Date: Tue, 26 Mar 1996 11:19:59 -0500

From: David R Beach dbeach[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]OSF1.GMU.EDU

Subject: Toni Morrison's Lecture

After a bit of cyberfinagling, Allan Metcalf was able to obtain one

ticket for the Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, and luckily, I was

able to attend thanks to his efforts. It does, however, sadden me to

report that even though the lecture was billed as sold out, easily

one-fourth of the seats in the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall were

vacant. But I digress. My purpose here is to inform my colleagues of

Toni Morrison's comments in last night's lecture.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"The Future of Time: Literature and Diminished Expectations"

Toni Morrison

The 1996 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, 25 March 1996

"What will we think of [in our] longer, more comfortable lives?"

Toni Morrison repeatedly asked her listeners this question as she re-echoed

that age-old wisdom that "all knowledge requires a grasp of our

precedents" in last night's National Endowment for the Humanities

Jefferson Lecture.

Washington _Post_ reporter Jacqueline Trescott begins her review of

Morrison's lecture with "In a somber look at humanity's future..."

"Somber" ain't the word. The Nobel laureate painted a raw, naked, and

sometimes horrific picture of what our future might become since the

"comfortable assurance of world without end is in debate."

While acknowledging that the social and natural sciences are focused

rightly on the future, Morrison fears, and rightly so, that the political

and human sciences might stagnate by their dependence on, and revision

of, the past, and thus ruin the future. She pointed to the '60s--a time

that many wish to forget or alter or allocate blame:

"Killing the '60s, turning that decade into an aberration, an exotic

malady ripe with excess, drugs, and disobedience, is designed to bury its

central features--emancipation, generosity, acute political awareness,

and a sense of shared and mutually responsible society."

She is not saying to forget the past, but to use the past to move our

morality forward, to "find a journey to the cellar of time as a rescue."

Morrison quoted from Peter Hoeg's work _The History of Danish Dreams_:

"Regression becomes progression."

"To weigh the future of future thoughts requires [a] powerful mind to

weigh the morality [of them all]. [We] require thinking of [the] quality

of human life, intelligent life, [and the] obligation of moral life."

With the future emphasis in the social and natural sciences,

these are the things we must think of in our longer, more comfortable

lives to come.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

David Beach, ESL Coordinator/Consultant, The Writing Center

George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA

ph: +1-703-993-1200 fax: +1-703-993-3664


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *