Today's John North talk very good - enjoyable, lucid, a good subject, and accessible. I wonder if the attendees who expected him to stick more literally with Aristotelianism were disappointed, but, knowing his work, I would have been a bit surprised if he had addressed the subject so narrowly. Instead he spoke about Aristotelian interpretations of comets in Aristotle, Seneca, and several major and interesting later Medieval sources, including Albertus Magnus and Grosseteste, but finishing with his most interesting character, Giles of Lessy.
I did indeed go along to dinner afterwards and, eventually, had a chance to speak to the guest speaker. It was so good to speak to someone who actually knows the ambient material surrounded my dissertation topic - I so rarely have that opportunity. He's promised to email me some useful followup dissertation. Between that conversation and the one I had with my advisor the other day, I feel as if I'm filling in many of the gaps I should have already known, but it's just as well I know now before my dissertation is much further along.
If you're in the right city, he's giving a talk on "Time and Scholasticism" this Friday, 8pm, Rm 100, Alumni Hall, St. Michael's College. I recommend it.
In response to a question one of my students inspired today...
The word 'blueprint' dates back to 1886, when, according to the OED, 2nd edition, "The Western Edison Light Company of Chicago..have adopted an arrangement for taking blue print by electric light." (Electrician XVI. 466/2) It should be no surprise that the word comes into being around the same time the first blueprint was actually made. What's more interesting is that it was in 1926 that the OED first finds mention of the word being used figuratively to mean "A (detailed) plan or scheme; a pattern." The following citations for this meaning are from around the same time - 1939 and 1942.
Intriguingly, the 1926 references reads "Spectator 11 Sept. 385/1 Surely he can complete his life by giving us the blue-prints of the millennium." This leaves open any number of intriguing questions - who was this person? What would his blueprints for finishing off the 2nd millennium AD have been? And did he ever do it?
Perhaps C. is right and I do need a new printer. The one I have is quite functional. It prints. But it's a small and lightweight travel printer, and thus not designed for speed. I've spent the last 45 minutes printing out 25 pages - this includes active effort on my part, as I need to feed it each sheet of paper. After the first 4 or 5 pages i gave up trying to read while printing - and it was an engrossing article, too! For every page and a half of reading, I would need to feed one piece of paper. In retrospect, my time would have been used more efficiently if I had spent those 45 minutes going into school and paying to use a laserprinter. This method, however, is cheaper, if much, much slower.
I meant to spend my afternoon at the engineering library,truly I did. I have a whole long list of books to work through, all of which are there. The engineering library is often crowded with students, and the ceiling is covered in paper airplanes, stabbed into the soft ceilling surface. Unlike just about every other library on campus, they let many of their periodicals circulate. This inevitably means that the one volume of the one journal I actually wanted to consult is checked out just when I want it. It also ups the odds of one of their bound periodical volumes being lost and them then having incomplete journal series. And many of the journals they subscribe to aren't available at any other campus library.
Anyways, I never actually made it to the engineering library, since I was busy catching up on department news, helping a friend work out the details for a workshop on teaching her students some editing basics in some nicely ingenious ways, and generally socializing. It wasn't a complete waste - I now have photocopies of some very crucial articles I should have already known about but hadn't. I do now. Later, several of us went out for coffee/hot chocolate, and then C. and I were off to one of the most well-attended First Thursday pub nights I have ever been too. There had to have been the better part of 40 people there!
Tomorrow. I will make it to the engineering library tomorrow.