It has been a busy and long week as you may have guessed. I began coursework at Cornell two Fridays ago. And my home town and parish were ravaged by Hurricane Gustavo (my family and theirs are more or less fine, minor roof damage chez mes parents, no utilities until God knows when, the standard). But to avoid getting too personal, at least at this moment (although I do want to extend sympathy and prayers (of whatever sort) to those who've had to experience these such storms), I want to talk about a possible shift in topic for this blog based upon a seminar I'm taking.
The course is called City in Ruins, and the ultra-sexy course description includes readings from Mesopotamian and Hebraic lamentations of cities (think Ur, Babylon, and Jerusalem), paintings by Piranesi and others, poetry by Byron and Spencer, urban redevelopment by Haussman, urban warfare in London and Paris during WWII, speculative texts by Benjamin and Derrida, and a host of things that I cannot remember probably because I haven't actually heard of them until the syllabus was whisked into my hand. Basically, the course is to explore the aesthetization of ruin.
And as trite and removed as it possibly can be with posturing doctoral candidates and over emotional MFA students and a sharp emeritus professor from Johns Hopkins, this class is right up my ally and right up this blog's ally. So don't be surprised if I use this space for a sounding board of ideas and reflections on my readings and on my semester work, whether that be creative or critical. Such things as how in the destruction of Jerusalem, "even her lovers have deserted her" (Lamentations), or that each city lamentation ends with a regenerated hope and a transfer of grief onto the next city, who's about to get hers. Or how about how according to Jacques Ellul, whackjob theologico-philosopher and anarchist, all cities are necessarily doomed because the concept is a priori cursed and not of God regardless of the individual acts of the citizens and that in fact, doing anything to help the needy or improve life within cities is cute, but always futile and ridiculous.
As you can see, this will be fruitful and ire-inducing and a great horror class.