American philosopher and noted writer Alphonso Lingis will deliver a talk on “War and Splendor” at the University of North Florida, in Jacksonville, Florida, at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, October 3rd. Dr. Lingis is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University; his writing lyrically bridges the gaps between the liberal arts of anthropology and philosophy. Dr. Lingis’s current work, including his latest book, The First Person Singular, has focused on his travels to developing nations in Africa, South America, and Asia. By all accounts, Dr. Lingis is a fascinating speaker whose use of costumes, make-up, and music during his “lectures” creates an air of performance art. You can read more about Alphonso Lingis here. If you have the time, I highly recommend checking out Lingis’s paper “Our Uncertain Compassion.” Go here to reserve free tickets to see Dr. Lingis speak (your receipt will also provide directions. This promises to be both enlightening and entertaining–don’t miss it!
Jacksonville readers can look forward to more engaging speakers at UNF over the month of October, including resident genius Dr. Samuel Kimball and PBS documentary maker Ken Burns. Updates and info forthcoming.
2 thoughts on “Alphonso Lingis to Speak at UNF”
How was Lingis’ presentation?
I liked that quote from the article: “He’s a bit of an outsider, which is probably why he’ll actually be relevant in the future.”
Lingis’s presentation was a little bit disappointing, to be honest. It started 40 minutes late due to “technical difficulties” (trouble w/ Lingis’s music and slide show–we never got the music). I don’t know if this threw him off, but he appeared nervous–he kind of rushed through the first three pages of his talk. He never interacted with the crowd: no introduction, no “hi”–just launched right in: this could’ve worked, but it didn’t. His slides–his own photographs of Rio’s Carnivale along with Papuan tribal gatherings–were beautiful but ultimately distracting from his talk, which was so rushed that it was hard to follow. I was expecting something of a performance–what we got was a nervous man reading off of papers.
The content of his lecture was fascinating though: he riffed off of Clifford Geertz, Victor Turner, Nietzsche, Freud, biology, anthropology, mysticism, etc. His talk focused on Carnivale and Papuan tribal gatherings (weird sync: I lived in Papua New Guinea for 3 years, and actually went to one of the highlands gatherings he described); cultural performance: ceremony: plumage: war. A few fragments from my notes (his words in quotes): Cultural performance has the power to “suspend customary meaning.” Splendor is in direct conflict with the “petulant venality of our mercantile culture.” Lingis proposes a “return to animality” to the “ideals one has betrayed,” our “ancient passions returned” (riffing off of Nietzsche here).
Other observations from my notebook:
The image of a Papuan’s sagging breasts prompts an unwaranted “dang!” from the girl behind me.
The guy doing the ASL translation is working his ass off. How much is he actually translating. Also, it’s dark in the room. Also, it doesn’t seem like anyone’s watching him (again though, it’s really too dark to see him).
So Bobby, it was OK. Just OK.
I think Sam Kimball’s talk next week will be far more interesting.