MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 36

Juvenescence: Robert Pogue Harrison on Cultural Age

 “This is one of the huge issues: is the present comprehensible from the perspective of the past? And if the answer is no, then the inverse is also true: namely, the past becomes incomprehensible from the perspective of the present. Now when the ages become incomprehensible to each other, then we lose continuity and we're in a mode of rupture, and that's what it means to be orphaned.”

Robert Pogue Harrison

Cultural critic and professor of Italian literature, Robert Pogue Harrison, examines the conditions in which cultural transmission can take place. In his book, Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age, Harrison argues that Western culture is on the cusp of a new mode of civilization that can either result in a rejuvenation of the legacies of the past or in their juvenilization, the latter of which would lead to a loss of cultural memory and the infantilization of desires. A culture undergoing juvenescence, when it is going in the direction of juvenilization, is at risk of both cultural amnesia and orphanhood. Harrison reflects not only upon the ways in which our culture is evolving into a younger way of being human, but also upon the peculiar and precious qualities of youth that are uniquely receptive to fostering the amor mundi needed to preserve and transmit a world of permanence and belonging.

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    Track 1: Introduction to Conversation 36
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    Track 2: On solitude and idleness as the ground for thought
    Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age (University of Chicago Press, 2014)
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    Track 3: On the wisdom of childlike wonder
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    Track 4: On juvenescence vs. juvenilization
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    Track 5: On "neotonic" revolutions
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    Track 6: On the phenomenology of age
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    Track 7: On juvenescence as a bio-cultural transformation
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    Track 8: On Hannah Arendt's amor mundi and the cultural purposes of education
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    Track 9: Closing comments