Thursday, May 2, 2013

George Dyson on Veblen's Role in Preserving the Institute Woods

If you missed George Dyson's March 21 talk at DR Greenway, entitled "Princeton's Christopher Robin - Oswald Veblen and the Six Hundred-Acre Woods", here's a link to a high definition video, posted by videographer Kurt Tazelaar:

(May 4 update: technical difficulties seem to have made the photo and "play" button disappear, but the link should work)

Realizing I was going to be arriving back in town too late to hear the talk, I asked Kurt Tazelaar if he could videotape the presentation. He and Sally Curtis were willing, DR Greenway and George Dyson gave permission, and after considerable work by Kurt and Sally to put it in finished form, it was posted online.

Among other things, George describes how Oswald Veblen's grandparents lost their land in Norway due to a crooked lawyer, and how this may have fed Oswald's passion for land acquisition. Other insights in the talk include thinking of Veblen--who argued early on in favor of the Institute for Advanced Study acquiring considerable land, and then did much of the legwork and negotiating to acquire the first 600 acres--as the bridge between the Institute's intellects and the land on which they do their thinking.

The video also includes a charming intro by George's father, Freeman Dyson, and some photos and description of the years George spent living in a treehouse. The latter plays in to a theme that's been coming up more recently related to the project--the movement in architecture to design ultra-small houses.

Thanks to George, Kurt, Sally and the DR Greenway for making this video possible.

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