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Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Golden Moment of Academic Society

Yesterday, I had the privilege of hosting a number of very fine scholars over at St. John's for a conference devoted to various subjects in and around retributivism and punishment theory generally.  Dan Markel -- the Rudolf Bing of the legal academy -- helped to bring together the group to discuss, among other things, some of the chapters in this book edited by Mark White, including his own contribution.  We had visitors from near and far (the wonderful Jane Johnson came all the way from Australia and gave a lovely and informative talk on the connection and differences between Hegel's and Kant's views of the relationship of crime and punishment).  It was a treat for me to hear them speak and I learned a great deal.

I might post some further thoughts about the substance of the conference, but one thing that struck me was something Ekow Yankah mentioned to me right at the end -- that there was a moment, fairly late in the conference, when the participants had achieved a certain trust with one another and were not waiting to be formally called on to ask their questions or make their comments.  They were reacting naturally to the points being made, interjecting artfully and in such a way that exemplified the edifying sociability of common conversation.  This was the mellow golden point of the conference.  Then it was over and the conferees were on their way, traveling here and there.  But it was pleasant indeed to experience the society of that common golden moment. 

Posted by Marc DeGirolami on November 5, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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Very well said, Marc--it was a wonderful conference indeed!

Posted by: Mark D. White | Nov 6, 2011 3:44:24 PM

Dan -- Sir Rudolph Bing was, in my view, the greatest opera impresario of his generation, and responsible for bringing the Met to its resplendent glory in the mid-20th-century period. I suppose some think of that as conservative, but it is surely an unobjectionable variety. [Don't know anything about the old-age home stuff...but we all decay eventually...]

This memoir tells his story: http://www.amazon.com/5000-Nights-Opera-Memoirs-Rudolf/dp/0385092598/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320585832&sr=1-1

Posted by: Marc DeGirolami | Nov 6, 2011 6:46:29 AM

whenever I read your writing, I learn something new, usually because I need to look something up. Given what I found out about Sir Bing, I can look forward to a) a personal life marked by growing older by marrying crazy women, finding myself deemed incompetent and being left to die at the Hebrew Home for the Aged and b) a professional life in which I autocratically rule the academy with charisma, conservatism, and a zeal for nurturing young talent while overthrowing superstars from their lofty perches. I can't wait :-)

Posted by: Dan Markel | Nov 6, 2011 1:09:56 AM

Alas, the "edifying sociability of common conversation," both a ritual (of sorts) and an art, is quite rare these days...and the exceptions like a few evanescent soap bubbles floating above the madding crowd.

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Nov 5, 2011 7:15:42 PM

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