Monday, January 31, 2005

Wit and Wisdom from Lady Dymphna

Dymphna responds to an e-mail of mine entitled Impoverished Response:

Ah, Maverick Philosopher--

What a perfect response...impoverished, indeed, you [Enneagram] Five. You have a plenitude, especially since the new anal philosophers' blog has started up. It's very interesting. Feels as though I have a class--sans tuition, sans papers and tests, sans grades. The blogosphere itself is a plenitude. Every morning I feel as though I am blessed with an embarrassment of riches...don't you?

BV: Absolutely. It's a marvelous time to be alive. If Leibniz could only see us now! He would have gone wild with the communicative and educational possibilities. I see my weblog as, in part, a didactic enterprise. I aim to do my bit to promote philosophy, to spread the logos. I call this 'bleaching,' blog-teaching, and it beats ordinary teaching which is often little more than a chore. I used to enjoy preparing lectures, but then having to deliver them to the semi-comatose was depressing. Here, the delivery is painless. 'Students' can show up late for class, come and go as they please, talk, read the newspaper, apply make-up . . . I don't know and (therefore) I don't care.

Once, in a metaphysics seminar, a young lady was applying make-up. I reminded her that in metaphysics we are concerned to penetrate appearance to reality, not occlude the real with the merely apparent. On that occasion I omitted my etymological riff about 'cosmetic' being linked to 'cosmic' and 'cosmos.'

My blog is also a testing ground for my ideas. What the laboratory is to the empirical scientist, the crucible of dialectic is to the philosopher. It may seem to some that I am just pontificating; but I am also exploring, testing, going out on limbs -- an overextended blogger waiting for the right logger.

It's blessed to have "whippersnappers" at your heels even though you've fled to the desert so as to avoid the noise and tumult of the agora...it is the thing you need, this clash of minds that flowers forth into scientia.

BV: The wonder of the cybersphere -- something like Teilhard de Chardin's noosphere -- presence of minds with absence of bodies. Hubert L. Dreyfus in On the Internet (Routledge, 2001) is less sanguine. But Dreyfus should consider that without cyberspace, there would be no cyberphilosophy.

Your prayer for a long life reminds me of my cousin-in-law once removed (it's a long story) who is a retired French professor. Widower and quite deaf, children scattered to the winds, unable to hear anymore his beloved Shakespeare and Mozart, he lives in quiet satisfaction with his books. As he says, so many books, so many to re-read because he's forgotten them all. But, alas, not much time. As for you, vox clamantis, you will live a long life because you've designed one that fits you. "Joining" in the sense of 'engagement' (think of the French for that word) is foreign to you. Too much of your psyche would enjoin you from such a project...At any rate, the group philosophy blog may well become more than the sum of its parts. Aren't you excited/appalled by the idea?

BV: More excited than appalled.

Of course, you won't join so much as enjoin others not to put you in a box...I'll consider the Roycean irreducible. Though I suspect it's nothing much more than the crystalline form of snowflakes: all different but all the same. Ah, don't we all yearn for some irreducible essence (in your case, no doubt your Four wing!).

BV: I'll have to post some material on Royce. Very roughly, his idea is that there is genuine individuality in the world and that love and loyalty are the source of it. The reality of the individual qua individual is constituted by love. The beloved cannot be reduced to an instance of a type (characterological or otherwise) or a point of intersection of multiply exemplifiable properties.

Meanwhile, as you grow more cerebral and content, may you realize the golden measure of being an intellect. It is a comfort that warms even as the passions cool. . . . Did you guess that Johnny Carson was a Five?

BV: I knew he was a private person offstage. But could any true introvert make a living the way he did? Introverts are good at concocting jokes, but when it comes to delivery are utterly inept. I'll tell a joke that seems to me the apotheosis of wit, or even just a good joke, and people will stare at me as if I have just landed from another planet. Of course, part of the problem is that most people are too dull to appreciate dry wit. Dry souls are best according to Herakleitos the Obscure of Ephesus.