Category Archives: Dialogue Diary

My personal form of flailing about involves initiating lots of dialogues. For a variety of autobiographical, psychogeographical, socio-political reasons, I most recently have flailed since mid-2015. This “Dialogue Diary” project tracks these hopefully generative flailings, channeling them into four separate though related interview series, with each exploring (in varying proportions) poetic, critical, philosophical, and civic aspects of dialogic exchange. Dialogue Diary operates from the premise that pursuing untapped potential for constructive conversation may be just what I (perhaps not only I) need most right now. By Andy Fitch.

A Two-Way Street: Talking to Josiah Ober

By Andy Fitch 

This conversation focuses on Josiah Ober’s books The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece, Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens, and Political Dissent in Democratic Athens: Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule. Ober, Mitsotakis Professor of Political Science and Classics at Stanford University, focuses on the contemporary relevance of the political thought and practice of the ancient Greek world. From probing the complicated (and intellectually generative) social status of economically powerful yet politically marginalized elites, to prioritizing democratic-tending Athens’s distinct capacities for producing/sharing both practical and specialized fields of knowledge, to reconceptualizing the commercial prowess and relatively egalitarian distribution of wealth across ancient Greece’s diversified macro-ecology, Ober consistently has prompted new methods for rethinking when, how, and why dialogue might open up eudaimonic possibilities within the lives of its participants. And even as these methods have received praise across numerous academic disciplines, Ober never has lost his deft touch for showing why our own ever-provisional democratic culture (both inside and outside the academy) ought continually to look to classical precedent as one practical means for engaging the most pressing social questions of the present. Ober’s latest book Demopolis: Democracy before Liberalism in Theory and Practice, recently published by Cambridge University Press, will be the subject of a sequent conversation. Continue reading

Total Junk Rubbing Up Against Glorious, Gorgeous Lyricism: Talking to Daniel Kane

By Andy Fitch

This present conversation (transcribed by Phoebe Kaufman) focuses on Daniel Kane’s Do You Have a Band?”: Poetry and Punk Rock in New York City. More than once, I have picked up a Daniel Kane book and realized he somehow had anticipated just what I (and many poets, scholars, artists I know) would most want to read about. “Do You Have a Band?” certainly falls into that category, as did All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s (University of California Press, 2003), and We Saw the Light: Conversations Between the New American Cinema and Poetry (University of Iowa Press, 2010). Kane is Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Sussex. My admiration for his own interview work made this particular talk a particular pleasure. Continue reading

The Non-Expressible Part of Thinking: Talking to Etel Adnan

By Andy Fitch

This conversation focuses on Etel Adnan’s two-volume selected works To look at the sea is to become what one is: An Etel Adnan Reader and her more recent diptych SEA and FOG (winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry, and the California Book Award for Poetry). Just as Adnan’s work has spread widely across a range of artistic and intellectual practices (most consistently, perhaps, painting, poetry, journalism, philosophy), an adventurous and indefatigable disposition has taken her across the world many times over. Born in Beirut in 1925, Adnan studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, at UC-Berkeley, and at Harvard, and taught at Dominican College in San Rafael from 1958 to 1972. In solidarity with the Algerian War of Independence, Adnan began to resist the political implications of writing in French and became a painter. Through her participation in the movement against the Vietnam War, Adnan then began to write poetry and became, in her words, “an American poet.” Continue reading