On Thursday we all trooped off to the train station and took three different trains to get to Salisbury. Salisbury is a quaint little city south west of Oxford. We checked into our quirky hotel and then walked over to visit Salisbury Cathedral and see the Magna Carta on display. The students really were impressed by the 13th century cathedral and the Magna Carta.
At 7:30 taxis arrived to take us out to the Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge. We had a private visit where we were allowed to walk amidst the stones. Our guide, Romy, told the story of the site and the students truly enjoyed the entire experience, especially trying her dousing rods to measure the energy veins through the main portal. We witnessed a lovely sunset and arrived back at the hotel around 10:30 pm.
The next day we visited the Museum to see the archeological finds around Stonehenge and some other delightful exhibits. Back to Oxford via our three trains!
This weekend a group of them went into London for the Pride Parade and other places. We re-convene as a group on Monday as we head into our final week.
Certainly Stonehenge offers many opportunities to reflect on the nature of place. Its very mystery and status as pre-historic offer us slices of time where it meant this or that. Or can we ever grasp what the 3rd millennial BCE humans saw as the world around them? I was struck by how many of the students face-timed their families back home while we were on the site. 21st century channels the sacred silence of the stones. But I also expect that London with its parade in support of Gay Rights will also offer rich food for reflecting on how we shape our rituals and honor one another.
If you would prefer a slightly more reflective take on our visit, see my post in Medium.
So in a week I will be in Oxford, England with 15 students and my co-instructor to continue our spring class on the history of Oxford and the concept of place. My co-leader is an accomplished historian so I will defer to him when it comes to the nuances of history, although I know a tad about it, having spent the last 6 months reading along with the students about the history of Oxford University and its presence in England and the British world view.
My small contribution has been to invite students, along with myself, to consider the nature of place and how it affects our sense of self, community, and world. Philosophers have always had an interest in place, even when they try to adopt a universal viewpoint. Phenomenologists in particular are intrigued by how our perceptions shape our ideas and those ideas consequently affect our perceptions: an ouroboros of a conundrum. A geographer, Tim Cresswell, has been our guide but I am hoping that on site we will adventure into our own reflections using Oxford as our canvas for place.
I hope to continue a series of these posts, sharing our experiences throughout our three weeks and our reflections on the ways in which Oxford, education, class, nature, nurture, and above all space (natural and architectural) shapes the ways in which we parse our world and our selves. We wll also be sharing the experience of transferring place: from the familiar, traveling to the new and unknown.
My plan: each day I will choose a comment by one of the students or my colleague to muse over, accompanying it with an image to provoke response. Let’s see how this goes!
I am thoroughly entranced by clouds these days… well, maybe all days. They hover over us and define our days as sunny, stormy, crop-growing, stay-inside, or simply terrifying. I like to think of clouds as landscapes upside down, floating continents, the history of the globe but sped up.