February 26 2019

Imagining Money XV Monday Feb 25 2019

Given the sheepish coughing you'll hear, by people acknowledging they weren't keeping up with the reading, this turned into an exposition mainly of Marcel Mauss's great work The Gift, along with some mention of Joel Waldfogel's notorious article "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas."

February 17 2019

Imagining Money XIV Thursday 2-15-19 Mainly Merchant of Venice and the Bible

Mainly the Merchant of Venice, with discussion of its Biblical source: Jacob as trickster; Laban as trickster; Shylock as trickster; Portia as trickster; much about Jacob, Esau, Isaac, and the man Jacob wrestles with; the meaning of the turquois ring and the pound of flesh.

NB: this coming week is vacation so no updates till the week of Feb 25.

February 15 2019

Early Romantics IX Wed 2-13-19: Book of Thel

A last class on Blake's Book of Thel, with much attention given to the Clod of Clay's line: "I ponder and I cannot ponder."

NB: February vacation next week, so no new episodes till the week after.

February 14 2019

Imagining Money XIII Wednesday Feb 13 2019, mainly about usury

A class mainly about interest, usury, compounding of interest vs. Malthusian limits to biological growth -- the interesting fact that if Judas had invested his 40 pieces of silver at prevailing rates of compound interest, he'd own an amount of silver more greater than the entire volume of the earth (so that Christ's redemption, compounded over two millennia, would indeed more than repurchase the entire world).

February 12 2019

Early Romantics VIII Monday Feb 11 2019 mainly on most of Thel

With a quotation from Blake's description of his (lost) painting "A Vision of the Last Judgment":

I assert for My self that I do not behold the Outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance & not Action it is as the Dirt upon my feet No part of Me. What it will be Questiond When the Sun rises do you not see a round Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea O no no I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight I look thro it & not with it.


February 11 2019

Imagining Money XII Feb 10 2019 Kawabata, Exodus, Shakespeare

(February 11, actually, but I think if I change the title I may change the link.) We start with Earle Stanley Gardner on writing by the word -- then on to Kawabata and the spookiness of the story.  Then The Merchant of Venice, and the significance of the rings and their value.  The reason Shylock is a stranger, and that all the Jews in Venice are: because Deuteronomy permits lending at interest to a stranger, so the Christians wanted to be strangers to the Jews so made the Jews strangers to them.  The stranger in Simmel mentioned: "The wanderer [the merchant] is he who comes today and goes tomorrow; the stranger is he who comes today and stays tomorrow."  At least I am sure it may be so in Venice.

February 9 2019

Early Romanticism VII — more Blake

In particular "The Garden of Love" and "London," "To the Evening Star," and a touch of The Book of Thel

February 8 2019

Imagining Money XI, Thursday 2-7-19 Game theory: Keynesian Beauty Contests, Stampedes and Panics

Buying and selling based on predictions of what others will buy and sell: Keynesian Beauty Contests (cf. "Family Feud") and what they have to do with narrative interaction.   An in class demonstration in which a student wins a dollar!  Some discussion of other manipulative games.

NB that previous episode was mistitled as Monday's: It was actually Wednesday's....

February 7 2019

Imagining Money X Wednesday February 6 2019 — Merchant of Venice and Ezra Pound

Functions of money.  Ripping a bill in half.  A little more on the etymological background of interest as breeding. Usura Canto in Pound, with youtube audio of him reading it. Kinds of wealth in The Merchant of Venice, following James Buchan.

February 6 2019

Romanticism VI 2-4-19 Blake’s There is no Natural Religion, and some songs of Experience

Some discussion of "There is no Natural Religion" and then some Songs of Experience: "The Chimney Sweeper," the two versions of "Holy Thursday," "The Clod and the Pebble," and -- a Song of Innocence -- "The Little Black Boy."

February 5 2019

Imagining Money IX Monday February 4, 2019

Some discussion of the Super Bowl, and of game theory at the end of the game.  Then a return to Aristotle on the three functions of money, and on interest -- and the Greek word's etymology as breeding or procreation (from the word τόκος , , [tokos] = childbirth from (τίκτω [titko]) meaning to give birth, whence also τεχνη, craft, i.e. the art of producing objects, which word Aristotle uses elsewhere in discussing the unmoved mover).

February 1 2019

Imagining Money VIII Thursday January 31 — Mostly Marx

A class where we end up going into the labor theory of value -- average abstract labor time being what produces equilibria among different commodities.  We were going to talk about Kawabata, and about interest, but that's TK.  We did talk about Aristotle -- and therefore a bit about Adam Smith -- on the functions of actual money: medium of exchange, bookkeeping measure, store of value, and also a bit on how these can be confused with each other.

January 31 2019

Romanticism, Class V: Mainly on “All Religions Are One”

This was going to be on "The Songs of Experience" (watch this space), but in order to discuss what Blake meant by the word "experience" we took a look at his 1788 tract "All Religions Are One" (printed just before "The Songs of Innocence"), which led to a long discussion of the dialectic between Plato and Locke and a counter-dialectic in Blake against both Plato and Locke.

January 30 2019

Imagining Money VII Wednesday Jan 30 2019

A class that spiraled outwards from a consideration of Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale to Maugham's parable of the appointment in Samara to parables in general, including the strange parable of the talents in Matthew.  The ontology of things in the world and death as not a thing in the world (in Chaucer, in Maugham).  How treasure or gold is like death -- a catalyst, a vector, something not itself (a marker for a return to Aristotle tomorrow).

January 29 2019

Romanticism Class IV: Songs of Innocence

Much on "The Lamb" (and a little on "The Tyger"), "A Cradle Song," "Infant Joy" and the Innocence version of "The Chimney Sweeper."  Innocence as privative (like "infant" and "innocuous")-- a contrast to the world as we know it. 

January 28 2019

Imagining Money VI 1-28-19

A class mainly on Mammon -- in Milton and in Spenser -- though we don't get that far, because we pause for an explanation of The Faerie Queene and of allegory in general -- e.g. Edward Gorey's Innocence, on the Bicycle of Propriety, Carrying the Urn of Reputation Safely over the Abyss of Indiscretion.  Hence some talk about the harmony of the virtues in Aristotle -- chastity vs. temperance.  Matthew 6:24 quoted -- you cannot serve both God and Mammon.

January 27 2019

Imagining Money V Thursday Jan 24 2019 — Midas and money

Aristotle on Midas, and then Ovid on Midas (Golding's translation), which is the just-so story of how the river Pactolus came to run with gold (or actually electrum), leading to the first coining of money under Croesus, with a little fumbling in class about what it was that Archimedes found bathing (that objects submerged in water displace their own volume).

January 26 2019

Romanticism, class III: Nurses Songs, Milton

More on the two versions of the Nurses Song, with some subtle narrative theory applied -- who is or are the real narrators of the two songs?  Then back to Paradise Lost: a little history, a little consideration of how it champions the proto-Romantic centrality of human judgment to our sense of the world and of morality.  (Luther on Pharaoh type of thing....)

January 25 2019

Imagining Money IV Wednesday Jan 23 2019

More Aristotle, on the origin of actual money -- coin of the realm as Gutman will say in The Maltese Falcon (TK) -- and the meaning of the word "tender" in the phrase "legal tender."  Polonius's dumb pun on the word.  Aristotle, very briefly, on infinity (the unbounded) and its relation to goods and money.  Meatloaf's song "Paradise by the dashboard light" naturally comes up, as it most in most classes on Aristotle....

January 24 2019

Imagining Money III 1-22-19

Discussion of a couple of Exeter riddles (you can find them on the original handout) and how they connect money to various other social interactions, prostitution in particular.  Then we broach Aristotle's Politics.

January 23 2019

English Romanticism: Blake, WW, STC second class 1-22-19

Second class: mainly an intro to Paradise Lost, followed by a return to the two versions of Blake's "Nurses Song."  Blake's illustrations here.


January 22 2019

Imagining Money II 1-17-19

A class mainly on Kay Ryan's poem "Money is a kind of poetry," a riff on Wallace Stevens' line (in his Adagia): "Poetry is a kind of money."  The class, of course, is about both.  Link to handouts (including this poem) available in previous episode or here.

January 20 2019

Imagining Money (Literature and Economics) 1-16-19

This is the first class of a new course called "Imagining Money."  You can find a draft syllabus -- an aspirational one, since we'll never get through it all -- here.  There are handouts for the first three days: the short passage from Beckett we discuss first, a miscellany of poems and riddles about money, and a selection of passages from Milton, Ovid, and Ambrose Bierce.  The syllabus gives you the lines to read from Milton's Paradise Lost, viz. Book 1, ll. 674-751, and Book 8, ll. 1-178.  And here is the Kawabata story.

January 19 2019

English Romanticism: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge 1/16/19

An introductory class for a course on the early Romantics.  Today we talked about the oxymoronic title of Lyrical Ballads, more about ballads than about lyrics; about Milton; about Blake's describing him as being of the devil's party without knowing it.  Syllabus TK -- watch this space.

May 2 2016

Soyinka - Death and the King’s Horseman (1a-32 = last class)

Last class of the semester, on Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman.  Compared and contrasted with Achebe's Things Fall Apart, which unlike the play is about the clash of cultures, and what happens when European culture arrives and destroys the cultures it is ignorant of; and with Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which makes African culture a backdrop to European reckoning with its own tragic ontology.  Death and the King's Horseman as treating British colonial culture as a catalyst and otherwise a (ridiculous) backdrop to its own concerns, concerns as archaic, as fundamental, and essential as anything to be found in Aeschylus or Shakespeare.  By way of long discussions of how we think of the audience as narratee, not as reader; and how we think of plays as having the same kind of hidden narrators as we think of novels as having hidden narratees.  Who is the audience, or who are its members, its narratees, who do we think they are, in Death and the King's Horseman?

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