Episode 36 Sacred and Profane Love: The Realist Poetry of Czeslaw Milosz

In this episode, I am joined by Professor Thomas Pfau (Duke University) to discuss the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz. We talk about his realism–i.e., his conviction that the task of poetry is to convey the truth by getting us to pay careful attention to reality. We discuss his philosophical and theological influences–Augustine, Aquinas, Pascal, Weil–and how these show up in his poems. For Milosz, poetry is the habit of accurate vision–we can only capture the real by looking. Therefore poetry is not self-expression, but testimony or witness. Milosz, we agree, is a religious poet in that he seeks to affirm the world, to celebrate and marvel at the mystery of existence, even as he is keenly aware that the world is fallen and full of suffering and, in the end, not really our proper home.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Thomas Pfau (PhD 1989, SUNY Buffalo)  is the Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English, with secondary appointments in Germanic Language & Literatures and the Divinity School at Duke University. He has published some forty-five essays on literary and philosophical subjects ranging from the 18th through the early 20th  century. In addition to two translations, of Hölderlin and Schelling (SUNY Press, 1987 and 1994), he has also edited seven essay collections and special journal issues and is the author of three monographs: Wordsworth’s Profession  (Stanford UP 1997), Romantic Moods: Paranoia, Trauma, Melancholy, 1790-1840  (Johns Hopkins UP 2005) and Minding the Modern: Intellectual Traditions, Human Agency, and Responsible Knowledge  (Notre Dame UP, 2013). He has recently completed a new book project that focuses on phenomenology of image-consciousness in literature, theology, and philosophy.

Jennifer A. Frey is an associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with a Classics minor) at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. She has published widely on action, virtue, practical reason, and meta-ethics, and has recently co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and PsychologyHer writing has also been featured in First ThingsFare ForwardImageLaw and LibertyPloughThe Point, and USA Today. She lives in Columbia, SC, with her husband, six children, and six chickens. You can follow her on Twitter @jennfrey

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Sacred and Profane Love is a podcast in which philosophers, theologians, and literary critics discuss some of their favorite works of literature, and how these works have shaped their own ideas about love, happiness, and meaning in human life. Host Jennifer A. Frey is associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina. The podcast is generously supported by The Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America and produced by Catholics for Hire.

This episode of Sacred and Profane Love is sponsored by The Classical Learning Test, which provides an to alternative standardized tests rooted in tradition. Featuring passages selected from great works across a variety of disciplines, the CLT suite of assessments provide a highly accurate and rigorous measure of reasoning, aptitude, and academic formation for students from diverse educational backgrounds. The exams are taken online in just two to three hours, and all three assessments (traditional CLT, CLT10, CLT8) give test results within 24 hours. (Please note that scores for the new remote-proctored CLT are available 1-2 weeks after testing.) The CLT also provides colleges and secondary schools with detailed information about student learning trends, to facilitate decisions about admissions, curricula, and instruction. The CLT unites a dedicated group of educators, businesspeople, and scholars, all in service to a shared passion: to reconnect intellectual pursuit with the pursuit of virtue.

Music credits, “Help me Somebody,” by Brian Eno and David Byrne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

Episode 35, Sacred and Profane Love: Morten Hoi Jensen on Jens Peter Jacobsen

In this episode, literary critic Morten Høi Jensen and I discuss the Danish novelist and poet, Jens Peter Jacobsen, and his beautiful novel, Niels Lyhne. Niels is a man searching for love and for God, but who finds that God does not answer his prayers and concludes that the universe is without a creator and cannot offer us any consolation. Originally titled The Atheist, Jacobsen’s novel is an honest exploration of atheism and its paradoxical nature as parasitic upon the faith it rejects and a new faith in its own right.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Morten Høi Jensen is a literary critic and the author of A Difficult Death: The Life and Work of Jens Peter Jacobsen, which was published by Yale University Press in 2017 with a foreword by James Wood. His writing has also appeared in the New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Point, The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, Commonweal, and The American Interest, among others. He is currently writing a book about Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain.

Jennifer A. Frey is an associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with a Classics minor) at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. She has published widely on action, virtue, practical reason, and meta-ethics, and has recently co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and PsychologyHer writing has also been featured in First ThingsFare ForwardImageLaw and LibertyPloughThe Point, and USA Today. She lives in Columbia, SC, with her husband, six children, and six chickens. You can follow her on Twitter @jennfrey

Subscribe

Become a Patron!

Preview on iTunes

Sacred and Profane Love is a podcast in which philosophers, theologians, and literary critics discuss some of their favorite works of literature, and how these works have shaped their own ideas about love, happiness, and meaning in human life. Host Jennifer A. Frey is associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina. The podcast is generously supported by The Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America and produced by Catholics for Hire.

This episode of Sacred and Profane Love is sponsored by The Classic Learning Test, which provides an to alternative standardized tests rooted in tradition. Featuring passages selected from great works across a variety of disciplines (including St. Augustine, Dante, and Flannery O’Connor), the CLT suite of assessments provide a highly accurate and rigorous measure of reasoning, aptitude, and academic formation for students from diverse educational backgrounds. The exams are taken online in just two to three hours, and all three assessments (traditional CLT, CLT10, CLT8) give test results within 24 hours. (Please note that scores for the new remote-proctored CLT are available 1-2 weeks after testing.) The CLT also provides colleges and secondary schools with detailed information about student learning trends, to facilitate decisions about admissions, curricula, and instruction. The CLT unites a dedicated group of educators, businesspeople, and scholars, all in service to a shared passion: to reconnect intellectual pursuit with the pursuit of virtue.

Music credits, “Help me Somebody,” by Brian Eno and David Byrne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.

United by Their Loves

I recently participated in a panel discussion on St. Augustine’s notion of a people with my dear friends, Russ Hittinger and Fr. Michael Sherwin, OP. We mostly discuss Book XIX of The City of God. St. Augustine was a republican (in the classical sense!) and Augustine does not argue (contrary to what some have suggested) that only those who share the same religion can form a people–i.e., be united by common loves.

You can watch the entire exchange, hosted by The Lumen Christi Institute and America magazine, here:

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Episode 34 Sacred and Profane Love: Dante’s Paradiso

Heaven is a place where nothing, nothing ever happens...” Talking Heads

OK, friends, we are finally in Paradise, with our faithful guides Beatrice, St. Bernard, and of course, Professor Matthew Rothaus Moser. It turns out that perfect happiness is resting, delighting, and dwelling in the good. How does Dante manage to write 33 more cantos about rest? You should listen to find out, of course!

As always, I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Matthew Rothaus Moser joined the Honors College faculty at Azusa Pacific University in Fall 2020 after teaching for seven years in the Theology Department at Loyola University Maryland. He has won two awards for excellence in teaching: the first from Baylor University (2013), the second from Loyola University Maryland’s Center for Humanities (2016). In addition to essays and book chapters on the theology of reading, theological aesthetics, and theology and literature, he has also published Love Itself is Understanding: Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Theology of the Saints (Fortress Press, 2016) and the forthcoming Dante and the Poetic Practice of Theology (Wipf & Stock Publishers). You can follow him on Twitter @M_Rothaus_Moser

Jennifer A. Frey is an associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with a Classics minor) at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. She has published widely on action, virtue, practical reason, and meta-ethics, and has recently co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and PsychologyHer writing has also been featured in First ThingsFare ForwardImageLaw and LibertyPloughThe Point, and USA Today. She lives in Columbia, SC, with her husband, six children, and six chickens. You can follow her on Twitter @jennfrey

Subscribe

Become a Patron!

Preview on iTunes

Sacred and Profane Love is a podcast in which philosophers, theologians, and literary critics discuss some of their favorite works of literature, and how these works have shaped their own ideas about love, happiness, and meaning in human life. Host Jennifer A. Frey is associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina. The podcast is generously supported by The Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America and produced by William Deatherage.

This episode of Sacred and Profane Love is sponsored by The Classical Learning Test, which provides an to alternative standardized tests rooted in tradition. Featuring passages selected from great works across a variety of disciplines (including Dante!), the CLT suite of assessments provide a highly accurate and rigorous measure of reasoning, aptitude, and academic formation for students from diverse educational backgrounds. The exams are taken online in just two to three hours, and all three assessments (traditional CLT, CLT10, CLT8) give test results within 24 hours. (Please note that scores for the new remote-proctored CLT are available 1-2 weeks after testing.) The CLT also provides colleges and secondary schools with detailed information about student learning trends, to facilitate decisions about admissions, curricula, and instruction. The CLT unites a dedicated group of educators, businesspeople, and scholars, all in service to a shared passion: to reconnect intellectual pursuit with the pursuit of virtue.

Music credits, “Help me Somebody,” by Brian Eno and David Byrne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.By Jennifer A Freyin Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life534 WordsLeave a commentEdit

Episode 33 Sacred and Profane Love: Dante’s Purgatorio

2021 marks the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death in Ravenna. This is the second of three episodes exploring Dante’s The Divine Comedy, with Professor Matthew Rothaus Moser (Theology, Honors College, Azusa Pacific University). In this episode, we discuss Dante’s vision of Purgatory, a place where sin is healed and the soul purified, so that a person can become truly free to enjoy the good.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Matthew Rothaus Moser joined the Honors College faculty at Azusa Pacific University in Fall 2020 after teaching for seven years in the Theology Department at Loyola University Maryland. He has won two awards for excellence in teaching: the first from Baylor University (2013), the second from Loyola University Maryland’s Center for Humanities (2016). In addition to essays and book chapters on the theology of reading, theological aesthetics, and theology and literature, he has also published Love Itself is Understanding: Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Theology of the Saints (Fortress Press, 2016) and the forthcoming Dante and the Poetic Practice of Theology (Wipf & Stock Publishers). You can follow him on Twitter @M_Rothaus_Moser

Jennifer A. Frey is an associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with a Classics minor) at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. She has published widely on action, virtue, practical reason, and meta-ethics, and has recently co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and PsychologyHer writing has also been featured in First ThingsFare ForwardImageLaw and LibertyPloughThe Point, and USA Today. She lives in Columbia, SC, with her husband, six children, and six chickens. You can follow her on Twitter @jennfrey

Subscribe

Become a Patron!

Preview on iTunes

Sacred and Profane Love is a podcast in which philosophers, theologians, and literary critics discuss some of their favorite works of literature, and how these works have shaped their own ideas about love, happiness, and meaning in human life. Host Jennifer A. Frey is associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina. The podcast is generously supported by The Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America and produced by William Deatherage.

Music credits, “Help me Somebody,” by Brian Eno and David Byrne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.By Jennifer A Freyin Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life534 WordsLeave a commentEdit

Episode 32 Sacred and Profane Love: The Therapeutic Fiction of David Foster Wallace

In this episode, I am joined by one of the founding editors of The Point, Jon Baskin, to discuss the prospects of philosophical literary criticism and how we can apply such criticism to the fiction of David Foster Wallace. Baskin elaborates his ideas in a book I highly recommend, Ordinary Unhappiness: The Therapeutic Fiction of David Foster Wallace. Jon and I discuss Wittgenstein, Iris Murdoch, Stanley Cavell, Robert Pippin, and of course, David Foster Wallace. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Jon Baskin is the Associate Director of the Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism program at the New School for Social Research and a founding editor of The Point. He earned his Ph.D. from The Committee on Social Thought at The University of Chicago. His writings have been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times, The Nation, The New Yorker, and The New York Review of Books. He is also the author of Ordinary Unhappiness: The Therapeutic Fiction of David Foster Wallace. You can follow him on Twitter @BaskinJon

Jennifer A. Frey is an associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with a Classics minor) at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. She has published widely on action, virtue, practical reason, and meta-ethics, and has recently co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and PsychologyHer writing has also been featured in First ThingsFare ForwardImageLaw and LibertyPloughThe Point, and USA Today. She lives in Columbia, SC, with her husband, six children, and six chickens. You can follow her on Twitter @jennfrey

Subscribe

Become a Patron!

Preview on iTunes

Sacred and Profane Love is a podcast in which philosophers, theologians, and literary critics discuss some of their favorite works of literature, and how these works have shaped their own ideas about love, happiness, and meaning in human life. Host Jennifer A. Frey is associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina. The podcast is generously supported by The Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America.

Music credits, “Help me Somebody,” by Brian Eno and David Byrne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.