Regum University (An Imaginary Univeristy)

Regum University is the first rendition of an imaginary universeum (my neologism for an amalgam of a post-disciplinary university and museum) that operates as a teaching, research and multi-sensory institution that provokes critical thinking and new perceptions and activates the imagination. In March 2020, just before the beginning of COVID-19, I was at a dinner party in Washington DC when the daughter of a close friend asked me what I would recommend she could study at university. This wasn’t an easy question and I promised I would go away and think more about it and let her know. I continued to think about her question, but couldn’t recommend anyone discipline that I could say would bring her intellectual fulfillment or even inform a sensibility that would by itself help anyone better understand the world.

 

Finally, starved of creativity, about six months into the pandemic, I invented a degree, La Lechera (Sweet Milk), which ignoring disciplinary divisions, might include all the things I have found to be valuable in accommodating myself in the world. Having devised courses, I needed a degree, and having a degree, I needed a university. By this time my conceit had grown so large that I stopped developing the idea. To my surprise, I received a lot of positive feedback from those I shared this imaginary education with. So just for fun, I include this imaginary place of the mind here.

Regum University

 

Ave dolce vita. Rex Regum (“Hail sweet life, king of kings? We love you and we believe in you”). 
 

Patron Saint, St. Ambrosia (bees and honey).

Regum University only offers one degree, a condensed, integrated Imaginarium, based on study reflection and experience. The degree, title On Sensibility, affectionately called by alumni, La Lechera, is an allusion to its sweetness and immersive and concentrated viscosity.

 

The course is a preparation for life and is life. It nurtures a critical sensibility, essential to cut through the mediocrity of contemporary culture and academic discourse; it opposes life’s dehumanizing commodification and the industries and forces that impose it. The course is meant to engender a fearless immersion in the promise, beauty, and fragility of our world. La Lechera incites students to search for new intellectual loci, evokes their sensibility and wonder, and encourages human love and respect by submerging students in the raw animate existences of which they are conscious parts.

 

This is a three-year course, without formal written or oral evaluation. Degrees, sealed on parchment, are awarded on the basis of comportment, originality, wonderment and ethics. The University has no bursaries, grants, or scholarships and is bereft of budgets or revenues. Neither will students qualify for state or private subsidiaries.  

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La Lechera (Honours)

Year One: CONNECTIONS

  1. Aby Warburg and the Mnemosyne Atlas. (Philippe-Alain Michaud. 2004. Aby Warburg and the Image in Motion)

  2. Scholasticism (Edward Fever. 2014. Scholastic Metaphysics)

  3. Poetry (C. P.Cavafy, Collected Poems; T.S. Elliot, The Wasteland; Pablo Neruda, The Captain’s Verse and In Praise of Everyday Things; Fernando Pessoa, Mensagem; Jose Eduardo Aqualusa, The Book of Chameleons).

  4. Marcel Griaule. 1995. Conversations with Ogotemmeli.

  5. Film Interval. Peter Greenaway, A Zed and Two Noughts (1985), and Belly of an Architect (1987).

  6. Concert for the 20th century. Jan Garbarek, Philip Glass, Akhnatan, Preisner, Requiem. Erik Satie, Le Gymnopedie.

  7. R. G. Collingwood. 1945. The Idea of Nature, Bruno Latour. 2007. Making Things Public.

  8. The interconnection of social institutions. C. Wright-Mills. 1959. The Sociological Imagination.

  9. Long durée, space, time, causality and induction. Cixin Liu. 2008. Three body Problem (3 vols).

  10. History; paradigm or accretion. Michel Foucault. 1966. The Order of Things. Michel de Certeau, 1980, The Practice of Everyday Life. Walter Benjamin. 1940. Theses on the Philosophy of History.

  11. Labelle Prussin. 1986. Hulumere.

  12. Film Interval. Alain Tanner l'cite blanc and Requiem (1983); Wim Wenders, Lisbon Story (1994); Pascal Mercier, Last Train to Lisbon (2013).

 

Excursion 1. Lisbon (Museu de Arte Antigua, Museu de Teatro (lunch in garden), botanical gardens, Jeronimos Monastery), Tomar (Convent of Christ), Evora, Estremoz, Beja (museum), and Monsoraz, Portugal. Drink port, Eat açorda and carne de porco Alentejana.

Year Two: BEING AND MATTER

  1. Reverie and Blandness. Gaston Bachelard. 1960. the Poetics of Revelry and F. Jullien. 1993. The Chinese Notion of Blandness as a Virtue.

  2. Variations in the experience of the 20th century condition (Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet; Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles; Heinrich Boll, Biliards at Half-Past Nine; Milan Kundera, The Lightness of Being, Albert Camus, The Outsider; Sadegh Hedayat, The Blind Owl, Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughter House Five). And the 21st century. Roberto Bolanos 2666.

  3. Collecting and Assembling (to construct and to bring together). Paula Findley. 2002. Inventing Nature. Commerce, Art and Science in the Early Modern Cabinet of Curiosites In Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen, Merchants and Marvels. Barbara Maria Stafford. 1994. Artful Science. Enlightenment Entertainment and the Eclipse of Visual Education. Stephen Bann. 1994. Under the Sign.

  4. Film Interval. Jean Cocteau. Les Enfants Terribles (1950). Wes Anderson. The Grand Hotel Budapest (2014)

  5. Star music (Listen online to the sound emitted by each star in the Pleaides cluster)

  6. Light, Illumination and Shadow. Umberto Eco. 1986. Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages. Nicholas Saunders. 1998. Stealers of Light, Traders in Brilliance. RES 33. Junichiro Tanizaki. 2001. in Praise of Shadows.

  7. Michel Butor. 2016. Graines.

  8. Concert for Japan. Kagura, Shinto Music (must be heard in a concert hall).

  9. Order, Mathematics and Music. Douglas Hofstadter. 1979. Godel, Escher, Bach. Eli Maor. 2018. Music by the Numbers. Daniel Heller-Roazen. 2011. The Fifth Hammer. 

  10. Concert for Europe. Olivier Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time John Taverner, the Veil of Mary. Avro Part, Tabula Raza, Gorecki 3rd Symphony, Mahler’s 9th Symphony.

  11. Film interval. David Lynch Blue Velvet (1986).

 

Excursion 2. Paris. Musée d’Arte et Metier. Musée de l’Orangerie water lilies. Musée d’Histoire Naturel, Park Buttes Chaumont, Musée Gustave Moreau, Breton’s house (read Nadja at the café just outside). Side trip, Brussels, Musee de art et histoire, flea market, the art deco quarter; Paul Deveraux Museum in koksidje. Jan van Eyck triptych, Gent cathedral.

Year Three: BEAUTY, PLACE AND THE TOPOGRAPHY OF RESISTANCE.

  1. Life as resistance. John Berger. 2001. The Shape of a Pocket. Flynn O’Brian. 1944. The Third Policeman.

  2. Anita Albus. 2000. The Art of Arts; Gerardt Richter. 1962-2013. Atlas. 

  3. Film Interim. Alain Resnais, Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), Alain Resnais, Last Year at Marienbad (1961), Federico Fellini, Roma (1972).

  4. Shlomo Avineri. 1968. The Social and Poltical Thought of Karl Marx; Karl Marx and Frederich Engels. 1848. The Communist Manifesto. Wilhelm Reich. 1945. Listen, Little Man.

  5. Stephen Toulmin. 1944. Wittgenstein’s Vienna. John Lucaks. 1988. Budapest 1900, A Historical Portrait of a City and its Culture. John Banville. 2003. Prague Pictures. Jack Kerouac. 1957. On the Road. Carlos Fuentes. 1962. Aura. Orhan Pamuk. 2003. Istanbul. Memories and the City.

  6. Concert for the Americas. John Coltrane, Blue, Keith Jarret, the Koln Concert, Tori Amos, Boys for Pele, Cesara Evora, Nacha Guevera singing poems by Mario Benedeti, Astor Piazzolla, Bebel Gilberto,

  7. Film Interval. Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire (1987), Reiner Fassbinder, The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978). Jan Swanjmayer, Faust (1994).

  8. Thomas Hauschild. 2010. Power and Magic in Italy.

  9. Claude Levi-Strauss. 1955. Tristes Tropiques.

  10. Jan Švankmajer and Czech surrealism.

 

Excursion 3. Salvador (artist studios, new (Brazilian modernism) and old cities (saudades)), São Paulo (Museu de arte contemporanio, Museu Afro-Braziliera). Read Jose Amado, Tereza Batista in the cafes, squares and restaurants of the old town in Salvador.

Graduation Excursion. Mexico City, the cradle of American civilization, (Plaza de Santa Domingo and Santa Caterina, walk from zocalo to la merced. Mercado de Sonora, Sunday flea market, La Lagunilla, Anahuacalli (house of Diego Rivera, the Blue House (eat at Coyoacan market opposite), Templo Mayor, Donceles with its antiquarian bookstores, pedregal). Side trip to see Colonial murals at monasteries in Actopan, Malinalco (also see Chalma), Hueotzingo, and Molongo; archaeological sites at Xochicalco, Cholula, Teotihuacan, Oaxaca, Monte Alban, San Augustine Etla, Patzcuaro, Guanajuato, and Xalitla (SLP). Visit in the rainy season and read, Fuente’s A Change of Skin. Cantina crawl of historic centre, ending in Bar La Opera and a feast of insects or pozole. Next morning climb the tepozteco, Tepoztlan and look out across the valleys.

Lunch on beer, tacos and chicharrón at the town’s market. Finish with a good mezcal.

 

Alumni may find that among the best places to live after graduation are Santa Cruz, California, Guanajuato, Mexico or Lisbon, Portugal. The University does not process visa applications or represent its alumni applying for residency. Neither does it give official recognition to nation states, military formations, transnational corporations or despots and their supporters.  

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