Leading phenomenologist and social critic visits U of M

Dr. Alphonso Lingis presented his newest work, “One’s Own Voice,” at the University of Manitoba on Oct. 2. Lingis travelled to Winnipeg from Pennsylvania University, where he is a professor emeritus of philosophy.

Lingis’ lecture was sponsored by Mosaic, a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature located at the U of M.

Mosaic publishes leading critical work within the realm of literature and theory, where Lingis’ work was recently published.

“Mosaic is a quarterly publication that brings insights from a variety of disciplines to bear on literary texts, cultural climates, topical issues, divergent art forms and modes of creative activity,” said Dawne McCance, editor of Mosaic and distinguished professor at the U of M.

Lingis was introduced by a story and then a recording of a woman using various sounds depicting human emotion and sounds for communication. This led to the reading of his work “One’s Own Voice.”

His reading began by speaking of language and how language can depict character. Some of the examples used were the words spoken by a mother, a drug addict, guy talk or the language of chemistry. Each classification of person or language has their own way of speech, which can group them together, making it easier to identify the classification in which they belong.

The presentation of his essay took over an hour, yet time did not drag as all eyes were on Lingis. Light music playing in the background was added for dramatic effect. Each time he reached a new page the old page was dropped to the ground, leaving a trail of his work and thoughts as he paced the floor.

When asked what prompted the exploration of the subject Lingis responded by saying that he is generally bothered by language that speaks about language. Academics in humanities tend to merely talk about texts and languages.

Lingis used the example of anthropologists who do not do research without grants, due to research being expensive, so they mostly write about prior anthropologists rather than communicating their own research.

Lingis’ goal is to say things as clear and forcibly as possible with liberation from academic forms of writing.

According to Lingis, “those who speak with their own voice, recognize the voice of others.”

Internationally, Lingis is known as a world-renowned philosopher, photographer, writer, and world traveler. The Pennsylvania professor is also known as an existentialist, phenomenologist, and world-renowned critic on the excesses and absurdities that abound in our society.

His criticism stems from the experience he has accumulated travelling to places like Brazil, Bolivia, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Papua-New Guinea, Bangladesh, Bali, and India.

Some of the world’s poorest countries have given Lingis a perspective that only world experience can create. His passion lies in meeting people from various communities to acquire a sense of what makes a community.

This passion has led him to theory work about community, but he relates his theories in a way that is different to how academics usually present theories. He reiterates his theories in beautiful prose, with intricate stories to illustrate his points.