30 October, 2009

The loss of knowledge

This afternoon I went to a memorial service for Roger Green, a very eminent archaeologist who died recently. I knew him moderately well, liked him and have published a paper with him (with me as third author!), but I felt somewhat on the periphery of a lot of people who were very very good and old friends, students of his, family and so on. Memorial services are always so moving, the grief of others is contagious! So many lovely stories and memories, professional and personal and I feel regret that I didn't know him better. But life is what it is, and I also know the logical reasons why I didn't go to him for advice and professional guidance - nothing much in it other than he was retired by the time I showed up at the Dept. and his interests had largely moved to other areas. I feel honoured that he knew my name and what I was up to to be honest!

What is most sobering is that when a great mind goes then all that knowledge and experience goes too. That's not limited to the academic world I know, perhaps crafting is another where it has a similar impact. The only thing that saves us is that that knowledge can in some part be passed on to others. I read a fabulous essay once by a museum person about his whakapapa (geneology) and he cited all the great thinkers of Western tradition - Socrates, Newton, Einstein etc., and the ways of thinking that had been passed down from generation to generation. I discovered this afternoon that my Master's supervisor was one of Roger's students, so in a way he was my academic grandparent. He was part of my whakapapa.

This was on the back of the programme:

E hara i te mea
No naianei te aroha
No nga tupuna
Tuku iho, tuku iho

It is not a new thing,
Todays love is
from our ancestors
handed down, handed down

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear about it. Didn't know him, but my Google Alert caught reference to someone with my name here in Albany, NY, US



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