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Critical Conversations Meeting Four: Wonderment

Thu 16 February 2023 @ 19 h 00 - 20 h 30

Meeting four of Critical Conversations, an expert-led discussion series. This season: a reflection on how to lead a contemplative, vital, and unmediated life in an ever-faster digital world.

Most would agree that wonderment is a state of mind which cannot be called up at will. But do certain conditions encourage or obstruct it? Guy Debord, the Dadaists, and others described the May 1968 student protests in Paris as a poetic revolution against the ubiquity 4 of the marketplace and its pressures, which made facets of consciousness such as wonderment, curiosity, reverie, and playfulness more difficult to experience.

Is wonderment indeed harder to come by in modernity, as we move away from traditions of magic and mystery such as myth, religion and monarchism? And does the efficiency underpinning a digital lifestyle invite or hinder the wide-eyed state we call wonder? Can a photograph of the northern lights trigger in us a true state of wonder, say, or does wonderment most often arise from multisensorial experience? Is wonderment an occasional influx of heightened feeling, or might it be indicative of a life well lived? Finally, what does wonderment, or the lack of it, teach us?

In partnership with Analog Sea, an offline publisher of printed books, we’re delighted to announce the fourth season of Critical Conversations, an expert-led discussion series that allows Library members to ponder the most important issues of our time. This season, we will reflect on how to lead a contemplative, vital, and unmediated life in an ever-faster digital world. We will discuss questions such as: What do we gain from disconnecting, and how can we do it? How can we sharpen our senses and redirect our attention in order to change our thoughts and actions? And most of all, how can we live in contemporary society with nuance and intention?

Some details: The 2022–23 series will unfold over nine sessions, from November 2022 to July 2023. Conversations will begin at 19h00 CET and run for ninety minutes, in person, at the Library; technology of all description is happily forbidden. Each participant will receive copies of all four Analog Sea Review volumes published so far. Course reading and discussion will, for the most part, be based on work published in The Analog Sea Review. Jonathan Simons, founding editor of Analog Sea, will begin each meeting with some opening remarks, before guiding a group discussion.

About Critical Conversations: Whether in France or America, debate is central to healthy democracy. Critical Conversations encourages both disagreement and agreement through thinking, talking, reading, and actively participating in community. Since the series’ inception in 2020, we have tackled race in America, the climate crisis, and migration. Across seasons, participants have challenged themselves, their peers, and the world in which we live. Please write to Emilie Biggs at biggs@americanlibraryinparis.org with any questions or thoughts.

About the Critical Conversations 2022-23 leader:

Jonathan Simons is the founding editor of offline publishing house Analog Sea and its literary journal, The Analog Sea Review. As a poet and essayist, he has written for publications including The London Magazine, PN Review, El País, subTerrain Magazine, and The Analog Sea Review. His work has been covered by, among others, the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, the Washington Post and La Vanguardia. He researched Buddhist poetics at Naropa University and McGill University and was formerly a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Center for Humans and Machines, in Berlin.

Attendance at this event constitutes permission for your photograph or video to be taken at the event and used by the American Library in Paris for marketing, promotional, pedagogical, or other purposes.


Thu 16 February 2023
19 h 00 min - 20 h 30 min
Event Category:
Critical Conversations Meeting Four: Wonderment
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