OlioHouse | Words, Labels, & Power

The Joy of Reading Between Agnes Martin’s Lines

Language shapes our world(s), just as it shapes our mind. How people express themselves is key to understanding their identity; the tone, the vocabulary, and the grammar we use shape who we are, how we think, and conditions the very clarity of our thinking processes. Words sculpt the framework in which we perceive reality; catching it, grasping it, enriching it. Or should we precisely see language as an impoverishing tool, as Bergson suggests? By calling words “labels”, “tags” glued onto things and thoughts, artificially separating them, Bergson makes us question the adequacy of language as a descriptive tool. 

We'll talk about structuralism, but also about conception of performative language, as well as about the idea of language as a social marker. Our discussion will indeed not only focus on the relationship between words and the world (be it outer, our environment, or inner, our thoughts and emotions), but also about political correctness, and language as a means for political domination. Since the words we use shape the power dynamics between social groups, an open ethical discussion is necessary to make sure that they don’t explicitly or implicitly promote phallocentric, ethnocentric, or racist violence. Our language is not a "natural" labeling system – it is the product of a cultural and political history, and carries a symbolic violence that we will shed more light on.


2pm - Communal Lunch

3pm - Is there a specificity of human language? Can we say that animals have language?

What is the relationship between words and the world?

Is it able to describe reality adequately?

Can we think without language?

Do different languages convey different worldviews?

What happens when we can’t find the rights words to say ? Are there things that we can’t express/communicate?

5pm - Free Time

7pm - What are the other functions of language?

In what ways can language be used as a means for domination?

8pm - Dinner at the Lantern Inn


9am - Breakfast

11am - Do words invent reality?

Are there cases where we're allowed to lie?

Location: OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

296 Old Rte 22, Wassaic, NY 12592

This is our gorgeous home up in Wassaic, NY. We hold weekend seminars and welcome members of our scenius for creative residencies and projects. It is located less than a 20 min walk from the Metro North station in Wassaic and 2 hours from Grand Central. We are the proud neighbors of the Wassaic Project.

Interdisciplinary Learning with the Best Professors

Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.

Learn about joining the Scenius for $10 / month

Other upcoming Olios

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Jun 20

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Jun 22

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Jun 23

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Jun 25

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Jun 25

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Taught by Jamie Warren
6 p.m. at Federal Hall

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Jun 26

Jun 27

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Taught by Ted Barrow
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Sign Up - $20

Jun 29

OlioHouse | Happiness & Hedonism Weekend

Taught by Skye Cleary
2 p.m. at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

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Jul 7

Museum Trip | 'The 80s Show' Private Tour

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Jul 13

OlioHouse | Considering The Tyranny of Choice

Taught by Michael Haltenberger
2 p.m. at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Jul 25

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Sep 19

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