What the Roger M. Jones Fellowship Meant for Me

It has been almost two months now since I returned from Oxford. I wanted to take a little time to process things before wrapping up this blog. I’ve been working almost since I got home for Intraduce Transit LLC, the sponsor of my senior design project. This is a strategy company that intends to profit from coordinating the development of autonomous vehicles technology in Detroit. It’s a pretty good strategy, to out innovate the foreign automotive manufacturing competition rather than trying to compete on costs, where we will always lose. The work is pretty crazy.

So sometimes, being home now, it seems like Oxford was all an illusion. It went by so fast. It was a vision quest. This was my second vision quest. Some of the things that I saw surprised me. Oxford to me is another dimension to which I was able to transport myself at great cost. The greatest lesson was how to survive in another dimension. I had already done this when I was 19 and went backpacking through the south and east of Europe, but at that time I was living a transient existence which is easier and less expensive than living in such a way as to approximate permanence. I lived deeply in Oxford by choice. Sometimes it was difficult but money solves almost every problem and I was provided with plenty. I lived among the flowers gardens and the spires and churches and crucifixes and pubs. My neighbors were deans and tutors and BBC correspondents. My classmates drank tea and discussed peasant revolts. I drowned myself in anglophilia.

I made a lot of friends in Oxford. Some were foreign. Some were extraordinary. A lot were couchsurfers, people who I met through couchsurfing.com. Italian, Spanish, Austrian, British, French… We had a lot of fun. It always helps to have someone to explore with.

I took classes in subjects that wet my appetite. This was my intention and execution with each of the continuing education classes I took. I went for a pretty heavy load of courses each semester but they were relatively easy and I had latitude to remove myself from painful situations.

I definitely improved my poetry. The poetry class was one of my favorite things, and I learned a lot just from socializing with all the different people and hearing about their life experiences through their poetry. I am well on my way to a publishable collection.

I made a minor course of study in European history, which is of course my history. I think history is incredibly powerful, to be able to put yourself and your existence in perspective. It means that you can see things that others can’t, in fact predict the future better than other people. I studied my existence from many different perspectives– in relation to the physical universe through my cosmology course, with my excellent swiss tutor the metaphysical universe, up through the early history of man with my archaeology course, into early peasant riots and then the impact of the french revolution, which brings us about into existence as free men. See now you all didn’t know that I had a plan like that.

So I went away to England and came back more powerful. I think that is definitely the case. For that I thank the Jones Fellowship. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I think I effectively took my Industrial and Operations Engineering degree and extended it in a very unique and powerful way.

The question now is where to project that power. The internet connected baguette sandwich business concept I was pushing earlier this year got the most positive response I have ever had for a entrepreneurship idea, but after thorough review is not profitable enough to sustain at a low level of investment. I am moving on to another business concept I have which I am called Datumeta. This is a website that allows anyone to tag products, media, people, places, etc appearing in television shows and movies. That information is added to a wiki with monetized links and can also be used as a form of highly targeted advertising alongside streaming videos. Essentially, it is a replacement for television commercials. Revenue would be shared with the responsible contributors. I am looking into commercializing this idea through BizdomU, a one year entrepreneurship training program that is being run out of the Wayne State campus. At the end, you can receive up to $100,000 to finance your idea.

So last words on Oxford…

It was extra strange being in a place so similar to the United States on the surface, yet so dissimilar in the details.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
The pareto principle: 20% of the effort translates into 80% of the results.
Don’t be dependent on any one outcome. Failure is a component of success.
If you’re not living you are dying.
Life is supposed to be fun.
English people don’t walk on one side of the sidewalk in particular, they just want you to walk in the street so they can imagine they are of a better class of people than you. English people are secretly obsessed about class, especially older ones.
Learn to mentally time travel through difficult and boring times like train rides.
Driving righty is not nearly as hard as you would think, but you need to be able to drive a stick in the UK.
Always bring shower sandals and earplugs to a hostel.
The United States is much more than the sum of it’s states, but a principle of maximal liberty that no other place has yet matched.
The food in the UK really is terrible.
You don’t have to endorse checks in the UK, which is one thing we could learn from them.
On most other things they cling endearingly to the middle ages.

So thank you, Roger M. Jones Fellowship. I hope I did you right. I always tried to represent the University of Michigan well, in my near daily wear of my Michigan Crew sweatshirt or passing out business cards. The comment I heard the most was “isn’t it wonderful how you Americans encourage your young people to learn about everything and become whatever they want to be”. So at the very least I helped perpetuate the British inferiority complex, which is, after all, good for trade relations. I threw in a few “we saved your asses in the world wars” just for good measure.

Goodnight Oxford!

I’m Not Dead Yet…

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It is finally springtime and Oxford looks lovely. With my classes finished I have had some time to have new adventures and take care of business. Most days I make the 2 mile walk into town and back, all the houses in this area have gardens and it smells really nice. Some of the things I have been up to lately:

Dinner with my landlady– in her incredible house up the road from me in Summertown. I met her son, who is a senior in Merton college at Oxford, and also a Swiss gentleman who is a tutor there and a family friend; we had some really cool discussions. Her back garden has a perfectly cropped and flat grass area that looks perfect for bocce ball or croquet.

Trip to Stonehenge– I finally made it! My friend Allan surprised me at my house on his day off for Easter and drove me down. Because speed limits are mostly enforced by cameras, which are marked, he likes to drive about 120 mph at all times so the journey was quick. It was really cool to see Stonehenge, something I have always read about since I was very young, and especially having learned about it all semester. The thing about it is, it’s just so weird. Why would anyone bother to build this thing? I think we are mostly captivated by it because it’s something “lost” to human history, and if only we could figure out the riddle we would be more complete.

Camden Town– My friend Nina, another Oxford student, took me around London, and in particular Camden Town. This is the vibrant young hip scene for which I have been searching. Just sights and sounds and smells everywhere, people behaving in various abnormal ways, it was great. We set out to find a Malaysian restaurant that Nina’s mother always takes her to, her mother being Malaysian. We eventually stumbled onto the place, which is in the basement of a building and has no sign. The only sign says “By order of the Malaysian High Commission, only Malaysian people and guests of a Malaysian may enter this restaurant.” Now to me, that is racist, and I am about to stage a sit-in if you try to claim that, so despite Nina being a little worried we entered. Basically, this seems to be the dining hall in what must be Malaysian sovereign territory due to the consulate presence. The craziest thing was the pictures everywhere on the walls of the Malaysian King and Queen. Then there was a little newspaper on the table that I started reading through, and every page had ads with the same pictures of the King and Queen sometimes four times on each page, obviously congratulating them for something. It is so strange to me that people put up with that in their culture, but to each his own I suppose. Malay food tastes like a cross between Indian food and Thai food, as you might expect.

Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race – This was pretty cool, especially my having a bit of rowing experience and so an extra interest in the sport. My housemate and I watched it in the pub across the street and everybody was out to see it. Oxford won, if you missed it. I recognized some people in the pub from my classes, so that was cool to see them out socially as well.

Job Search – I finally got a bit of traction and had two interviews last week, one with a management consulting group and another with a recruiter who is filling an entry level analyst role at a hedge fund. I had never really considered finance much, but I think working at a hedge fund would be awesome. It’s basically the greatest problem ever: how do we turn this huge pile of money into an even huger pile of money? I think I would like to spend some time in all these related fields– hedge funds / banking, consulting, and eventually venture capital which I think would be the most interesting of all. They all have the potential for big payoffs early on, and I would like to get my hands on some money so I can back some of the different business ideas I have as well as buy land, which I think is incredibly undervalued right now in Michigan.

Exit Strategy –  I found someone to take my room, which is a huge relief for me. He is another Dutch-Indonesian post-grad, same as my housemate Sonny, and the answer to my prayers. This means I can leave on schedule and won’t have to pay to discount the room or anything like that, which could have been very expensive. I plan to leave May 2nd, which leaves just enough time to go punting (floating down the river on a boat with a big pole to steer), throw a party in my garden, and enjoy the all night celebrations in Oxford for May Day. This experience has been incredible, but I can’t wait to get back and kiss the soil in the good old U.S. of A.

Last words – Susan Boyle, the best thing to come out of U.K. pop culture since I’ve been over here:

The Stonehenge Theories

Stonehenge Updated
Oxford University
Department for Continuing Education
Andrew Becker
Roger M. Jones Fellow Abroad, The University of Michigan
1-4-09
Hillary 2009

The Stonehenge Theories

It is a world famous archaeological site, great national symbol of Britain, sacred place to neo-druids and neo-pagans, and an extremely perplexing riddle left to taunt us by the people who lived here almost 5000 years ago. Stonehenge inspires wonder all around the world, and everyone seems to have their own personal theory on just what it was supposed to do. The fact that the construction of such a site by Neolithic peoples would have required unimaginable effort in the absence of modern technology makes it all the more compelling a problem. The abundance of theories on the subject is popularly known as the “mystery of Stonehenge”.

To speak in an educated way about this mystery, the first thing one must do is to familiarize themselves with the various explanations already posited by famous archaeologists of the past and present. Most notable among these are the possible functions of burial monument, observatory, solar temple, druid temple, and centre of healing.

Stonehenge as Burial Monument

The Stonehenge Riverside Project, a recent excavation project from 2003-2008 suggests that a primary use in the history of Stonehenge was as a burial monument. Mike Parker Pearson, the head of that project has stated that, “Stonehenge was a place of burial from its beginning to its zenith in the mid third millennium B.C.” Mike Pitts, another researcher on the project, has suggested that the cremated remains of some 240 people in total were buried at the site.

Many archaeologists and anthropologists have suggested that Stonehenge is part of a wider ritual landscape, and represents a “place of the ancestral dead”. It would mark the end of a ritualized symbolic journey carrying the remains of the deceased in a daylong procession down the river Avon from the nearby sites known as Durrington Walls and Woodhenge, the posited “place of the living”. Parker Pearson and others have suggested that stone was a substance associated with death and timber with living by prehistoric peoples. Several hundred burial mounds of varying age surround the actual site of Stonehenge, so even if it was not a major place of burial on its own, it may have symbolic meaning associated with death. Other researchers contest the burial site theory, citing evidence that the burials (specifically at Stonehenge) may be connected to a function as a pilgrimage site known for healing, and also that burial sites have been found at Woodhenge making its identity as a place of the living debatable.

As Observatory

Various archaeoastronomers have suggested that Stonehenge represents an “ancient observatory” and possible “Neolithic computer”. The opening of the monument faces northeast, and on the solar equinoxes and the solstices the sun rises framed in a gap between great stones. The equinoxes and solstices are considered the midpoints or endpoints of the seasons in different cultures, and the ability to approximate their dates would have been useful to an early society that had no knowledge of the accurate length of a year as they transitioned from hunter-gatherers to farmers.

British astronomer Gerald Hawkins went further than this and suggested in a 1963 paper in Nature that there are in fact thirteen solar and eleven lunar correlations with features in the site, based on his early computer-assisted calculations on 165 such features. He based this research on a dating of 1500 B.C. although with radiocarbon dating we now know the most ambitious phase of the site to have been built closer to 2500 B.C. Hawkins also proposed a method by which the 56 pits at the site known as Aubrey holes could have theoretically been used to predict the lunar eclipse, the so-called “Neolithic computer”.

As Solar Temple

The same evidence that points towards the function of Stonehenge as secular observatory can be used to support claims that it is a place of sun worship. Prior to the calculations and theories of Hawkins, William Stukeley in the 18th century and Norman Lockyer in the early 19th century had noticed the alignment with the summer solstice and proposed that the site was a temple of sun worship. Stukeley had theories of a “paternal religion” involving sun worship that was the source of all other religions in history, and in fact many early societies practiced sun worship and built other structures aligned in different ways with the solar cycle. Many have commented on the “feeling” that Stonehenge is sacred ground as anecdotal evidence in itself for a primarily religious function of the site throughout history.

As Druid Temple

John Aubrey, namesake of the Aubrey holes, suggested in the 17th century that Stonehenge and similar sites were temples of the Druids, and that theory persisted throughout the 18th century. Today we know Stonehenge to be much older than the Celtic society that produced the priestly class called the Druids, who probably appeared in Britain around 300 B.C. The persistence of this idea is mostly due to the modern day Celts and neo-Druids who claim the monument as their own and hold festivals and ceremonies there.

As Centre of Healing

Notable Bournemouth University archaeologists Geoffrey Wainwright and Timothy Darvill in 2008 added a new theory to the mix, that Stonehenge was a place of sacred healing and pilgrimage where “people came to be made well”. They base this theory mainly on the fact that a number of the skeletal remains found at Stonehenge show evidence of bone trauma, and that some of those remains show evidence the individuals originated great distances away. The so called “bluestones” at the centre of the monument, somehow moved over 250 km from Wales to the site, came from an area with hot springs that are themselves traditionally associated with healing. This new theory is being hotly debated.

Almost five thousand years later, the “mystery of Stonehenge” continues to perplex and intrigue. Was it a burial monument, observatory, early solar temple, druid temple, centre of healing, or perhaps intended as a landing pad for interstellar space travellers long since forgotten? As a bona fied world wonder and symbol claimed by everyone from the Welsh culture to the British nation to the Druid religion, Stonehenge now means so many things to so many people it has become a question that will almost certainly never be given one universally satisfying answer. It appeals to us in the same way as the Mona Lisa, beautiful and strange and forever waiting for a lucky someone to discover some new pattern or detail, or to generate a new compelling theory. By doing so they link themselves for better or worse with one of the longest enduring symbols of all time.

Web Resources (Accessed April 1, 2009)

Wikipedia Pages -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeoastronomy_and_Stonehenge

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durrington_Walls

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodhenge

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theories_about_Stonehenge

“Changing the Meaning of Stonehenge”, 09/10/2008

http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/News/Latest/Pages/stonehengeaubreyhole.aspx

War and Peace: The 19th Century In Europe – Coursework Assessments

Submitted to Carl Wade, Tutor
War and Peace: The 19th Century in Europe
Oxford University
Department for Continuing Education
Andrew Becker
Roger M. Jones Fellow Abroad, The University of Michigan
31-3-09
Hillary 2009

Oxford University Department for Continuing Education

WAR AND PEACE: THE 19TH CENTURY IN EUROPE

COURSEWORK ASSESSMENT 1

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George Cruikshank published this cartoon in 1851.What major demographic change in Nineteenth Century Europe does it refer to? Could you suggest two main reasons why this accelerated so much more rapidly in the Nineteenth Century than in earlier times?

The demographic change Cruikshank refers to in the cartoon is population growth. During the 19th century the population of Europe doubled, having previously doubled during the 18th century. The artist references this with details such as the hot air “balloon buildings” at the top of the frame and the “suspension villas”, imaginary circumstances under which people have been forced to live due to crowding. There are also huge throngs of people overcrowded on tops of buildings and boats in the harbour. London seems to be bursting at the seams with people.

Population growth in Europe accelerated due to a combination of better medical and public health knowledge and a more robust food supply, combating epidemics of disease and famine. While families were still in the mindset of combating a high death rate with a high birth rate these societal advances drove down the death rate, leading to an explosion in population growth.

Generally speaking, the improvements in medicine and food supply are associated with the Industrial Revolution, now known as the Industrialization Process. The related British Agricultural Revolution meant increased productivity in farming due to developments like enclosure, and “freed up” (made redundant) labourers to do other work. Many of them found work in the new factories in the cities (manufacturing medicines and soap, among other things) and building infrastructure like roads and canals that made the food supply chain more robust and aided the flow of information. At the same time, new social rules such as border enforcement also helped put an end to epidemic outbreaks of disease.

COURSEWORK ASSESSMENT 2

war2

Considering the map of Europe in 1800, which had been so greatly affected by the advance of Napoleon’s power, can you name two major effects on the politics and society of 19th Century Europe that resulted from the French Revolution?

The French Revolution replaced the absolutist monarchy of France with a republic based on principles of the Enlightenment such as the inalienable rights of man. This touched off a time of great change for France including two restorations of the monarchy, the Napoleonic wars, and two more revolutions. Two major effects resulting from the French Revolution and echoing across Europe were the rise of nationalism and emergence of more serious class conflict.

The rise of nationalism and romantic notions of national identity spread quickly in the wake of the French Revolution. The success of the revolutionaries in dismantling the old power structure and uniting in liberalism caused individuals in other absolutist states to attempt to do the same. In some cases this meant national unification of fractious small states, and in others independence from what came to be seen as an occupying foreign power. Notably for unification, between 1859 and 1861 Italy became unified, and Germany did the same from 1866-71. Greece fought a war of independence against the Ottoman Empire from 1821-1829 and Hungary received its autonomy in 1867. The transition from monarchical rule to more liberal nation-states in the wake of the French Revolution transformed Europe into the familiar modern landscape.

At the same time, the violence of the French Revolution and the wars that it spawned foreshadowed the coming class conflict across Europe. The revolutionary elements such as the Jacobins called for “liberty, equality and brotherhood”, which threatened the longstanding autocratic status quo and led to both armed struggle and nonviolent political / propaganda conflict. Enfranchisement was a major issue, with the common people demanding a greater say in the rule of law, starting with voting rights for property owning males and eventually leading to demands for the enfranchisement of the poor, women, and minorities as well. Attempts to subdue these revolutionary movements forced them underground, but made them martyrs in the eyes of the John Bull public.

COURSEWORK ASSESSMENT 3

By 1900 European countries had colonised a large portion of countries outside the European continent. Name two developments in the history of Nineteenth-Century Europe that made this possible, and suggest a reason why each development occurred.

The 19th century colonization of the world by European powers was directly linked to changes in the European economies brought about by the industrial revolution and also changes in the balance of European power brought about by various wars and revolutions.

The industrial revolution, with its increased productivity and dependence on technology, forced many labourers off their lands and into the cities, which they found to be overcrowded. At the same time, the industrialization lead to redistribution of the way private capital was allocated in the European countries, making colonization efforts for slave trading and other industries possible and extremely lucrative. The result was that many lower income persons sought a better life in the colonies, often starting off as indentured servants. The new technologies brought about by the industrial revolution, along with the greater pace of development due to better infrastructure and a more open society helped the European nations into a position of dominance over the indigenous societies they colonized.

At the same time, the European wars meant increased competition among the European nations for control of the seas and the territories of the whole world. The exploitation of colonies abroad could help fund war efforts at home, and the war efforts lead to the development of ever more lethal war technologies, useful for the further suppression of indigenous cultures. The wars at home also created refugees, who were especially likely to take the opportunity to flee to the new world.

COURSEWORK ASSESSMENT 4

‘Liberalism was the triumphant ideology of the 19th Century in Europe’

Do you either agree or disagree with this statement? Justify your decision with at least one argument.

Liberalism was indeed the triumphant ideology of the 19th Century in Europe, as evidenced by the emergence of the British Empire and the United States of America as the dominant global powers at the end of that century amid the decline of absolutism.

The beginning of the 19th Century really began with the French Revolution, culminating around 1799. This was the great catalyst for liberal thought throughout the world, but while the French were the first (and perhaps because of it) they were unable to maintain a continuous liberal republic.

The United States, formed at the end of the 18th Century, was the first liberal democracy and fared extremely well during the 19th Century, including the “Gilded Age” beginning around 1876 and continuing into the 1900s. The British Empire as well, enjoyed the “Imperial Century” until around 1914. While the United States is not technically a part of Europe, it can easily be seen as an extension of Europe at least in the context of this period.

While the more liberal U.S, British, and German empires were rising, the Spanish and Ottoman empires were in decline, and the absolutist states were more or less abolished. Liberalism, at least in modified form, was the triumphant ideology.

Britain and the French Revolution – Historical Document Exercises

Submitted to Dr. Kate Watson, Tutor
John Bull, Tom Paine & The British Jacobins
Oxford University
Department for Continuing Education
Andrew Becker
Roger M. Jones Fellow Abroad, The University of Michigan
30-3-09
Hillary 2009

Britain and the French Revolution – Historical Document Exercises

Parliamentary Reports

Report of the Committee of Secrecy of the House of Commons, May 1794
1) Significance of Dates / Origins: May 1794 was just before the “Thermidorian Reaction” (Thermidor = July in the French revolutionary calendar), which replaced the most radical elements in power in France with more conservative ones. This was a period of terror in France.
2) Concerns Voiced: The Committee is scared that the Constitutional Information Society and the London Corresponding Society are part of a wider conspiratorial network aligned with revolutionary groups in France, and might try to lead Britain down the same path.
3) Language and Tone: Suggests a “traitorous conspiracy”, i.e. “French treachery” versus British treachery, meaning that these elements are working against the King but not for any foreign power or other interest.

An Account of the Debate on the Treasonable Practices Bill, November 1795
1) Significance of Dates / Origins: November 1795 was just after the end of the Thermidorian Reaction, and also the end of “Pitt’s terror”, the British were still figuring out how to deal with the threat of change.
2) Concerns Voiced: The author of the account is afraid of things going too far in Britain, and believes that change of the type in France will by nature be associated with chaos.
3) Language and Tone: Labeling of revolutionary literature as “infernal poison”, and what’s worse, publishing at the cheapest rate so that even the common people can read it!
4) Pros / Cons of Parliamentary Reports as Sources: Parliamentary reports give an idea of the more “official” viewpoints of the times, but they are (from this time period) only second hand accounts, and thus not as pure as historians would like. We can only guess at the type of emphasis the authors would have added when orating these reports.

The Caricatures of Gillray

The Zenith of French Glory, Gillray, 1793
1) Significance of Date: In 1793 France declared war on Great Britain, following the execution of King Louis XVI. This was also the period of the Terror in France, and the caricature is reflecting on that.
2) Message Conveyed? Gillray is illustrating the revolution in France as not leading to a better society, but a brutish and ugly one.
3) Use of Images and Title: Images in the caricature include the typical savage “sans-culottes” Frenchman, who is, as per usual depiction, wearing no pants at all. He has his foot on some priests who have been executed, and a guillotine in the background also alludes to out of control executions. A sort of cross topped with a liberty cap above the hanging priests depicts the “religion” of the revolutionaries as atheism. The sans-culotte plays a violin, perhaps a reference to Nero, who famously fiddled as Rome burned. The full title mocks the liberty derived from the French revolution as inferior to the sort of liberty already held by the common Englishman.

London Corresponding Society Alarmed- Guilty Consciences, Gillray, 1798

1) Significance of Date: In 1798 there was a perceived rise of Jacobinism in Great Britain, taking place underground.
2) Message Conveyed? The LCS is composed of inferior lower-class people (who could not possibly know anything), who meet in dark places and delude themselves with atheistic Jacobite propaganda.
3) Use of Images and Title: The men in the image appear as troglodytes, meeting in a dark place. They are workingmen; the message is that these sorts of people have dangerous personal political beliefs that are wrong for the good of the rest. There is a visible LCS pamphlet in the bottom right corner, associating this group with the threatening appearance of the men. The title says that they are alarmed, probably with the rise of Napoleon.
4) Pros / Cons of Caricatures as Sources: While caricatures show some general attitudes of the times and give insight into the complexity of the issues, this complexity makes them one of the most difficult types of source to read. There are so many details, a good example being the violin played by the sans-culotte in the first caricature, which could really mean any number of things.

Contemporary News Articles

Hampshire Chronicle, November 15 1790
1) Significance of Date: In 1790 Great Britain was still in a very liberal phase in terms of the reaction to the French Revolution, which was met initially with general tolerance. Burke had just published a “reflection” against the Revolution, which was met with derision during this period of naiveté.
2) Message Conveyed: The message of this passage is that Burke is a fool, liberal things are good, and that his being Irish makes him a possible secret-Catholic that might be working in the service of the Catholic Church and therefore absolutism in all forms.
3) Use of Language and Tone: The use of the word “hurling” reminds the reader that Burke is Irish, and therefore not to be trusted. The section is overall dismissive of Burke personally, more than his beliefs.

Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal, December 9th 1792.
1) Significance of Date: In the wake of the “September Massacres” of the late summer of 1792, where anarchy ruled and rape and murder were said to be common, Great Britain views the French Revolution as a savage affair.
2) Message Conveyed: The author is implying that everyone should demonstrate their loyalty to the crown, and those that do not are highly suspect.
3) Use of Language and Tone: In this section, those who form loyalty associations are “distinguishing their character”, while those who do not are “backward”, “crude”, “licentious”. Anyone who does not demonstrate loyalty is associated with the anarchy, rape, and murder in France and may want to bring that to British shores.
4) Pros and Cons of Newspapers: Selections from newspapers such as these provide historians with the middle-class view of historical events and the immediate gut-reaction of the populace, but suffer from press bias or the possibility that press bias may be present.

Sermons

The Consecration of Banners… Wallingford Loyal Assoc, Rev. T. Pentycross 1798
1) Context of Date and Place: Great Britain is at war with France in 1798. A “Loyal” association is against any sort of Jacobin politics, and would have been especially receptive to this message refuting Atheism.
2) Message of the Sermon: Rev. Pentycross wants the people to believe that God is on their side against the heathen atheist Jacobins, and that in fact they lack free will when it comes to their war against the French, that they must fight because God makes it so.
3) Use of Religion for Politics: In this example the preacher does not explicitly declare a political message, but by explaining that God chooses the wars we fight he blesses the war against the French and the British Jacobins.

A Sermon Preached Before the Chiswick Military Association, 1798
1) Context of Date and Place: Again, Great Britain at war with France in 1798. The Military Association would be similar in disposition to a Loyal Association but perhaps would have more “common” members, and so this sermon is even more direct in it’s message.
2) Message of the Sermon: The French are not just wrong, they are wicked and going against God, Christianity, and society. They are immoral, and therefore it is righteous to wage war against them.
3) Use of Religion for Politics: Every warring faction always regards themselves as having “god on their side”, but this preacher takes it a step farther, making this a war not just between Great Britain and France but between Christian morality and atheistic anarchy.
4) Pros / Cons of Sermons as Historical Sources: Religious sermons generally are supposed to provide guidance for the people, in line with a larger Church doctrine, so they may indicate the Church response where the populace was conflicted over an issue. However, they may also simply reflect the personal politics of the individual preacher.

Web Resources Consulted:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermidorian_reaction

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Revolutionary_Wars

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reign_of_Terror

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobinism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Burke

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_Massacre

Giulio Romano and the Palazzo Del Te

Submitted to Robert Franklin, Tutor
The Architecture of Eccentricity
Oxford University
Department for Continuing Education
Andrew Becker
Roger M. Jones Fellow Abroad, The University of Michigan
27-3-09
Hillary 2009

Giulio Romano and the Palazzo Del Te

The Palazzo Del Te by Giulio Romano is a true classic among the Mannerist style of architecture from the Renaissance period in Italy. This style is characterized by the deliberate use of techniques and design elements in ways that may appear contradictory (to tradition or function), confusing, or chaotic– in order to draw attention to the “art” that is the building itself. The principal features of the Palazzo Del Te, in their deliberate breaking of classical rules, increase the aesthetic appreciation of the building by even the amateur viewer.

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Principle Features
The Palazzo was the pleasure palace or “Villa Suburbana” of Federico II Gonzaga, then Marquess of Mantua. It was constructed in Mantua, Italy in 1524-34.
The North Façade – note that while the features at first glance appear evenly spaced, they are actually quite irregularly spaced. Also note the strange way the building seems to be halfway between one and two stories, so you are not quite sure if there is a second story or not. It is as if the second story has been compressed down.

The Northeast view from within the Palazzo. The building on the left is a “secret garden” containing a grotto. There is a fake door on this grotto, but this is nothing particularly exciting as there are fake doors throughout the Palazzo. On the right is the hemispherical exedra, through which the Marquess would have had a grand view on horseback. The whole palace was built with a theme of horses and horseback riding, the great love of the Gonzaga family.
Here we see columns that have been given a very rough surface treatment that perhaps seems out of place, common throughout. The beam above has a keystone shape that might be functional in another place, but certainly is not here and is therefore perplexing or humorous.
Here is a wall within the courtyard. There are fake windows like this all over, mirroring the dummy doors. Note the dropped triglyphs at the top that seem to be falling out of the entablature. This was done on purpose and is perhaps the ultimate inside joke / Easter egg of the multitude within the Palazzo. Also note that the keystone is slightly raised out of place, pushing the joint above open.
Inside “Cela dei Giganti”, the room of the Giants. Intricate work like this is common throughout the interior of the house. The theme of the painting, collapse, unifies this as the theme of the entire building, along with numerous other items such as the dropped triglyphs and the smashed two story / one story appearance. Some say Romano was alluding to the collapse of classical architecture.

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Analysis from a “Classical” Context
Classical architecture, meaning Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman, came out of the very first architecture, and involved the desire to build ever more perfect buildings. Simplicity, elegance, and symmetry were considered the goal, and the buildings seem very formal and imposing. Here Giulio Romano has built something that at first may seem to be quite classical, but is in fact thumbing its nose quite deliberately at the classical tradition. It is not perfect, but in fact, quite deliberately appears to be in a state of perpetual falling down. It is not symmetrical, but alludes to symmetry in its playful and careful dissymmetry, which could be said to give it a higher symmetry of purpose. It is not simple, but has numerous features that serve no functional purpose, serve only to mock functionality, or deliberately create chaos or complexity. It is clearly layered with meaning, message, and humor, some of which requires additional information to decode. Yet it is supremely elegant.

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Assessment of Aesthetics
The Marquess of Mantua paid a princely sum for this pleasure palace, and he entrusted Giulio Romano with the vision. In return he received a building that was not just great, but personal, with innumerous intricacies revealing both the details of Gonzaga and the essence of Romano. Because of this building, these men have been remembered, who they were and what made them special remained in the public knowledge until modern times and therefore they live in infinity. So it was a trade-off. The Marquess could have demanded a building in the classical style, to match with thousands of others, and perhaps his could have even been a particularly grand classical building, and perhaps he would have even been remembered for it, but it would have been as a footnote. By allowing Giulio to share (and perhaps even dominate) the stage, he cast his lot with greatness. This feeling, that this is a great building, that je ne sais quoi, that x-factor, is what makes this such a stunning and noteworthy piece of architecture. It draws the viewer in, makes them feel that they are a part of something special. While classical buildings were exclusive and imposing, this one is inclusive and imperfect—imperfect like a human being. It tells a story of fantasy and secrets. What greater aesthetic evaluation is possible, to say that this building is, to all who view it, a great piece of art?

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So it was through careful inclusion of features that subtly break the rules of classical architecture that Giulio Romano created one of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings of his time. It may be saying, “look at me!” but says so in a subtle and never ostentatious way (as far as a “pleasure palace” can be unostentatious). Today we recognize the Palazzo Del Te as a great example of Mannerist architecture that achieves great beauty through its rebellion.

References:
All web resources were accessed on 27-3-2008.
All photos used under educational fair use, not for distribution (photos in this post will be removed in 30 days or less)

Virtual Reality Tour of the Palazzo – http://www.williams.edu/art/architectureVR/palazzoDelTe/

Wikipedia Palazzo Del Te –

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_del_te

Photographic tour of the Palazzo –

http://web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/org/orion/eng/hst/manneris/te.html

Paris, Prague, Fate

Photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2546456&id=2209830&l=673d3c9a12

Things that have been going down:

My little sister Caroline came to visit. She is at Michigan (she does stem cell research) and she came over on her break. We blew through a whirlwind tour of Oxford, the standard one I give everyone that includes the giant stone heads at the Sheldonian Theater and the Radcliffe Camera of the Bodleian library. We had dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in town, sort of the most notable restaurant right now in Oxford. I thought it was kind of a train-wreck, they tried to give us the worst table in the place which I think was clear age discrimination. I ain’t no fool.

Caroline and I then flew to Paris for the weekend. This was my first time in Paris, although I have previously been to Marseilles in the south of France which is one of my favorite places on earth. We really only had the one day, during which we climbed the Eiffel tower (only to the 1st floor), saw the Mona Lisa and the Venus De Milo at the Louvre, and had steak frites at the Relais De Venise, a restaurant that was profiled in the NYTimes article about finding the best steak frites in Paris a few months ago. They do it with a butter-cream-garlic-shallot-tarragon sauce that is very nice. I got mine “saignant” which is supposedly the “correct French” way to do it, a preparation translating as “bloody” which was awesome to eat and rare enough you would have to sign a release form to get it like that in the US.

Number of food snobbery comments in this post so far: way too many.

Caroline and I then flew back to London / Oxford so I could be back for classes. As usual some of my classes are driving me a little crazy… [redacted - New Lesson: don't post anything traceable back to anyone else on the internet]

Anyway survived classes, then flew to Prague. Prague is awesome, and it feels great to be back in Eastern Europe. Personally I prefer Cracow from what I remember, but Prague has a lot to offer as well. The old square is amazingly beautiful as is the whole city, and they seem to really appreciate culture here. I met up with my friend Zane (previously mentioned in this blog) and another friend of his, Seth, who went to Michigan for Business and works for Microsoft in Madrid. Czech beers, sausages, and absinthe were had by all (by the way the current research says that it’s a myth that absinthe has any psychoactive properties, it’s just really strong liquor, personally I think it’s pretty nasty). We went to a great jazz bar, saw the oldest synagogue in Europe, and went to a museum of medieval torture. That place was kind of a downer. The thing I found very interesting was how many of the punitive things they showed were based on public scorn. I didn’t know about many of these things, such as iron masks that look like pigs or goats to be worn in public, and robes made of itchy material with devilish markings on them. The reason this was on my brain was a discussion in Boston Legal where the judge mentioned that there is not really a good reason we so seldom use public scorn as a punitive measure in modern times. I kind of think that it should be used more, but it has to be done in a controlled way where the convicted are not subject to the whims of the mob. The worst torture method they showed was being sawed in half down the middle upside down. All the blood runs to your head so you stay conscious. Ouch.

So yeah, Prague, fun times.

Now I am about to go into overdrive mode to:

Find a sub-letter for my apartment
Engage my social network to find a job (preferably in some kind of technology-business role)
Take the GMAT and possibly apply to Oxford Said Business school MBA program for next year
See if the evolved Veni Vici’s business concept has any traction with people in Ann Arbor
Write short final essays for a majority of my classes
Visit Stonehenge
Plan my exit

Ready? Go.