This post is a student contribution from Claudia Moser’s class ARCH 1764: 25 Things! 250 Years of Brown’s Material Past

When first deciding which aspect of the celebration to attend, I was unsure how the weekend would correlate to what we have learned and discussed throughout the semester.  Therefore, I decided to attend a few different events starting with the first one, remarks by the World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim.

Jim Yong Kim’s event was highly anticipated and had limited seating, forcing me to stream the lecture from my computer at home.  Attending the lecture via computer proved to have some flaws, for the display was interrupted every so often, and I would have to refresh the page.  At first, I did not think much of this hindrance, yet by the end of the speech I started to notice a connection with our class discussions.

Just before questions, Jim Yong Kim asked the audience to remember how we felt at that very moment, to remember what we are passionate for and that we can change the world.  While this may have been the feeling within the room of the lecture hall, the removed lens through which I was watching did not allow me to feel the same emotions.  I felt somewhat disconnected from the entire process of celebrating Brown’s 250th anniversary.

I experienced the same feeling during the questions segment of the lecture.  One student asked how he would be able to get in touch with someone such as Mr. Kim; Mr. Kim responded that he should come down to the front of the room and take one of his business cards.  I realized if I’d wanted to do the same from my seat, it would have been practically impossible.  It was perhaps at this moment that I finally started to agree with Walter Benjamin.

During our class discussions, I argued vehemently against Benjamin, stating that there was authenticity in reproduction and the removed perspective.  However, after experiencing this lecture, I may have to change my viewpoint. Perhaps the lecture should not have been streamed for mass audience and instead limited to those who had tickets.  I was missing that one element of presence in time and space, and that lack of aura caused me to dislike the lecture.  It is my assumption that, had I been in the room, I would have a very different attitude towards the remarks.