What’s got art and sounds like a bell?

The last of the Jonathan Miller events took place at the Tang Teaching Center at Skidmore (which comes up on Google after the drink and the dynasty). This was a conversation which seemed to have more potential for fun than the panel discussion and more interactivity than the lecture.

Miller took a stand for versatility against creativity, making a point about what he called our “art intoxication.” We don’t value the really creative things we do all the time, he said, like speak coherently in our language to one another which takes an amazing amount of knowledge, versatility and creativity. This also brought him back to the unconscious which he distinguished from Freud’s view of it as a kind of prison from which ideas might escape “like Mr. Toad dressed as a washerwoman.” For Miller, the unconscious is a pool which enables us to do so much because we know far more than we realize. The conversation veered from Darwin to bats to bosh shots and beyond. I wish there had been time to hear more about directing, but then again, Miller insists that there is no great mystery in directing — it’s all about making actors forget what they think they know and accessing what they do know unconsciously about how people really act.

All this was in between the seminar and then lecture from our Distinguished Scholar, James Collins. He was terrific and accessible to the students, and had lots of compliments for them later. Presenting a work in progress in the afternoon seminar allowed both faculty and students to critique the argument and examples, and offer alternatives and further illustrations. The lecture was a lot of fun and I was really proud of my students from the film class who were able to recognize immediately the still on the screen at the start of the talk which was only an inky hand holding a quill. What a great class! It was terrific to welcome a fellow popular culture scholar to campus, too. There are still some who cock a suspicious eye at the field.

Speaking of terrific, Doctor Who is back — yay! Catherine Tate‘s character is far more restrained than in the Xmas show, fortunately (and anyway, yay for funny women!). DW seems both more fun and far less irritating than Torchwood, which at least brought back James Marsters for the big finale. Yet, we still watched the whole season of Torchwood. Just goes to show you how little there is worth watching here.


  1. The Queen says:

    Wow, the Jonathan Miller lecture sounds really interesting- do you know if there’s a transcript available?I know what you mean about Torchwood getting irritating – and I’m sure I’m watching a season further back than you….and the new Dr. Who debuts next Friday…yay!Have you watched the Sarah Jane spin-off? It looks like candy-ass Dr. Who for 8 year old girls.

  2. K. A. Laity says:

    I don’t know about a transcript — will have to check around the Skidmore site.I think we’re only a couple of weeks ahead on Torchwood. We just saw the opener of Doctor Who last Saturday. Whoo Who!Sarah Jane is indeed written for young kids. Not too interesting for adults — there are some kids shows that are equally compelling for adults, but that isn’t one of them.Lookee here: same day as I’m giving a paper in Oxford, there’s a Torchwood con in London. I could be seeing Ianto instead of talking about Anglo-Saxon literature…

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