The great city of Troy had been sacked, and weary Aeneas, a Trojan war hero, stumbles on to the shores of Carthage after a seven-years’ voyage. So begins the Aeneid, the epic tale told by Rome’s most renowned poet Virgil. Dido the Queen takes him in, and Aeneas indulges them in the story of his travels as they feast. Among the many harrowing details of his hasty retreat from Troy is found the touching account of his wife’s death in the confusing aftermath of Troy’s destruction. Remembering his desperate search for her, she appears to him as a ghost there in the street, encouraging him to continue in his flight. A new land awaits him:
There a new realm, a royal wife,
Shall build again your shattered life.
Weep not your dear Creusa's fate;
We are not without our own losses in this country as we dodge the arrows of mockery in a cultural retreat. But we are not without hope either. In a day in which human experience trumps all other forms of knowledge, conversation about ideas as such are now considered to be at best pretentious.
I, for one, as one Aeneas, weep the loss of a culture reduced to a visage of war-torn Troy, and whose fairest flower—the dear Creusa of Truth and Goodness—appears dead or in the shadows. I strain to believe that a future might await us in which dialogue about the Big Ideas that move the hearts and souls of humanity are once again discussed in the open air.
Pretentiousness should be unfashionable, but discussing the big ideas including but not limited to philosophy, business, economics, arts, politics, and city-planning should be anything but pretentious. It’s the life-blood of a city to reason together through the complex details that make the good life possible. Let’s bring the love of wisdom back into the public square once again, and demonstrate that civil discourse about our lives together is not dead. She is merely building a “new realm.”
In Oklahoma City, SALLT, along with Nathan Carr, will be presenting City Forum with presenters such as scholars, developers, doctors, politicians, journalists, architects and a host of others to help us navigate these topics. The first three topics will be: What are cities for?; What is the true nature of work?; and What are people for? Said another way we want to discuss civics, vocation, and anthropology. September presenters will be Blair Humphreys, lead urban developer of Wheeler District through the Humphreys Company, and Dr. Wilfred McClay, the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma. The event is free and open to the public. The dates are the third Wednesday of each month: September 17th, October 15th, and November 19th. Bring a brown-bag lunch to the Sandridge auditorium 12Noon-1pm.
Here’s to the good life!
Nathan D. Carr
Chief Education Officer and Provost of The Academy
New Heavens, New Earth
(written as a gift to SALLT)
Music and Lyrics by:
©2015 Kyle Dillingham, LLC