November 1st, 2017
Dear Professor Harrison,
May 30th, 2017
Dear Robert ,
I met Sepp Gumbrecht at a conference in Moscow last week. I am a big fan of his writing, but the reason I finally decide to write to you is because the first thing I said to Sepp when I saw him smoking at the entrance to the venue was "I've been listening to you on Entitled Opinions, it was great, so many thanks!" And only then did I say: "I love your books, too." And only then did we talk about writing and reading. But listening came first.
There is a reason for that: your show accompanied me through pretty stressful times of intense military and political conflicts in Israel, when heavy objects were falling from the sky on both sides of the border and people were saying pretty dreadful things about other people. Then, listening to your show served as a regular reminder that language and thinking can be life-saving, sometimes literally. Understanding ideas ultimately brings one to a better understanding of (other) people. The shows certainly helped me remain sane.
When I was feeling lonely and, well, rootless and alienated in Vienna, listening to the show was like coming home. Sometimes I would listen to one program in little bits so that it would last me a week. It was brutal rationing, but necessary.
Here in England, where the state bureaucracy is working hard to remind those of us who come from other countries that we are here, but “not quite, not really, not for long,” your show is a consolation in that it affirms, again and again, that true reflection, and true intellectual exploration, knows no borders, and that obstacles of any nature become experience when they are approached, and reflected upon, creatively. I haven't written to say "thank you" before because I thought you'd be receiving so many emails and it would just be one more message in your inbox. But I understood from Sepp that you might still be open to receiving a "thank you." So — thank you.
Best wishes, and looking forward to more inspiring, exciting, life-affirming programs,
May 16th, 2017
Dear Professor Harrison,
After all hours spent with “Entitled Opinions” in my headphones it sort of feels like I am writing an old friend. But we have never met, and sorry for finding your email online. I just wanted to send a big THANK YOU for all the hours of world-widening thought-provoking discussions. I found the podcast on iTunes via the Bolaño episode, and has been a fan ever since.
I am a Swedish writer of novels and plays, based in Stockholm.
Jonas Hassen Khemiri
May 15th, 2017
Dear Professor Harrison,
I just wanted to thank you for your great radio program. I do enjoy it very much, and have subscribed to Entitled Opinions in ITunes U.
"Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy without Entitled Opinions were food without spice."
Cordially from Hamburg, Germany,
May 13th, 2017
I am a long-time, extremely grateful devotee of Entitled Opinions.
The other night as I was browsing the philosophy section in the basement of the Strand bookstore. I couldn't help but smile when I noticed where a stray copy of Gardens had come to rest. Robert Harrison fans sure are predictable.
I cannot thank you enough for the more than a decade of thought and ideas you have fostered in me. I believe you will be remembered as an archetype of the 21st century public intellectual. Your commitment to sharing ideas and thinking is surpassed by no one in these most uncertain times.
Simply, thank you!
New York, NY
May 11th, 2017
My name is Wesley Bishop, I am a PhD candidate in American history at Purdue University, and I just wanted to take a moment and let you know how much I love your show Entitled Opinions. Last year a friend of mine told me about it, and since then I have been working my way through this season and the older archived episodes on the website. I noticed that you mentioned in a few of the episodes that you appreciate hearing from listeners, so I thought I would let you know that your show is arguably one of the best and most thoughtful podcasts out there. I am eager to hear the new season, and simply wanted to write and thank you for producing such a high quality show dedicated to higher thought.
Keep up the good work! And know you have an audience out here in the cornfields of Indiana. Thanks!
May 10th, 2017
Dear Professor Harrison,
I really enjoy your podcast and I am looking forward to some new episodes.
I re-listened to your episode on fiction-writing programs because this fall I will be going to Columbia for an MFA in writing fiction. I know what you mean by narcolepsy for post-war American fiction. I think the most recently published novel that I consider a, for lack of a better description, first-rate classic is Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. I have not yet given writers such as David Foster Wallace or Thomas Pynchon a try yet, but I have a hunch that they will not measure up to the great writers of earlier generations. In general, though, I do not think the novels coming out are doing many interesting things. This may partly be a result of the over-saturation of novels, there are so many it's hard to know which are worth reading, but along with this I feel that the novels that get the most success or attention are novels made to be written into films.
Also, I hope Glass Wave releases another album. You're all a talented group of musicians.
April 26th, 2017
Dear Robert Harrison (Chevalier?),
I hope you don’t mind me writing you. I understand you must be a very busy person.
I am reaching out to you first of all because I have started listening to your podcast “Entitled Opinions” (about Life and Literature) voraciously. Somehow I came across this and I am addicted. I tried to comment on the page to share my pleasure in listening to it, but I couldn’t find a space to share that.
So I am writing you this email.
I am a PhD candidate who has recently submitted her dissertation in the intersecting practices of poetry and dance. I chose to do creative and critical PhD, one that has an outcome of a book of visual poetry, a dance film and a 40 000 word critical commentary. I have an MA in Literature from The University of Toronto, a Diploma in Dance studies from Trinity Laban. I’m Canadian, but I have travelled widely and now live in The Netherlands.
As I read your profile page on the Stanford website, I am intrigued by the titles of books you’ve written, and I am interested in learning more about you both as a writer, an educator and a radio host.
I have just begun listening to your conversation with Laura Wittman - I share your concerns about the study of literature and how we are so used to only speaking English. In my poetry, I bring in different linguistic play. I speak French and am learning Dutch, Irish and Italian.
Nancy E. Miller
April 16th, 2017
Dear Robert Harrison,
I'm a long time Entitled Opinions listener from the UK. I first found the show when I was writing an essay on Hannah Arendt when I was a University student. I've been hooked on your unique and fascinating show since and listen via iTunes.
September 4th, 2016
Dear Robert Harrison,
I want to thank you in a general way for “Entitled Opinions.: We have a six-month-old baby and there is no more time to read, so I spend my days pushing him around in a stroller and listening to your show. This is more than a matter of diversion or intellectual engagement. I'm a novelist; my job is to learn things. It's curious to me that what I do with the things I learn is fit them into byzantine metaphorical systems in which knowledge is suspect or irrelevant, but in a way I have nothing to do with that. I am just the apparatus through which the knowledge passes. Restrict the flow and the whole thing rusts and falls apart. So: thank you!
August 31st, 2016,
I greatly admire your show, as do several of my friends. If I ever make it to the US I’d love to discuss literature over coffee some time.
Bension Siebert | Journalist, InDaily
4 Cinema Place, Adelaide, South Australia 5000
August 5th, 2016
Dear Professor Harrison,
This is a fan letter from a colleague. (I’ve been at Stanford since 1985 and I’m not sure if we’ve met.) I knew about your program but never managed to catch it on KZSU. I discovered the podcasts only lately and I’ve become a dedicated follower — I usually listen when I walk between home and the office. Thank you so much for sharing your insights on such a wide variety of subjects, and the insights of our colleagues as well. Long may you continue!
Electrical Engineering, Stanford
PS I, too, am a musician. I play the trombone (that most romantic of all instruments, as I tell my wife) in a jazz band.
April 4th, 2014
Dear Professor Harrison,
I'm from Durban, South Africa and I listen to the podcasts of your show on the internet. They are incredible and insightful. You make Melvyn Bragg look like "a featureless cog" (Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt).
What is the title of the song that you introduce you show with on Hegel with Adrian Daub?
Also, please do a show on Saul Bellow.
March 28th, 2014
I am so very happy to have Dr. Harrison's show back on air. I am finally getting my oxygen in the barren and orthodox land of Pakistan where lunacy rules and religious fundamentalism along with brutal patriarchy destroys all the critical and creative potential in every thinking person.
Thanks a million for such a brilliant show.
March 28th, 2014
Listening to old shows whilst y'all are away is like re-reading old Homeric tales.
Glad you've stuck your oar back in our ears.
February 20th, 2014
A lack of Entitled Opinions had sharpened my senses --not destroyed --not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in Robert Harrison's voice. I heard many things in Thomas Sheehan's voice. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily --how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved Entitled Opinions. It had never wronged me. It had never given me insult. For Robert's golden voice I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a Catskill Eagle --a gray eye, the keenest. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees --very gradually --I made up my mind that I must have more Entitled Opinions!
. . . with credit (and apologies) to EA Poe, H. Melville and A. Bierce . . .
I sure hope you all will be back soon . . . !
January 22nd, 2014
I listen and listen again
And again still listening to
The light going on the
Flicker growing into my
Aware-nesses, filling shadows
During a prolonged illness, I listened to all of these podcasts some, many times.
I found your program while looking for more info about Dante, now I'm anxious for the new show anxious for the next shot of energy.
January 11th, 2014
Dear Professor Harrison
This is indeed a classic case of long time listener and first time caller. I have listened to almost every episode, many of them twice, and have found myself at various times wishing I could be in the studios to weigh in with my own, albeit not full entitled, opinion. Some day I will write a longer letter, no doubt, for now, let me say what a service you have done having this show on the air and available online.
Like many listeners, I have my own list of topics and authors I would like to hear discussed on the show, but one in particular that I think would be unique for the program and encapsulate almost 500 years of history, literature, social movements and philosophy, a topic that Shakespeare dwelled on constantly, I am talking about none other than, syphilis.
There's a lot of directions such a show could take, all of them would no doubt contain a good amount of uncomfortable laughter. And I already have part of your intro prepared. A quote from Flaubert, from his Dictionnaire des ides recues, wherein he defines syphilis as: "Plus ou moins, tout le monde en est affecte."
Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading your next book (which you mentioned on the Fuller show).
October 26th, 2013
Dear Professor Harrison
This is just a short note of thanks to you for your wonderful show, Entitled Opinions. I relish the depth and range of topics you cover, and especially enjoy your introductions each week. I have many suggestions for future topics for your programme, but here's one: I would love to hear you discuss William Blake. Keep up the good work.
September 9th, 2013
Big fan of the show - listening from Reykjavik, Iceland.
I would sincerely like to request a show on Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I've been listening to his biography on audiobook while reading
his essays and I think his life and writings would make for a great
show on Entitled Opinions.
July 17th, 2013
I only recently came across Entitled Opinions (via podcast The Partially Examined Life) but have been listening to you and your guests non-stop for the last three days. At work. Mowing cemetery-lawns. The time flies, AND I'd like to think I learn a thing or two. Thank you!
The match-factor for your show is eerie: I study comparative literature at the University of Gothenburgh [currently using the antiquated archetypal criticism-theory for my master's thesis, and wrote my very first lit.-thesis on Ezra Pound's Pisan Cantos no. 81]; no formal philosophy-training but a budding amateur interest in the history of philosophy [hoping to one day be a Heideggerian;)]; huge progressiv-rock fan during my formative years [w/ special love for Gentle Giant]. Check, check, check!
Needless to say, keep up the good work! And if I may add a request: Please consider doing a few shows on different "schools" of literary theory/criticism - critically of course, knowing how sceptical you are of lit.theory - using the pool of talent you have at your disposal at Stanford. Survey of the latest trends; past & future classics of literary theory & literary criticism; broad historical over-view, etc. (Another, oh, say six-ten episodes with Marjorie Perloff would do just fine!)
July 7th, 2013
Convey my thanks to Robert for all of his shows over the years, but particularly for the recent show with Thomas Sheehan on Heidegger (on technology)
It's quite heartwarming to hear such a principled and dare I say gentlemanly exchange of conflicting views and tastes. The result was illumination rather than heat, a rare commodity indeed.
I particularly appreciate being directed to the Heidegger that will fill my being and occupy my time profitably.
And thanks to Robert for directing me to Arendt, whom I've sadly neglected all these years.
July 3rd, 2013
Compliments to you. Your capacity to change your mind in the course of discourse is an admirable thing that most radio hosts can't boast of. I really enjoyed your show with Michael, speaking as one of the hopeful souls who put in a request for Wallace back in . . . January 2010!
I was thrilled to hear Michael's original claims about Infinite Jest, and I'd love to read her dissertation, if you don't mind conveying that message to her or putting her in touch with me.
I still don't think Wallace is a great fiction writer, but scaling (not w/out sweat or tears) Infinite Jest changed my life. I used to be a person whose Interests flag and attentions ebb with incredible ease; I used to be a slave to my phone and the internet. I thought I got better because of the persuasive ideas in the book about paying attention, and so it was an epiphany for me to hear Michael say that reading the book itself was a antidote, certainly another reason why I felt a change. In retrospect, I was indeed working out my attention endurance. "Project fiction." I like it.
Thanks for the show.
June 13th, 2013
I so loved your discussion of DFW with Michael Hoyer. Wallace is an artist I've always wanted to embrace wholeheartedly, steadfastly; however, upon final examination, I find his fiction jumbled and rife with (soft?) impenetrability... As a reader, I am half a generation removed from his thought. I can't speak to his struggle with addiction as I think it was possibly the secret thread that coursed though his world view. I believe it is what he really(?) wanted to write about. Biochemical manifestations are utterly personal and ultimately, profoundly private (in an Arendtian way). Your mindfulness of Heidegger yields an elegant sense in your hesitation toward considering DFW the great writer as per Hoyers suggestion. Thank you for your skepticism....
Rob W, Brooklyn, NY
May 29th, 2013
You do not know me but I am a huge fan of your podcast. I believe I have listened to (nearly?) every one. I know from past shows that you are not a big fan of the cinema but I think there are certain topics that would be perfectly suited for your show. One that immediately comes to mind is the work of Stanley Kubrick. With the the advent of the internet along with the recent release of "Room 237" what was once considered nonsense fringe analysis has made its way into the main stream (like so many other things..Tea Party anyone?). I would love to hear someone who actually knows what they're talking about delve into this brilliant artist's work. I am not sure if you are aware of this or not, but Kubrick was tremendously inspired by Nietzsche and his philosophy infuses much of Kubrick's work. I can't help but think of his films as being tailor made for discussion on your show.
Again; thank you so much for your podcast. It is one of the greatest teacher I've ever had.
May 27th, 2013
After listening to your latest program on Heidegger for a third time, I realized that if I didn’t respond to the discussion in some way, I would be lost in an infinite re-listening loop. The program’s subject has been on the top of my mind since the bizarre public offering of Facebook.
At the end of the discussion I understood you to say something to the effect that the point of commoditization (in Heidegger’s theory) had to be more than the profit motive. I agree. Commoditization might be the way nature reveals itself to us, but the way that we understand the revelation is through monetization. Monetheism is the great unified theory of the postmodern world and is not about profit in the common sense of the word. I would propose that monetization is very much how and why we turn our gaze from our finitude (stopping at the Here and Now, which are what I understand to be Heidegger’s two conditions for being “human” and the foundation of an ethic).
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter have also revealed to us that human relations can be commoditized and monetized. In the digital age, anything can be consolidated into rich commodity pools, and understood (in the way it seems humans have decided to understand the world) through monetization. And once monetized, we order and sort everything, everything on the CBOE, NYSE, NASDAQ, etc. The Matrix of blinking lights tells the single story of all things. Anything pulled out of the earth or out of someone’s mind (except perhaps the Humanities) will eventually be commoditized and take its place on the big board.
You want understanding? Listen to Bloomberg or CNBC for 24/7 sermons on understanding the entire scope of human endeavor. Jaime Dimon (pronounced demon) and Lloyd Blankfein are the Philosopher Kings of Heidegger’s modern technology.
But I embarrass myself,
A grateful listener.
May 24th, 2013
You were very brave to outline your thoughts on animal husbandry. Every sensitive, thinking human must agree with you; yet we can never collectively acknowledge the truth.
I am a young man who grew up in the city. I searched, and practiced and found myself. I have committed my future to developing a small organic blueberry farm near Whistler, British Columbia. I have a true wife, and now two sons. We took in three goats, two pygmy sisters and a younger but normal-sized male. We had a complicated cousin in Whistler, he hanged himself. The young horned goat was outgrowing the girls, outgrowing their pen, and outgrowing my wife and baby. Our rough friend had always wanted to eat this goat, so, for his wake we resolved to provide young Sigmund for the spit. I have not been a hunter, and had never undertaken something like this before. But with the help of his best friend, another wild Quebecer of the bush, I led Sigmund away from the girls after dark, out into my raw field. I wrestled him to the ground and I slit his throat. We tied his ankles and hung him from the bucket of my tractor, we skinned him and dressed him and wrapped him in plastic, all with the best and most profound design. And in the gory darkness of that night, I was struck, as by a laser, that this was the original sin of humanity: raising an innocent being in slavery with the express intent of slaughtering it for consumption.
I could never exactly comprehend original sin in the contexts of sex, or of knowledge; that night I understood that animal husbandry is the defining act that expells mankind from the garden of species.
I still eat meat too, but less than before, and I'm more discerning about it's origins. I feel that the memory of hot blood on my hands keeps me a little more honest about it. And, though I haven't in the past felt sufficiently thankful for my own sustenance to say a grace before meals, after listening to your recent show, I pledge now to speak some acknowledgement every time I eat the flesh of another.
I have to say however, that, as much as I do agree with you, I feel you argued your monologue from the stance of someone who is more or less comfortably fed. It struck me that hunger must be considered, as it leads to desperation, innovation, etc.
And then I thought: what a fascinating concept to explore in one of your shows - "Hunger"
Cheers, I can't tell you how much I value your show (that would be boring :)
May 20th, 2013
Excellent show with some really good podcasts. This is especially true for a black letter Mexican lawyer like myself who does not encounter much independent and creative thinking.
Too often in life we do not take time to really think about life and think about the world we live in. Entitled opinions provides an escape hatch from the confines of my life. It is my hidden pleasure, my secret mistress and my hour away from work and family. Every Sunday with a bourbon in one hand and a cigar in the other I sit back and listen to your show. This is my time. I especially love the episodes on God and the supernatural with Dr Luhrmann and the really excellent podcast by Dr Kayali on Bioethics.
Keep up the excellent show,
Congratulations on launching and going thru what will certainly become another successful term for Entitled Opinions. It has been great to start receiving the EO signals again. I am getting the goose skin each time the EO signature tune starts and Robert's voice breaks the air. And I also know you take courage from the fact that the EO brigade is tuning in.
I have very much enjoyed all the shows this year--particularly the Fuller monolog, Darwin show and the most recent one on Kafka. The latter has particularly resonated with me--as a citizen of Prague for 10 years, I walked thru streets that had some relation to Kafka's life and that of his family--some real and some imagined by the tourist industry. I recall, without knowing at the time who he was, grabbing one of his books with hope to learn more about Prague and the Czechs--I had to assume that they will be very much featured in his work, similarly to Kundera, Skworecky, Klima and other Czech writers' novels. I was surprised that Kafka's narrative was all taking place only in his head, and by the end of the book in my head as well--so much that I could not stand it anymore. He took me deeper into the world of hopelessness than I ever was willing to go.
While your EO crew was regrouping, I went thru some older shows and got hooked on Tomas Sheehan. I have previously liked his shows on Heidegger - he could talk about complex philosophical concepts in a way that were helping me to better understand my own thrownness in the world. After I have discovered your conversations on Jesus and religion, I also downloaded his "Historical Jesus" Stanford lectures. I have found his unique view on history and unorthodox approach to religion very refreshing and educational.
I am also looking forward to hearing more about Robert's new book to which you had devoted time free from the show, and eventually getting to read it. I think there was a mention of the book on the first show this year, and the promise to get into more details later.
Staying tuned - always wondering what will come next from you.
PS, I also wanted to mention to Robert that on my professional side, I am working on a project run by the Turkish government -- they want to get a tablet computer to every school child in Turkey. You may have noticed that Erdogan stopped by Palo Alto last weekend with his whole family -- his ambition is to turn Turkey into 10th biggest economy in the world. With respect to the tablet project, I am trying to argue to their govt that unless technology comes with the strong academic curriculum, getting a tablet to schoolchildren does not accomplish anything in particular when it comes to studies and results.
For obvious reasons, I e-thumbed back a couple of years in the Entitled archives to the June 2010 episode on The Doors. Sad as the occasion was that prompted this, I was glad I did so because my 18 year old daughter has just finished her first year at a performing arts school and came out with good questions and puzzles on her mind about visual, musical and textual inter-relationships. She is not getting her allowance until she listens to Robert's brilliant reflections on the collective essence of The Doors. A belated thanks for this.
PS. The session on Kafka likewise was a visit into territory I thought I was very familiar with, but understand a lot better thanks to Robert and Amir.
Norman from Northern BC
May 19th, 2013
My 2 cents on the essayistic character of nature. It seems to connect to some of the things I‘ve been thinking lately. I assume nature cannot be essayistic without an observer. Humans know that best from our own experience with our own creativity.
First being essayistic probably lies at the root not just of nature but of our being as humans. And it could very well be the reason for what Heidegger called man‘s uncontrollable drive to technicity. And that is responsible for the gloomy prospects of our civilization.
And then our obvious freedom to make our own mistakes looks to me like one of the better proofs for the existence of god.
Remember the show on cosmology where we heard that (in my words) a witnessing consciousness is the precondition for the big bang to actually happen. We might call this witness god. Given our inability to conceive of a beginning we might just as well revert to the traditional term.
We know this from watching little kids - and ourselves. Our creativity and development (essayistic nature) depends a lot on at least imagining the presence of a witnessing consciousness. So there seems to be no essayism without this presence of an observer.
But then there is the question of the benevolence of this whole set up.
At least I think that love is directed at someone‘s autonomy. But autonomy not in the sense of a state of independence but rather as a functioning in a state of inner and outer integration.
„God‘s love“ of our essayistic nature however might be of a rather disengaged sort. If her or his love shows in letting us (or nature) make our own mistakes the downside of this is that this includes mistakes in the dimension of a holocaust, the extinction of races and the ultimate end of our world. If it is love, it is not directed at us as individuals, not even species, but at the essayistic faculty in nature itself. Which means anything might happen to us or our loved ones.
Finally: What about the benignity of our own essayism?
I‘m not very happy with the way Robert introduced original sin in the first show on Enlightenment. It is obvious that we as a species cannot be trusted, but why?
The concept of sin can be seen as a pre-psychological concept to grapple with the question why we do not do what we want to do and do things that we don‘t want to do. That is: We have a moral consciousness that differentiates what we want and do from what we „really“ want and „really“ should do. The concept of sin measures the gap between the two.
But what is original about it? How does the trouble really start? Psychologically I am with psychoanalyst Arno Gruen here. That our „essays“ frequently end up in horrors has everything to do with how we developed our human nature - in culture.
The standard take on this that we can hear from educators and presidents of constitutional courts is: We have to cultivate our nature, be civilized in order to overcome the problematic drives of our nature.
That really is a laugh. (Or as Robert sometimes says: You - cannot - be - serious!)
A fleeting glance on nature reveals that the power of destruction we find in animals is nowhere near our highly cultured faculties. (Talk about refining vices - 2nd show on Enlightenment) If we could forget our cultures and live again like animals the world would be a safer place. Actually it would have a chance to survive that it hasn‘t today.
The problem with our essayistic nature is not so much that our nature was evil (original sin) but that our state of mind is so unstable.
Our mind, our consciousness, is one of nature‘s especially audacious essays. How this experiment ends is altogether unclear. And it might as well end the experiment on this planet altogether.
Our mind is not so much a state but a perpetually open question. The self is the process of constantly having to answer it.
The problem is that our mind enables us to disconnect from our bodies, emotions, sensations, so that it is everybody‘s own-most task to figure out the relation between his thinking and „herself“ oder „himself“. Or with anything else. (The german anthropological philosopher Helmuth Plessner called this: man‘s ex-centric positionality. Plessners approach was drowned out by Being and Time which appeared shortly afterwards.)
We can look at ourselves with the eyes of a stranger.
Which brings us back to love and autonomy as integration. Charles Taylor says that we depend on God‘s unconditional love - agape, neighborly love. And he suspects that our capacity for this was not sufficient without the support of a belief in God.
Given the highly unpersonal character of the divine love that I touched on above I would rather say, that what we depend on as humans is not so much something like being infused by a love that we otherwise couldn‘t come up with in ourselves - but something more like resonance.
We have to have our souls touched. And if that happens we resonate with love. (As long as we are not too fucked up already as a lot of people are.)
And all goes well. The witnessing consciousness again. But this time not just as an impartial, detached, disengaged divine observer but as something more integrated with us.
We have to feel - didn‘t Heidegger write something to that effect? - that what we deal with looks back at us.
Looks like these thoughts turned out as billion-dollar-bills rather than 2 cents - but in a highly inflationary currency that doesn‘t seem to buy much anymore these days. Nevertheless it seems that is what I feel entitled to.
May 15th, 2013
Qu'ils mangent le poulet!
When asked what he thought about Entitled Opinions, JFK famously replied:
"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the studios of KZSU, with the possible exception of when Robert Harrison delivers a monologue."
I concur and hold up the latest monologue on Animal Rights (5-8-2013) as "Exhibit A". Thought-full and -provoking and challenging to both the listener and Professor Harrison himself. Inspired, I'm going back to have yet another listen to:
"A Post-Avian Epilogue on Consumerism and the Earthly Paradise" (mentioned in the above monolgoue)
"The Earthly Paradise - An Epilogue"
. . . because Odysseus has been on my mind.
Thank you both for the work you do!
April 26th, 2013
This podcast is simply wonderful, it wouldn't be possible to express how much enjoyment and intellectual pleasure it has brought me, all I can say is thank you. Rather than continuing the tradition of suggesting general topics or figures for discussion, I have a specific faculty member in mind: Sianne Ngai from Stanford's English Department. Her work is fascinating, and the two of you could discuss her thoughts on moods and aesthetics, that would be right in your wheelhouse. The show on Darwin was great, I'm thrilled that another season has begun. Here's hoping there are many more to come. I'll be listening!
March 27th, 2013
Dear Mr. Harrison,
My name is Michael G, 52, living in Frankfurt, Germany. By profession I am a judge in custodian law (dealing with all sorts of mental illnesses of people who need help or even some sort of governance by a custodian). I am a supporter of the Freie Schule Frankfurt, which grew out of Germanys first “anti-authoritarian" kindergarden (kind of like Summerhill as a day school for kids between 3 and 13).
And (you guessed right) I am a fan of Entitled Opinions. I am deeply grateful to what you do and your presentation of so many things that are dear to me.
Here is something, that I am breeding over for some time, and that I want to give you back as food for thought.
(Wayne Shorter, in a recent interview, said that he felt grateful to Life and wanted to give something back. But what can you give back to Life? "Life has everything". His answer - very typical, bless him - "Originality".)
Now here is what I want to give back to you.
I suggest to extend Heidegger's notion, that I am very fond of, that things tend to withdraw themselves and can therefore only be disclosed in part - to extend this notion not only to things, as you discussed it with Andrew Mitchell, but also to ourselves, our selves to be more exact. To our sexuality, to our self-images, and especially to our autonomy and sense of self-determination. You might even (if you like - I do) derive a sense of holiness from this, that our autonomous thrivings share.
March 3rd, 2013
Dear Dr. Harrison,
I love Entitled Opinions. But let me introduce myself first. My name is Sara Jane. I'm 20 now, but have been listening to Entitled Opinions since I was 16. I have to say your conversations and monologues have inspired and shaped my approach to the humanities, and greatly influenced my choice of university. As you maybe can tell from my email address, I go to NYU in New York, but I began my education with NYU in Florence. It was only after returning from Italy last May that I realized your specialty was Italian studies, and Dante in particular! I'm not sure how I went on listening to EO for so long without knowing that but I think I began to pay more attention after living in Florence and becoming more or less obsessed with everything Florentine. How lucky! But I suppose it isn't surprising, after all, since Florence was and has been the most compact urban epicenter of the humanities anywhere in the world. Anyway, I hope you never stop creating new Entitled Opinions (although I see the stanford website says you've been on leave since autumn 2012) because they're wonderful and I love them! I'm working on a project now about theater in Italy and your Commedia dell'Arte post was a very happy discovery.
Thank you thank you thank you for putting something intelligent and free on the itunes!
All the best,
Dear Dr. Harrison,
I hope and wish that this email finds you well. My name is Aqsa and I am writing to you from Lahore, Pakistan. Thanks to the internet that we can actually express our gratitude and complements to the people we like. I have been listening to the podcast of Entitled Opinions for past one month and I assure you that I am literally drawn into it.
I have been doing Radio almost all my teen and in the early twenties now l am a lecturer at a university here and teach Literary Theory, Classics of World Literature and Cultural Studies. Along with that I am working on some research projects some of which include, a translation of a very prolific Urdu writer's work, A paper on English Creative writing by Pakistani writers and The Study of Heroic Archetype in some of great Greek Literature. I would love to share some of this work if you'd like to have a look. ( Particularly to have your expert feedback) and would love to meet you in person if I get a chance to do my PhD in US.
Your program is one of its kind and I learn a lot from your conversation on various subjects. I loved the programs that you did on Lolita, Pink Floyd, Hegel, Yeats and Phenomenology. And there is a whole range of them that I am listening to every day. I wonder why I didn't come across this program before. Probably because I was not using Apple back then.
Stay blessed and thank you so much for producing such a program. I am truly grateful to be able to write to you. And I hope to meet you one day and share views on the subjects of mutual interests,
Hope to hear from you,
February 5th, 2013
Dear Professor Harrison,
>my name is Karla K, I come from the Czech Republic. As I was
>learning for my state exams in English literature, I came across
>your youtube seminar about Molloy by Samuel Becket, who is in my
>opinion a real literary genius. I must admit I was greatly astouned
>by how you were able to show his possible ideas and inner reflective
>thoughts. In my opinion Samuel Becket was really hinting on
>Christian point of view, as I was searching for his childhood and
>found out his paretns were regularly going to the services. I myself
>am a Christian and so he talks to me though your explanations.
>Molloy was about to commit suicide but he heard: "Don't do it. Don't
>do it..." It was an imperative that was talking to him, which was
>different from his own thoughts.... It is one of the most striking
>passages that you mentioned. This passage is the real breakthrough.
>I admire Thoreau, Wordsworth and other authors for their narrative
>ability to express ideas about nature and transcendental aspects of
>Throughout the last years I was pondering about what to do next
>after my graduation at Masaryk University in Brno. I thought one of
>the way is to do some translations.
>I am particularly interested in translating some books. I was
>wondering whether I could ask you if you would be interested in
>translating your books (The Dominion of the Dead) in Czech language
>as I found out that some of them were already translated into
>Japanese and German. I am personally convinced that your books are
>as interesting as your great seminars.
>It might be interesting to translate some of your seminars too.
>Do you have some more seminars on youtube?
>What do you think about that idea?
>Mgr. Karla K
January 31st, 2013
>I think it's about time I showed some kind of appreciation toward
>Entitled Opinions, since over the past several months I've just
>devoured these shows on iTunes U without restraint. They have become
>a kind of pill to maintain my intellectual sanity. As you probably
>know, it's damn difficult to live any kind of intellectual life in a
>world that doesn't value (ostensibly at least) this kind of inquiry.
>Nowhere in my real life are these kinds of things supported-
>friends, family, work- which takes it's toll on romantic,
>inquisitive souls like mine. So besides my books and my own
>thoughts, your show has become the last bastion of intellectual
>enchantment in my and many people's lives. Just to know that there
>are such erudite, thoughtful, and passionate intellectuals like you
>and your guests give me some kind of hope in the world... that I'm
>not alone in seeing value in these things. I've just graduated
>college (BA in English Lit), and now that I am embarking into the
>"real world" (whatever that means) Entitled Opinions will help me
>keep my bearings in a largely unthinking world.
>So because I have been listening to so many of your shows without
>being asked to pay a dime, I thought I should at least write to you
>to show my appreciation. I don't know whether the show has ended, is
>on a hiatus, has been canceled, or whether you will ever even read
>this. But if you do, thank you. I only wish that there were more
>shows like this on the radio/tv whatever. Heaven knows the world
>needs it. They just don't know it.
>Also: Kafka. The show needs much more Kafka.
January 22nd, 2013
As an Entitled Opinions fan, I'm writing to tell you what a revelation your show has been for me. Some five years ago in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, I came to EO to learn more about Rorty, stayed, and cultivated a deep and abiding interest in the worlds of Dante, Stevens, and Ammons, among others.
I went on to earn a Humanities B.A. (Univ. of Louisville) in part by explicating works such as La Vita Nuova and "Corsons Inlet", then moved to Washington to contribute as an intern for The New Republic magazine.
Now I'm in Kansas City, Missouri, where I moved to be with my girlfriend. I'm unemployed, applying to graduate programs, and slowly learning the Italian language. And I must politely urge you, sir, to resume the show! I suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (as many do), and when I'm enduring a typical bout of poor reading comprehension, I find EO unmatched as an intellectually rewarding alternative.
I wish you all the best, Dr. Harrison. Perhaps after I finish my M.A. I will be admitted to Stanford's Italian program. Here's hoping!
November 30th, 2012
>I enjoy your podcasts immensely. Thank you. The Doors, Prufrock and
>Wallace Stevens episodes were transformational.
>Can you please do an episode or two on Vico? After coming upon him
>via Joyce, then Isaiah Berlin's work, I am so interested in Vico's
>philosophy and historical theories and believe you might be the one
>who can help us all make sense of this very deep, progressive
>Thank you again for your work on the podcasts.
November 23rd, 2012
Dear Professor Robert Harrison,
I wish I could express how I felt about your program, and why it has become so dear to me, but I am currently incapable of organizing and translating my thoughts into words. It is exasperating, not being able to consciously know how one feels and why, and it engenders a destructive, corrosive internal turmoil, initially out of pure frustration and defeat, which then transforms into a feeling of guilt-guilt of perceiving these injustices, these problems, that enable one to recognize what you talk about, when everyone else seems to be content and grateful and happy; guilt of contemplating about oneself so intently, and therefore about others and the world when one feels as if one has no right or knowledge even to think about such abstract things; guilt of being discontent with authority when everyone else criticizes and complains about it but eventually assumes the same role.
No, I do not sound like this in person-I really do not know what I sound like, my voice is still in flux, unconsolidated and restlessly wandering and searching, trying to experience beyond this invisible mold I was born into, and to gradually overcome the power exerted on my thoughts and actions. Many will probably think it silly that I even feel this way because I have the most ordinary life in the most ordinary circumstances. I am not too old, a college student in South Korea. I have spent more of my life in the United States, and Korean colleges are no friendlier to genuine intellectual thinking than are the suburbs of New Jersey. If anything though, because Korea is so highly concentrated and aggregated, in almost every way-the economy, education, politics, the people-some of the phenomenon are more apparent. Numbers definitely lack the ability to capture the complexity of human beings-high GDP, high standardized test scores, high enrollment numbers to Ivy League schools, et cetera et cetera-it is a country obsessed with the exterior, the superficial, yet it has completely lost internal, and I hate to use this word, but moral, direction. There are so many deep contradictions, abuses and injustices in this country, yet everyone is too busy trying to race forward, blindly, ruthlessly, tearing each other apart and it is becoming an intellectual, moral wasteland. But aside from the fact that it is a concentration, and a conspicuous case of this type of tragedy, humans, at least from what I have seen and read and experienced in my short life, seem so similar regardless of this man-made label of nationality. But I think it best if I not be too specific here, because I think I can argue the contrary while still keeping the overall idea intact. If I had expressed any of this while I was in the US, people probably would have thought that I was odd because I was "Korean," and if I express it here, people would probably think I am odd because I am from "the States." Maybe this is why I keep silent.
Anyway, when I first came across Foucault in a scholarly article, everything felt right. It struck me and I felt free, like I was not alone in seeing the world in such a way, that someone was able to organize how I felt so brilliantly and eloquently (though I am in no way claiming that I am now "enlightened," for I am still narrow minded, and I have only started to taste philosophy and literature in between my other obligations--though, increasingly, I find myself unable, unwilling to deny this aspect more and more--and I still feel the same as I did before I started reading philosophy in many ways). I had been immersed in Hugo, Bronte, and so on sporadically since I was young (although I always tried to deny this and concentrate on my "real life"), but through Foucault, Socrates (Plato), Dostoyevsky, Schopenhauer, Kant, Thoreau (but only one or two books by each so far) I was able to see literature in an entirely different way-as if philosophy connected the world of literature and my reality. Thoreau, Dostoyevsky and other thinkers that I have been influenced by are more writers than philosophers, but great minds are great minds beyond any one specific discipline or genre (the idea of which draws me to the poets whom you talk about). And finally, I felt like I was living "deliberately." And Nietzsche, Nietzsche. I am not ready to talk about him, because I have only read a couple of his works as well, and I am not quite sure what happened when I read him last year, but I know I must learn German to hear his genuine, or at least the closest to his genuine, voice (and I cannot describe the excitement--the elation and sublimity--I felt when I heard you talk about him in the manner that you do after I found your program). I have so much I want to learn and experience and read, and I know this appreciation for literature has developed in me pretty late, but your show has given me immense hope that passion for knowledge does not have to be strictly for the academia, that it can be applied to life in general. Your show has expanded all of your listener's scope immensely, and though I still do not study literature or philosophy in college (yet) due to personal circumstances, listening to your program has allowed me to embrace the intense passion for them, instead of feeling guilty about it, and instead of straying away from philosophy because of the analytic trend of the overall discipline. I always felt as if I did not even deserve to read these works but now I no longer think about that.
I really don't know how much your program has influenced me because everything-Entitled Opinions, books, experiences, personal interactions-worked simultaneously over a couple months (I stumbled upon Entitled Opinions last spring while I was searching for Foucault on iTunes University), but I am sure it has had a profound affect on me in incomprehensible ways, expanding and deepening my perspective on literature and philosophy and a lot of other things. I started to listen to the episode on Foucault, and had to stop because I felt like I had found some kind of hidden treasure, could not believe I had stumbled on something so precious, and I was overwhelmed with the same sense of liberation, freedom, genuine happiness and intellectual stimulation that I experienced when I read him. I stopped that particular episode and I subscribed to the whole corpus immediately, listening to every single Entitled Opinions episode over a span of a couple months, and it has become the one of the most valuable and penetrating sources of light amid the suffocating intellectual darkness that I am living in--and not just because of the content and the topics, but because of your own philosophy behind the show, and your dedication to the democracy of knowledge, in the most beautiful sense, in a time when scholars opt to hide behind their books or modern sophists abuse knowledge purely for economic reasons. (Have you heard of Internet lectures, not by professors, but by "lecturers"? I am overgeneralizing, but they have replaced high school and college education in Korea because of the broken public and the private education system, where, though I am largely overgeneralizing again, only a small fraction of professors genuinely care about what they do. There are, no doubt, brilliant professors here in Korea, undeserving of the system they are trapped in, but to the vast majority of any leader, be it political, scholarly, legal, business, or otherwise, only the exterior matters. The most disturbing thing is that because of this facade of "success" and "modernity," this international recognition of being an "economic miracle," we as a nation are completely unaware that we are so entirely foolish. But again, I am not criticizing this nation per se, but just lamenting about us as a human species in general.)
All this-I don't quite know what to call it-is still deeply a personal endeavor and I am reluctant to express anything in words, especially to you, but I have finally caught up with the 2012 episodes and the one on Foucault, which started this all, and wanted to express my deep, genuine appreciation for everything you have done. The way the world breathes amazes me-how a student in Korea can read Foucault, a French philosopher, in English, and have the sudden whim to look him up on iTunes a couple years later while listening to a political philosophy lecture on iTunes University (which exposed me to Hana Arendt, whom I was able to become more acquainted with through your program, though I have yet to read any of her works), and how a single inadvertent click could lead one to Entitled Opinions. I wish I could have said all of this in a way that sounded more like myself, but my voice is just starting to become conscious of itself. I hope to write to you again when does find itself, if it does, but for now, thank you for sharing your soulful, nuance, passionate, sophisticated, intellectual, and most gratefully, genuine, voice on literature, philosophy, history, music and so much more. Thank you.
(Only physically) Seoul, South Korea
November 8th, 2012
Thanks a lot for your programm Entitled Opinions. It is a wonderful programm. I am engineer and lawyer and I hear it from Barcelona, Spain.
September 24th, 2012
>Dear Professor Harrison,
>>>Up until this point, I was among your many
>listeners and readers who has yet to write to
>you, worried that another letter of thanks could
>only take away time from your projects, which I
>would rather not interrupt. However, I no longer
>think I should hold back my appreciation, since
>your work, from both Entitled Opinions and your
>published books and articles, is such an
>important part of my life. Although I wish I
>knew how to say it without sounding cliché, your
>work really has been a source of spiritual
>nourishment for both me and my family. So here
>is another letter of thanks and appreciation, in
>hopes that you never doubt the importance of
>your work. Not importance in the sense of having
>cultural relevance (although I believe that it
>deservedly does), but in the sense of doing the
>work of moving those of us who are in need of
>being moved and uplifted. Although I wish I knew
>how to speak of such spiritual matters more
>eloquently, I am confident that you will
>understand, which I think is a testament to both
>your good will, as well as the fact that your
>radio show has been successful in helping people
>believe in the possibility of honest speech and
>If it is not too intrusive, however, I would
>also like to ask something from you. Just today
>I listened to a show of yours, in which you say
>that you are a Catholic. Personally, I've been
>trying to understand throughout my adult life my
>relationship to both Catholicism and God. I was
>hoping, if it is not too much trouble, that you
>could recommend a few books or authors which
>have proved to be influential in your
>understanding of the meaning of Catholicism and
>of God. I would understand if you find this to
>be an intrusive request, but I do believe that
>recommendations from you would be a great help
>in my search for understanding.
>Thank you very much for your work Professor
>Harrison. I wish all the best to you.
September 21st, 2012
>I am a 1962 Stanford graduate in Philosophy.
>What I realize now, thanks to Entitled Opinions, is that my
>undergraduate time spent studying philosophy was a waste of time. I
>don't think I understood a thing in my classes on Kant and
>Aristotle, those studies have played only a minuscule role in my
>later intellectual life, and I remember hardly anything of them.
>Now, to my total surprise, I find I am drawn your programs on
>philosophy above all other subjects. I have been fascinated in
>particular with the recent programs on Hegel and Rawls. Suddenly,
>in your discussions with your guests, the field comes alive for me.
>The fog is out on the bay and not in my eyes. I never thought I
>would rather listen to a discussion of Hegel on my iPhone than a
>Ramblin' Jack Elliott playlist while I run from my home near the
>Embarcadero to the Aquatic Park Pier and back. Yet, that is the
>fact. I am doing philosophy on the run.
>What a great way to learn! Philosophy should be been banned in the
>undergraduate curriculum -- at least in mine.
>So, this is a compliment to you and your guests and a word of thanks
>to you for the subjects and guests you have picked and the way in
>which you have handled the interviews.
>Hello, my name is Eric, I am a graduate student in
>Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. I am
>just writing you to thank you for your show Entitled Opinions. I
>stumbled across your show at the beginning of the summer via the
>iTunesU podcast app. I believe I had done a search for Heidegger and
>one of your podcasts came up. I must say at first I was kind of put
>off by the theme music (this was an old episode so it was the track
>by Enigma, not the tune by your band) and your opening monologue,
>but I gave it a shot and listened anyway. Over the course of the
>summer, I believe I listened to every single episode of your show
>that is available online (which I assume is all of them). Entitled
>Opinions has been a constant companion over the past few months of
>This summer was my last summer living in the Washington D.C. area,
>which is where I grew up. I have just moved to NYC for graduate
>school. It has been a very intense time of reflection and memory,
>nostalgia and projection into my future. The topics on your show
>have intensified and enriched that experience immeasurably.
>Were I to attempt to comment on each of the shows that had an impact
>on me, this email would be dissertation length. However I will say
>that I really appreciate your treatment of figures in the history of
>Continental Philosophy with seriousness and rigor, something which
>is sorely lacking in mainstream Anglo-American academia. I suppose
>this is why so many people turn to literature departments in order
>to study actual philosophy, because the philosophy departments don't
>teach it. Additionally I have loved your historical and literary
>episodes, as well as the shows on religion and music. I feel like by
>listening to your show, I have become aware of so many holes in my
>cultural education. Rather than a cause for dismay, it is a cause
>for celebration. To borrow a Heideggerian trope, each episode has
>I also want to thank you for your repeated attention to Hannah
>Arendt. I must confess beyond knowing her name, the title of some of
>her books, and some basic biographical details, I knew very little
>about her until listening to your two part episode on her. As an
>incoming New School philosophy student it would have been a real
>shame had my interest in her work remained so rudimentary. Listening
>to the way you discussed her life and work and particularly the
>audio clip you shared of her speaking really inspired me to learn
>more about her, and in turn has made me value her legacy at the New
>School all the more.
>Anyway, I don't want this email to drone on forever, but I just hope
>to convey how much I appreciate what you are doing. Philosophy in
>its finest moments, occurs in dialogue. Your show embodies that to
>me. Whether the topic is Dante or The Doors, Stimmung or Samuel
>Beckett, Plato or Proust. Even your monologues take the form of the
>dialogue, if you understand what I'm saying. Thank you for sharing
>so much with the world, it is truly a remarkable gift.
>Lastly I will say, although I would obviously like to see more shows
>on philosophy, the eclecticism is one of the things that makes the
>show great, so keep it up. I know that who your guests are and what
>topics you discuss is largely dependent on what scholars are either
>in residence or visiting Stanford at any given time. With that out
>of the way, a few critiques/suggestions:
>I know that you are interested in Heidegger and judging from some of
>your comments, it seems that you have an conception of Husserl that
>he is an overly scientistic and systematic philosopher, and that the
>really interesting work in phenomenology comes out of Heidegger's
>response to Husserl. I will not argue against this completely, but I
>will say that you may want to take another look at Husserl (as many
>scholars are doing as we speak) particularly the later work such as
>the Crisis of the European Sciences.
>Also, I know that you have very mixed feelings about Deconstruction,
>particularly as a sort of reified, reductionist literary methodology
>(or ideology) however I would humbly suggest that you are long
>overdue in having a show on Jacques Derrida. Regardless of what you
>think about him, he was undoubtedly one of the most influential
>thinkers and writers of the last half of the 20th century and I
>think he deserves at least one episode. Furthermore, coming from a
>position that reads him as primarily a phenomenological thinker,
>rather than strictly as literary theorist, opens up a much richer
>way of approaching his work. I would love to hear some of this
>discussed on your show. A few other philosophers I would love to
>hear more about are Paul Ricoeur, Hans-Georg Gadamer, William James,
>Henri Bergson, Augustine and Gilles Deleuze.
>Another suggestion would be to do a show on Minimalist music, either
>as a whole, or focusing on some of the major figures (i.e. La Monte
>Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, John Adams, Arvo Part
>etc). A show on John Cage could also be very interesting.
>Lastly, I love your shows on poetry. Keep em coming. Would love to
>hear something on Holderlin, Rilke, or Celan.
>Thanks again, and I look forward to the next episode.
Dear Prof. Harrison,
I was a Capuchin Franciscan Seminarian from 1980-84 and received a
B.A. in Philosophy from the GTU at Berkeley. I have found great
enrichement in listening to your programs. My favorites thus far are: 1.
Thomas Sheehan on the Resurrection, 2. Erwin Schrodinger, 3. Jimi
Hendrix and 4. Martin Heidegger.
As to the Resurrection, I thought it was particularly interesting
how Sheehan points out that the word is actually "awakening" in the
original Greek. Have the two of you ever dicussed that Buddha is the one
who awoke and that Jesus and Buddha have quite a bit in common? They are
both master psychologists on the deepest level. Jesus speaks of the one
who loses his life will find it. Buddha's second noble truth that
attachment is origin of suffering and self is a delusional form of
I first became interested in Erwin Schrodinger while listening to
Joseph Campbell. He recommended reading My View of the World and I
bought it from Cambridge Press. If I understand Schrodinger correctly,
he is saying that emperical scientists can no more prove the existence
of the material world than a philosopher can prove the existence of the
metaphysical one. Furthermore he takes the Vedantic view (and perhaps
Jungian view) that there is only one universal mind (no individual
minds), perhaps paralleling Jesus' "lose one's life"and Buddha's "no
Jimi Hendrix was my teenage idol and like you I believed (maybe
still believe) he was from another world. It is interesting that he
called the band The Experience because he was definitley able to make
one experience his sound unlike many others can do. Listening to Jimi, I
had the feeling of being transported (whatever that might mean). This
brings up a related question to you and Thomas Sheehan; it seems to me
that Bible scholars (e.g. Sheehan, Crossan and Borg) come to the
conclusion that the Jesus experience is social justice. While I
acknowledge the importance of social justice, it seems there must be
some deeper "soul felt experience" of the Divine, and perhaps social
justice flows from that. Have you and Thomas ever discussed mystical
experiences? Is mystical experience too personal or just too difficult
to describe in words to for a one hour program?
Finally have you ever considered doing shows on:
1. Jiddu Krishnamurti
2. Alan Watts
3. Joseph Campbell
4. Stan Grof or Ralph Metzner?
Finally, finally I mentioned Heidegger because I never really
studied him and I was intrigued by his looking at being as being as
opposed to what it means for things to be. Your program (again with
Thomas Sheehan) served as a very enlightening primer.
Thanks for the good work,
Hello Professor Harrison,
I'm a very new fan of Entitled Opinions and I've just got to tell you how much I truly enjoy the show.
I usually listen to podcasts at the gym or when I'm running and EO has been on constant rotation, perhaps even causing me to run a little further and lift a little heavier.
Other than encomium, I've got a couple of subject requests to offer. I'm sure I can't be the only person to make such a request, so I hope you'll excuse my pedestrianism.
The first: I'd really love to hear what you might have to say on the subject of the original Earth First!ers and their patron saint, Edward Abbey. Judging by your book on the forest (which I've just ordered) and the super fascinating talk you had on the Unabomber with Jean-Marie Apostolides, I think you'd have quite a bit to add to the subject.
The second: my old Rhetoric professor at UC Berkeley, Dale Carrico, has a great blog- www.amormundi.blogspot.com
He is a tireless critic of movement Transhumanism and is constantly on their radar as a noted enemy. I sort of see him as the Oscar Wilde/Amazing Randi of bioethics and technological chicanery. He is also a devotee of Hanna Arendt, as you can probably tell by his blog's title. I would love to hear him on the show!
Thank you for the hours of good entertainment. You deserve a raise, whatever your salary.
September 10th, 2012
Robert- all acolytes and participants... Greetings from the mountains of Montana.
Eagerly awaiting your new season- Every blessing on the endeavor!
September 2nd, 2012
Mt name is Zach G, 25.
I have lived in Israel my whole life, both my parents are US born and raised
I have been a big fan of your show "entitled opinions" for quite some time now. recently I red your book "Gardens : an essay on the human condition" I wanted to express to you personally my deep pleasure in your scholarly work.
you have a real talent for bringing together the best of an authentic and learning experience
many thanks to you and your team
August 28th, 2012
Dear Robert (if may),
i followed yr entlited opinions back in 2008.
it is still a wonderful program. i wish we will have again on stage mr
Girard. I recently listened to the Italian Cinema conversation; as you said we
must apologize to all the others that for time constraints were not mentioned.
Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia were a duo that, besides a lot of trash, worked with Pasolini, Fellini and Comencini. As much as Totó was napolitanean, they were the sicilians from Palermo. they all remain, like the great Louis de Funes, essentially untranslatable. there is a wonderful although long docu ("come inguiammo il cinema italiano") on them made by Ciprí&Maresco, a wonderful couple of new Italian Cinema. Also you may check another docu "indagine su un cittadino di nome Volonté" on the life of this great actor.
Many more wait in line....
kindest regards and thanks.
August 24th, 2012
Your show is my salvation! A rare gem, truly... Gratitude to you..
I greatly enjoyed the two shows where your brother was a guest: Pink
Floyd and 1910.. I thought how great would it be if you did something
on the German group Can or composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. Definitely
rich territory when seen in relation to Pink Floyd and Arnold
August 9th, 2012
Dear Mr. Harrison,
I would like to congratulate you with your wonderful radio show. I'm
not the type to write fan letters, so a I am not going to -- but I
would just like to say that I enjoy your shows tremendously, and
that I am jealous of the Stanford students that have the chance to
be in your classroom.
I have just listened to the show on Proust again -- it must be the
fourth or fifth time by now -- and I was once more struck by your
introduction to that show's episode. You start with that quote by
Descartes and then submit your own analogies regarding forests and
Does that introduction, by any chance, exist in written form? I
would like to both include it in my own collection of Stuff to
Re-Read Every Once in a While, and -- if you would allow me -- post
it on my website VoorJeHarses.nl. I won't be too disappointed if you
don't have it anymore, since the Proust show was broadcast way back,
in 2007. (Also, if you don't have the time to search, I would
Anyway, please keep up with the show. You are making a lot of people
happy; and what's more, you are doing so by creating something that
cannot be found easily, especially in cultural wastelands such as
Holland, my native country. You truly fulfill a need.
July 25th, 2012
Thank you for the always stimulating and engaging Entitled Opinions. In this message from the antipodes I wanted to let you know how valued your work is. My favourite shows were the ones on Hannah Arendt and on Dante - both providing a path to new experiences for me.
The recent programs on Post-Humanismand Hermaphroditism were compelling - it is brilliant how you connect studies in new areas in the humanities with the broad audience of Entitled Opinions.
I usually list to the podcast as I walk along a canal and acqueduct that previously supplied the water for Sydney and has been turned into a walk/cycle way. It is in bushland. This morning as I listened to the Petrarch show three black cockatoos flew by; several sulphur crested cockatoos and galahs screeched from the gum trees; and in the woodland area swarms of finches flitted by.
Many thanks for such a wonderful program
July 4th, 2012
It was only a few months ago that I stumbled upon Entitled Opinions. At the ripe age of 57 I had decided that if I wasn't ready to read Proust now, then I will never be ready; and if I started now, then I might finish all the volumes before dying.
On a lark, I typed "Proust" into the iTunes store. One never knows what will come up: up came Entitled Opinions. I listened to the discussion on Proust, and then another on Borges. At first, I was a little put off by the scent of intellectual arrogance detectable in your preambles and in some comments by Hans Gumbrecht. However, it was a small price to pay for the highest quality topics and discussions. Now, after listening to discussions on Moby Dick, Homer, Virgil, Hermaphroditism, Post-humanism, and general whatnot (sic), I must say that I am obsessed by your program. A true turning point, however, was your discussion about Jimi Hendrix which inspired me to download all the songs which I once listened to on long lost LPs and under circumstances bordering on the oceanic. I will even admit to now listening to your preambles in rapt attention and anticipation of the themes to be developed within the body of the discussion.
I will say that as a veteran of the Columbia College Core Curriculum, your program brings me back to the early years of my undergraduate education. We were warned at that time that what we were reading would become more meaningful later in life. At the age of 19, it was hard to imagine but now true. How many times have I felt myself lost in a dark wood, in need of a guide?
July 2nd, 2013
Dear Prof. Harrison,
Listening to your shows always lifts me above the mundane concerns of life and takes me to the world of ideas which I would never have come across in my day to day existance. I just want to thank you so so so much for bringing a unique voice in the world of random cacophany .
Would like to suggest a show on 'Steppenwolf' by Herman Hesse!!
Avid follower and a listener
June 21st, 2012
I wanted to thank you for your show "Entitled Opinions (about Life and Literature;)" I have only been listening to it for a few weeks now, but I am very glad to have found these programs on itunes. I attended a Liberal Arts university in Dallas and have recently had to move to West Texas to take a job. In my current position, I do quite a bit of driving, and your program has been a faithful part of my daily commute to place that it seems heaven itself has forgotten. Out here in West Texas, it is very hard to have conversations like I used to have with my peers in Dallas. "Entitled Opinions" has really helped me to keep thinking and churning philosophic ideas. I know a program like "Entitled Opinions" requires a lot of attention and huge commitment of time. I wanted to thank you and all of the other people involved in the program. I especially have enjoyed the discussions concerning: Homer, Hegel, Machiavelli, and many others. I am especially grateful for your program on Moby Dick; it has been my favorite books since I read it as junior In college. Anyway, thank you for the time and energy you put into the show.
June 16th, 2012
I'd like to thank you for your show (a feast of civility and reason) which I listen to by podcast in Edinburgh, Scotland.
I wonder if you would think of doing a show on Joyce/Ulysses?
Also, I think a man of Robert's reach could stretch to some broad science/economic topics.
Thanks again for a wonderful listening experience.
June 13th, 2012
>Dear Professor Harrison,
>This is somewhat unusual, but I wanted to write briefly and say that
>I happened to start listening to a lot of "Entitled Opinions"
>recently, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the show.
>I used to be a graduate student in German at Stanford (now
>transferred--in English at Princeton), and I'd accumulated a lot of
>episodes in an iTunes folder that for some reason seemed appealing a
>few weeks ago. I started listening to them, and I just got hooked.
>It's a refreshing part of my week. So, there's my praise.
>(Incidentally, retirement-age Germans love it too. I teach English
>in Germany during the summer, and I happened to play them a clip
>from your introduction to the "Anti-Americanism" episode with
>Russell Berman, and a few of them requested that I give them all the
>episodes I had on a memory stick. A new demographic to add to the
>"Entitled Opinions" fan section.)
June 12th, 2012
Dear Mr Harrison,
I would like to congratulate you for your show “Entitled Opinions”; it is a true gem, equally stimulating as well as soothing.
You have already shown your admiration for the Greeks in previous episodes on ancient Athenian theatre and democracy, and of course one cannot forget the wonderful two-part episode on Byzantium. However, I do regret that there haven't been any shows yet on modern Greek literature and culture. It would be a great joy for me to listen to you explore the works of Nikos Kazantzakis, the most tragic of Greece's authors, whose immense love for Christ led to his excommunication from the church. Or you could have a show on Konstantinos Kavafis, in my opinion the greatest poet of the modern era, unsung to a certain degree because of his Alexandrian birth and his homosexuality. It would be even more delightful to listen to you dwell into the heartfelt blues-like genre of Rembetiko music, from its primary form of hashish-smugglers' songs to its later embellished serenades.
I am no patriot; far from it (I was born in Tbilisi, I grew up in Athens and now I study cinema in Paris). I do think however that modern Greeks deserve a more varied representation than simply being branded as Europe's black sheep, notorious only for their tremendous debt and their inefficient taxation system. I would like you to introduce to your listeners the vibrant complexity and not to forget, beauty, of the modern Greek soul.
Once again, thank you for your show.
With great admiration,
Konstantin Lucas M
June 9th, 2012
A long-time addict of Entitled Opinions, I haven't tuned in for a while (because of the demands of a new job and country). But yesterday I listened to two shows on the theme of listening - Gabriella Safran, and EO listener Sasha Borovik, in conversation with you - and I would like to thank you for these two wonderful conversations. I am hooked again. Both talks were full of resonances for me, for reading poetry, for making music, and for listening to this programme.
I loved Gabriella Safran's idea that listening has a cultural history, whose development can be traced through different stages of development. The notes about Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy,'s appreciation of Chekhov were a revelation to me, and chimed with other texts I thought your listeners might like to know about.
Above all, I thought of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, which is saturated with thoughts about music and the ethics of listening. Given that this novel is her exploration of Judaism in Britain, it makes sense with everything you discussed about the differences between the Platonic/Christian visual traditions and the Hebrew auditory imagination. George Eliot's partner, Henry Lewes wrote in detail about the physics of listening in his 1879 The Physiology of Common Life.
And they both read the work of H. L. F. Helmholtz, (1885) On the sensations of tone as a physiological basis for the theory of music, which is full of precise observations like these: Stiff elastic hairs project into the vestibule where the nerves terminate. It is clear that they are “extremely well adapted for moving sympathetically with the motion of the fluid, and hence for producing mechanical irritation in the nerve fibres… between their roots… Close to these surfaces, which are covered with nerves, lie the calcareous concretions, called auditory stones (otoliths)… These otoliths seem also extremely well suited for producing a mechanical irritation of the nerves whenever the fluid in the labyrinth is suddenly agitated” (p. 138-139). And “There must be different parts of the ear which are set in [sympathetic ] vibration by tones of different pitch and which receive the sensation of these tones” (p. 143-144).
This seems to me pretty closely connected with the idea that reading (people, novels) is a question of empathy, of being open to the other - and that Eliot and Lewes thought of this as an auditory rather than a visual capacity.
There is also Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe's Le Chant des muses who writes about the ear that it is 'le seul des organes sensoriels entièrement ouvert, qui ne se ferme jamais ni ne se met jamais en suspens. ... je ne peux pas ne pas entendre' and he goes on to remark about Nietzche, that 'l'écoute est beaucoup plus noble, plus profonde, plus révélatrice (de l'intériorité surtout) que la simple vision.'
He also remarks, that the ancient Greeks associated music ' à la mort, c'est à dire, à l'inverse de la mémoire: à l'oubli, au passage du fleuve Lèthè.' I am not sure about linking it with oblivion, but the sense that one hears in music something of 'l'autre coté' rings true to me. It would have made sense to the English Romantic poets, Keats (and Wordsworth, maybe).
I agree with your intuition that reading as listening to a voice may not survive into the next generation of readers, who (if they are like my students) largely read visually, on screen. But listening to the beyond in music seems to be flourishing, despite the general din. Perhaps the auditory imagination just shifts its ground, rather than withers and dies.
This show brought me fluidly on to the extraordinary voice of your listener, Sasha Borovik. Such a fascinating life. And I completely agree with his description of his experience listening to EO: the sense of ceremony, of savouring a pleasure, and of being open to a Socratic voice that stimulated his thinking, and helped him to affirm himself, and to expand his mental horizons, in the midst of such grim experiences. There are other good radio broadcasts but none that 'took me so high': absolutely right, Sasha.
I first came across Entitled Opinions when I was looking for ideas for an undergraduate lecture on The Waste Land in 2010. I went from the show about Eliot, to Conrad's Heart of Darkness, to Nietzche, and then on through nearly the whole archive. It took me a year to catch up. Listening to EO revived my ideas about what I thought the intellectual life would be like - a symposium, a feast of shared thoughts, a celebration, a voyage, an ever-intensifying conversation, a réseau, words like a bell... It helped me out of an intellectual limbo, and in to a life where many of my dreams have become possible, and those ideas about the intellectual life, realisable.
Hearing from another listener closed the circle of the radio format, or rather opened it up: so now I can listen, enchanted not only by the music of the words (and music itself!) but also by the sense of listening in such an absorbed, and thoughtful company.
To continue the tradition of suggesting topics (not that there is anything lacking in your choices): a programme on listening in Romantic poetry and philosophy?
With many thanks!!!
Rachel F, Lausanne
I'm hooked on the show. Thanks!
I can think of so many topics that would be great for the show, but I thought I would throw out one particular musician that would be an interesting match for the show: Trey Spruance. He's the main composer of the group Secret Chiefs 3 and has a serious background in mysticism and Pythagoras. I feel like Spruance interviews only begin to scratch the surface of his ideas.
Here's some info on him:
Quick Wiki reference:
Thanks for offering a show with substance over soundbite. I like that the writers in discussion (Bataille or Nabokov) are sometimes not your favorites. The defense that the guests offer to your questions often lead to a more complex and interesting understanding of the subjects. The Beckett show is a particular favorite, especially since so much of it is devoted to Murphy--I just don't hear the novels discussed that often.
All my best,
June 2nd, 2012
Hello, I wanted to make a comment on the latest podcast with Gabriella Safran:
At about 40 minutes into the podcast, Professor Harrison makes a comment about "the phenomena of hearing voices inside your head" and there not being a classical example of a story about a character hearing voices inside their head and acting on this and whether this is a "psychological symptom" of modernity -
I found this fascinating and a synchronicity as I had just a few hours before listened to a podcast of "Big Ideas" Dr. Iain McGilchrist on Our Mind at War
where he discusses the fact that there are good descriptions of depression and mood disorders in antiquity but nothing that corresponds to schizophrenia and that such descriptions seem to appear only after the industrial era. He relates this to a possible product of the stress for certain individuals of living in a left hemisphere dominant society. He has developed this theme throughout his talk and it's fascinating and related to Professor Harrison's comment, so perhaps there are connections.
Thanks again for all of you who bring Entitled Opinions to us, your listeners!
June 1st, 2012
Je vous écris à nouveau de mon Québec francophone.
Lors de votre dernière émission, votre invitée, Gabriella Safran, demandait - si j'ai bien compris - (35: 42) : "Can we ever recapture the experience of listening as for someone whose primary mode of (Š) taking in words is listening?"
À moins qu'écouter ne veuille pas dire primitivement « écouter des mots », mais écouter quelqu'un. Sommes-nous encore capables aujourd'hui d'être simplement à l'écoute de quelqu'un? De quelqu'un d'autre? Autre que soi-même? C'est le « on » (das Man) - ne croyez-vous pas? - qui écoute les mots en tant que mots. Mais les mots que l' "on" s'entend dire ne sont rien d'autre que la projection d'une image visible (lisible) sur l'invisibilité (illisibilité) de l'oral. Or, la parole - non pas la langue faite de mots - est issue de l'oralité. Pour pouvoir être à l'écoute de qui parle, l'autre Je, il faut pouvoir soi-même être un « Tu » (se laisser tutoyer par l'autre Je). Le poète Paul Celan, dont l'¦uvre n'est qu'une continuelle méditation sur la relation Je-Tu, écrit quelque part :
Ich bin du, wenn ich ich bin.
Sinon, je ne suis pas je, mais un il: le "il" ("er" ou "he") que l' "on" est; alors que, en réalité, je te dois, chaque fois, plutôt, un il : a he I owe you. Autrement dit :
A.E.I.O.U. (Joyce, Ulysses)
Merci pour cette exceptionnelle émission!
June 1st, 2012
I just listened to your Entitled Opinions podcast on "listening". A completely auditory experience. Or was it? Certainly there was no video as I was obtaining the podcast entirely through my sense of audition using an IPOD. However, I was also walking on the side of a mountain overlooking a river and dawn was breaking. Taking in all that meant that besides audition, I was also experiencing perception through olfaction,vision, tactition and as it turns out gustation. All 5 of the senses simultaneously experienced through the manifold of perception. I listened to the podcast and could maintain a reasonable "sense" of attention to what was being said. But I could also feel the temperature and the wind and the ground beneath my feet. At once I could also smell the river and the blooming Syringa and wild rose as well as see the mountains and the clouds and the colours of dawn and the cliff and the river and anything I attended my eyes toward. As for gustation, I had just finished a cup of coffee and I could taste it quite intensely when I attended to it.
So, all of my senses were functioning even though I listened carefully to the podcast. Indeed, having only one listen, I went about my morning chores and only after some deliberation lasting a few more hours, did I decide to write this email. When you read it, you will see the words and you will "hear" them spoken. You will also be attending to whatever else is in front of you, such as lunch, the touch of the keypad and maybe music playing on some radio.
My point is that we never really stop using all of our senses except when unconscious and even then, we can startle to sound and light and smell and touch and I suppose if someone put bitter lemon on our tongue, we might even wake up to that sense! Therefore "listening" is always happening as part of the background of experience and often also as part of the network of sensation.
Which brings me to the second point. This involves the "theory" of perception. It goes something like this. There is first a stimulus, then a sensation, felt by the observer through his senses. This sensation is then processed through the manifold of the mind (largely unconsciously) to generate perceptions which are further processed both consciously and unconsciously into an "understanding".
This "understanding" is what we attend to with our knowledge and reason to generate the space-time that we call an experience such as the blooming syringa, Entitled Opinions podcast in May 2012 and the river and the sunrise etc.
The third point I would like to bring to your attention is that of the wave-particle duality of light and that of sound. Here Im moving away from the observer and toward the source of the sensation.
You were talking about the "space between us all". Ok that was to "lighten up" this extended email. Sorry.This chance wont come againŠhah
Anyway, you were talking about how a painting isn't like a symphony. How the "temporal" nature of sound made it different than sight. This seems to suggest that there is something different between the sources of the sensation or that the reception of the sensation into a perception was somehow different. Well, I would agree. But its not that there isn't a "temporal" aspect to viewing a painting or mountain. There surely is. All space is co-occupied with time. You cannot separate the two. They are fundamentals of the physical universe. However, the light waves that you sense from the painting are moving at 300,000,000 meters/sec while the sound waves you generally hear are traveling at 343 meters/sec. The photons move at roughly 106 faster than sound waves. But both are part of the electromagnetic spectrum as are microwaves, radio waves, x-rays, heat, etc.
There is thereore a temporal nature to your visual senses but the rate is so fast it is perceived as instantaneous and uninterrupted. But that's not the case; visual images are constantly "updated" by your visual cortex to provide what on experience, feels like a continuum without oscillation.
One more point about sound waves. They can reinforce, cancel each other or produce "noise" depending on the wave-form which is a function of wavelength and amplitude.
Finally then, I would argue that "listening" to someone speak is different but not categorically distinct from any of the other senses and furthermore, that we experience reality (ie space-time) with all of our senses, while conscious, quite effortlessly and with a non-bias toward our understanding.
On another level, when you hear someone speak of a train or a sonata or a studio, I contend that you are also visualizing these auditory sensations as perceptions and understandings.
Perhaps the world seems to be getting noisier but stand next to a river or walk on a mountain ledge and try not to hear the water or the wind. Even in a crowded city, you can hear the voice of your child.
There is sound "pollution" and visual "pollution" but the fundamental nature of our evolved senses hasnt changed since antiquity and I think we are quite up to the challenge of attending to whatever it is we wish.
I completely agree that quiet is beautiful but so is a raging storm or Duane Allman's guitar.
Oh, and yes. Like this:
June 1st, 2012
My dissertation explores how friendship as a literary topic accommodates authorial self-discovery and development in Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton. Texts I examine include Shakespeare's Sonnets; Book IV of the Faerie Queene; and two elegies for dead friends by Milton, the Epitaphium Damonis and Lycidas. As guides through this project, I turn to Montaigne's essays and, for the past year or so, Petrarch's letters as some of the best examples of Renaissance friendship literature. I wish I could more confidently state my project's argument, but I confess I can't see it yet. I'm making a case for friendship as a generative literary topos not unlike G. H. Tucker's view of exile as an "enabling textual condition" of Renaissance authorship. This summer I have a fellowship and can dedicate myself entirely to completing a full draft of the dissertation; by August, I'll have a much sharper, clearer sense of its argument.
I've been listening to Entitled Opinions for two years. I believe I discovered your show through iTunes. Two of my closest friends, a married couple, got jobs at Notre Dame, a five-hour drive from Madison. I think I was looking for something to listen to on these drives. The first shows I remember listening to were your conversations with Rene Girard. I remember with special fondness an early experience listening to your three conversations with Professor Jacoff about Dante on one of these drives. (Are there more Dante shows in the works?) Your discussion of the Doors, which I listened to shortly after it aired, remains one of the few intelligent commentaries I've heard on this band. I was amazed and delighted by how you framed your claim about the Doors beginning, unfolding, and ending in greatness (if I understood you right), but I'm not sure I agree. Would we think so much less of the Doors if they'd only recorded their first two records and L.A. Woman? Still, this was a great show - from beginning to end. Your monologue on Machiavelli was also among my favorites. I have particularly enjoyed your conversations on Nietzsche and your conversations with Joshua Landy -- especially the show on Proust. There are at least a dozen shows I'm not mentioning that have been very important to me during these past two years. I am really very grateful for the work and the care you put into your show.
Thanks again, professor!
May 27th, 2012
This new season of Entitled Opinion has been great. Your penultimate episode with Sasha Borovik has been particularly haunting for no small number of reasons: the well-played revealing of his extradorinary career path, a spirited discussion of a great Russian author, images of Soviet-era Ukrain (where new clothes are not to be had, not for want of money, but simply because the stores are empty) the image of Borovik embracing a tree while listening to Atom Heart Mother and realizing, a la Stephen Daedalus, it was time to fly...extraordinary stuff.
At one point he paints a great analogy of listening to Entitled Opinions now with listening to a pirate radio broadcast of rock n' roll from Odessa. I simply cannot get over this. I am utterly fascinated and would love to research Soviet-era rock in Odessa. I wonder if Mr. Borovik has any other memories or info to help me on that path. I'm not sure of the etiquette, protocol or best practices here but if you could give me his contact info or, perhaps, forward this email along to him I would greatly appreciate it.
As always, keep up the great work. I don't need to tell you how much we all love it.
May 8th, 2012
Dear Professor Harrison,
I am entitled to hold, and now to express, the opinion that your discussion with Andrew Mitchell is the most balanced and informative assessment I have ever heard, of the continuing significance of Martin Heidegger 's thinking. I believe we share the opinion that Heidegger is among a very small number of genuinely original philosophical thinkers of the last century. I think that not a single definitely incorrect statement was put forward during the whole of your discussion, and that is saying much, especially in connection with Heidegger. How refreshing it was not to be misled into one of those fruitless recriminatory indictments of the man Heidegger for the undoubted wrongs he committed as a functionary of the Nazi party! Heidegger's thought can only be properly appreciated if we carefully avoid the ad hominem arguments which rationalize and mask our anxiety about the matter of his thinking.
I would love to hear a discussion of how to carry on the manner of thinking initiated by Heidegger. Is Heidegger's manner of thinking indeed both learnable and teachable?
May 1st, 2012
Please convey to Robert that that session on Foucault with Hans Sluga was one of the most illuminating hours of my life. Indeed it is more than one illuminating hour because I've listened to it three times, each occasion getting a little more from this exemplary exchange. Hans provided the clearest ways of seeing Foucault's development, illustrating the pattern that is often missed by those who would see self-contradictions. And Robert's wise and incisive questioning brought up all and more of what I would want to have asked myself. That is the essence of dialogue. Kudos to the whole troupe!
Prince George, BC, Canada
April 26th, 2012
Thank you for hosting such great topics and discussions. I am a long time removed from my college years so it is nice to take some time now and again to reflect on the kinds of ideas that I only had the luxury to entertain during my undergraduate years.
In any case, while I was pursuing my minor in French I was really pulled in and engaged by the writers comprising the “Théâtre de l'absurde.” I especially enjoyed the works of Ionesco and Jarry, along with Genet, Sartre and Artaud. I know you have done programs on some of the principals of this movement, such as Beckett, however, I was wondering if you might consider a podcast devoted to the movement as a whole, its origins, evolution, impact and legacy. The details now escape me, but the irony, humor, sarcasm, and manipulation of logic found in the works of this movement still resonate with me.
Thanks for your consideration.
April 15th, 2012
I am delighted that you and Entitled Opinions have returned and done so with a topic near and dear to my own work – for about 15 years I have been tracking and, when possible trying to help to prevent the extinction of a small fish species of the Pacific Northwest, the ooligan. This creature has been extirpated (local extinction) from many rivers and the apparent most likely culprit is what’s called the by-catch of the un-commercial little smelt in a rapidly grown shrimp fishery.
I say all this to lead into a response to one small part of your illuminating session on extinction where you speak briefly of the cod fishery off the Atlantic coast of Canada and Maine. You draw on Jared Diamond’s general work on the strange but common phenomenon of societies' bringing about their own downfall, saying that in this collapse, we saw “extinction of a human form of economic survival for a community of people – regardless of all the evidence that they were they were destroying their own way of life.” For many listeners, distant from that tragedy, this would leave the impression that those myriad of little fishing outports did themselves in by over-fishing, despite knowing that the cod was in trouble.
This is not the case. The depletion of the cod, a population upon which a highly sustainable way of life had been built for several centuries by those same communities, was far more attributable to the industrial fishing fleets, a post world war II phenomenon which, with regulatory agency acquiescence, was turned loose on the cod stocks to the dismay and above the sustained protest of the inshore community-based fishermen. In the end they could do little as vast quantities of cod were sucked up throughout the 60s and 70s by corporate fleets run by people who knew what they were doing in terms of potential collapse of stocks -- but also knew that they could shift their capital investments elsewhere when the cod “played out”. These large companies often had boards of directors with very considerable political sway, a fact well known to the elected decision-makers who all but looked the other way as this resource-rape unfolded.
If you have the time, have a listen to a program that appeared on CBC’s Ideas , a few years back, about this - http://www.cbc.ca/video/news/audioplayer.html?clipid=1479813819
A much shorter musical account, can be gleaned from the late folk singer Stan Rogers’ lament “Make and Break Harbour” a version of which is on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjDr1UFp44Y.
All the best,
British Columbia, Canada
April 15th, 2012
It's great to hear you back on airwaves, and many thanks for answering my prayers for a Moby Dick episode (see comment 25 May, 2010).
Your devoted listener,
April 13th, 2012
At last! My relief was great when the April 4 installment of Entitled
opinions showed up!
During the winter hiatus, I had the opportunity to check the old
episodes and came across the Erwin Schrodinger program (April 8, 2008) .
The Jeff Beck intro almost made me drive off the road! It´s supposedly
called "the Afterlovin" or something similar but I cannot find it. Which
album should i check?
Sincerely hoping for many future opinions,
PS How about doing something on the music and poetry of Joni Mitchell?
March 17th, 2012
Dear Entitled Opinions,
Now, after a handful of years, comes the time to write a brief message of thanks: to the 'crew' (maybe there's only one of you) of Entitled Opinions, to the guests, to Robert Harrison. Your introductory remarks--those heartfelt masks--are so aptly inspiring--so much so that their mood has managed spontaneously to suffuse its way and secure for itself a special place (and sometimes much-needed lighthearted) in my life.
Amongst my favorites are your shows on Nietzsche, on Heidegger, on his work Being and Time, on "Crowds", Hegel, the Heart. I could further express my wish for a couple shows that you haven't yet done. In no particular order: Foucault, Benjamin, Agamben, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Baudelaire, Latin American poetry (César Vallejo, Neruda, García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, Zurita). Of course, I also seem to remember you mentioning the possibility of a show on RadioheadŠ Que placer sería eso (what a pleasure that would be).
These past few years have brought the good fortune of a lot of travel into my life. I became aware of your show while working and studying in Lima, Peru--when I was feeling a particularly poignant need for the priceless kind of spiritual exchange of good conversation that your show eventually came to provide. (Your show definitely exceeded my hopes and helped to expand the horizons of my own intellectual search.) And during my various stays in different places, I passed on the good news of your show to the closer friends who I was lucky enough to come to know and share enjoyable, fruitful hours with. Some of that time was spent sharing conversation about your show.
I will finish up here in Annapolis, Maryland in the Spring of 2013, and from here I may be moving to Europe, the Middle East, or somewhere in the Americas (perhaps to continue pursuing formal studies). There is no doubt that your show will be keeping me company on a long train or plane ride--a ride to which I am looking forward with anticipation.
Thank you sincerely for your effort and its fruits.
Warm wishes and best regards,
St. John's College, Annapolis, Maryland
P.S. Attached you will find a track from a great Brazilian musician named Hermeto Pascoal. It was gifted to me by a friend in Lima. And a little Argentine music, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMfazU9f4UM&feature=share.
February 12, 2012
So, here I am: in the unpleasant circumstance of having listened to just about every episode of Entitled Opinions available, with little to no knowledge of when you will return with new episodes.
Even if you were to return now, my steady diet of four or five episodes a week couldn't be met. So it seems that this may be the appropriate time to express my gratitude and appreciation for what you do. My friend (a brother in love of literature whom I've known since high school) introduced me to the show, sketching out the best episodes and guests to serve as an introduction. He was also the one who pointed out that, since you don't ask for financial support, we should at least offer verbal support.
One of the first episodes I listened to was your conversation with Andrea Nightingale on Moby Dick and I was smitten. Shortly after, I listened to you discuss Nietzsche with Andrew Mitchell (the friend who recommended Entitled Opinions to me was adamant I should seek out your conversations with Professor Mitchell) and I didn't know what to do with the over-stimulated/inspired state I found myself in afterwards.
It wasn't until your episode on Epicurus and Epicureanism (again with Professor Nightingale) that I understood, more exactly, what it was that I was partaking in.
But to mention only two of your guests is to do a dis-service to the rest. It's to do a dis-service to your monologues.
I Iisten to your show, generally, in two settings. It's most often while I exercise (usually running on a machine). I can not describe the satisfaction of having my body fight inertia and work through the stations of physical exertion while my mind's pulse quickens to keep up the pace which you and your guests set. When the workout is particularly invigorating and the conversation particularly rich and insightful, I can only image that where the corporeal and the intellectual find each other is a place that I would have to call, for lack of a better word, the soul.
The other venue is while I travel (usually for work). I find that an evening's plane ride (that strange, liminal place: miles in the air at night in a metal tube) is also an excellent place to meet up with the symposium via ipod. These conversations thrive, it seems, when unfettered from the terrestrial.
I recently listened to your Blues show with Byrd Hale. Honestly, I found that episode difficult, mostly because I'm a lover of blues, country and folk music and feverish on the topic. I lean much more toward the "pre-war" era of American blues and tend to get a bit skeptical when it comes to "electric" blues and downright surly (despite myself) when it comes to characters such as Eric Clapton (on Jimi though, rest assured, I'll never utter a disparaging word). I also couldn't help but disagree with some of your guest's more general pronouncements about and descriptions of the blues (though there is no doubt that Hale knows what he's talking about and certainly knows more than me).
But my point is that this is what I love and value about Entitled Opinions: the opportunity to listen in on a conversation carried on by those whose passions are in equal measure to their knowledge (both of which are great) and to be so engaged that it's almost unbearable at times to not be able to break into the talk to ask a question or try to offer up one's own opinion.
That conversation on the blues inspired me to pass some recommendations on to you. I understand that you're a busy man, but if you get the chance you may enjoy these.
I began to love American blues, country and folk music at a young age but my view of all of it was radically transformed by the writing of Nick Tosches on the subject. While some of his pronouncements may be brazenly cavalier, the lyrical insight he brings to the subject is stunning. Watch him trace the tune "Black Jack Davey" through time to the Orpheus myth in this book, Country:
That book spawned a sequel of sorts (more deeply exploring the rich and difficult history of minstrelsy, which Byrd touched on for a second) called Where Dead Voices Gather:
This collection of essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan (southern editor of the Paris Review among other titles) called Pulphead is one of the best things I've read in a while but there is an essay called "Unknown Bards" which I found especially great (it's an oblique review of a Revenant records blues compilation and two scholarly book on the blues, one of which is the Wald book about Robert Johnson which Byrd mentioned several times on your show)
But most importantly, I have to recommend this (not a book to buy, but an essay from the Poetry Foundation that's free for the reading):
I know you are a fan and I found this essay a perfect companion to your Doors monologue. I realize you may bristle at the first few paragraphs but it's worth sticking with the piece- it does a good job of addressing the question at hand.
I hope you, at the very least, enjoy the Morrison article; but, ultimately, I just want to say "thank you" and to request a speedy return of Entitled Opinions to the airwaves.
There seems to be a tradition, when writing to you, of requesting topics. Frankly, I trust your vision and taste but in keeping with that tradition I will leave you with one, final word:
February 8, 2012
Mt name is Zach Gerber, 25.
I have lived in Israel my whole life - both my parents are US-born and raised.
I have been a big fan of your show, "Entitled Opinions," for quite some time now. Recently I read your book "Gardens : An Essay on the Human Condition." I wanted to express to you personally my deep pleasure in your scholarly work. You have a real talent for bringing together the best of an authentic learning experience.
Many thanks to you and your team.
February 3, 2012
Thank you Robert and team for making accessible some of the most lively and thought-provoking discussions that may ever have been undertaken. As a politics undergrad student in Glasgow, Scotland your opinions, and those of your guests' come to me from beyond the sea as though they were news of Utopia from the lips of Hythloday, exploring (for me at least) strange terrains of philosophy and literature. May I ask you to consider a show about Kafka, in all his richness, or dystopianism and its strange alterity for no other reason than these subjects deserve the all elucidation that Entitled Opinions may give to those not yet in love with the author, and the subject. Thank you for your consideration and come back on-air soon.
January 28, 2012
During the latest hiatus (now there's an internal rhyme I must use some time) I have been re-listening to episodes in the archives and it struck me, on hearing again the session with Hayden White from 2008, that there had not been a lot of time - after usefully dissecting the issues raised, then recently, by the slippery Stanley Fish - to get into White's own signal contribution on metahistory and the suite of guiding tropes that he sees as pervasive in history-writing. That would be a wonderful session. White and you really cooked!
Cheers and, as always, a thousand thank-you's for Entitled Opinions.
Prince George, BC, Canada
January 13, 2012
I am not sure if Professor Harrison has already done a show on Oscar Wilde, if not I think it is about time. I would be extremely interested in hearing his views on Wilde, as I am sure many people would.
Love the show, Thank you
January 12, 2012
Happy New Year to the whole team of Entitled Opinions. Could you let me know when is the programme back as January is long, dark and cold, particualrly here in Holland and EO is pure light and warmth.
January 9, 2012
I've been an avid listener of -- if not a proselytizer for -- Entitled Opinions for the last couple of years. You do a valuable service for those of us who stepped out of academia long ago and are trying, as the days and day jobs stretch on, to keep our grasps of the history of ideas from atrophying. Recently I've particularly enjoyed listening to your explorations of Keats and Hegel, though I have to admit that one of my favorite moments on the show was listening to that Marxist from Bhutan awaken you from your dogmatic slumbers, or at least awaken you to your slumbering dogmas. I am also pleased to say that though I had spent years studying Nietzsche, it was the most recent episode of EO that got me hip to the fact that the break between Nietzsche and Wagner's resulted in no small part from Wagner spreading rumors of Nietzsche's compulsive meat-beating throughout Europe. That one tends to be danced around or elided in scholarly texts like Constance Garnett did with all the dirty parts of Dostoevsky. You see, then, how important Entitled Opinions is for the ongoing intellectual lives of your listeners.
That said, I have intentionally avoided the episodes dealing with music. What more could possibly said about The Doors or Hendrix? This isn't to disparage their significant musical legacies, but they're icons that have been buffed featureless by the boomer generation.
However, I was excited to find you discussing none other than Gentle Giant on another KZSU show, and to find that you yourself are a fan of that obscure and under-appreciated stripe of progressive rock (as you may have read, you share this admirable affinity for European psych-prog with none other than Sherman Helmsley.) Now that you have outed yourself as a non-square and rehabbed your musical tastes in the eyes and ears of this fan, I am really really hoping that you get some figures from that era of music onto the show. Gentle Giant are certainly worth a show of their own, but I felt as though the other KZSU host, in his effort to get you to wax poetic on that band, got in the way of your chance to discuss many of the other similar, significant acts of the era. Magma, Faust, Neu!, Can, Goblin, Hawkwind, and any of the gazillion bands that came out of Canterbury (the ones that came out of the dissolution of The Soft Machine, who you mentioned) are well worth your time, and I'd love to hear them.
I was thinking an interview with Gong's Daevid Allen would be fascinating given his history as a pan-European counterculture icon dating back to the beatnik era, and his recent work with Japanese band Acid Mothers Temple. Perhaps more up EO's pedagogical alley though would be an interview with Fred Frith. An academic as well as a guy with a tremendous history in the world of far-out prog and experimental music (Henry Cow, Aksak Maboul, The Residents, et. al) I believe he is teaching somewhere over in California these days.
Keep the good guests coming. Looking forward to the upcoming season, whenever it starts.
December 18, 2011
Dear Robert Harrison,
I know that you like 60s rock, but have you ever considered progressive mideastern heavy metal? Check out this song by Orphaned Land, an Israeli band that is quite popular (in an underground sort of way...) in the Islamic world. It is a "cover version" of a lyric written by the 17th century Yemenite poet, Rabbi Saadia ben Amram. What you will hear is the first stanza of the poem (sung in Hebrew with a traditional Yemenite accent), which apparently relates a dialogue between the poet (the male singer) and his soul (the female singer). I would translate it something like this:
Tell, wholly perfect one, tell, [and then] we shall rejoice in Yemen,
Wise daughter of kings, where is your abode, tell [me].
The Dove answered: "Saadia, I have an upper chamber in the palace.
I reside in the heart of a ship, I cloak myself in beauty."
(They add some made-up English lyrics in the middle)
So here it is (apparently, the director of the clip understood the song as relating an overwhelming religious experience):
A calmer, charming, acoustic version filmed in the warehouse of the band's recording label:
In any event, thanks so much for a show that is reliably not disappointing.
Best regards, Professor Berel Dov Lerner, Israel
Dear Robert Harrison,
I love your radio show, which I listen to on podcast in Montreal and now in NYC during my sabbatical. I can imagine the hard work that goes on behind the scenes (airwaves?) every week and so I wanted to say that I very much appreciate what you deliver to your listeners. Thus far, the two shows on Freud, the show on Heidegger, and all of the shows with Perloff have been highlights for me.
I'm sure people are throwing ideas for shows at you all the time. I'm going to be no different. Take it as a sign of enthusiasm.
Below is my holiday wish list in ranked order for 2011. Forgive me if I've mentioned a subject that you've already covered, but I don't think I've seen any of these names or topics in the podcast history of Entitled Opinions. If none of them appears in 2012, no worries. I'll still be a keen and loyal listener, of course.
4. Debord, Lefebvre, and the Situationists
5. Contemporary avant-garde American poetry (with Perloff)
6. Thomas Pynchon
8. Shows on filmmakers would be great: Godard, Almodovar, Lynch, Resnais, Truffaut, Antonioni
Department of English
December 10, 2011
Some time ago ~ a few years, I gather ~ I reached out to you via email in a time of great personal stress & was touched to receive a thoughtful & thought-provoking response.
I find myself, again, struggling in the face of academic work in the field of literature which is so dear to me, & I thought - having listened happily to "Entitled Opinions" the other night in order to distract myself from examination-period stress - that I might, once again, take the risk & send my open-ended thoughts & questions your way.
I'm finishing a belated undergraduate degree at the University of Massachusetts. I find myself harboring great aspirations, but I'm unsure - as it goes when walking roads, & when writing verse - where to take the next turn.
I find myself in the rather difficult situation of loving & comprehending the world of literature, but having - nonetheless - altogether too much to learn from poetry & fiction & drama - on a marrow-deep, pilgrimage-informing level - to afford myself the comfortable distance required for critical thought.
For example: the course at the center of my learning-curve, this semester, has been a seminar on William Faulkner. I've set myself the task of writing a longer paper on "the Bear."
As much as I'd like to have the best kind of fun with cross-pollinating an analysis of metallic goods as signifiers of extractive commerce with recent scholarship on the Christianization of zoomorphic semiology in the second-millenium Occident, , I'm driven to distraction by the self-investigation to which an honest reading of Faulkner has prompted me.
By this I mean: it's been very hard to write about figures & tropes when the text itself has been asking me - & asking in the conflicted voice of a doubting scion of a self-styled aristocratic family - to turn a relentlessly honest eye on the Pilgrims & Brahmin in my own family closet: cotton factory (I've just now found) & "jute" transportation & all.
I suppose I'm trying to express that the whole godawful Calvinist debacle, living still in my shame & in my grandeur, is quite the elephant to banish from the room in which one needs to write.
I'm only attempting to paint a picture of the difficulty I'm facing & have faced. Shakespeare, years ago, threw me into Rene Girard via Harold Bloom, & the big-historical agon nearly drove me mad.
I do not mean to indulge myself in storytelling. (Faulkner, at the least, has taught me the perils of this.) I'm writing you because when I lay eyes on the "Glass Wave" website, I think to myself: Pynch- me, I'm dreaming!
If my humor is untoward, I hope you'll excuse me. What I mean to say is that your words & music have been, on my academic journey, the priceless taste of an intellectual spirit - proud of its laurels, mindful of its patrons, enamored of myth & practiced in iconoclastic thought - without which the mimetic mechanics of my navigation-by-stars would have brought me I-do-not-like-to-think-where.
I suppose I chose to write you because I find, still, at this point in my life, that intelligence - especially once linked to heart - can be a heavy burden in times of growth. If I didn't feel a duty to put a good mind to good, humanistic use, I'd leave this persistently-stressful course of learning, pick my guitar up & take to the dusky, masquerade stages of the broken, melodious contemporary world.
Which brings me to a question that touches, at its core, on nothing to do that much at all with letters or history or civilization:
In the baffling mists of youth, what are the criteria? Where does duty to the people & traditions from which you come - if only by accident - balance with duty to self, to happiness, to simple relaxation & to good red wine?
I suppose I'll leave it there, & send this bit of code on up & out, to the great suction-tubes in the satellite sky, & see if it plops down, happily received, out in the land of the Do-Re-Mi.
My sincere best wishes & admiration,
December 8, 2011
I discovered your program roughly two years ago. By now I've listened to nearly every one of your shows. In addition to being a graduate student in history, I work occasionally as an evening janitor. Your informed conversations with interesting minds have helped me to stave off the boredom of vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing, and collecting garbage. You've also gotten me through bus trips and long walks to run errands. Through you I've developed a deep interest in Heidegger. And I'll always have time for someone who so obviously adores the writings of Nietzsche and the music of the Doors.
I don't know what drives you and your team to conduct these conversations, but I hope that you continue doing so for years to come. Conversation, even in academia (perhaps especially in academia!) is hard to come by, so I take great solace from your efforts.
But please don't ever ever do a show about the Florentine Renaissance! I don't want to hear about things that I already know a lot about. Its too painful.
Thank you for your time.
James Sommerville, Toronto, Canada
I'm eager to hear the new episode and look forward with ecstatic enthusiasm for another season of Entitled Opinions. Robert Harrison and his guests have enriched my understanding and appreciation of literature, philosophy and the intellectual 'mode of being' in general. Keep up the good work!
University of British Columbia
November 19, 2011
Dear Professor Harrison,
You and your show are awesome. You rock. Keep doing the show, making more interviews and interesting programs! We need this little slice of intelligent life on the Internet.
Listening from Brazil,
November 14, 2011
Robert, It is too awesome the we have multiple editions of Entitled Opinions this fall. There is no program like it! It is intellectually stimulating and educational. I always a bit wiser and yes happier after listening to a program a couple of times. To be on the safe side I keep track of Robert's students in case one of them starts a show at their University. Thank you, thank you, Win Dunwell
November 13, 2011
Dear Robert & Entitled Opinions Team –
I just wanted to take a moment & praise your excellent show, which I discovered recently while I was trying to find out more about Georges Bataille.
Bataille was the favourite philosopher of a particularly intense woman I was interested in & wanted to impress with my familiarity with Bataille – it is rare that I run into women who are interested in philosophers, let alone strange ones – well the discussion with Laura Wittman was excellent & I felt well prepared for our evening out.
Unfortunately things did not work out so well with this pleasingly intense & beguiling individual, which is maybe not that surprising considering she loves Bataille!
I am very happy for the accidental discovery of Entitled Opinions, which is no less pleasingly intense & beguiling than the person I was trying to impress.
I am currently going through past episodes & enjoying them immensely. Love to hear you & a guest discuss Derrida.
Many thanks, Deno (New Zealand)
October 31, 2011
Hello Professor Harrison,
I am a student interested in phenomenology/ existentialism and found your talk with Andrew Mitchell on Youtube. I am only slightly acquainted with this sort of philosophy, yet I found myself disagreeing with portions of your conjectures. When you mentioned seeing an article about stem cell research and explained that the problems with aiming to organize and re-appropriate stem cells span include the fact that we have taken up the role as master of the earth. My main question here was to ask how, if some types of "playing God" (e.g. stem cell research, surgeries, dissections) prevent human suffering or delay death, that does not justify them? In other words, how can modern medicine NOT be justified insofar as it improves human quality of life and, in many instances, saves human life itself? Neither do I find that technological enframing necessarily extends to all things. For instance, when performing a science experiment involving genes and biotechnology, I think of the instruments in the experiment and the objects of analysis as objects. However, when I return to the world outside the laboratory, I don't see my friends or family or thoughts as resources. I am certain that my understanding of Heidegger is much less sophisticated than someone who has actually read Being and Time and some more of his other works (all that I have read is the Question Concerning Technology, Letter on Humanism, and On the Essence of Truth).
Thank you for your time,
Dear Mr Harrison,
In one of your programs when introducing yourself, you said you were not much of a film fan. You then had demonstrated a solid knowledge of the Italian cinema, and had managed to have a great talk about it with your guest. I will introduce myself as not much of a radio-lover and then will qualify this by saying that there were times in my life when I was setting my alarm clock for 3 AM to listen to the only radio show, that I could get, dedicated to rock music. This is how I first learnt about Pink Floyd and The Doors. The place where this took place was the Soviet Union and the times were really bad for the honest music, or any other expression of opinion for that matter. Tuning up to that late night show was my way to stay awake where so many were sleeping.
As they say in Spain: "It has been raining a lot since then". I left the country around that same time crossing the border to Europe illegally, and with brief and not-so-brief-stops in places that also included Stanford, I have been continuing my delayed western European enlightening --of which I felt deprived in my youth. Somewhere In the middle of that crossing, I gave up on Radio and TV, although I am still remaining a film-buff (not of Hollywood though, unless this is what is referred to among the film-buffs as the "New Hollywood" or the American response to the French New Wave).
In one of your programs which you did right after President Obama's elections (I think it was on Marx), you called him the first post-war president. I agreed with you at the time and liked your way of supporting your statement. I have changed my mind since then seeing now how the Middle Eastern peace process got stalled. I think the WWII is not fully over until that part of the puzzle is solved. You hosted several shows talking about events of the WWII, Jewish writers, pogroms, then Iraq war and the state of the American democracy. I was born in Odessa and remember the Jewishness of the city just how it was described by Babel -my family was the only non-Jewish family in the neighborhood where I lived. This may explain my interest in the Jewish people's history; their place in arts and science; then the establishment of Israel and its relationships with the US, its neighbors and, particularly, the situation around the occupied territories.
I very much value your opinion and consider you my teacher (in the Socratic sense). Living now many time-zones away from KZSU nearby what used to be the Dachau concentration camp, I stay up until late to hear you questions and your perspective on life. In my view, the on-going Arab-Israeli conflict, its remarkable geography, its history and the world's inability to resolve it, speaks volumes about the state of the human condition. Do you think you can take a shot on that in your program?
October 19, 2011
It is truly great to have your show up and running again. I was hoping for some high quality shows with familiar and new guests and so far I am not disappointed.
I wanted to thank you personally once more for great shows. Moreover, I wanted to express my gratitude for your ability to choose topics that I was hoping for and considering to recommend. Prior to this season, I was thinking a show on Phenomenology would be great - you and Thomas Sheehan did not disappoint!
Just this week I was wishing that you had a good show on Hegel, as in my final year of undergraduate studies I am writing papers on Hegel's religious ideas and aesthetics. Therefore, I am looking forward to this week's show with eager anticipation, and to hear some more entitled inspiration.
Best regards, Oliver (U.K.)
October 12, 2011
You might remember I've emailed a few times and sent Entitled Opinion inspired poems to you before. When Myles, our youngest now enrolled in Philosophy/English studies at Guelph University, (Ontario), discusses topics over my head, I often start with 'Robert Harrison said…' .
This poem was inspired by a few sources, including you and that amazing show of yours, and I was reminded of it recently after listening to the Tom Sheehan on phenomenology episode, (I'm a podcaster so take little note of air-dates). I wish I'd heard the show first and then I could have convinced myself I had cleverly substituted Apricot cocktails for the wine, but no, it was more WCW mixed with Gertrude Stein stirred by a general imagist swizzle. But I do wonder if WCW's so-called invented language was really Sartre's views combined with Husserl's reductionism. As evolution occurs from many pinches in the Petri dish I guess we'll never know.
Anyway, it is short, thought you might like to see it.
October 6, 2011
Dear Professor Harrison:
Entitled Opinions is the one podcast I consistently listen to. The topics and the quality of the conversation have never disappointed. In fact, I've downloaded episodes from the archives, having only discovered Entitled Opinions recently. On one, you state there is no way for Entitled Opinions to know how many people are listening, other than via emails you receive. Well, I suspect there are many people listening who have not emailed.
A suggestion for future episodes? You are doing fine without my suggestions, though looking at "Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science " by Werner Heisenberg might be a nice follow-up with the Schrodinger episode. Those two make so many of our current 'philosopher-scientists' look small in comparison. Or, how about an episode on current Italian literature? Being a poor to mediocre reader of Italian, I've only made my way through English translations of Calvino. So, I'm ignorant of what has taken place in the 1980s forward.
So many interesting subjects with so little time. Time with Entitled Opinions has been time well spent.
Michael A. Faraone, P.C.
Dear Robert Harrison-
I happened to tune in to your enjoyable discussion of Hegel and his progeny
today and thought you might be interested in having me on some time. I've
written a book on the Hungarian philosopher of science Imre Lakatos ('Imre
Lakatos and the Guises of Reason', Duke 2001), coauthored the new volume on
risk in Oxford's Very Short Introduction series, and published on other topics
as an independent scholar. You can get a sense of it all at my web page
johnkadvany.com. I've lived in Menlo Park for many years, making my living
mostly as a decision and risk analyst. I've listened to some of your older
shows as podcasts (did you do Pico Iyer and Wade Davis? Maybe that was
something else at Stanford, I'm unsure) and enjoyed them much. Anyway, thanks
for the show.
October 5, 2011
I became aware of your radio show through CBC radio and consequently introduced "What is Life?" to my science reading group - I am a high school science teacher and former R&B saxophonist. I also read Dante's Inferno whilst on the road. I thought you'd appreciate what follows.
Anyhow, in your program on Schroedinger you emphasized his use of "aperiodic crystal" in reference to the DNA structure. It's hard to believe prevailing theory in Schroedinger's time was that heredity was protein-based. Your episode prompted me to investigate the various contermporary scientific views of life.
And now, the Nobel Prize goes to a chemist who first "discovered" aperiodic crystalline structure. I suppose Schroedinger should get his fair shake, but they don't award the prize posthumously. The Nobel committee should have listened to your episode. You'd think they would have read Schroedninger's book.
I hope you enjoy this clip from the Pied Piper of chemistry, Martyn Poliakoff, describing the science behind aperiodic crystals.
Ken Hoffman, M.Sc.
High School chemistry teacher, musician
September 25, 2011
I could hardly resist the temptation of writing back: splendid news! Both me and my literature students in the English Department at the Jagiellonian University (Kraków, Poland) are waiting impatiently for the next series of installments of this most elevating, encouraging, inspiring, thought-provoking (to the extreme level of sweet mental abuse!), dazzling show.
Dr Michał Choiński
Jan 14, 2011
Hi Robert & Entitled Opinions Crew,
I am writing to thank you for your show, and to make a suggestion or two.
I am a young academic based in Melbourne, Australia. I was recently
diagnosed with a chronic illness. This illness makes reading very
difficult. My brain appears to b more-or-less ok otherwise, and your
program has become a much needed and nourishing substitute for much
of the reading that I used to do. And therefore it helps to maintain
my sanity. So thank you.
I also wanted to suggest that you make a program about the
contemporary Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn. This idea
came to me as I was listening to your discussion of the historical
Jesus. Given your combined interests in theology/contemporary music
and culture/and all things thinking and thoughtful, he might make an
Keep up the good work, and once again, thank you!
Jan 12, 2011
I love nearly every one of your shows, but the episodes with Andrea Nightingale are
magnificent--there something very special about your conversations with her.
In fact, I've become to have the same warm, anticipatory feelings, when she is your
guest, as I did about Sam and Diane in "Cheers" and Jim and Pam on "The Office."
More, more, more!
Jan 11, 2011
I was listening to your very meaty discussion of Moby Dick today.
I'm an old guy and read it about two years ago in my quest to read
what I've left out in my life. But it was a diffcult book for me.
Upon hearing your discussion I came to realize that I had read it
superfically but then again, I was by myself. I did however have a
thought on it that I don't think you covered.
It seems to me the book is about man confronting the mysteries of
life, not necessarily the cosmos and our own meaning here on earth
but those mysteries of how our lives will turn out, what factors are
going to come up, what we are going to be confronted with and in the
end, how we will die. These mysteries that never end (and just like
Moby Dick the whale never ended, either). Its not about Ahab's
obsession per se, he personifies the n-th degree of how we battle to
learn the mysteries of life.
Moby Dick and the depths of the ocean, which you and your guest
described a lot, represent the mystery we confront. All of the
members of the Pequod represent all of us and thus they are very
diverse with Ahab taking the lead in his desire to solve the
mystery. With an overriding construct like this Melville could be
purposeful in his writing and could make just about every chapter
lead us on in the pursuit of this mystery. No doubt he also had in
mind readers that would be knowledgeable of whaling and thus he had
to establish his credibility with the long descriptions of life on
I think taken from this broad and simple perspective all of Moby
Dick falls into place.
Norman Berger, Menlo Park, CA
Jan 11, 2011
Dear Professor Harrison,
I discovered Entitled Opinions over two years ago whilst studying
for an Msc in Political Theory. The subject matter of the course was
fairly dry and Entitled Opinions was a boon during that year. I have
been an avid listener ever since. I wanted to thank you personally
for providing such a valuable and stimulating hour of discussion
each week. The quality of guests is always high and you are an
exceptionally erudite and insightful host. The recent show on Jimi
Hendrix was outstanding.
Given my addiction to the program, it is no surprise that I've
noticed your absence from the airwaves. I wondered if this meant
entitled opinions had come to an end, or you were taking a hiatus?
p.s May I suggest Rainer Rilke as a potential future subject. I'd
love to hear Marjorie Perloff and you discussing the Duino Elegies.
Jan 9, 2011
Harrsion, you rock. I love your show, been a big fan for years--whether
living in Turkey, California, or now the midwest, I've always checked it
out on podcast. I don't think I've missed a show! Or is so I will soon
catch with the archives.
Now, I also have to add I was pleased to see you involved with the nice
little book of conversations between the great Rene Girard and the
interesting Vattimo. As a Jew, I don't know what to make of it all, but Girad seems profound to me.
I hope to hear more excellent broadcasts soon. You have the best show on
radio--certainly the most erudite--with your main competition being the
wonderful Milt Rosenberg of Chicago. It would be interesting to compare
the two, in fact...someone should do a study.
Thanks and please keep up the great work (Hayden White was my teacher and
I am also a fan of Rorty, so I enjoyed these interviews very much--it's a
shame you never got to interview my friend, Norman O. Brown).
Something in particular that makes your show so fascinating is the way you
weave together the highest of high cultural concerns with things like the
Doors and Pink Floyd...remarkable. Also, your personal style--it appears
unpremeditated and this is so refreshing compared to scripted media, the
way you really engage your guests. And the daring monologues!!
Your fan, Gabe
Jan 4, 2011
Dear Robert Harrison,
I was recently reading a book review in the 12/13/10 issue of "The Nation," written by Marilynne Robinson concerning a book titled "The Heart Of William James," which was edited by Robert Richardson. In the last paragraph of her review she brings up the controversy between science and religion. She writes:
"...For scientific materialism, our ideals and hopes have nothing to do with the nature of things and will die an absolute death. In Jame's understanding it is theism that places us in the cosmos whole and wholly human." [And here she quotes James:] ""A world with a God in it to say the last word, may indeed burn up or freeze, but we then think of him as still mindful of the old ideals and sure to bring them elsewhere to fruition; so that, where he is, tragedy is only provisional and partial, and shipwreck and dissolution not the absolutely final things""...
When I read this I was immediately struck by the similarity between the ending of this review and the ending of your podcast on Schroedinger. This led me to think about how I have missed your podcast and then it dawned on me that your show should be airing again soon. And so I began to ponder what I would like to hear on your show this coming season and I came up with a wish list of 3 possible podcasts. The first would be a show about William James himself. The second would be a show about R. Buckminster Fuller. Fuller's archives are located at Stanford, and I imagine there must be a scholar there who could do an interesting and worthwhile interview with you about him. The third show I'd like to hear is an interview with Sam Harris, who I imagine you are aware of is a Stanford graduate. I recently heard him on Michael Krasny's show, and although I am a fan of "Forum," I think Krasny let Harris slide without holding his feet to the fire on any of his views. I think you could do a more creditable job of highlighting Harris' reductionist way of thinking and contrasting it with a more contemplative approach, as you did in the Schroedinger show.
Regardless of whether you give heed to my wish list or not, I look forward to hearing your show in the upcoming season.
Best wishes for a new year,
Jan 3, 2011
I bet you get a thousand emails and I don't expect you will read
this. However, I would love you to know how much I enjoyed your
podcast on Jim Morrison. Oliver Stone would have made a better movie
about him had he been able to consult your knowledge of the man. I
watched that recently (again) and it portrayed him as only a drug
addicted out of control loser. He touched on some of the man, but
Thank you, thank you, thank you for that immensely intelligent
portrayal of Jim Morrison and the band members.
I have been searching for something intelligent to listen to and I
am looking forward to listening to your other subjects, can't wait!
(Calaveras County, California)
Jan 3, 2011
Dear Professor Harrison
I am a devout fan of Entitled Opinions. I just finished Pamuk's "Museum of Innocence", listened again to your interview with him and later with Aron Rodrigue, and a propos the Levant, I bought a new book on the subject ("Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on The Mediterranean") by Philip Mansel which I commend to your attention if you aren't already aware of it.
Incidentally, my maternal family is Lebanese Christian (Syriac, and on my recent trip to Istanbul I was told there are two cities in Turkey that once had flourishing Syriac communities); my maternal great-grandmother was Greek from Alexandretta, now Iskenderun. On the paternal side, the family is Maltese-Italian from Cairo and Alexandria (they were part of that extremely vibrant heterogeneous community in Egypt that went into diaspora after Nasser arrived). Do you know about the Mixed Courts of Egypt? Yes, they reflected the Capitulations but were a very interesting facet of how Levantine mercantile communities conceived a non-Sharia system of jurisprudence to address local issues; and they were a early form of the International Court of Justice.
The interview with Professor Rodrigue was fascinating and perhaps you might follow it up with another program on these culturally rich cities (including Beirut!) that comprised The Levant and which regrettably have lost so many of their "non-indigenous" ethnic communities.
On a related theme, William Dalrymple's "From the Holy Mountain" traces the gradual extinction of Christian monasteries in the Levantine Mediterranean.
I look forward to listening to many more of your wonderful interviews.
Dec 28, 2010
First, here's to you and those you love having a great holiday season and fine 2011!
Concerning an episode of Entitled Opinions back in November 2008 on "World War II and the Blitz" with Peter Stansky (having discovered Entitled opinions just last fall, I am still catching up on back episodes). As always, Robert did a fine job of getting to the essence of what Mr. Stansky had to say. And I do like the author's idea of choosing but one day for depth analysis. But I do not want to let one of the guest's remarks stand uncorrected for he, quite erroneously, makes a statement about Britain's isolation at the time that the Blitz began (Sept 7, 1940). "...considering that Britain was alone, the only country fighting the Axis..."
Within a few days of the September 1939 commencement of Britain's war with the Axis, Canada, Australia and New Zealand independently declared war on Germany. Almost immediately 58,000 Canadians enlisted in the military and by later the same troops were in Europe. In 1940, before the blitz, the first engagements of Caandian fighter squadrons with Germany had occurred. It is to be stressed that Canada and the other "overseas dominions" were not legally bound to join the war (as they had been in 1914); they went voluntarily and suffered disproportionate casualties to their relatively small populations. Mr. Stansky. unfortunately, speaks as if those sacrifices were either insignificant; I haven't read his book but hope that he is more forthcoming on this contribution there than in this exchange.
Wheew.. I'm glad I got tat off my chest!
Waiting in anticipation for the restart of Entitled Opinions,
Dec 24, 2010
Prof. Harrison and Ms. Wampole,
Hi, my name is Joe Schnebelen, a denizen of midtown Kansas City, MO. I work from home and, to fight boredom, got into podcasts this last summer, and immediately Entitled Opinions shot to the top of my list of favorite things to listen to. There's just way too much culture out there that I haven't even touched, I so appreciate you for the cool stuff you've exposed me to. My favorite of your guests is Marjorie Perloff. Also, Rene' Girard was fascinating, as was Matt Farley the Jesuit. I could go on and on. Thomas Sheehan, Richard Rorty, Andrea Nightengale, just so many great and smart people deserving to be heard on the radio. Hopefully you'll be doing new shows again very soon. I know you discourage show topic requests, but aren't you guys just across the bay from Oakland, home of Philip K. Dick? It'd be really cool if you knew somebody knowledgeable who could talk about him. I wish you nothing but success in the future and especially with Glass Wave. Be
well and happy holidays,
Nov 30, 2010
Snow has kept me from a day's teaching here in Scotland and what better way to enjoy a leisurely breakfast than listening to your discussion on iTunes on Musil's The Man Without Qualities.
Many thanks and best wishes
Nov 26, 2010
Dear Mr Harrison,
Of course you get ideas and suggestions as to who you should invite next but mine is special, please invite Christopher Hitchens before it's too late.
Thank you for the shows,
Nov 25, 2010
Hi, Professor Harrison,
I'm a great fan of your work--your books, music and radio program.
I was simply interested in "what's next" from you. Though your three volumes are terrestrial and are an "earthology" rather than a detailed cosmology you have surely become that "geometer who bends all his will" to understand. By what sudden glory are you now assailed?
(Sorry for the plebeian attempt to bring your "beloved Dante" into this. That's what happens in the context of being an admirer.)
Whatever the path...I hope you share the knowledge you gain while on it.
Nov 23, 2010
I've been a listener to your podcast for a couple of years. I began to listen while I was studying literature at a University in England; an experience I found rather disheartening for various reasons. Your podcast showed me that it was possible to study literature and still be in love with it, still take it seriously as an exploration of life and what it means to be human, in spite of the discouragement I felt with the way the subject was taught to me. For that re-enchantment, I am grateful.
I had hoped that the series would continue this autumn, but if you have decided to focus your efforts elsewhere, I wish you all the best with your endeavours. Entitled Opinions has meant a lot to me.
Nov 21, 2010
Dear Robert Harrison
I am writing to you from Canada and I have been listening to your archived interviews for about a year. Today I listened to the interview with a card carrying capitalist. This interview was just after Enron's demise. I wonder how that interview might go at this time. In my small Northern City they are so many international students coming to study business from formerly Communist regimes. Communism has fallen and I am of the opinion that capitalism has fallen. I read J.K. Galbraith's Innocent Fraud which fed my tendency toward conspiracy theories. It really has been a grand delusion that we can keep plucking from the garden endlessly! Would that capitalist see it differently now with 10% unemployment?
Nov 15, 2010
Hi Christy (and perhaps through Christy, hi Robert!)
I probably am far from alone in wondering if and when the favourite podcast will resume with new episodes. Fortunately, I am finding that re-listening to past shows is a very worthwhile thing to do. And, I also purchased and am now enjoying Glass Wave, so withdrawal symptoms have been held at bay.
I hope the team is well and that this the hiatus since June reflects only good things happening to you all!
Prince George, BC, Canada
Nov 15, 2010
I've just discovered Entitled Opinions. Come dicono, meglio tardi
che mai. I love your piece on birds, opening (??) the Rorty
interview (the great philosopher not in the best of forms, let's put
it down to his cold...). Perhaps you're in Rome at the very time of
writing this. Well, I'm in cloudy Belgium, but have pleasure in
sending you a picture of a place you're bound to recognize...
Cheers, thank you and keep on the good work,
Nov 15, 2010
Hi, Can't resist sharing how I happened upon you. Looking for a "humanities" download so that I would have sthg to listen to during my jetlag insomnia on a trip to the States, I thought, "this looks promising." I listened to Emily Dickinson while digging garlic in Missoula, Mt. and was hooked. Now, back in Athens, I can't sleep because I get wound up listening and thinking. In fact, I often wake up to the old theme song (personally glad you changed it!).
I have recommended your program to at least 5 people here and there who really listen and are as excited as I am. I gave it to one friend as a "birthday present!" Everyone wants more programs like The Doors and Pink Floyd, but how many Jim Morrisons are there in the world?
My suggestion: a place on the website which lists the concluding music for each show. I wonder who chooses it and enjoy its relevance and variety.
My favorite shows are the ones that I don't like or that challenge my thinking: Thoreau, Richard Rorty, Thomas Sheehan and the ones in areas that I will never find time to read but love hearing about: Ezra Pound, Cure for Cancer, Virgil.
I have always loved Gerard Manley Hopkins. However, if I had not randomly listened to Welsh Lit right before Matt Farley, I would not have realized why I love the sound of his poems so much. I also love listening to the accents and language of you and the guests. I adored the sound of Bissera Pentcheva (She come across as a lovely person and a very serious scholar!) and Michael Shanks.
I like Robert Harrison's honesty. Sometimes he is too full of himself, but he is also willing to make mistakes. This makes it human and real: a real person grappling with important ideas. The broadcast is less successful with guest hosts. I believe that proves that Robert Harrison, with his good radio voice and quirky preferences for rock music, Turkey, and Heidegger, makes the show more personal, fun and approachable, and therefore, less pedantic. Have to agree with Jeremy that sometimes it would be good if the guest controlled the direction of the program more. I don't think that you should snobbishly advertise that this program is for the few. Obviously there are a lot of us who want more. I find it terribly encouraging that normal people want more thinking in their lives.
For the people who fund the program: The program has really increased my respect for Stanford and has made me recommend it even more frequently to our best students (I am a former college counselor at a private Greek high school). It is, I hope, a whiff of and pattern for the future, when education really becomes an ongoing, lifelong process. Most significantly, it provides an opportunity for the university to get your "money's worth" out of visiting scholars and encourages liberal arts/cross-cultural thinking by making all of us aware of people and ideas from disciplines we would not necessarily be exposed to. American higher education has always been one of our best "foreign aid" initiatives and has done a lot to make up for the image of the US around the world. This continuing education program is a relatively inexpensive way (because it is electronic) for the university to use its significant resources to reach out and give to people of all ages, all over. Keep it up!
Thank you all,
Nov 11, 2010
Hello Dr. Harrison,
Really missing your show. I've been your biggest fan ever since you
called Neitsche "Freddy". Plus I love the way you can casually drop
words like "heterophenomenology" with nary a stutter.
I saw you are on leave but maybe you could do a Christmas edition or
a "Live from" edition to give us die-hard fans a fix.
Great show. I truly hope for more to come.
Nov 7, 2010
Dear Professeur Harrison,
There is a big void in my life, since entitled opinions is off the
air. Will you continue? Will there be any more episodes? Your show
is unique and a pleasure and it only compares to my uncle David Cayley
section of the CBC show ideas (I wonder if you have heard him. I find
many similarities, even in the timber of the voice I recommend his
show "How to think about science" which you can listen to here:
Since I discovered your program in July I have listened to every
single program, while washing the dishes, taking care of my daughter,
doing daily mundane things. You have given me great inspiration and
subjects of contemplation and I am in your debt.
With affection and gratitude,
Nov 6, 2010
Dear Mr. Harrison:
Our oasis is mighty dry without you. But you deserve your break: chi troppo vuole, nulla stringe.
Nov 2, 2010
I hope you will forgive me the familiar way of addressing you with
your first name, but then I feel that you have been close a long time
already. I have "choosen" you as a friend! I stumbled over your
"Gardens" in my local bookstore a couple of years ago and enjoyed it
so much that I ordered and read the "Dominion of the Dead" and the
"Forests" soon after.(I have, by the way, recently started to read
them a second time, along with several of the other books you refer to.)
What, I wonder, is your next book about ? Vico perhaps? I would like
to see that you have a discourse with him on the relationship between
the natural evolution of man & nature on the one hand, and the "logos"
we produce (and its artificial evolution) on the other. Why are the
actions of our "western" culture (for the greater part) so utterly
vulgar and destructive? Why does so few intellectuals follow the other
alternative in Marco Polo's advice to Kublai Kahn? I agree with Dante
who places Odysseus in Inferno. To his older crimes we may add that he
clearly did not go on his second journey. He clearly did not make his
offering to Poseidon, but set out on another expedition to exploit the
natural resources of the "Happy Isles". It seems that we have to make
peace with the gods, if we want to secure the welfare of coming
Some time after reading your trilogy, I went hunting on the web for
more, and found that you made radio podcasts! What a delight! What
fine monologues! What treasury of fine conversations! I must admit
that I have been looking for new shows several times lately but found
none. I hope this means that you are writing on your new book (or
making a new CD with your band), but if not, and teaching and planning
new radio shows, perhaps you could invite David Harvey or Marshall
Berman to discuss Modernism and Modernity in the light of the struggle
between "the eternal and immutable" and the "maelstrom of change".
(see Baudelaire). Or else, perhaps you could invite Antonio Damasio
to discuss his "Descartes Error" or "Looking for Spinoza"! in this
perspective. Anyway, I look forward to hearing from you again soon.
If you ever come to the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway and Finland
(not only Denmark), I sincerely hope that you make contact, and give
me a chance to show you that this ours are not a group of "lame duck"
countries, but an alive and kicking group of small but strong
individual societies, actively contributing, among the best, to a
better future for "Spaceship Earth"!
Thank you my friend!
Oct 31, 2010
Robert - I love the show Entitled Opinions! I listen through i-tunes
and the website archives from Phoenix, AZ. Are there any episodes
beyond June of this year? Thank you
Oct 28, 2010
I so deeply appreciate your show, I could not possibly fully expess it
here. The wasteland we find ourselves in certainly has a dessicating
effect on the spirit, which is to say mind, and as an ER turned ICU
nurse I can say you provide the life sustaining IV fluid boluses I've
been dying for (how's that for a clever American metaphor?)
as a truly modern American caught in the grip of fatherhood, marriage,
and most importantly, working for a living, I have a desperately
limited amount of time to tend to my "inner garden". I get to walk
my dog and listen to your show as a little reprieve from my outward
obligations. In short, your format, subject matter, and media are
perfect. What I wouldn't give to sit down and chat over some wine and
I've listen to over thirty shows, my favoriteS were: "the fate of the
earth," WB Yeats, epicurianism, the Unabomber, existentialism of
sartre, Plato, and schrodinger. I also loved "anti-Americanism" and
the show with richard rorty, because I so strongly agreed with you and
admired your willingness to confront them where you disagreed. And
finally, as someone who has spent many hours studying and existing in
a general state of awe of Pink Floyd, the Greeks, Shakespeare, and
Borges, I insist you revist those subjects! And more religious
discussion with Thomas sheehan...but I'll appreciate anything you do.
PS are you coming back?
Oct 26, 2010
Dear Prof. Harrison,
I only recently discovered your broadcasts thanks to a recommendation from
a friend, and I enjoy them very much. A much-needed infusion of
intelligence and inspiration. I'm somewhat alarmed that you're taking an
indefinite break, and I hope very much that you'll be back on air soon.
Oct 25, 2010
We need our fix!
And, yes, I'm speaking for more than one person. It's been a topic of
discussion in the most important of my personal relationships.
No idea if begging could help, so I won't try it. Judging from
listeners' comments, an official statement from the House of Harrisons
has not yet been forthcoming. But I felt compelled to write, however
futile my attempt at gaining valuable information on the show's status
If the show we were promised fails to materialize, maybe we (the
listenership) should take matters in our own hands and start producing
our own podcasts, based on our own entitlements. As our dear Robert
has stated repeatedly, entitled opinions abound.
In fact, our communal version of the show could take a life on its own
and "entitledheads" could celebrate Robert Pogue Harrison the way
Jerry Garcia's legacy is kept alive by a special group of dedicated
(though aging) fans.
The only thing missing is an ice cream flavour. Given the fact that
Glass Wave still performs at Stanford, we need not provide our own
Cerebral Rock. (Although, some cerebral rocks might be needed if a
reenactment of May '68 is deemed worthy of our cause.)
In other words: Please give us a sign!
Oct 18, 2010
Hi, I'm a devoted EO listener. Are shows going to resume at some point? I hope so. Best,
13 Oct, 2010
I decided that in my retirement years, I should move forward and fill vacant knowledge gaps. Having spent many years teaching researching and reading mostly the empirical/biological end of the spectrum, I knew the greater part of my informational disparity lie in arts and literature.
It was during my Internet search that I came upon your archived podcasts of "Entitled Opinions." That was three years ago and since that time I have been listening to your conversations with scholars on topics related arts and life. From Marx, Machiavelli, and your Dante to Stephen Hintons' Beethoven, so many of the conversations have left a life-long impression. Here are a few examples:
While reading the Then and Now section of the Sunday LA Times, I came across an article by Anthony Mostrom about how Pacific Palisades had become a safe harbor for Austrian and German Jewish expatriates to escape the perils of pre-WW II Nazism. This article might not have gained my full attention had it not been for Marjorie Perloff's memoir, The Vienna Paradox. In was in the prologue of Perloff's book, which I had read that very morning, where the author mentions how the Pacific Palisades had become a refuge for the bricolage of notable Jewish writers and artists (Thomas Mann, Bertrolt Brecht, Arnold Schoenberg, Fritz Lang, Igor Stravinsky and Lion Feuchtwanger).
I do not make that Perloff connection without "Entitled Opinions." It was through your podcasts and conversations with Professor Perloff that I discovered Ezra Pound, Avantgarde and Modernism and Yeats. So when I wanted to know more about her, I purchased Vienna Paradox and then The Futurist Movement.
Kurt Wiell, have a vague memory of him but after hearing the podcast with Stephen Hinton had to learn more about him and of course purchase Tryout CD featuring Weill and Gershwin.
Trier, Germany, while visiting southern Germany, I had to visit the birthplace of Karl Marx.
So thanks Professor, and keep those Opinions flowing since I have so many gaps to fill.P
21 Sep, 2010
I am curious about whether Entitled Opinions will continue to be broadcast. Your show provided me a much needed lifeline several years ago when I was recovering from an illness. That's a story for another time, but I have been avid fan ever since. (I like the band too!).
14 Sep, 2010
Today I stumbled onto your podcast, Entitled Opinions, and it has instantly become my favorite bicycle ride companion. I started with your conversation with Dan Edelstein on the Enlightenment and was taken aback by the subtlety and ambivalence that you brought to the subject. I am used to academics with a political axe to grind who tackle such subjects with a machete. You, by contrast, took it apart with a surgeon's scalpel and with surgical care.
From there I went to you, Jean-Marie Apostolides and the most wonderful treatment of Camus that I could imagine. I was especially grateful for the time you spent on my favorite, and the least quoted, The Rebel.
I may up the frequency of my rides just to make greater headway down your roster.
In gratitude for your academic excellence and integrity,
10 Sep, 2010
Hello Christy, hello Robert, and KZSU,
Having discovered 'Entitled Opinions' and downloading every show, I've enjoyed a summer of constellations and carpentry; helping to build a small cabin, a room with a view, on the shores of Lake Huron. Offline with a bevy of books and an iPod, blaze of a fire in the cooler nights, and all simply in wonder at the world, worlding, I kept thinking 'brilliant!'
A toast then to conversations and the continents. Ever the best to you all.
3 Sep, 2010
It's great that you have an opinion on certain thinkers but sometimes your theoretical prejudice against thinkers actually inhibts conversation. Next time you diagree with someone so stridently why don' t you give them the first half of the show to describe thinker X's thought? You can criticize those thinker X after they've acurrately represented thinker X's ideas.
2 Sep, 2010
So, my wife and I (we're both in our 60s) recently watched the Jim Morrison movie (Oliver Stone) and the Doors documentary on PBS, too. Then I provided your Doors monologue to her on an old MP3 player. She's not into gadgets. After several weeks she finally took it on a walk about a park nearby. Loved it!!! Tonight we "shopped" on your website and I am charging the MP3 with 10114, -105, -106, -096, -095, -094, -084 and -085. That's enough for now, she says. Although more into classical today, Pauline grew up in Holland on the music of the Sixties. It's interesting for us to compare our Sixties experiences from from different sides of the Atlantic. (We met in Singapore in the Seventies.)
Anyway, a new fan ... though I don't expect to get her into your philosophical offerings!
Enjoy your break,
Noel, the Houston levee walker.
2 Sep, 2010
On the Vladimir Nabokov list server there has been some recent comments on Gingko Press' soon-to-be-published book that take Shade's 999-line poem which is the middle section of Pale Fire and published it as a stand alone. On the list server there was a question if Stanford poet-critic Yvor Winters was the model for John Shade.
There has been a discussion for years about just how serious this poem should be taken. Nabokov's son agrees his father intended the poem to be taken seriously. Texas poet and scholar R. S. Gwynn thinks so and has written the introduction for the the Gingko Press edition of the 999-line poem Pale Fire.
Ron Rosenbaum writes: "I was particularly struck by the degree of erudition about contemporary American poetry that Gwynn brought to his case at Nabokov meant Pale Fire to be a reproof to over-casual, over-personal, over-trivial trends in American poetry. A reproof to the belief that formal poetics could not capture deep feeling in traditional verse forms. And that Nabokov had modeled John Shade on the well-known traditionalist American poet Yvon Winters, who was a partisan formal poetics." There have requests on the list server to from Gwynn is hoping the publicity will ferret out someone with more detailed memories of the Nabokov-Winters relationship, before the trail goes completely cold.
Having listened to your broadcast with Monika Greenleaf on Lolita she might be willing to take on Pale Fire. The Stanford twist of Yvor Winters as the model for Shade might be very interesting if anyone on the campus remembers his tenure. I know you stated on that show you are not a great fan of Nabokov but how could I not want to hear you discuss Pale Fire.
Just an idea. By the way my favorite how is the one Boccaccio. It sent me to the book and I just loved it.
Thank you and keep up the great work
2 Sep, 2010
I want to thank you for your podcast called "Entitled Opinions". I listen to your podcast as well as several others while I take my morning walks along the Clearwater River canyon. After the 2-hour walk and breakfast of podcasts, I do my day job and drive to Washington State U in Pullman where I am on the faculty in a Neuroscience program. Anyway, I particularly enjoyed your Heidegger and Sartre entries as well as many others. We need more existentialism. After this brief introduction and equally brief kudos, I have some unsolicited suggestions for future "Entitled Opinions" shows. I think you might consider doing something scientific. Of course I am biased because I'm a neurobiochemist but hey, you seem to like Italian literature right? As an American Italian I cannot find fault in that!
So, now that I have presented an atmosphere of positive affect, you certainly should feel at least moderately inclined to take my suggestions with an open mind.
1.A show on the psychology and neuroscience of consciousness (see e.g John Searle)
2. Perhaps one on epigenetics and how this phenomenon describes the individuality of every living thing including the diversification of monozygotic twins. This should greatly influence discussions on molecular evolution, nature vs. nurture, process philosophy and perhaps breathe new life into existentialism! If you are interested, I can send a few papers you may read.
3. A show on enthalpy vs. entropy in biological systems. This would involve a discussion of free energy and biochemical "work". In my opinion, quantum mechanics is very cool but classical thermodynamics is far cooler since it doesnt lead to so much "uncertainty." OK, I should stop, lest I lose my audience.
These aren't boring or esoteric topics. But they are intellectual and complicated.
Hey, I am entitled to my opinion!
P.S. I think you might also consider doing a show on Ken Kesey's two great novels, particularly "Sometimes a Great Notion", in my opinion one of the best American novels yet written. And...an analysis of how Scorsese's "Mean Streets" deals with Kant's categorical imperative as well as Kierkegaard's "defining comittment" and "knight(s) of resignation."
17 Aug, 2010
Dear Mr. Harrison and the entire Entitled Opinions team,
I stumbled onto your show completely by accident a few months ago while doing a search on ItunesU and I've been hooked ever since. I've downloaded every archived episode and intend to listen to each and every one. I wish that you guys got the same tax break that religious institutions get because you are surely doing a public service. Entitled Opinions is truly a breath of fresh air in the cloud of electronic smog that the radio airways seems to have become as of late. Best wishes from the Virgin Islands.
14 Aug, 2010
Just wanted to tell you much I enjoy the show. I teach composition classes at a variety of composition classes in the Nashville area. Played college tennis at Vandy and loved the show with Dick Gould. I understand now how he was able to make Stanford a powerhouse in college tennis. Love Hendrix, the Doors and the Blues... and your shows on these topics.
Keep doing what you're doing.
Potential topics: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Latin American Literature, Nature Writing, Faulkner, Hemmingway
13 Aug, 2010
I am writing, as I'm sure so many others do, to express gratitude for Entitled Opinions. I've become a loyal listener over the past few months and have been catching up on the archived episodes as I bike to work in Minneapolis. I was a classics major at Dartmouth, and I am currently working on my dissertation in theology at Princeton Seminary, so you can imagine that many of the episodes cover areas of special interest for me.
I especially like when EO surprises me. Like the episode with Richard Rorty, in which I found him to be shockingly closed-minded and uninteresting.
And your two-part conversation on resurrection with Professor Sheehan was fascinating. He repeatedly stated, with utmost authority, hermeneutical conclusions about the Bible that are far from consensus even among progressive scholars. And when he turned the questions on you in an almost aggressive fashion...well, I just found it very compelling listening.
In short, thanks for the show, and I hope it continues for years to come.
12 Aug, 2010
\Just wanted to send a note of thanks and praise for Robert Harrison and his show Entitled Opinions. We've written an article about the show at our website Beams and Struts which you might be interested in.
Thanks again, and keep up the fabulous work!
sincerely, Trevor and the Beams and Struts crew.
12 Aug, 2010
Just wanted to let you know how much I like your show. I'm someone who operates across a spectrum of disciplines - from national security to politics to entertainment. I heartily appreciate your show's breadth, depth and point of view. In your shows I find an intellectual challenge to return to some of the subjects that were prime movers in my life. (I'm a guy who wrote a one act play in college called "Dante is Dead".) Thanks for doing what you do. I don't like all of your guests or all of your subjects but your batting average is by far the best out there. Please keep going.
Cheers and regards,
6 Aug, 2010
Hello Mr. Harrison,
Without going into extreme detail about myself, nor going into a tirade of accolades about yourself, I will tell you this: I am by education, a psychology student; though finding that discipline only particular to what Kierkegaard would refer to as the "aesthetic-man" or Nietzsche's " the child", and severely lacking in what he would refer to as the "moral-man" or Nietzsche's "Camel-Lion", I eventually found myself wanting; and "midway upon my life's journey" I stumbled into the fine lap of philosophy and found my Virgils, in Existentialism... Friedrich, Fyodor, Soren, etc..., and in Existentialist-tinged Classic Literature such as The Bard, Dante, Goethe, Hesse, Baudelaire, Mann, Rimbaud, Plath, Thomas, etc... Names that were always there, but that I was not ready for yet.
Sufficed to say, I thank you immensely for "Entitled Opinions", which not only keeps my brain malleable, but soothes my need for critical thinking. There are few 20th century-alive author/ thinkers whom I would have loved to not only thank but to also have spoken with, Camus, Sartre being two that come immediately to mind; and there are even less which breathe the same 21st Century air as I that I predict will be inspirational forces long after they are gone. Colin Wilson, Slavoj Zizek, and yourself are of the fewer that I believe will be mentioned in the 22nd, should we as a species make it that far.
So to be shorter and sweeter, I am myself also a "cultivator" of my garden; and have recently purchased your most-recent "Essay on the Human Condition", "Gardens" because it so agreed with me that it intrigued me. I would be so more than thrilled as a bibliophile if you would agree to have me send it to you for signing.
6 Aug, 2010
thank you very much for this season of Entitled Opinions. It was really over the top. I was hopping that you would close the season with a Pink Floyd or a Doors show, but not both! A great surprise! That is a conspicuous brand of entitled opinions - it frequently surpasses expectations. Please keep it going. It has become a rewarding vice for me.
The Pink Floyd show has captured the essence of the band. The debate was awesome; you were able to blend history, music criticism, and poetry with balanced intensity. Great song selection, I have listened to it many times. It is nice to hear the interview with background music. By the way, your whole family must be very "cool".
"Shine on", as you say, is a special song for me. I was mesmerized since I first heard it, 21 years ago. This deep admiration was very connected to the music itself, 'cause I couldn't understand the lyrics at that time. And when I finally understood it, I felt like I knew it already.
Entitled opinions makes me feel like participating in Stanford; of course, in a different way, not as a student or staff, but a kind of an occult observer; someone who profits indirectly from your intellectual (good) life and willingness to distribute (good) knowledge.
All in all, you have convinced me how literature can be one of the most interesting subjects (or, points of view) to pursue, when wanting for substance, to go on with our lives. Thank you, once again.
31 Jul, 2010
I am an avid listener of Entitled Opinions (via iTunes); it is, I think, just about the best podcast of its type out there. I particularly enjoy your willingness to treat the subjects in some depth, and your assumption that the listeners are at least familiar with the history of art, music, philosophy, literature etc. It is a marvelous, eclectic show.
I wanted to ask whether you were a) familiar with and b) had ever considered a show on BS Johnson, the experimental British writer? Johnson saw himself as the successor to Beckett, and was quite widely known in the sixties. He challenged conventions of form - for example, one of his novels came in a box with the chapters separately bound, so you could read them in any order, which was meant to reflect the messiness of life more realistically than the conventional straight-line narrative. However, he is now largely forgotten, but his work, particularly some of the earlier novels, bears renewed scrutiny.
Incidentally, he was recently the subject of an excellent biography by Jonathan Coe. It was called Like A Fiery Elephant, which is a phrase that comes from Johnson's pen and is often held up as an example of his writing. However, Coe suggests that it was a typo: heavy set children in the UK are often described as being like a fairy elephant. Since Johnson was himself quite a large man, Coe wonders if he meant to write fairy, not fiery. If so, it is the perfect metaphor for the tragi-comic life his subject led.
Anyway, well done on the show. I look forward to possibly hearing your views on Johnson over the airwaves one day!
18 Jul, 2010
I've enjoyed listening to your show, though I disagree profoundly with many of your views as expressed on the program. I certainly respect your interest in Philosophy, as well as your obvious thoughtfulness and commitment to exploring ideas. A real exploration and discussion of ideas is sadly lacking in our present culture, and I thank you for your efforts in getting people to think.
To that end, if I may make a suggestion, I would encourage you to balance your program with some guests who may have views that are not in line with your own. By that I do not mean (for example) your interview with Richard Rorty. Clearly you and he have political differences, but they are only in degree, along the same continuum. Rather, I would challenge you to engage with someone like Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute--that would truly be a contrast and demonstrate your interest in presenting a range of serious philosophical perspectives.
15 Jul, 2010
Dear Professor Harrison
As a devoted listener of your unique show Entitled Opinions, I must sincerely thank you for providing for shining the light of intelligent conversation in a otherwise dark tunnel of superficial material. I discovered Entitled Opinions one evening scouring Itunes for any material on Heidegger and stumbled upon your first show with Andrew Mitchell. This show operated as a great introduction for me as a relative new comer to the philosophy of Heidegger. Since then I have been an avid listener enjoying interviews with the likes of Rorty and Girard to enlightening treatments of the Blues, Marx and 'The Metaphysics of Misogyny '. Your shows also have been of considerable value to my own studies especially your two shows with Girard and your discussion of Plato.
I am a Philosophy student at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa and in my country especially we suffer from a general lack of intellectual discourse throughout the media. I have since introduced your show to several of my friends and family members. I have even cited Entitled Opinions in some of my papers.
May I perhaps request some shows for your upcoming season, how about a show on Jazz? Whether it be a particular figure such as John Coltrane or Miles Davis, a general discussion or on any of the movements. Secondly I hope you will do a show on Vico, who sadly I am not all that familiar with.
Well keep on the good work and looking forward to your upcoming season, which I am sure will provide us devoted listeners to more delights of the contemplative life.
15 Jul, 2010
your show is wonderful and deeply appreciated.
My vote is still for an Alchemical show and, all that you focus on is fecund.
12 Jul, 2010
Dear Dr. Harrison!!
I have been wandering through Entitled Opinions soaking up as much philosophy as possible, until recently, while sitting in a float tube on Lake Crowley (near Mammoth), where while landing some wonderful trout, I listened to your Episodes on the Doors and Pink Floyd. I have loved all of your interviews, but these two pieces really blew my mind. Thanks for what you are doing and please keep it up!!
ps. As a graduate of Harvard, I particularly enjoyed your interview with the President of Stanford. For a 100 year old small college, you guys are doing pretty good!!
12 Jul, 2010
Thanks for the amazing show.
I have a suggestion for a guest: Prof Hubert Dreyfus.
I'm sure I wouldn't be alone in welcoming Bert to your show - it would be incredible!
29 Jun, 2010
Hello Professor Harrison,
I am a relative newcomer to your radio show and I would just like to tell you how much I enjoy listening to it via podcast.
I have been living in Shanghai, China for the past three years - first as a student/teacher/translator and now as a writer for a men's clothing company (not exactly high literature) - and pursuing my interest in classic Western literature has not been easy for me during this time. Listening to your show though has helped me reconnect with, and come to a greater understanding of, many of the great novelists and thinkers I admire so much.
I have always had a soft spot for French literature especially and found your discussions of Camus, Sartre and Bataille most insightful and thought-provoking. If I could be so bold as to make a recommendation, perhaps you can devote a show (or two) to the works of my favorite fin de siecle author, Emile Zola. Given the sheer volume of his literary output, I know this might be challenging (I'm also quite fascinated with Huysmans as well, if I could call a less prolific writer to your attention).
No need to respond to this email, I know how busy you must be, but please take care and continue the great work!
Zac in Shanghai
What a spell binding program that was, your program on The Doors. One of your very, very best. Congratulations. I was moved, quite moved, by the podcast. No doubt you're getting lots of response.
Not too long ago, I watched a PBS documentary on the program The American Experience (I think it was) that focused on Jim Morrison's out of control performances. In the doc, he was portrayed as a troubled, loopy druggy (and drunk). You're piece amends that assessment, a great deal. No doubt some might think Morrison was more nutty and Dionysian, than controlled and Apollonian, but if I had my druthers, I prefer your assessment. It was beautiful, anyway.
I know you never got back to me after my long critique message (what you thought of my remarks, that is, except for a thanks) No doubt you're inundated. I hope it was useful. I'm sure you have many "publics" to satisfy and absorb all the commentary in your own "cool" way.
In any case, have a good summer. We'll be in touch, one of these days.
25 Jun, 2010
Dear Ms. Wampole,
I agree: it was a great season! I think my favorite was Robert's heated back and forth with Mark Mancall (on Marx). I also enjoyed your cerebral band, Glass Wave, particularly the steaming vocals.
I'm hoping to hear future shows on Don Quixote or Dostoevsky or Rimbaud or conversations about films.
I'm looking forward to next season.
25 Jun, 2010
I'm writing you primarily to express how deeply I enjoy your broadcast. The passion and enthusiasm with which you lead conversations brings the ideas disscussed to life. This is obviously a rare and precious thing. Thank you. A show I would love to hear, and one which would nicely bring into focus some of your own concerns (at least as I understand them), would be a show on the philosophy of the body. I have in mind the link between Neitzsche's conception of the body and the work of Merleau-Ponty (Or, I would love a show just on the work of Ponty).
Thank you for taking the time to read this, You must receive so many suggestions for shows. Please, please keep doing what you are doing, it is deeply appreciated.
Winston, Santa Fe.
23 Jun, 2010
This is my second letter to Entitled Opinions. The first one consisted simply of praise for your wondrous show. This time around I'm making a request for future episodes: James Joyce (specifically Finnegans Wake - I have a FW book club where we read three pages a month) or anything related to Edmund Husserl, Gaston Bachelard or phenomenology. I've been writing (and consequently reading) more and more poetry this past year and have noticed that one of the central well-springs of inspiration for a great many poets is the philosophy - if not the practice - of phenomenology. When I minored in philosophy for my undergrad I was underwhelmed by the impoverished approach taken to important matters. It's heartening to see that phenomenology is a kind of stowaway within the work of many contemporary poets.
Thank-you in advance.
23 Jun, 2010
Your show is great. Smart but not stuffy. I finished my MFA from the University of San Francisco and moved to Chicago to be closer to my friends and family in the Midwest in the fall of '08. Needless to say I got to watch the economy collapse and found myself working a dead-end job that is mind-numbing and soul-crushing. The only way for me to make it to 4:30 is to busy my mind. Podcasts, writing stories, and Spanish & Basque flashcard keep my head from atrophying. I have just found your show this week ( I listened to Proust w/ Landy, Americans in Paris w/ Alduy, and Language and Thought w/ Boroditsky). These shows are like a shot of B12 to my imagination and I can already feel them helping me sort out problems with my writing and stories. I can't wait to listen to them all. You have personally done me a service and I wanted thank you. Keep up the good work.
23 Jun, 2010
Dear Dr. Harrison,
Hi there! My name is Sean. I am an avid listener of the Entitled Opinions podcast here in Vancouver, B.C. Since discovering your program a few months ago (while perusing YouTube for footage of Heidegger) I have listened to a new episode every day without fail while working as a landscaper for the summer on Vancouver's North Shore mountains. Though at present I am finishing up a degree in philosophy, I feel that listening to your show has been at times more edifying and entertaining than (dare I say it) many of my courses at the university so far! And for that, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude and respect to you, your guests and your engineers for broadening my education and for enriching the long and tiring hours of a summer labourer. Keep up the good work, Robert!
Sincerely, Sean D.
P.S. When are you going to do a show on my favourite Canadian intellectual Marshall McLuhan?
19 Jun, 2010
Thanks for your programs and the work it takes to put them together.
I listened to an â€™07 program on historical Jesus. The guest stated several criteria to determine the true historical Jesus, however in my option he missed the most important. The ideas of Jesus, not his person or his claims to divinityâ€”do they stand with value though the last two centuries. This to me is the enduring quality of Jesus the reason for his continued respect.
13 Jun, 2010
Thank you producing entitled opinions.
I am a podcast listener and appreciate getting to know you and your views through this forum.
What was the source of the Live Doors ending music?
Thank you in advance
13 Jun, 2010
I very much enjoy your Entitled Opinions program and the zest with which you approach such an array of literary and philosophical subjects. I am sure you receive a plethora of daily suggestions for future topics; however, I have two suggestions for discussion topics that I would very much enjoy to hear. First, having thoroughly enjoyed your discussions of Heidegger, Nietzsche, Epicureanism and Plato, I think it would be logical to pursue a discussion of the Presocratic philosophers either for its own sake or for the influence of these early thinkers on thinkers like Heidegger etc. A second suggestion I have that, I think, would be warmly received by the listeners of the show would be some discussion of Russian lliterature. I recently read Elif Batuman's The Possessed, a memoir of her study of Russian and Central Asian lliterature at Stanford among other locales. It seems she would make a superb guest on your show. I understand it is utterly presumptuous to make suggestions as you probably have hundreds of ideas you would like to explore. Yet I felt obliged to write to you as I greatly admire your work.
10 Jun, 2010
Many thanks for your continued efforts (and yours too, Christy!) Your show continues to challenge and impress, particularly the recent episode with Prof Landy. I have listened to that conversation several times and continue to puzzle over the question you raise as to the uses of literature.
Please be advised that the link on the show's web page to your interview with Image and Narrative is no longer correct. The article can be found at [http://www.imageandnarrative.be/inarchive/Images_de_l_invisible/debruyn.htm].
As per the customary listener requests, please spend more time on the English Romantics. The episode in which Denise Gigante was a guest remains a favourite. Perhaps a show on Kierkegaard, an entire episode devoted to Dylan Thomas, or maybe Simone Weil.
Keep up the good work. Your work does not go unappreciated.
10 Jun, 2010
Dear Dr. Harrison,
The dialectic came alive in this show! Not the threatened heat but light flooded from your interchange with Dr. Mancall.
I hope you will have more opportunities to excavate our bourgeois fantasies with such equanimity.
3 Jun, 2010
I am a fan of "Entitled Opinions" hailing from Montreal, and French culture generally. I was wondering if Robert Harrison has plans sometime for a programme on the philosopher THEORDOR W. ADORNO.
Congratulations on your fine programming.
2 Jun, 2010
Hi Professor Harrison,
I have been listening to your podcast since I graduated last spring from St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. Your show has become a way for me to sort through subjects and authors, and of deciding what to read next. It's really fantastic; thank you!
Do you have any interest in Xenophon? I think introducing your listeners to his thought and philosophy would be beneficial. Xenophon has gotten a bum rap in the academy lately, yet I still think Xenophon to be one of the finest thinkers. Surely someone on the Stanford campus holds Xenophon in high esteem.
Thank you again for your show!
29 May, 2010
Dear Miss Wampole,
Your most recent show on Georges Bataille was fantastic. Just a quick suggestion for a future episode - I would love to hear Dr. Harrison and a guest discuss the much overlooked Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis. 20th century greek authors seem to have fallen to the fringes of the literary canon, if any show can reelevate them it's entitled opinions!
27 May, 2010
Dear Professor Harrison,
Just a word of thanks for Entitled Opinions which is a regular source of inspiration, fascination and (just sometimes) exasperation!!! It's a marvellous thing to be a part of the great community of your listeners. This email comes from a little medieval village in England, where, I sometimes think, nothing has changed since 1377 and the local doctor is still searching for a cure for the Black Death. The only connection I can think of with Stanford is that Martin Esslin, sometime Professor of Drama at Stanford had a house here, a house that is now owned by his daughter who was a classmate of mine in Oxford.
25 May, 2010
Dear Robert and Christy,
As a regular listener to Entitled Opinions since 2008, I'm deeply grateful for your consistent efforts to design, initiate and broadcast discussions of well-articulated insights and ideas. Just as precious as the worn, heavily marked and well-thumbed books that I return to for rediscovery time and time again are the episodes of EO that slumber in my iPod: they are gems, and better yet, they are free, and we are all thankful for your efforts. One such book, however, that has never been a topic on the show, but that, in my humble opinion, should be in future semesters, is Moby Dick. There has been much probing of the subterranean, but what of the submarine? Such a journey could, like the character Pip, carry us, as Melville wrote, "...down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro.."
17 May, 2010
Dear Prof Harrison
I think you and Mark Mancall are very brave to put out a radio show in the USA which is not wholly condemnatory of Karl Marx. I hope the penalties will not be too severe if you get caught.
Take great care - from a huge fan.
12 May, 2010
Bravo to you and your brother for the best radio discussion of Pink Floyd, and there are some good ones out there. To continue the music theme sometime, you know and I know that you could get *several* fascinating segments out of Frank Zappa. And I still say a discussion of Mark Twain is long overdue.
Stay on the scene,
10 May, 2010
That's what I like about this show. You can hear Wittgenstein and Hendrix discussed on the same broadcast.
Glad to hear that a Doors show is coming up, but if Prof. Harrison really wants some milage, he could do a multi-part feature on Frank Zappa, easily.
4 May, 2010
Certainly enjoyed you taking on the uses of literature and the claustrophobia induced by the deconstructionists. Looking forward to getting the Foucault scholar's take (he'll chuckle, shrug, deconstruct it and move on). Nevertheless, we tried.
4 May, 2010
I cannot wait for this show! I have recently read the Birth of Tragedy and have tried to find some authentic examples of how tragedy was performed in ancient Greece. However, most performances I found are recent updates of the classics. When you do this show, it is my hope that you will discuss how Dionysus was actually portrayed on the Greek stage. Nietzsche is a little vague here.
3 May, 2010
Your show on Alexander was an ideal Entitled Opinions broadcast: scholarly and accessible. It shed light on a familiar subject which (I trust) most people in your audience knew really nothing about.
A good, pointed intro too. Massacre is always a bracing topic.
A rock n roller. I suspected so much!
3 May, 2010
The Prof has a band?!!!! That's fantastic news! In fact, I think that totally explains why he's so cool. As a singer-songwriter myself too cool to name-drop my friends (LOL!) in show business, I appreciate what you folks are doing in a whole new dimension! Looking forward to hearing you sing, Christy. Sincerely, Jonny.
27 Apr, 2010
I have listen to most of the archived shows of Entitled Opinions and think that it is one of the most thought provoking shows I have ever encountered. A few years back I became interested in philosophy and found a few good programs to aid in that endeavor. However, the guests on most of these programs are never challenged on either assertions or, opinions. On some of the British programs in particular, the guest seem a bit pompous and host no more than apple-polishers. This is not the case on Entitled Opinions where you actually engage your guest in a more realistic modern dialogue. I only wish this had been available when I was a high school student. My appreciation of the arts â€“ literature in particular â€“ has grown considerably. I hope that many young listeners are made aware of how you really make literature come alive. I am starting to read The Divine Comedy and would appreciate any help concerning translations and essential/supplemental books by other authors.
27 Apr, 2010
Thanks from a group of us in Sheffield (England) for the great shows you have provided over the last few years. I have you and Prof. Dreyfus (who does podcasts from Berkeley) to thank you for steering me towards literature and away from my comfort zone in law and analytic philosophy.
A philosophy bites podcast on Billy Budd has not been enough to quench our thirst, we need the Robert Harrison insight!
20 Apr, 2010
Keep carrying the flame Harrison. I hereby designate you the Chomksy of Life and Literature.
Uni of Melbourne
19 Apr, 2010
Just wanted to say the episodes lately have been great. I am a streaky listener -- go a few weeks without listening and then listen to several podcasts in short order. After struggling to get finish the half-complete Welsh literature and Wallace Stevens talks on my iPod for a few weeks, I fast-forwarded to listen to Digital Music yesterday, and part II of the blues and the Marx episode today. I have rarely enjoyed the show more. I got the impression Mark Mancall was a workout for Robert -- Mancall wouldn't let any statement of Robert's go unchallenged it seemed. I am also convinced I need to buy and listen to Robert Johnson immediately, and may give in to the impulse here after I write this. Kudos to you both for the great work. I look forward to continuing my current binge throughout the rest of the week.
Just wanted to make you aware someone was out there listening from an overworked Honda in the backroads of Tennessee, enjoying the work the two of you do. Keep it up!
11 Apr, 2010
Dear Ms. Wampole,
I am a great admirer of the Entitled Opinions show. I have an interesting topic which Mr. Harrison might be interested in. Has he ever thought of making a show about North Korean literature? I live in Seoul, South Korea and so this issue is something which is close to my heart. There is interesting literature in North Korea, but it is all under the guidance of the head of the state, Kim Jong Il. There is no freedom to write everything they want, only limits. For this reason, people write about Kim Jong Ilâ€™s ideas, but also about themselves within ideological limits. If Mr. Harrison needs resources, then the company Words without Borders has many interesting articles. There are many extracts from novels there, and this article which explains about North Korean literature: http://wordswithoutborders.org/article/encountering-north-korean-fiction-the-origins-of-the-future. They have published a book called Literature from the Axis of Evil, which has North Korea literature. I know that there is a North Korea specialist called Peter Beck in Stanford now, he might be able to help with the show. I thought that after the Marx show, this might be interesting. I really like your show and I hope it continues for a long time.
9 Apr, 2010
where to begin? I have recently discovered your show and am working my way through the back catalogue. It is enlightening in the true sense of the word and a beacon of intellectual light in the midst of the darkness of trivial entertainment.
I am a mature student in the UK and your show is an inspiration to my studies and personal reflections on life. How beautiful it is to be intelligently entitled to self-formed opinions. I have recently written an essay for a competition which was greatly influenced by the ideas of creativity and philosophy in unison that I have felt from several of your shows.
Today I listened to the show on Anti-Americanism. I felt your struggle with the difference of opinion! Perhaps you are a true Eurocentric?
I have of course a request or suggestion. I am greatly interested in Buddhist philosophy and thought. I feel that 'Eastern' scholarship and literature is often neglected in the UK, I am not sure how that is in the US? I would love to hear you engage with some 'Eastern Ideas' and literature (this was triggered by your comments on Life and Cancer).
Thank you kindly!
1 Apr, 2010
Dear Mr. Harrison,
Pardon the adulation, but I love Entitled Opinions! I'm sure I'm being clichÃ©, but surely in a welcome way. I've been a listener for the past three years, during which I've undergone an intellectual broadening because of your show. It has referred to the leanest of literatures, for which I'm ever grateful.
Of course I'm writing to express thanks; I'm also writing to suggest a topic: David Foster Wallace. I heard from Michael Silverblatt, the Bookworm guy, that the book Infinite Jest by DFW, is being taught at Stanford. Which is to say that it might be easy to do a show on him if you have on campus a professor who teaches the book.
Anyway, I'm just putting in a vote as an avid listener. Keep on opining. Thanks again for your show.
29 Mar, 2010
A comment for the Entitled Opinions guestbook - thanks, and thanks for your work on EO!
A friend of mine, Dr Henry Midgley, recently introduced me to the Entitled Opinions podcast, since when I've listened to almost all of the back catalogue. In the midst of a culture that seems obsessed with celebrity and other dross, it's wonderful to find such an oasis of intelligence and reasoned debate. A thousand thankyous from London. By the way, is there any chance of doing an episode on Hobbes?
27 Mar, 2010
Dear Professor Harrison,
I continue to enjoy listening to your radio program -- most shows over and over and over again. One such is the installment on Albert Camus, with your wonderful guest Jean-Marie ApostolidÃ¨s.
Thank you for your stewardship of Entitled Opinions. It would be hard to exaggerate how fabulous and enriching it has been.
25 Mar, 2010
Hi Christy Wampole-
Sometimes you do not realize how important something is until it is out of reach. Last summer I was in a university town in central Finland crash-coursing everything I could about hands-on viral research so I could return to UC Davis and apply that knowledge to my own research in biophotonics and laser physics. Yes, I was transplanted then, but the empty feeling came not from geography nor from being in the kind and hospitable Suomi culture, but instead from the lack of discourse. It was sobering to know important an intellectual, stimulating environment was to me. And not just being in the environment, as I was in a university town, but know who/where/how to find it and having the time to seek it out (I was working very long days in a quiet culture that ends work at 4:30pm).
Now to the punchline: I came across the Entitled Opinions collection then, which may not have filled the void - you cannot talk back to a podcast - but it was a warm cup of assam to me on the long walks home in the cold nights. I appreciated it, everything this show is doing and wish all of you the best.
PS - I am now back in Finland doing follow up work. Are there any other podcasts or shows that you can recommend as I have already parsed through them all?
17 Mar, 2010
I just wanted to say THANK YOU for Entitled Opinions. I have a long train ride and your podcasts turns a dull activity into something challenging and thought provoking. I'm about to graduate with a fiction writing degree and I can't tell you how much your discussions have influenced -and improved- my own work.
Seriously the best podcast out there.
16 Mar, 2010
Dear Robert and Christy,
Thanks from down under for the wonderful show which I rarely miss. I've been meaning to suggest a topic for a while now, but note that someone (and I guess possibly more than one) has beaten me to it: David Foster Wallace. I would love to hear your take on him.
Many thanks once again for providing the oasis of intelligent discussion that is Entitled Opinions.
16 Mar, 2010
Can you tell me what is the music played at the end of the show
7 Mar, 2010
Dear Prof. Harrison and production crew,
Thank you for your wonderful show!
I enjoy the diversity of topics, guest and the quality of your introductions. The show encouraged my developing interest in the humanities.
Like some of the other (international) listeners, I discovered Entitled Opinions completely by chance late last year. I download and listen to the episodes at home or while driving to work. Iâ€™m working as a business consultant in the field of IT and Healthcare.
I've particularly enjoyed your programs on RenÃ© Girard's theory of Mimetic Desire, your Monologue on Machiavelli and your vocation of the Humanities.
Concerning the importance of education in the field of humanities and the importance of communicating ideas, I would also like to bring the Nexus Institute (Tilburg University) to your attention. http://www.nexus-instituut.nl/en/
The Nexus Institute looks at the European cultural heritage in a social, philosophical and artistic context. The Nexus Instituteâ€™s mission is to act as a leading international centre for intellectual reflection and to inspire the Western cultural and philosophical debate.
Please continue posting the recordings on your web site; they are highly appreciated !
Michel van Zandvoort
1 Mar, 2010
I've recently become a devoted listener to Entitled Opinions - a show I never knew I was always listening for. I'm sure I'm not putting forth any new ideas but here are some show topics I'd certainly be interested in:
The Evangelical Jesus
But I leave it to you. Thanks for doing what you do!
24 Feb, 2010
Hi Robert, my wife and I have just discovered your show Entitled Opinions and wanted to say how grateful we are that you put such time and effort in producing such a quality program. We especially enjoyed your show on Epicurus, Machiavelli, Heidegger and Byzantine Romance (Agapitos). Keep up the good work.
P.S. We are Greek so more shows on Hellenistic, Byzantine and modern Greek literature and thought or non-Greeks meditating on Hellenic culture would be greatly appreciated!!
Thank you again
21 Feb, 2010
I enjoy the podcast and would like to know what the music is that currently introduces the show.
20 Feb, 2010
I hope you are doing well. I am writing basically to congratulate you on your terrific show, Entitled Opinions, which I have been listening quite often. I have just heard your great dialogue with Sepp on Borges. I have written an essay discussing precisely the issue of belatedness in Borges and Machado de Assis, so maybe it would interest you. I am now, indeed, trying to develop the notion of "poetics of emulation" as a response to the issue of belatedness.
All the best,
PS: I also want to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading yours The Dominion of the Dead.
20 Feb, 2010
Dear Robert â€“ Caro Roberto
I too live in an English / American influenced world ( in my case its Sydney Australia ) ; raised as an Italian in a country far from Italy in many ways ; and also once a Catholic alter boy like you , almost half a century ago though â€“ and so I can relate to you easily and its as if you are family â€“ but much more learned !
I wanted to thank you for EO and the iTunes version especially.
You have made the richness of much the worldâ€™s wisdom accessible to people like me â€“ someone so removed from intellectual life as to never be able to enjoy those riches other than through the medium of an iphone and the Net .
I just heard your Epicurean interview and maybe one day I too can say that having enjoyed the precious â€“ as opposed to material - riches of life ( in moderation of course ) that death therefore brings no apprehension.
Grazie tanto Roberto â€“ spero che il tuo lavoro tocca a tanti
All the best from down under
Ps come down to Oz one day â€“ facciamo un caffe !
18 Feb, 2010
Your shows on Entitled Opinions have been an intellectual treat! Thanks to iTunes -it has enabled me to enjoy from the archives.
May I request you to consider doing a show on PG Wodehouse? For the expert, you might want to consider inviting his biographer Robert McCrum.
Best wishes and long live Entitled Opinions!
18 Feb, 2010
Robert and Christy,
I loved the Tobias Wolff broadcast. Your program makes me happy to be alive and wish for more years to enjoy reading, listening and learning.
Thanks for continuing Entitled Opinions, Win Dunwell
17 Feb, 2010
Hi Christy and Robert,
It is a PLEASURE listening to your Entitled Opinions podcasts! I LOVED your Wallace Stevens discussion: every THOUGHT, IDEA, CONCEPT, even WORD was rendered to near poetry with such precise and immaculate utterance on your behalf Robert (and with such a wiley topic as Stevens' poetic sensibility such is no small task indeed!). Ahhh sublime! My one Lit. professor (I am a lit. major from U of Pittsburgh) taught a senior seminar where we read ALL of Robert Frosts' and Wallace Stevens' poetry. It was called "The Comic Sublime." :)
But with all of your speech's BRILLIANCE Robert I can't help but respectfully and inexorably disagree solely with your fatalistic conclusions of our futile human attempt to pierce the veil of winter and not only glimpse but BECOME such sublimity, such nature, such idea, such pre-existence as Wallace gestures us towards in his poetry. Considering I "know" and am well acquainted with your love and admiration for Thoreau and the splendor of LIVING DELIBERATELY at Walden Pond, to say I was surprised by your stark conclusions would be an understatement. I was amazed that a man such as yourself with SUCH A NEAR FLAWLESS UNDERSTANDING AND PERCEIVING of Wallace Stevens' poetics could not take the final plunge if you will, the "leap of faith" (Stevens' would hate me saying that would he not!?!?) to our human ability to live and be such existence, to be the idea much like the salmon can be within the current of the river going upstream no?...can we not partake and ride the illusive "now," the seeming evasive yet ever-present "idea," the "marrow of life"? Would his poetry (nay all poetry!) be for naught if we were only to be a mere voyeur upon the REALITY Stevens abstracts for us? To only view and NOT to touch and become is like ONLY having foreplay and no sex! We are not cursed as Moses was to only SEE (and not dwell within) the promised land, and as such we are all blessed as HUMANS (Da Vinci and Michelangelo and the humanist movement no?) to be able to imbibe and immerse ourselves within the ever-present although highly fortressed "Idea"...and how do we navigate the fortress into "the Idea," how do we accomplish such an epic feat (Odysseus no?)? This is where Stevens' poetics (perhaps even Classic American poetics!) and your, as I say, near flawless articulation of such abstractions, enters the stage.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this VITAL issue if time permits as I know you are of course very busy and of course thank you all so much for your sessions! Do keep them coming! :)
THANK YOU AGAIN for being out there!
Los Angeles, CA
15 Feb, 2010
I've just begun listening to podcasts, and E.O. is tops: already consumed the discussion of Isaac Babel' and the fate of Russian literature, the Richard Rorty interview, the Jimi Hendrix show, and the conversation with Professor Ober on Atheninan Democracy among others; breadth and depth!
John Dunkum in Missoula, Montana
15 Feb, 2010
Dear Entitled and Opinionated,
Thank you for your show; if you need me to write a letter to your University funders, I am happy to tell them that EO makes me feel much better about Stanford than football or...Tiger Woods.
Are there transcripts available? Not only are the interviews obviously great, but Mr. Harrison's introductions are often quite delicious. I intend to use them as pick up lines some time.
On a petty note, what is it with the foreign accents when "foreign" words or names come up? To be aesthetically or culturally consistent, Mr. Harrison should continue to say it with the same accent throughout the interview (i.e. in a recent interview, he started with a very phlegmish "Goethe", and then progressively said it like a "normal" American scholar (and certainly NOT like a Woody Allen "Arab"). Moreover, such an aesthetic and linguistic pose should not just be reserved for names separated by oceans. When saying Faulkner, it would be best to don a Mississippi insipid twang; or Dickinson with an Amherst burst of a New England eclat d' hearse. See what I'm sayin'?
Yours blissfully in all three levels of Commedia,
10 Feb, 2010
Dear Robert Harrison,
While I cannot thank you enough for being the one hour escape from my community of indifference and boredom, out of everything I have gained from your shows the one I am most grateful for would be the the gift of listening - your show is constantly challenging my ability to listen intently and closely, and that has just about changed everything for me.
So, again, thank you, truly.
P.S. your shows on 1910 and Heidegger were phenomenal. Loved them!
Michelle from Detroit, MI
8 Feb, 2010
Thank you for a lovely show with Tobias Wolff. Entitled Opinions is wonderful any time, but on dark and stormy February nights, it's become essential.
Thanks for keeping our spirits up!
7 Feb, 2010
Re: The Tobias Wolff episode. This is an OUTSTANDING choice. Toby Wolff is the greatest short story writer in America and a national treasure. This Boy's Life and Old School are great works of fiction. Please get it on to ITunes quick so we can listen in across the seas.
Sidelines: like Holden Caulfield, TW also got booted out of prep school (in Old School). His half brother Geoff can also write ... his memoir The Duke of Deception about their conniving swindling father is poignant.
And Happy Chinese New Year to the Crew at Entitled Opinions and wishes for a prosperous Year of the Golden Tiger.
Gong Xi Fa Cai
2 Feb, 2010
Hi there Robert - or Professor Harrison
I just wanted to send you an email to say thank you so much for you podcast / show. I have recently started listening to them and have now decided to download all 103 of them from itunes.
I live in London and have recently started studying philosophy at Birkbeck in the evenings and the module we are studying at the moment is Pyschoanalysis and Philosophy so I very much enjoyed the Freud show - last night I listened to the show about Epicurus and it was wonderful - I really need to learn more about him.
Anyway that's it really - just wanted to let you know that your show is being enjoyed by someone in London - I'm also going to buy your books
2 Feb, 2010
I just wanted to say that this show has taught me so much and inspires me to learn more and more. Thank you for this brilliant, captivating and always enlightening show. I adore it.
1 Feb, 2010
Please tell Dr. Harrison that I have listened several times to his Joseph Conrad podcast from last winter and have become a Conrad fan. Thank you.
31 Jan, 2010
This correspondence is overdue, and regrettably, it may also fail at conveying the full measure of appreciation I have for "Entitled Opinions", in particular for the amazing level of discussion you have lavished us with in your shows featuring Andrew Mitchell. The shows in Heidgegger and Nietzche were perhaps the most interesting one on one discussions I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.
I was forced in many ways to become an autodidact, and have come to appreciate the process of self-navigation to enlightenment that is such a journey. And yet, upon coming upon the aforementioned broadcasts, I was instantly wistful for what might have been, to have been there at Stanford engaged at the level I heard in those discussions would rank for me as the most melancholy and beautiful of dreams.
Your discussions, of Rilke, HÃ¶lderlin, and Trakl, sent my mind and my art to another level. And so it would seem, there are professors and then there are professors, you and Andrew are clearly the latter. Thank you for these shows, and for every topic you have done, I have now consumed them all at least once. It is a delight to know that this type of discussion and this sensibility of the times still exists in academia.
You have my thanks, and perhaps some incredible single malt scotch via the Orkney Islands can find a way into your environs when next I come out your way on business.
It has indeed been a liminal ecstasy to have heard and to be able to hear the broadcast. I eagerly look forward to when you resume the broadcast.
Grazie Dottore! (In the classic sense, not in the current modern sense of Dottore in Italy these days!)
27 Jan, 2010
hello, big fan of the show. i think you should do one on malcolm lowry, and i think its about time there was one on cinema, i don't care if you think its a square to literature's cube or whatever, its a major art form! if we can handle hendrix, i think someone like jean renoir or edward yang would make a great show
keep up the good work
25 Jan, 2010
I enjoyed the conversation with Robert Harrison and Abraham Verghese immensely. It brought back memories of watching tennis and helped me have an epiphany of sorts once I read Dr. Verghese's The Tennis Partner. Tremendously moving. I go back and download favourites from time to time based on events that appear to occur in the world and in my life.
I'm listening to the Saint-Amand interview right now as a matter of fact.
Hostility is so much more understandable and comprehensible to me now thanks to some of these interviews.
I have two sons and I worry but there's only so much a mother is permitted or allowed to do for her sons. At some point, hope, faith, trust, belief, wishful thinking, and maybe even luck helps them along their various roads.
Thanks for these cherished gifts we receive every so often.
25 Jan, 2010
Dear Prof. Harrison
I would like to add my name and location (Bristol UK) to the roll-call of your worldwide devotees. I have now listened to half a dozen or so of your programmes and Sir, I doff my hat to you. The high intellectual quality of your podcasts sparkles like a jewel in the great void of cyberspace. Such programmes are very rare indeed - the only other one I know of (already mentioned in your guest book) is produced in the UK by the BBC called "In Our Time" (and also available as a podcast via iTunes) hosted by one of the UK's Living Treasures Mr Melvin Bragg . But unlike yourself he has a team of professional researchers who provide him with subject briefs! So it is all the more impressive that you always are ready with just the right question at the right moment ( although I think you let Andrew Mitchell off rather lightly regarding the connection of Nietzsche's thought to fascism). You are obviously well into Continental Philosophy - could I put in a request for a programme about Post-Structuralism ... Derrida, Foucault et al. ? Could I also mention just a couple of teensy-weensy things? Errmm...the little (and not so little) homilies.....and the disco music. Sorry to mention. I know you mean well and I suppose unpolished idiosyncracy should be welcomed, but compared to the exquisite Limoges porcelain of the rest of the programme it's like having a V-8 crankshaft dropped on one's big toe. If you publish this I expect all those other nice people in your guest book will hate me as well as you , but I'm just trying to be helpful. And even so, I'm still truly grateful for your programme. May you thrive.
17 Jan, 2010
Hello, my name is Kevin Spenst, I'm a Masters student in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. Entitled Opinions serves as a sort of daily bread... once or twice a week. I started listening to the podcasts over the summer last year. I just got in from a jog during which time I listened to your piece on Schrodinger and your own zimzum spin on the mind. Here's what i wrote down:
mind is one wondrousness
memory breaks into millions
I wrote this down as a happy thought for the day. Thank-you for your inspiring show!
briefly yrs, Kevin Spenst
15 Jan, 2010
Searching for a download to listen while I XC ski the prairie of eastern Sd I discovered your site. I love it--thanks for the inspiration!!
29 Dec, 2009
You did a great show on tennis a while ago. Isn't it soon high time to follow that up with the similarly high-arcing (and hard crashing) David Foster Wallace?
One of your biggest fans in the ether,
29 Dec, 2009
I'm so glad I met the man on the train who commended your show to you. I'm enriched, but won't bore you with examples, still less send you a limerick parallelling Meursault's last line.
A guest suggestion and a request: Thomas Szasz on Virginia Woolf? I know he was still doing interviews as of last year. Or the dude on his usualler topics. The request is a propos of cela: Might you pass this on to Rene Girard, this which I just last night heard Szasz say on an old interview on youtube: "Scapegoating is the metabolism of society." MB.
Cliffside Park, NJ
29 Dec, 2009
Thanks for making your broadcasts of Entitled Opinions available on the web. The thought-provoking conversations you so skillfully conduct have become a form of sustenance not unlike good food or good wine, which we look forward to, depend on, and enjoy.
The only difficulty is in keeping up with the reading list that develops from listening to your shows. It took a while to get through Proust...
Finally, it's good to know that at least one other person in the universe still listens to Gentle Giant.
24 Dec, 2009
Your show is the best motivation to improve my english.
24 Dec, 2009
Dear Prof. Harrison and production crew,
Thank you for the great podcasts over the past years. I've just discovered them this year. I'm listening to the Shirley Hazzard podcast right now. I'm looking forward to what you have the time to deliver for the lot of us in the new year.
"We have very bad leaders."
Your listeners, on the other hand...
Sincerely, Deborah McLaughlin
17 Dec, 2009
Dear Dr. Harrison,
This is just a note of appreciation for your podcast. I have just listened to your shows on the historical Jesus and the Unabomber, fascinating material. I look forward to the show on Camus, but very very keen on the threatened future show on repetition. I wrote my undergraduate thesis (in literature) on repetition -- indeed, on Repetition too, the Kierkegaard book.
14 Dec, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison, I would like to congratulate you and express my gratitude for your brilliant show 'Entitled Opinions', a true intellectual buffer-zone in a sea of thoughtlessness.
I wish you good health and prolonged lucidity.
Jordi Clusa Birmingham, England
6 Dec, 2009
I want you to know how much I value your broadcasts of "Entitled Opinions". I'm an almost 60 yr old refugee from the academy (I fled the School of Criticism at UC Irvine during the Derridays of the 70's) who decided to pursue his studies outside the institution. I wanted to let you know some of the ways I know your program is being used:
1. A Chinese friend who marched in Mao's youth corps and now lives in the Southwest has EO programs on her iPod and listens to them during her frequent sleepless nights.
2. A friend who was pulled out of high school to work the "family's" garbage truck in Brooklyn in the 60's and who has developed a passion for learning treats EO like a class that he attends on a regular schedule.
3. On a road trip from Santa Fe to White Sands, my brother and I used the 2 part Rene Girard discussion as a catalyst for our conversation. It was a great trip.
Your program is, as you've said, a potent, psychoactive force. In our current sterile, binary culture, efforts like yours need to be protected.
My dream program: Milan Kundera and Robert Harrison discuss the truth in fiction (re: your interview "Echoes of the Phenomenon").
Thank you, Robert
3 Dec, 2009
I'm just writing a note to say that I really enjoy your program. It's truly enlightening and provoking of thought. Often, as a consequence, I end up picking up and reading the work of the author in subject. Unfortunately I can't pick up your radio signal, as I live at so very great a distance away. But I do try to keep up via the internet posts of your shows. And for this I am truly grateful. Incidentally, do you take requests?
Carlos Felix Hamilton, Ontario Canada
1 Dec, 2009
Since discovering Entitled Opinions a year ago, I have spent a good part of my retirement walking, while listening to the programs on my iPod. Good for my brain and my body. The wide range of topics and the superb interviews that plumb the depth of each make the program something not to be missed. As a result, a growing number of my acquaintances here in the south of Israel are joining the "fan club". Thanks to Robert Harrison for his fine effort.
29 Nov, 2009
I discovered Entitled Opinions completely by chance late last year or there abouts. My studies focus on classics, but I wanted to 'cultivate,' to use your terminology, my other interests, so I began looking for something that was engaging, and somehow concerning literature or philosophy.
At present I work full time and study via distance, so I download and listen to my lectures while driving to work, or while pottering around at home. Most of the time this is fine, and I enjoy the freedom of not attending classes - but sometime you miss that interactive discussion of the ideas. You tend to be on the receiving end of what is no more than the transmission of information.
Your podcast title caught my eye while I was looking through iTunes, and when I saw some of the topics you were discussing, I decided to download a few episodes and see what these purported 'entitled' opinions were. I kept listening because you discuss, rather than dissect the topics. I have the impression you discuss particular elements not to push an agenda so much, but because the subjects themselves present certain questions. While I obviously can't interject and ask a question or give an interpretation myself, I feel involved. Almost like the silent guest at the dinner table.
With regards to my comment, please feel free to post it.
I look forward to listening to your podcast over the next few months, and into next year.
To be succinct, which clearly I have trouble doing, Love your work - Thanks!
24 Nov, 2009
Please tell Prof. Harrison I think his reading of T.S. Elliot's Prufrock is excellent. If I was a teacher, I'd use it to introduce my students to poetry. Possibly, it's my age and my own personal experiences that have drawn me to the reading.
I just discovered and listened to the conversation by Abraham Verghese on The Medical Profession. It was very timely to me.
Keep them coming, please. What a great platform!
24 Nov, 2009
Upon receiving my lowly BA from a lowly state university, an instructor warned me not to "get stupid" after I re-enter the real world. Although I laughed at the time, I subsequently discovered there is nothing funny about the dangerous, flattening weight of our contemporary society, a very real threat that seems particularly magnified in the small town where I find myself. Oh, what is worse Professor: Those who know nothing or those who assume to know everything? Surrounded by both--both equally allergic to broadening, deepening and challenging themselves--I cannot tell. (And when the two qualities meet in the same person, I duck for cover.)
But thanks to the efforts of you, your guests and your producers, I have spent hours experiencing the thrill of authentic intellectual discourse centered on the humanities. I swear, after a great show, I experience an accelerated heart beat, unobstructed breathing, a clarity of vision. I wish I could produce a doctor's chart to prove to you that I truly experience this physical reaction to Entitled Opinions.
And the show's fun! I never understood why some attempt to erect a wall between entertainment and intellectualism. If you'll allow me to derive an ought from an occasional is, intellectual conversations should be entertaining. Could this thesis of mine be lurking in the subtext of Entitled?
I have no criticisms to make of the show, nor do I have any suggestions. Whatever topic you choose, I either gain a new perspective on an old favorite or else expose myself to a new thinker who may in time become a favorite. I win in either case.
No, I just have boundless gratitude. Because we've never met, you obviously do not make the shows for me. And yet, because I consider myself your near-ideal audience member, you make every show for me. It would be shameful if I didn't acknowledge the large part Entitled Opinions plays in my life.
Thanks so much,
21 Nov, 2009
I have been a steady listener for the past couple of years, and I must say your show continually amazes me in the quality, consistency, and integrity of your guest and topics. The recent show on the Unabomber I found to be the best, and most fascinating show you have ever done. I feel the show is becoming even more refined, and like a fine wine, is only getting better with age.
Thank you for putting so much effort into making a show like this. It is one that keeps me coming back for more everyday. I wish all things in life were like that.
20 Nov, 2009
To the "great and powerful Oz," dear Professor Harrison,
I wanted to share with you some amazing dreams I've had while listening to your show! About a month ago I began going to bed and placing my beloved Iphone next to my pillow and starting transmission of your podcasts. For some reason, your shows play one after the other all night long! The funny thing is that I'll be in a deep sleep and the voices of your podcast begin to seep into my dreams. I've had some fantastic dreams this way where I am dreaming that I am in some foreign land and a character will emerge and begin telling what I'm seeing and reacting to what I'm doing. I've had dreams where I'm in ancient Egypt or Persia and a Virgil-like character appears to advise me - like Virgil in Dante's Inferno - of what to see and do. Sometimes I awaken because of the extravagant visions and voices I hear only to discover the voices are coming from your show! Lol! From podcasts about Nietsche to Marcel Proust, I have had the most extradinary REM experiences ever. This occurs expecially after imbibing a few poetic glasses of my favorite Chardonnay mixed with a few hits of some green tambourine! The dreams are sometimes quite vivid and riveting...
Now I look forward to going to bed each night, wondering what crazy dream lies in store for me! Of course I do enjoy listening to your shows while upright and alert. But I am sure pleased that I have found a new and exciting way to experience your "beloved Dante" podcasts. Keep up the good work and I'll look forward to the next existential and surreal podcast experience.
With a warm handshake in mind, Jonny.
13 Nov, 2009
Recently I have discovered the podcast (I know, my technological ignorance stuns even me), and I've become addicted to your "entitled opinions" broadcasts.
I just want you to know that I'm spending much time in my car or room, just you, me, your guest, and most importantly, the choice philosopher in each show, and I do this for hours each day.
Your show has become a great influence on my life in many ways, and I just thought you should know how grateful I am. Bravo.
Keep up the good work, Jason.
(P.S. you need to devote an entire hour to Voltaire, the spearhead of the enlightenment (and my personal liberator). You covered him a little already in your enlightenment show, but not nearly enough! Please accept my many, many pleas! I will be listening...)
2 Nov, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison:
I got hooked on Entitled Opinions once I heard your Ideas interview on CBC Radio last year. Thank goodness for podcasts, as Iâ€™ve been ever-so-slowly catching up with your programs â€“ or at least trying.
I would love to hear your take on trials â€“ what they are, and what theyâ€™re about. Iâ€™ve been thinking for quite a while that they are metaphors, but as I have an undergraduate degree in biology, this contemplation is somewhat above my pay grade. Iâ€™m sure, however, that there are no shortage of insightful lawyers on and around Stanfordâ€™s faculty who could engage you in discussion. Iâ€™m sure as well that your audience would enjoy and benefit from the discussion.
Continued success with your program.
Yours very truly,
Joel B. Kohm
30 Oct, 2009
It will be a long autumn/winter without the weekly fix of Entitled Opinions. We will just have to subsist on periodic morsels, dispersed at odd intervals. I am looking forward to the Jim Morrison show. After the Hendrix and Blues shows, our hostâ€™s scholarly interpretation and appreciation of music is a welcome departure from the kind of posturing one sees in the mainstream entertainment press like Rolling Stone (even though Professor Harrison showed he is mortal by temporarily forgetting the names of Buddy Guy and Willie Dixon). We need a multilingual Renaissance man of letters to do justice to the Lizard King â€“ his work (not only music but poetry) and his short and bizarre life.
This Fall respite has provided an opportunity to re-explore old shows from the archive and also to dive into Professor Harrisonâ€™s books on Forests, Gardens and the Dominion of the Dead. Speaking of which â€¦ how about a show on the Grateful Dead? It is unfortunate that the Band chose to leave its papers and paraphenelia to the University of Santa Cruz instead of Stanford (closer to Jerry Garciaâ€™s hometown of Palo Alto and not far from the legendary La Honda Acid Test parties where the band played to an eclectic mix of Ken Keseyâ€™s Merry Pranksters and Hells Angels). Not sure if RPH shares the same passion for the Grateful Dead but would hope he does and has a few insights to share.
24 Oct, 2009
Brilliant discussion of Nietzsche (with Andrew Mitchell, May 2009) -- Encore! Encore!
19 Oct, 2009
I'm just writing to say that I love the show. I have only recently discovered it, thank goodness for "Ideas", a show I have been listening to for years. It kept me company across Canada in the days before podcasts, and now has led me to this show.
I really enjoy listening to "Entitled Opinions". I hesitate to write, as I am a science nerd, and have no great gift for expressing myself. However, watching my husband jump through hoops and collate every review he's ever received, and paper he's ever written, in his (fruitful) attempt to become an Associate Professor, I figure a few more kudos can't hurt Professor Harrison. I hope you have the capacity to produce this show for many years, I know you'll never run out of ideas. I hope there aren't too many administrative hurdles to jump to produce the show. Does this count as "KT"? How does this show fit into CQI and TQM? When did these become acronyms academics (at least at my husband's university) had to know?
At any rate, as a woman with her career on hold to raise children, it is so reassuring to know that intellectual engagement and intelligent conversation are only a click away.
And hearing such bright people discuss Jane Austen with such respect makes me better able to look people in the eye when they discover I've read "Pride and Prejudice" and "Persuasion" more times than I could ever count. Oh yeah, well there are profs at Berkley and Stanford who love her too!! How dare they call it chick lit....
Thank you for an intelligent, engaging, wonderful show. The Beethoven shows were awesome, the Dante series with Rachel Jacoff was as well, I'm halfway through the Virgil show, I'm sure people who pass me in the park as I walk my dog, listening to the show on my ipod, wonder what I'm listening to! I "ah" and "oh" and laugh, or smile, or frown, and every day I swear I won't, I'll be straight-faced and normal, and every day I'm enthralled.
I must put in a word for my latest favourite author, please have a show about Ursula Le Guin (see, Lavinia, Virgil, it all ties in). I poo-pooed science fiction all my life, and then I read her Wizard of Earthsea book to screen it for my 9-year-old (she's too young!), which led me on to the whole Earthsea series, then Lavinia, and all her books. They are incredible.
Winnipeg, MB, Canada
17 Oct, 2009
I wanted you at Stanford to know that Prof. Harrison's program reached me via CBC One "Ideas", a show I have listened to regularly for many years. I am Canadian.
I look forward to listening to the program on Nabakov. I have subscribed to the podcast and I'm pretty sure it will be a regular listen for me. Thanks to all of you for making such rich programming available to the world.
15 Oct, 2009
HARRISON! Thank-you very much for all of the energy you have put into â€œEntitled Opinions.â€�
I first discovered the show three years ago while preparing for grad school (literature, of course) digging around iTunes looking for some recorded lectures on Heidegger. Since then I have downloaded and listened to every episode.
But I miss the immortal Enigma soundtrack. I can remember riding my bike early in the morning to work (I work as a gardener when not a grad student). Riding through the wet coastal streets with your voice yelling against the techno furryâ€”Latin, Italian, fragments of the past. "Blazing phrases shot through the rain." It was like a scene out of Poundâ€™s Cantosâ€”where your transmission resurrects, joins, and communes with the chorus of the dead.
Countless other great momentsâ€”your constant self-mockery of the soundtrack, the firing of that soulless Ratchet, the descent and return of Dante. A.R. Ammons, Freud, the Heideggarian interpretation of sport, Beethoven, Tom Thompson in Purgatory, yes, so many thanks. And the UnaBomber.
I wanted to write you to ask whether the UnaBomber had heard your show in prison, and if he had retorted to your taunts with some insane treatise. And then I realized that the one privilege that he might have trouble securing in prison would be mail privileges.
And just so you know, I think I can speak for your loyal audience when I say that we stood by you during the sometimes bizarre show on the Resurrection. Your spirit of generosity was there not unnoticed, even with the aggression of your guest. If there was any winner in that impromptu debate it was the spirit of exchange that you fought hard to move the conversation towards.
Jimi Hendrix I think picked up your show while playing his guitar somewhere in the outer planets. I think he must have paused and held his guitar against the wall of amplifiers, picking out the frequencies of â€œEntitled Opinionsâ€� among the hisses, squeaks, and thunder of distortion. I think he dug it, and sung back.
A final congratulation on speaking on the C.B.C. show â€œIdeasâ€�â€”I used to listen to it with my father. It is very excellent show.
10 Oct, 2009
I'm glad to see more and more new episodes of Entitled Opinions. The Hendrix show was almost spiritual.
I wanted to reiterate my support for a show on Richard Feynman. A physicist who solved the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster in addition to playing drums in a Brazilian samba school. There's a lot of material there, and I know Entitled Opinions would do him justice.
Keep them coming,
7 Oct, 2009
I am one of those Canadians directed towards your program by way of the CBC's Ideas, though I've never had a reason to write until now (you have promised to do a program on Blake and you have already done a show on Nabokov). But your latest podcast on the game of Tennis made me wonder whether or not one on rowing - or, as Americans call it, crew - might be a possibility.
While an examination of the sport's appearances in history and literature would be interesting (I remember hearing Ulysses' speech in Canto 26 described as one of the greatest speeches a coxswain ever gave his crew), I think it would be the more mundane details that would be worthy of greater examination. In hearing you talk of gardens and of the patience and dedication required in their cultivation, I was reminded of the sheer volume of effort that went into the years of early mornings: winter training followed by the Springs spent waking up at four in the morning to take advantage of the virgin water.
Of all the sports, rowing is the one hides beneath the radar, only entering into the popular imagination every four years when the Olympics role around. There are no weekly or monthly games swarmed by hundreds of thousands of fans, there is no grand drama that takes hold of the public the week before a regatta. But there are the countless mornings and evenings spent practicing, repeating the same stroke over and over in order to make it as innate as breathing - perhaps even more so: you may forget to do the latter for a few seconds during those last dozen meters, but you will never, ever forget to do the former. I am reminded of those Irish monks who spent their entire lifetimes creating and copying illustrated manuscripts while the rest of Europe was subject to the Dark Ages, if only for their single-minded dedication to cultivating some sort of perfection, or as close as we might ever come to it, and patiently waiting for the rest of the world to come to their senses and recognize in their work something profound that stretches beyond the pages, or the photograph finishes, or the medals.
I write this not because I feel that rowing deserves the attention your show might give it, but because that line you gave, "The body has ideas that the mind can't fathom," struck a such a sympathy with the image I have of the sport that I could only think of the wonders your show might make of it. But if I haven't convinced you, I take solace in the fact that there is, someday, a show on Blake coming my way.
Thanks for your time,
20 Sept, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison,
As a fan of your podcast, I want you to know that I appreciate your efforts very much. I listen to them as I undertake my daily walks home from work, and experience a mental rejuvenation.
Here are my suggestions for topics: 1) The Brother Karamazov; 2) Charterhouse of Parma.
17 Sept, 2009
I have feasted on Entitled Opinions! You have certainly provided the key to an Aladdin's cave of literary delights.
Congratulations - and don't stop.
Dr. P. Alexander Hulley
Cape Town, South Africa
17 Sept, 2009
Sending e-mails of appreciation to shows is not something I have done before. This time I am doing it to tell you that I really appreciate your "Entitled Opinions" Show.
I found your show looking for material on Dante. I am a student of Dante, especially about Dante's path on spiritual (and any transformation) in particular related to Roberto Assagioli, Italian psychologist, developer of psychosintesis and a student of Dante himself. The book by Richard Schaub "Dante's Path" is also very interesting. Dante and psychological trasformation would be an interesting theme for a future program (I promised myself not to make request, because you probably are getting plenty of them and it is your entitled opinion what I like, not the ones from your public. !!!!)
I came to your program by the way of Dante, but I am now an interested aficionado, I have listened to your past shows and I will be expecting the ones in the future.
From san Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, MÃ©xico
16 Sept, 2009
Hello Robert Harrison,
I just found your podcast recently and I LOVE IT.
I find you to be very great to listen to - smart, "cosmic", funny.
I am glad I found it.
16 Sept, 2009
As we would say in Scotland this show is quality, or totally amazin' man. Not having anyone to discuss such matters with, finding these podcasts was... totally amazin' man. The Nabokov and Proust episodes have been my favourites so far. I am allowing these recordings to inflate my head with knowledge, then, I fly about my local streets proclaiming to know absolutely everything. I have found these shows an invaluable help in not only accumulating knowledge, but have also found them to have cultivated my discussion technique, which formerly consisted of aggression and shouting - the Scottish way.
14 Sept, 2009
Hello. I recently discovered the podcast and wish to convey my appreciation. As I am now unable to read due to sight loss and audio is vital to my mental well being. I often disagree with Robert but enjoy the programme even more as a result.
He has a superb radio voice and I am going slowly through the archive to make the pleasure last.
Congratulations on a superb show.
9 Sept, 2009
Hi there, I just wanted to pass on my thanks and appreciation for the show. I discovered Robert Harrison and his show while listening to his interview for the CBC's radio show Ideas, and Entitled Opinions has saved me from many a dreary day at work with little to think about. I am eagerly looking forward to what he has in store for the coming months. Thank you for bringing some interesting and worthwhile conversation to radio and the internet.
I do have one question regarding his last show on Jimi Hendrix. I wanted to know what album the version of Voodoo Child he played came from. It is different from what I've heard, and I am keen to find it for myself. If you could pass that on to me, it would be most appreciated!
Thanks again, and continue to express your entitled opinions!
kyle, from Calgary, AB, Canada
6 Sept, 2009
I am a devoted listener to Entitled Opinions and I was wondering if you could do a show on Igor Stravinsky. It surprises me that Stravinsky did not come up when you discussed the avant-garde and Schoenberg because Stravinsky was such a great advocate of atonal music. Although Stravinsky got some mention in your show about "Americans in Paris" I do think he deserves a show of his own.
Thanks as always for the fascinating talks.
5 Sept, 2009
Dear Prof Harrison,
Yours is the best thing (and sometimes seems like the only thing) on the internet.
Thank you for the conversations on such of one's intellectual heroes as Proust, Auden, Henry James, and Nabokov. Thanks also for the entree into Musil (difficult to find elsewhere, as you observed).
Now please consider programmes on Kierkegaard, Montaigne, Beckett, Thomas Mann and (a counter to all that scepticism about human nature) the Plato of the Symposium and the Phaedrus.
(trial lawyer et canadien errant)
5 Sept, 2009
Dear Prof Harrison
A brief word of thanks for your excellent podcast. I discovered it shortly before departing on a long overland trip across Asia. I brought the whole archive with me, and your shows provided stimulating company on many bus, car, and train rides. I hope that you find the energy to resume the show after the summer break, and that you don't change the format one jot.
3 Sept, 2009
With this little comment I would like to thank you and the staff of Entitled Opinions for the interviews you have made available on the iTunes Store. I have no connection with Stanford wathsoever, but discovered your program just a few months ago while I was looking for philosophy podcasts (to listen to during some, well, fitness activities, hope you don't mind). An Entitled Opninions interview happened to be one of the first podcasts I listened to. After that, it didn't take me long to download the whole archive of EO. I've started with the first ones and am now steadily closing the gap to the most recent ones at a rate of a show a day.
Needless to add that I really enjoy your radio show, not in the least because of the courtesy and respect you show your guests. I admire this as much as the intellectual solidity of the discussions.
My background is one of philosophy, so it won't surprise you to read that I really loved the shows with RenÃ© Girard and Michel Serres.
I realize how central literature is in your show, but am nevertheless especially fond of those interviews where humanists and so-called hard scientists are brought around the same table to discuss some of the philosophical and ethical implications of evolutions in science, such as nanotechnology, bio-engineering, quantum-computing etc.
I'm sure you will never run out of topics, but I wonder if you would ever consider inviting someone from Stanfords own AI lab (http://ai.stanford.edu/) to talk about machine intelligence and artificial life. Just an idea.
Anyhow, I'll continue listening. Consider me a fan.
from Ghent, Belgium.
1 Sept, 2009
Dear Prof. Harrison,
Thank you, your guests, and the rest of the team behind Entitled Opinions for a wonderful show. It is a great source of learning and inspiratiom (I recently bought a Girard book after listening to the program on Mimetic Desire). Having heard a guest lecture at our university by him, I wanted to encourage you to invite Dr. Joseph Carroll for a talk about Literary Darwinism.
22 Aug, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison,
What a treat. I listen to Ideas (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) regularly and take much inspiration and encouragement from them. I am not a scholar but I like what I've read of Dante and commentaries and was most intrigued by your comments on a recent Ideas program about Dante.
Now I've discovered your website and look forward to many interesting hours. I started with the monologue on the Heart of Darkness, which I read in my last year of high school.
Thanks so much for this 'university' around the world!!
22 Aug, 2009
Does Robert Harrison have a blog? twitter? anything of the like? I think the time has come for more people to hear his thoughts.
20 Aug, 2009
Dear Dr. Harrison,
Thank you for your excellent show. (To repeat what must seem tiring already:) Like many other Canadian fans of your show, I was introduced to Entitled Opinions via your interview with the CBC program 'Ideas,' and have enjoyed your podcast ever since.
I definitely enjoy the range of topics of your show, many of which fall outside my own field of study (English Renaissance Literature). That said, as far as I can tell, you've never done a show on John Milton. I will offer you a passage from William Hazlitt's 'Lectures on the English Poets' in an attempt to sway you to do a show on this eminent literary figure:
"There is a decided manly tone in the arguments and sentiments, an eloquent dogmatism, as if each person spoke from thorough conviction; an excellence which Milton probably borrowed from the spirit of partisanship, or else his spirit of partisanship from the natural firmness and vigour of his mind. In this respect Milton resembles Dante, (the only modern writer with whom he has anything in common) and it is remarkable that Dante, as well as Milton, was a political partisan."
With warm regards and great anticipation of the coming season,
University of Guelph
9 Aug, 2009
Dear Prof. Harrison,
My expression of gratitude to you, your program, and all the people who made it possible.
I agree with one of your listerners who said perhaps you are a god. I enjoy all of the programs I have listened. Your recent program on Byzantine is a pearl. La perle, quoi.
Merci enormement, et bonne contiuation.
8 Aug, 2009
Just want you to know itâ€™s a long hot summer here in Houston without the prospect fresh Entitled Opinions on early morning walks on the levee. Your rich archives are nearly exhausted. Gardens (6/20/06) is an insightful, moving gem. Thank you (and all your guests) for â€œmakingâ€� several days a week.
Noel, UCB-67, PCIndia-69, XOM-09
7 Aug, 2009
dear professor harrison
thanks a million for a fantastic time on entittled opinions , as i travel around the world for my job i always bring you emulating podcasts with me on my ipod. just listened the Marcel Proust podcast recently and thanks to your enthusiasm and insight on memory i felt compelled (being french) to discover le monde de l`homme a la madeleine.merci encore pour ces cours magistraux de litterature ,enfin ,internet a l`ere de la desolation culturelle et insipide ambiante n`a pas ete invente en vain. et vous avez entierement raison:ceux qui ne lisent pas passe a cote de la plaque!!! keep up the good work professor.
regards nicolas cros from Paris
7 Aug, 2009
Bonjour Ã toute l'Ã©quipe,
Just a word to say how much I appreciate the show. Selfishly, I hope it will continue for many years, but I know firsthand how busy is the academic life and the show must take a long time to prepare. Thank you for all the good work.
Encore fÃ©licitations pour votre travail exemplaire et merci de rendre l'Ã©mission disponible Ã tous, spÃ©cialement Ã nous vos auditeurs de l'autre cÃ´tÃ© de la grande mare.
Un philosophe qui croit qu'il n'existe pas de vÃ©ritable distinction entre philosophie analytique et continentale.
UniversitÃ© de Bourgogne
Dear (Dr) Robert (Harrison),
5 Aug, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison:
Please keep your excellent show â€œon-airâ€� for many years to come.
If there is a more intelligent pod-cast available, Iâ€™m not aware of it. I came across your program via your interview on CBC Radio One â€“ Ideas. If I may so bold as to suggest an interviewee, I would look forward to your speaking with Gwynne Dyer.
Iâ€™d also like to thank Harris Feinsod and all the other people who help with show.
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
30 July, 2009
Dear Mr Harrison and all the team at 'entitled opinions',
After having exhausted the current episodes listed on Itunes I felt compelled to contact the show, firstly to extend my thanks for what is an absolutely top notch production, and also to perhaps make a suggestion for a potential episode. It seems to me that a show such as entitled opinions presents the perfect forum for consideration of the Argentinean author and father of the modern Latin American novel (Carlos Fuentes' words not mine!) Jorge Luis Borges. Intellectual and fervent anglophile I couldn't think of a better subject for one of your shows. On another note I am delighted that the show remains buoyant and can still be seen as a bastion of cerebral programming amid a sea of vapid pop culture.
Keep up the good work and many thanks,
Nik, 17, London
30 July, 2009
Dear Mr. Harrison,
I found your show through iTunesU, looking for philosophy programs, coming across your interview with Richard Rorty. That show was wonderful, illuminating, though bleak at times, too. I listened to it several times and played it for a lot of friends.
Now IÂ´m in Argentina doing a Fulbright grant and that Rorty show came up in conversation and I started downloading more EO interviews.
What a pleasure to listen to them on long bus rides while backpacking from city-to-city in the Andes...the rolling landscape, the steady hum of the bus, a perfect way to clear your head and focus on the words, the ideas.
The other day I listened, at home, to the interview with Vinton Cerf. The show was playing in Windows Media Player, with the visualizer automatically on. To listen to the show, to hear Cerf on the beautifully simple concepts behind the Internet, and the future of the Internet, to see all that converted into exploding colors and patterns and rhythms...wow...Platonic synesthesia, I think.
Thank you, keep up the good work. Your show is a well of light in American culture.
P.S. With the turn to talking of the earth and the environment that EO often makes, can I suggest an interview with Derrick Jensen, a radical environmentalist author based out of the Pacific NW?
27 July, 2009
Entitled Opinions on Pink Floyd is an excellent idea. I'll be looking forward to it. I always have a section on this band in my Cultural Anthropology course.
Dr. Jacques-Jude LÃ©pine
21 July, 2009
Dear Robert Harrison, dear Entitled Opinions team,
I am a Hungarian living in Paris, who was introduced to the programme by my mother living in Belgrade who was listening to Ideas on CBC, and so onâ€¦ and I listen to your podcasts during my long commuting to the office in the Parisian traffic jams. Thanks for the discussion about the Man without Qualities, it made me decide to read it after having stared at it on my bookshelf for years without gathering my courage to start it. It is a lot of fun actually, I guess even more from a Hungarian perspective. And of course thanks for the one on Danteâ€™s Divine Comedy that I had read when I listened to the show but the passionate discussion shed a new light on it retrospectivelyâ€¦ So a big international bonjour to you all, et bonne continuation!
Looking forward to the next season!
16 July, 2009
I consider myself very fortunate for having discovered â€œEntitled Opinionsâ€� one day in June as I searched iTunes for a recording of T.S. Eliot reading â€œThe Waste Landâ€�. While browsing through the list iTunes turned up, I happened to find the episode entitled â€œDante and Prufrockâ€� and knew immediately what a wonderful program I had fallen upon. I am sixteen years old and currently an intern at a theater in Manhattan and the commute from Long Island every morning and evening is made much easier by an episode of your show. I downloaded all 94 episodes available and I have so far listened to about fifteen or sixteen and I look forward to hearing the rest!
â€œEntitled Opinionsâ€� is like a breath of pure oxygen for someone who has thus far only taken in the stale air of a high school English course. Not only does the commentary on great literature and history stimulate my intellect, but the music often ties everything together and the discussions on composers and artists appeals to the teenage rocker buried deep within. Having always been familiar with The Doors and â€œThe Alabama Songâ€�, your show led me to discover Kurt Weill, who is now one of my favorite composers.
Thank you for providing such a brilliant and insightful program!
14 July, 2009
I would like to extend my gratitude and admiration for these podcasts which I have thoroughly enjoyed. This is coming from a physician in Burlingame with almost no education in literature.
I love the opening monologues, and the guests all seem to have a bizarre personal connection. The Dante series - while in med school in Boston, I spent many weekends cycling around Wellesley's beautiful campus, Rene Girard - his granddaughters are classmates of my daughters, Matt Farley from Saint Ignatius College Prep - I just happened to visit the school at an open house. Your conversations are so happily devoid of the current stressors of our society, that I feel so reinvigorated after listening while walking the dog each night. Thank you so much. I imagine that this may be some burden added to your responsibilities as a professor, but I hope that you will be able to continue this production for many more years.
A lovely thank you note from a patient for discovering her breast cancer early gives me resolve to continue doing what I do, and I hope that you receive many more thank you's from people like me.
Kelly C. Broderick, M.D.
12 July, 2009
I just wanted to drop a line and thank you for the "Entitled Opinions" program. I particularly value it because it's inspired a theory-loving former English lit student to go back to the sources: the novels, poetry, plays, and other literature -- broadly conceived -- that I've sometimes neglected for theory.
I did want to make some suggestions for future programs (and forgive me if you've already addressed these in past programs -- I haven't yet had a chance to listen to all of them):
* You seemed to indicate in one program that film takes something of a back seat to literature. I was wondering if you might challenge yourself -- and your listeners -- to a conversation with someone who works in the area of film studies.
* There have been a few programs -- one on crowds comes to mind -- where I've wondered what light an Asian studies perspective might shed on the topic. A show with an Asian studies faculty member would be a welcome treat.
* A conversation with Franco Moretti on the novel would be fascinating (if Professor Moretti's writings on the topic are any indication).
Thanks for listening, and thanks again for sharing the entitled opinions of you and your guests.
11 July, 2009
your show is
indispensable to me.
Thank you and the one's that aid you
30 June, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison,
Thank you and your staff very much for preparing and sharing Entitled Opinions with the global commons. While we may be as Heidegger warned and Bradley described, technological giants and ethical infants, your good works help us to think, examine life, know ourselves better, and thereby take a step back from oblivion. Bravely done, and well. For providing your academy with interesting and informed perspectives of complex subjects with incomparable style,
I remain gratefully yours,
Colonel, United States Army
The Joint Staff
23 June, 2009
Enjoying your Hendrix show. I always thought Little Wing was about his mother, just to further the recurring tropes of the mother figure and flying.
11 June, 2009
I am a new listener to your show and I am also now a loyal listener to your show. I can't believe there is a show like this actually. I am not a university trained and educated person but I have a vast thirst for knowledge and the disscution of ideas. This show has a near perfect mix of high level esoteric language mixed with real feeling and honest talk. I just love it.
Anyway, I have a question for Mr. Harrison; How does a regular Joe like myself begin to read Dante's Inferno? Is there a volume that is in a language of a non-scholar but keeps to the original faithfully?
I also enjoyed Mr. Harrison's interview on the CBC program Ideas. That's what brought me here to begin with.
Thanks for the show at any rate.
from Vancouver BC, Canada
10 June, 2009
I'm yet another new fan who found your podcast after hearing your CBC interview.
About three years ago, I moved from working in a University to a Community College. It's a strange place to be teaching philosophy, but I greatly enjoy the challenge of convincing the skeptial students that they have something to learn from William James. There are days however when I still miss the intellectual liveliness of a graduate seminar --either as a student or a teacher, Your program is a wonderful way for me to return to that place for an hour every week. Many thanks for that.
Doug (Toronto, Canada)
10 June, 2009
Professor Harrison is inspired and inspires. Perhaps he is Divine. The format is hypnotic. I am hooked. More .. More â€¦ and More.
The Earthly Paradise â€“ An Epilogue â€¦.did he really just â€œthrow it together on short noticeâ€�? Can any mortal launch into such a profound spontaneous rap? I plan to listen to it again this weekend on my nanopod, jogging through the Botanic Gardens at the break of dawn.
Put me on your lists, blogs, emails, etc. .... AND THANK YOU
John Driscoll Class of â€˜76
34 Greenleaf View
9 June, 2009
Hi all, I discovered Entitled Opinions on ITunes and have now consumed (with relish) most all of your offerings. Living in the toolies of northern california has great benefits, surrounded by national forest on all sides with plenty of solitude and the largess of a pristine environment. However, some times the need for philosophical and cultural discourse rears its lovely head and that is where Entitled Opinions comes in. I am grateful for the good work presented by Robert Harrison et al.
If there is any service I can preform for you please feel free to ask.
Trinity National Forest
31 May, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison,
I love Entitled Opinions, of course. Thank you.
Having dedicated shows to Heidegger and Arendt, might the next logical philosopher of choice be Giorgio Agamben, or perhaps his other major influence, Walter Benjamin? A discussion of either thinker would be quite engaging, in my humble opinion.
All the best, and thank you again for your work inside and outside the studio.
31 May, 2009
Dear Robert Harrison
Tonight I listened to Entitled Opinions in front of the open fire in northern tasmania on the eve of the first day of winter .
I feel asleep intermittently during The existentialism of Satre. This was a conscious decision.
...I have to accept responsibility for the decision to have a Tasmanian pinot noir with dinner and therefore
the decision to fall asleep is also my responsibility .
But the reason I am writing is because of what I heard at the end of the podcast
.. Some funky blues ..Wow. Who was it ?
â€œmy medical vocation â€œ with Abraham Verghese is my â€œ entitled â€˜ favourite
It is on my iPod play list and I have listened to it several times as I walk to work .
If you can help me with the title and performer of the song iâ€™d be grateful
Latrobe Tasmania . Australia
21 May, 2009
Dr Professor Harrison;
I am one of those souls from Canada who over the internet share your passion for insightful dialogue and knowledge. It is really wonderful to have you back. All this months without you, your intros and your interesting guests have been really dreadful. I am looking forward to your program in Nietzsche and Foucault. perhaps you could consider doing something about Zizek or postcolonial feminism. It will be much appreciated.
Again, thank you so much for your presence.
20 May, 2009
Like many of my fellow Canadians, I was turned on to your show, and to podcasts in general in fact, after hearing you being interviewed on CBC Radio. In listening to "Entitled Opinions", one finds both spiritual sanctuary and intellectual stimulation. A heady mix, that! So far, I've particularly enjoyed your shows on Sartre, Heidegger, Michel Tournier, Nabokov, Conrad and Arendt and your chats with Michel Serres and RenÃ© Girard. Since I am also wary of the soul-crushing dullness of Analytic Philosophy (for years I thought I just didn't get it - now I know that I just don't like it! LOL), it's lovely to find a vocal kindred spirit out there. Interestingly, several of your shows have encouraged me to return and have a second look at some authors and thinkers whose work I have hitherto found indigestible, Virgil and Freud, dto wit. Guided by the Imp of the Perverse, I suggest that a show on the virtues of Analytic Philosophy might be interesting:) Two other possible topics/themes are 'American Gothic' and 'Out of Africa'.
Merci pour vos initiatives multiculturelles et multilingues. J'aime bien vous suivre au grÃ© de vos Ã©lans philosophiques et poÃ©tiques. J'espÃ¨re butiner avec vous longtemps encore.
10 May, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison,
Thank you very much for what you're doing on air.
I'm one of the many Canadians who was recently introduced to you thanks to our own radio bastion of thoughtfulness, CBC's Ideas. I'm also a young organic farmer, learning the craft. But as learning on the farm is frequently interrupted by long period of repetition--weeding and harvesting and hauling things about--I regularly have your podcasts coming in one ear (and not out the other--I just need to leave it un-earphoned to make sure I'm not entirely tuned out to what's going on around me).
There are times when this life seems too good, and one of those times is when I find myself outside in the sun, doing this thing that engages my body and creativity, and at the same time with my mind back in the classroom, listening to your conversations, being exposed to big ideas in an environment that is only bounded by the forestline and where big ideas feel right at home.
Thank you for the program; I hope it continues for years and years.
6 May, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison,
Although I'm a PhD student in the humanities, I enjoy your podcasts on science and technology as much as those on poetry and philosophy. I would suggest a podcast on face transplants.
30 Apr, 2009
Dear M. Feinsod, dear M. Harrison,
I am a graduate student in a French university and I greatly appreciate the show, which is a real delight (be it in French or not! But what a pleasure to hear sometimes the language of Rabelais on American air!). The last show on Romanticism was extraordinary. Merci de vos prÃ©cieux efforts pour contribuer Ã la vie de l'esprit !
I work in comparative literature and I concentrate on Eastern Europe literatures, so I was greatly interested by the couple of shows you made some time ago about Isaac Babel or Nabokov and I'm always waiting with great excitment for another member of the Slavic Dpt at Stanford to come on air. Unfortunately, it hasn't been the case since a while, so I was wondering whether you were considering inviting some Slavic scholar again some time? I'll be even more thrilled than ordinary.
Thank you again for this show.
Victoire Feuillebois (Paris, France)
21 Apr, 2009
Thank you Robert Harrison .
A great fan of Entitled Opinions in Athens Greece .
20 Apr, 2009
Thank for not listening to your new publicist.
An Electrical Engineer who fantasises about being an author.
20 Apr, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison,
I enjoy your program a great deal, I've learned so much just by listening! Keep doing what your doing, you make all the topics you choose insightful and relevant. If you are taking requests, I would really like to hear a show about J.J Rousseau. All the best, and thank you!
19 Apr, 2009
Now up the road from you dwells Dreyfus in Berkeley. I think he thinks that Sarte remained in a Cartesian framework locked up in the idea of conciousness as a thing: "I think." All power (responsibility and irresponsibility) to the "I". So then it's down to the nature of the res cogitans vis a vis res extensa. But whatever is the nature of this hyperdualist complex (cogitans and extensa) it is the starting point for disembodied, brain-in-a-vat, hopes for full artificial intelligence. So if Dreyfuss has any cred ,then Sarte is implicated too, as belonging in the world of thinkers who hold consciousness as an objectified thing. Am I wrong here?
18 Apr, 2009
I love your podcasts. I also often love the music that you close with. I have been familiar with some of it, but not all. Do you think that you might post musical credits for each show on your website? That would be lovely. Thanks. And keep up the great work.
Morgan Hill, California
18 Apr, 2009
Surprise, surprise, when I tuned into CBC's Ideas radio show and heard your interview!
It's about time you got recognized for the wonderful work you do on Entitled Opinions. And for the knowledge and interests you share each episode. Never a disappointment. Well, maybe, just once. On the CBC interview you never mentioned your love of hockey. Fellow Canadians everywhere would have taken notice. Maybe sent you tickets to see a real team, like the Maple Leafs. Jokes come in all sizes.
Thanks again for your wonderful show.
And I did smile when Dante was worked into the CBC interview.
Canadian, and dedicated listener.
14 Apr, 2009
I discovered this show last week, and have been listening to it while in the
gym. I used to HATE going but now I find myself really looking forward to
working out, which I never thought would happen.
I especially enjoyed the discussions with Rene Girard and the show on Proust.
10 Apr, 2009
I just found "Entitled Opinions" on iTunes.
Great, great job. This is the most interesting (and dare I say entertaining?) podcast in my library
5 Mar, 2009
I would be happy if you can add my name to the Guestbook of Entitled Opinions (Robert Harrison). Very touched by the CBC presentation this evening and the interview with Robert Harrison. Perhaps the world is not totally a lost cause with people with such opinions as those of Robert Harrison. Thank you.
11 Feb, 2009
Robert (if I may),
Just a quick note to say I've been listening to, and enjoying immensely, your
radio show (via podcasts on iTunes). They're really wonderful
conversations: humanistic in the best sense. I did my graduate work at
Stanford ('87-'93), so I guess we overlapped there; I regret that we never
crossed paths (as far as I recall). Listening to your show almost (almost)
makes me feel like I'm right back on the Farm.
(Stanford PhD '93)
Department of Philosophy
9 Feb, 2009
I moved to Corpus Christi TX four years ago. I came for the warm weather, but left civilization, it seems. Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing it to me and rescuing my soul from the predations of the lone star state's ignorance and sloth. Thank you for challenging my mind to keep thinking, to keep thinking about hard things. Know that the world is full of us, people who need to drink from the fountain of Entitled Opinions to keep our minds from drying up. I have my library and Entitled Opinions. They should keep me digging deeper by my lonesome self until I return to a place where people love to read and write and think about...hard things.
Corpus Christi TX
24 Jan, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison,
Please add me to the ever-lengthening tally of admirers.
The program is an intellectual feast and it was a brilliant stroke to cast yourself, straight-faced, in the role of The WorldÂ´s Most Pretentious Person in order to extract the maximum fun out of each episode.
To turn to less serious matters, however, I particularly enjoyed your two-part session with Thomas Sheehan on the resurrection (rather more than you did, I suspect) but felt that you allowed him to elude your grasp a bit.
What I, and others no doubt, would still like to know is just what Sheehan, who despite being a practicing Catholic by his own admission, and having demolished virtually every cornerstone of that religion, finds left to believe in any more. Very little, it would appear, which is fine with me, but I think we should be told.
Also, I would like to know when the episodes were originally broadcast. There is probably some perfectly easy of finding out, but I am rather dim about such matters.
23 Jan, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison,
Thanks for your Erudite Radio Offerings, in "Entitled Opinions.
I especially love the Theme Song, (it stays glued to my head, all day long).
Additionally, I find it quite exhilarating, when you begin the Show speaking one Language after another, and to my Surprise, (being Brasilian Portugese-Speaking,. by Birth), I understand most of it.
Your Shows, even through iTunes, are the Highlights of my Day, I've even given up some TV, just so I may listen to your Archived Shows.
Interestingly, until hearing your Show, I thought i was being Erudite, listening to NPR's "Fresh Air" Episodes, (well, until they began interviewing too many Stars, at which point, I no longer liked it as much).
Once I heard your Show, i KNEW, in my Heart that "Fresh Air's" Terry Gross, had lost a Member of her Audience, for I much prefer to listen to "Entitled Opinions, even if repeatedly, more than her Show.
I just wish iTunes wouldn't be so Volative, in its Memory, for my iPod keeps losing your Shows, each time I synch it, with my MacBook. It Drives me Nuts!!!
Clarisse L. Dodge,
A listener in York, Pennsylvania, USA
20 Jan, 2009
I discovered Entitled Opinions late last year. I can't fully express how
impressed I am by the quality and scope and depth of the discussion. It's
wonderful! This has quickly become my favorite podcast, and want you to know
I am looking forward to new episodes even as I catch up with the older ones.
Come back soon!
19 Jan, 2009
Dear Mr. Harrison,
I have just found your podcast through iTunes serendipitously.
I listened to the Camus, Historical Jesus and am now listening to the Kurt Weill episodes. I love your show. I wish they were longer to get more in.
I'm a filmmaker in Hong Kong and the topics you cover interest me greatly. I just want to let you know how I enjoy your shows.
Happy Chinese New Year
13 Jan, 2009
Dear Professor Harrison,
I am currently a senior in college and was fortunate enough to discover Entitled Opinions last year after reading your books Forests, Dominion of the Dead, and Gardens. I have since listened to nearly every episode, and it is with great anticipation that I await the Spring season. Should you find an appropriate guest, I would love to hear a discussion of Ann Hamilton's work or the use of text in visual art.
Many thanks for sharing your love of learning,
11 Jan, 2009
Dear Mr Feinsod, Prof. Harrison,
For the past two years I have had the pleasure and privilege of tuning in to your programme via my iPod.
Since I am an anthropologist and my region of specialisation happens to be a remote island group in the South West Pacific, as well as a nomadic population of Tibetan pastoralists in High Asia, this means that I have sometimes had the strange opportunity of listening in on EO, and reflecting on its delicious and provocative ideas while being located in the most unlikely places.
In particular, I wanted to share with you the recent experience of having taken a fully charged iPod to a very small village (Lunharigi) on a very small island (Loh) in the Torres Group, which is located in the North of the Vanuatu archipelago. It is from this village that I have conducted most of my field studies into ecology, ritual and kinship in Island Melanesia throughout the past decade.
More to the point: for a period of two weeks (while my batteries lasted; since there is no electricity, no running water, and certainly no solar-powered source to speak of in Lunharigi), your programme became my early morning source of enjoyment while I conducted recent fieldwork into the intricacies of a very complex and rare set of initiation rituals and dances in the Torres Islands. While it lasted, I would listen to your show from 4-5AM, basking in the cool of my mosquito net, while the Melanesian inhabitants of Lunharigi slowly woke to the cry of their roosters in conjunction with a great many wild fowl, birds and wild parakeets.
Specifically, I recall having almost had epiphanies while I listened to your discussions about Hannah Arendt, and then to your two-part show on agriculture. These, in particular, became points of reference for my own reflections on the agricultural and ritual cycles of my Torres Island friends and hosts - how to square the increasingly nuanced approaches to hunting-gathering and semi-sedentary societies in early Eurasia with the millenarian agricultural systems that I know so well in Vanuatu? More interestingly, how to square Arendt's thinking on the State and society with the very complex (if apparently simple) forms of social organisation and kinship relations in my ethnographic stomping grounds?
I do not want to go on and on, I simply wanted to let you in on the fact that your programme continues to sustain and nourish my thinking and my intellectual enjoyment both at home and during fieldwork, and that as such it has virtually become an indispensable part of my personal and professional "mental" gastronomy.
With many thanks and wishing you the very best for a continuing series of programmes,
Associate Professor, Anthropology of Asia and the Pacific
Centre for African and Asian Studies
El Colegio de MÃ©xico
7 Jan 2009
Robert and all involved in Entitled Opinions
I thoroughly enjoy the show. As a child my mother took us, her children and a few others on occasion, to the Westhampton Beach, NY library every week. After years of wondering why I should study the classics (mom felt it important) and more recent, Proust, Joyce, James. I started rereading them about 15 years ago with great difficulty; often setting them aside for years before returning for another try. Entitled Opinions has been very helpful in creating a greater appreciation for these writings and all literature.
Thank you, please continue, Win Dunwell
p.s. I found Entitled Opinions after reading Gardens. My review is at http://www.ca.uky.edu/HLA/Dunwell/oehbooks.html
4 Dec 2008
I just discovered this site while searching for Ezra Pound on iTunes. The discussion between Marjorie Perloff and Robert Harrison was marvelous. I am hooked. Thank you.
Kathleen Le Mons
Senior Vice President-Investment Officer
Wachovia Securities, LLC
Newport News, VA
2 Dec 2008
I just listened to your interview with a friend of mine - and much younger brother in the Jesuits - Matt Farley. I wrote Matt thanking him for introducing me to your website and program. I enjoyed the interview and the way you conducted it. I will return to listen to more interviews. Nice job.
Daniel Ross, SJ
Coordinator for Higher Education
Jesuit Chinese Province
2 Dec 2008
Unlike religionists, Humanists donâ€™t need the reward or victory of wining a spot on heavens team. We move mountains of injustice, by ourselves, in order to improve the human condition and we do JUST BECAUSE WE CANâ€¦â€¦..
â€œChanging the world - one bible at a time.â€� P.C
29 Nov 2008
Dear Mr. Harrison:
It is with great plesasure that I listen to your program "Entitled Opinions". However I do not appreciate the demeaning remarks on Europe which you made in one of your broadcasts.
First of all the situation in your own country leaves much to be desired. Before you criticize us, please do something about the state of your own country.
Yes, it is true that we in Europe, spend a lot of time discussing healthcare and how to prevent that people arrive below a certain level of poverty. We consider this as a duty for every civilised nation.
In the meantime Europe is developping quite nicely even though with a lot of problems. We are working on our unity, which after more than 2,000 years of warfare is quite an accomplishment. Do not forget that in the 20th century many families were broken up because of this warfare. Many villages lost all their young men in the first WW and lost all their young men again in the second WW.
Many Eastern European countries want to join the European Union, but they lack a democratic tradition. Those countries are introduced to democracy. This also causes a broad discourse on democracy. Without desiring so, the European Union has become an immigration country. This causes a broad discourse on what the European Culture is or should be.
Many cabinet members and also parliament members in Europe are born outside of Europe and probably are Moslims. When the Maroccan born Mr. Aboutaleb was appointed mayor of the city of Rotterdam, the only concern was that he talked with the accent of the rival city of Amsterdam. His birthplace nor his religion posed a problem. We are joking that next he wants to become our queen. (We had female heads of state since 1890).
We do have problems, but we talk about possible solutions freely. Once again European culture is developping. It is an exciting time to live here.
For your information: I live in the Netherlands. My father's ancestors came from Swirtzerland in 1711, as Amish-Mennonites to live here amidst religious freedom. My mother's ancestors came from the Ural Mountains, looking for economic opportunities. Many Europeans have such mixed backgrounds, knowing that while moving from one country to another they left behind many relatives, while still other relatives went to countries on other continents.
It is an exciting time to live in Europe, while forming again our own changing identity and moving into a future which is very different from what we imagined it to be, in 1945. You must understand that because we had so many wars over such a long period of time that we are not very eager to start again new wars, as the U.S. seems to be. I think that the US would have another opinion if your wars were fought on your own soil. Then the American people would understand better how wars destroy all social fabric.
Europe is a much more exciting place to live than you think.
Many greetings, sincerely,
I am living in the city of Deventer, where Erasmus and his brother went to school. My appartment is next to the 13th century church of Geert Grote, the one of the movement of the Modern Devotion.
You have gifted me with some very thoughtful reflections about Europe, thank you for taking the time to make your views known to me. It is true that I have sometimes spoken in an off-handed way about the the loss of what Nietzsche called "grand politics" in Europe. (I believe you're referring specifically to a show in which I said I would prefer to fight over whether a fetus is a person than bicker about how many days of vacation a citizen is entitled to.) You are right to remind me that many far-reaching and substantive issues are being engaged in the EU these days. You are also right to remind me that the disastrous history of Europe in the 20th century is responsible for many of these efforts to stabilize the societies within Europe so that similar tragedies will not occur in the future. On the history question, I should mention that I recently did a show with Peter Stansky in which I revisit the terrible catastrophes of 20th century European history. I myself grew up in Europe, my family still lives there (in Rome, Italy), and I in fact aspire to what Nietzsche called "good Europeanism." The question for me is what does good Europeanism mean -- or what can/should it mean -- these days? What worries me is that Europe (at times) seems to be aspiring toward a kind of petite bourgeoisie for everyone. My impression, which is no doubt distorted and partial, is that a certain pettiness has taken over the public sphere and that a consumerist materialism has come to represent -- or is being proposed as -- the ultimate aspiration of the good European. The exciting changes you mention -- I hope you are right that they are part of a greater European idealism. I am not yet convinced of it.
As for the provinciality, self-complacency, and belligerent bravado of my own country -- you are of course right, and I have no excuses there. I suppose what I was trying to suggest in the show you allude to is that it's only because we have not been sufficiently or completely civilized in the US that we still have the luxury of "grand politics." The fact that we can elect the likes of Bush, then turn around and elect the likes of Obama is evidence enough that everything comes into play in American politics, at the most fundamental ideological levels.
Your family history sounds quite fascinating. I am a great admirer of the Amish Mennonites. As for the Ural mountains, I imagine them as one of the most sublime and romantic places on Earth, though I have never been there myself. It sounds also as if you live in a a very special district there in Deventer. Erasmus is one of my great heroes, and I hope to do a show on him one day soon -- as soon as I can find the proper guest.
Host of Entitled Opinions
4 Oct 2008
Dear Robert, Harris and all who work on Entitled Opinions,
First, I'd like to add my voice to those clamouring for a show on
Foucault. That would be great. I read him as an undergrad but always
feel I can benefit from new approaches and angles on his thought.
Second, I'm writing an MA dissertation on how mimetic desire is
constitutive of culture and I'd like to apeal to Entitled Opinions
listeners for any links they may know of to material I could read on
this but may not know about or have access to.
Robert, I read Girard first in Polish (I''m an Englishman studying in
KrakÃ³w) and finding it very demanding I sought English sources for
back up. Then, as if by magic, I happened upon the two interviews you
did with Rene Girard.
That was the beginning. I'm very glad it happened.
Thanks for turning us on to Vico and Dante. Thanks also for dealing
with current issues in the natural sciences in a way that helps near
illiterates such as myself get some grasp of that area (e.g., the
'What is Life' interviews). Also, what about a programme on Vico? What
about convincing KZSU to do a poetry reading show? What about an
Internet based reading club around Entitled Opinions? I say this
because I would love to have spent a few weeks with the philosophy
reading group you have referred to on the show.
Finally, please play my band's songs (not on EO, but pass them on if
you like them). We're two Americans and two Englishman living in
Krakow who have had a band here for five years now). We're called
Many, many thanks for all the pleasure you've given us and please keep going.
Oct 1 2008
Dear Professor Harrison and all who cultivate Entitled Opinions,
I remember when I first heard Entitled Opinions I said to myself "as long as they continue to discuss interesting topics I shall continue to listen". I had no idea the long term commitment I was making. Professor Harrison continues to illuminate the great conversations of human culture, with many other splendid conversationalists as well, particularly Joshua Landy, Marjorie Perloff and Thomas Sheehan. The convivial and mindful probing of Proust revealed the truths of the content. The discussions of 20th century modernist and avant garde art were both concise and comphrensive. And the analyses of Christian scripture enrichingly contextulised matters, enabling me to appreciate what I didn't before.
To make some wishful requests, besides to have the guests noted above return, I would really enjoy discussion on Latin American literature (like Borges, Marquez or Neruda) and 20th Century French thought (particularly my lastest adoration Maurice Blanchot, a Heideggerian who found a sense of mystification to life via literature).
I'll end here by saying I can't help but think of Nietzsche's notion of la gaya scienza when i think of Entitled Opinions. Welcome back from hiatus and I hope the spirit of Entitled Opinons continues to flourish.
Appreciatively Luke, from Melbourne Australia
19 Sept 2008
Dear Professor Harrison,
I discovered your program while looking for podcasts in preparation for a long drive across three states. I listened to seven episodes during the course of that roadtrip and enjoyed every minute. Now I listen to the program during my twice-weekly commute to Mankato, where I attend graduate school. The long drive is less tedious and much more enjoyable when Entitled Opinions is riding shotgun.
4 Sept 2008
This message comes to you in the spirit of clarity, and it is my hope it is received as such. My observations are based within the context of just having listened to several Entitled Opinion podcasts, which include three episodes with your friend Thomas, an episode regarding the advent of agriculture, and most recently, an episode on Schrodinger. I enjoyed them very much, as well as benefitted intellectually. I would like to point out a couple of my hesitations regarding your reasoning on the show.
It is evident to me that you strongly adhere to the feelings or notions of wonder, spirituality, transcendence, and mysticism. These terms seem to have their place within certain conversations, but seem out of place when used on your show. By out of place I mean used as antonyms to science, reductionism, reason, etc. I infer that the framework for your understanding of science does not include wonderment, spirituality, etc. It seems as though if one were able to explain existence and experience in scientific terms, beauty and wonder would vanish. On the contrary, I submit to you that beauty, wonder, and feelings of transcendence can flourish just as wildly regardless of being a reduction-bent mad scientist or a boxcar-jumping poet. Once a month, I find myself floating in the tropical waters of the Gulf of Thailand. The "transcendent" experience that occurs, to me, is indescribable and inexplicable. If God or neuroscientist Sam Harris raced to my location to interrupt my experience of wholeness and bliss in order to explain why this experience is occurring, I would would kindly offer them both a "thanks, but maybe later, for the validity and joy of my ethereal experience does not rely upon having a scientific or mystical reason." Later at the beachside cafe, I imagine hearing Sam's neurologically-based explantation, as well as God's spiritual one--neither amplifying or muffling what had occurred while floating in the sea. Because an orgasm can be explained in scientific terms doesn't negate the fantastic adjectives the poets ascribe to it. Let the poets and scientists wax on as humanity revels in their experiences and existence.
There seems to be a nebulous quality in the idea of mysticism, spirituality, and magic that lends itself to an opposition of scientific understanding. For quite some time, I have sought out the reason for such interest in things that are magical, spiritual, and mystical. The best I can come up with is that the commonalities which ties these ideas together is ignorance: a lack of understanding causes. There is something so attractive about experiencing an unexplainable phenomenon such as ESP or "divine revelations". Would such phenomena be as attractive if they could be explained? My observation is that often, a large portion of people don't want to hear scientific reasoning. From this I conclude that many people find some sort of affective utility in all things magical, mystical, or spiritual. I urge audiences to engage the question as to why they so ardently deviate from a data-driven understanding.
I feel it is accurate to point out that science does not provide all of the answers. However, is it really such a bad place to start? Let's explore our unexplainable experiences through a variety of lenses and filters. Let's engage how these experiences may be linked to unobservable entities. In an attempt to achieve a deeper and more accurate relationship with reality, experience, and existence, it is my hope that the experiencer refrain from patterns of thought that lend to cognitive dissonance and slippery and disjointed scaffolding. I don't feel that science and scientifically-minded individuals will ever be able to claim the peak of Complete Understanding, and it would be arrogant to do so. Let's make the same point clear to our mystics, scribes, messiahs, and the people who buy their books.
On a more specific note, you quoted Sherington on a recent broadcast: The mind has no native home in the brain. I would like to know how accurate that statement is when very small parts of the brain, like the Brocca's region, can get damaged and result in very profound loss of cognitive ability. Minor physical damage to the brain often results in loss of very profound and "unexplainable" cognitive faculties such as memory, emotion, etc. How does Sherington's statement remain accurate today? Sherington's statement seemed to be used by you as ammunition against science, and as a tool for mysticism. If that was in fact your intension, I hope you bring your intension under further scrutiny. (In addition, would it really be so bad if consciousness could one day be explained in reductionist terms? Would our wonderment and joy cease to thrive in the presence of empiricism and scientific methodology? Would the poets and clergy go mute, the passion for life evaporate?)
I eagerly look forward to further broadcasts of Entitled Opinions. Please keep them coming.
Nathaniel Joseph Van Heuveln
24 Aug 2008
I just finished listening to the show discussing Erwin Schrodinger's "What is Life" and "Mind and Matter". (And by the way, all these shows are a definite international public service so thanks to Stanford and Prof. Harrison)
The net effect or conclusion that listening to that particular show had on me was that it appeared to be creating more space for religion (and those who are religiously inclined) and less space for science (and for scientists, or for "believers in the faith of science"....who instead almost seemed to be being chastised)
Whether this was due to Schrodinger's own arguments, beliefs or understandings or the way those arguments have been presented and interpreted
I do not know for sure. (I have read some Schrodinger but not those particular books) " Objectivist science" currently (and maybe never) does not have all of the answers to the phenomenology(ies) of brain (let alone of mind) and reductionist arguments that try to reduce consciousness and mind....(whether human or animal) (and can anyone prove" that dogs don't have minds?) to the laws of physics, (the ones we happen to have either for anthropic principle reasons or for some other reasons as yet not well understood) neglects several so called intermediate "emergent phenomena" (including the periodic table of the elements, biochemistry, and evolution through natural selection) (however updated) .
So it is definitely well and good to always wonder in awe and to ponder the sheer mystery of it all and to be very modest and never arrogant. But it seems to me even more of a reductionist argument to then turn from such legitimate awe and wonder (and recognition of ignorance) towards transcedentalism, mysticism and spiritualism. Which apart from the experiential states that they can produce (and that can be observed) in some human beings basically can explain and predict next to nothing and whose "body of theory" (or even of experience) fails to meet elementary principles of logic let alone of evidence and empiricism.
I also was not able to figure out what Prof. Harrison meant when he referred to "vulgar atheists"....such as Richard Dawkins and his God Delusion. I am assuming that since he teaches in the Italian and French Department he may have been using the term in its archaic (or at least in its lesser) usage or meaning i.e. "pertaining to the common people" or Latin vulgaris/vulgus much as Dante wrote in "the vulgar language" (Italian) (and not in its more commonly understood meaning or usage as a state "characterized by ignorance or lack of good breeding or taste"). In any case I failed to see the appropriateness of the term to describe Dawkins' work in either meaning and found it unfortunate that it should be one of the very last references in the talk to leave the listener with. (by way of an overall anti-atheist conclusion but "attributable" to one of the key scientific figures in quantum mechanics?)
Schrodinger was first and foremost a physicist and secondarily a philosopher. Although I certainly would agree that it
is always very good to also be "a thinker". Similarly Dawkins is primarily an evolutionary theorist but doesn't seem to do too poorly at being some sort of a thinker too.
I would prefer to read both within their main areas of expertise. (and have done so) And just as Darwin has probably been improved upon by Dawkins and Weinberg and Gell Mann and many others have "improved upon" Schrodinger in their own areas of expertise, surely the last word has not been uttered either onevolutionary theory or on quantum physics, ......nor (obviously) regarding the relative merits (explanatory or other) of religious philosophies and scientific ones. We have plenty of time (hopefully) before the sun burns out to find out. Assuming of course that the religious right in the United States doesn't get the ideological upper hand and helps to end the planetary experiment a bit (or a lot) earlier.
(So let's go with is more likely and most useful)
20 Aug 2008
Mr. Harrison, let me start by noting that I have long had a soft spot in my heart for Stanford University, as it genuinely is one of the top universities in the world. My dad graduated for Stanford with a PhD in Physics years ago and growing up I always looked up to him for his many insights into life. He always told me that in this world there wasn't much evidence of intelligent human life. Well, he was partially wrong on this insight because after listening to you and your talented guests I have come to realize that yes, there is some very intelligent life in this world as evidenced by the many hours of intellectual conversation you and your guests have provided. Thanks for being on the air for us listeners to enjoy. I sometimes feel guilty because I'm getting what seems like a free education from youâ€¦on so many subjects. I also love the Doors and Hendrix. One small point, your monologs are so talented, superior and cultivated I suggest you compile them in book form and make them available to us average beings. Also, I bought your book Gardens and am looking forward to reading and enjoying it.
14 Aug 2008
I am a regular listener to your podcast Entitled Opinions here in Bangkok, Thailand. It sure is a brain saver and nurturer of a program. Sometimes I find the posturing of the host irritating but that is only because the topic is beyond him or there is no chemistry with the guest.
You are doing a good service to improve somewhat the quality of humanity's intellect (for those who have no access to great libraries and hunger for knowledge).
from an ardent anti-American, in solidarity with your good intentions. A big hand of applause. Bravo!
Ramon C. Sevilla
11 Aug 2008
Dear Professor Harrison
Your program is exceptional.
Can I propose Professor James Klugel â€“ author of â€˜How to Read the Bibleâ€™ (a tome on the modern scholarship and the Hebrew bible) as a follow up to your interviews with Professor Sheehan?
Many thanks for all your efforts.
5 Aug 2008
Hello, prof Harrison!
It really is a great combination of knowledge and pleasure You give us, thank You very much! Nowadays I look forward to my jogging in the evening, since I now have You and Your interesting guests and topics in my ears. In that way I will hopefully be in a better shape both in my mind and body, thanks to Youâ€¦ Thank You again!
31 Jul 2008
For all of us who divide our annual calendar as much by the schedule of Entitled Opinions as by the seasons, you should feature on your Web site--in bold 48-point type--the exact date of your return to the airwaves.
A fan in Chicago,
18 Jul 2008
Several weeks ago I discoverd the podcast versions of Entitled Opinions and am writing to thank you for the program. How wonderful it is to hear ideas, theories, literature, theology and, yes-thinking itself-discussed at adult levels! I have listed to as many as five a day since "discovering" the program and I might say that it has been a constant source of delight. I have listened to several more than once to take in nuance and to more fully understand both your questions and the provided answers. In this world of simplistic sound bites, there is very little media of any sort that bears listening to/watching even once. the only other media that I have listened to more than once is Krista Tippett's Speaking of Faith.
I am especially fond of your passion for DantÃ©, and the many ways you weave literature into cosmology and theology into abstractions far removed fro anything liturgical. So a wildly enthusiastic 'Thank You!" from Atlanta, Georgia.
Please continue the fine work, bravo!
8 Jul 2008
Dear Prof. Harrison,
I'm a big fan of "Entitled Opinions" and find almost all of your shows very enlightening. Your April 10, 2008 broadcast about Schroedinger, however, was an exception.
To fully understand Schroedinger's philosophy requires some study of physics and math. The same could be said of Bohr or Einstein or a host of other modern physicists. The fact that you haven't spent much time learning physics or math is no discredit to you; you've been plenty busy with other things, after all, and it's no longer possible to be a true renaissance man.
For someone who knows just enough to be dangerous, it's easy to find statements by prominent scientists and use them out of context as the basis for one's own crackpot theories about the ultimate nature of reality. The movie "What the *bleep* Do We Know?" is a textbook example. And, I'm afraid, your own musings on Schroedinger also fall into that category, although they're arguably less egregious.
Nevertheless, I eagerly look forward to a new season of broadcasts.
San Jose, CA
8 Jul 2008
I very recently discovered your wonderful podcast via Itunes and so far I only listened to your conversations with messr. Erlich, Linde, Pamuk and Rodrigue.
There is nothing more that I can add to the compliments I read on your guestbook; I hope that one day my kids will have the opportunity to study in Stanford and meet teachers like you.
I left Stamboul as a kid to grow up in Milan.
Iskenderiya, Selanik, Izmir, Rodi, Istanbul, and â€¦.Beirut: cities where you believed firmly in your own God, but you knew how to worship in two or three other religions; conversations where not one single sentence finished in the same language it started with.
How it happened that everything disappeared in one generation? where did all the people go? Are there some spots left in this ethnic cleansing desert?
How it is ever possible to transmit that feeling to our children?
7 Jul 2008
I have nothing to say other than thank you for this show. I just discovered it the other day while tooling around the internets.
Great stuff, thank you!
If only all radio (or at least more radio!) were like this.
Radio is an extremely difficult medium to master, but its potential is limitless. Thanks for keeping alive the classic spirit of radio.
7 Jul 2008
Hello Professor. I'm a high school student from New York who really enjoys your show. Allow me to suggest Foucault as the subject for a future program.
26 Apr 2008
I would like to thank you for the excellent radio show you continue to deliver on a weekly basis. Having recently graduated I feel fortunate to be able to take part in the academic community to a certain extent while broadening my understanding of life and literature. Of course I have to make a suggestion for a future show; how about having Dr. Joseph Frank on to discuss Dostoyevsky and Bakhtin?
Jessica from Mobile
24 Apr 2008
Hello. I have been listening to your show for about four months now. I am a student of theology in Canadian Mennonite University's (Winnipeg, MB - Canada) Masters of Arts in Theological Studies program. I started listening to your show after reading your book: The Dominion of the Dead. I love your work there and its intersections with theology, ecclesiology, martyrology, and Tradition. I would love to hear a show where you could deal with some of these kinds of concepts. There is an excellent dissertation in theology on the topic of martyrdom and politics by a guy named Tripp York, titled "The Purple Crown" (Herald Press). Your chapter "Hic Non Est" reminds me a lot of work done by the theologian/philosopher Graham Ward in his book: Christ and Culture (Blackwell Publishers). His book touches on the role of Tradition, our participation in Tradition
and its participation in ordering our lives today. Sounds like some of your stuff.
I love your show,
19 Apr 2008
Hello Prof. Harrison -
While many of the guestbook contributors give voice to my own sentiments re Entitled Opinions, I must add a few words of gratitude and appreciation for this gift of time and erudition you've given me and the other listeners. I discovered Entitled Opinions while browsing iTunesU's Stanford section and downloaded one or two for persusal, intrigued no doubt by the idea of some thoughtful conversation about Austen, Proust . . . and pretty much every other topic you've covered. I'm now working my way through the entire back list of Entitled Opinions shows, largely to the exclusion of everything else on my iPod (and the stack of books on my nightstand).
A quick note concerning the music selected to end each show: brilliant! The finishing, master stroke -- each piece as thoughtful, provocative and delightful in its way as the discourse preceding it. More than once, I've been tempted to sneak ahead to the podcast's conclusion to hear the song -- the coda, as it were, of each show. A lapsed Doors fan (of many years), even my old enthusiasm for Mr. Morrison and company has been reawakened.
Truly, an oasis in the desert. Thank you so much.
18 Apr 2008
Dear Prof Harrison,
I am a PhD student in French and Comparative Literature at Cambridge and I am just writing to you in order to congratulate you to your radio program 'Entitled Opinions'. I enjoy listening to it so much - it is so enriching and encouraging. I always look forward to your next topic and I can only hope that you will put many more shows together!
12 Apr 2008
"Entitled Opinions" ....andante molto vivace !!
Humberto Moya Morux
11 Apr 2008
I recently found Entitled Opinions while searching for podcasts concerning the likes of Thomas Nagel and John Searle. I listened to the podcast concerning Heidegger twice and was consequently hooked. I want to thank you, those that work with you, along with those that join you on your show for creating an oasis within a desert. While I'm clearly not the first to state such, you have another avid listener in Alaska. Once again, thank you.
"Wir mÃ¼ssen wissen, wir werden wissen" - David Hilbert
3 Apr 2008
This show has become an addiction. It is like having a very interesting guest for dinner and having a wonderful evening of conversation. I metaphorically bring a bottle of fine wine to each podcast.
20 Mar 2008
Dear Professor Harrison:
Thank you for your brilliant interviews with leading intellectuals on some of the most intriguing topics available on the web. Your guests are, of course, incredibly insightful---but so are you! I think that your work sets a standard of the highest level for public radio.
Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D.
Director, American Institute for Cognitive Therapy
18 Mar 2008
Dear Professor Harrison,
I have just finished listening with great interest to your program on the poetry of Robert Service, referred to me by my English Grad student son in Winnipeg, Canada.
I have spent many years with this poetry and their stories, as a musician and drama teacher, and as a producer of a CD of Service poems by my 92 year-old Godfather.
I am attaching, in the hope you can listen, however, to a great recording of 'The Spell Of The Yukon' by the great Canadian and Nashville star Hank Snow - recorded about 40 years ago.
Now that I am aware of your show, I will be sure to tune in regularly.
Clearwater, British Columbia, Canada
18 Mar 2008
Dear Professor Harrison,
I am a new listener of "Entitled Opinions" via the iTunes podcast. I found your radio show there recently and enjoy it tremendously. I listened to this week's episode on Jane Austen with great pleasure. In the show, you commented that you don't know how many listeners you have. I'll tell you this: you have at least one listener in Alaska. Thank you for making it available to the public outside of Stanford.
Meadow Lakes, Alaska
6 Mar 2008
Hi Prof. Harrison,
I have been avidly listening to the your podcast of the "Entitled Opinions" radio show ever since I became aware of it through iTunes. Since then, I have delved into your program archives and eagerly gobbled up every show posted online since its inception, a couple of years ago. I particularly enjoyed your two-part discussion with Prof. Rene Girard and his theories of mimesis and scapegoating as the basis of religion, as well as, more recently, your discussions on the origins of agricultural society with Prof. Michael Shanks.
I eagerly anticipate your podcasts as they are released every week, as I know that each program guarantees a heady, powerful insight into the domain of the humanities, literature and philosophy. So much so that I even experience withdrawal symptoms when your program goes off the air! For example, this week, when your weekly podcast wasn't posted online!
I look forward to listening to many more of your engaging discussions on varied subjects in the future! My heartiest congratulations on a brilliant, successful run so far!
Los Angeles, CA.
6 Feb 2008
I've been an Entitled Opinions fan for the past two years--and I reaped many profound insights, personal and universal, from Robert and his guests. The recent show with Orhan Pamuk was particularly interesting in
that it seemed that the show was exploring a different yet complementary worldview in discussing what is at times considered to fall outside the walls of world literature/outside the center of Europe at least in
amnesic present terms.
Although every show of Entitled Opinions offers so much on various levels to its listeners, I think that perhaps it should venture to have more shows that, like the one on Pamuk, talks about those other literary giants that have been doing the work of Sisyphus in a Western-centered literary stage.
Keep up the great programming...
P.s. I'm dying for a show on Borges or maybe even cannibalism (old and
new world variants)...
2 Feb 2008
Dear Prof. Harrison !
First of all, I love your show. You are a God amongst insects, never let anyone tell you differently.
There are perhaps many things I can say about your show, but the one thing that I really love about your
show is your selection of music at the end. Would you be so kind as to give me a list of every album you played on every show since 2005 !? Okay...that's asking for a bit too much. What can I say...I love all of your music.
I must know the names of all of your music on your show !
Tony Alexander from Japan.
1 Feb 2008
Dear Robert Harrison,
as a student in Germany I have only recently discovered your show and find it very interesting. I specifically liked the shows on Thoreau, Heidegger, and the interview with Rorty was fantastic.
Is there any chance of you doing a show on Foucault and/or Nietzsche? I would love that and am sure that many other of your listeners would enjoy it, too.
D. Timothy Goering
1 Feb 2008
The interviews are intellectually invigorating experiences of the best quality. Thank you for picking up high caliber guests and not dumbing down the issues. NPR with a serious kick!
Dr. Jacques-Jude Lepine
Media Center Director
16 Jan 2008
Thank you so much for your show.
I am an English teacher, and I often listen to your show before I go to sleep. It has such a breadth and depth of ideas, and Iâ€™m often moved and invigorated by the ideas you discuss. It inspires me in my teaching and in my own thinking and writing.
Youâ€™ve given us all a Treasury in which you will always live.
12 Jan 2008
To Robert Harrison,
I recently discovered your show "Entitled Opinions" through i-tunes U. I'm a photographer, and your downloaded conversations are the perfect fare with which to feed my mind while I work in the darkroom.
I've particularly enjoyed your programs on Epicureanism and on RenÃ© Girard's theory of Mimetic Desire.
On your show you frequently wonder "is anybody out there," and with this email I just want to add my voice to the many who have already said, "yes."
But, inevitably, I have the same urge as so many ardent fans: to be not only a fan, but also a critic and an editor. My criticism however, is really just a plea for More. I still haven't finished listening to all your past shows, but as I scroll through the list of topics, a name close to my heart is missing: Goethe. Perhaps that's just a sign of the richness of the field that you're mining. Three years of amazing programs, and there's still the creator of Dr. Faustus waiting in the wings.
Thank you for your shows, and I look forward to this coming season.
29 Dec 2007
I enjoy Robert Harrison's conversations very much. I subscribe to the podcast. I work in the business world and enjoy a classical education from a Jesuit University (1973) in the midwest. It is refreshing to listen to these thoughtful discussions in this world of noise and inane banter. Please tell him thank you and to keep up the good work!
11 Dec 2007
hello professor harrison,
I've only recently discovered your wonderful talk show on itunes and have been podcasting you like crazy. (stop my beating heart . . . ) I can't wait for them to resume in january as I've just about exhausted the archives.
in case you'd like to know, I'm a 58 year old artisan, silversmith, living in quiet isolation in rural maine. without the lifeline of the internet and access to minds like yours, this would, of course be impossible for me. so I thank you and bless you.
in addition to wanting to thank you for your good work, I'd also like to find out what is the music you use for your theme? I really like it and can't quite put my finger on who or what the group is that does it. it's haunting me.
ciao for now,
and my very best wishes to you and yours
for the new year,
10 Dec 2007
This is a wonderful program. The Prof Sheehan interviews were particularly interesting. In this regard, any chance of an extended interview with John Dominic Crossin in 2008?
26 June 2007
Absolutely wonderful. Your show has reinvigorated my interest in a wide range of authors and subjects. You have even helped me get a bit of a handle on Heidegger (not an easy task). Many thanks.
24 June 2007
Dear Robert, Thank you for your wonderful show. A pleasure and privilege to hear such consistently witty, profound, beautiful, and inspiring dialogues. Easily one of the best and most vital programs on radio and indeed online today. We are currently trudging through the demands of fixing up our new apartment in Vancouver, Canada and your show is helping us navigate the wastelands of late night labor in our "Globe"! We can't wait for the show to resume again in 2008. A few [sic] suggestions for people and topics for the future: Edmund Spenser, Slavoj Zizek, Sherlock Holmes, Jacques Lacan, Emily Dickinson, The Beatles, Ovid, Fawlty Towers, Herbert Marcuse, Beethoven, English Romantic Poets, Bright Eyes...
In the meantime, let us just say that your show like
Poetry enlarges the circumference of the imagination by replenishing it with thoughts of ever new delight, which have the power of attracting and assimilating to their nature all other thoughts, and which form new intervals and interstices whose void ever craves fresh food. -- Percy Bysshe Shelley
Best regards and heartfelt thanks,
Paul Kingsbury (Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University)
Melinda Kingsbury (Ph.D. Student, Department of English, Indiana University)
06 June 2007
I just wanted to say how refreshing this show is. It seems like the only things my friends talk about is why that other guy should have won American idol.
Keep up the great work
11 May 2007
Thank you.It is indeed a pleasure to have Entitled Opinions back on the air. It was greatly missed.
If you or the Stanford podcast department are interested in my opinion, I hope it is back on the air for the long term.
Thank you again for your all your hard work to put together such interesting and thought provoking shows.
May God bless you in all your future endeavors.
12 April 2007
Overjoyed that the show is finally back on the air! And such a wonderful, lyrical start to the new season. Here's to many, many more.
12 January 2007
What an amazing show! I started listening to the podcasts last summer. Is it coming back? many thanks for many pleasurable and stimulating hours of listening!
8 January 2007
Just a short note to express my gratitude for your many interesting programs on your Stanford ipod series 'Entitled Opinions'. I graduated in Philosophy with a second degree in Literature, and find great enjoyment listening to the many diverse subjects that you have brought forth on the program. I particularly enjoy your introductions, which I find rich with language, imaginative, and embedded with intellectual intrigue. Loved the dedication to Birds program, which portrayed a poetic appreciation for one of nature's most beautiful gifts. I would very much like to see a hard copy of your introduction essay which you read. What a great arena to dwell in; The infinite concepts of thinkers, and I am very much looking foreword to an extended series which I hope you plan on conducting in the near future. I am sure there are many dedicated listeners to your program, and again want to assure you that you are deeply appreciated, and creating a worthy deed with your life energies.
3 January 2007
I ran across "Entitled Opinion" by chance and now I can credit it with helping take my literary perspective to a higher and much more meaningful level (with a relevance placed firmly on life experiences.) The 2005 November show titled "Literary Vocation and Marcel Proust" along with the ending song dedication to Proust's fictional character, Albertine, was a real joy to listen to; I found myself compelled to jot a note or two about desire, self-deception and will & power to knowledge. Profound stuff.
25 October 2006
Dear Prof. Harrison,
I just wanted to let you know that I recently discovered your program through its podcasts, and I think it is wonderful! I am working on a dissertation in early-modern French history, and your program has been a pleasant and informative diversion from the narrowly defined study I'm involved in at the moment. You do a wonderful job with each interview, and I am always impressed by your erudition. I hope you decide to pick it up again someday.
8 July 2006
I must tell you how much I have enjoyed your radio program. I discovered Entitled Opinions a few weeks ago and it has been a real treat. The intellectual after market of your show has been quite fascinating for me as well. I listened to your discussion with your brother and immediately ordered 1910: Emancipation of Dissonance. Further intrigued, I searched for the Metaphysics of Death by Simmel but could only find a similarly titled work by John Martin Fischer (also a Stanford professor). A very interesting collection of essays.
I was once an academic--but that was many years ago (Ph.D. Psychology from NYU; Assistant Professor in Social Psychology at George Washington University. I long ago left that life, but still am compelled to search out intelligent conversation (even if it's simply eavesdropping on the conversation of others). Stumbling across your little oasis in the desert has been a highpoint of the summer.
Thank you and job well done!
24 June 2006
Feeling really bereft knowing that I can no longer look forward to Tuesdays. Thank goodness I have all the I Tunes recordings of thel past programs, and can continue to listen to them again and again. They bear up so very well. The last program was hugely touching and affecting. I'll remember the birds for a long time. Hope the program will be rescheduled at a future date.
19 June 2006
Thank you for sharing the radio shows with iTunes. I just found these podcasts a couple of months ago and have been catching up with a delightful year of 'Entitled Opinions'. I just love feeling like I am eavesdropping as a couple of professors talk over coffee! ...Please continue with these podcasts soon!
Meanwhile, you will be missed...
19 June 2006
What a wonderful find. Ive enjoyed this series immensely I hope there is another on the way.
15 June 2006
I've been listening either live by internet or by podcast from the beginning sharing many of the files with friends and colleagues. Two that has lead to some eloquent discussion are "A conversation with Professor Andrei Linde about the theory of the inflationary universe" Jan 17, 2006. and "A conversation with Novelist Shirley Hazzard" Jan 10 , 2006 leading to an enjoyable read of "The Great Fire"
Have enjoyed Stanford Radio for the year that I have known of it, your program the highlight of the program schedule.
Also enjoyed reading your brother Thomas's book and has gotten back into Proust.
14 June 2006
I was engaging in my weekly podcast from entitled opinions and noted the title (with trepidation) "concluding opinions"--not good news...I would hope this break is just that--"provisional"...what do I need to do to ensure this stays on...this is my only respite from the madness....colonel keith essen
14 June 2006
I've been listening to podcasts of "Entitled Opinions" and have found them all good, and many of them excellent. I've especially enjoyed the interviews with Sheehan (and await a promised second installment), Girard, Hazzard, and Nightingale.
Thanks so much; I've listened to many engaging and highly interesting lectures from Stanford in the past year via podcasts, but yours are my favorites.
Barry Brinker, AB 1974 (English and French)
3 June 2006
As a graduate student of politics and public administration, I truly enjoyed listening to Drew Gibsonâ€™s entitled opinion on the philosophy of corporations. Throughout the entire spectrum of the installment, I remained fascinated by the continuous unfolding of the existing paradox between organizational productivity and administrative ethicsâ€”in other words, would it ever be possible for any corporate shareholder, or human resource manager, to arrive at a â€œtrueâ€� synthesis between such two opposing notions?
I would like to applaud both, Dr. Harrison, and Drew Gibson for directing the thesis of the dialogue back to its roots in the fundamental question between productivity and ethics.
3 June 2006
I truly hope this doesn't indicate the demise of your wonderful radio show.
I am not a radio listener but I do download the interviews. I think they are just great! Truly, there are few things that are more enjoyable to me than to listen to your intensely informed guest discuss philosophical topics in their current context. Your opening remarks are always provocative and your role as interlocutor is well done.
If its true that you are going off the air, I am sad to hear it. If I am mistaken, consider this note high praise and I look forward to more!
3 June 2006
As a recent convert to Entitled Opinions, I want to say thank you for this amazing, intellectually stimulating program. I am a bit concerned that the upcoming show "Concluding Opinions" may indicate that the program is ending.
Is this the case? I'm hoping that Robert Harrison is just taking a much deserved break for the summer! If the show does continue, I would love to hear a discussion of colonial/postcolonial theory, the Virgin Mary in the Americas,and a comparative discussion of Nietzsche and Emerson. As an aspiring literary scholar married to an aspiring philosophy scholar, I appreciate the ways in which the program bridges these two fields -- as well as others.
Tereza M. Szeghi
21 May 2006
Great show with Dr. Michael Hendrickson -- very smart guy! The introductory monologue was terrific too. Science as a force not just for disenchantment but also for re-enchantment: a vital corrective to the standard line. Keep up the great work.
7 May 2006
I just discovered your radio show and podcasts on the internet, and I love them! I can't believe that such consistently excellent material is being broadcast. What a great way to showcase the faculty of one of the finest universities in the world and to open up its treasures to a broader public, of which I count myself lucky to be included. Thank you so much! I look forward to many more shows; please keep them coming.
Fr. Michael Darcy, Pittsburgh, PA
P.S. Please have Prof. Girard on again!
7 May 2006
Your podcast is wonderful. I have learned so much and the show has encouraged my developing interest in the humanities and above all philosophy. Thank you for all the time and effort you have put into these shows.
29 April 2006
Like some of the other (international) listeners, I happened upon the Entitled Opinions site when roaming the Internet. In my case, in search of information on RenÃ© Girard whose theories featured in a series of articles in my local newspaper. How fortunate, therefore, I was to find your recordings with Girard of September and October of last year. What a great and fascinating shows!
I do enjoy the diversity of topics, and especially the global scope of your program (how interesting to have me my European mind explained by Russell Berman!...). Please continue with your program, as it's fresh and stimulating, and provides such excellent food for thought. And, as I'm not able to listen to the live shows, please also continue posting the recordings on your web site; highly appreciated!
26 April 2006
My big thanks to Stanford and to Robert Harrison for a marvelous program. I found Entitled Opinions quite by chance as I wondered if universities were using podcasting as a tool for courses and special projects; on searching through iTunes and internet search engines, this program was one of the top results. How correct that is.
While I, much like Prof. Harrison, have my own opinions - be they entitled or not - the wealth of information and referral, the joy and discovery of debate and active dialogue, is brought to fruit so well, here. I appreciate very much the global scope of these conversations. So many could be hopelessly trapped only in the U.S. experience.
20 April 2006
Thanks Robert Harrison for an excellent program it's one of the highlights of my week. I've recently retired and am able to listen to the podcasts in series. Please continue the programs are pitched at just the right level. Maybe some more Heidegger, some Husserl, Foucault, Derrida and in the literary field Kafka, Hesse and Rilke. More discussions on classical literature too.
Is it possible to invite Peter Brown, the historian of late antiquity onto your program?
Thanks John Steele Sydney Australia
19 March 2006
Thanks to Prof. Harrison for a very enjoyable program. A highlight of my week.
9 March 2006
Just listened to "entitled opinions" for the first time.
I enjoyed it greatly!
please keep the episodes coming!!!
2 March 2006
Although I only just broke down and bought an iPod the other day, I am already a fan of "Entitled Opinions." I listened enthusiastically yesterday to the two segments with RenÃ© Girard. I am going to the library again soon and hope to check out "The Man without Qualities." I was about halfway through Robert Persig's "Lila," and got fed up. It seemed interesting at first, but got increasingly dopey, and still it dragged on and on and on. Will I like Musil better? The gender preference thing you were talking about with Prof. Gumbrecht is interesting, and challenges me. I am wondering about the parallels between Musil and Persig. I also liked the one on Heidegger, but need to listen again, as I kept being interrupted.
27 February 2006
This is one of the best, informative, and unique podcast I've had the honor to listen to. If you'd added a something like this link http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/research.shtml it would be over the top. I know it would add more work and suck more hours out of your life. I have no access to learned dissuasion on issues of any sort. As a person goes from the stage in their life from student to worker/earner it becomes harder and harder to pause to listen and think about ideas and movements. Now I have time, access, and effort to go back to the state I've enjoyed the more in my life.
Again -- thank you
21 February 2006
Just a quick line to tell you how much I'm enjoying your 'Entitled Opinions' series. I listen to the podcasts whilest doing my artisanal bookbinding course, in Belgium, and the two fit well together. Have you come across the 'In Our Times' podcasts, hosted by Melvyn Bragg, BBC Radio 4? If not, I think you might enjoy them, they're easily found at iTunes.
12 February 2006
I heard with great pleasure, your splendid interviews on Robert Musil and and Thomas Sheehan's historical Jesus. I was enthralled by The Man Without Qualities which I have read and reread. Biblical archeology and biblical scholarship are high on my list of interests, and I was impressed and informed by Sheehan's erudition. I will surely get his book on the historical Jesus. But why wasn't the James Ossuary discussed? Keep broadcasting. I'm a devoted fan.
7 February 2006
For the listeners who may want to catch the show in real time (live), you can do so through iTunes. When you have the iTunes program open, choose 'Radio' from under the 'Source' section (with a single click), and choose 'Public' from under the 'Stream' section (with a double click). Then, look for 'KZSU FM' and choose it (with a double click). KZSU FM broadcasts in 24kbps for slower, and 128kbps for faster Internet connections.
7 February 2006
Just how much I enjoy such engaging, cutting-edge talk radio, and
would love to hear another show continuing the conversation with
philosopher Richard Rorty. Have you considered adding a call-in
segment to your shows, perhaps organizing particular shows featuring
call-in dialog with a guest, or even using the audience callers as
"guest" exchanging ideas on a given subject? Thank you very much.
28 January 2006
Hi, thank your so much for your great show! I'm a Japanese who is currently studying interpretation and is doing some interpretation jobs at the same time. As someone like me who would like to be a English-Japanese interpreter, mastery of language is very important and that's why I began to listen to your show through podcast. It was a mere coincidence that I foud your show, but it was the greatest radio show I've ever heard. I love your beautiful introduction and amazing quotes and all the books you deal with are masterpieces and actually I feel I'm cheating on those students who are studying at grad schools because your show is like one of the best lectures on literature that we can attend at free.
26 January 2006
Here is another entitled opinion from a very happy subscriber to your show. One of things I find the most refreshing about your show, besides the seriousness of it, is the way you pause occasionally to await the right question. I know this is stylistic but I like it all the same. One of my pet-peeves about modern culture is the non-stop requirement in conversation, it's so tiring. I will continue to listen and I have been telling people about your show. I listened to the episode on the Aeneid last night. My favorite moment was in the introduction when you were speaking about the work politically and you went to compare it to our modern leaders and you stopped yourself, very sincerely said outloud that you promised you wouldn't go there, and you didn't. I find it very exciting when people place boundaries on themselves for a higher purpose and I admire it. So many times you hear people say 'i promised i wouldn't say this, but....'
26 January 2006
Great show. I first heard your show when you interviewed a French Professor in French. Marvelous, I couldn't believe what I was hearing over the airwaves. Was this radio Canada in the Bay Area? I also loved your interview of the Russian mathamatican on inflation theory. I admit I thought you must be a graduate student because you had such a young voice. During your first show I listened I did not know this was radio Stanford. Sincerely thanks
22 January 2006
I ran into 'Entitled Opinions' on accident while randomly surfing the web sometime back in Nov.2005. What an aesthetic encounter!!! To make a long story short, I have not missed a show ever since. Not only does each show bloom into an utterly gorgeous dialogue, but also, that the very choice of music surrounding each session appears as somewhat of a philosophically decorated boundary around each segmentÃ³a paradoxical type of boundary which perhaps knows no limit, but the very limit of itself, as itself, as infinity.
Keep up the good work!
7 December 2005
Wow, great show. It's so great to hear Robert Harrison -- who is so
articulate and interesting -- talking to, for example, Rene Girard. What a
great idea, Dr. Harrison.
2 December 2005
Nothing like this show, anywhere else on the net, much more so amongst
the toddlers of contemporary podcasting. Thanks for the discourse.
20 November 2005
I appriciate your project. See you soon.
14 November 2005
You'll be hearing from my lawyers, Harrison.
My hair is COPYRIGHTED, Dude, so lose that second-rate knock-off I saw on your web site.
[For the original, check: http://www.eonline.com/On/Howard/]
And if you want an audience, remember the secret of success: tits, not wits.
10 November 2005
Is there anyway I can procure lectures by Andrew Mitchell on Heidegger... I don\'t care how much they cost, his commentary was stunning and frankly would love to hear more....Heidegger is so impenetrable yet fascinating...yet the discourse was so compelling, I would really like to hear more on this topic--for once it seemed within reach...kee
10 November 2005
Colonel Keith Essen
You need to know that your show has been a distinct pleasure; cspecifically I thoroughly enjoyed the show on Heidegger....(I have listened to this several times already...and todays feast on epicurean thought was sheer delight... I am learning something with each encounter...and indeed I do feel part of the conversation...discussions on Proust, Girard on mimetic desire...where does it end...please continue to press on...would love to send my combined federal campaign donation to you all...do you have a code??? kee
9 November 2005
I have very much enjoyed the last three shows and wish the previous
ones were still available as pod-casts.
I suggest that you include in your shows or on the website after each
show a list of recommended readings, or at least a list of works cited in
the program. I'd love to know what you would recommend as a good
introduction to Epicureanism and its central texts.
23 October 2005
Simon De Keukelaere
Congratulations for this new program! I especially enjoyed the two talks with Stanford-professor RenÃˆ Girard. I will send a link to your program to some friends in France and Belgium interested in this kind of insightful radio programs. Keep up the good work!
All the best,
19 October 2005
Anche se non sono un'accademica, trovo la tua trasmissione davvero
11 October 2005
Dear Professors Harrison and Girard:
I would like to add that in versions of Agamemnon's sacrifice of his
daughter Iphigenia (another example of human sacrifice, carried out in
Aeschylus's version of the drama), the daughter is replaced by an
animal or an image of the girl. So the instance in the Hebrew Bible of
Isaac's sacrifice by Abraham (Isaac replaced by an animal) is not in fact
the *only* written document where a human is replaced, though plays
are not in the same genre category as a book from the Hebrew Bible, a
Thanks for a wonderful and stimulating discussion. I was listening!
Alison Lovell (new IHUM fellow)
11 October 2005
I hereby nominate Dr. Robert Harrison, host of "Entitled Opinions," for
a Bad A** Mo Fo Award. His show has definitely raised the intellectual
level of KZSU to off the scale.
Yesterday's show was an interview with Rene Girard on "Ritual Sacrifice
and the Scapegoat." It was absolutely fascinating (and made it damned
difficult to prepare for my show.) Ranging from Christ to Oedipus to
commentaries on Freud it was the most intellectual hour I've ever heard
in my time at KZSU.
Aside from the coolness factor of having a faculty member back on the
airwaves, yesterday's show convinced me that this is one new show
going on my "must listen to every week" list.
3 October 2005
I am greatly enjoying listening and reflecting on the show from Kobe,
Japan. I guess it will have to be my stand-in for the Philosophical Reading
Group while I am away from campus.
I'd love to hear more about who is not entitled to an opinion, as well
as about choosing one's ancestors.
29 September 2005
Gary Wesley (BluJi)
Really enjoyed your enlightened show!
Only caught the last 30 mins while working in the
Keep it up!
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