Melancholy of a Nobel Laureate


Last night's "Witness" event in Memorial Church--meant to celebrate the intersection of the arts, humanities, and human rights--featured Toni Morrison reading from her 2008 novel, A Mercy. But Princeton's Nobel Laureate didn't join in the dancing (more on that after the jump.) Morrison, who recently turned 78, read from her wheelchair.

"Sorry for all the theatrics," she told the audience grimly. "It's called sciatica, but what it really is, is decay.

"Witness, was serious and elegant, but it had an unexpected introduction: the sound of 1,000 people assuming the first position.

Ballet superstar and Kennedy School grad Damian Woetzel led the audience in the opening few movements of a Balanchine classic. There was, as Wotezel described it, the "shield your eyes against the sun" gesture, the "I have a headache gesture," and then the sound of a churchfull of winter boots sweaking against the floor: heels together, toes apart--ballet's first position.


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