In truth did Thais send me many thanks?It would have been enough to answer, “Many.” “Millions of them,” said the parasite. The flatterer always magnifies that which the one for whose gratification he speaks wishes to be large.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
"Phenomenology studies conscious experience as experienced from the subjective or first person point of view. This field of philosophy is then to be distinguished from, and related to, the other main fields of philosophy: ontology (the study of being or what is), epistemology (the study of knowledge), logic (the study of valid reasoning), ethics (the study of right and wrong action)"
(from Stanford Encyclopedia of Technology)
Heidegger as forerunner of existentialism:
In turning phenomenology toward the question of what it means to be, Heidegger insists that the question be raised concretely: it is not at first some academic exercise but a burning concern arising from life itself, the question of what it means for me to be. Existential themes take on salience when one sees that the general question of the meaning of being involves first becoming clear about one's own being as an inquirer. According to Heidegger, the categories bequeathed by the philosophical tradition for understanding a being who can question his or her being are insufficient: traditional concepts of a substance decked out with reason, or of a subject blessed with self-consciousness, misconstrue our fundamental character as “being-in-the-world.” In his phenomenological pursuit of the categories that govern being-in-the-world, Heidegger became the reluctant father of existentialism because he drew inspiration from two seminal, though in academic circles then relatively unknown, nineteenth-century writers, Sören Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. One can find anticipations of existential thought in many places (for instance, in Socratic irony, Augustine, Pascal, or the late Schelling), but the roots of the problem of existence in its contemporary significance lie in the work of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.
Some topics we'll discuss:
Being with a capital B, beings with a small b
Being and the Nothing
Heidegger and Plato's theory of ideas
Heidegger and Descartes
Heidegger's ideas about technology
What Is Being? Timeline: Here is the beginning of a timeline we'll fill in for the rest of the semester, putting it into an interactive timeline so you can add your projects to it
Plato (around 360 B.C.E.) -- Cicero (44 B.C.E) -- Machiavelli (1513) -- Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600) -- Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605) -- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818) -- (Wordsworth, "I wandered lonely as a cloud" (1888) -- Nella Larsen, Passing (1929) -- Heidegger (1927-1950s) -- Erving Goffman, Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1956) -- The Matrix (1999) -- Google glasses (2012)
Monday, April 2, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Friday, March 2, 2012
Methinks Hamlet does know "seems," and very well. What about being?
There is so much in this play--revenge, sanity and insanity, the genre of tragedy, family relationships, surveillance and privacy, doing and thinking, corruption and decay- but we are going to focus on how Shakespeare's play sheds light on our enduring questions about the complex relationships between being and seeming--in everyday life, in performance, and as we consider the contemporary film interpretations of Hamlet, in media representations.
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
That can denote me truly: these indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play:
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe. Act 1, Scene 2
Shakespeare, and the directors of the film interpretations, contrast Laertes with Hamlet. We pick up at around the 3:20 minute mark, in this clip from the Royal Shakespeare Company film:
and at 4:20 in the Branagh film
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:
So excellent a king; that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!
Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on: and yet, within a month--
Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!--
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she follow'd my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears:--why she, even she--
O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourn'd longer--married with my uncle,
My father's brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules: within a month:
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not nor it cannot come to good:
But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
|Momchil Mladenov as Don Quixote and Sonia Rodriguez as|
Dulcinea in the Suzanne Farrell Ballet's production at the Kennedy Center.
INTERNAL & EXTERNAL REALITY: The twentieth-century texts dramatize and visualize Don Quixote's internal reality, and as they do that so we can see it, we are more interested in and open to his perspective. Visually, dramatically, and narratively, they get more equal weight than in the Cervantes novel. When we see Quixote's imagined Dulcinea dancing in the ballet, she exists, as opposed to the pure fantasy of the text Dulcinea, or the taking on of the role of Dulcinea by Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. The modern, post-modern interest in Don Quixote stems from our interest in subjectivity, in how individuals perceive the world (and this is where the readings by Maurice Merleau-Ponty come in).
Realizing Don Quixote's internal reality is what Terry Gilliam wanted to do. As we watch the documentary, we can see how he could see, in his mind's eye, how he wanted his film to show the giants, for example. But he could not make that internal vision into an external reality of a film, and so he, like Don Quixote, experiences a gap between interior and exterior realities. This is the non-insane,
modern version of Quixote, and it is the artist's eternal difficulty, that chasm between what we hear or see or imagine and what can be actualized in performance or art so it can be shared.
Finally, let's consider one of the famous quotations from Don Quixote in the context of our overall course themes and areas of inquiry: “I know who I am, and who I may be, if I choose.”
Monday, February 13, 2012
Maria Abramovic retrospective at MoMA in 2010
Abramovic makes a distinction between performance and theater, saying that performance is "real" and theater is, essentially, artifice because it is rehearsed.
Abramovic on body art and Imponderabilia
Monday, February 6, 2012
for many have pictured republics and principalities which in fact have never been known or seen, because how one lives is so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation . . . (chapter 15).
Friday, February 3, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Some of this sound familiar from other things you've read or seen in movies?
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
M. Tullius Cicero, Laelius on friendship
William Armistead Falconer, Ed.
1 Laelius has in mind Thraso in the Eunuch of Terence, from which (ii. 1. 1) the following line is taken, and Pyrgopolinices, the braggart soldier in Plautus' Miles Gloriosus. The disgust Laelius feels at the fawning of the parasite is relieved by the humour of the soldier.
 Wherefore, although that sort of hollow flattery influences those who court and make a bid for it, yet even stronger and steadier men should be warned to be on their guard lest they be taken in by flattery of the crafty kind.
No one, to be sure, unless he is an utter fool, fails to detect the open flatterer, but we must exercise a watchful care against the deep and crafty one lest he steal upon us unawares. For he is very hard to recognize, since he often fawns even by opposing, and flatters and cajoles by pretending to quarrel, until at last he gives in, allowing himself to be overcome so that his dupe may appear to have seen further into the matter than himself. And yet, is there anything more discreditable than to be made a dupe? If not, then we should be all the more on our guard that it does not happen to us to have to confess: [p. 207]
To-day, of all old fools that play the comic parts,
You've wheedled me the most and made your greatest dupe.Lines from the Epiclerus by Caecilius Statius.1Cicero: De Senectute De Amicitia De Divinatione. With An English Translation. William Armistead Falconer. Cambridge. Harvard University Press; Cambridge, Mass., London, England. 1923.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Ever wonder, "what IS being?"
This course, "What Is Being?" is a special opportunity for Berklee students to explore an age-old question in multiple ways: through reading touchstone texts of philosophy, literature, psychology, and other disciplines; through exploring of how the subtleties of being and seeming play out in performance; and by considering what is being in contemporary culture. It is funded by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, which pays for the students' books and tickets to plays, among other things. The class size is small (12) and the level of discussion is intense and interesting. We read into things. We look deeply. We keep asking questions and probably never really answer them fully. We'll read whole books and also parts of books, including a few choice sections from thinkers like Jean-Paul Sartre, Erving Goffman, Heidegger, and Jean Baudrillard. You can shape your multimedia projects about topics that interest you. If you think you are interested in taking this course this semester, keep reading.
Course DescriptionThe motto of Berklee College of Music is Esse quam videri, a phrase from Cicero’s essay “On Friendship,” which translates as “to be, rather than to seem.” The course “What is Being?” gives you the opportunity to focus and reflect upon the differences between seeming and being, and think deeply about existence, self, and image. Organized around three interrelated themes: seeming vs. being; performance on stage and in everyday life; and the power of images and illusion in contemporary culture, the seminar requires students to consider realworld issues by exploring in depth the great works of philosophy, literature and psychology. The course includes the reading and discussion of Plato’s Republic, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Enduring Questions grant, “What Is Being?” is a unique opportunity for serious seminar-style exploration of a foundational issue in human thought.
This course requires a commitment from the participants to:
read the assigned material,
engage with the questions and ideas in multimedia and written assignments that will be turned in on time
attend at least one play (tickets provided by the NEH grant)
and participate fully in class discussion and activities.