Just a bit more to report on. On Friday between lunch and my tutorial, I rushed down to Christ Church for a quick survey of the cathedral and the best-known college in Oxford. Unfortunately, the dining hall which appears in the Harry Potter movies was closed (for lunch, presumably), but I did get a few pictures of the Tom Tower and quad, the cathedral, and the ceiling (note the bowler-hatted porters, called Custodians at CC).
I was searching for the chestnut tree which housed the Cheshire Cat, or at least the dean's cat that inspired Lewis Carroll. A friendly custodian advised me to ask the cathedral staff to open the door to the garden for me, and they did! A door marked Private was unlatched, and I was asked to remain on the stone terrace while I took my pictures. I enjoyed my view of the chestnut tree and the green door (specially noted by the guide, but I am embarrassed to admit is lost on me, I clearly need to re-read Alice).
In the museum the day before, I had already seen the Oxford dodo which inspired Carroll.
Our final classes took us into the 21st century with a short but lively discussion of Steven Pinker's "The Blank Slate," a provocative but in parts silly discussion of nature versus nurture, among many other things. Several people were fiercely opposed to Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene," not so much for his thesis as for the bleak view of the world that they think it offers. We must agree to disagree.
On Friday afternoon several of us joined forces with Karim's "Is There A God?" group for a philosophical walk up to Wolfson College, preceded by tea at Brown's, an Oxford institution. Here are Emma, Jerry, Astrid and I at Brown's.
Wolfson is a graduate college built in the 60s with modern buildings and a traditional lawn down to the Cherwell. Its first president was Isaiah Berlin, bringing me back to the beginning and my quoting his fox and hedgehog image in my preliminary essay.
Friday night brought a lovely dinner
and then the Entertainment. What a talented group! We started off with some angry political poetry recited in a mild voice by the man with the golden braids, then went on to include English folk songs, piano music by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Beethoven (the last was "Variations on God Save the Queen" performed by the Beethoven tutor with great panache), and two sketches, one a retelling of the opera "Orpheus" and the other a retelling of "The Brothers Karamazov" with three sisters instead of three brothers. Very satisfying to the performers, with the father played by the school friend of the scholar, wearing dramatic robes and a Russian hat.
The next morning was our final breakfast, and then Emma kindly gave me a ride to my hotel in Ealing, since she lives nearby.
Good-bye, Rewley House and OUSSA! I would love to return one day. Maybe next year...