Wonderful: Poetic Insights on Awe, Mood, and Meaning
Sunday, December 6
Jennifer Michael Hecht
2 West 64th Street
“In every age, unbelievers worry about the loss of their old religion’s particular details. The atheists of Zeus, et al, wrote of missing the gods’ guidance, but not of missing the afterlife — because the Olympian religion had never offered them one. We today have a meaning problem because, as a culture, we just got out of a relationship with a character named God who was understood to be the source of human meaning. Note, instead, that the part of our religion that had helped us feel meaning, all along, was community, ritual, and the poetic instigation of awe. I will draw on the history of doubt and unbelief, and on poetry, to instigate some awe and re-envision mood and meaning.”
Jennifer Michael Hecht is an intellectual historian, poet, and commentator. She has written four books of history and philosophy including the bestseller Doubt: A History (HarperOne, 2003) and Stay (Yale, 2013), a secular argument against suicide. She holds a Ph.D. in the History of Science from Columbia University. Hecht has published three books of poetry, most recently Who Said (Copper Canyon, 2013) and has taught poetry seminars in the MFA programs of Columbia and the New School. She has been the featured guest on many NPR shows, including Brian Lehrer and On Being, and has appeared on tv, including Hardball MSNBC and The Morning Show. She lives in Brooklyn, a few blocks from where her great grandparents lived, with her husband and two children, and is at work on a new book on wonder and the secular sacred.