Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh, the Humanities!

Last weekend, my friend MZ and I went to a couple of events in the Chicago Humanities Festival - we saw Jonathan Franzen (and Isabel Wilkerson) and Joshua Foer. 

Franzen and Wilkerson were winning some kind of award - there was a HUGE crowd with what I figure must have been Chicago's most ardent readers.  Also some of Chicago's most ardent queue-ers.  These lunatics were trying to make this crazy-long line, and then when they opened the door, it all went to shit, and lots of people got very, very upset.  I never saw so many old people get so distressed about line management.  You'd have thought we were in a war-time bread line. 

I really thought seeing Franzen was going to be the highlight of the day, but I most enjoyed Joshua Foer's chat - that probably shouldn't come as a surprise - I was completely obsessed with his book, Moonwalking with Einstein, ever since I read it earlier this year for Newcity.   He was very charming, smart and funny - it's such an interesting topic (memory)...  As in the book, the real challenge is actually supporting why it's even worth trying to develop the memory when there are some many external memory storage areas available (ie, smart phones, computers, etc.  Remember when you were a kid and you knew all your best friends' phone numbers?  Now I barely know my own husband's because it's stored in my phone.)  He took another crack at answering that and came up with a pretty good answer - he think that as external memory devises become more and more prevalent, we may discover the impact on creation - he thinks that memories are the "raw data" that lead to creativity and innovation.  Makes sense. 

I also enjoyed listening to Wilkerson - I was only vaguely aware of her book, The Warmth of Other Suns, about the great migration - but, I bought a copy and look forward to reading it. 

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