Nearly 12 years ago now, while moving into my office in the Kellogg Library,
I discovered a box of audio cassettes marked only — ominously
— “Sources of Creative Power,” —nothing
else. It was like finding a bottle on the beach. Since I was commuting
to the job from Western Massachusetts, two hours away, I had to
take them and listen. I was not prepared for what I found on them,
in that lovely way one should never be prepared. Of course it was
like nothing I’d ever heard. It was wild, bristling. It could
have been a parody—that voice—BOOOdah; HeraCLItus; ZOCKrates.
But it was luminous, not polished, not smoothly organized, or even
always convincing, but edgy and insistent, powerful and purposeful.
Soon after I found the tapes, I found some of the transcripts,
a few letters, a photo, and all of Hannah Arendt’s books.
To make a long story short, I could feel the excitement thrown off
by the material, but I couldn’t see how to do anything with
it. Until now.
Digital technology, available in the last few years, has made it
possible to preserve fragile materials and, more importantly, to
share ideas—ideas shaped by years of talk back and forth in
classrooms and living rooms and pacing and looking and being looked
at. The idea with this archive project is to give it back, to place
it back in the community of people trying to see what they can do,
how we could think our ways toward to courage to be, as Blücher
might say. They aren’t merely tapes and transcripts, they
are the story of the struggle to achieve the highest aspiration
of the free personality—and across generations of students
here in Annandale.
So what we’re doing here is the second phase of the archival
work—we are rescuing the sources of creative power by beginning
the talk again.
These lectures, developed at the New School for Social Research
in the fifties, and later at Bard, are finally available to the
public for the first time since then. The scope of the lectures
is grand, encompassing both the history of philosophy and the philosophy
of education. When Heinrich Blücher speaks of Socrates or Homer
or Jesus, his interest is not in biography, but rather in exploring
the means of philosophical action. His emphasis is on application
to the present, on the use of philosophy and history in confronting
both the greater moral, ethical, and philosophical challenges of
the age and in helping us approach the tasks of everyday life. Through
Homer and the Greek myth of the binding of the Titans we may understand
something of the actual nature of the atomic age; through the power
of free philosophical reasoning itself, the student takes up the
task of education, "to become free men and free women,"
in other words, the possibility of self-determination.
For more information about this site and archive contact Jeffrey
Katz at email@example.com or (845)
758-7501 or write to him at Stevenson Library.