Delight Springs

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A new dawn

Our first "Anglo-American Mind" (AAM) class dismissed just in time last night for some of us to see the opening Preds-Penguins face-off at the packed Boulevard Bar & Grill. What a charged, heightened, frenetic atmosphere! 

One of our Pragmatism discussion questions asks if it matters whether the world is "one or many." Last night in middle Tennessee it was definitely a unity-we were all together, one for all and all for one. I'm no friend of hockey's brutal culture of mayhem, but I'll happily take my respites from Drumpfworld where I find them.

Back when I first came to Nashville the only pro hockey in town featured the minor-league "South Stars" (affiliated with the now-defunct Minnesota North Stars) playing in the Municipal Auditorium. It was always a fun night out, and a much cheaper ticket. But it lacked that frenzied Dionysian aspect that draws people together across every divide and turns us into a collective. Fortunately it's only a game. Unfortunately, Drumpfworld persists. But the Preds won again, and for a few more days we'll give ourselves permission to divert our gaze from the polarizing, debilitating alt-reality of our present politics.

AAM offers another welcome diversion. Before we even got started one of us passed around copies of C.S. Peirce's "How to Make Our Ideas Clear." ("Too much information," said another.) He said it was a muddle to him. But so it was to William James, who was talking about Peirce when he said
The founder of pragmatism himself recently gave a course of lectures at the Lowell Institute with that very word in its title-flashes of brilliant light relieved against Cimmerian darkness! None of us, I fancy, understood ALL that he said—yet here I stand, making a very similar venture.
I risk it because the very lectures I speak of DREW—they brought good audiences. There is, it must be confessed, a curious fascination in hearing deep things talked about, even tho neither we nor the disputants understand them. We get the problematic thrill, we feel the presence of the vastness. Let a controversy begin in a smoking-room anywhere, about free-will or God's omniscience, or good and evil, and see how everyone in the place pricks up his ears. Philosophy's results concern us all most vitally, and philosophy's queerest arguments tickle agreeably our sense of subtlety and ingenuity.
Believing in philosophy myself devoutly, and believing also that a kind of new dawn is breaking upon us philosophers, I feel impelled, per fas aut nefas, to try to impart to you some news of the situation.
A new dawn is always breaking, for the suitably-devout student of philosophy and of life. Onward through the fog!

Peirce had a sense of humor. "I don't remember that any one has advocated a system of teaching by practical jokes, mostly cruel. That, however, describes the method of our great teacher, Experience.” And, no joke: “There is a kink in my damned brain that prevents me from thinking as other people think.”
It's poet Maxine Kumin's birthday (she'd be 91). "She often asked her students to memorize 30 to 40 lines of poetry a week so that they grew familiar with the sound of poetry. She said: "The other reason, as I tell their often stunned faces, is to give them an internal library to draw on when they are taken political prisoner. For many, this is an unthinkable concept; they simply do not believe in anything fervently enough to go to jail for it."

5:30/5:31, 69/82/57, 8:00

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