“Two thousand years after Plato wrote it seems as if not only the gods but the wise have abandoned us, and left us alone with our partial knowledge and our ignorance. What is left to us in the place of the wise is their writings, in their glinting brilliance and their increasing obscurity. They still lay in more or less accessible editions; they can still be read, if only one knew why one should bother. It is their fate—to stand in silent bookshelves, like posted letters no longer collected, sent to us by authors, of whom we no longer knew whether or not they could be our friends. . . .
Perhaps it occasionally happens that in such researches in the dead cellars of culture the long-ignored texts begin to glimpse as if a distant light flickers over them. Can the archives also come into the Clearing? Everything suggests that archivists have become the successors of the humanists. For the few who still peer around in those archives, the realization is dawning that our lives are the confused answer to questions which were asked in places we have forgotten.”
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Are there writings and records that might help us understand what is happening now? If you are in Portland, we invite you to join us this coming Friday, January 20, as well as the Friday following, January 27, at the Oregon Institute for Creative Research for a roundtable discussion on a range of critical topics, from the growing indistinction of the real and the fake to the threatened disappearance of politics as a system of challenge, contest, and negotiation; from “relapse into barbarism” (Adorno) to the naiveté of “intelligence in isolation” (Horkheimer); from the supercession of intellect by illustration (Adorno) to the town-country divide; from social media to new forms of brutalism; from the eternal aversion to the question of “what we are doing” (Arendt) to the pull of oblivion.