|The Great Hall, Library of Congress|
I was going to name this blog 'My DC Cultural Education,' because my aim here is to put right some of the deficiencies of my original education. This will really be my third attempt; attempt one involved reading lots of books for pleasure in my early 20s. Highbrow, middlebrow, lowbrow, whatever took my fancy. Fun but unreflective. To paraphrase Socrates, the unexamined book is not worth reading (well, it still is, but you’re not making the most of it). The second attempt came in my mid-20s when I started an Open University degree. The very first module was all about the history and culture of fifth century
Athens. This opened up a
new and exciting world for me and I picked out modules on different periods of
history, literature, philosophy and art. The structure and feedback was a
massive improvement on my former auto-didacticism, and that education has
continued ever since. But as you climb the academic ladder you become more and
more specialised and the learning is less and less liberal. So my official education has been taking me further away
from the more rounded renaissance idea of the ‘perfect gentleman’ I originally had in mind.
Maintaining diverse cultural interests alongside an intensive course of study can be difficult, especially with young children, but for these four months I am (mostly) child-free and determined not to squander the opportunity.
will be my school and this blog will provide the structure for my responses.
That’s the plan anyway. I'm also going to miss the wee blighters, so this diary should be a good distraction too. The aim is for this trip, as Jebediah Springfield might
have put it, to embiggen my soul. Washington DC