Most unexpected sidelight of our Lyceum lecture yesterday, a real Dorian Gray moment: the speaker, I discovered, attended Furman University back in the ’70s as an undergrad with my old grad school friend Mark Stone, the Schopenhauer scholar. I haven’t seen Mark since about 1985, so the mental picture I carry of him is chronologically dated. It took a moment to sync the incongruity and realize that Mark will also have put on some years.
I’m still working on the realization that I have, too. Better dust that portrait in the attic.
Our speaker Bill Martin was just back from Shanghai (where they thought he looked like Einstein, with his gray unkempt hair) , full of interesting observations and speculations about China’s future. He was more nostalgic for China’s Maoist past than I would have been, but of course I was never a Maoist. I just kept hearing John Lennon’s voice in my head, during the talk. (“You say you want a revolution, well, you know… you better free your mind instead.”)
Bill listened to the Beatles in his rented silver Beatle on his drive to our campus, by the way, and thought that car assignment might have been prophetic.
Mao’s mama was a Buddhist, we learned, and Mao thought Buddhists were nice. But he didn’t rule like a Buddhist, for those 26 turbulent years. Bill noted that Confucianism remains the “glue” that holds that society together, and gives it some credit for keeping the streets safer than those of Chicago.
But they don’t have the Cubs or Bill Murray, now do they?