s asteroid Ryugu has some unexpected characteristics. In particular, its dry surface coul [...]

In astronomy news this week, scientists found a pulsar racing out of the galaxy and mapped a star [...]

Immediately after dark, before moonrise for most of North America, Sirius shines brilliantly in the [...]

Asteroid Bennu is turning out to be a hazardous place for the NASA spacecraft to sample: It has unev [...]

A powerful fireball exploded over the wilds of eastern Russia last December. Satellites captured the [...]

Springtime is galaxy time. Only 30 million light years away, the Leo I Group and nearby Leo Triplet [...]

As observations trickle in from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, mission scientists have new ins [...]

  NAME Jyotirvidya Parisanstha ADDRESS Tilak Smarak Mandir, Tilak Road Sadashiv Peth, Maharashtra Pu [...]

Astronomers are using Gaia and the Hubble Space Telescope to make the most precise measure of the Mi [...]

The FITS file is so much more than just an image format. If you're looking to get serious about [...]