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Nagy and Stilgoe [05 Dec 2004|05:58pm]
[ mood | sick ]

I attended a "symposium" yesterday morning. I'm not sure what made it a symposium; basically I attended two lectures by Harvard professors at the Harvard Club, but they had nothing to do with each other. Maybe there was an overall topic for the thing advertised on the brochure, but I don't remember what it was.

I can't say I felt at home in the Harvard Club. Not really my kind of place. But I won't make any snotty or anti-snotty judgments, because everyone I interacted with was very nice. It's possible that we were the youngest people at this thing, which I thought was a little odd. I did feel like I was in a Club. Creating such a feeling seems to be a pretty deep-rooted part of Harvard's (incredibly successful) fundraising strategy. This wasn't really a fundraising event, though it wasn't free.

The first presentation was by Gregory Nagy, on ekphrasis (also spelled ecphrasis). It wasn't quite what I thought it would be. I'm very interested in the relationship between writing and visual art, largely because my favorite generation of American poets was very tied up with Abstract Expressionism and New York School painting. And I like to consider the ways that the different kinds of objects can generate texts, and the ways in which texts can relate to particular objects other than just being descriptive of them. Nagy was going to be talking specifically about Homer. In the end, I learned some things about Homer and the story behind some of the statues / metal-working produced at the time, but felt like there wasn't much discussion of the texts. It's interesting to see the list of works at the end of that Wikipedia article. The first one listed, "Achilles' Shield", Nagy talked about, and the last one "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror" by Ashbery is an example of the use of ekphrasis that I'm interested in.

The second presentation was John Stilgoe. He was fucking fantastic. First of all, as a speaker, he was very entertaining and engaging, the kind of intellectual that is capable of presenting his ideas to all kinds of audiences. His energy and style reminded me quite a bit of Eben Moglen. He talked about design. All kinds of design. He covered such an amount of ground that I can't do it justice. Here's the ideas I jotted down, more or less verbatim (some of them won't make sense since you can't see the pictures, but I want to remember them, so here they are):

Lengthy notes, but interesting bits, at least to me.Collapse )
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