Saturday, May 13, 2017

philologist saunters by glade

There is no pure beginning.... The Oxford University Press 30%-off sale online caused me to see that there were no new books I have to have this week (a relief: I don’t know what to do with the ones I have, apart from the hundred-or-so supposed to be priorities for near-term prospecting). But I realized I really want to see what’s what with David Sobel’s From Valuing to Value, which is available at the library. So, out I went.

Another gorgeous day—notwithstanding all the kitschy “grads” parading in cheap gowns blowing in the breeze with family in tow; balloons, cameras, etc. everywhere.

I stopped on the bridge over the creek, by Stephens Hall, to look at what I just checked out. I was relieved that I hadn’t bought the book, since I already have the essays in it that are most recent. But the “Introduction” will be a good synopsis of where he is now. His “Morality and Virtue” (2004) with David Crisp was very important to me; and remains so.

A small commencement event (academic department) was in process at the Faculty Club glade ahead. I didn’t want to walk by, but the glade is bordered by my normal walking path.

Oddly, the first words of the current speaker that I discerned were about Bert Dreyfus, who died a few weeks ago. He was being remembered, and note was made that a memorial for him would be held soon.

So, it was the Philosophy Department commencement. I recognized old Barry Stroud immediately, sitting behind the dais with other faculty, cloaked in gown, looking totally bored, as if asleep with his eyes open. The droning voice of the speaker, a faculty woman I didn’t recognize, caused me to be glad I wasn’t compelled to sit in the audience. Academia is so boring.

But I got a photo of the occasion, surely with enough resolution to later see how boring it all was.

I came to the Department in 1975. Bert Dreyfus was there—also: John Searle and Bernard Williams, though the most fun those days was in the English Department, in the burgeoning era of high Literary Theory. I got bored with Bert (Husserlian misreader of Heidegger) and Searle (speech axe, who’s now—at the age of 84-or-so—being sued for sexual harrassment of his 20-something woman assistant working for the—get this—John Searle Center for Social Ontology. Gawd.)

Habermas came (was offered a permanent professorship), but went. Foucault died from AIDS. Williams died of natural causes. Richard Wollheim died. Avitol Ronnell left the English Dept. Jim Jarrett gave me lasting love for philosophy of education. Many others I could name were lasting influences, across several departments (me being an interdomainal guy for decades).

Eras end. But what an era it was! Postmodernist Daze.

Then the century ended with the fall of The Wall. A new millennium began circa 1992.

Happenstance on a pretty afternoon today becomes occasion to lose oneself in reverie about decades gone, as if permitting me to impose on you the beginning of an excursion in memoir, as if life has become remembrance of so many years, so many loves, etc.


But True Confessions will be fun—someday.