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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

Exploring Indiana: McCormick’s Creek State Park

I just returned from a weekend camping at McCormick’s Creek State Park in Owen County, Indiana.  The first night was likely the hottest and most humid night of the summer.  The second night it rained and thundered.  It was likely the weekend with the worst weather of the summer.  Still, we had a good time.  This trip was the first time we went camping in Indiana, and so first time at McCormick’s Creek.  I wished I had had some of this information before going and was surprised that I couldn’t find some of this online.

So first, the primitive campsites are quite decent.  There are pretty regular water pumps around the loop.  The best sites seem to me to be the farthest ones on the outside of the ring, furthest south on the map (213, 214, 215, 218).  The sound carries through the ring pretty easily and quiet hours are not really enforced.  It was difficult for me to sleep because I could hear people talking late — like until 2 or later.  Sites from 190-202 are on the paved road and might be more exposed to noise from cars but seem more isolated from one another.  There is an outhouse on the top of the ring.  I read that there are showers at the electric sites, but I couldn’t see that on the map and didn’t go looking (there are showers at the pool, which you have to pay $3 to enter, but the entry fee lasts for the whole day and you can come and go).  Some sites do say that the bathrooms at the electric ring have showers, so I guess you could drive over. Read more

Exploring Indiana: Turner and Oldfields at the IMA

Since I moved to Indiana, I have been blogging about various adventures in exploring Indiana, often at the instigation of my friend Nazareth Pantaloni who lives in Bloomington.  Last spring, we visited Naz in Bloomington the same weekend that the film about Joseph Mallard William Turner’s life, Mr. Turner, was playing in IU’s Art and a Movie Film series.  Turner lived from 1775-1851, and, as that NYT piece linked above says, his life was a piece of work just as much as his art was.  So this weekend, Naz joined us (and our very dear friend Leigh Johnson) for a visit to the IMA to see the exhibit of drawings by Turner.   There are two large oil paintings on display in the general collections of the museum, including this one, The Fifth Plague of Egypt, which Turner painted in 1799.

The drawings show a different side to Turner.  They are largely architectural, and not nearly so full of Sturm und Drang.  They often highlight the everyday life and work at the foot of impressive architectural edifices, like this one below of Ripon: Looking along the Kirkgate toward the Cathedral from 1797 (Turner was 23!).  The exhibit is in a room is up the stairs from the Clowes Courtyard.  Unlike much of the museum, which feels very much like a museum, this room appropriately feels like you are walking through someone’s living room.  I admit I was a little confused about why some pieces that were not Turner’s were included – I expect it was to show influence and connections, but there was no explanation.  The exhibit is up until August 28.turner2

I moved to Indianapolis just a couple months ago, but I already thought I knew the city.  I have visited the Indianapolis Museum of Art plenty (I blogged about the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit here).  But not until this weekend did I venture beyond the main building to the house and gardens that make up the estate behind it–Oldfields.  This is the home of J.K. Lilly, Jr., the businessman and philanthropist who now seems to fund most of Indiana nonprofit work.  As followers of this blog know from this series, I bought a home not too long ago.  In the Exploring Indiana series, I have blogged about visits to three historic homes in Indiana–the Miller home in Columbus, the Eugene Debs house in Terre Haute, and the Steele estate in Brown County.  But it struck me at the Lilly house this weekend that if interior design is aspirational, as Francesca Tronchin has argued and as I consider here, then the very function of all these homes set aside for our viewing pleasure is to produce the sense that homes show who you are, who you see yourself to be and who you want others to think you are.  Even these people were doing aspirational interior design.  Look at this library, what does this say about me?  Look at this china set, look at this kitchen, it even has a separate dish-washing kitchen.  The website explains, “Lilly House is a historic house museum and has been restored to its 1930s splendor. ”

OLD_079_Lilly House History 2

Of course there is an historical element–this is how people lived, which is why I like to see the kitchens and the dumb waiters and learning whether the elevator was a new addition or part of the house when it was built (it was part of the house when it was built).  But if it were only that, we would be as interested in preserving and visiting the average person’s home – the Debs house pretty much is the average person’s home and so many fewer people visit it.  Or we would be talking more specifically about the historical significance of the home.  But what we are talking about is silver collections.  The top floor of the Lilly House is an exhibit of the silver.  The website discusses the history in terms of the history of improvements that have been made to the house.  It isn’t just that this house communicates that this is what it means to make it.  To have a silver urn of this sort.  To have this old car.  To have the ability to donate this 100-acre estate to set up an art museum.  But rather, that these people were showing who they had become and how they wanted to be seen by their extensive china collection.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s captivating.  I envied the library.  The gardens are very nice.  The orchids on display in the greenhouse are amazing in the I-can’t-believe-this-exists-in-nature kind of way.  But it’s unmistakeable that these homes and gardens construct our desire and our feelings about needing to be better consumers in order to be better at communicating who we are to the world in the guise of interior design.

Exploring Indiana: Bloomington and Brown County

Last weekend, we slept in the fifteenth bed in six weeks, visited the 27th town at home and abroad in three months.  We drove south from Crawfordsville to Bloomington, Indiana to visit a dear friend and graduate school colleague with whom we also visited Terre Haute, Nazareth Pantaloni.  Naz took us to visit the T.C. Steele State Historic Site in Brown County.  Brown County is today considered the art colony of the midwest, but in the early twentieth century, T.C. Steele was the first artist to make Brown County his home.  Steele was one of the first of the “Hoosier group” of American impressionists.  He had studied in Germany in the style of the Old Masters, but explored the impressionist style of painting first in Indianapolis and then in Brown County (the theme of the urbanites coming to the country and not understanding the rural ways and not being understood by the countryfolk is a recurring one in the docent’s spiel). Read more

Photographic Records of Crete, Naxos, Delos and Mykonos

Now that I’ve had some time (three days) back at home before we leave again for another (more mundane) trip, I’m posting pics from Greece.  Enjoy!

Crete

Crete

Naxos

Naxos

Delos

Delos

Mykonos

Mykonos

Crete: Even Ancient History has an Ancient History

First photograph is of the town of Chora, Naxos seen through the ruins of the Apollo temple.

Today we leave Crete, traveling on to the second half of our journey — studying Derrida in Italy.  What has been most impressed upon me during our time in Crete is how much human history precedes what I think of as the beginnings of history.  As someone who teaches and writes about ancient Greek philosophy, I’m often trying to get students to think about how Greek thinkers are in conversation with their context and how we remain in conversation with the Greeks as part of our context.  It’s not just that students don’t understand the thinking of the Greeks without understanding their context, it’s that they don’t think that the Greeks have a rich context.  If we just think the Athenians consider themselves to have sprung out of the ground–to be autochthonous, to come from where they are–and we know of nothing that precedes them, this might seem like a reasonable claim, one we have no cause to be suspicious of, just like Americans assuming that we have more claim to be here, we have who have been here for ten generations, than those who are just arriving if we know nothing of the history of what preceded our ancestors ten to fifteen generations ago. Read more

Five Easy Steps to being an Agent of Imperialism

Agent of Imperialism, noun: carrier of empire.  An agent of imperialism is one who imports the reigning hegemonic values wherever she goes.  She assumes that those at the borders of empire desire the empire and are pleased to see it arrive.

1.  Shop at Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, the Gap, only at places you could have shopped at the mall at home.  Also, complain about the lack of malls.

2.  Use your credit card instead of cash especially in cash-strapped countries.  If they ask for cash, demand that they take your credit card.

3.  Speak English.  Don’t even ask if the person to whom you speak speaks English before you begin speaking.  Assume everyone does.  Don’t bother to learn simple phrases before you go.  When you return home, continue to demand that everyone visiting or emigrating speak English.

4.  If people do things differently than you do at home, like charge you for the bread they bring to the table even if you didn’t order it or charge you a nominal table fee, insist that your way is the right way.  It’s patriotic.

5.  Mention suing people for things you don’t like–tiny streets with fast cars, cobblestones, not being able to get into your room when you arrive at the hotel, whatever you can think of.

Good luck and enjoy taking the empire to the world!  America thanks you.

Delos: Island of Islands OR More Beasts and Sovereigns

This picture is what erupted into view at the crest of the mountain on Delos that had previously hid itself entirely from view.

In his book, SojournsHeidegger journals his travels through Italy and Greece and the Greek islands.  I have something of a love-hate relationship with Heidegger.  I couldn’t think the way I do nor read ancient texts as I do without the influence of Heidegger.  And yet, when he writes things like: “The Asiatic element once brought to the Greeks a dark fire, a flame for their poetry and thought to reorder with light and measure,” I want to scream.  Heidegger holds a common prejudice that I tease my students for adopting so easily: the East is exotic, full of fire and passion and the West brings order and logic.  When I read that line, I was put in mind of Foucault’s discussion of the Chinese encyclopedia in the Introduction to The Order of Things.   Read more

Zeus, Caves, a Goat, and another Bull: The Beast and the Sovereign, Pt. 2

I just returned to Heraklion from several days driving around Crete.  I’m particularly impressed by how little the Olympian gods are on display here.  The Minoans, as we learned at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, worshipped the snake goddess.  The same snake goddess who is defeated by Apollo to establish himself at Delphi.  And yet, Zeus nonetheless is part of the story on Crete, particularly as situating himself as the beast and the sovereign, a theme I keep returning to in light of my summer reading of Derrida.  For Derrida, the relation of the beast and the sovereign is peculiar because the sovereign is both what is most separated, other than, the beast and what becomes beastly in order to maintain, enforce or display sovereignty.  Hobbes’ Leviathan is the sovereign who must be a beast to maintain power.  Rousseau’s sovereign must be a wolf.  Machiavelli’s a lion and a fox.  For Derrida, the effort to drive out the beastly appears to produce the beastly in what attempts to drive it out.  Thus, at the heart of the logic of sovereignty, even in human sovereign rationality, there lurks a beast.  I can’t help but see this beastly sovereign in all the stories on Crete where Zeus, the sovereign Olympian appears.

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Mount Juktas, Zaros, Phaistos and Matala: Food and Ruins, Water and Sun

I’m up in the middle of the night suffering from jetlag listening to the local live band (no city in Crete ever seems to sleep) and a howling cat / dog / wolf in the caves in the rock cliff opposite the balcony of my room in Matala.  Oh wait, now that is definitely either a screaming baby on the cliff or a cat fight.  As I write, I see a shooting star.

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Knossos, Minos and the Minotaur: The Beast and the Sovereign

Today we visited the palace at Knossos and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.  Knossos is considered the cradle of the first European civilization and is believed to have been continuously occupied for 8000 years from the Neolithic through to the Byzantine period.  As I said in my last post, I’ve been reading Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign lectures, so I see beasts and sovereigns everywhere.  Or perhaps, it’s Greece, so beasts and sovereigns–beast-sovereigns, sovereign beasts–are everywhere.  Knossos and its environs are the ancient Minoan site of the beast and the sovereign, of the beast who opposes the sovereign and of the beast who is sovereign, of the sovereign who appears as the beast and as the sovereign who becomes sovereign by defeating the beasts.  This is the place of the Minotaur and of Zeus.  I’ll get to Zeus in another post–we’ll be visiting his birth place and his place of rest (Zeus died!) in a couple days. Read more