Posts Tagged ‘Charles Junkerman’

Stanford Repertory Theater showcases a trio of works on the environment and social justice

Sunday, July 14th, 2019
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The Stanford Repertory Theater (SRT) has launched its annual summer festival with “Voices of the Earth: From Sophocles to Rachel Carson and Beyond.” The polished reading from nearly a hundred writers, thinkers, scientists, and politicians, compiled by the Artistic Director Rush Rehm and Charles Junkerman, Stanford’s dean (emeritus) for Continuing Studies, ends tonight, alas! But other shows on this year’s theme, “The Environment and Social Justice,” will debut in the coming weeks. Go here to read about two new plays, Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids, by Vincent Terrell Durham, and Anna Considers Mars, by Ruben Grijalva. SRT also hosts a popular film series.

“Voice of the Earth” was a moving tribute to our planet. However, the first quarter-hour made me wonder if the seven performers/readers could keep the show together for 90 minutes, entirely on snippets from the 7th century B.C. to now. Yet they did!

I had some quibbles about the tendentiousness – Reagan, Bush, Nixon, and inevitably Trump were excoriated, with satisfied groans from the liberal audience. But what about Obama‘s complicated relationship with fracking? And were the Native Americans really all peace and love and Great Spirit? (One quote referred to whispering to the bears, rather than killing them. Do not try that at home.)  There’s always a danger of sentimentalizing, even kitschifying nature, extracting the roughness and toughness of our familiar earth – it’s radical foreign-ness.

I was happy to see a number of Stanford “Another Look” book club author’s featured: J.A. Baker, Joseph Conrad, W.H. Hudson. And a few personal friends and favorites – Richard Wilbur, too.

Kudos to cast members Gianna Clark, Thomas Freeland, Jake Harrison, Sequoiah Hippolyte, Brenna McCulloch, Emma Rothenberg, Gabe Wieder.

I picked out a few quotes from the evening. Here they are:

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste . . . ”

– Wallace Stegner (from a letter)

Rilke, in a painting by Leonid Pasternak

Do you still remember: falling stars,
how they leapt slantwise through the sky
like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles
of our wishes—did we have so many?—
for stars, innumerable, leapt everywhere;
almost every gaze upward became
wedded to the swift hazard of their play,
and our heart felt like a single thing
beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance—
and was whole, as if it would survive them!

Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. Edward Snow

“… I lay on the bowsprit, facing astern, with the water foaming into spume under me, the masts with every sail white in the moonlight, towering high above me. I became drunk with the beauty and singing rhythm of it, and for a moment I lost myself – actually lost my life. I was set free! I dissolved in the sea, became white sails and flying spray, became beauty and rhythm, became moonlight and the ship and the high dim-starred sky! I belonged, without past or future, within peace and unity and a wild joy, within something greater than my own life, or the life of man, to life itself! To God, if you want to put it that way. Then another time, on the American Line, when I was lookout on the crow’s nest in the dawn watch. A calm sea, that time. Only a lazy groundswell and a slow, drowsy roll of the ship. The passengers asleep and none of the crew in sight. No sound of man. Black smoke pouring from the funnels behind and beneath me. Dreaming, not keeping lookout, feeling alone, and above, and apart, watching the dawn creep like a painted dream over the sky and sea which slept together. Then the moment of ecstatic freedom came. The peace, the end of the quest, the last harbor, the joy of belonging to a fulfillment beyond men’s lousy, pitiful, greedy fears and hopes and dreams! And several other times in my life, when I was swimming far out, or lying alone on a beach, I have had the same experience. Became the sun, the hot sand, green seaweed anchored to a rock, swaying in the tide. Like a saint’s vision of beatitude. Like the veil of things as they seem drawn back by an unseen hand. For a second you see—and seeing the secret, are the secret. For a second there is meaning! Then the hand lets the veil fall and you are alone, lost in the fog again.”

Eugene O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

A night for W.H. Hudson and Green Mansions: his love for animals was deep and his opinions were fierce

Thursday, November 15th, 2018
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About 150 devoted book fans braved the campus-wide construction at Stanford to attend our Another Look fall event on William Henry Hudson’s Green Mansions on Tuesday, October 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Bechtel Conference Center of Encina Hall. The event launched Another Look’s seventh season.

First published in 1904, Green Mansions seamlessly blends nineteenth-century romanticism with the ecological imperatives that would come to the forefront in the twentieth century. Discussants included Prof. Robert Pogue Harrison, director of Another Look, Prof. Laura Wittman, and the Dean of Continuing Studies, Charles Junkerman.

Harrison at the podium.

The book had more fame back then than it does now – despite a 1959 film with Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins. Said novelist Ford Madox Ford of the novel: “There was no one – no writer – who did not acknowledge without question that Hudson was the greatest living writer of English … I have never heard a writer speak of him with anything but reverence that was given to no other human being. For as a writer he was a magician.” According to Joseph Conrad, “Hudson’s writing is like grass that the good God made to grow, and when it is there you cannot tell how it came.”

The plot: Abel Guevez de Argensola, flees to the Venezuelan interior after launching a failed coup in Caracas with his friends. In the remote jungles and savannas, he lives among the native people, learning their language and their ways. While exploring the terrain, he hears strange bird-like singing and discovers a young woman with a mysterious story. His love for her desolates and transfigures his life.

Hudson was better known as a naturalist and ornithologist, and his opinions were fierce, particularly about cruelty to animals. On his grave is written: “He loved birds and green places, and the wind on the hearth, and saw the brightness of the skirts of God.”

But his opinion of his fellow man could be harsh. In 1915, he wrote to a friend, “You think it is a ‘cursed’ war. I think it is a blessed war. And it is quite time we had our purification from the degeneration, the rottenness that comes with everlasting peace. The blood that is being spilled will purge us of many hateful qualities – of our caste feeling, or our detestable partisanship, our gross selfishness and a hundred more. Let us thank the gods for a Wilhelm and a whole nation insane with hatred of England to restore us to health.”

Photos of the event, as always, by Another Look aficionado David Schwartz. And the podcast for the event is here.

W.H. Hudson’s Green Mansions on October 30. Be there!

Friday, October 12th, 2018
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Most valuable writer? Galsworthy thought so.

Join us for the Tuesday, October 30, Another Look book club discussion of W.H. Hudson‘s Green Mansions. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Bechtel Conference Center of Encina Hall.

First published in 1904, Green Mansions seamlessly blends nineteenth-century romanticism with the ecological imperatives that would come to the forefront in the twentieth century. Discussants will include Prof. Robert Pogue Harrison, director of Another Look, Prof. Laura Wittman, and the Dean of Continuing Studies, Charles Junkerman.

The plot: Abel Guevez de Argensola, flees to the Venezuelan interior after launching a failed coup in Caracas with his friends. In the remote jungles and savannas, he lives among the native people, learning their language and their ways. While exploring the terrain, he hears strange bird-like singing and discovers a young woman with a mysterious story. His love for her desolates and transfigures his life.

According to novelist and playwright John Galsworthy, writing a decade after the publication of Green Mansions, “All Hudson’s books breathe this spirit of revolt against our new enslavement by towns and machinery, and are true oases in an age so dreadfully resigned to the ‘pale mechanician.” … A very great writer; and – to my thinking – the most valuable our age possesses.”