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Monday, January 17, 2011

'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' Cited at Scholarly Conference

Posted By on Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Who knew this was the stuff of academic pondering?
  • Who knew this was the stuff of academic pondering?

At a faculty colloquium, you can expect to overhear the featured speakers drop a few highfalutin quotes originally uttered by revered academic luminaries.

It was ever thus at a recent San Francisco gathering of Saybrook University, a school best known for its humanistic psychology programs. Speakers referenced John Dewey, Parker Palmer, William Butler Yeats, and Ernest Becker -- and that was just in a five-minute span.

So it was a bit jarring when professor of psychology Tim Weber cited the little-known Greek philosopher Nick. You know, Nick from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

"The vital life is one where we are attuned to our past, not driven by it; where we are not spooked by the future, but sparked by the possible," Weber told the gathered academic crowd. "Listen to Nick, the brother of Toula, in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, as he advises his sister who struggles with her disloyalty in marrying outside the Greek family. He says to her one night, 'Don't let your family dictate who you are, but let it be a part of who you are becoming.' The colleges of Saybrook would be well served to heed Nick's advice as they migrate from their respective families to new frontiers as a university. ..."

Of course, the followup to Nick's quote in that film is "Yeah, that 'Dear Abby' really knows what she's talking about." That would have probably killed the message. And by the time those who could even recall the brief but burning Nia Vardalos era -- and wonder why a professor had just referenced an eight-year-old movie that rivals Wayne's World for the brevity of its cultural relativity -- speakers were busy mentioning Erasmus, Montaigne, and Stanislav Grof, pioneer of transpersonal psychology.

"To be fair," said an audience member of Weber's odd movie reference, "He did quote Aristotle to open his speech."

Quite true. Aristotle and Nick. A pair of famous Greek thinkers.

It was Aristotle -- not Nick -- who said "Know thyself." When pondering why one might reference My Big Fat Greek Wedding at a colloquium, this can be a challenging task indeed.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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