Newsletter #4

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Newsletter #4

Post by Josephine Livingstone on Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:20 pm

Dear all,

In last week's reading, we moved on from the Biblical and Greek authorities' concept of nature to Macrobius, a scholar whose writing directly, textually influenced medieval poetry. We read his text on the nature of dreams and the arrangement of the heavenly bodies alongside Deleuze and Guattari, who helped us expand our critique of modern paradigms of thought. In class we also considered the relationship between Macrobian zonal maps and the T-O tradition of cartography.

This week, we have finally arrived at medieval poetry! The assigned introduction to Chaucer will give you contextual information on his life, but also help with pronunciation. I have given you a pretty short section from Chaucer's dream vision poem The House of Fame, so try to read it in depth and confidently. There is a gloss at the foot of each page translating the difficult words. Try to read the lines out loud—it will help the words make sense. I've carried the Collingwood over to this week, too.

   Introduction to The Riverside Chaucer, the big authoritative edition of Chaucer's text that everybody uses.
   Chaucer's The House of Fame(ignore book II)
   Borges, 'On Exactitude in Science'
   R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of Nature

Sorry about the marginal notes in the Chaucer! They are from my undergrad days so don't take them as wisdom, please.

I think that the Collingwood and Borges will make a lot of sense now that we are versed in Latour and Deleuze and Guattari's critiques of binaristic thought. Some questions to think about as we continue to read premodern sources against interventions in modern ways of knowing:

   If dreams allow a person to see the future, and the future is some agreed-upon concept of truth (the things that definitely will happen), what are poetic fictions about dreams?
   Macrobius said that only certain types of dreams counted as truly prophetic, those hosted by a pious person, parent, priest, or god. What, then, do we make of Chaucer's dream?
   Thinking about Collingwood, Chaucer, and Borges all together: what is the value of a thing or instant in time when it is considered alone, not as part of a continuum of growth or as a thing organized in a wider system of things?
   What do all these questions mean for our developing theory of the concept of nature?

All best,

Josephine Livingstone

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