In a recent post I said that people might find my five lectures on American identity useful in our current situation. I remembered feeling very good about those lectures when I delivered them several years ago but I decided to listen to them myself. It was a sobering experience. I think they do offer good and useful ideas that can clarify what are often pretty fuzzy discussions based on mistaken concepts of what it means to have an identity or be “in” a culture. The the talks were delivered before large audiences which varied from week to week. So I included lengthy summaries of what had gone before each week. Listened too now in a series they are too repetitious.
I could edit the lectures into fewer compact videos, but I think the file containing selected slides from the talks can be a summary that takes less time to read. So I’ve decided to transcribe the talks and work up a short book. I used the web service www.otter.ai to transcribe the audio. The result is not without mistakes but still a great help. I’ll be working on this project along with my “teaching life” memoir for the next few months.
My series of OLLI discussions on the functions of art has three more sessions to go. Next Monday 3/21 we are welcoming Robert Paul Wolff to talk about Herbert Marcuse’s ideas about the political effects of art. Then a session on art as recreating the world (Wallace Stevens and Nietzsche) and a final session on Hegel’s ideas about the end of art, which I think are surprisingly relevant today.