10 January 2019

Poetry Thursday - a ballad in praise of Gresham College

In Praise of that choice Company of Witts and Philosophers who meet on Wednesdays weekly att Gresham Colledg.
These days, Gresham College has all its lectures online shortly after they've been given - indeed all are now live-streamed, so it's no longer necessary to leave the comfort of one's armchair to hear what the learned and esteemed professors have to tell us about their subjects. On the other hand, hearing it live and in like-minded company is a very good thing.

One evening I watched "Can mathematics tell us where we are" - about navigation, longitude, GPS, that sort of thing - and was surprised, at the start of the lecture, to encounter verse 26 of this long ballad (the complete poem is here). It sings the praises of all the professors and their achievements - and why not - what a great initiative the foundation of the College (in 1597) was: its remit was to take "learning" out of the ivory tower and spread it among the interested public.

There does seem to be large interested public. They queue at the doors of the lectures' venues, and in the past 500 years the professorships have multiplied from the traditional rhetoric, music, astronomy ... via history, law, medicine ... to environment, artificial intelligence, information technology ....

Lectures have been filmed since 2000 and there's an archive of some 2,000 online (as well as transcripts). Unfortunately when "slides" are shown and the lecturer is using the laser pointer, it doesn't show on the screen in the filming, so what "this" is, where "here" is, etc, is rather up to the viewer's imagination.

So, sometimes I go along and take notes, and sometimes I sit on the sofa and watch and knit. Both are my idea of "having fun".

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