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Restless Soul: Zena Hitz on the AMI Podcast

Friends being friends with friends: it is a beautiful thing! Listen to Dr. Zena Hitz, tutor at St. John’s College, author of Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life (a highly-recommended book), and Co-founder & President of the Catherine Project talk on the Magnus Podcast, hosted by John Johnson and Larissa Bianco. We are affiliate partners with both institutions! Listen to Dr. Hitz discuss the development of thinking and the role of education in the fructification of a human life.

As we all agree, we can do more together than we can do alone.

Listen to the podcast here!

Catherine Project – Commonplace

Our friends at the Catherine Project have launched a new journal, Commonplace! As they describe it:

Commonplace is a journal maintained by volunteers from the Catherine Project’s community of learners under the supervision of the executive director. It’s purpose is twofold:

  1. To serve the Catherine Project community as an organ of communication and means of sharing writing informed or inspired by the Project’s core activity of reading and discussing great books.
  2. To serve as a means of advertising the existence and activities of the Catherine Project and inviting readers who are unfamiliar with the the Project to join our community of learning.

The journal is titled Commonplace because that’s what it is: a place or space we have in common. The word “commonplace” might also be used to describe the activity of our community: what we’re doing is rare these days, but it’s not original. Human beings throughout history have gathered informally to read, think, and learn together. We think learning for learning’s sake should be ordinary and shared among people of different ages, occupations, and educational backgrounds.

We aim to publish Commonplace twice a year, depending on volunteer availability. If you would like to join the editorial team that maintains the journal, write to volunteer@catherineproject.org.

We look forward to reading the first issue, already published!

Trauma, Sorrow, and Beauty: Maritain and Rouault on Art

On 13 April 2023 at 7pm ET, Dr. Thomas Hibbs (see event times around the world) will present the Annual John Deely / Jacques Maritain Lecture for the Deely Project at Saint Vincent College, in Latrobe, PA: “Trauma, Sorrow, and Beauty: Maritain and Rouault on Art” (Zoom link).

In his work on the crisis of the visible in contemporary culture, the philosopher Jean-Luc Marion argues that images typically operate as idols rather than icons. The images we encounter are “proportionate to the expectation of desire.” Such a culture excludes images that would engage us so as to transform our desires and lead us out of ourselves to transcendence. We need more than simply a reorientation of our vision. The new pedagogy of images cannot be straightforward or initially affirmative, since it must make us aware of our disorders, sorrows, and traumas. It will offer hope not through facile transcendence but through otherwise hidden paths at the margins of mainstream civilization. In the philosophy of art of Jacques Maritain and the art of his friend Georges Rouault, images take on the evils and afflictions of this world, its manifold traumas and sorrows, and trace a path toward beauty, gratitude, and joy.

Abstract of the Presentation

Thomas Hibbs is currently the J. Newton Rayzor Sr. Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University, where he is also Dean Emeritus. Hibbs has published more than 30 scholarly articles and seven scholarly books, including three on the thought of Thomas Aquinas. He has also published two books on film and co-authored a book, Soliloquies, with the Japanese-American artist, Makoto Fujimura. A new book, Theology of Creation, is set to be published in August of 2023 by Notre Dame Press. He also has a book on Justice as Solidarity under contract with Word on Fire publications. Hibbs has published widely in the popular press, with more than 100 reviews and discussion articles on film, theater, art, and higher education in a variety of publications including First Things, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New Atlantis, The Wall Street Journal, and National Review. He writes regularly for The Dallas Morning News.

About the John Deely / Jacques Maritain Lecture

The Annual John Deely / Jacques Maritain Lecture strives to make better known the work of these two great thinkers in the Poinsot-inspired tradition of Thomistic philosophy. Jacques Maritain wrote many insightful works on art. Indeed, I am reminded (as Dr. Minerd quoted from it recently) of this fascinating passage from “Sign and Symbol”:

in a work of art are found the speculative sign (the work makes manifest something other than it is) and the practical sign (it communicates a stimulation, an appeal); not that the work of art is formally a practical sign; it is rather a speculative sign which by superabundance is virtually practical… In the work of art… we meet with what can be called the direct sign (indicating an object) and the reverse sign (making manifest the subject).

Maritain 1937: “Sign and Symbol” in Ransoming the Time, 253.

Two things catch my attention here. First, the superabundance of the work of art that makes it virtually practical. Second, the notion of the reverse sign, which manifests the subject. I believe one sees this latter clearly in the work of Rouault. Trauma and sorrow appear in his faces. He shows beauty in a certain simplicity. This should be a fascinating lecture and Q&A!

For all those unable to attend in person, the session can be watched live on Zoom: “Trauma, Sorrow, and Beauty: Maritain and Rouault on Art”.