- Adult Nonfiction
- Children's Fiction
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Damon @ The Convent
Today I chatted with John Armstrong (right) at the 'Writers at the Convent' festival.
It was a friendly, lively (sometimes piss-taking) conversation, in front of a full-house.
Chaired by editor Russ Radcliffe (middle), we spoke chiefly about the humanities, and how to take them out of the academy, and into everyday life. Some key points I remember:
- Ambition. At best, the humanities are more than production lines for specialist papers. They have a broader, higher mission. Some disciplines can work without lay-folks' understanding: I don't need to know about bridge engineering to drive on the Westgate. But the humanities only work through informing, illuminating, clarifying. To achieve this, we have to stop talking amongst ourselves.
- Responsibility: Scholars in the humanities can't expect institutions to do this for us. We have to be the changes we want, and then demonstrate how institutions can reward and support this.
- Love: Much of what moves the humanities is love. Not romantic love, but adoration of something beautiful or good. The best poetry, painting, history, philosophy is an outgrowth of this: sharing what's striking, elegant, tragic, invigorating, and the like. Or defending these against what suppresses or defiles them. In doing so, we expand what I called the 'commonwealth of love'.
Not bad for a Saturday morning, I reckon.