Sunday, December 13, 2009

Philosophical Friendships, Wordplay, and The Monster of Foxy Conservatism

After a few comments I made last week about my philosophical and fictional development, a series of duelling comments between my old friend Bernie Wills and my newer friend Ben Wald has started on my facebook page. Bernie teaches at Grenfell College, Memorial’s west coast campus, and Ben is in the last year of his MA at McMaster. I think if they were to meet in real life, they’d get along quite well.

Both are extremely argumentative when it comes to philosophy, but neither of them are abrasive about it at all. They can just congenially dispute a point for hours, constantly coming up with new angles and evasions and rhetoric. I usually run out of steam and do something else after a while, but I think if Bernie and Ben were in the same room talking philosophy, they wouldn’t leave again until they ran out of food. And the argument would continue over lunch.

Ben can always find an angle to refute or critique pretty much any philosophical statement in a conversation. It will be very productive for him, even though it’s sometimes frustrating for me. The way I do philosophy, I pursue an idea starting from a very strange place, which can sometimes begin in a state resembling Orson Welles lying face up at sunrise on a beach in southern California wearing nothing but a pair of mysteriously stained boxers and tripping out of his mind on salvia. And I end up with a coherent and intriguing conceptual investigation. On the good days.

Bernie I met when he was teaching at Memorial’s St John’s campus, at a philosophy department mixer. It was 2005, as I recall, and I walked over to say hello to Jim Bradley, the department head and a good friend, who rapidly introduced me to Bernie. Unfortunately, I was standing against the wall, and Bernie is much taller than me, so dominated my field of vision as he spoke about the invasion of Iraq for the next half hour until I, like Jim, could finally find an excuse and go somewhere else. We since became good colleagues and friends, exchanging ideas on a wide range of topics from Deleuzian ontology to Curb Your Enthusiasm.
An amusing Hamilton non-sequitor. There is a bar downtown called Liquid Kitty, that is constituted from a large basement dancefloor underneath another bar, almost as wretched, called Tailgate Charlie’s. Tailgate Charlie’s is just kind of lame; Liquid Kitty is a terrifying meat market for the 30-55 set (to which I approach closer with every passing day, so I have to mock them while I still can). It is so awful that you can smell the syphilis as soon as you get past the mandatory (seriously, it’s mandatory!) coat check.

My friend André habitually calls it Liquid Pussy. I don’t know if this is a purposeful joke, or if he just misheard it on the first terrifying night we ended up there. But it’s hilarious.
Another amusing piece of Hamilton information. Sarah Palin is coming here in April as part of a fundraiser for two hospitals in the city. If George W Bush was the Arnold Swartzenegger Terminator, then Sarah Palin is the T1000 come to hunt down the pre-teen John Connor called political sanity. And she is coming, by invitation, to a fundraiser in one of the most left-leaning cities in Canada, a country with a real left-wing party that holds solidly almost every Hamilton seat in both levels of government.

Sarah Palin coming here better stir up at least a few women’s rights and anti-Republican protesters. I might even go myself with a sign and some of my friends from social work and sociology.

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