This lecture will present the bridge as a structure of interconnectivity by which one passes from one form or familiarity to another. The bridge is a model of communication. By locking two into the space of one, it enables thought and the experience of the social. Interdisciplinarity and transculturality also depend on bridges, approachable with lesser or greater degrees of enthusiasm. Ethics itself depends on a bridge, endorsing, like bridges at their best, reciprocal relationship. Harrison’s presentation will articulate several features of bridge-form while examining case studies that range from material history (bridges of trade and war, for example) to the ambitions of religion (binding a here to a transcendent there) and to accomplishments of poetry, music, and philosophy. Some specific exegeses will even aim to exemplify the otherwise theorized bridges between disciplines and the cultures articulated within them. For bridges are built not merely by putting things in contact, but by creating traffic between them.
Thomas Harrison is Professor of European Languages & Transcultural Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles. It is from his most recent study — Of Bridges: A Poetic and Philosophical Account (2021) — that this presentation is culled. He is also the author of 1910: The Emancipation of Dissonance, a study of pan-European expressionism, and of Essayism: Conrad, Musil and Pirandello. His L’arte dell’incompiuto has appeared in Italian. He has edited Nietzsche in Italy, with contributions by Agamben, Serres, and Nancy; The Favorite Malice: Ontology and Reference in Contemporary Italian Poetry; and, with Gian Maria Annovi, The Ends of Poetry, containing critical studies alongside an anthology of forty contemporary poets. He has written essays on Georg Simmel, Claudio Magris, Carlo Michelstaeder, Gianni Vattimo, Michelangelo Antonioni, and several topics in the comparative arts.