Author: bkibet (page 1 of 2)

Voice and Verse

Voice and verse:

Stefano Colangelo, Universita Di Bologna:

In this week’s lecture series we had Stefano Colangelo of University Di Bologna who gave a lecture on Voice and Verse. Stefano has a book of poetry, is a musician on pop songs and poetry. What a diverse person to have for or lecture series. He aimed at making questions on origins of poetry.

Professor Colangelo said poetry has no origin. He claimed that it is about looking deeply and pushing out the main things in poetry according to Benedetto Croce. I think I completely agree with him in this. This takes me back to my high school, five years ago, when I had to learn poetry for four years in high school but I could not stop the hate of Poetry section in English exam. When I looked at any poem, my mind would almost switch off and I would not do great in poetry. If then it is about looking deeply and pushing out, I could not do that with the hate I had in the subject. I don’t know where the hate of poems came from.

Croce term Art as pure intuition or pure expression, which Gaston Bachelard, a French Poet and philosopher wrote and looked deeply on the concept of intuition. Gaston differs from Croce who assumed that poetry was a general principle while he thinks that poetry needs silence and rejects noise. This was an interesting aspect of poetry to hear, rejecting noise and needing silence. This then means for poetry to be communicated well, it needs some form of silence that the information is pass on well. He termed poetry as a compression of many things into one. We often hear the term “The White House has said”. This expression is used in a poem to mean communicate the idea that the government has done something. Therefore, poetry can communicate a lot of information from few words which are condensed.

Paul Valery on his side said that poetry is a living being. He said his voice is more important than the poetry itself. He said, what we need to understand when we read a poem is the voice being used to communicate the poem. By doing so, he claims that, it bridges the gap between the reader and the poem. Roland Barthes brought the aspect of how the poem is read. He thinks the style of reading the poem is important that the message is communicated as well.

Colangelo appreciated the fact that there are voices far away and whispering and can’t be heard well. Therefore, reading a poem might not lead to understanding it because of the voice not understood by the reader. When the voice is really far, then it creates an anthropological field when anthropologists study these long distant voices.

This lecture was also another interesting one. I learnt a lot about the some facts about poetry and many aspects about it. I hope I will be able to appreciate poetry soon and love reading the,




Science and Politics

Soviet Union and the West/

History of science

A day passes not here at Colby before I can see people acting superior to others because they are taking a number of science classes per semester, having a number of science labs where they will have to write a report each week on some hardcore science class. You are taking those five science classes, I am taking four social science classes so who is better that the other one? Do we need one without the other? These are the questions that I ask myself while trespassing the Colby’s campus every day. One field can’t be important without the other and all fields needs to be embraced.

This week we had Professor Elena Aronova come to Colby to speak about the history of science in the Soviet Union and the West during the Cold War. She talked about emphasize of science in the East and the West as they try to clinch the lead in scientific revolution and supremacy. Neither the Soviet nor the United States would want to be seen as the lesser one in Science. The Society had communist Academy which was Marxist research and study. By the mid-twenties, the Communist Academy was transformed into the Scientific-methodological center. Later the same institute petition for an establishment of the Institute for History of Science. This was in line of fostering the science culture in the East. The successful testing of hydrogen bomb gained more prestige. This was in some way showed some level of technological advancements in the east.

Professor Elena said that the scientific revolution started around the 17th century. She corroborated what we had been talking about origin that most of the things that we might be looking at is more of like an advancement from what has been there before. Professor Elena considered the Darwinian Theory as not really progress but she call it change. She thinks that the effects of the Second World War, Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never be forgotten in our history where thousands of people died from than Bomb attack.

She drew our attention to the scientific revolution and the political evolution that came with this. Each country would want to have power by being technologically advanced by employing a lot of sciences to be seen as advanced. From the scientific supremacy that the two regions wanted to be seen as one which was a head, I was reflecting in the need of people with specific skills in the world today. Countries have different policies on immigrants depending on the kind of skills that the country needs. I was asked the professor Aronova in class if she thought we are still in that state of trying to see who has advanced a lot from the scientific world now between the East and the West. I was thinking of varying amount of time international students taking different courses get to practice here in the US after graduation. The students who graduated from the STEM subjects gets around three years to practice in the stem field, which is mostly Science and computer science and Math which none-stem, international students only have one year to practice what they have learnt. This discrepancy then I think is still the need to advance the country in the scientific field that makes countries to have different policies to meet their needs.

This was an interesting topic to end the lecture series of the year. It has been great getting faculty from different field to come talk to us.


Poster Session

Poster Presentation day

This week we had students presenting things they had been working on during the whole semester. In class, each of us had an opportunity to present their research to the whole class. This was a good opportunity for us to get some feedback from fellow students and professor on how we could improve our final presentation in the evening and final paper. This as well gave me an opportunity to practice the presentation. In the evening, we presented poster to the three classes who were presenting as well. I already knew a lot about my fellow classmates’ research progress since the beginning of the semester when all of us did not have an idea of what exactly we were going to research on, to having a rough idea and finally having a concrete poster to present to us today.

Apart from looking at the work done by my fellow classmates, I also looked at the work done by the Artist Book Class Presenters. I talked to four of the presenters in that class and they took me through their processes from identify what they wanted to do to getting and putting together all the material they needed to binding them all to get a book. First I look at work by Sage Bailin. His work was on his sprinting photographs. This captured me because I run a lot. He took photo of a lot of professional athletes in different parts of the world and his photos running as well on our own track. His picture clarity and choice of the location to take photo from was really great.

I also saw some of the work done by Stephanie. Her work was also so impressive to me. I tend to think that I cannot draw anything and when I saw the pictures that she drew, I was really impressed by them. She had drawn images of famous artist from East Asia and America. What I like more about her work was the quotes she matched with these various drawings she had. She said she had been keeping records of favorite quotes since she was twelve years old until now. It was great to see the connection between her drawings and the quotes she gave it. Most of those quotes matched so well on the drawings of various world artists.

I think this was a great way to end the lecture series. These series have been really interesting in that we have seen origin of things from different angles. Having professors and professionals from different fields with different interest made the topics we were studying in different weeks interesting. The diverse nature of our class as well was another interesting aspect. Students from different disciplines approached things differently and made the class super interesting. It was also great that we had the choice to pursue research in any field that had connection with the theme of this year, Order versus Chaos. I am glad I was able to look for “my roots” by researching on the origin of my tribe and through that, I learnt a lot about my tribe.


Possibilities and Innovations



Possibility. This is an interesting word, which dominates our environment in predicting what will happen in the future, next minute, day, months and years. Every person try to have a prediction of what might happen and tune themselves in a way to cope with it. The governments would want to be prepared in provision of services to its people. If something is possibly going to happen, which might hurt its people, say for example drought, or diseases spreading, or population growth and the need for enough services, the government looks at this possibility and adjust itself to meet it. When we are applying for jobs or internships here, we also think of possibility of getting a job or internship in where we are applying. Almost all our lives are preparing for the possible occurences.

The lecture by Professor Vittorio Loreto from Sapienza University of Rome on possibilities and innovations, which he termed as “adjacent possible”, was an interesting topic to look at. He first engaged us in a game where he gave the first letter of a word and let use guess the next letter. He moved on from letter to words in a sentence. He let us guess the words after giving the first word. I thought this was getting easier but actually it became more complex in that it could take many more possibilities than being given letters. After this, he came back to guessing words given the first letter. He showed us through these three words and letter guessing on how languages can take different directions on a different context. And this what he meant by “adjacent possibility”

He drew our attention to the directions that innovations can take through mutation and fixation in Biology, trial and error in the labs, serendipity way, and in many other fields. Through all these fields, innovation is guided mostly by what we have already and minor improvements from it could lead to another big innovation, which is what he called adjacent possible. Most of the time, we predict our future by looking at the past. He gave an example of the weather predictions, where meteorological locations use the past weather conditions and predictions made before it to predict the future weather. Inasmuch as we can’t completely predict our future with it, trajectory cannot be a lot off from the past trend.


Professor Loreto’s main argument was that innovation in the world is increasingly decreasing. He blames things like patent to be an inhibitor of innovations. He thinks giving patent to companies in any kind of filed prevent other people from exploring that field better and lowers the rate of innovations. He gave us example of Twitter, Wikipedia, which is decreasing and he thinks innovation might be tougher as we go forward. This worries because of many needs and challenges that we face on earth nowadays which are increasingly increasing.

However, I think the opposite on innovations. I think these platforms like Facebook and Twitter, are used by many people and has taken the attention and usage of many but I think there are many other innovations made but have not gained popularity due to monopoly of the former. I think as our needs increases and pressured by fewer resources and faced by calamities like the HIV, Ebola, human being will always find ways of meeting our needs by innovating better ways of dealing with the problems that faces us.



Origin and Evolution Earth


Basic reasons why our planet earth was habitable, presence of liquid water, habitable climate and complex life, and other planets are not, were the main things I knew about earth and other planets. Questions that lingers my mind is that were we lucky that the conditions for life existed in our planet or we are special to some extend that only we have these conditions and do we really have these conditions on earth only or could there be other places where these conditions are but only that we have not found them? The Yale professor David Bercovic, shaded more light on the origin and evolution of the earth to where we are now.

Professor Bercovic introduced us to the Big Bang theory. This theory states that the universe was one thing, expanded and eventually exploded. The singularity was in form of hot dense plasma, which had free electrons. As time passed on, the universe cooled enough to form helium. From the heat, helium formed bigger elements that were needed for complex life.  He shared with us the evidence of the Big Bang. Gallactic “Red Shift”, by Hubble Expansion, that the other galaxies are expanding away from each other. Cosmic microwave background as well remains to be evidence that Big Bang happened. After exploding, clouds collapsed to form stars. Stars as well differ in size, how much light it produced and its life.  Big stars burn faster, produced more light and last for a shorter period while the smaller ones burn slowly, emit less light and last longer. Through this burning of stars is when elements necessary for life were formed. Elements heavier than iron like uranium need external energy to form. Presence of heavy elements which entails everything that we need in life were formed because of the big bang.

This lecture made me think about my religious background about creation. In the Book of Genesis, we are told of God spending six days creating the earth and all that was in it. His words of mouth, creating things like his famous one “let there be light”, which happened and him molding Adam from soil then creating Eve from Adam’s rib while asleep, have been what I believed based on my religion since I was a child. I have never had opportunity to question it. When I think about it now, I ask myself where did he get the soil to create the earth and also how real can it be that he created Adam using soil.  However, I have not seen evidence of God’s universe creation as we have seen evidence from Big Bang theory. Whether or not Genesis way or the Big Bang way was where we have our planet, both still holds a lot that we would like to know. In both cases, we can agree that it is still a mystery that we only have habitable earth and we do not know for certain where all this started.

I might not have one theory that I can cling on now, but I think it was great to have professor Bercovic that I get diverse possible explanations to the origin and the evolution of the earth.

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