A philosophy major who’s a philosopher! Sean Kirkland ‘

Posted on January 16th, 2016 by

Sean Kirkland is Associate Professor, Philosophy, at DePaul University in Chicago. ┬áSean won’t be able to join the Gustavus philosophers reunion, alas, but he has sent us news (and photos) of his current work.

2015-12-01 16.06.27

How great to hear from you! What a terrific alumni event you all have planned. I would most certainly come if I were in Chicago. Heck, if I were anywhere in North America. I would really like to participate. But this year finds Lisa and I on sabbatical and out of the country. from September ’15 to July ’16. She has a two-country Mellon grant to do research for her Crusader art book, the fall in Jerusalem and the winter and spring in Nicosia, Cyprus. So, we’re here now. I’m just basically mooching off her for the year, trying to finish a book manuscript myself, this time on Aristotle. Tentative title: Aristotle and Tragic Temporality. Coming to a remainder bin near you.

Cyprus is spectacular. Ancient and modern, cosmopolitan and pleasantly rugged, bustling and friendly. And there’s the mediterranean light of course; a golden glow on everything, a halo.

I am enrolled now in a modern Greek class, along with one of the archeologists at the institute where we’re staying. Looking forward to that. I’ve been trying to learn modern Greek for a while now, thinking it will help with ancient Greek and also really wanting to travel and stay for extended periods in the future in Greece, as someone able to speak their language well. Just finished The Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (insightful non-fiction, funny, heart-warming, then heart-breaking), and Durrell gets no end of mileage out of just being able to speak Greek. So, that’s the plan. The course is actually being offered by an NGO that organizes various efforts toward improving the relationship between the north Turkish Cypriots and the southern Greek Cypriots–they offer lessons in Turkish and Greek. The building is itself located within the no-man’s-land between the two borders, right at the edge of Nicosia’s old-city Venetian walls. So, every night we have class, we have to walk to the border, show our passports, and then walk into the no-man’s-land. There are bullet holes peppering the facades of the buildings lining the streets, dramatic and sad bombed out shells of structures, an entire old luxury hotel, now broken down and being used by the UN for refugee housing, it seems. Pretty intense.

And we were in Jerusalem for the fall. Rough time to be there–the tensions at a real high-point, cruelties and desperate acts on both sides being reported in the paper everyday. Not boring, at any rate. While there, so that Lisa could walk around inside a few Crusader era castles, we took a trip to Jordan for a few days. I attach here a couple of photos from that trip. The shot of the long cardo is from Jerash, maybe the best Roman site in the world, in my opinion. Sprawling. Acres of uninterrupted ruins. Walking the kilometers-long Roman road from the northern to the southern triumphal gates, one really experiences something like an entire Roman cityscape, which one doesn’t have, for instance, even in great sites in Italy, because the ruins are always tucked in among the modern neighborhoods (which has its own charms and pleasant surprises, of course). The Jordanians (out of genuine respect for the past or tourist-industry calculations or just lack of funds, who knows) have left the entire enormous site more or less untouched, reconstructing just enough to give one some verticality here and there. Numerous temples–the best one to Artemis, my own personal favorite Greek deity, because her proper domain is intermediary spaces, between the city and the wilderness, between the land and the see, etc.–but also a giant amphitheater of course, the forum, and business areas too. A butcher’s shop for instance, with really lovingly-carved stone table legs carved in the shapes of animals. One doesn’t see that type of building preserved by history too often. The other photo is from the magnificent acropolis, or what they call the Citadel, in Amman. It is the remains of a temple to Hercules, with a local guy sort of hamming it up for his buddies on the other side of the hill.

Hope you are well. Will send a postcard. Give our best to Doug, Dean, and the whole GAC gang.

And a shabab striking a pose; the last day

And a shabab striking a pose; the last day

sdK (and LJM)

Sean D. Kirkland, Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Philosophy, DePaul University
2352 N. Clifton, Suite 150
Chicago, IL 60614





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