Schwartz looks back on his beginnings as an art historian. Grad student blues and release through new loves.
The Nexus Institute is a standard-bearer of high culture in a Low Country. It holds extraordinary symposiums and lectures on the great issues not only of our day but of all times. It places emphatically before us ethical, philosophical and artistic issues that should be more a part of our lives than they usually are. The public events are held in English, with an always stellar international array of speakers. But the periodical in which the talks and other texts are published is brought out in Dutch, out of a praiseworthy commitment to maintaining a high level of literary quality in lowlands vernacular.
The founder and director of Nexus, Rob Riemen, is a man with a chip on his shoulder. Read the opening statement on the Nexus website:
The Nexus Institute was founded in 1994 to offer a counterweight to nowadays society and its mere one-dimensional focus on science, technology and commercial values through making the world, culture and philosophy of life of the European humanist tradition accessible to a general audience by the publication of collections of essays and books, masterclasses, symposia, lectures and the conferences with which the Nexus Institute gained its world reputation.
The feeling of being embattled gives Riemen the power to go on year after year, from strength to strength. When he asked me to contribute an essay to Nexus 75, Leerschool der musen (Education by the muse), it would have been a surrender to one-dimensionality to refuse. Here is what he wrote:
The inspiration about which I wrote indeed changed my life. My first discovery as an art historian, the subject of my first article, gave me my entry into the profession of Dutch art studies where I have abided since. I must say however that I do not share Rob Riemen’s disparaging attitude toward the education of young people today. The students I meet are at least as attached to the muses as I am. And not everything they may learn from my essay will be an encouragement.
Gary Schwartz, “My reflection in Clio’s mirror,” English copy for “Zo zie ik mij in Clios spiegel,” Nexus 75, 2017, pp. 84-93, in Loekie Schwartz’s translation.
Loekie Schwartz’s excellent translation of the article into Dutch can be read by members of Nexus (membership highly recommended) at https://nexus-instituut.nl/essay/clios-spiegel/.