Walden Pond - Concord, MA.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
January 2018
M T W T F S S
« Oct    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
Archives
Politics, Culture, Philosophy
  • Rachel Maddow
  • Frank Schaeffer
  • Roberto Ruiz

House Intel to vote on release of Fusion GPS testimonyRachel Maddow alerts viewers that the House Intelligence Committee will vote on Thursday on whether [...]

The Trump Stormy Daniels story is a follow-the-money storyJacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, talks with Rachel Maddow about how Stormy Daniel [...]

Rep. Schiff: White House playing games with Bannon testimonyRepresentative Adam Schiff talks with Rachel Maddow about the different treatment that Steve Bannon [...]

Mueller subpoena blocks Bannon congressional testimony: NBC NewsRachel Maddow reports on new details about how Mueller's subpoena prevents Steve Bannon from te [...]

Wednesday's Mini-Report, 1.17.18Today's edition of quick hits. [...]

GOP's Flake: Trump 'uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin'Sen. Jeff Flake's (R) Trump criticisms are welcome. If he were willing to take steps beyond nic [...]

With time running out, the shutdown threat is very realThere's never been a government shutdown when one party controls the White House and both chamb [...]

Wednesday's Campaign Round-Up, 1.17.18Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country. [...]

Trump's Interior secretary can't seem to stay out of troubleIf Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is trying to avoid negative headlines, he's failing spectacula [...]

New details emerge surrounding Trump's Stormy Daniels controversyWhen it comes to Donald Trump's alleged relationship with an adult-firm star, the key question [...]

Trump’s rise is a function of white America’s anxieties about maintaining power in a cosmopolitan an [...]

Trump’s cruelty to the poor, his indifference to empathy, and his overt racism begs this question: A [...]

Will white evangelicals still send medical missionaries to help brown people living in Trump’s “shit [...]

Countryside Community Church will be screening Scott Griessel’s documentary about me, “Let Me Be Fra [...]

I only met Oprah once when I was on her show, grateful she’d read my work. Today I’m grateful she ma [...]

Trump isn’t the disease; he’s the symptom- of everything from the rise of evangelical fanatics to Fo [...]

How can I best describe my feelings during the Trump Era so far? I’m feeling suspended in time. How [...]

Who voted for Trump? “It’s not us!” Who stuck with Roy Moore? “It’s not us!” Who supports white bigo [...]

Before I introduce you to Jared Golden, I would like to take the opportunity to recap the year and s [...]

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 [...]

Some Thoughts and Feelings on the Aftermath of the ElectionWhen I saw that anger, hate and bigotry were going to win two nights ago, I had to unplug for a whil [...]

The Philosophy of Marvel's DaredevilEveryone is familiar with the most obvious tropes of superhero comics: exciting action sequences, sk [...]

How the Republican Party went from Lincoln to Trump, and the Democratic Party went from White Supremacy to ObamaWhen accused of promoting racist beliefs of policies, Republicans usually argue that it was their pa [...]

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

The lotus is one of Buddhism’s most recognizable symbols of enlightenment and is important in many B [...]

I’ve carved out time and space in my home for meditation. But, I still find it so easy to avoid it! [...]

Mudslides and floodwaters forced attendees at a meditation retreat outside the costal town of Montec [...]

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has canceled the majority of his overseas schedule for 2018, including v [...]

Sylvia Boorstein on how to rescue your mind when confusion overwhelms it into suffering. The post Re [...]

He was more than just the "civil rights leader" he is remembered as today. Martin Luther K [...]

Zen teacher and yoga instructor Donna Quesada addresses our all-too-common need to get it done, what [...]

Buddhist teacher Judy Lief explains why our awareness of death is the secret of life. The post Death [...]

We asked Buddhist teachers how new technologies could disrupt dharma. The post What can “Buddhist Bi [...]

The beloved Buddhist teacher and famed singer discuss Buddhism, creativity, and "the gap." [...]

(Natural News) When we want a natural cure, many of us look to traditional medicine. While the remed [...]

(Natural News) A North Texas family had no idea what was in store for them when they gave their six- [...]

(Natural News) Dealing with cancer is devastating enough on its own, but when the drug your doctors [...]

(Natural News) Acupuncture has been around for literally thousands of years now. Having originated i [...]

(Natural News) A Colorado air force base recently came under fire as water contaminated with perfluo [...]

(Natural News) About 2,000 7-Eleven customers in Salt Lake County, Utah are at risk of hepatitis A d [...]

(Natural News) Getting enough exercise can be tough when you go at it alone. For many of us, having [...]

(Natural News) Despite the various medical discoveries that are reported regularly, there are still [...]

(Natural News) The James Webb Telescope has successfully concluded a series of tests prior to its pr [...]

(Natural News) As part of a new series of hilarious animations being released on Counterthink.com, t [...]

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

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

The James Webb Space Telescope just emerged from 3 months of vacuum-chamber testing, another milesto [...]

This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by me at the CosmoQuest blog. Click here to read Carnival of [...]

With the deployment of the Arkyd-6 spacecraft, Planetary Resources just took a major step towards ma [...]

A new study by a team of Chinese researchers considers whether a space-based laser station would be [...]

A series of possibly "skylights" have been spotted in the Moon's norther polar region [...]

A recent study based on data from multiple orbiters indicates that Mars has multiple sheets of subsu [...]

Thanks to a recent study by an international team of researchers, scientists now know why rapidly-sp [...]

According to a recent statement by a top engineer from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Co [...]

This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Gadi Eidelheit at his The Venus Transit blog. Click here [...]

“Big bounce” work earns cosmology award for Turok and GielenTuesday Jan 09, 2018 With second- and th [...]

Perimeter Founding Faculty member named to Order of CanadaTuesday Jan 02, 2018 Raymond Laflamme, a f [...]

2017: Perimeter’s scientific year in reviewTuesday Dec 19, 2017 Science typically advances in increm [...]

Pedro Vieira wins Sackler PrizeTuesday Dec 12, 2017 Quantum field theorist shares $100,000 award for [...]

Myers makes "most influential" list for fourth timeFriday Dec 08, 2017 Perimeter Faculty C [...]

Perimeter cosmologist shares in Breakthrough PrizeMonday Dec 04, 2017 Perimeter cosmologist Kendrick [...]

Lieutenant Governor champions empowerment through scienceThursday Nov 16, 2017 Ontario Lieutenant Go [...]

Award honours Perimeter's impact on high-skills labour marketThursday Nov 16, 2017 Toronto’s Cr [...]

New research centre at Perimeter to probe universe's deepest questionsMonday Nov 13, 2017 Perim [...]

Subir Sachdev wins Lars Onsager PrizeMonday Oct 30, 2017 Subir Sachdev has won the Lars Onsager Priz [...]

Self-healing fungi concrete could provide sustainable solution to crumbling infrastructureA new self-healing fungi concrete could help repair cracks in aging concrete permanently, and help s [...]

Small but fast: A miniaturized origami-inspired robot combines micrometer precision with high speedThe milliDelta robot integrates a new microfabrication technique with high-performance composite mat [...]

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new studyNamed after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in [...]

Chemical evolution: Progenitors of the living worldRNA was probably the first informational molecule. Now chemists have demonstrated that alternation o [...]

California sea lion population rebounded to new highsCalifornia sea lions have fully rebounded under the protection of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, [...]

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brainRecording brain activity via electrodes placed directly on the cortical surface (ECoG) provides much [...]

Not just for Christmas: Study sheds new light on ancient human-turkey relationshipFor the first time, research has uncovered the origins of the earliest domestic turkeys in ancient M [...]

Canine distemper confirmed in Far Eastern leopard, world's most endangered big catThe Far Eastern or Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is already among the rarest of the worl [...]

Ultra-thin optical fibers offer new way to 3-D print microstructuresFor the first time, researchers have shown that an optical fiber as thin as a human hair can be used [...]

In a study covering 300 million years of evolutionary history, researchers have found four necessary [...]

Results from the first data release of the Dark Energy Survey include eleven new stellar streams in [...]

Mira, one of the easiest-to-observe pulsating variable stars, reaches peak brightness this month. Do [...]

The post Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

The post Reflective nebula NGC1333, a LUM-color picture appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

Knowing your astrophotography setup's pixel scale will help you take better pictures. And to de [...]

The OPT Triad Tri-band narrowband filter is designed to pass wavelengths centered at 493 and 656.3 n [...]

New observations of galaxies in a universe just 800 million years old show that they’ve already sett [...]

The post Polaris Star trail appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

The post star trails over Damavand appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]

The post The Tadpoles of IC410 appeared first on Sky & Telescope. [...]