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Two Dublin Cinemas that show the connection between show business and academia

Show business is very old.

Arguably, the first philosophers were in that business. If what you say is important, you need to ensure that as many people hear it as is possible. Socrates, for instance, worked in the Athenian Agora. He had at least one location there where he conducted his dialogues; it was in the metal-working stall of a friend. This was a modest affair in comparison to the then current big entertainments, sport and the theatre, but the potential for growth was considerable.

We know this because Plato, a pupil of Socrates, established the Academy, an institution of learning and Aristotle, a pupil of Plato, established the Lyceum, also an institution of learning.

Arguably, they were each still in the business of show business.

Show business knows this; in 1922 there was a Lyceum cinema in Mary St., in Dublin and in 1965 there was an Academy cinema in Pearse St.

We now refer to higher learning as “academic”, but modern higher learning was forged in the Lyceum because Aristotle’s surviving written works outstripped all others of his time (and outnumbered them absolutely, also) and because the activities of the Lyceum were dissimilar to those in the Academy. Aristotle was a phenomenal worker, being, among other things, what we would now call a biologist. No other known person of the ancient world had such an interest (Galen excepted). Reputedly, Alexander the Great ordered the collecting of specimens to be sent back to Aristotle for study.

The Academy continued Plato’s focus on the ideal forms; these were the perfect abstracted archetypes of everything. They could not, by definition, be found in the natural world. The entertainment value of this must have lacked something, but there is a type of “academic” to whom this appeals.

That academic will not, currently, be running a blog or engaging with life on twitter.

Not for them the original call of show business to philosophers, where the important thing was to be heard.

Those academics will simply recede into obscurity. There is a growing trend for academics to blog. As Inger Mewburn and Pat Thomson of the London School of Economics and Political Science have recently written:

“But in our minds the answer to the question “Should I blog?” is now a clear and resounding “Yes”, at least, if conventional indicators of academic success are your aim. Blogging is now part of a complex online ‘attention economy’ where social media like Twitter and Facebook are not merely dumb ‘echo chambers’ but a massive global conversation which can help your work travel much further than you might initially think. But all this reverberation made us wonder: in the future, what will be the fate of academics who don’t make the time to blog or tweet?”

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