11 July 2016 by Jessica Palmer
Current Research Directions in French Renaissance Studies: A Roundtable Discussion
11 April 2014, University of Kansas
BRUCE HAYES (University of Kansas): I thought I would start by talking about the Sorbonne, which for many years has had an atelier program. In sixteenth-century studies they started an Atelier Seiziémiste at the Sorbonne—actually, Mireille Huchon set it up in the early nineties. What she organized this year was an Atelier Seiziémeiste Franco-Américain. Instead of having it at the Sorbonne they had it at the CUNY Graduate Center, and they had it the day before the Renaissance Society of America Conference began so that people attending the conference had a chance to come to the atelier.
Mireille Huchon brought over this huge research team and we had a full day of people talking about current research that’s being done and what trends that people see. There were some really interesting things that were talked about and I thought I would highlight a few of those to start us off.
Colette Winn, who is at Washington University, gave a great talk on female writers and feminism. She gave a full bibliography of all, especially twenty-first-century, of the amount of work being done. Doing this Franco-American exchange highlighted some of the tensions that exist between the French scholars and the Anglophone scholars because the French can often be dismissive of their American, Anglophone counterparts. I thought Colette was actually pretty courageous because one of her points was that in terms of work that’s being done by the people like Brigitte Roussel, Dora Polachek, Mary McKinley, and many others, that it’s mostly in North America where most of that is happening and that most of the impetus is coming from our side of the Atlantic, whereas the French have been much more slow coming to that table and getting interested.
Another topic where Anglophone scholarship has certainly been ahead of French scholarship is in gender studies—and we know this because even the vocabulary that you use for gender studies just sounds weird in French—you know, genre. But Daniele Maira gave a great talk on advances in recent work and gender studies by people like himself as well as David LaGuardia, Gary Ferguson, and Todd Reeser.
Another kind of general observation that was made about recent scholarship, seiziémiste scholarship, is the way that humanism is approached. When you talk about sixteenth century, you talk about humanism—you always have, and it’s always been kind of central to what that century is about in France. They talked about how there has been this move from philosophical humanism to philological humanism—and philology is the one thing that unquestionably the sixteenth century gave as a legacy, to study language historically to establish accurate texts. The fact that you go into a class and that your professor has ordered a particular edition that represents most faithfully what the author intended, that is all a sixteenth-century phenomenon.
Current scholarship has shifted away from seeing humanism as a philosophy—which it really kind of isn’t; I mean if anything, it is more of a pedagogy. Studia humanitatis is more pedagogy than philosophy—but if you look at it as an editorial and a philological humanism, some of the things that you see, for example, are studies of book production and libraries. And actually, when they were talking about this, I thought of our own Crystal Hall, our Italian Renaissance specialist, whose book was just published by Cambridge University Press on Galileo’s library. There are all these projects involved in trying to reconstitute libraries. For example, regarding the work on Rabelais right now, people who have knowledge of Greek are going back and looking at his copies of Greek texts with his annotations to see what they can pull from that. So, Rabelais’s medical studies—and this will probably tie into some of things you’re going to say, Angela—has become a lot more interesting to people. The problem is that you have to know Greek, and frankly most of us don’t, and frankly most of the sixteenth-century humanists that espoused that as an ideal didn’t either. For most of them, and certainly for almost all of us, Latin is hard enough, and to get to the Greek is even more difficult.
Romain Menini just published this immense 1200-page book on Rabelais and his medical knowledge, and Claude La Charité is having a conference up in Canada this summer on Rabelais et la medicine and it’s just very erudite—but it is interesting to look at these annotated texts of these authors; we see what we can discover about them through that. Brigitte, you take over.
BRIGITTE ROUSSEL (Wichita State University): All right Bruce. And actually, I am also going to interact with some of the things that you said. I work mostly on four women writers of the French Renaissance: Marguerite de Navarre, Louise Labé, Pernette du Guillet, and Helisenne de Crenne, who wrote in the first half of the sixteenth century.
Their work is informed by Neoplatonism, and their works are pervaded with experiences and images of loss and death always juxtaposed with those of joy and hope, so it’s a topic we find in many texts of the Renaissance. Some of their texts attest an innovative conception of love in the context of humanism and the Reformation, and through their stories, epistles, and poems, these writers express the wish for a greater reciprocity between the sexes. The rediscovery of their works during the great wave of gender studies gave rise to an unprecedented enthusiasm for rehabilitating their early modern “feminist” voice. In particular, their success was due to their refutation of the primacy of logos, associated with the masculine, in Neo-platonic idealism, over mythos, associated with the feminine.
But then a spirited debate over gender studies sparked as the French academic circles, reluctant to separate women from men in the study of literature, refused to consider as a legitimate object of research what they called “an essentialist female voice” against what was invariably coined on the other side of the Atlantic “the patriarchal voice of oppression.” Or they asked for concrete marks of what was often referred to as écriture féminine, coined by Hélène Cixous. Even recently, some tried to prove that these women writers of the Renaissance did not exist.
BH: It was mentioned at the conference. Colette Winn could not avoid Mireille Huchon’s controversial book saying that Louise Labé was a fabrication.
BR: And we had heard that there was a sequel coming up about Pernette du Guillet, so we’ll see—I don’t know when . . .
BH: Like I said, Collette was brave.
BR: Yes, she did stand her ground. The only exception is the SIEFAR, directed by Éliane Viennot.
After navigating this stormy sea for over a decade, I finally came across an intriguing approach called thanatogenesis, from the Greek thanato—death and genesis—birth, which finds itself at the crossroads of literature, philosophy, history, psychology, and anthropology.
What thanatogenesis brings to help alleviate the dichotomy between gender studies and perspectives with no gender distinction is the inherent interweaving of logos as a discourse of scientific inquiry or absolute truth and mythos, a discourse of storytelling, variable by nature. Platonism separated and opposed the two, relegating mythos to a world of illusions radically external to logos and impervious to any possible truth. In this view, woman was considered as naturally emotional, irrational, and devoid of meaningful substance. Thanatogenesis instead analyses the so-called inferiority of woman as a mythico-symbolic construction and therefore crisscrosses here with gender studies.
Another fundamental aspect of thanatogenesis which is maybe more original is that it acknowledges the ever-present topos of the maternal experience—essentially childbirth—as a locus of sacred rites throughout the archaic world. Goddesses of fertility, sometimes nurturing, sometimes destructive, maternal figures, etc., all linked to both birth and death reveal beliefs in a close relationship between newborn, mother, and ancestor that replays the mysteries of metamorphosis between life and death.
The tradition inherited from the Greeks, on the other hand, appropriates the maternal metaphor and erases it from sight to focus on ideal and abstract beauty, goodness, and truth. But, the maternal metaphor remains buried or embedded in texts because it is the topos of literary language that best captures both the fundamental cause of pain and fear of annihilation and the jubilation at human accomplishments since the advent of language.
The stories, epistles and poems written by Marguerite de Navarre, Louise Labé, Pernette du Guillet, and Helisenne de Crenne may not always bring a happy resolution to their readers, as some conflicts remain in a deadlock or turn to the advantage of the powerful individual and even end in the death of the subjugated character. But the telling of painful and cruel stories interwoven with intense joy and happiness enable novelists and poets to open up a dimension of heightened awareness for their readers to experience this oscillation between life and death metaphorically so as to move away from absolute values and understand the essential relativity of the human experience.
To conclude, thanatogenesis rephrases the terms of the dichotomy between masculine and feminine, logos and mythos, into a rehabilitation of “values” rather than “gender” alone (although it does that too), thus promoting a philosophical liberation in attitudes that can benefit both men and women and more generally their communities—and actually, I’m not just focusing on women texts at this point. If you recall the text of La Naissance de Pantagruel, “Pantagruel’s birth,” because the mother dies when the child is born, Gargantua doesn’t know if he needs to laugh or cry and he actually cries of joy at the birth of his son and also intensely cries of grief at the loss of his wife and the mother of this newborn. That’s a very good, emblematic example of this combination.
To come back to a more external thing, I was thinking of Max Engammare’s email to us this week about the lawsuit that the Humanities lost because of the impossibility to prove the absolute origin of those medieval texts that have been carefully edited over decades by him and other scholars. Now people are going to be able to get a hold of any truncated version and claim they are the actual texts. But even if there is no absolute clear origin of works, there is the work that scholars have done to collate the variants, which, if it does not constitute a purely integral product, nevertheless constitutes a qualitative and informed work. Now it’s going to be about putting texts that may not reflect adequate information on the market fast so they can be available to a greater number of people, and that’s a new issue we will have to reckon with in our field of Humanities. Thank you.
ROBERT J. HUDSON (Brigham Young University): For my part, I’ll be discussing anthropological approaches to reconsidering poetic genres. To preface, allow me to begin with an anecdote. Let’s go back to January of 2008. I had spent the previous twelve months really working on my dissertation, which is entitled The Petrachan Lyrical Imperative and posed a question of genre from an anthropological point of view—to wit: Why the sonnet? Why was the sonnet adopted—first by Petrarch, as the ideal poetic form for expressing lyrical affection and attention to a desired object—and what might that tell us about the human experience, as well as why this lyrical form was transmitted to France? Why did the French accept this Italian model and how did they adapt it to become more French? So, there I was in January of 2008. I had done about twelve months of research. I was working these marathon twelve- to sixteen-hour days of writing, 7 a.m. to, sometimes, 11 p.m. My wife, very fortunately, was pregnant with our first child—so, between her working and sleeping, it gave me a chance just to write. So, I was writing and I’m wondering—you know, I have this crisis right around the New Year—is there any validity to what I’m doing? Does this make sense? Is this whole project going to fall flat? And, to my doorstep came PMLA with an article by Jonathan Culler that was entitled “Why Lyric?”
In this article, Culler poses a poignant question: Why has narrative become the norm of literature? Or, to take it in the direction I wish to pursue, why does poetry still matter? With this, Culler offered the confirmation and validation for what I was and am still doing in my own research. I believe that we can come to an understanding of poetic genres. Of course, with the discursive linguistic mode, our most common means of communication in society, you have prose, which has grown to become what we study more than anything in literature courses. Don’t get me wrong, prose certainly has its place. In terms of the Renaissance, we can talk about philology: we don’t have to be there in the past and we don’t have to have the object in front of us. I as a non-present subject can talk about a non-present object and you understand because we have language. But what does the sonnet do? What do poetic genres do? What is the nature of the lyric? Poetry allows us to reflect on truths of the human condition that are embedded within the form. My thesis was that the sonnet, which originated with Giacomo da Lentini in Italy, is a marriage of an ottavo with a strambotto, with a volta in the middle. This volta in the middle is really interesting for understanding the sonnet and how the sonnet works with how we think and react as human beings.
You have this symmetry in the ottavo with the two quatrains that you could imagine continue ad infinitum, right? ABBA, ABBA, ABBA . . .—one can imagine this going on forever and never coming to an ending. But with the fourteen-verse structure of the sonnet, you have that volta or in French la chute—this “jump” from the two quatrains to a pair of tercets that is going to usher it to its prescribed ending after fourteen verses. This is a way to mitigate the pain of desire. You know, if you have a prescribed mode of doing this, there is a symmetry that is violently ruptured by asymmetry and an end that is ushered in. There is a concision and a prescribed ending embedded in the structure. (You’ll see this as it applies tomorrow in my keynote address with the Marotic rondeau, which is minimalistic, witty, and shows three situations—three tournures de phrase without being overly pedantic. In essence, I think that’s the reason that the rondeau exists.)
To be able to do this, to be able to talk about anthropological approaches, I had to look at a few anthropological theories that might not be the first theorists on your list of people to read. They’re not the sexy names that you’ll read in a literary theory class. We’re not talking about Foucault and Derrida. Many have fallen out of vogue or are tucked deeply in the dusty recesses of university book stacks. You have to look at Réné Girard, you have to look at Wolfang Iser, Northrup Frye—you have dig into a previous groups of theorist, dust their volumes off with your sleeve and wrap your head around their theories. Eric Gans at UCLA, who was part of my thesis committee, helped me devise a list that looked back as far as Edward Tylor, Saussure, Mauss, and even left room for Clifford Geertz, Victor Turner, and Rémi Brague. In fact, Brague wrote this excellent book to rethink the nature of translatio studii in 1992, L’Europe, la voix romaine, which really opens up imitation theory to new avenues of research. Seeing the Roman experience as being conditioned by openly accepting and being okay with adopting and adapting the Greek and Hebraic traditions—and, subsequently seeing those filtered through Rome and into Europe, Brague calls this term romanity and I think there is something really smart there. Speaking of the nineteenth century, which, Allan Pasco, I left to go to the sixteenth century, Réné Girard spoke of the mensonge romantique—this idea of being, you know, Adam—first man in the world, first one to use language and experience many things for the first time. Well, that’s the lie. For early-modern man, this was not necessarily the case, right? The Renaissance had no illusions of being first. Renaissance discovery was not discovery du néant. It was rediscovery. It was understanding again—and this is something that Grahame Castor and Thomas Greene have made clear since the sixties.
So, we cannot accept the mensonge romantique in the Renaissance. In the Renaissance, writers were deliberately rediscovering and transmitting innovation via imitation, which I think is a more healthy approach to Harold Bloom’s œdipal rivalry that we see in The Anxiety of Influence. So it’s a new way of seeing imitation theory, a new way of seeing poetic genres, a new way of understanding humanity as embedded in verse, be it lyrical, be it elegiac, even within theatre which is more direct, which is more demonstrative, which is more ostensive. You can see it on the stage, the subject-as-actor can point to it, whereas in the lyric you have a situation of where you’re sitting and the desired object’s not there but you’re hoping to evoke them linguistically, almost as if in a prayer.
So, there are other people doing very interesting work in this area. I don’t want to talk about just my research; I want to mention a couple of other people: Scott Francis and Florian Preisig. One thing that I think is really interesting that these scholars are doing is seeing the birth of authorship in the Renaissance as well—this idea of the author constructing his or her own work and re-editing and putting it back together, as explained by Preisig in his excellent book on Marot and the metamorphoses of the author. Scott Francis, who just recently defended his thesis at Princeton and is now at UPenn, has done very interesting work on self-fashioning and advertising in early sixteenth-century poets. So, I think many people are doing really interesting things in reconsidering authorship and genres. In my capacity as French literature track director for the SCSC, I have a very interesting vantage point on new approaches to the Renaissance as I work on vetting proposals and putting together panels for our annual conference. This allows me a sort of barometer of what people are working on. There are very interesting new things going on in gender studies and studies of masculinity, as well as ideas of globalization—as will be a theme in the upcoming New Orleans conference. How did globalization take root when we discovered the New World and when we started taking France elsewhere and bringing the world to France? We begin examining the “other,” bringing the “other” to France and exporting culture to the “other.” So, while I’ve jumped around, I think these are a few new approaches that we might consider going forward. Thanks.
BRIAN MOOTS (Pittsburgh State University): One of those new worlds, I think in recent years, has been Renaissance theatre and, more specifically, Renaissance tragedy. For a long time, Renaissance tragedy, along with comedy, has been overlooked until recent years. I’m going to speak about tragedy. I know theatre in general during the sixteenth century has been exciting much more interest in recent years and I hope that continues because it has been overlooked, I think mostly due to preferences and a comparison with seventeenth-century tragedy that is difficult to make because those comparisons are made by taste and by qualitative differences. What is a better tragedy? Sixteenth-century tragedy is clearly at a disadvantage because this is the period that saw the beginnings of French tragedy, the first tragedies appearing in the middle of the sixteenth century.
It seems much scholarship is intimidated by Renaissance tragedy because after reading five or six tragedies, you realize right away there’s no structure. It’s impossible to categorize these tragedies and understand them because there are no concrete rules and authors often took advantage of this absence to adapt tragedy for rhetoric. Obviously the sixteenth century was a time of heavy debate, with heavy polemic during the civil and religious conflicts that absorbed the end of the sixteenth century, and authors used tragedy as a platform for their voice in these debates.
I think another new direction for Renaissance tragedy is just gaining more critical editions of tragedies. For many tragedies, if you want to research, you have to go to distant libraries—Paris first, but also Lyon, Geneva, and London—and that’s difficult, it takes a lot of time, but new critical editions are appearing all the time. Just having those resources is going to aid research, along with new directions in recognizing the complexity in Renaissance tragedy. I already mentioned these comparisons with seventeenth-century tragedy, typically unjust given the whole century to develop rules and structure and to give characters and action more depth, especially the psychological depth that is absent in sixteenth-century tragedy. I think gaining that distance and understanding sixteenth-century tragedy on its own terms has been beneficial, especially in terms of cultural studies. I think the new developments are largely in this area, beginning with the new historicism movement. Cultural studies have picked up there and tried to discover historical analogies, because it’s really difficult to read these tragedies without keeping in mind the time period and the events transpiring in France, that being the civil and religious wars.
Many of these studies in the last twenty years have tried too hard to relate the events and tragedies to events taking place in France and a lot of the conclusions seem forced. I think recent developments are moving away from those specific analogies and moving more into how tragedy is framing the debates; for example, Catholic against Protestant, kingship against nobility or, more specifically, maybe King Henry III against, depending on the time period, the Guise family or against Henri de Navarre. I think those new studies have been more helpful for understanding the complexity of tragedy and how tragedy is using allusion while viewing tragedy as a platform for rhetoric or historical analogy.
Another new direction is trying to understand whether these tragedies were performed or just written to be read. I think that’s an ongoing debate, and if you’re familiar with theatre scholarship you know that this is a debate in any period, in any language. Should we study the tragedy as a performance or as a literary text? This debate is compounded in sixteenth-century tragedy because for a lot of these plays, we have few historical details; we don’t know if they were performed. We have little idea how they were staged and authors give scarce indication about stage directions, so I think understanding and gaining more information about which tragedies were performed and which tragedies were written just as a text will help approach the genre. Also, like Brigitte, another new direction is the role of the female protagonist in sixteenth-century tragedy; it is very intriguing because many of these tragedies use a female protagonist as the hero or heroine in the tragedy. I can think of no studies about this role. That would be a very exciting conversation to open up, because it’s not a small number of female protagonists.
To conclude, tragedy has a great tradition in French literature and it seems very surprising that sixteenth-century tragedy has been little explored. Scholarship hasn’t been developed, despite considering this is the birth of the genre. I think understanding the complexity in Renaissance tragedy, where before it seemed very simple, will help us better understand Renaissance literature.
ANGELA HENDRICKSON MOOTS (University of Kansas): What I’m going to talk about a little more is medieval studies, which leads into the Renaissance, especially some of the medical aspects that have already been mentioned a little bit. One area of medieval studies that’s really interesting to me is medieval medicine. Recently, I’ve noticed that some articles coming out are talking about trauma or wounds, surgery, mental illness, pharmacology, and healing in general. One thing that I’ve been looking at, more specifically, is syncope in the Middle Ages.
Medieval medicine is a really large field in general but, narrowing it down a little bit, Hippocrates was using the humours to describe healing. Galen then also picked up on the humours—the blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. Then, Constantine the African in the eleventh century was instrumental in bringing medical practice to the West when he translated works into Latin. Specific to fainting, Hippocrates thought that frequent fainting was a sign of death if there was no external cause of it. For different cures, the Tacuinum Sanitatis, which was a daily guide to healthy living, lists sour apples as a cure for fainting. Because different diseases were the result of an imbalance in the humours, you needed to balance the humours. Apples were considered cold and moist, which could balance the warm and dry yellow bile. Then later on, Platearius wrote the Livre des Simples Médecines (Circa Instans), a book explaining different herbs and treatments and he lists different remedies for fainting including rose water, which was very common, or borage.
So, especially with the herbals, it’s easy to see links to literature. Marie de France mentions many herbs in some of her Lais and in Eliduc especially, where a weasel is revived by its mate with a red flower. Recently in 2011, there was an interesting article in which the author is trying to figure out exactly what the flower was.
Fainting can also be confused with sleeping and death. Across the medieval texts and beginning with the Chanson de Roland, Charlemagne is confused if Aude has fainted or died. And then in the Roman de Thèbes, Ismène faints and she’s cold and looks dead, but someone notices a vein beating in her neck and they realize she’s alive. In Cligès, Fénice fakes fainting in order to escape to be with her lover. In Lancelot du Lac, even Lancelot thinks he has killed a knight, but the knight has only fainted and Lancelot is crying because he thinks he killed him. Also in Lancelot, Claudas faints and his men pour water on him to see if he’s dead or alive. Hildegard of Bingen in the twelfth century talked about paleness of the skin, the redness of the cheeks as a sign of the soul, or the eyes being a sign of life or death. Then in the fourteenth century, the surgeon Guy de Chauliac looked more closely at verifying death.
I read an interesting book recently called Visualizing Medieval Medicine and Natural History that talks about Leonardo da Vinci and his work with medicine and especially autopsies, which weren’t very common until the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After the Black Plague things changed a little bit with medicine, but Leonardo’s work in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries was interesting. According to this book, he looked at things more as an artist. He had knowledge of Latin, but maybe not as good as needed, so he relied on observation quite a bit. The way he’d illustrate different plants or different herbs or even the human body was kind of a mixture of medical knowledge and observation.
There were a lot of illustrations in medical texts that came from literature. As this book points out, some of the illustrations in the Tacuinum Sanitatis are actually the same illustrations used in Lancelot du Lac. So, the idea of visualizing medieval medicine the way an artist would I thought was really interesting, especially seeing how that continues into the sixteenth century. Doctors still relied on their classical medical knowledge, but at the same time used more observation, looking more at the actual plants and the human body. So, I think there are many different areas for exploration and more on how medieval medicine influences literature and how the artists also influence medicine.
JEFF KENDRICK (Virginia Military Institute): I get to go last so I’ll just repeat and summarize everything that they have said. But no, in all honesty, I think it’s been a really good discussion. There are lots of questions and points that others in the room want to raise, so I will be brief.
I wanted to talk a little bit about two issues and then bring them together at the end; first of all, continuing this idea of new directions for studying women writers in the Renaissance. I work on one of the most famous women writers of the Renaissance, Marguerite de Navarre, but we’re discovering new people and I’m going to talk briefly about that and then also what these women have to say about the question of the self. We’ve touched already on that—the “us” versus “them,” the “other,” and exporting ourselves and importing others to ourselves.
So, real quick, why do we look at women writers in the Renaissance and why is this a particularly fertile field? This is because—exactly like what Bob was saying— this idea of the creation of the author and this whole idea of editing women’s work and hearkening back to this idea of humanist philology started to emerge at this time. Leah Chang’s 2009 Into Print: The Production of Female Authorship in Early Modern France is particularly helpful here. Women, for the first time, were taking part in this sort of foundational era of creating the author and so I think that it is a particularly good place to look to find these questions about gender; for example, can we differentiate between a feminine text and a masculine text? What is the relationship between men and women of letters in Renaissance France? How were women’s texts received in the sixteenth century? These are good places to start to look, just like it would be good to look at this idea of tragedy, as Brian mentioned, since this was the beginning.
We are seeing more and more texts being discovered. We’ve got Marguerite de Navarre, we’ve got Louise Labé, we’ve got Hélisenne de Crenne, but we’re also seeing people like Anne de Marquets, about whom Gary Ferguson did an excellent study—I guess it was in 2006. But there hasn’t been a lot of work done on her and she’s got a whole book of sonnets spirituels that need to be worked on and need to be studied and we need to find out what she has to say. There’s Gabrielle de Bourbon, there’s Madeline and Catherine des Roches; all these people whose works we’ve discovered and again we need to get some good editions out for them and we need to find out what these women can tell us about writing and about authorship and about the creation of the self—and even if there is such a thing as the self.
This is especially true, I think, for the study of Protestant women writers because of their particular contributions to these civil and religious quarrels that are going on, disputes that are starting to erupt. They’re bringing new and different respected voices into the public arena. I also believe that there has been some new and relatively unexplored research regarding the function of rhetoric in women’s writing and not just the fact that women are writing, but how are women using this je from the first-person stance. Can we say something about the “self” in women’s writing?
Then James Helgeson in The Lying Mirror, a book he wrote that was published in 2012 by Droz, suggested that we stop looking at this thing called the “self”—that we don’t really need to be thinking about our identities in terms of the self, but instead we need to focus more attention on meaning and intention when the first person is used in any kind of literature. He talked about lyric poetry and then he talked a little bit about Rabelais and Rabelais’s use of je, and Montaigne’s essays, of course, and even Erasmus in some of his polemical debates with different people. I think that a place that he did not mention that we should look at this question of is in devotional poetry. You know, there are a lot of je’s sprinkled throughout Marguerite’s work, and I got in quite a bit of trouble for this in my past work—this question of who is this je in Marguerite’s poetry. We’ve got to define this. Caroline Jewers and I have talked about this, but it’s a question that hasn’t been answered really and we need to figure out when these people are talking, what they are really saying and what they are trying to teach us—are they trying to teach us anything, or are they just talking about crazy visions that they had, or are they doing something? I think that these are places where we can look to find some new, interesting questions but also some answers to old questions, and maybe help us redefine the kinds of questions that we’re asking get to the right questions, because we’re not going to find any answers if we’re not asking the right questions.
Many thanks to Carlos Escamilla for transcribing and formatting this text.