Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  May 2, 2010 7:00pm-8:15pm EDT

7:00 pm
along -- >> guest: it was the women's rights and bodies that opened the doors and made it possible for the bill to change [inaudible] >> host: don't disagree with most of your store exit for the feminist slogan and that probably the most underrepresented dix sample of women that one could imagine that -- >> guest: if you will get the book which you have, you see that the range of the ways is that i drew on to tell the story of the bill today was across the political religious age, class, everything spectrum -- >> host: i just don't know what status that has a social science from degette the website letters -- >> guest: when i used divorce cases and author read newspapers. you get people's stories and hear back from people who feel
7:01 pm
the strongest on all sides and it's always been my business to take the strongest position on all sides so that the readers can see what is behind these positions. they are not necessarily represented but they are heartfelt and that is what makes the difference here. >> host: wealthier telling us over time is up. we could go on and on. "america and the pill," elaine tyler may, thank you laureate. >> guest: thank you. it's been a pleasure. ..
7:02 pm
eberhard alfonse jefferson secretary of and james madison. the thief or humbles great work cosmos were said during his travels to latin america during 1799 and 1804 and his influence for a wide-ranging and not combine to the sciences, but also include literary figures such as ralph waldo emerson, edgar allan poe, henry david thoreau and painters such as older your stats and george kaplan. it is a sincere pleasure for me to welcome laura dassow walls to charlottesville and the virginia festival of books to choose the john h. chair at the university of south carolina. she received her bachelors and masters degree in english from
7:03 pm
washington university and her phd in american literature from indiana university. she has just been named a recipient of the male kirby award for the best book in american intellectual history by the organization of american historians, specifically for passage to cosmos is due to receive the award next month. so please welcome professor walls and also please turn off your cell phone. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much and thank you joe for that introduction and diabetes will for your wonderful hospitality during my visit here and it's absolutely beautiful part of the nation. i've always wanted to come here and here again, it's a delight. i also want to thank the urging of the festival in the virginia institute for humanities, was
7:04 pm
it? foundation for the humanities. these events are crucial for keeping culture alive in our country, especially can in the times of tough funding and the opportunity all around is deeply appreciated. my interest in humboldt, there are long stories there and i will not go into them. i've got in my on the clock. i can go on for humboldt for days if you let me. my interest started when i was working on henry david for a sick graduate student and i was curious how he found a model for the work he was doing and natural sciences. it seemed to me that the contemporary scholarship to have the answer to that. i was taking a seminar in the works of charles darwin, the professor dropped a heavy tome on her lap sunset read this, darwin did. and i did. it was alex von humboldt personal narrative.
7:05 pm
i thought my gosh this is a comment has to be humble. that was the start of a very long quest to know going in today understanding humboldt impact and influence in the united states, which was quite broad. that turned out to be astonishing because every time i talked to people about humboldt, i got back latest flick, humble to? and so, part of my latest mission has bn to explain something about humboldt do, how wonderful and important he was. so just a very, very quick thumbnail introduction that scholl also gave some useful information. i love this photograph because he looks so warm and approachable and this was the man that i had heard described. he was just exactly as warm and lively as he looks in the photo, taken just a few months before his death in 1859, which was
7:06 pm
then a few months before the origin of species was published, which was -- would've been kind of in a speculation to imagine, had he read the origin of species, while counterfactual history. anyway, he was born in berlin. some people know the humble name also curious brother wilhelm von humboldt or just a couple years earlier of the famous linguist lasater, founder of the university of berlin. alexander von humboldt is probably most famous for his american travels. seventeen the ninth to mike 1804 i want to see american were speaking north and south america. all you putting up a map in a moment. management of 1804 he finished off his american travels with visits in philadelphia, washington d.c. and lancaster, pennsylvania. return to europe to live in berlin until 1827, where many americans came to visit and come excuse me, lived in paris until
7:07 pm
1827 and then moved to berlin. the first thing he did when he got to berlin was try to shake up a german science by delivering a series of lectures under the title cosmos. he was urged to publish them, which he additionally eventually did from 1845 to 62 and a greatly expanded version of his never completed. so cosmos was the culmination of a long career and you will be hearing more about cosmos at the end. so what i'll be doing is moving through reading some of my favorite passages and making sure to say a few things about jefferson, given the context here. and it is one, again, one of the surprises and one of the fascinating aspects of humboldt was his friendship with thomas jefferson. so, here is humboldt, the romantic orchard of humboldt and his explorations to south
7:08 pm
america. so we went from the young, the old humble to the young humboldt. it seems fitting that humboldt launched from spain, for there is a certain quixotic to his venture. yet sturdy bump on comest cheerful sidekick tilting at the windmills of spanish ignorance, prejudice and colonialism under endless egress travels. for a sense, humbles travels never really did end, even when he wasn't on the road he was always in motion, in transit, planning the next trip. he abandoned national loyalties to become the paradigmatic cosmopolitan at home everywhere and nowhere, always passing through a merchant of knowledge with a bag full of notions. in a time of closed boards, armed borders, gunboats and pirate ships, he alone passed freely, slipping through with a
7:09 pm
smile in a story, like mara knew in melville's tight p., shielded his royal letters of passport, he talked and he listened. friendly, sociable, charismatic, passing from hot to plantations to palisades, hot bobbing like a court on turbulent seas, not for him, the fate of turquoise stir captain consumed between france and germany. ormonde are, shot in the revolution or bump long, ambushed in a border war, no unlike his friend to succumb to the rising forces of nationalism , humbles the nomad stayed afloat in a world of political and national turbulence, learning to skate well as emerson said on thin ice. to be always in passage. humboldt traveled not from country to country, but through planetary fields of geological,
7:10 pm
historical and environmental forces here discordance or not political, but by a regional, rivers, mountain passes, coastlines, trails and roads. it was clear exactly what country he was then, as he sits and compares movie up, down and across, both spatial and temporal scale levels, continents and eons. on the alert for harmonies and resonances that he can test to see if they might justifiably be called laws. to us than he's another enlightening to universalizing agent right and the metanarrative for all time, it's precisely wrong, for there is no global in this most planetary thinkers, only the local at every point, generating for harmonies that combine to a collect to pull. his view was not eagles flight to god vision, but hovers down low or darting like a b. from point to point, where everything can be seen, touched and connect
7:11 pm
did, collect a mixture for the heisman cross pollinating as he goes. this requires hard work, constant motion and an astonishing memory. each passage in humboldt as a series of crossing person to person, speech to text, chaotic jungle to labeled specimen, crossing and turned, overland to a port and across the ocean to a scientific center to be retranslated by someone on his burgeoning team. botanists, physicists, anatomists, astronomers, gravers, colorist, every rossing was a transformation, a creative act that invested as much as it transmitted. as his text traveled, passing for reader to reader, readers and turn perform thorough maksoud reinvention, deploying humboldt for their own made from darwin on the beagle twos
7:12 pm
arrival at walden pond, to john buckman in the urbain port of charles 84 suzanne fenimore cooper in rural new york and beyond to europe, africa, siberia, india, australia. this network of passages is universal only as train tracks may be said to cover the world. yes, while they restrung coast-to-coast, they are easily interrupted at any point. they came with the corporation refuses access. the mule falls. the shipwrecks, the shipment is confiscated, the botanists abandoned his work to take up gardening instead. the publisher goes bankrupt, key books go untranslated, creating blind spots, otherwise inexplicable. humboldt generated small islands of order, interlinking them in a widening chain until he built an archipelago of knowledge that
7:13 pm
reached across the planet, for humboldt's cosmos uses the earth, not god to orient the silt, passages are made in small craft that leek and large ones that dodge blockades, along ocean currents and in storms, down and corrodes and up rivers started by indians richer are retyped aeros. across bridges and canals, natural built an imaginary, ever guided that those instruments of finance. come to send chronometer, the signpost of space and time that allows humboldt en masse to navigate through the confusion of jungles and mountains and politics. our true north ever before us in the perilous passage to cosmos.
7:14 pm
this next is a part from the chapter titled, manifest destinies in the quotation in the opening is from a letter from humboldt to thomas jefferson. humboldt wrote jefferson in his letter of introduction, i could not resist the moral obligation to see the united states and enjoyed the consoling aspects of the people who understand the precious gift of liberty. in five years, humboldt had woven his name into the history of what america and i love this montage photographs, especially humboldt on the wheelbarrow. i don't know quite what that's doing there, but at any rate, yes he is or much a folk year and a america, even today. beyond the moral and just over
7:15 pm
five weeks to do the same in the united states, beyond the moral obligation he felt to see the world loan functioning republic, there was every reason to avoid the detailer. humboldt was destined to get himself in his collection safety home to paris. he was dumb exploring. a scientific instruments were wearing out and new ones were not to be have decided the atlantic. in five years, he feared scientists have progressed so far as to leave him in the dust. and all that time he barely heard from his family and for all he knew they hadn't heard from him. the fate of his letters home for worth of the manuscripts and collections, which they have entrusted to the tender mercies of war, piracy and shipwreck were unknown. heading north risk losing everything they had with them to the british blockade span of united states ports, assuming his ship was spared by the notorious atlantic storms.
7:16 pm
but what was all this compared with a chance to meet thomas jefferson and glimpse the free republic he had helped build. back in havana, their last stop, the american council, vincent gray, knew exactly what humboldt had to offer the united states convinced humboldt that america's welcome was worth the risk. so he decided to make the pilgrimage while grey posted letters of introduction to his boss, secretary of state james madison, humboldt come his friends and their massive collections all shipped to philadelphia on the spanish conception on. they did manage to evade the british, but not the hurricanes. on the terrible morning of the ninth of may, humboldt thought his worst fears are coming true. he wrote, i felt very much stirred up to see myself perish on the eve of so many joys to watch all the fruits of my labor
7:17 pm
is going to pieces, to cause the depths of my two companions, to perish during a voyage to philadelphia, which seems by no means necessary. the storm raged for a week, but finally the seas columned and soon they were sailing up the delaware river. as soon as he stepped ashore in philadelphia, humboldt posted a letter to thomas jefferson who was then flushed a polarity and his third year as president of the united states. humbled to jefferson's works for me that these and the family library of vehicle included a copy of notes on the state of virginia, so humboldt's first words to the president worked entirely flattering, quote, your writings, your action in the liberalism of your ideas have inspired me from my earliest years. his letter was carefully calculated to be irresistible.
7:18 pm
a single schwartz notes, humboldt's motto was an author must ring bells in order to get attention, so he rang every battle he had. his arrival not from cuba, but from mexico, new span, the country most on jefferson's mind after the louisiana purchase. the presence of his friend domestica again called on representing the french revolution that jefferson had so famously supported. the coffee chapters, caradoc's coexistence, the orinoco's mysterious petroglyphs, the traveler's astonishing ascent of huguenot though, higher than any human being before it is appalled that weren't enough, he added i would love to talk with you about a subject to chief treated so ingeniously in your work on virginia, the teeth of the mammoth which we discovered in the andes.
7:19 pm
well, humboldt me that finding mammoth teeth near the equator would inflame the curiosity of the man who had written that man's remains have never been found further south than tennessee. as a final touch, humboldt found himself bear in humboldt, member of the berlin academy of science, a title he virtually never used and an affiliation which technically he could not get cleaned. while jefferson to debate and wrote back immediately primacy in a warm welcome in the nation's instant capital, while humboldt waited for jefferson's reply, the city -- daily to philadelphia thoughts, the u.s. capitol until only full years you for a center of american science and intellectual culture in the nation seen as a world model of democracy, the elite swept him up and showed him the town. charles wilson peal took charge
7:20 pm
of the trip to washington. peel made the arrangements and served as guide along the way. he hopes successfully as it turned out that in the enthusiasm of the moment, humboldt would extract a pledge from jefferson that the federal government would purchase peals museum and move it to washington. peel, humboldt, both on and want to fire, the two traveling companions that humboldt whose life is so worried about were joined by two of the american philosophical society's more prominent members, pastor of the old suites lutheran church and dr. anthony fothergill, a retired english physician. he kept a very careful diary in which he recorded that they set off at 9:50 a.m. on 29 made by the male stage at a cost of $8
7:21 pm
apiece. they wrote for the day and on through the night, humboldt entertaining the nonstop in his polyglot speech. they reached baltimore in time to breakfast with the dr. angelica good for someone from showed them around implied with mammoth in the andes. on the first of june, they set out for washington, appeal complained bitterly of the rotten road, which they reached in time for a late dinner. the next morning at peel, hamilton co. waited on the president and the unfinished bypass. since jefferson's reply had not every stumble, they must've been believed to find him home and pleased to invite them all to a state dinner the next day. in 1804, america's capital city still existed mostly in the eyes of its boosters in humboldt no doubt endeared himself when he was shown the view from capitol hill and instead of complaining about what the unbuilt buildings than what others had called the
7:22 pm
vast carboni and fog. before he declared that never had he beheld a more beautiful panorama. well, the weather had turned unbearably hot and muggy, humboldt alone is so used to the tropics that ever after he liked to shoot his terms to nearly 80 degrees was comfortable. he spent most of his time in washington visiting with jefferson in the white house. they're the two engaged in what cannot be send calls and open-ended seminar on a wide range of questions and topics. the legend process and i hate to say this, the legend persists that they met at monticello, but there wasn't nearly enough time for so long an excursion over such bad roads, so i hate to say there is no way that humboldt and jefferson were together at monticello. they were in the white house. the guest list for the first
7:23 pm
presidential dinner included madison and thorton and it was pure recorded a very elegant affair. he told her the appeal was he was pleased to note that no toes were drunk and that the tabletalk avoided turning into such agreeable topic as natural history improvements for the convenience of life and the manners of various nation. the next day, however, the discussion grew serious of humboldt spread is not in papers before thomas jefferson, madison, the secretary of state and albert gallatin, the secretary of the treasury. the three men who were in henry adams word, the true government of the united states. gallatin wrote his wife of the exquisite intellectual treat he received that day from humboldt, whose breadth of knowledge was astonishing and whom we all consider as a very extraordinary
7:24 pm
man. i was really delighted he continued and swallowed more information of various kinds in less than two hours than i had for two years passed and all i had read or heard. hambleton kalat went on to become very good friends in europe. humboldt gallatin continued surrounded with maps, statements and et cetera all new to me and several of which he has liberally permitted us to transcribe. although humboldt had been traveling and this is interesting, and and an embargo came down under the exclusive permission of king carlos the fourth, humboldt freely shared his findings with new spain's ambitious northern neighbor, including the copy of a lengthy statistical summary on mexico, which was a trove of information and the most extensive, accurate and detailed map made of the region. this is that mapping its redraw and unfinished region as it was
7:25 pm
published in its political essay on the kingdom of new spain. if you want them not to gallatin for copying and general james wilkinson, of course, nobody but the time he was a double agent for the spanish adjustment plotting over the country to invade mexico and establish an independent bcm seems to estimate an illicit copy for its own use, much too humble to the address versions of the math appeared in print in the united states will before he published it in a 1011. of the dinner guests have avoided politics but humboldt have out of charge for much of the year before napoleon had overseen -- outsourcing i'm sorry, had planned to french forces the mississippi until the wholly unforeseen success of the haitian revolution destroyed his
7:26 pm
army. without warning, napoleon offered which spain had just three years before retro ceded to france, to the united state for the bargain-basement sound of of $15 million. spain was furious. england was alarmed, especially when the learn to sail with financing napoleons war on them. overnight the size of the united states doubled even as humboldt and jefferson were meeting hand-picked team of merriweather lewis and lewis clark were heading up the missouri river to explore the new territory in the united states and pain, harvard on the brink of an undeclared war over the exact location of the boundary between them. as humboldt spread out those maps of mexico, the keenest question on the minds of those three american heads of state was the location of that disputed order in the lancet did or did not include here three
7:27 pm
days after their first meeting, giberson wrote humboldt urgently that the question is this: claims the land from the mississippi west along the red river, we claim the land from the rio grande north. in between all of texas, completely unknown quote canadair and inform me what population may be between those lines of white, red or black people and whether any or what mines are in them the information will be thankfully received. while indeed the parent could. texas was beren depopulated and like minds or ports. it had little political economic value to offer either country except as a buffer zone between them. the timing of his visit with information like this seemed providential to begin with he brought intelligibly valuable knowledge therefore directly and immediately on the political and economic futures of the nation.
7:28 pm
what was more his methods and instructions to future exploring expedition would guarantee that never again would the united states government fail as a last it had with the lewis and clark expedition to leverage from its dark green amounts of scientific information. in future letters too humble, giberson would marvel at this most fortunate timing to have made countries known to the world in a moment thereabout to be compact tears on the world stage. so there was just enough time after his visit with jefferson, he returned to philadelphia for charles wilson appealed to paint a portrait, he was gratified by the chance to prove he could still paint, still on display at the college of physicians in philadelphia, the portrait shows a boyish and rosy cheeked humboldt with puzzled ale and lively eyes fresher mistrials before returning to european fame adulation and increasing
7:29 pm
pairs. when his friends learned of humboldt own skill as an artist, they arranged a special showing of his landscape sketches. now humboldt that the united states or to him that he was going to return here. he must have raised hopes that he would stay, many of his visits here ventured to gossip among themselves about his probable return to live among them. but as humboldt wrote to madison, no matter how much you loved this beautiful land, my duties call me back to europe and i dare not linger any longer. in a few years though, once the rock for mississippi to was up and come a promise return to ventured to the upper midwest to the coast as far north as alaska. soon he repeated his promise to bond. we never think of seeing you again he wrote i get a deep
7:30 pm
longing for roaming over the western territories, a plan for which mr. jefferson would be just the right man to eat me. but he sighed his dream of a large project in the far west must wait for a couple of years until he published his current materials. well, that job delayed and not two years, but dirty. he had other reasons for wanting to return to the united states. his friends, including schuyler and delta were proclaiming the united states, the future of the arts and sciences. so when his farewell letter to jefferson, humboldt spoke more broadly of the moral imperative embodied by the united states, which had offered him the consoling experience of witnessing true social progress whereas europe resents an immoral and melancholy spec goal, not that humboldt was
7:31 pm
unaware of problems shadowing america in his farewell letter to thornton, humboldt reminded his "washington post" that the abominable blog permitting the implementation into the carolinas. the laws of humanity dictated that the united states abolished slavery, an act that would cost humboldt estimated a little more than a dip in cotton exports. humboldt was good at making such mercantile calculations, but they always embraced him, quote, but alas highly detest this politics that measures and evaluates the public is simply according to the value of expert, a nation's wealth is just like in individuals, only the accessory to our happiness. before being free, we must be just and without justice there can be no lasting prosperity. well, whether he intended them to or not, the tools that
7:32 pm
humboldt crafted to dope in to empire. henry adams located the loss of american and a sense to 1815 by the end of which the rights of man occupied public life in the price of cotton more. in 1804, humboldt had hoped against hope that america had its priorities right, for recognizing the rights of man would cost a little more than a dip in cotton exports. in 1809, he apologized to jefferson for telling the world of the u.s. congress and jefferson himself had lacked the power to abolish slavery. but slavery was not abolished all too soon, humboldt discovered his first guest was the right when given the choice between cotton and humanity coming to power the people had chosen cotton. here lay she thought the weakness of democracy, humboldt fog politics between the radical wing of liberalism, the one that
7:33 pm
would lead some of its followers into socialism, which talked the intervention of a progressive state to protect the freedom of the oppressed. so humboldt's ideas and ideals but into a very different history one he had first seen, the split in the scientific followers was reflected on the wider stage of american history, those who celebrated his name tended to be northern wicks who favored economic diversification, strong simple government and strong social reform, who protested the mexican war and defend themselves against the expansion of proslavery in the politics of the jacksonian democrats, yet jacksonian democrats also seized on humboldt theories and message, interpreting his global inegalitarian cosmopolitanism to a nationalist and racist plans.
7:34 pm
this is the kind of paradox in the way he was translated and adopted into the united states, that much of my first tries to understand. as america expanded, americans all across the spectrum use tumbles named for the communities they were founding. german immigrants named new talent dr. humboldt from pennsylvania to california, texas to saskatchewan i'm to my free state immigrants to kansas trumpeted their anti-slavery politics by naming their talent humboldt. fremont who ran for president on abolitionist ideas tend to settle and clean the far west, repeat his distant hero a giving his name to the great ace and watershed had the final wrote that the constitutional convention of 1864 on a bit differently, the center of american gambling culture would've been not nevada, but the great state of humboldt.
7:35 pm
well, all of this indicates the kind of cult status that humboldt was reaching in the united states. it really piqued in the 1850's. and humboldt owned out that he lived through those years and corresponded with dozens and dozens of americans at various levels of politics intellectual artist area to his dismay that the united states continued to institute slavery as the basis of the economy and one of my chapters tells a story that has not been told before, which is humboldt involvement, the way his name was taken at in the cause of abolitionist in the united states. this question as he watched the progress of the of progress in the united states in his
7:36 pm
lifetime was what is the nature of his legacy. and for that, i turned to cosmos, the last book, that he published, which had reaching success in the united states. so by 1845 thomas passed forward in our generation, humboldt was known in the united states mostly of the explorer in the recorder exotic american tropics, the author of, for example, this particular diagram showing donation of planned on chimborazo, founding documents and plant geography. it had been nearly 20 years since a major new work by humboldt had appeared in english. then he began to publish cosmos and everything changed here to put this in to show the kind of spread. this is one of the major privative of illustrations of humboldt, with the charter to
7:37 pm
create a kind of the language for thinking about global patterns in nature, really the foundation of ecology and this kind of thinking. a raptor book reviews flooded the market competing translations of humboldt's various writing, major new works on or by humboldt started to appear, capped by a biography and images like this one, the grand old man who is mountainous himself and now with chimborazo his signature mountain behind him. my interest here is in the kind of cultural work that cosmos did for america and i want to say that it's often assumed that the study of nature was regarded as kind of an escape from the perils of politics and social conflict rezone of freedom,
7:38 pm
where those conflicts would be ultimately resolved into harmony. humboldt agreed with that, but the thought exploration and understanding of may 2 was not an escape, but a way of studying the human mind in human society from a position of freedom, that nature is great freedom, well, i will let you hear it in his words. the study of nature would project is in the future of past, present and future together enabling us to quote direct forever the laws to which nature submits it is an undertaking these researches that we prepare ourselves for intellectual delight, amoral freedom that strengthens us against of destiny, in which no external power could possibly destroy. in short, the study of nature creates and bonds the human community and gives us the strength to resist the social
7:39 pm
pathologies that would tear us apart. then moral freedom was writ into the very fabric of nature encouraged americans who are busy inventing themselves as nature's nation to think of themselves as the privileged inheritors of nature's sublime power and beauty, which they almost universally cast into religious terms in the united states, humboldt cosmos was meant to grow the number of providential national destination vision and again will see that in just a moment with paintings. but before we look at those, i wanted to say a little bit about what cosmos was. this is from frederick church, one of the painters inspired by humboldt. his painting, a detail from his painting, the heart of the andes, which he actually sent to
7:40 pm
berlin to show humbled and reached berlin just after humble type, so he was unable to see it. but i'm using this to illustrate the concept of cosmos. humboldt this word from the ancient greek and reintroduced it into the modern lexicon in an attempt to give us a new way to think about nature. he took five whole volumes to really define it, so i can't give all the different dimensions today this morning, but in introducing the concept, sorry, he called it a harmonious overhaul and you think about harmonious in order and of course you see this kind of the detail of overarching integrates so beautifully and churches work. you step back a little bit and now you realize what the whole really is. here we were looking at a detail
7:41 pm
and here's the larger work, a way of composing the whole affair is part of the white humboldt things of our relationship to that order of nature. as humboldt ave. cosmos signifies both the order of the world and the adornment of this universal order. herein lies his distinctive views of the word, which we tend today to think of designating the stars and for humboldt, it's not the stars, it entire physical universe. he's thinking of the earth of the planet, from the perspective of the other and. to humboldt, there are two aspects of the cosmos there is order and there is adornment, beauty, the first order speaks to the observed acts of the physical universe is quite independent of the.
7:42 pm
it exhibits regularities and patterns that we identify a scientific law of, but ud, adornment is perceptual, literally in the mind of the beholder and this is the double side of humboldt cosmos, physical universe exists quite apart from us, yes, but that's not the complete story. it exists as a cosmos that is both ordered and beautiful through the human mind. humboldt cosmos is both developmental and dynamic. it emerges and it grows as human conceptions of nature and the depth of human feeling about nature and large indeed been. so as a narrative, cosmos is still being written or that's what the book could never be finished. orin humbles favorite metaphor, it's a picture, a painting that comes into being of the painted and as we view it.
7:43 pm
without art taking the word in its broadest sense to include science, technology, exploration, literature come the visual arts, the painting of landscapes. that part, there may be a perfectly fine universe, that there will never be a cosmos. if there is one less into the first volume of cosmos, it is as carl sagan would tell us over 100 years later that we are star status. in the minds eye, humboldt fought earth is against innovation or to see it. a blue globe allies, a loud and astonishment in the black abyss of space to see that globe is to see ourselves reflected back into the abyss and know that somehow, on that blue planet, centered itself still further convincing until it went
7:44 pm
supernova and learned how to look back to see not just the universe, but itself seeing what emerson called a half site of science, sees only the physical world, but humboldt wanted science to open both eyes to see itself seen. that was his genius in the bold goal of the second volume of cosmos, which stephen jay gould called an astonishing tour de force that reads as much beauty and relevance today as it did in the 1850's, perhaps even more i would venture. for we've traveled another 150 years down the road of half side comic that now is we are finally realizing, we are breaking our blue planet, rending apart the very harmonies that gave humboldt hope in a dark time. without us, there were always humbled nubia universe, brutal
7:45 pm
thing, the planets will cycle and the cause will go on, nevertheless in their direction. but once we have broken our world, there may never again be a cosmos. so my conclusion, at the beginning of the civil war, frederic church ain't it cotopaxi enfold eruption, a violent and brooding image full of foreboding before the lurid volcano opened a chasm that splits the land into. many have suggested this allegorical import or an america at the time of the civil war, especially when it is paired with rainy season in the tropics. and this is the image that, cover of my book, painter just after the war, the civil war ended. an allegory without doubt of god healing the planet with a
7:46 pm
rainbow, yet i wonder what politics got to be too much for humbled when everything seemed to be slipping backward coming to look for redemption and hope to the deep harmonies of the cosmos. it seems to have made friends in those days and in humbles day, but does that today when we in the 21st century look to the cosmos, we see a nature not unimpaired, but melting away into rising fees and mass extinctions that humboldt nature was harmonious, ours is chaotic, unpredictable, eat and terrifying the best climate scientists in the world were caught offguard by the accelerating life in the greenland ice cap and the sudden opening of polar seas. what have we done? losing humble cost is the cosmos, must it now cost us the planet as well? so in the spirit of hope, i and not with nature, but with art. there again and humboldt -- i'm
7:47 pm
sorry. there again and churches rainbow is humboldt bridge arching over the cost them a symbol of god's peace and also of newton science, for it was newton who on world history of the rainbow by showing at finetooth that cause in the prisons of raindrops. unwell? hardly. answers church. carefully constructed according to the latest optical science, etched onto the canvas but they come with churches rainbow is it stunningly beautiful. in the original painting, it leaps off the canvas on lights at the gallery, he perceptual trick an optical illusion, rainbows are phenomenon a perception like they come to being only as a part of the perceptual triangle sound through rain to eyes or hear light or pigment to buy or mind through body to the real, the
7:48 pm
phenomenal, the circus which bespeaks it to. the viewer of this painting rest at mid-level, not too high, just high enough to relate all the elements. rain and light and cast on, the village in the valley beyond, the rain slicked road loads of passing travelers, ambience reading pack mules down and you can just barely see them down here in the corner. that red poncho of wind energy. they have cause to retie saddlebags and their voices at go across the chasm as the beat to the rain clears, a painting of passage, travelers crossing a path, wayne passing, time passing. one blank and it will be gone. the light faded, travelers vanished around the corner. the viewer is an passage, too. gazing through the curtain of rain to the rock face beyond,
7:49 pm
but it is the road that pulls the stand, down into the valley of the human community. looking ahead to the city where we might dwell. shall i admit that when i first saw this painting, i fought back tears. why? for joy and its sheer beauty and in the skilled of the car destroyed that such things be rain and paint and high mountains, and join all the memories that awoke of my own passages, long crossing into brilliance by a bolt of light, chance, to be after harrowing stories. humboldt would tell me that my tears were not trivial, not embarrassing, but part of this painting, part of the cosmos as is every moment, every cable and moment. i could respond, but i know better. this is a christian allegory.
7:50 pm
this is an ideological tool. this is an ascetic sheen. yes, but this one time i choose not to, for i am free instead to say just this once, notice of cosmos and all its enchantment and fragility. the facts before me give this unfettered freedom is feeling, when scouting the cause apart, we have space on being an optically exact window arching over a geologically precise mountainside, space by botanically correct palms of road too slick to be trusted on the back of a meal, a meal twitchiness here's forward and back inside he ran his village below journeys end of this moment to passive. only now, i am no longer allowed, but embraced by a community, the community of cosmos. present to me, one subject to
7:51 pm
beauty standing in a gallery, one raindrop prison of consciousness. in a recent essay, by charlie haas suggested to professors and scholars like myself that it is our humanist obligation through our professional rituals to give voice to the dead, to lift from them the gag order that comes with mortality. their failures and their fallibility is our our own and by embracing these failures, she writes, we embrace the unfinished task of the dead, allowing them to come back as noisy goes garrulous beyond the grave. our very weakness is obliged as to give them a hearing that so acknowledge the authorship is too large to be borne by any one person, that it must be born into deep deep field of time by
7:52 pm
the longitude and latitude that mankind and in the full duration and extension of recorded history. few of our death have been so completely silenced as the most careless of dose, alexander von humboldt. and today, none deserves to be heard more than he. perhaps now the frequencies of this tax receipt and amplified across time will resonate with the wavelengths of today, humboldt saw the shape of a new world emerging, although he was afraid that world was stillborn, abandoning him to mourn its defeat and write hopefully toward some future renaissance. it is our obligation to let him come back, to make noise in our static from politics and ethics and science. and hearing him both to acknowledge his failures and to acknowledge in them are of as
7:53 pm
the sql if there is to be one of two s. that's it. thank you. [applause] >> once again, thank you, professor walls very much for a wonderful type. we have time to take some questions, which we will in just a moment and i can repeat them if there are no microphones here. i don't know if they have them to bring around, but i'm going to take the prerogative of asking the first one. now, don't win. in your book, you talk about recent writings of a man named e. and his take on landscape painting that extends from some of the things who are dimension aired in particular he talks about landscaping photography, perhaps extending it further into something a bit more beyond
7:54 pm
that and landscape in mapi and i wondered if you could expand a little bit on that. >> okay, he didn't tell me this question in advance, that the really large question and i think what i liked about casey's work, representation has a bad name right now literary intellectual studies. and i've done some work myself to think about going on beyond representation. a new look at opinion might this, which is obviously representational and casey's work as a way to think about what it means to repress or something, that is to make something present to us, which is very much in-line with the theme that i ended with your comment that had remake figures figures from the past, figures or may not know very well, grimacing either strange or alien to us. how do we make them present to us now temporally as well as had we make distant places present
7:55 pm
to us? and not just residents, but experientially to involve us and engage us. and so, maps to that. they are just representation that lay possibly on the paper, but they invite you in. they invite you to travel the roads in the pathways that they present to us and so make us present into the temporal moment. and in that sense, this is very much in line with humboldt's on mapping. let's see, how far back it would have to go. sorry, yeah, something like this for instance, one feature of humboldt not come you notice all the little text hours that he introduces and that's typical of humboldt and their experiences and comments that give a kind of narrative to the map and extend my representation of it to actually and then when you go to
7:56 pm
topographical features, he wants to drill in and help you to see what is coming in now, what the topography is and again to experience it, not just the sort of lying passively. but he actually wants to them this is my favorite plate from this volume. a man, to feel a little dizzy as you look at that, to really experience it and to get a sense of profound and you see the little box cart about to travel against that bridge come in feel that sense of ariel and you might fall off right, it's a dangerous crossing. and so, that's emotional engagement. so all this is wrapped together around cartography and landscape for humble, but for humboldt it's not just about soared to conquest of the place or the object, but in involvement, emotional and intellectual
7:57 pm
involvement together and making that present two s. experientially. so i'm not sure if that the direction -- but it's a start anyway. gosh, lots of fans. i think i'll start back here. >> your interest got started with your study of henry david. and i'm wondering what she felt humble brought to him. i know that he was also looking for loss in nature, but i wondered what else he thought he was addressing. >> well, i think what i saw that struck me most forcibly than is the very fundamental fact of humboldt pursuing science not in a laboratory and not an abstract sort of top-down deduct its way. so for instance, humboldt was very patient with people. i mention the taxi at a canal and he didn't read that passage, but that was one of his goals
7:58 pm
that had been a story that there was a canal that went to rio and amazon river systems, the orinoco and amazon river systems. and how could there be a canal that links to water basins? sewed the scientist had declared while that can't exist, so it's a legend. and yet, reports persisted that it did exist, so humboldt went in he traveled that canal to verify. and that was the method that he pursued. don't talk about it in a paris salon. go unloved. and so is this very empirical ground-based experience show coming in now, get your feet wet or muddy and you want to go abroad a volcano. you got to walk down into the crater and smell the stench of the soul for and feel the burning rocks. and you know, very, very experiential knowledge and yet pursued partly in the spirit of poetry, which are also measuring
7:59 pm
and you're trying to link the phenomenon that you're examining with other phenomenon in your experience or scientists around the world so that you're constantly making comparisons. rate, so when i talk about this, i used the mnemonic explorer collect measure cannot and that's what you see them doing. he starts to explore. he cast himself as a world explorer and concord. so we says i will do that, but hey i'm home. i will do the humboldt in exploration right here and i will see us intensely as the humboldt style explores these. though without leaving home, so without leaving home and then collecting objects, there'll famously collected with all kinds of birds nest in arrowheads and plants and so on and so forth, measuring against
8:00 pm
the famously called measuring extreme depth accounts in tree rings and do any sort of systematic work there. but then to the goal is connect to them. so it's a distinctive methodology that this is humboldt in fact, it was humbled to put this whole program into place and for two generations it was the cutting-edge of science and it had particularly powerful play here in the unit states, where of course exploration, that was what we needed to be to read and humbot gave that methodology. ..
8:01 pm
month this publishing what is going to be an absolutely stunning lead beautiful book that is going to give us an english the first translation of the foundational burke to geography but even more ecology so this is foundational many respects so the original, this is some that work and you can
8:02 pm
see it's washed out because the light but the mountainous presented the point is to show how certain plants grow in the tropics and then you move up the mountain and it's almost like living through the timber is sewn up a little higher and in the alpine airier and in the arctic and and with ice in the polar said it is compressed into the nation's in a vertical elevation and then that would generalize by humbled and other sciences into the geography and now you see lots of mountains and the point is all around the world they are following the same pattern and then the world map is showing plant communities basically early plant ecology and characteristic communities in patterns around the world. so all of that is, again,
8:03 pm
presented visually in a compact way. to actually talk about all this stuff in a detailed way would take many volumes so much in whittle image >> a comment and question. the comment first. it is an irony that in post renaissance europe when england and france and germany looked at what was going on in spain but spain was the country whose crown sponsored the important expeditions in the world. the question has to do with the extent of which humble to utilize to the work and spain and just as jefferson was a
8:04 pm
creole and the new world were. the book the history of mexico came out just about two years before jefferson. jefferson owned the book and knew about it and praised it and i wondered to what extent humbled used what he had set out the native culture in spain before going there on his own. >> that is a terrific question and i can't answer specifically to read i am also out of my comfort zone in the disciplinary work but one of the exciting things is it opens up so many doorways into the new research and that particular doorway i recognize the name, he spent a year in mexico with archives
8:05 pm
with all the work of the spanish explorers and writers he could find in order to bring that knowledge to the rest of europe and to understand for his own purposes as well he spent a lot of time in both south america and mexicokiin fr with creole one of the aspects of that is the thinking if you look at the top of the diagram that is a figure that was used in the andes the scientists in the andes were drawing diagrams like this before humbled cities mixing with new world sciences learning from them they were pursuing and pushing frontier of knowledge
8:06 pm
considerably further when the europeans were so large from the new world sciences and then bring back a lot of their very innovative thinking into the european rahm and one big question in humble's studies however original and the poin was that, he pulled up everything but the amazing what he had into powerful new forms so this work is represented quite well and he argues with the sources and raises them cities won't defeat won't find justin natural use come he has an opinion and he will tell you his opinion. the king of spain was translated and he spent copies of it to
8:07 pm
jefferson. there was a long segment made out in fact on the humboldt just correspondence and of course you have to have the teaser, right? so why the book and there was an active correspondence until jefferson's head and two were exchanging ideas and theories about the america and the world will but probably the best example or certainly the campus of humboldt working with creole the new world person and shared collaborative intellectual. other questions? is that little time?
8:08 pm
[inaudible] >> one more i think. >> about the plant geography book that is coming out from the university of chicago, the university of chicago and one is that available? >> march 2010. copies could be shipped as i speak. yes. and it is a beautiful book ( amazon, a beautiful new transition with all the wonderful bertinelli and that diagram. >> also the english title essay on the geography plan. yes.
8:09 pm
i saw another hand maybe we coul talk quickly. >> [inaudible] >> no, not to my knowledge, no. of very little of humboldt's correspondent survived through various historical accidents such as he burned nearly everything he got because what we in were going through the positions incriminating might turn up so he destroyed things rather than have them come under police surveillance but i know of no correspondence with mary lou leavenworth. not to say there wasn't but i don't know if anything. thank you very much. you've been a wonderful audience. [applause]
8:10 pm
[inaudible conversations] laura dassow walls is an american literature professor at the university of scott for a carolina. the author of emerson's life and science. for more information, visit we are here at this year's conservative political action conference talking to michael patrick leahy about his new book, "rules for conservative radicals. what are the rules? >> thanks very much and hello to everybody on the c-span audience. a book rules for radicals was written in 1972 which was a very good book in tactics. yet 13 tactics and 11 ethical rules. we use some of his tactics but rejecting the entirety ethical rules. it is basically the ethical rules for the ends justify the means. we think as conservative
8:11 pm
radicals we ought to follow the example of martin luther king and use those tactical principles. i have updated a lot of these rules we used in starting the tea party movement back on february 27, 2009. the very first oral is 85% right and clich van blight and slow, so that's one of the rules. i have 16 rules and we used line of them but the general idea is rules were collaborative, consensus, development, action projects and self organizing groups. that is what we try to do. >> so you are marking february 27 as the first day and that is because? >> while on february 27, 2009, the group, the nation wide tea party coalition sponsored and organized 51 tea parties across the country so that was really quite a number of people there so we did it within a day and week of the famous rand on
8:12 pm
february 19th, 2009 and the day after that on february 28 eric odim put together the taxpayer 230 website and we kept doing what we've been to be using conference calls and twitter and so the radicals really outline the techniques that we use starting. some are also supposed to be used to winning elections? >> sure. ultimately is about the tests and organizing projects. the concept that we use is service leadership. it's basically where everybody is a creation and he gives everyone the respect that we ask everybody to take the load and start working. >> what is the next movement? >> i think the primary. the idea is to follow the values of the tea party movement but the limited government as authorized by the come petition
8:13 pm
of the free-market and to support primaries are going to support those values within the republican primary and in the democratic primaries. there are a fair number of democrats and independents in the tea party movement especially in connecticut and virginia beach virginia. >> was their anything else that you focused on than riding the rule? >> that is a great question. i think democracy in america was one of the great books of all time and some of the core principles of america democracy is about are reflected in this movement and that was probably the only book that was most influential. >> thank you very much for your time. it's one of the great innovations in american political broadcasting history >> we are going to talk with jonathan.
8:14 pm
can you tell us how was it going with a new book. tell us what the new book is about. >> it's not conservative principles and modern conservatism in the modern america. >> and what does that mean to you? >> welcome in the book i really discuss out there are so many different views on conservatism, neoconservatism, paleoconservatives, fiscal conservatism, all these different groups and there are four things we can unite them all, respect for the constitution, human life, limited government and personal responsibility. spackled for you, jonathan? can you tell us how you got started inviting and your ideology at this age? >> i got involved in politics when i was 9-years-old because of the attempted democratic filibuster on judicial nominees and i wanted to know what was coming on. what are all of these ideas people are talking about and what do these things mean? i wanted to for my own opinions and my parents said we don't care of your conservative or


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on