Bruce Ellis Benson

Keynote Speaker

In the Beginning, There Was Improvisation: Responding to the Call

Bruce Ellis Benson is Professor of Philosophy at Wheaton College (IL). He is the author of Graven Ideologies: Nietzsche, Derridaand Marion on Modern IdolatryThe Improvisation of Musical Dialogue: A Phenomenology of Music,and Pious Nietzsche: Decadence and DionysianFaith. He is coeditor of The Phenomenology of PrayerHermeneutics at the CrossroadsTransforming Philosophy and Religion: Love’s Wisdom, and Words of Life: New Theological Turns in French Phenomenology. His areas of research include continental philosophy of religion, Nietzsche, phenomenology, and political theology.


Ron Dart

Ecological Prophets and Creation

The English High Romantics (Coleridge, Wordsworth, Southey) were at the forefront in the the early 19th century in calling for the preservation and conservation of Nature. The American Romantics and Beats (Emerson, Thoreau, Muir, Leopold, Merton, Snyder) were artists, poets and activists that attempted to articulate a fuller vision of what the environment could be if not ravaged by a form of capitalism that viewed Nature as an object to be exploited. The Canadian Confederation Poets (Carman, Roberts, Lampman, Scott) and the Alpine Club of Canada were front and centre at social and political levels in preservationist strategies to conserve the wilderness. The English High Romantics, American Romantics and Beats, Canadian Confederation Poets and the Alpine Club of Canada were ecological prophets that attempted, in a variety of imaginative ways, to create a vision that takes soul and society to the beginning (genesis) of a more human and humane way of living and being. This presentation will highlight how these innovative poets and artists articulated, through a diversity of artistic genres, decades before global warming became an prominent issue, the need to recreate (return to a deeper beginning) the world in which we live, move and have our being. Our present environmental dilemma was anticipated by these ecological prophets, and the lecture will conclude with a reflection on how and why artists are often like the sensitive canaries in the mineshaft.

Ron Dart has taught in the Department of Political Science, Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley since 1990. Ron was on staff with Amnesty International in the 1980s, and he has published more than twenty books.


Lauren Joiner

The Ancient Celtic Past:  Popular Mythology and Irish Traditional Music

The word “Celtic” has many meanings and connotations.  It can refer to a tribe that invaded Ireland in the sixth century BC or to a group of countries that have similar cultural features due to shared waterways.  To a broader audience, “Celtic” often brings fanciful images of druids and ancient woad-covered warriors known for their reverence of nature and their music.  Such an image has been mapped onto Irish traditional music as a means for marketing to a broader audience.  Fintan Vallely’s 1999 The Companion to Irish Traditional Music states that “more superficially the term ‘Celtic’ has come to apply to an easy-listening, ‘mood’ music with dreamy, non-specific Irish/Scots flavor, marketed as ‘relaxing’ [and] ‘evocative.’”  Though just a marketing tool, the connection between Irish traditional music and the “ancient Celtic past” has become a widely portrayed popular narrative.   Historically, Irish traditional music stems mostly from the Baroque period and as a broken tradition, does not stem from the “ancient Celtic past.” This paper seeks to discuss the effect of the “ancient Celtic past” popular creation mythology on the Irish musical tradition.  By examining the creation and propagation of this mythology to the wider public, I will argue that a dichotomy is created between marketability and authenticity.  This dichotomy must be negotiated by musicians torn between financial stability and faithfully representing the tradition.

Lauren Joiner is a PhD candidate and Graduate Teaching Fellow in Musicology and Ethnomusicology at the University of Oregon.  An active performer and teacher of Irish traditional music, she has studied Irish music with Dr. Christopher Smith, Roger Landes, Angela Mariani, and Skip Healy.  Her master’s thesis studied the effect of scholarship upon the North Mississippi Blues fife and drum community.  She has degrees in classical flute performance and ethnomusicology from Texas Tech University and music education and flute performance from the University of South Alabama.  Her current research interests include the American folk music revival, music and politics, music and identity, and musicological historiography and methodology.


Drew Klassen       

Art as Religion

In 1882 Nietzsche’s madman proclaimed the death of God; roughly a century later

Arthur Danto announced the end of art. Nietzche was, of course, speaking rhetorically of the difficulty in accepting the relevance of religious narrative in a world increasingly defined by rationalism and science; similarly, Danto was not suggesting that art had simply ceased to exist, but that it was no longer governed by the stylistic narratives that had hitherto shaped artistic production and provided the means to understand and evaluate it. Now, said Danto, “an artwork can consist of any object whatsoever that is enfranchised as art”— and moreover, “for art to exist, there does not even have to be an object to look at.” Even a superficial survey of contemporary visual art—with its urinals, tinned feces, bisected cows, and ephemeral instances and instructions—is enough to establish that Danto isn’t off the mark, but did he overstep it? Can anything, really, be art? Can any act be a creative act? Can anyone be an artist? In theory, perhaps, yes; but anything and anyone is not the same as everything and everyone, and in practise, distinctions—explicit or tacit—continue to be made between art and non- art, between important and trivial art, between important and peripheral artists. But if the significance of a work of art can no longer be reliably determined on the basis of what it looks like, how shall these distinctions be made? One of the most pervasive ideas, in the wake of aesthetic entropy, is that art’s significance can be distinguished by its perceived ability to embody relevant social commentary. This appeal to social relevance in some ways bears a striking resemblance to those theological trends which, when confronted by the spiritually entropic effect of scientific thought, eschew authoritative narratives about God’s nature in favour of arguments that religion’s importance lies in the social relevance of its values. This paper will identify and examine some of the linguistic and functional similarities between the discourse of contemporary art and religious apologetics.

Drew Klassen is a visual artist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design before transferring to the Technical University of Nova Scotia, where he received his Master’s Degree in Architecture in 1992. In 1998, after practising architecture in Norway, Canada and the United States, he left the profession and returned to Halifax and to painting. He has taught numerous courses in representational practise and theory at the Dalhousie University School of Architecture, and currently teaches painting at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.


Gregg Luginbuhl

The Creation Series: Clay, The Creation Story, and Creativity

In 1989-90, I produced The Creation Series: eight ceramic wall plates that take inspiration from the creation story of Genesis Chapter 1.  The eight plates, the first titled Spirit on the Water, addressing pre-creation attitudes and preparation, and seven more, each responding to a “day” in the story, or a step of the creation narrative.  The plates are approximately two feet in diameter, stand out four to six inches in relief, and support modeled imagery and attachments.  Each of the plates was fired as a whole in one step, using the raku firing process.  The series of plates was ultimately placed on permanent display on the Bluffton University campus in Bluffton, Ohio. While the plates take inspiration from the Genesis account, and follow that sequence, they are about the creative process in general.  As I focused on the Biblical account, using an approach that I refer to as studio exegesis, I became aware of many implications of the story and the language of the passage that are inspiring and insightful in their relevance to the work of the visual artist, and to the creative process in general.  The process begins intuitively, it responds adventurously to media, it employs an attitude of discovery, it is dynamic, it can be recreated indefinitely in the mind of perceivers, it works from general to specific, and proceeds from very basic elements to overall refinement. My presentation will feature pictures and detailed images of each plate, influential historical art examples that impacted my work and my thinking, along with topical cartoons, and a narrative discussion of the implications of the story for visual art, other creative activities, and for creative thinking and living.

Gregg Luginbuhl has exhibited pottery and ceramic sculpture in more than 100 regional and national exhibitions, and his work is included in many public and private collections.  He has received many awards, including 3 at Feats of Clay National in Lincoln, California, 4 at the Tri Kappa Regional Exhibition in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and 5 in statewide juried shows in Toledo, Canton, Zanesville, and Columbus.  His exhibition record includes one-person shows in seven states, and he has been the juror for ten regional exhibitions.  An installation of eight ceramic plates with modeled imagery, The Creation Series, and three bronze sculptures, Jonah and the Whale, The Last First Draft, and Touching Home are permanently displayed on the campus of Bluffton University in Bluffton, Ohio.  Mr. Luginbuhl received the Master of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics from the University of Montana in 1975  following  a B.A. in Art from Bluffton in 1971.  Now in his 35th year of university art teaching, Mr. Luginbuhl was first tenured at the University of Findlay, teaching there eight years before returning to Bluffton University in 1984 where he is currently Professor of Art and Chairman of the Art Department.


C. S. Morrissey

Stephen Hawking and Thomas Aquinas on Creation as Origin

Artistic creation has frequently been used as an analogy to help think about the creative activity of God. The differences between the two activities (divine and human) may indeed be distinguished. Thomas Aquinas, for example, distinguishes between physical change and the divine act of creation: creatio non est mutatio (“creation is not a change”). But Thomas also highlights an aspect under which divine and human activity may be considered as the same. This paper discusses that aspect of similarity, known as “extrinsic formal causality,” whereby an idea, in the mind of God or the artist, is the cause of the “taking shape” of the thing produced in the world. This paper then shows that aspect in its connection to Thomas’ distinction regarding “creation out of nothing” as understandable in two stages. First, Thomas argues that we can understand what the act of creation is, even without the help of theology. He maintains that a purely philosophical account of the origin of the world, analogous to artistic creation, can be demonstrated with certainty. Therefore, in his commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, completed in Paris in the 1250s, Thomas claims: quod creationem esse, non tantum fides tenet, sed etiam ratio demonstrat (“not only does faith hold that there is creation, but reason even demonstrates it”). Second, theology knows, in addition, the temporal origin of the created world. As Thomas observes: “That the world had a beginning is an object of faith, but not a demonstration or science. And we do well to keep this in mind; otherwise, if we presumptuously undertake to demonstrate what is of faith, we may introduce arguments that are not strictly conclusive; and this would furnish infidels with an occasion for scoffing, as they would think that we assent to truths of faith on such grounds.”

C. S. Morrissey is Assistant Professor of Medieval Latin Philosophy at Redeemer Pacific College in Langley, British Columbia. He teaches courses in Thomistic philosophy, Greek and Roman history, classical and ecclesiastical Latin, and the philosophy of education of Jacques Maritain and Christopher Dawson. He is a member of the Canadian and American Jacques Maritain Associations and contributes to keeping alive the flame of perennial philosophy by presenting various public lectures and conference papers. His principal academic interests lie in defending and advancing the great Catholic tradition of Aristotelian Thomism, which emphasizes the importance of the study of the philosophy of nature. The Web site SummaTheologiae.blogspot.com is where he blogs Aquinas’ Summa every day, both in English and in Latin.


Leslie O'Dell

The Phenomenology of Artistic Creation: A Case Study

I am the parent of a child with special needs.  My daughter Sarah suffered brain damage which severely incapacitated her higher cognitive functions; yet she manifests a lively sense of humour and a capacity for artistic self-expression.  This paper explores the function of creativity in her life and, in particular, her decade-long engagement with an imaginary world she calls Snakedom. In this paper I analyze the function of creativity within Sarah’s otherwise limited cognitive capacities and position her unique experience alongside reports of creative engagement by acknowledged artists (Nelson & Rawlings 2007,  Gardner 1993, Melrose 1988, West 1997). When theorizing about creativity, I am drawn to the work of those who are more interested in the processes within the individual (Albert, 1990, Amabile 1990, Woodman & Schoenfeldt 1989),  rather than those who define creativity in terms of the products of that creativity and their relative success or failure (Csikszentmihalyi 1990, Treffinger, Feldhusen & Isaksen 1990), though each of these theorists has offered insights that can be applied to my daughter’s experiences.

As a case study, Sarah offers a very particular perspective on the phenomenology of artistic creation, one that illuminates, literally as well as figuratively, creation as world-making.

Leslie O'Dell began her theatre career as an actor but found her true calling as a director (over 100 professional and academic productions), script writer (20 plays performed, 7 completed film scripts) and teacher of actors. After 15 seasons at the Shakespearean Festival in Stratford, Ontario, she published three books for actors: Shakespearean Scholarship, Shakespearean Language, and Shakespearean Characterization (Greenwood, 2001). She has also written course textbooks for advanced acting and directing students as well as a practical guide to acting for opera singers. Her forthcoming book, The Charismatic Chameleon, is a study of the psychology of acting. She is now working on a book-length study of the phenomenology of masks and an actor’s experience of character, based on her 20-year exploration of character masks. Leslie O’Dell is a Professor of English, Film, and Theatre at Wilfrid Laurier University, where she has taught acting, directing, play writing, film and dramatic literature at the undergraduate and graduate levels and acting for singers for Laurier’s Faculty of Music since 1983. She received her Honours B.A. in Drama from Queen’s University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Graduate Centre for the Study of Drama at the University of Toronto.


Jamin R. Pelkey

Creative Metaphor as Abductive Event

Ongoing work in cognitive science and Peircean semiotics continues to reveal the pervasive, interdisciplinary nature of metaphor. The human ability to imagine one kind of thing in terms of another (conceptual mapping) or to image two or more kinds of thing in terms of each other (conceptual blending) cannot be restricted to linguistic tokens. Rather, metaphor appears to be ubiquitous in human meaning construal, emerging from processes that are embodied, social and neurological. One challenge facing metaphor theorists and practitioners alike, however, is the tension between approaching metaphor as entity or activity, object or event. If, as has traditionally been assumed, metaphors are primarily entities, referential tokens or artifacts become the ‘objects’ of study, and dyadic procedures may still be used to reduce metaphor to mechanical, formalist accounts. If metaphor is an activity, on the other hand, token examples are simply records or prompts by means of which we experience or re-experience metaphoric events. Metaphor as event is fundamentally triadic and non-reductive, allowing for gradient, diachronic accounts. In this paper I wish to further the argument in favor of metaphor-as-event. First, I revisit Ricoeur’s (1978) description of creative metaphoric action as the experience of a solution to an enigma, involving the interaction of reason, imagination and feeling. This, in turn, I connect with C. S. Peirce’s formative concept of abductive inference—the experience of adopting an explanatory hypothesis by observing relationships between phenomena that had once been considered only in isolation. The paper goes on to argue that metaphoric activity does not cease with abductive inference. Induction and deduction simply involve the habituation or automation of the metaphoric experience such that relevant associations become more and more deeply situated in the unconscious mind via neurological networks. According to Müller (2008), the gradient, diachronic nature of metaphor justifies a dynamic cline involving ‘novel’, ‘entrenched’ and ‘historical’ classifications. I argue that novel metaphoric events are abductive. These in turn become entrenched via induction before eventually fossilizing as historic concepts via deduction. Under this account, metaphoric activity would be inseparable from semiotic inquiry, scientific method and relational logic.

Jamin Pelkey is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the Canada Institute of Linguistics, Trinity Western University, and an instructor in the English Department at University of the Fraser Valley. He received a PhD in Linguistics from La Trobe University, Australia, in 2009, and carried out extensive anthropological and linguistic research in southwest China between 1997 and 2008. He has published and presented his research in five countries, and his first book, Dialectology as Dialectic, is under contract with De Gruyter Mouton. Jamin’s daughter Quynh and his wife Stephanie are his primary human interests; his primary research interests include Tibeto-Burman, historical linguistics, dialectology, cognitive science, philosophy of language, metaphor and semiotics.


Carl Peters

Beyond Even Faithful Legends: bill bissett’s image being in the Continuous Present

There is a new humanism afoot that will one day touch the world to its core.  – bpNichol

The only poetic tradition is the voice out of the burning bush. The rest is trash and will be consumed.      – Allen Ginsberg

It’s quite simple. bill bissett is singularly the most important creative force Canada has ever produced. As a painter, musician, poet and performance artist he is certainly the most protean, prolific and epical. bissett’s many books, chapbooks, paintings, drawings, collages and assemblages are a remarkable archive of the artist in life at work. From this vast output and material, bissett’s most recent book, sublingual, is one of the most astonishing. Publisher Karl Siegler writes: “sublingual is perhaps the most highly structured yet of bill bissett’s ‘textual visions.’ Its first seven poems construct a Genesis, beginning with a poem of birth – our pre-sub-lingual first breath, a phenomenological gesture of recognition, of both being and belonging, in and of the world” (blurb).

This notion of Genesis constitutes more than a beginning in bissett’s work; it is more than a theme or concept; it is more than history, more than myth – beyond even faithful legends; it is, for bissett, a condition of pure being – the objective experience of creation – being in itself for itself. In my paper, I explore the relationship between cognition – self creation as self-fulfillment – and bissett’s assimilation of Gertrude Stein’s poetics of the prolonged present. It is this interfacing of being, beginning and the continuous present which ultimately defines bill bissett’s spiritual and ethical imagination, and, above all, his humanism:

evree brain is different    if life is a cawsyunaree tail

what is it preparing us 4    duz aneewun know  uv

kours not  dew yu heer that sound in th bush  th

sound uv bells in th wind

            (“sumtimes yu can wundr,” sublingual 8)

Carl Peters wrote his MA thesis on bpNichol and the Kabbalah and his doctoral thesis on Nichol and the practice of the sacred. His critical study of bill bissett is due out from Talonbooks in the spring of 2011. Dr. Peters teaches poetics and avant-garde art at the University of the Fraser Valley.


Kevin Schut

(Structured) Play as Genesis:  Morals, Ethics and Religion in Video Games

As a relatively new medium and art form, video games are still developing many of the conventions that will guide its practices for the next few decades.  However, the output of the last few decades is remarkably large and has already demonstrated the potential of the medium.  Today’s video game is a mix of cinematic display, computerized input and automation, and the non-digital game form.  As such, it is opening up new ways of engaging and experiencing culture.  This paper considers how video games allow users to experience moral, ethical and religious issues and ideas in a fundamentally different context.  After examining the different tools of communication that a video game can employ—individual signs, narrative patterns and game worlds—the paper will use a textual analysis of Civilization IV to demonstrate how the systematic nature of games turn morals, ethics and religions into machines.  A textual analysis of Dragon Age will then evaluate whether the tools of narrative truly provide a different approach to the same issues.  Finally, an analysis of several online games will bring attention to the moral, ethical and religious implications of player interaction.  Each stage of the paper will draw attention to what the medium of video games makes possible, and what it carries over from previous media.  In short, the main question will be: how does the medium generate unique appreciations and understandings of morality, ethics and religion?

Kevin Schut (Associate Professor, Trinity Western University, department of Communications) tells people he plays video games for a living and it’s partly true.  He received his doctorate from the University of Iowa in 2004 for a dissertation on the study of computer Fantasy role-playing games.  His work draws on McLuhan-inspired media ecology theory, critical cultural studies, and social constructionist theory.  He has published articles on video games and history, games and myth-making, as well as evangelicals and video games.  He lives in Abbotsford, where he loves playing games with his family and friends.


Linda Schwartz

Adorno’s Modernist Philosophy of Music: Negative Dialectics as Aesthetic Moral Praxis

Adorno refused to countenance either the affirmation of ideological constructions as true or the denial of the truth moment of ideology.  This tension is at the heart of his theory of negative dialectics.  Adorno’s thinking is predicated on a structural imperative that underlies his opposition to identity thinking: there is a moral social practice that is historical; and music – if it is authentically art – must reproduce, in its inner relations, the principle of structuration that constitutes true sociality and historicity.

This paper endeavors to examine the modernist aesthetic philosophy of Adorno in light of his theory of negative dialectics, in order to establish a framework for reading Adorno responsibly within music scholarship. Arnold Schoenberg’s creative genesis and evolution is examined by Adorno, who, like Schoenberg, believed that the integrity of the work of art occurs in its longing for, but never quite attaining, a reconciliation of its disparate elements – both in the material and  metaphysical sense.  The integrity of the musical artwork occurs in the working out of contradictions between the natural drive toward structural coherence and the simultaneous autonomy of evanescent surface gestures, resulting in a unity that is not too easily achieved.

Linda Schwartz is Vice-President, Academic at Medicine Hat College, and is Adjunct Professor of the School of the Arts, Media and Culture, Trinity Western University.  She holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies, specializing in music theory pedagogy, critical theory and music hermeneutics.


Rachel Hostetter Smith

Creativity, Imagination, and the Spirit of Play: Being Human in a Post-Human World

We are living in a time that is commonly recognized as post-Christian and post-modern which is also increasingly characterized as a post-human age. When the systems and technologies of contemporary life frequently take precedence over the needs and interests of the individual human beings who use them, one has to ask “what is a human being?”  In a world where there is no agreement over the nature, definition, or value of the human being, this is perhaps the most pressing question to address. The philosopher Rollo May identified creativity as one of the fundamental characteristics of the human being. He defined creativity as “the process of bringing something new into being.” This in and of itself may not seem particularly remarkable, but it is May’s explication of the conditions and process which gives rise to creativity and creation that is illuminating. Distinguishing between talent and creativity, May recognizes creativity as moving beyond ability, requiring an act. The social historian Johannes Huizinga, on the other hand, identifies the play spirit as the distinctive aspect of the human being where the imagination brings about new knowledge and possibilities.  So what do these two conceptions of the human being have to do with one another? This paper will explore the nature of creativity and the play spirit and the imagination as the essential, god-given, and indispensible characteristic of human being.

Rachel Hostetter Smith holds the Gilkison Chair in Art History at Taylor University. She worked in book publishing for many years and was a member of the graduate faculty of the School of Comparative Arts at Ohio University prior to joining the faculty of Taylor University in Indiana where she served as chair of the Art Department for eight years. She has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome on two occasions, a participant in NEH Summer Seminars in Paris and York, and has taught in Orvieto, Italy and in Vancouver, British Columbia. Smith is a member of the Board of Directors of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) and chair of the Publications Board of CIVA’s journal SEEN. The recipient of the Best Article of the Year Award from the journal Explorations in Renaissance Culture, Smith publishes on a wide range of topics in the arts including art, architecture, literature and film. Currently she is serving as project director and curator of Charis: Boundary Crossings—Neighbors Strangers Family Friends, an international traveling exhibition of work by fourteen Asian and North American artists that is a response to their shared experience in a immersive seminar held in Indonesia in 2008. Smith is now developing a follow-up project with the Nagel Institute of Calvin College in China, South Africa, or Peru. Smith is also the 2010 recipient of the Franklin W. and Joan M. Forman Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award at Taylor University.


Mark Sprinkle

Progressive Creation: Artists and Others in Ecologies of Signs.

It is said that artists “lose control” of the meaning of their art once it moves beyond the studio into the public realm of the gallery; indeed, the postmodern truism that all meaning is conditional and context-dependent seems especially applicable to non-verbal works that are, therefore, especially prone to being re-appropriated and filled with new meanings by each viewer.   In response, many artists opt for remaining aloof from such negotiation, claiming either to be the sole source of meaning or, conversely, disavowing any interest in the process of signification once the painting leaves the studio or gallery.  Both of these positions, however, accede to the idea that the artist/viewer relationship is one of profound separation and distance, rather than part of an integrated whole—that artistic “genesis” is a solitary, one-off event, whatever befalls the work of art once it enters the world. To the contrary, this presentation will outline an ecological or evolutionary model of artistic genesis that does not simplify or denigrate the role of the original act of creation, but nevertheless presents the ways that the richness of a work of art develops progressively, within complex social relationships that include—but do not end with—the artist, and drawing attention to the way that the relationships of influence between artist and patron or buyer are and should be multi-directional.  Based on a decade of ethnographic research and many additional years of practice as a professional painter, the paper argues that the ability of paintings and other tangible works of art to help fix and recall personal, family, and cultural identity is most powerful when such signs are grounded in the physical context of daily life, the richness of meaning only fully realized as a collaboration between the artist and those who “make it their own” on an on-going basis.

Born and raised in Texas, Mark graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, with majors in painting and American Studies and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  Thereafter, he began his professional career as a painter and craftsman focused on the way that artworks mediate between different social and personal landscapes (public/private, urban/rural, black/white, now/then), but his desire to ground his expressive practice in a rigorous understanding of what art is and does in various cultural contexts led to M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in American Studies from the College of William & Mary. Meanwhile, a position as Research Associate at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts took him and his wife, Beth, to Richmond, VA in 1992, where they continue to live with their three sons.  Mark’s work can be found in public and private collections across the US, in Great Britain, France and China, and he draws upon his combined practical and academic experience to encourage critical engagement with the meanings behind and flowing from the myriad artworks and images that make up our contemporary visual culture.


Ned Vankevich

Theo-Epistemic Cinema: Transontological Cinematics in the Films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Russian Christian Orthodox filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky has had an enormous influence on Eastern European cinema. His mystical approach to cinema can also be seen in the work of Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan.  This presentation will explore Tarkovsky’s unique cinematic style and imagery especially as it relates to existential ruptures as windows to the Spirit of God (or Theos). Tarkovsky is famous for finding novel auditory and imagistic “objective correlatives” (cinematics) which explore the mystical presence of Theos in the world. In doing so, Tarkovsky reveals the way cinematics—the temporal unfolding of image, narrative, immanence, and spirit within the life-world of a film—have a unique ability to awaken the psyche of both his characters and his audience to the existential interventions of the Holy Other amid the workings of mortality that enfold our lives. Viewed in this light, cinema for Tarkovsky becomes a vehicle for helping us freshly understand the incarnational wonder and working of the mysteries of mortality, memory, and mysticism. Such a process can be understood to be a form of transontological encounter which enlivens sensitivity to the presence of the unfathomable within everyday realities. This presentation seeks to reveal Tarkovsky’s seminal process by exploring the way Ceylan’s short film “Koza” (“Cocoon”) succinctly encapsulates a number of Tarkovsky’s cinematics. As such, the presenter will conduct a “close reading” and analysis of the way Ceylan’s visual and audio metaphors, symbols, and iconography function as epistemic and spiritual stimuli as well as ruptures and windows which shuttle between the human and the Divine.


Jeff R. Warren

Theorizing the Genesis of Music and Human Relationships

In many important ways, performance is the genesis of music. While music may ‘virtually’ exist in the head of a composer, making sounds introduces something new into the world. In this presentation I examine how theories of musical performance relate to theories of human relationships. In short, I ask how theories of the genesis of musical sounds impacts ideas about social relationships, and vice versa. I concentrate on three theorizations of performance. The first explores links between the platonic conception of musical works and moral law. The second is the elevation of jazz improvisation as the ideal model of social interaction. The third is the relation between performance as the negotiation of contingencies within limitations and the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas.

Jeff R. Warren, Ph.D. (cand.) is Assistant Professor of Music at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. He has presented and published internationally on musical improvisation, meaning in music, soundscape, modern European philosophy, and ethics. Jeff’s creative work includes sound installations, jazz composition, and performance on double bass. Jeff is a Ph.D. candidate in music and philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he is studying with Andrew Bowie and Nicholas Cook.