Podcast: Here at the Western World

Virtual Memories – season 2 episode 7
Tom May – Here at the Western World (The Piraeus Tapes II)

Back-to-back episodes of The Virtual Memories Show! Who’d a’ thunk it?

Around Memorial Day, I took a little vacation to my alma mater, St. John’s College, for a seminar on Flannery O’Connor, and got to interview two of my favorite tutors: David Townsend and Tom May. Because they both had so much to talk about, I decided to split this month’s show into two parts.

St. John's College, Annapolis, MD

This episode contains my conversation with Tom May, the first St. John’s tutor I ever met (that’s him, conducting the freshmen chorus, above). I find Mr. May — sorry, but I can’t get over those Johnnie traditions — fascinating and intensely thoughtful, and I was glad to learn some of his history, how he’s seen the college change during his three decades-plus as a tutor, how we should never read a book for the first time, and and he had to get a note from his priest to read books from the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

It all makes sense here:

Check out the previous episode, in which tutor David Townsend talks about education and the American project. There are also episodes with tutors Peter Kalkavage (2014) and Eva Brann (2013)!

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If you’re interested in seeing some of Annapolis, check out my photoset from that trip:

St. John's College

Credits: This episode’s music is Steely Dan’s Here at the Western World. I recorded the intro on a Blue Yeti mic, and the conversation with was recorded on a pair of Blue Encore 100 mics, feeding into a Zoom H4N recorder. (Also, there’s a Flannery O’Connor pun that I won’t bother to explain.)

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