Saturday, September 27, 2008

Families and Weddings

I'm just back from Connecticut, where my son Tom married his partner in life and in jazz, Kelsey Merrow. Here's a picture of my seven children: Joe, Maren, Tom, Nate, Ben, Sam, and Tim. They look great; and the photo reminds me that as I battle my various personal demons, and as they battle theirs, we're family.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Photos and Identity

For a book coming out in Belgrade in late October, the editor of Stubovi Kulture asked for a photograph of me to pair with a photo he had of my co-author Zarko Radakovic. I sent him several photos, each worse than the last; and after the email with attachments had been sent, I was left wondering, again, about photos and identity.

Today in Alex's and my class on language, we discussed a section of Michel Foucault's book "The Order of Things" in which he noted that a mirror image is a natural sign. It made sense in his context, but in the context of these photos, which one is a representation of the natural "me"?

None of them, of course, even touches who I am. They get at my grey hair and aging skin and show me in different poses. But I am as much psychological turmoil as I am a physical body and only a physiognomist with the Swiss pastor Lavater's insight could pair the two.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Related views.
Same night.
Same camera.
The pleasures of repetition.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Interdisciplinarity and Language Evolution

Near the end of her book "The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language," Christine Kenneally writes the following:

"It's clear by now that the problem of language evolution is completely intractable when you approach it from the perspective of a single discipline. For all the salient questions to be answered, the multidisciplinary nature of the field will have to become even more so. So far, it has taken years for individuals in different departments to start talking, to develop research questions that make sense for more than one narrow line of inquiry, and to start talking, to develop research questions that make sense for more than one narrow line of inquiry, and to start to understand one another's points of view. The field of language evolution needs students who can synthesize information from neuroscience, psychology, computer modeling, genetics and linguistics. The more this happens, the richer and wider the field will become, instead of devolving around one or two theoretical issues."

The book as a whole is a fascinating exercise in just this kind of synthesizing, and the author is a prime example of someone who understands and relays information from a variety of fields.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

New Integrated Studies Space

Architects and Freemasons share the view that we're different persons as we inhabit different buildings. The spaces we live in, in other words, influence who we are.

Since late July, the Program in Integrated Studies is located on the fifth floor of the new library, on the north end of that floor. From our respective ofices, we look out at Cascade Mountain to the east, Timpanogos to the north, and Utah Lake and Lake Mountain to the west. For the first time, we're gathered together, with space for a receptionist and lots of space for students to study and relax and read IS theses from 1999 to the present.

And that, in many ways, changes and influences who we are.

Come by and see us.