Pursuing the Eternal Present

Louis Petrich + Jonathan Badger

Does a contemplative life bring us closer to the divine, as Aristotle believed? Is it the highest form of human life or is it self-centered and lived at the expense of others? Can one lead a contemplative life while living in the real world? Philosophers, artists, mystics, and students have long pursued lives of solitude, contemplation, and creative exploration, only to encounter a recurring set of practical obstacles and vexing moral questions. In this episode of Continuing the Conversation, Annapolis host Louis Petrich and tutor Jonathan Badger explore a conversation that honors the pursuit of “the eternal present” in Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence (based on the life of the painter Gauguin), while exploring its attendant questions with equal concern and gravity. This episode also includes conversation on works by Goethe, Rousseau, Thoreau, and Aristotle.

In this Episode

  • Guest Jonathan Badger

    Jonathan Badger is a tutor at St. John's College. This semester, he is exploring electricity and magnetism in junior laboratory, translating Racine in junior language, and discussing Nietzche in senior seminar.

  • Host Louis Petrich

    Louis Petrich is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, he is exploring Euripides in freshman seminar, teaching Pascal in freshman laboratory, and leading a philosophy and theology tutorial in the Graduate Institute.

Featured Release

The power and beauty of Homer’s imagery in the Iliad is undeniable, and his scenes of battle often prompt vexing questions about ancient and modern virtues. Can killing and dying in war be beautiful? Is a just cause required for glory to be gained? Is war a courageous way of fulfilling human nature and, ultimately, of embracing the reality that death awaits us all? This episode, in which Annapolis host Louis Petrich and tutor Erica Beall delve into the dramatic contrasts that make Homer’s work powerful and war potentially beautiful, invites us to question our own modern perspectives on this ancient text.

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Executive Producers Welcome

Continuing the Conversation was funded through the philanthropy of donors to St. John’s College. If you’d like to give to the college’s Annual Fund, your gift will go to support the kinds of inquiry and conversation that comes to life at St. John’s College. It also frees up money for creative projects like this one, which brings great conversation and great books into homes across the world.


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St. John’s College invites the community to awaken their intellect by engaging in mindful exploration. The college offers an array of online and in-person events, ranging from world-class concerts and art exhibitions to lectures and theater performances, as well as tutor-led seminars that provide lifelong learners opportunities to study the Great Books.

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