04. July 2014 · Comments Off on Written Words · Categories: NM. Princes and Kings

Written words come afterwards.  They are dim snapshots recollecting the past out of context.  They are dragonfly wings, signposts spinning in any direction.  They are crumbs on the ground leading back into the labyrinth.

Dr. van Cronenberg does not say that I am “a natural” because of anything I have written.

The college did an experiment.   They put ten of us new students in a room.

A professor from each of the departments comes, in turn, to conduct a class with us.  They are making a pitch and scouting for talent.

Dr. van Cronenberg, representing the department of philosophy, asks us a leading question about Being.   He gets an answer.  He asks another question.  More answers.  Words bring objections.

Then more questions.  Now someone digs up a burning question that has been long buried and smoldering.

Hands go up.  Eyes flash.  Words fly.  A few of them part the fog and glow like fireflies.   It gets intense.

We want to keep going until something lights up the sky.

Once we did this for eight hours non-stop to New York City.  Four of us are cramped into a Volkswagen Beetle, talking through half the night.  We don’t care that we have a conference the next morning.  Pulling all-nighters is just part of being young.




It is mine and Jordyn’s senior year.   She is the other female in philosophy.  She transferred from New York the year before.  The other two are graduate students.   Al is in philosophy, Richard in psychology.  The conference is on some aspect of existentialism and we are talking about that faster than the speed limit.

In reference to nothing, Al suddenly throws out that he saw Simone de Beauvoir in Paris, and she is beautiful.   I try to see his expression.  The speeding cars around us reflect flashes of confusing light.  I see only that he is looking straight ahead.  Richard has no problem with Simone’s being beautiful.

I think but do not say, yes, from her photos she is nice looking, or even good looking, yes.  But my standards of beautiful are Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly.  I reserve “beautiful” for that kind of movie star beautiful.

We know that de Beauvoir is Sartre’s mistress.   Is she beautiful because of Sartre?   Heidegger has a mistress too.  Is Hannah Arendt beautiful too because of Heidegger?  What about Simone Weil who has nobody, is she beautiful writing in her notebooks?

Jordyn and I are the only females at this conference.  The star speakers are Gabriel Marcel and Paul Tillich.  Both of them have written many books about openness and loving dialogue with The Other.

It is a small conference.  It seems that there is not enough room for two philosopher kings.  There is a (subdued) squabble.  Dr. Rollo May uses his skills to smooth things over.  He succeeds.

How ironic, I think.  Here are two experts on loving attitudes fighting over pride of place.

I forget who speaks first.  The lectures are professional and interesting in their own way.  But I have been inoculated.   Even harmless motivational lectures alert skeptical antibodies in my system.

Still, I think the word “existential” is being used to say too much and not enough.

In closing, Dr. May says he discovered that actualizing without limits can become meaningless.   You need structure.

Structure!   It shows up like an uninvited guest hulking at the door, interrupting the flow, and not moving on.

Comments closed.