26 Jan
2021

Lecture explores oral culture in digital age

first_imgWilliam Butler Yeats and Federico García Lorca may have been writing 100 years ago, but English PhD candidate John Dillon suggests their works from near the turn of the 20th century reflect a moment of change similar to today’s cultural upheaval.Dillon, the Notebaert Graduate Presidential Fellow in the Department of English, delivered a lecture Friday titled “From Oral Culture to Open Access: Yeats, Lorca and the Digital Turn.” He argued that the current digital or information revolution mirrors the Industrial Revolution that catalyzed European Modernism at the turn of the 20th century, and that by examining the work of writers like Yeats and Lorca today’s readers can better understand the current cultural climate.Explaining the fascination the writers had for the folklore of their respective Irish and Spanish cultures, Dillon said both were immersed in folk culture and for them, the artistic event of a folk tale was far more remarkable than written word.“If folklore, as Yeats and Lorca would insist, is not what is kept in the archive but in the heart, then one should reconsider their engagement with folklore based on how they encountered it rather than what they collected,” he said.Dillon said Lorca especially was “highly suspicious of the written word” and had a deep commitment to creating a “living art” as “alive and pulsing as a frog.”Because of Lorca’s upbringing in southern Spain, Dillon said the poet was immersed in the rural, folkloric culture throughout his early life.“For Lorca, any sort of cosmopolitanism is completely a second language,” he said. “Growing up in Fuente Vaqueros, a folk way of life would have been as natural as the ground beneath his feet.”Lorca’s early works, notably “Poema del cante jondo” and “Romancero gitano” reflect this deep-rooted identification with Spanish folklore, Dillon said. Similarly, Yeats’ understanding of the organic nature of art allowed him to think of literature as an activity or a game being played, he said. Because of this, Yeats created a “potent” and “ephemeral” art.“This is a living art; it’s stitched into life,” Dillon said. “This is perhaps the critical characteristic of the art … in this way, the awareness that what one is doing is art flickers in and out, which makes it spontaneous, organic and undefinable.”The intersection of folk culture and European Modernism in Yeats’ and Lorca’s writing is important because it affects the way today’s scholars view literature, he said.“If the aesthetic catalyst at the beginning of the 20th century was the Industrial Revolution, then the digital or information revolution bookends this century,” Dillon said. “We can hold up the former as a foothold for perspective to see the latter.“It seems to me that with the digital turn … we are moving towards a form of art which is quite like the type of living art I have been describing. It’s strange; we are moving forward in time but we’re aesthetically regressing.”Dillon said the digital revolution creates a type of “gold rush,” where people anxiously attempt to preserve and archive today’s culture.“We have to digitize everything. Everything must be in an archive,” he said. “We are the contemporary folklorists… [and] this rush of anxiety parallels the development of new tools for recording and preservation.“More can be recorded, so more must be recorded. We also see an obsession with metadata, taxonomy and classification.”In the midst of a moment of cultural change, Dillon said both writers and readers must resist the marketability of art and remember that content is not created for the market.last_img read more

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30 Dec
2020

Power of the Peak

first_imgI spent last week trekking across big, beautiful mountains, and their pull on me was powerful as ever. It prompted me to wonder: Why do we seek out mountains and, in some cases, challenge ourselves against them?I was hoping to find answers in science. Biologist E.O. Wilson argues that we’re hardwired to feel a special connection with natural systems, something he calls “biophilia.” Because of how we evolved, he says, certain natural settings can be inviting at a deep, biological level. These settings embody the “connections we subconsciously seek with the rest of life,” connections Wilson believes are literally rooted in our blood. For example, Wilson suggests that we are drawn to the African savannah because our species originated there. But this certainly doesn’t explain why mountains—which can be dangerous and forbidding, and often lack life—wield such a visceral effect on us.Next, I turned to the intersection of natural science and math, where there is longstanding evidence that humans are attracted to symmetry. This can be traced back to ancient Greek times when Plato wrote of golden ratios and shapes like rectangles were held in the highest regard. The Greeks believed in three prongs to beauty: symmetry, proportion, and harmony.Modern experiments confirm the Greeks were on to something. Numerous psychology studies show that babies are more attracted to symmetrical shapes than non-symmetrical ones, and that we rate people’s beauty based on the symmetry of their faces. Scientists hypothesize this strong preference for balance is borne out of the fact that symmetry may represent superior genetic quality and also symbolize a lack of stress during development.Mountains, however, are anything but symmetrical. If anything, their inherent asymmetry—jagged edges, undulating ridgelines, and steep pitches—is the very result of continuous stress throughout their development, including earthquakes, monsoons, and other natural disasters. If mountains were humans, they’d be disfigured and malformed, the oldest, most battered of us all.Physics was easy to cross off the list. Its fundamental force, gravity, says that what goes up must come down. Yet mountains tend to have the opposite effect, bringing what is down up, elevating the spirit and soul of those who stand below.A neuroscientist might argue that the sensation mountains elicit is related to a lack of oxygen in high-altitude air. While altitude definitely has real and formidable effects—I can attest to these effects personally—feeling drunk is different than feeling moved. Mountains continue to take our breath away long after science says it should have returned.Although science may not directly answer the question of why we are drawn to mountains, it is beginning to uncover the benefits of such a draw. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, found that awe may be related to good health. Experiencing awe is associated with lower levels of interleukin-6, which is a molecule that encourages inflammation. In other words, more awe is likely associated with less inflammation. Dacher Keltner, senior author on the study, told the New York Times that although awe can be hard to define, one of the emotion’s primary qualities is that it “passes the goosebumps test.”Perhaps we are drawn to mountains because they elicit awe, and awe makes us feel good. But this still does not explain why mountains inspire awe in the first place.Could it be that mountains affect us so powerfully because they are big and remind us that we are small? Especially in today’s tumult of Facebook and Twitter and customized newsfeeds and on-demand everything, it is very easy to get lost in our own little worlds—little worlds in which it is easy to feel pretty big. While there is a power to feeling big, there is an equal and perhaps even greater power to feeling small.Dasher Keltner seems to agree. He wrote that “vastness” and “self-diminishment” are typical characteristics of awe. He even called out mountains as emblematic of an “awe inspiring entity.”George Mallory, a British Mountaineer who partook in the first three expeditions on Everest (and ultimately lost his life trying to summit), famously said of why he climbed Everest, “Because it is there… Its existence is a challenge. The answer is instinctive, a part of man’s desire to conquer the universe.”But perhaps Mallory wasn’t completely correct. Yes, we want to conquer mountains, but maybe not because we long to “conquer the universe.” Rather, it could be that the act of climbing a mountain tends to have the opposite effect—not conquering the universe but connecting us to it, reminding us how vast the universe is and how small a part of it we are.last_img read more

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23 Sep
2020

Southeastern Indiana Musicians Association Celebrates Scholarship Program, Regional Growth and New Lawrenceburg Civic Park Event

first_imgSoutheastern Indiana – The Southeastern Indiana Musicians Association (SEIMA) is expanding their community outreach and Hall of Fame coverage this year. Since the organization was founded in 2001, it has stood to honor, support, and promote exemplary musical talent from our area including musicians and music educators in Dearborn, Ripley, Ohio, and Switzerland counties, by inducting them annually into the Southeastern Indiana Musicians’ Hall of Fame. “We are pleased to announce that we now are including the many talented musicians of Franklin County to be recognized by our organization,” said Brian DeBruler SEIMA board member and owner of the locally based record label, Sol Records. As of April 2019, the group now includes Franklin County in its covered territory. “In the last two years we have made a lot of changes to redefine our role and contributions to the community as a nonprofit organization. We have established a scholarship fund that we will begin awarding in 2020 to high school graduates looking to pursue a career in music, and we are also exploring ways that we can supplement funding to the music programs in schools in each of the 5 counties,” said DeBruler. “As a volunteer organization we are grateful for the tremendous support and contributions we have received from the community over the years and we are focused on reciprocating that investment in our communities’ musical future.”SEIMA is funded entirely by donations and is launching a fund raiser and raffle in conjunction with the Whiskey City Summer Fest event at Lawrenceburg Civic Park this summer. “We have an incredible commodity in the music of our region, and the City of Lawrenceburg has presented a tremendous opportunity and investment in that with the new Civic Park and stage; to not only showcase local music talent, but also by hosting various events attracting more people to downtown Lawrenceburg. Our rich music heritage is cause for celebration and we are happy to be involved”, said DeBruler. The group will be selling commemorative t-shirts in conjunction with the concert at upcoming area events, on their website, and at the show. Proceeds from the shirt sales go directly to the scholarship fund. They are also raffling an acoustic guitar signed by all of the Whiskey City Summer Fest artists. The Class of 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees will be announced along with the winner of the guitar at the show by Hall of Fame member Jim Helms that evening. The deadline for 2019 Hall of Fame nominations is May 31st. (For information visit the Southeastern Indiana Musicians Association website at www.seimusic.org).“Lawrenceburg has always hosted great music events like Music on the River, Fall Fest, and Party in the Park; On behalf of the Southeastern Indiana Musicians Association, our hats are off to the efforts of Mayor Mollaun, Pat Krider, Marie Edwards and everyone involved with these events that have done an amazing job over the years. The new stage really takes things to another level. Thanks for supporting local music! ” – Official statement from SEIMA Board.Whiskey City Summer Fest takes place at the brand new Lawrenceburg Civic Park located at 50 Short Street in Lawrenceburg on Saturday July 13th from 3pm – 10:30 pm. The free concert features music by 3 time Grammy Award Winner, Texas blues/rock artist, Delbert McClinton, along with Pure Grain, The Renegades, and the good time Cajun stylings of Robin Lacy and Dezydeco. Food will be available from regional area food trucks lining the street as well as a beer garden. Bring your lawn chairs and come celebrate summertime with great music, awesome food, and good people in Whiskey City USA, Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Free Parking in the parking garage entering from Walnut Street.No purchase necessary to win, Free Contest entry sign up will be available at the event on July 13th. Must be present to win.”last_img read more

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