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Visiting professor gives insight into da Vinci’s unique vision of nature

by Lizzie Norgard
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER

Visiting Professor of Art History from the University of Rome, Ricardo de Mambro Santos, explored Leonardo da Vinci’s unprecedented vision of nature in his farewell lecture “Leonardo da Vinci: the Invention of Nature” on Dec. 4.

Professor Mambro Santos began by saying that Leonardo da Vinci was especially interested in the movements of living things. Da Vinci approached every object of study from his preoccupation with motion. “In words or images, he struggled to grasp the laws of transformation and life’s basic principle [of motion],” Mambro Santos said.

Leonardo da Vinci recognized that the same principles of motion could be found in both the microcosms and macrocosm of nature. Mambro Santos used examples from the scientific manuscript “Codex Leicester,” in which da Vinci grappled with the mathematical principles of motion common to all natural bodies. “In these pages, Leonardo systematically analyzed the relationship between micro- and macrocosm, comparing human physiology to the physical morphology of the world,” Mambro Santos said.

The artist was particularly interested in the movement of water. “Leonardo associated all forms of organic life and every effect of growth, transformation and variety in nature, from plants to animals, from human bones to rocks, to the dynamics of water,” Mambro Santos said.

Leonardo imitated the swirling, spiraling patterns of water in human hair, clouds and the motion of leaves in the air. Mambro Santos said that it is possible that the Codex Leicester was intended as a manual for hydraulic technology. “About one third of the illustrations presented in the Codex are made up of astonishing representations of water currents, leaks and vortexes,” Mambro Santos said. He showed several drawings of human hair in particular, which he represented in spirals and waves.

Mambro Santos pointed out that Leonardo da Vinci was the first artist to use the spiral as a way to graphically represent movement. “Now we take it for granted that such a shape, the spiral, can be used as a visual translation for the depiction of movement, forgetting that this form is not at all a natural one, but a culturally determined convention, and Leonardo was the first artist who tried to explore its graphic and pictorial implications,” Mambro Santos said. Because of Leonardo’s explorations, it seems natural to us to use spirals, curves and waves to represent movement in drawings such as comic strips.

Mambro Santos also discussed the way Leonardo’s portraits imitated other natural shapes, such as animals and rocks. These comparisons between faces and natural shapes not only exposed similarities between human physiology and the universe, but also conveyed a metamorphosis from one shape to another, a return to elementary matter. Mambro Santos showed portraits in which facial bone structure had been depicted as rocky cliffs and facial expressions likened to the faces of animals to portray temperament.

Leonardo’s technique in his drawings and paintings, which Mambro Santos called “Sfumato,” was ideal for imitating natural movements. Sfumato means “smooth rendering” and is characterized by soft contours and the absence of bold outlines. Blending and shadow are used instead to portray changing shape and distinctions between objects. Mambro Santos compared Leonardo’s portraits to those of other artists to show the effect of Sfumato in imitating natural movements.

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T-Sports faces off against WSU’s Nuthouse despite rowdy crowd

Heckling at show raises concern
by Christina Russell
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER

Last Friday students flocked to Maxey Auditorium, where Whitman’s Theatre Sports troupe faced Washington State’s Nuthouse in a game of improvisation. The evening started like any other T-Sports performance, save for the midnight show time and Washington’s presence on the stage. “No alcohol allowed” signs laced the entrance, but as Whitties piled into the building, an escalation in noise served to expose the state of the audience.

As the show unfolded, talking did not cease and progressed to heckling while Nuthouse was up.

“I remember turning my head more than once to see who could possibly say most of the stuff that was said,” said first-year Nadim Damluji. “I thought I was in a venue with my peers, but I felt alone.”

When Theatre Sports asked for audience participation in a game involving thinking of something you really wouldn’t want to do, Whitties yelled, “Attend Wazzu! Live in Pullman! Be a Coug!” One Nuthouse performer responded, “At least I go to school and won’t end up working at McDonald’s.”

In a statement released by members of Theatre Sports, the team reflected on the evening’s events and said the following: “Friday’s show left a sort of bad taste in our mouths. We did a similar midnight show a couple years back with WSU. The atmosphere for that show was relatively rowdy for the obvious reason that it was a midnight show on a Friday, but we didn’t see nearly the same sort of unpleasant atmosphere we did for this last show.”

WSU anticipated this behavior. In fact, Nuthouse director John Hanus was part of the original group that performed on campus two years ago and knew what to expect. “I sent the five people I did because they are the more aggressive improv players on my team. If Whitman was rowdy I knew they could handle it and would be able to steamroll through all of them.” WSU had approached Whitman to do this performance, in an attempt to “strengthen relations and connect eastern Washington,” said Hanus.

Nuthouse players were ready for the criticism but felt that their performance was impacted. “I don’t mind being a kind of sacrificial lamb once in a while, I’m a big boy, I can handle it,” said Nuthouse member Jared Chastain. Chastain acknowledged what was at the core of a lot of criticism that WSU received that night: “Players that were the most vulgar were definitely from Pullman. I know those players very well; they aren’t like that at home. I could tell they were nervous.”

While the WSU audience sat “very attentive” according to Chastain, Whitman was “more like a video game, really interactive. That startled the players.” One player, Chris Hayes, said that he “noticed there were a lot of people in the audience ‘shooshing’ the hecklers,” exposing the dichotomous nature of audience members. “We were told Whitman gets competitive,” said Hayes.

Theatre Sports has considered never hosting an event of this nature again because of last Friday night.

“We’re not sure what made this show different, but in the future when we do competitive shows with teams from other schools, they won’t take place on a weekend night and they will definitely be much earlier. This kind of show at a late hour clearly doesn’t foster the best audience-performer relationship. There was a certain level of vulgarity that should remain intolerable.”

Theatre Sports has been apologetic for what happened. “We sincerely apologize to anyone who had an unpleasant experience, and we hope to use the semester’s last show to make it up to you.”

T-Sports will tentatively be holding a long-form show in Kimball on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. The show will be entitled “Theatre Sports gets clean.”

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Alumni return to Whitman as staff, learn how a competitive college operates

by Lizzie Norgard
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER

As ’06 alumnus Evan Carman puts it, working for the college as a former student offers a “unique perspective.” Many recent graduates connect to Whitman in new ways as they take on positions with the college staff, learning about the mechanics of the college and relating to the community in ways they never did as students. Alumni Lindsey Gehrig, Lea Simek and Evan Carman shared their experiences.

Lindsey Gehrig, who graduated in ’05 and majored in Politics, works as an Administrative Assistant in the Development Office. Located in the Memorial Building, the Development Office is in charge of procuring funds for Whitman in the form of gifts, endowments and non-monetary donations. Gehrig does work for several different branches of the Development Office. Her job involves research and writing, filing, special projects and other office work.

Gehrig was contacted about the job last year when she was teaching abroad in the “Whitman in China” program. She had worked for the Development Office when she was a senior at Whitman, so she already had a connection with the people and the work. Gehrig’s interview took place over web-cam while she was still in China, and she began working in August, shortly after she returned to the U.S.

Gehrig said that the people she has worked with in the Development Office have influenced her decision to return to the job. “For me it doesn’t matter what I’m doing as long as I admire and respect the people who I’m doing it for, and that’s certainly the case here, so in that regard I would come back in a heartbeat,” she said. Gehrig plans to work for the Development Office until she attends graduate school, which she anticipates will be next year. She plans to earn a master’s degree in International Relations and Foreign Policy.

When asked what she has learned about the college since she started working this year, Gehrig said, “As a student I didn’t understand in full what the Development Office does … I think it’s easy as a student to get wrapped up in your course work, and your assignments and your deadlines—and of course that’s what you’re supposed to do, you’re a student—but at the same time there are so many other things going on to make the college a successful institution.” Gehrig is currently involved in the process of financing the Center for Visual Arts. She also said that she has come to appreciate the people at work behind the scenes from her contact with staff from other offices in Mem, and described it as “a great environment.”

Lea Simek, a graduate of ’06 who majored in Psychology and German Literature, currently works part-time at the library as a Circulation Supervisor. Simek also worked in the library as a student. She said that much about her job remains the same, though she has “more responsibility” in her current position. “The only real difference is that I supervise student [workers], and instead of working at the desk with patrons I process reserve materials in the back,” she said. Simek’s job entails working weekends at the library processing reading reserves for 20 different classes. She also serves as a link between the students and Bill Huntington, the Circulation Manager, who is out of the library on the weekends.

Simek began working at her current position in September. She found the job advertised online and said it was easy to get hired. “I got the impression when I was interviewed that they were already planning to hire me and that they were helping me out,” she said.

Originally from Croatia, Simek said that she plans to continue working at the library until her work permit expires in June, at which point she will return to Europe and pursue an M.A. in International and Comparative Education. She said, “I want to have a career in organizations that stimulate international student exchange and that open up education to disadvantaged populations.” Regarding her career plan, Simek said, “It’s not necessarily connected to the job [at the library], but my role of making information available to students is basically what I would be doing in international education.”

When asked about how her view of Whitman has changed since she started working this year, Simek said, “As a student I was never really thinking about the relationship of Whitman to staff. At Whitman the staff are treated as a family.” Simek mentioned several benefits that full-time staff receive. She said that her sense of Whitman’s “community feeling” has been “reinforced” by her closer interaction with the staff.

Evan Carman, an ’06 graduate with an Economics major, is one of seven recent alumni who work for the college as Resident Directors. As RD of the Interest House Community, Carman works with the 11 RAs of the IHC and meets with them every week to discuss IHC issues. He also goes to the interest houses for dinner as often as he can. “The students are one of the great joys of the job, and I really enjoy getting to know them,” Carman said.

When asked when he decided to apply for the job, Carman said, “I thought about it when I was an RA, and as the time came nearer to apply it seemed like a better and better idea. I didn’t have a very clear idea of what I wanted to do after college, so this is a great way to stick around doing that I really enjoyed as a student, but in a much different context, and also a chance to make a difference here and give back to the community that’s given me so much.”

With regard to how his job as an RD relates to further career plans, Carman said, “I think it’s a great experience to be in a more supervisory role. I’ve learned a lot about what my working style is and what other people’s working style is, and in general it calls for a lot of interpersonal skills, which I think are applicable to a number of different fields.”

Carman also said that he has learned more about college administration since working as an RD. “Stuff like budgets and where money comes from I hadn’t even really considered has a student, because, why would you? Things run smoothly and that’s it. … We have meetings every other week with people from Student Services, so it’s really great to see what people around campus are doing. I’m learning a lot about what other staff members of the college are involved with, and that’s really interesting.”

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Snoqualmie Pass may be unsafe

by Jamie Soukup
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER

The drive from Seattle to Whitman College under normal conditions typically takes around five hours, driving the speed limit. But many students were not so lucky on their trips back to school after Thanksgiving Break. The snowstorm in Snoqualmie Pass caused considerable trouble for those heading eastbound back to school.

Those who headed back to school on Saturday, Nov. 25 met with little trouble, but those who attempted returns on Sunday faced less than desirable conditions.

Some who left early on Sunday were fortunate enough to miss a snow-covered road. Junior Kari Berkas left at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, and said that although the roads were clear, tire chains were still required of all vehicles. “The traffic was bumper-to-bumper,” said Berkas. It took her approximately two hours to make it through the pass; in ideal conditions, the drive through the pass is estimated as lasting 15 minutes.

Many of those returning to campus later on Sunday from Seattle were those with tickets for the Whitman charter bus. The two buses were delayed an hour and a half, due to the buses’ difficulties in crossing the pass westbound.

“The pass was just wretched,” said first-year Claire Lueneburg, a rider of the charter bus. “There were lots of cars that had skidded off the road. It freaked me out.”

The buses were scheduled to arrive at campus around 5:30 to 6 p.m. They finally arrived at 10:30 p.m.

“It was frustrating because we weren’t on time, but there was just nothing that anybody could have done,” said Lueneburg.

First-year Jordan Clark, the driver of a car heading back to Whitman from Seattle, said, “I was a little bit frustrated because I, of course, left my core reading until that night.”

Some things to keep in mind for Winter Break:

Check the 10-day forecast for Snoqualmie Pass at http://www.weather.com to see if one day is particularly better than another.
Make sure to have tire chains, an ice scraper, a small shovel and a brush in your car.

Keep snow boots and warm jacket in your car in case you need to leave the vehicle.

Bring cash, especially if you are driving alone or have never put tire chains on before. There are often small companies who will install your tire chains for you for $25 and remove them after the pass for $10.

Fill up on gas before departing as usual, but when heading westbound to Seattle, fill up again before reaching the pass (in Cle Elum, for example). Then, if you are stuck in traffic in the pass, you can keep the car running and the heat on high without having to worry about running out of fuel.

If you are stuck in traffic when it is snowing heavily, it may be necessary to leave the car and shovel snow from the tailpipe; if snow is blocking it, carbon dioxide can back up into the car, making you sick—or worse.

If driving through Snoqualmie Pass is completely undesirable, taking Interstate-84 to Portland and then rerouting to Seattle is often a less stressful and safer option.

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Walla Walla gets scary for Halloween weekend

by Andrea Miller
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER

North Haunted House

Roaring chainsaws, an inverted William Shatner mask famously known as the face of Michael Myers and a jaunty but horrifying clown—these are the bare essentials for all entertainment but especially entertainment in the forms of haunted houses or corn mazes.

The annual North Hall Haunted Hospital opened its doors for just three hours on the night of Oct. 28. Admission was a suggested donation of $3 or cans of food, the proceeds from which are going to Save Wonderful Animals Team (S.W.A.T.) and Helpline.

S.W.A.T. is a program that provides animals with foster home care instead of the standard shelter care; the program relies on “volunteers [to] coordinate local resources to take care of immediate/emergency crises.” Helpline provides the community with emergency social services.

According to junior Jesse Lord, RA of North Hall, there were 50 to 60 people involved in the haunting, including tour guides. Lord said that the number of actors who came to help pleased him.

According to Lord, group leaders organized plans for a theme of each floor; the fourth floor was the burn unit, the third was the delivery/operating room, the second was the psychiatric ward, and the basement held the gory kitchen and a funeral procession.

“Gore is really important in everyone’s life,” said junior Kate Rosenberg, an actor for the Haunted Hospital. Rosenberg and a motley crew of friends cooked up shock and fear in the Gory Kitchen.

On the menu for the evening: Rosenberg intended to give the visitors’ “tear ducts some exercise.” She said it was necessary to have the “morbid on your mind for a solid three days prior” to the hours spent shocking and frightening visitors in the hospital.

Rosenberg said she counted “on the inspiration of the divine” to help her be the goriest kitchen cook possible.

Walla Walla Corn Maze

The Walla Walla Corn Maze opened its stalks in the middle of September and remained open for business through Halloween Day.

From Oct. 26 to 31, the maze was “scary.” Admittance to the maze cost visitors $6 and possibly their voices if they were prone to screaming in frightening situations. During the scary session of the maze, there were about 15 to 20 people lurking in the corn stalks frightening maze-goers.

According to the concession staff, it takes one week to stake and cut the maze. Someone creates a design, draws it on graph paper, stakes it out in the field and cuts the pattern out on riding mowers when the corn is about knee high.

Juniors Katie Avery and Hayley Hillman said that it took them and their friends about 45 minutes to find their way through the maze. Avery noted the difficulty in navigating a successful path because “it was hard to stay focused on the maze and what was coming next.”

The large numbers of people apparently detracted from the intended fear of the ghouls in the corn. Junior Beth David said that “the fact that it was so crowded made it not as scary.”

Junior Kramer Phillips claimed he “was brave, so [he] was not scared,” but friends recalled him jumping five feet into the air and screaming as a man behind bars greeted him and also heard him squealing in a high-pitched voice “Where’s my group?!” after having escaped Michael Myers.

The cruxes of the maze were back-to-back encounters with Jason with his chainsaw and Michael Myers with his enormous knife.

The sounds of the chainsaw roaring over the synthesized version of the Michael Myers theme were more than enough to completely frighten any visitor. (Except for the twelve-year-old who whined, “This sucks.”)

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Tully redefines imperialism

by Lizzie Norgard
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER

“Is there a form of imperialism still in existence in the present, even though we passed through decolonization in the mid-20th century?” James Tully, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Law, Indigenous Governance and Philosophy at the University of Victoria, addressed this question in his Oct. 26 lecture “On Imperialism.”

Tully argued that contemporary imperialism does exist but that it has taken place only “informally” since Western decolonization. He traced the history of informal imperialism to well before the Cold War, when Western powers began to establish newly exploitative relationships with formerly colonized nations.

Tully pointed to several reasons explaining why many people remain unaware of contemporary imperialism. He said that “the languages we use to describe the global order…tend to obscure the imperial features of the present.”

These languages include terms such as “globalization,” “democratization,” “modernization” and “development;” all of which were used by 19th century theorists to describe and justify formal imperialism and European expansion. Lacking that context, we use these terms unaware of their imperialist implications.

Tully also said that even contemporary critics of “new” Western imperialism, who fancy themselves “anti-imperialist,” in fact advocate a version of informal imperialism.

Critics of the “new imperialism” oppose its unilateralism, disregard for international law and preemptive military intervention. Instead, they recommend multilateralism, adherence to international law and democratization.

Tully mentioned two “wings” of imperialism that mirror this opposition, originally corresponding to the policies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

Unlike colonial imperialism, informal imperialism “permits self-rule, and eventual self-determination, within a wider protectorate or sphere of influence, while…inducing them to open their resources, labor and markets to free trade by establishing the necessary legal and political forms themselves…. You have imperial rule, but you allow local liberty.”

Dominated nations may be formally autonomous, and their relationship to formerly colonial powers may be “interactive,” but economic and military inequalities perpetuate the imperialist relationship. Imperialism can therefore work beneath the guises of multilateralism and democracy.

Tully said that informal means of imperialism include “recognition of quasi-sovereignty, unequal treaties, economic and military aid and dependency, civilization of natives by voluntary and religious organizations and Western legal, political, economic and military experts, and finally threats of military intervention if all else fails.”

Informal imperialism has historically followed colonial rule and prolonged Western hegemony over formally sovereign nations; Tully mentioned the 19th century British domination of Latin America as an example. He said that informal imperialism has also historically been called “free trade” and “open door” imperialism.

When asked by a student if imperialism is inevitable, Tully affirmed the concrete existence of pluralism. He said that “alternative civilizations persist beyond the reach of the West,” and that moving beyond imperialism would mean supporting the actual existence of these systems.

Tully said that although people say that another world is possible, “there is a stronger sense in which another world is actual.”

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Film examines intersection of sexuality, faith

by Caitlin Tortorici
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER

On Oct. 24 in Kimball Theater, Professor Melissa Wilcox presented her documentary, “Each of Us: A Documentary on Religion, Gender and Sexuality.” The film included interviews with six people of various sexualities, ethnicities and religious backgrounds in order to explore how these facets of identity intersect with religious beliefs and practices.

“The goal of the project was to see where the women were and what they were doing and why,” said Wilcox, who began her study after noting the dominating male population in GLBTQ religious organizations.

Wilcox sought to create a film that focused on women’s spirituality outside of traditional religion. “There are great films about what it is to be Jewish and queer, said Wilcox. “There are few films about what it means to be Christian and queer. There’s a film coming out now about how to be Muslim and queer, but there’s nothing asking, ‘What if it’s not so simple? What if you’re not just Christian, or not just Jewish, or not just Muslim?’”

Wilcox found Los Angeles a convenient and appropriate place to conduct her research. “I needed a large community, so that would be essentially it. L.A. is also interesting for a project like this because it is where the majority of LGBT religious movements were founded,” said Wilcox.

Of 29 people interviewed, Wilcox chose six whose stories best represented the religious diversity of the city. With the help of editors Rich Jones and Morgan Ross, Wilcox narrowed 40 hours of footage down to one.

New to the film scene, Wilcox apparently shot the film in the “wrong format.” Nevertheless, she hopes it will make television and the American Academy of Religion Film Festival.

For those interested in exploring women’s religion further, Wilcox recommended Karen McCarthy Brown’s “Mama Lola” and Joseph Murphy’s “Working the Spirit.”

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