Saturday, August 4, 2012

City in a Village

 The iconic  institution of Chautauqua, begun long ago to give spiritual and educational instruction to teachers, is a little village with big city ideas. Where else within one week for several hundred dollars  can you find lectures about Effects of Trauma  on the Body (or words to that effect), the Absurd Necessity of Reading,  etc., plus  five days of delirious thoughts about digital identity, not to mention art, theater, dance, music, film and sport? A schedule bursting minute to minute with temptations of every conceivable kind guaranteed to drive a couch potato off his rocker.

The digital theme was just one of many weeks' topics in a summer schedule taking place annually  below the national radar at this lakeside community of several thousand in the sleepy precincts of upstate (i.e. the far western corner bordering Penna. and Ohio)  New York. The earnestness of this educational enterprise is as all-American as its inclusiveness. Inspiring to the point of pretension except there is little pretension anywhere: no dress code, no outward declaration of ethnic or religious upbringing, no rules except common sense and common courtesy. Like much else that undergirds the country's origins, a religious bent is ever present although designed  to stimulate rather than propagate.

That is just the passing view of a casual guest taking part briefly like some Martian - dropping in from the more humid harried urban center of Washington, DC, for a few days of deliciously eclectic living.  Check it out:  And especially check out thoughts spoken and written by Sherry Turkle, of MIT's "Initiative on Technology and Self" as well as Braden Allenby of Ariz. State (a lawyer and engineer) on "The Slow Sunset of the Self." Allenby left Freud in the dust when talking about the future Darwinian drift of the human species, courtesy of developments in electronic technology. Warrior robots are coming and who knows what else.

Caveat: Chautauqua is a gated community with ID tags so there are  rules and restrictions. Bohemia it is not.

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