Posts Tagged ‘vampires’

No stuck-up sticky beaks here in our classroom

December 2, 2011

I love days like yesterday: wall-to-wall final report presentations, every one of them thoughtful and enlightening, preceded by quality time with Younger Daughter (home on a sick day, asking for a story) and capped with an excellent James tutorial.

In SOL, Bonnie reported on grumpy Eric Wilson’s contrarian stand “against happiness.” Melancholy has its place, he says, especially other people’s melancholy. It’s “the muse of great literature, painting, music, and innovation,” a “wellspring of creativity.” I was reminded of Peter (Listening to Prozac) Kramer and his counter-contrarian screed “against depression.” And of Lou Marinoff’s Plato, Not Prozac. Can philosophers ever replace drugs, at (say) $75 an hour? I don’t have my philosophical counseling license yet but I’m still willing to give it a shot, if anybody wants to give me a hire.

And you might, if you heard Erik’s catalog of Celexa side-effects:

Abdominal pain, agitation, anxiety, diarrhea, drowsiness, mouth, ejaculation disorders, fatigue, impotence, indigestion, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, painful menstruation, respitory tract infection, sinus or nasal inflammation, sweating, tremor, and vomiting, Amnesia, attempted suicide, confusion, coughing, decreased sexual drive, depression, excessive urination, fever, gas, impaired concentration, increased appetite, increased salivation, itching, joint pain, lack of emotion, loss of menstruation, low blood pressure, migraine, muscle pain, rapid heartbeat, rash, skin tingling, taste disturbances, visual disturbances, weight gain, weight loss, and yawning.

Ah, the miracle of modern medicine. But I think I can get most of those on my own for free, without a prescription.

Rebekah talked about self-help, to which she confesses an addiction even though she knows it doesn’t really “help.” Specifically, Scott Berkun’s Mindfire challenges us to “learn from your mistakes.” I’ve learned a lot. Seriously, as James says in “Will to Believe,”

Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf. At any rate, it seems the fittest thing for the empiricist philosopher.

Connor reported on Andrew Newberg‘s neurotheology. Are some people simply born to believe? And some of us not? And does the putative existence of a “G(od)-spot” in the brain discredit or strengthen religion’s credibility? What if peyote activates it? (“If you really want to see God, try some of this.”) We may need to talk some more about that on Tuesday.

Asiyah’s report in H1 on Anne Rice’s vampires took me one step closer to understanding the strange world of the undead (and of the living who find it so compelling). Who knew there were Existentialists and Stoics among the bloodsucking crowd? Guess I’m naive. They’re everywhere. [“Monsters We Love“]

Shannon’s discussion of linguistics and the philosophy of language clarified the pragmatic approach: why we communicate matters at least as much as how, and ambiguity makes interpersonal life richer and more interesting. Wish we’d talked more about puns, and those things… what do you call them?… that are the same spelled backwards and forwards? (“Notlob? That’s not a palindrome!”)

Tim told us all about Auguste Comte’s positivism. Was he also in charge of the sheep-dip? No, that was Bruce.

And then Matthew and Dean and I had a nice discussion about “The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life,” as the Philosophy Club across the hall rolled a screening of “Life of Brian.” (What have the Romans ever done for us?”)

All in all, it was a day of philosophy in middle Tennessee the way it was meant to be: no stuck-up sticky beaks here, just Pythons and happy collaborators.

So: when we hire new Bruce to teach comparative religion, in the next month or two, we’d better take care. And ask the padre for a prayer.