On the evening of 16 May 2015, Dean Potter, the BASE jumper, leaped off Taft Point in the Yosemite National Park, clad in a wingsuit. In an attempt to clear a notch in the rocky ridgeline – into the open beyond – he fell to his death. He was 43 years old. It was initially unclear whether Potter’s dog Whisper, protagonist in the 2013 short, When Dogs Fly, had survived the jump.
Stefan Börnchen, Professor of German Language and Literature at the University of Cologne, contends that the art of extreme sport such as it was envisioned by Potter, can only be understood in terms of philosophical and theoretical traditions. This is precisely why Potter’s jump in a wingsuit, accompanied by his dog, is a matter for consideration in the academic discipline of the Humanities. Börchen will argue that this is more so the case with the humanitas, as illustrated by Potter’s act, from which the Humanities derive meaning. It is in fact a humanistic effort, therefore, to answer the question posed by Potter, namely, “What happens when dogs fly?”
✽ Tuesday, March 13th at 4:15 PM