“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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The Romantic Machine

Tonight at the New York Public Library, John Tresch, a teacher in department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses his new book, The Romantic Machine , with philosopher Simon Critchley, a Professor of Philosophy at The New School, where he teaches courses on continental philosophy, phenomenology, the ethical and the political.

“With The Romantic Machine, John Tresch fulfills the goal of most recent history of science: to show that when you follow scientific achievements you end up describing a whole culture, including its literature and arts”.  Bruno Latour Sciences, Po Paris

John Tresch | The Romantic Machine, Utopian Science and Technology after Napoleon

“Tresch looks at how new conceptions of energy, instrumentality, and association fueled such diverse developments as fantastic literature, popular astronomy, grand opera, positivism, utopian socialism, and the Revolution of 1848.”

“Previous scholars have viewed romanticism and industrialization in opposition, but in this groundbreaking volume John Tresch reveals how thoroughly entwined science and the arts were in early nineteenth-century France and how they worked together to unite a fractured society.”

As the fields of science and arts continue to converge in our modern culture, what’s your take on John Tresch’s new research and philosophy on the history of the subjects’ interplay?

Creative Freedom

Crikey Media looks at loss of definable literary schools, and the modern isolated writer:

‘It’s this business about the school: school of painting, school of poetry, school of music, school of writing.’

Vonnegut describes a lecturer he’d had while a grad student at the University of Chicago, Slotkin, who had interested him in the idea of the ‘school’ and compelled him to begin writing a postgrad thesis on the topic.

‘The school gives a man, Slotkin said, the fantastic amount of guts it takes to add to culture. It gives him morale, esprit de corps, the resources of many brains, and—maybe most important—one-sidedness with assurance.’

‘It isn’t a question of finding a Messiah,’ Vonnegut writes, ‘but of a group’s creating one—and it’s hard work, and takes a while.’

Do you think readers and writers are losing out by going it alone or is isolation the way of the future, as our cultures around the world move farther away from personal and group contact, and further into digital, long-distance, and asychnronous communication?

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