A Picture of Human Knowledge


On Friday of the week before Spring Break, Prof. Green was speaking with his classes about the importance of “human knowledge.” What brought that topic to mind? Well, on his way to work, walking down Beacon Street through Coolidge Corner, he’d seen the book pictured above propped up by some unknown person, against a lamp post outside a Russian bookstore. Read More »

e.e. cummings, the fearless

It seems impossible, sometimes, to delight in the new and exciting. Look at early critics’ and the general public’s reaction to most of modernism for instance. Scorned, scandalized, generally rejected (thank god enough liked it to keep it preserved). And the new can be exhausting in whole other ways. Most of us moved towns even countries to go to school at Boston University. Sometimes, most of the time, that’s excellent, and sometimes, especially when finals and papers rear their ugly heads, we’re homesick. It’s Spring Break now: some of us have stayed in Boston to take advantage of the studentless city; some of us are in all kinds of exotic locations enjoying the sun, the culture, what you will; and some of us answered the call and went home. Those times when we’re homesick, it can be helpful to look at the old and to comfort ourselves with that which is familiar, but we at Core always think turning to something new from the past can help guide us now, through anything.

Susan Cheever, who wrote an essay on E. E. Cummings (e. e. cummings) for Vanity Fair had a similar experience. Caught in a school she didn’t like that seemed to suck her soul out (not at all like BU but maybe like midterms), she desperately needed some inspiration, some drive. And in walks a famous poet, an old friend of her fathers.

Read More »

Dogs are not People


In a recent book, How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain, Dr. Gregory Bernes discusses his study (previously featured in a core blog post here) in which MRI brain scans of dogs were explored and showed human like emotions. However, not all dog enthusiasts have wholeheartedly accepted Bernes work and let him by without critique.

Colin Dayan of the Boston Review finds flaw in the tendency of Bernes and others to compare man’s best friend to young children in an effort to enhance our appreciation of them. At first, one may assume that Dayan is speaking against dogs but this is not the case. He writes that, “The urge to characterize dogs as like ourselves speaks to our failure of imagination”. Instead, he believes that the intelligence of dogs should be appreciated for what it is: different.

Perhaps animality is what we should be thinking about and not claims for humanity. Dogs live on the track between the mental and the physical and seem to tease out a near-mystical disintegration of the bounds between them. Their knowing has everything to do with perception, an unprecedented attentiveness that unleashes another kind of intelligibility beyond the world of the human.

Read the full article here.


The Graduate Student Classics Department Conference

Alright guys, it’s time to get excited about death.

Now death is a natural part of life, a part that can overcome even the greatest but can leave the weakest stronger than ever imagined. Gilgamesh taught us that if nothing else. But for those of us who didn’t learn enough from our discussion section, have no fear! The Classics Department is here! This year, the Graduate Student Conference has a special focus on Death and Mortality in the Ancient World. Fantastic.

Here’s a complete schedule:

9:30-10:15: Registration and Continental Breakfast
10:15-10:30: Opening Remarks
10:30-11:30: Panel 1 (Richard Hutchins and Reina E. Callier)
11:30-12:30: Panel 2 (Ronald Orr and Kristin Harper)
12:30-1:30: Lunch
1:30-2:30: Keynote Address (Professor Maria Liston)
2:30-3:30: Panel 3 (William Smith III and Daniel Poochigian)

Kristin Harper will be speaking directly about Aeneas’ transformations after his experiences with death, Reina E. Callier is going to bring Ovid into the mix, basically magic.

If you’re in town this break, check it out! Free food, wonderful speakers, and great company. Besides, our very own writing tutor Colin Pang will be there, and we at Core always support our own.

Let us know if you have any questions below and hope to see you there!

Progressing through Poetry

The late 19th and early 20th century gave birth to some of our world’s favorite poets and poetry, something that could be written off as simple proximity, but we at Core believe what makes these writers so important was not only the still resonating effects of political and societal changes they commented on but also because of the interconnectivity of the poets of that time, a connectivity that breached the rest of the 20th century and still has not come to an end.

Read More »

Critiquing Picasso

To provide a comprehensive, honest profile of an artist can be a demanding task, to say the least, especially to create an unbiased, even critical profile of someone so loved and honored. Especially someone as complicated and genius as Picasso. That is exactly what John Banville believes TJ Clark is capable of doing as Banville explains in this article.

TJ Clark is that odd combination, a Marxist and a Nietzschean; he is also a great critic. His love for and understanding of Picasso’s work is evident in every line of this book, which is based on the text of the Mellon Lectures delivered at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. He is an incomparably close reader of paintings, and the acuity of his thought, allied to a sweeping breadth of reference, makes him the ideal interrogator of Picasso and his achievement.

Nothing is more excellent than to hear intelligent people speak about art, of any type, with a certain intelligence and insight no one else can provide:

“I cannot avoid the conviction that somewhere at the heart of Picasso’s understanding of life . . . lay an unshakeable commitment to the space of a small or middle-sized room and the little possessions laid out on its table. His world was of property arranged in an interior: maybe erotic property . . . but always with bodies imagined in terms that equate them with, or transpose them into, familiar instruments and treasures.”
Banville quotes Clark
How we at Core wish we could attend such a lecture.

This may seem typical artists criticism, but Clark goes deeper and is not afraid to criticize despite popular opinion of this excellent artist in order to provide a truer view, a task not to be taken lightly considering the wealth of people sure to write a critic off for negatively commenting on an old great such as Picasso.

So let us know what you think! Have we found THE voice on Picasso or is Banville just hyping us up? Leave us a comment below.

Event: The Co-Evolution of the Geosphere and Biosphere


The Co-Evolution of the Geosphere and Biosphere

A talk by Robert M. Hazen

Senior Staff Scientist, Geophysical Laboratory

Executive Director, Deep Carbon Observatory

Washington, DC

Hosted by Scott Morr

Part of the Systems Biology Seminar Series

Sponsored by the Bioinformatics Graduate Program Boston University

Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Located at LSEB 103 (24 Cummington Mall)

Alumnus Ben Howe & his Core-themed brewery

source: enlightenmentales.wordpress.com

source: enlightenmentales.wordpress.com

Ben Howe (CAS ’07), an entrepreneurial Core Curriculum alumnus, has opened a nano brewery and appropriately named it Enlightenment Ales!

To our delight, the titles of his individual ales are, in our minds, very much Core-themed: Cosmos, Illumination, Enlightenment.

As Ben describes on the company website, the nano brewery makes Bière de Champagne.

For the laymen in brewery terminology:

  • Nanobrewery - a type of very small brewery operation, often culturally defined by a less than 4 US beer barrels brew system.
  • Bière de Champagne - one of the newest and most interesting styles of beer. It has much potential within the beer industry as a top-shelf crossover beer. Primarily brewed in Belgium, these beers typically undergo a lengthy maturation. Most are delicate, high in alcohol, highly carbonated and sometimes spiced. Color can range from very pale to dark hues.

Ben (left) at Enlightenment Ales' first official tasting, 2012 ACBF.

Ben (left) at Enlightenment Ales’ first official tasting, 2012 ACBF.

The Edible Boston magazine recently wrote up a profile for Enlightenment Ales, giving it the attention it deserves. Here is an extract:

Upon graduating from Boston University in 2007, Howe’s homebrewing experience earned him a volunteer position at the Northampton Brewery and, several months later, a part-time job at the Cambridge Brewing Company (CBC). He learned fast and continued to homebrew as much as possible, and in 2010 he received a scholarship to study brewing science and engineering at the American Brewers Guild in Vermont.

Roughly three years into his career in beer and newly equipped with a wealth of technical knowledge and money he’d saved while waiting tables, Howe decided to go it alone. A bottle of beer inspired him to start his own company. And as luck would have it, Will Meyers, the brewmaster at CBC who had hired him, offered nothing but encouragement. “Ben is a very talented and creative brewer,” Meyers explains, “hard working, unafraid of putting in the long hours required in honoring the term hand-crafting. I think the light bulb went off after drinking some DeuS, which I may or may not have given him as a Christmas present.”

Those of you over 21: be sure to check out these Core-themed ales!

The Downsides of Everyone Being a Critic

Not everyone is as lucky as those of us in Core. Very few can boast such an encompassing grasp of great works as we can; even less learn how to talk about these works, yet we, also, are able to hold a conversation with the best of them concerning Suicide, The Republic, any of the books we read in however many semesters of Core we take.

Yet we are the minority. Yes, more of the population than ever now attends university (rough estimate of 21.8 million students nation wide in 2013 an increase of over 6 million students since 2000), but many of these students will go their entire college careers without reading any Dante or without even knowing what the Daodejing is. All of which is perfectly fine, of course. For many of these students, the idea that every person should be “well-read” was never reinforced, and the books they read in high school seemed more a chore than a joy helping them educate and enlighten themselves. This applies even more to those who never went to college, although avid readers pop up everywhere, single-handedly keeping libraries and used book stores in business. Without a doubt, the literary world is not the hot topic entertainment source of one hundred, even fifty, years ago.
And as I said, this is ok. Despite many of our personal feelings on the increasingly small literary sphere, no one can be faulted for mass societal changes; no one can fight shows like Breaking Bad or Downton Abbey. Who would even want to? Some things need to be accepted. The real problem comes with the growing idea that being well-read is an elitist pursuit of the pretentious. I remember growing up, if you liked to read you were a bookworm or a nerd (although the title rarely mattered because the books you read provided such assurance of your later success)…

But now we have snobbish. As Laura Miller puts it in this wonderful article about the supposed elitism of the literary world:

Intellectual insecurity is, alas, a pervasive problem in the literary world. You can find it among fans of easy-to-read commercial fiction who insist (on very little evidence) that the higher-brow stuff is uniformly fraudulent and dull, and you can find it among those mandarin bibliophiles who dismiss whole genres (on equally thin evidence) out of hand. One of the favorite gambits of people secretly uncertain about their own taste is identifying some popular book of incontestably lower quality than their own favorites and then running all over the Internet posting extravagant takedowns of it and taunting its fans. Yeah, I’m not crazy about “Fifty Shades of Grey,” either, but I’m not going to invest that much energy in proclaiming this sentiment to the world. To do so suggests you’re less interested in championing good writing than you are in grabbing any chance to feel superior to somebody else.

So there it is, the new question. Is literature becoming more pretentious or are people simply less attuned to it? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and as always, have a wonderful weekend!

Gulliver’s Kingdom Theme Park

Gulliver Haikyo 9001

CC202 started off the academic year with Gulliver’s Travels – an apt text for students who start the semester feeling like giants in one class and like Lilliputians in another.

Michael John Grist describes, on his website, what used to be a Gulliver’s Kingdom Theme Park in Japan:

Gulliver once rested in the shadow of Mt.Fuji, bound and nailed to the ground by the hair. His giant body was the main attraction of the now defunct and dismembered Gulliver’s Kingdom Theme Park in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, built in 1997, closed in 2001 due to defaulting bank loans, and demolished around 2007.

Perhaps a contributing factor to its ultimate failure was the proximity of Kamikuishiki- a small village that was the main base for the cult Aum Shinrikyo at the time of their deadly 1995 Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Tourists on a day-trip with the kids to a theme-park would have been likely to steer clear. Now every reminder of the place is gone, the village has been rezoned, and the name Kamikuishiki removed from all maps.

Gulliver Haikyo 90013

Have you been to a Core-related theme park? Let us know, in the comments section below!