TAMPA GREAT BOOKS WEEKEND: A “MAD, MAD” SUCCESS!
With terms like “senility,” “dementia,” “Alzheimer’s, “Delirium,” and “PTSD” being bandied about regarding the mental health of the protagonist in Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” it was obvious that we had a sizeable contingent of social workers participating in the discussions during the Opening Day of the 12th Annual Tampa Bay Great Books Council’s
Annual Conference! Some thirty aficionados of literature and life gathered in St. Petersburg today (Saturday, January 28th, 2017) for the first two sessions of the Conference, organized under the theme: “It’s a Mad, Mad World.”
Attendees began the day with two discussion groups contemplating Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” grappling first with the essential question as to whether Lear was, indeed, “a man more sinned against than sinning.” Tampa Bay Great Books Council co-founder and Chief Moderator Patrick DeMarco conducted one breakout group, with veteran moderator and TBGTBC Board members Joel Fyvolent guided the shared inquiry in the second group. (It should be noted that “daughters” in our discussion groups outnumbered “sons” by a two-to-one margin, but that seemed to have little effect on the development of objective, citation-supported conclusions!)
Following a buffet lunch, the two groups re-convened for discussion of Joseph Heller’s classic, “Catch-22,” with TBGBC President and co-founder Sara Cohen moderating one group, and Patrick DeMarco managing the discussion for Group II. The discussions ranged from the clash between organizational policies and concepts of honor and service (“control mechanisms” or “existential dilemmas”), while embroiling amoral entrepreneurs, “mediocre” leaders, and those simply seeking to survive the carnage and confusion around them. Participants focused a critical eye on the role on Heller’s use of humor and irony, as well as whether the major points of “Catch-22” could have been communicated with more economy of expression.
One group suggested that, ten or twenty years from now, students and reading groups will be still be discussing “King Lear,” while the ongoing popularity of “Catch-22” seems more tenuous.
After a full day of discussions, Saturday evening brought the group together for a festive gourmet meal at the award winning Park Shore Grill. Great conversation, delicious food and wonderful friendships among Great Bookies are a big part of what brings us all together each conference.
The TBGBC Conference wraped up on Sunday (January 29th) with groups meeting at 9:30 AM to discuss the complex theories espoused in Michel Foucault’s “Madness and Civilization,” and a final wrap-up session and raffle drawing to bring the meeting to a close.
Some thirty dedicated readers and thinkers returned to their homes in the U.S. and Canada today (Sunday, January 29th) as the 12th Annual Tampa Bay Great Books Council Conference concluded with a gala raffle
following heavy discussions of Michel Foucault’s “Madness & Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason.”
TBGBC Chief Moderator Patrick DeMarco led one discussion group, while veteran moderator (and retired physician) Joel Fyvolent moderated the second group. In discussions that were both wide-ranging and intense, participants grappled with concepts of “madness” described by terms like “vapours,” “humours,”, “fibers,” and “excesses of energy,” while some remarked on the power of royalty and the ruling classes to confine non-productive members of society using an economic rationale.
In yesterday’s sessions, attendees examined the nature of madness as depicted in William Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22,” with a general consensus that “Lear” will continue to draw the attention of scholars for years to come, while the ongoing popularity of “Catch-22” seems more problematic. Today’s Foucault selection was praised a “historicist’s view of the concept of madness over the ages,” and even as a “lyric poem” on the subject, while a substantial number of participants faulted uneven editing and lack of continuity as shortcomings that inhibited their comprehension of Foucault’s message.
If you have a comment about this Conference or a suggestion for a future TBGBC event, let us know!
Enjoy a few pictures from this morning’s concluding sessions of the 12th Annual TBGBC Conference!
Watch this Facebook page and the Tampa Great Books website for new about our next great event coming soon (www.tampagreatbooks.org).