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Morning Lecture Previews

Lexicographer Stamper to share secret lives of words

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As Week One’s theme, “The Life of the Written Word,” continues, lexicographer Kory Stamper will speak about the history of the English language, the creation and life of a dictionary, and how our language has inherently changed our culture over the 1,500 years of its existence.

At 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater, Stamper will discuss her background in lexicography and the most fascinating parts of the English language she has discovered through her work.

After working as a lexicographer for Merriam-Webster for 20 years, Stamper wrote Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, published last year, and began working as a freelance writer for dictionary.com and writing articles on the etymological background of specific words.

“I do a lot of deep diving into one word, its history, how it has changed throughout time, how it has been used and abused and things like that,” she said.

Stamper said she became a lexicographer by accident. After graduating from Smith College with a bachelor’s degree in medieval studies, she applied to a job posting looking for an editorial assistant at a reference publishing company — which turned out to be Merriam-Webster.

During her time with the company, Stamper wrote and revised definitions in the dictionary based on instances of the word’s uses that were stored in a company-wide database.

“In this way, I never really wrote the definitions of a word,” she said. “I studied instances in which a specific word was used and made sure that its previous definition still worked. If not, of course, I would revise it so that it did work. Words are, in this way, not defined by the writers of the definitions, but by the users of the language themselves.”

Social media, Stamper said, has created a type of “playground” in which the English language has expanded and developed because of the widespread use of previously isolated vernaculars and dialects.

“It has enabled the spread of language in a way I have never seen because of its ability to spread across the world instantaneously,” Stamper said. “Through social media, vernaculars can overlap to the point that it is not immediately clear oftentimes what race or socioeconomic class the person posting belongs to.”

This mixture and widespread use of hundreds of vernaculars in one space, Stamper said, can be both very exciting and very daunting for lexicographers.

In addition to the creation of dictionaries and the role of social media in the development of language, Stamper will speak about Word by Word, which she said she decided to write after she received continuous interest and questions from her lexicography blog.

“The feedback for the book has been overwhelmingly and surprisingly positive. People really engaged with the book and interested in the history of the language,” she said. “The feedback that means the most is when people say that they didn’t know this particular thing about the language. That’s the best feedback I could possibly get because it means that I am engaging the reader and educating them on the history of the language that they speak.”

Stamper will also walk the audience through the lexicography and historical study of one specific word in order share that word’s history and reveal some of the processes behind linguistic research. Although she has often spoken about dictionaries and lexicography, Stamper said she is particularly excited to speak to intellectual Chautauquans.

“These people are not here to go on vacation and just get away for a week. They are coming here specifically to engage in dialogue and learn,” she said. “My hope for the book and the lecture is that it will stir up people to understand more of the fascinating history of the English language and to love it more.”

National Book Foundation director Lisa Lucas to speak on the role books play in society

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The concept is the Oscars, but instead of movies, books. A night the nation would eagerly anticipate as authors such as Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown and Alice Walker would come together, dressed to the nines, to celebrate the role literature plays in the way the world turns.

The National Book Awards is not there yet, but Lisa Lucas is working on it.

“We need to make it a good show and something people want to pay attention to,” Lucas said. “People love movies, they care about what the academy is doing, but they also watch the Oscars because it is a great show. There is a lot of energy and excitement, a lot of build-up, and we need to keep trying to do the same thing with books.”

Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation since 2016, will touch on this and more as she continues the exploration of Week One’s theme, “The Life of The Written Word” with her 10:45 a.m. morning lecture Wednesday, June 27, in the Amphitheater.

As both the first woman and first African-American to hold the position, Lucas is vocal about inclusivity in the business, insisting the term go beyond race and gender to include everyone, regardless of any circumstances.

“Whether we are doing the work we have always done or doing new work that we are excited about, we always spend a lot of time thinking about what will make that work more powerful and what gives it a wider, further reach,” she said.

When it comes to access, Lucas places her focus on the younger generation in hopes they carry on the passion that drives the organization’s work.

“I always say to ‘get them while they are young,’ ” she said. “Let’s build some excitement about reading great books. Let us make sure kids have books in the home, that kids know where their libraries are. To start making sure that the resources needed to make sure that a young person develops into a reader are there is the only way any of this work will continue to grow and succeed.”

However, no matter what age group a reader falls in, Lucas always strives to share one particular message: The most powerful tool books provide is the ability to teach  people the need for empathy within the complicated, global, political and emotional issues that surface in everyday life.

“Having that depth of understanding about an issue really allows you to understand that it is important and gives you a chance to see it with less of the reactionary sort of ‘hot take look’ that we get from Twitter, from the internet or the 24-hour news cycle,” she said. “I think that allows us to humanize, to empathize, contextualize, to understand and to care.”

On top of fostering empathy, reading gives people a better understanding of one another, an issue Lucas said stems from a lack of exposure.

“We don’t all know one another, and books allow you to know someone that you have never met and that you might not ever encounter in your life.That proximity develops empathy. It’s like, you get it, you spent some time thinking about this person, their interests to their fears, and you used it for something good.”

-Lisa Lucas, Director, National Book Foundation

Ultimately, Lucas recognizes her responsibility in a time where the potential for new readers is unlimited and hopes the foundation’s impact continues to be unlimited, too.

“There are so many people that can be brought into reading, and I think that on some level, our goal is just to touch as many people as we can with the magic of books,” she said. “I feel we do that in many ways through the awards, and through all of our projects as a non-profit organization. Through the media, the awards and the medallion you see on the copies in the bookstores, this all reaches tons of people. We can’t even count how many lives all of this work impacts, and I hope that never changes.”

 

With ‘Olio,’ Jess to talk duality of poetic form

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Tyehimba Jess’ Olio exemplifies the urgency of knowing:

“If people knew the sheer will that was put into each note, they might know better how those tunes, that music, let this country talk itself through its own ugliness,” Jess wrote in Olio, quoting pianist Sam Patterson. “I want to uncover the details of his process. … So here I am, putting his story together so I can better know … ours.”

The desire to know is a familiar theme. Dave Griffith, vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education, describes this year’s Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selections as one would the arts, math or history — as ways of “knowing” the world.

Jess will speak about his project of knowing in the season’s second morning lecture platform at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater as part of Week One: “The Life of the Written Word.” His lecture will also serve as the season’s first CLSC Roundtable.

“From the earliest planning, we intended this week to celebrate Chautauqua’s literary traditions while also declaring that the literary arts are core to the way Chautauqua engages the world going forward,” Matt Ewalt, chief of staff, said about bringing Jess’ “groundbreaking work” to the Amp stage.

In Olio, Jess focuses on the “underappreciated” time period between the Civil War and World War I that cultivated artistic and innovative contributions to church hymns, ragtime, blues and work songs. Singing, “a full and total expression of the soul,” was sustenance, Jess told Literary Hub.

Both fact and fiction, poetry and prose, Olio is a collage of sonnets, letters and line drawings that traces the history of American music and performance art through the voices of first-generation-freed artists such as Scott Joplin, Sissieretta Jones and the McKoy twins. Olio presents and pays tribute to these artists — performers, pianists, thinkers and singers — who “resisted, complicated, co-opted and sometimes defeated attempts to minstrelize them,” according to the book’s description.

“Jess’ work in Olio speaks not only to the new life and form that is possible with the written word, but also the power of such innovative work to move us in unexpected ways,” Ewalt said. “That through revisiting and reclaiming cultural history, we also confront our present.”

For his work in Olio, Jess received the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Poetry, and an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Additionally, he is an English professor at the College of Staten Island. This is his second book of poetry; he published Leadbelly in 2005.

Griffith said Olio is a duality of experiences in its content and structure. Although the book is delineated in a way readers would expect for a poetry book, further exploration reveals perforated pages and foldable spreads. The book’s ability to be manipulated, folded, cut, torn, undone and redone insinuates a changing relationship between the text and the reader. With scissors in hand, the reader becomes both a collaborator and disruptor in the book’s overall project. Much of Olio must be read and re-read: the final pages provide origami-like instructions that reveal new imagery and understandings previously hidden in the poem’s original structure.

“(Olio) tears and folds and spins around,” said Atom Atkinson, director of literary arts. “You can read backwards and forwards and diagonally — literally.”

In his LitHub interview, Jess described his type of poem as a “syncopated sonnet.” The poem’s contrapuntal and polyphonic structure allows for two voices to engage in conversation with each other while still remaining individual.

The book defines “olio” as “a miscellaneous mixture of heterogeneous elements; hodgepodge” and “the second part of a minstrel show which featured a variety of performance acts and later evolved into vaudeville.”

The layout of Olio is reminiscent of a program for an artistic performance. The book begins with an “Introduction or Cast or Owners of this Olio,” connoting a minstrel show pamphlet. For example, an alliterative sequence introduces Scott Joplin as: “Ruler of Ragtime. Professor of Piano Prestidigitation. Saint of Syncopation. Ace of Ivory 88s.” The end of the “Introduction” features a promise of contortionism to come: “Fix your eyes on the flex of these first-generation-freed voices … Weave your own chosen way between these voices …”

Atkinson said the book’s very fabric weaves the reader into an intricate relationship with the text.

“I think that the content of the book is something that makes it impossible for you to resist the acknowledgement of your position in relation to what is being discussed,” Atkinson said. “It’s so dynamic. … Anyone is challenged to consider where they’re situated in terms of the range of voices in the texts.”

Atkinson pointed to “Mark Twain v. Blind Tom” as an example. The poem has two columns, the left side quoted from Twain’s letters and the right embodying the voice of Blind Tom. The extent of Twain’s racism is not “produced in certain ways … until Twain’s language is paired with the other column,” Atkinson said.

When read across, the poem shifts voices. This shift is denoted by slashes, beginning with Twain’s own words: “Some archangel, / I’m sent from above — / cast out of upper Heaven / like rain on blue prayers.”

Atkinson said this metamorphism forces readers “to suddenly start speaking in ways that feel uncomfortable,” particularly because readers were led to this uncomfortable voice by such a “revered” author.

“(It’s) not necessarily this clear moral,” Atkinson said. “It’s a completely uncomfortable space to exist inside that forces you to think about how you exist inside all of these shifting dynamics in the poem.”

Most of the voices Jess presents are unrecorded — both in their contributions to American art and in the literal sense; few tapes of their voices exist. Driven by the desire to know, Jess spent eight years researching and completing Olio.

“It’s about deconstructing our received history and reconstructing it in a way through poems and through prose in a way that helps us better understand it,” Jess said in an interview with NPR.

This revisiting and repurposing of history will be discussed in his master class “Show the Receipts: Historical Documentation in Poetic Form” at 3:30 p.m. today.

The history Jess incorporates — from stories of the McKoy twins enduring doctors’ probes to Joplin enduring dementia, mockery and plagiarism — reveals the urgency of knowing.

“To be able to sing under that kind of oppression I think, in a lot of ways, is the very essence of survival, of a people, of the ability to have, to the hope to make, something beautiful amongst so much wretchedness,” Jess told LitHub. “That’s critical to the concept of human survival.”

By ripping the seams of and embroidering history, Olio stories the inherent humanity of singing through struggle:

“It is signifying that you are still alive,” Jess told LitHub, “and you still have some human potential.”

John Irving and Pamela Paul to open for Week One with conversation on writing process

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John Irving is certainly familiar with the written word — but he’s trading the pen for the lectern.

Irving, joined by writer and The New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul, will open the 2018 morning lecture series at 10:45 a.m. Monday, June 25, in the Amphitheater with a conversation about “The Life of the Written Word.”

“The conservation will likely be about my process as a writer, both as a novelist and as a screenwriter,” Irving said.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Irving’s first work, Setting Free the Bear. Since then, his 14 novels have earned literary — and motion picture — accolades.

His 1978 international best-seller, The World According to Garp, received a National Book Award and became an Academy Award-nominated film featuring the late Robin Williams. Irving’s sixth novel, The Cider House Rules, took to the screen and in 2000 won Irving the Oscar for the Best Adapted Screenplay.

An accomplished author and former correspondent for The Economist, Paul is also keen on the written word and will accompany Paul during today’s lecture.

“The life of the written word is everything,” she said.

Her five books range from investigations into the “baby business” in Parenting, Inc., matrimony in The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony, and pornography, to a memoir about her relationship with literature titled My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues. The two writers share similar expectations for their conversation.

Paul said she hopes to discuss how Irving’s reading relates to his writing and how his themes have evolved over time.

“It would be interesting to talk about his trajectory and the themes that he’s gone back to and returned to and the ways in which his novels have often changed overtime. I always think it’s interesting to talk to writers who don’t have one, or two, or five books under their belt, but a dozen.”

Pamela Paul, writer and editor, The New York Times Book Review

Although his writing features contemporary motifs — like sexual politics in In One Person and A Widow for One Year, to war in A Prayer for Owen Meany — Irving said he draws inspiration from early 19th-century novels.

“Dickens was the novelist who made me want to be one,” he said. “Melville was the writer who showed me how to end a novel.”

The influence of such writers is rejected in his “ending-driven” novels, Irving said, a point that Paul reiterated.

“Irving is a writer that has a lot of admiration for the great writers of the 19th century,” Paul said. “I think that is something he is conscious of — sort of continuing certain traditions and being a writer that people return to.”

This is Irving’s first visit to Chautauqua Institution, and he hopes the audience is, at the least, entertained by his conversation.

“I don’t want to burden the audience with my expectations,” he said. “I hope they’ll be entertained. Despite the worst-case scenarios, I am a comic novelist.”

Paul is no stranger to the Institution — this is her second time on the Amp stage. In 2016, she joined then-editor-in- chief of The Paris Review Lorin Stein and editor of The Kenyon Review David Lynn in a panel led by author Roger Rosenblatt about technology’s impact on literature. She also hopes the audience finds value from their conversation.

“I want to inform, enlighten and entertain,” Paul said. “If I could do even one of those that would be great; if I could do all three, that’s great, too.”

Americans for the Arts’ Lynch to cover importance of creative instruction

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Robert Lynch

Taylor Rogers | Staff Writer

A musician who also is a writer who also is a wood carver who also is a CEO — that’s Robert Lynch.

Lynch is the president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, a national organization that promotes the arts in communities and education. In the last of Week Four’s lectures, Lynch will discuss the current state of the arts in America, the state of support for non-profit arts organizations and what direction the art world should go in the future.

The lecture, titled “America at a Cultural Crossroads,” will be at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.

Lynch launched his career in the arts as a musician, though he also carved wood and maintained a passion for poetry. But five years after getting his degree, he said he realized it wasn’t just the arts that interested him but politics and business as well.

Lynch then joined the organization that would lead him to Americans for the Arts. He spent 10 years with that group, promoting creativity in New England communities. The movement spread, he said. This job felt right.

“I just became excited about that kind of work,” Lynch said.

Through this organization, Lynch connected with the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, which now is Americans for the Arts.

He began as a volunteer, was promoted to a board member and then, in 1985, Lynch was asked to be the agency’s executive director.

The next 25 years became a period of significant growth for the non-profit organization. When Lynch began, Americans for the Arts was a several-hundred-thousand-dollar operation with a few staff people, he said. It now is a $14 million organization with 5,000 organizational members and a network of about 300,000 citizen activists.

Lynch said the growth came from a variety of sources.

Americans for the Arts merged with seven other organizations devoted to the awareness of creativity, including the American Council for the Arts and the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies.

The new organization herded arts councils and commissions together, causing information about the arts and education to spread through communities across the country. They also lobbied for the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts, which has furnished the art world with billions of dollars. The NEA then assisted in creating more state arts councils by offering a matching grant to any state that had a council.

“It was a combination of a good idea, people nurturing and informing and helping one another and then some incentives like the NEA and the state governments,” Lynch said of the growth.

And though much of what the organization is doing is part of a national movement, Lynch said he most appreciates knowing the work of Americans for the Arts is having a local impact.

“Hearing stories of what organizations are doing at the local level against a lot of odds, without a lot of resources and the benefit that it brings to the local people — that’s probably the most rewarding thing,” he said.

But the growth of Americans for the Arts isn’t enough for Lynch. He said art education has a long way to go. The economy’s current condition has caused poorer communities to have less access to creative instruction.

Those communities are missing out on a chance to offer lessons in creativity, discipline and divergent and convergent thinking through the arts, Lynch said. And arts programs simply draw more students.

“We see business leaders saying that,” he said. “We see government saying that, but we don’t necessarily see that reflected universally in policy at the local level.”

But Lynch has some thoughts on how to improve, and he said he’d share them today.

Opera singer Conrad fought racism with song

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Barbara Smith Conrad

Josh Cooper | Staff Writer

Growing up in the segregated south, Barbara Smith Conrad knew firsthand the pain racial discrimination brought. She also knew firsthand the healing power of music.

“Music absolutely saved my life,” Conrad said.

Conrad grew up in a very musical environment, and singing was her passion. She came to the forefront of national attention in 1957, when she was forcibly removed from the cast of an opera production at the University of Texas.

She was cast opposite a white boy in the school’s production of Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas. Segregationists in the Texas legislature threatened to pull the school’s funding if she was not removed from the production. The university gave in and replaced Conrad with a white student.

It was then that Harry Belafonte stepped in and offered to send Conrad to any university in the world. She stayed at the University of Texas.

“For me, it was a matter of pride,” Conrad said. “Why should I go someplace else just because you can’t handle the fact that our skin is different?”

Ultimately, Conrad went on to an illustrious opera career, performing with the Metropolitan Opera Company and the New York Philharmonic, as well as venues throughout Europe and North America.

Conrad said that music not only helped her get through the “opera incident,” as the local newspaper referred to it at the time, but also to keep a positive mindset in the segregated environment in which she grew up.

“No matter how you shape it, it was a segregated part of the world,” Conrad said. “Luckily for me, I was stupid enough to think I didn’t have to worry about anything because I had music. So I didn’t.”

She reminisced that while she felt racial discrimination outside of the music school at the University of Texas, there was a completely different mindset among the music students and teachers.

“Musicians have a whole different philosophy,” Conrad said. “It had nothing to do with anything except, ‘Can you play?’ or ‘Can you sing?’ Nothing else made any difference. It never occurred to me that I needed to do anything special to garner the love of those around me.”

“That says something about the power of music to bring people together,” she said.

Her journey is the subject of a documentary film titled “When I Rise.” The film will be screened at 12:15 p.m. Friday at the Chautauqua Cinema.

Sherra Babcock, director of the Department of Education, said Conrad’s story fits in well with this week’s theme.

“I invited her to come because of her story,” Babcock said. “We’re doing a week on ‘a case for the arts,’ and her life story is the arts. We asked her to come talk about her life in the arts and how the arts have come to define her life.”

Chautauqua is an exemplary setting, Conrad said, and one she has been looking forward to visiting for years.

“I’ve always talked about coming here,” Conrad said. “This is my ideal scene. I have traveled many miles to get to a place like this, and I’m happy to really discover it firsthand.”

She said Chautauqua offers a unique community connectedness.

“What’s immediate is what a warmth there is,” Conrad said. “People automatically know that you’re going to fall in love with this place, so they don’t have to do much to convince you.”

Conrad will be keeping very busy this week. She not only is giving today’s lecture, but she also will be screening her film and speaking with and coaching the voice and opera students here.

She said Chautauqua bears some resemblance to her hometown of Pittsburg, Texas.

“What is very reminiscent of my hometown is the quietude, the sweetness of the air around you, and friendly people smiling and saying hello,” Conrad said.

“It’s not very much different from what home is like.”

Stamberg to advocate for museums, says art is thriving

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Susan Stamberg

Ellie Haugsby | Staff Writer

Susan Stamberg has asked questions since 1972.

As the host of such NPR programs as “All Things Considered,” “Morning Edition,” and “Weekend Edition Saturday,” it was her job to pick the brains of her guests. When she comes to Chautauqua, however, it will not be to question but rather to answer.

“If I have talks, I need to give answers,” she said. “I talk a great deal about the things I learn. It’s a mutual circle.”

Stamberg will give a lecture at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater, where she will add to the week’s theme, “A Case for the Arts.”

“Art is thriving, and all the evidence is on the Internet,” she said. “All this new technology has given creative people opportunities they’ve never had.“

Despite these successes, she said, there still exists a fundamental problem.

“I’ve spoken with (English artist) David Hockney, who now makes art on his iPhone. He’s very successful, but he still asks, ‘How do I make money from it?’ If David Hockney is having that problem, what is Joe Smith going to do?”

Stamberg said because of this, she lectures to help bring attention to artists like “Joe Smith.”

“Museums and art matter,” she said, “and when I speak at museums, that’s what I talk about.”

Stamberg’s roles at NPR have brought her voice into the homes of millions. She was the first female journalist to host a nightly news program, “All Things Considered,” and has since been elected to both the Broadcasting Hall of Fame and the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Her experiences have led her to speak with such people as Rosa Parks and Luciano Pavarotti.

In addition to her work with NPR, she has hosted multiple PBS television series, moderated three Fred Rogers television specials and narrated performances with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra.

Arts, humanities justify themselves, Fish argues

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Stanley Fish

Sarah Gelfand | Staff Writer

Stanley Fish likely will stand out from this week’s other speakers with his unconventional “case for the arts” at his lecture at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.

Fish said his appreciation for the humanities is the antithesis of the traditional “justification” for the arts.

“I’m going to say that if you ask for justification about the arts and humanities in terms of the study of the arts and humanities, you’re not going to end up finding it,” Fish said.

As a columnist for The New York Times and a professor of humanities and law at Florida International University, Fish frequently writes about university politics and policies. This morning’s lecture, he said, will focus on the arts and humanities in higher education.

Fish wrote most extensively on this topic in the wake of SUNY Albany’s elimination of its French, Italian, Russian and Classics departments. With public universities cutting their humanities departments across the board, Fish’s response is not to argue for the existence of the humanities in the terms and language of universities but rather to say there should be no argument at all.

Fish will address not just the issue of university presidents and the legislators who distribute funds, but the overall systems and structures of higher education.

Recalling an article in The New Yorker by Louis Menand in which a student questions why he needs to read or buy a specific book at all, Fish said that he will spend the most time analyzing how to answer those questions and if they need to be answered at all.

“It’s that moment of justification that interests me,” he said. “For many decades, the arts and humanities had been in a condition of being required to justify themselves. And the requirement depends on a notion of value to which the arts and humanities are not obviously connected.

“You know the value of production of more jobs, or the value of the bottom line, or the value of contributing to the nation’s defense, or any other of the values that are commonly recognized by most people. The arts and humanities, especially when they are in a university setting, and therefore using up university funds, don’t seem to connect to the usually offered justification.”

Arguments continue to circulate about the relevance of the humanities in higher education, and Fish said he plans to unpack those arguments. He said he will look at the future of higher education and the possible consequences of eliminating the study of the arts.

Fish also has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

His most recent book is How to Write a Sentence.

This is his first visit to Chautauqua.

“If Chautauquans themselves are concerned with the flourishing of the study of the arts and humanities — and the education of young people in poetry and painting and dance and music and film — if they’re interested in the study of all of these things and maintaining the traditional study of those things and want to be a part of the education of young adults, the message is that there is no traditional justification of any of it,” Fish said.


The Forerunners From The Temple (1633)
by George Herbert

Editor’s Note: This poem will be referenced in
Stanley Fish’s 10:45 a.m. Amphitheater lecture.

The harbingers are come. See, see their mark;
White is their colour, and behold my head.
But must they have my brain? must they dispark
Those sparkling notions, which therein were bred?
Must dulnesse turn me to a clod?
Yet have they left me, Thou art still my God.

Good men ye be, to leave me my best room,
Ev’n all my heart, and what is lodged there:
I passe not, I, what of the rest become,
So Thou art still my God, be out of fear.
He will be pleased with that dittie;
And if I please him, I write fine and wittie.

Farewell sweet phrases, lovely metaphors.
But will ye leave me thus? when ye before
Of stews and brothels onely knew the doores,
Then did I wash you with my tears, and more,
Brought you to Church well drest and clad;
My God must have my best, ev’n all I had.

Louely enchanting language, sugar-cane,
Hony of roses, whither wilt thou flie?
Hath some fond lover tic’d thee to thy bane?
And wilt thou leave the Church, and love a stie?
Fie, thou wilt soil thy broider’s coat,
And hurt thyself, and him that sings the note.

Let foolish lovers, if they will love dung,
And canvas, not with arras clothe their shame:
Let follie speak in her own native tongue.
True beautie dwells on high: ours is a flame
But borrow’d thence to light us thither.
Beautie and beauteous words should go together.

Yet if you go, I passe not; take your way:
For, Thou art still my God, is all that ye
Perhaps with more embellishment can say,
Go birds of spring: let winter have his fee,
Let a bleak palenesse chalk the doore,
So all within be livelier then before.

NEA Chairman Landesman to demonstrate how ‘Art Works’

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Rocco Landesman

Aaron Krumheuer | Staff Writer

As President Barack Obama’s appointee to head the largest federal arts agency, Rocco Landesman’s job is to make “A Case for the Arts.”

Landesman is the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. He will be Week Four’s first morning lecturer and will talk on “Art Works: A Conversation in Three Acts” at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.

“We’ve never had the chairman of the NEA,” said Sherra Babcock, director of Chautauqua’s Department of Education. “This is really quite a coup.”

Landesman made a move from Broadway to the NEA in August 2009 after a long history with theater.

His father and uncle operated a cabaret theater in his hometown of St. Louis, and Landesman studied dramatic literature and criticism at Yale School of Drama. In 1987, he became president of Jujamcyn, a company that owns and operates five Broadway theaters, and he also has produced a number of Tony Award-winning shows, including “Big River,” “Angels in America” and “The Producers.”

Not only an arts worker, Landesman has had a varied career as an entrepreneur, operating a mutual fund in the 1970s and owning two minor league baseball teams. He owned racehorses for a time and once hit the trifecta at the Kentucky Derby.

His is the 10th chairman of the NEA since the independent federal agency was created by an act of Congress in 1965. Throughout the years, the agency has awarded $4 billion in grants to support the arts. In 2011, it was given $167.5 million to distribute to not-for-profit organizations, artist communities, local arts agencies and arts education.

NEA’s mission covers a broad array of mediums, including visual arts, dance, design, literature, opera and theater.

The new motto for Landesman’s NEA is “Art works,” a phrase with three meanings:

“The works of art themselves, the ways art works on audiences, and art as work — are the intrinsic values of the arts, and they are at the center of everything we do at the National Endowment for the Arts,” Landesman wrote in the 2011 Guide to the NEA.

His three-fold approach is at the heart of the NEA’s “Our Town” program, a new initiative to bridge local government and arts organizations, produce public art and stimulate local economies. Its initial funding was announced July 12 of this month and will grant $6.575 million to 51 different communities in 34 states, many to areas with less than 200,000 residents.

Funding to the NEA took a large hit in the mid-1990s in response to the “culture wars” of the previous years. Conservative groups like the American Family Association took offense to a number of NEA-funded artists, most notably the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The ability to fund individual visual artists was taken away from the NEA after the controversy and still remains disallowed.

Don Kimes, artistic director of Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, was an artist when he witnessed the attacks on the NEA in the 1980s and still defends their right to support challenging art.

“Art that is significant — when I think of late Titian or I think of Rembrandt or the Florentine painters who were all supported by the government, [they] would not have been able to do what they did without that support,” Kimes said.

However, the current NEA has seen an expanded budget from previous years, and Landesman is outspoken about his desire for more increases.

Before arriving at Chautauqua, Landesman visited the League of Historic American Theatres in Schenectady, N.Y., and met with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter to survey the art scene in western New York, Babcock said.

“People come to Chautauqua for an immersion in learning and the arts,” she said. “Theirs is a different kind of vacation … they’re going to participate in the arts in a way you really can’t do in any other place.”

Former CIA director to speak on Middle East solutions

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R. James Woolsey

Catherine Pomiecko | Staff Writer

Three weeks before President Richard Nixon’s inauguration in 1969, R. James Woolsey attended a friend’s engagement dinner party.

A man well versed in politics, Woolsey unsurprisingly entered into a discussion about the Vietnam War that evening. Somehow, that conversation managed to turn into a loud and rather angry argument with none other than Paul Nitze, the Deputy Secretary of Defense and father of the bride-to-be.

As they were standing in the middle of the reception area and surrounded by a few hundred people at the black-tie event, their dispute did not go unnoticed. But with just three weeks until the new administration came into office, Woolsey wasn’t worried about any lingering consequences.

Two months later, Woolsey’s boss at his ROTC-commissioned position at the Pentagon presented a job referral with arms control. The job was an assistant position drafting statements and researching strategic weapons negotiations. It sounded like the perfect job for Woolsey, save for the fact that the hiring boss was, in fact, Nitze, who had been reappointed by the Nixon administration to head up the department.

“I only met Nitze once, and it didn’t go very well,” Woolsey said to his boss, who replied, “That must have been what he meant — when I mentioned your name to him, he paused for a second, then he grinned and said, ‘Send Woolsey on up. He may not know what the hell he’s talking about, but at least he’ll speak up.’”

The reputation for speaking up not only elevated Woolsey’s job in arms control but has also followed him throughout his career. In the words of Peter Earnest, the founding executive director of the International Spy Museum and Monday’s morning lecturer, “a man who has continued to speak up” will speak out to Chautauquans about the current strategic problems and their relation to energy and oil at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.

Woolsey is chairman of Woolsey Partners LLC and serves on a range of government, corporate and non-profit advisory boards, including the National Commission on Energy Policy and the Clean Fuels Foundation. Woolsey also has served in the U.S. government on five different occasions, most recently as director of Central Intelligence.

Woolsey began work with energy issues after 9/11 as an officer, and later vice president, of Booz Allen Hamilton. He spent about five years there working to make the country’s energy systems and electric grid more resilient and less vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Woolsey also taught an energy course at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs that summarizes his views on energy policies today.

The course, called, “Energy in the 21st century: Could Muir, Patton, and Gandhi Agree on a Program?” begged energy decision makers to satisfy the environmental considerations of John Muir, the security considerations of George S. Patton and the considerations of the third-world countries where energy grids don’t reach, represented by Mahatma Gandhi. Later, the idea was adapted and published in The World Affairs Journal, replacing John Muir with Rachel Carson, the founder of the contemporary environmental movement.

Woolsey’s career experiences epitomize the collaboration of many disciplines and are in some ways an example of the way America must respond to its current problems. In today’s world, many intelligence affairs are interrelated with energy and oil consumption, Woolsey said.

“This 21st-century world we are in requires us to look at intelligence and strategy together, and not just regard intelligence as some sort of a separate category,” he said.

Woolsey ends the week on “American Intelligence: Technology, Espionage and Alliances” to spur discussion about the most current threats the U.S. faces, said Sherra Babcock, director of the Department of Education at Chautauqua Institution.

“Woolsey will talk about weapons of mass disruption, infrastructure, electricity, water, utilities, connectivity, banking systems, etcetera.” Babcock said. “All of those things could really create havoc in our culture if they were disrupted by a cyber enemy.”

In his lecture, Woolsey plans to focus on what the U.S. can do to overcome the problems it faces in the Middle East.

“In terms of intelligence, today’s world is so different than that of the Cold War,” he said. “The enemies that we have to deal with are so very different than what we had to deal with then, and that impacts the way that we need to operate to effectively collect intelligence and deal with them.”


Further viewing:

  1. Conversations with History – R. James Woolsey

Ignatius to present writer’s view of global espionage

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David Ignatius

Nick Glunt | Staff Writer

David Ignatius, 30-year foreign affairs journalist and espionage novelist, will speak at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater as Week Three’s fourth speaker on “American Intelligence: Technology, Espionage and Alliances.”

Ignatius has spent time with The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He has been a reporter, columnist and editor, though he is most widely known as a columnist for The Washington Post.

Ignatius also is a successful novelist, having written such novels as Body of Lies, which was later adapted into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.

“I have a few friends — one friend in particular — who’ve said there’s so many things that are more truth in my fiction than in my fact,” Ignatius said.

He said he does not find it difficult to be both a journalist and a novelist, because he uses what he learns as a journalist to write his novels. As he covers Middle East foreign affairs, he comes up with ideas for his novels. He encounters those ideas and then “reshapes” them for his novels, he said.

Ignatius said being a novelist wasn’t always his calling.

“In truth, I had taken a college course in fiction but wasn’t very good at it,” he said. “Like a lot of people, I had a lot of snippets of fiction I had tried to write, but I pretty much decided I was cut out to be a reporter, not a creative writer.”

After a series of events occurred regarding a story he had written for The Washington Post, the idea for his first novel, Agents of Innocence, began to mold in his mind. He said it was a story he couldn’t tell in any other way.

The publishing company accepted his book because its employees wanted a nonfiction book from him, and this was how they thought it could happen.

Ignatius said Agents of Innocence could almost be considered historical fiction. He tried to make that novel as accurate as possible, even going so far as to research what movies were playing at a particular theater at the time the novel was set. His other novels aren’t quite as historical, as he said he invents a lot more in them.

He is still on contract to write one more novel, he said.

“A week ago, I was in Afghanistan for 10 days wandering around the country,” Ignatius said, “and I have to confess, a part of me was not there doing journalism.”

He had his eyes out for something that could make a good story. He still isn’t sure what the subject of that novel will be.

Ignatius grew up in Washington, D.C., where many people who lived in his neighborhood worked for the CIA. When he was younger, he traveled regularly and even studied at King’s College in Cambridge, England. An interest in international affairs came naturally.

“(The Middle East) is such a complicated mess that it invites — novels love ambiguity; they love situations that are dark and murky and mysterious,” Ignatius said. “That’s what the Middle East is.”

He said one particular theme present in his novels set in the Middle East is that the U.S. doesn’t know enough about that area to be able to work effectively.

Ignatius said the lecture he will present today will cover many topics of his newest novel, Bloodmoney: A Novel of Espionage. These topics include the relationship between U.S. and Pakistani intelligence, as well as the “marriage of need and convenience” on the part of both parties after Osama bin Laden’s death. He also will address the CIA and what he sees in the CIA as a novelist.

Ignatius had a bit of advice to offer to other aspiring writers.

“Keep writing,” he said. “For the skill to improve, it’s learned by doing. The second thing would be, if you want to have something to write — whether it’s journalism or fiction — you need to get out in the world and see it. I have very little patience for journalism written while sitting in front of a screen … or novels written from the faculty lounge.”

Former MI5 leader Rimington to discuss US-British intelligence relations

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Stella Rimington

Elora Tocci | Staff Writer

Stella Rimington is former Director General of the British civilian intelligence agency MI5, but don’t call her James Bond.

Rimington, who will deliver the 10:45 a.m. lecture today in the Amphitheater, became the first female head of a British intelligence agency when she took the post in 1992. She started working for the agency in 1965 as a part-time clerk and typist and worked her way up through the ranks, serving in the main fields of MI5’s responsibilities — counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism.

In 1965, gender discrimination in MI5 was rampant, but Rimington said that by the time she became Director General, she was not treated differently by her colleagues or the government because of her gender. The media, however, were a different story.

“The idea of a woman heading a British intelligence service came as a shock — they apparently thought that a person in that job should be like James Bond, and they described me as ‘Housewife Superspy’ and set about investigating my life,” she said.

But Rimington continued to work unfazed and served as the Director General for four years. She was the first Director General whose name was publicly announced upon her appointment, and during her four years, she increased transparency of MI5 in the public eye.

Rimington said civilian intelligence services can be smaller and more focused than law enforcement agencies and can thus concentrate on the most severe threats to national security and develop a deep understanding about them. But she said civilian intelligence agencies require close contact with other areas of government and law enforcement so that appropriate action can be taken at the right time.

Her lecture, she hopes, will convey that American and British intelligence agencies work quite closely with each other.

“The British intelligence services regard U.S. intelligence as their oldest and closest partner, and I regard that partnership as vital in helping to tackle what will be difficult security problems in the future and in defending our freedoms,” she said.

After Rimington left MI5 in 1996, she began to write novels around the fictional intelligence agent protagonist Liz Carlyle.

“Liz Carlyle is in a sense the antithesis of James Bond,” she said.

Although she writes the novels strictly to entertain readers, Rimington said she has made Carlyle as realistic as possible.

“(Liz Carlyle) is sharp, intelligent, intuitive and totally non-macho,” Rimington said. “She is part of a team, not a one-man band, and the way she tackles the difficult investigations she conducts, developing the intelligence, analyzing it and acting on it, is as close to reality as I can get it.”

Riedel gives long-term solutions for Pakistan

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Bruce Riedel

Leah Rankin | Staff Writer

The War on Terror has been the longest waged in American history. And while it may seem that victories against al-Qaida are few and far between, former CIA officer Bruce Riedel has some suggestions for long-term solutions that he will share at his lecture at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.

In Riedel’s recent book, Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad, the author outlines the history of a love-hate relationship between the United States and Pakistan, a country with the second-largest Muslim population in the world. It is a complicated relationship, to say the least, but it is a partnership that must hold strong if it is to release the iron grip of the Taliban and al-Qaida on the Middle East.

“Pakistan is the epicenter of the international jihadist movement,” Riedel said, “and it is almost certainly the most dangerous country in the world today.”

“Almost every issue that Americans worry about — from terrorism, to the risk of nuclear war, to nuclear proliferation, to the future of Islam, to the future of democracy in the Islamic world — all those issues come together in Pakistan in a unique and very combustible way.”

As a senior fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, Riedel has counseled four U.S. presidents regarding intelligence issues in the Middle East and South Asia. In March 2009, he led a policy review of Pakistan and Afghanistan for President Barack Obama.

Riedel’s involvement with numerous presidential administrations has led him to the opinion that short-term goals regarding diplomacy in the Middle East are ineffective, and that a long-term plan to help Pakistan help itself is the only way to establish a mutually beneficial relationship.

“What we want to do is try to help those parts of Pakistani society which want Pakistan to be a modern, more or less secular, prosperous country without sanctuary for terrorists to feed,” Riedel said. “Our goal in Pakistan is to influence the internal battle in Pakistan, a kind of battle for the soul of this country, in favor of those who share a similar outlook with us and want to make Pakistan a modern, open power and reasonably prosperous country.”

Riedel also said Pakistan is suffering from what he terms a “Frankenstein” complex. In the 1980s, Pakistan developed a jihadist infrastructure to defend itself against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. The country also used this infrastructure to wage war against its rival, India. This jihadist movement, however, quickly grew beyond Pakistan’s control and is now creating inner turmoil throughout the country. In this way, Riedel said, Pakistan has become both the teacher and victim of terrorism.

But there is hope for Pakistan, he said. The elimination of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden May 1 was a huge blow to the terrorist organizations in the Middle East.

“For America to get Osama bin Laden after all these years was an indication that the strategy that the President embarked upon in 2009 had paid off,” Riedel said. “President Obama said at the beginning of his administration that his policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan was to degrade and defeat al-Qaida, and the demise of Osama bin Laden is definitely a step in that direction.”

At today’s lecture, Riedel will outline his ideas for victory in Pakistan — not necessarily for Americans, but for the people and government of Pakistan.

“I think the biggest misconception people have,” Riedel said, “is that all Pakistanis hate America and support terrorist groups. There are many Pakistanis who want to get their country out of the business of terrorism. They want their country to be tolerant, to be open, and to have a democratic process. We need to hear more of those voices, and we need to support those voices.”

Spy Museum director to frame week of espionage, intelligence

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Catherine Pomiecko | Staff Writer

When Peter Earnest first accepted a position with the United States Central Intelligence Agency, he, like the majority of the population at that time, knew very little about what the organization even was.

Now, after 35 years of service with the CIA, Earnest has made it his mission as the founding executive director of the International Spy Museum to educate the public about the role of intelligence and the ways it is gathered.

Setting the stage for a week of “American Intelligence: Technology, Espionage and Alliances,” Earnest will discuss the history of espionage and its role in the 21st century at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.

Earnest served 25 years as a case officer in the CIA’s Clandestine Service, where he spent more than 10 years in Europe and the Middle East. In the height of the Cold War, he ran intelligence collection and covert action operations against Soviet Bloc representatives and Communist front organizations. He also was chief of the task force in charge of the highest-ranking Soviet defector to the U.S.

In his last position with the CIA, Earnest served as the principal spokesman and director of media relations, creating a public profile unusual for a person with his experience. That, Earnest said, made his involvement with the International Spy Museum a natural fit.

“The International Spy Museum, which is unique in the world, plays a real role in educating the public on intelligence and espionage,” he said. “And if the role of a museum is to enlighten people, to educate people, to broaden their view, then certainly the opportunity to partner with Chautauqua and reach a large number of people is a terrific opportunity.”

Earnest’s lecture will create a framework for the weeklong partnership between the International Spy Museum and Chautauqua Institution. In addition to the morning lecture series, many Special Studies courses, afternoon lectures and children’s activities planned for the week will feature different facets of intelligence and espionage.

For example, Jonna and Tony Mendez, both former CIA chiefs of disguise, will host a Special Studies course on the art of misdirection and deception on Wednesday. Earnest also will be hosting a session called “The Recruiter: The Art of Being a Spy” as part of a five-day series.

“The whole idea of doing this is to promote understanding, and I can’t think of a better way to do it,” Earnest said.

Sherra Babcock, director of Chautauqua’s Department of Education, said the partnership better allows both organizations to further their own goals and appeal to all audiences.

“It’s going to be a wonderful, interesting, intergenerational week,” Babcock said.

The week’s theme also aligns closely with the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 and is meant to explore the questions that still remain about U.S. enemies, Babcock said.

“We didn’t want to do a straightforward program (in observance of Sept. 11) so we asked ourselves, ‘Who is our enemy? What do we know about them? And what is the current technology available?’” she said.

As those questions come during a time period in which U.S. security and intelligence efforts are increasingly important, Earnest said he hopes audiences will at the very least recognize the complexity of U.S intelligence efforts.

“It’s sometimes bewildering to people what the role of intelligence is, where spying fits in, where cyberwar fits in, all of those things,” Earnest said. “My hope and goal is that the people attending this week will develop a grasp on intelligence, the U.S. Intelligence Community and the role of intelligence in today’s world.”


Further viewing:

  1. The Colbert Report (Part 1)
  2. The Colbert Report (Part 2)

Sandel brings ethics discussions to Amp, CLSC

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Michael Sandel

Aaron Krumheuer and Suzi Starheim | Staff Writers

A longtime visitor to Chautauqua’s Amphitheater, Harvard University professor Michael Sandel returns to ask the question: What’s the right thing to do?

Sandel will speak twice today. He will give a morning lecture at 10:45 a.m. in the Amphitheater, as well as a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle lecture at 3:30 p.m. in the Hall of Philosophy. Sandel’s lectures come to Chautauqua nearing the end of the Week Two theme of “Applied Ethics: Government and the Search for the Common Good.”

Each of today’s lectures will focus on applied ethics and themes from Sandel’s recent New York Times best-selling book, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? They will be followed with a book signing. Sandel’s Justice is the second selection of the week for CLSC’s 2011 Season.

Chautauqua Institution President Thomas M. Becker said having Sandel at Chautauqua near the end of the Week Two theme will greatly benefit audience members.

“Every now and then, we have the opportunity to be in the presence of a really great teacher,” Becker said. “That’s what this is.”

Becker said Sandel is able to evoke deep thought in those who attend his lectures because of his ability to make moral reasoning seem understandable and less difficult.

“He manages to engage you as if you are talking one-on-one,” Becker said. “He gives concrete examples and wants audiences to think along with him.”

Sandel, a professor at Harvard since 1980, has received the Harvard-Radcliffe Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize and is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University.

In addition to his most recent book, Justice, Sandel has also written Liberalism and the Limits of Justice; Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy; Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics; and The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering.

Sandel is a 1975 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Brandeis University and earned his doctorate at the University of Oxford in 1981 as a Rhodes Scholar. He was recognized in 2008 by the American Political Science Association for his excellence in teaching and served on the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2002 to 2005. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

As a Harvard professor, Sandel teaches courses such as “Ethics, Economics, and Law,” “Ethics, Biotechnology, and the Future of Human Nature” and “Globalization and Its Critics.” He also established the undergraduate course “Justice,” which is the first Harvard course available for free online. This course has now enrolled more than 15,000 students.

While this isn’t Sandel’s first time speaking to a Chautauquan audience, he said it is something he looks forward to greatly.

“I’ve been privileged to speak in Chautauqua’s glorious Amphitheater many times over the years,” Sandel said in an email. “I know of no more thoughtful and reflective audience anywhere in the world. Chautauquans are committed to ideas, to civic life, and to moral and spiritual reflection. Coming to Chautauqua always feels like coming home.”

Sandel’s ability to get his audience to think is a big part of the reason he is such a popular lecturer in Chautauqua, said Sherra Babcock, director of the Department of Education.

“He is going to cause people in the audience to think deeply about applied ethics in general and about the issues of government and the common good,” Babcock said. “They will probably go home with their ideas unsettled, which means they’ll be thinking about his lecture long after Friday.”

At the heart of his lectures, and his book Justice, Babcock said, is the belief that morals should be a public debate, not a private one.

“We try to have him here very frequently because he’s such a deep thinker on the topic of applied ethics,” Babcock said. “He causes people to ask themselves, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’”

Justice is based off Sandel’s Harvard undergraduate course of the same name. It is an ethical exploration, delving into some of the most divisive debates of our age, including immigration, Wall Street bailouts, same-sex marriage, free markets and religion in politics.

Throughout the book, Sandel employs the Socratic method to get to the heart of the moral framework of various arguments. He introduces several philosophical models, such as Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative and John Stuart Mill’s theory of utilitarianism, and plays them against one another, making point and counter-point.

“I read it twice, actually. … Each time, I was just really impressed with how apt the cases and instances are (Sandel) brings in,” said Philip Safford, a former professor from Shaker Heights, Ohio, who delivered a Brown Bag review on the book on Wednesday at Alumni Hall. “It’s very, very readable, and his teaching itself is accessible. Obviously, he’s very successful at engaging his students just as he engages the reader.”

Despite its lofty subject matter, the book is full of practical case studies accessible even to novices to philosophy, yet the penetration into current events is still appealing to those well versed in Aristotle and John Rawls.

“It’s dealing with issues in all our lives, whether it’s affirmative action or surrogate parenting or genetic engineering. … These are things we face, and to see them all in one little book is really quite impressive,” Safford said. “You realize, wow, we live in a very complex society, with all kinds of ethical challenges.”

Sandel said that although he has been to Chautauqua several times before, the Week Two theme could not take place at a better time for him and for Americans as a group.

“In my lecture, I will ask what we can do to elevate the quality of our public discourse,” Sandel said. “Many Americans are frustrated with the shouting matches and bitterness that characterize our political debates. Some people say the problem with our politics is that we talk too much about morality in public life. I disagree. I will argue that the cure for what ails us is not less moral argument in politics but a deeper engagement with the moral and spiritual convictions that we, as citizens, bring to public life. I will argue for a new politics of the common good.”

Olson to discuss legal system’s role in governing process

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Theodore Olson

John Ford | Staff Writer

Theodore Olson, former U.S. solicitor general, will be the featured speaker at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater as the Week Two examination continues of “Applied Ethics: Government and the Search for the Common Good.”

Olson has been at the center of some of the most significant U.S. legal proceedings of the past 25 years and was named by Time magazine last year as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Olson will be joined on the Amphitheater stage by frequent Chautauqua speaker John Q. Barrett, a law professor at St. John’s University in New York, prominent Supreme Court historian and specialist on former high court justice Robert H. Jackson of Jamestown, N.Y.

Barrett envisions a wide-ranging colloquy in which he will pose broad questions and Olson will respond. “I expect he will do most of the talking,” Barrett said.

Olson has long been one of the most visible and successful attorneys arguing cases before the Supreme Court. Notable successes include Bush v. Gore following the 2000 general election and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Overall, he has won more than three-quarters of his cases before the high court.

He is currently representing NFL players in their federal court lawsuit against the NFL owners and their lockout of players.

Olson worked in the Department of Justice in the early 1980s and was colicitor general — the nation’s top lawyer — under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004. He served in the Reagan White House and was former President Ronald Reagan’s personal attorney during and after his presidency. Except for his years in the Justice Department, Olson has been affiliated with the powerhouse Los Angeles and Washington law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP since 1965.

Olson was serving as solicitor general on Sept. 11. His wife, Barbara, was a passenger on the hijacked American Airlines jet, which was crashed into the Pentagon on that day.

Potential conflicts between personal values and professional responsibilities and how lawyers deal with these conflicts will form one of the themes Barrett will likely raise in this morning’s program.

Another area for discussion is what Barrett calls “the politicization of the law and criminal justice by those out of political power to displace those who are in.”

Barrett wants to examine how this got started and seemingly became so deeply rooted, and to explore an exit strategy for the American political system.

“The legal system was always part of the campaign process to some degree,” Barrett noted, “but not until more recently has it become a prominent component of the governing process.”

Barrett also said “the ethics of the high-end lawyer in decisions around defending money and power versus public interest fights” form another likely basis for discussion

“Should ethics guide the brilliant lawyer away from the wrong side of justice?” he asked.

An additional conversational subject will be the increasingly prevalent view of the Supreme Court over the past 25 years as what Barrett describes as “pre-committed.”

“Does this image square with the concept of advocacy before open-minded judges? Where are the remedies?” he asked.

Barrett said he and Olson have been acquainted since the mid-1980s, when Barrett was a top aide to independent counsel Lawrence Walsh in the Iran-Contra investigation and Olson represented Reagan. Later, after Reagan left office, Olson and Barrett negotiated the conditions under which access to the former president would be granted.

“We formed a kind of combat bond,” Barrett said.

Barrett called Olson “simply a superb lawyer.”

At one point, Barrett said, congressional staffers called him “looking for ammunition to defeat” Olson’s nomination by President George  W. Bush to be solicitor general.

“I disappointed them,” he said. “I said Ted Olson was superbly qualified for the job.”

Olson will be accompanied by his wife, Lady Olson, who is a tax attorney. Barrett’s wife, Sarah Walzer, executive director of the Parent-Child Home Program, will also be on the grounds.

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