While the insides of my sinuses keep bleeding, I’m honored to have the husband of my college friend Kim – the honorable Dr. Jack Russell Weinstein – write today’s blog. He’s up in North Dakota, where winter will last another three months. He’s got an awesome radio show, and he’ll tell you all about it:
Someone once remarked to me that her biggest disappointment with being an academic is not having enough time to read. As laments go, it is far from the worst. It’s nothing compared to “my village’s water supply is irrevocably contaminated,” “the military junta won’t let me practice my religion,” or “my youngest daughter was born with AIDS,” but it is still a shock to the system. Add to that the reality of being an ex-pat New Yorker in North Dakota, and I sometimes feel as if I may never have a genuinely cosmopolitan experience again.
I’m the son of a jazz-musician father (turned mathematical logician then education professor) and an artist mother (turned high school teacher), but the major currency of the profession I have chosen is “obscure journal articles that are read by a handful of people who themselves write obscure journal articles”. I’m a philosophy professor in mid-career, a New Yorker in Middle America, and a father/husband in mid-life. Where do I go from here?
My answer has come in the form of public radio and a new show called Why: Philosophical Discussions about Everyday Life. It’s the flagship vehicle for the new Institute for Philosophy in Public Life, the mission of which is to cultivate a conversation between academic philosophers and general audiences. I believe that those obscure journal articles can be translated into realspeak and I believe that they are relevant to us all.
And as seduced as I am by Ian’s “American Coastopia” idea, I know that the intellectual blood flows through North Dakota and everywhere else. What we need in my part of the world is permission to inquire publicly and a place to meet where we can share our questions and answers. (Ironically, it turned out that the university is not that place.)
So on the second Sunday of every month, at 5 p.m. central time, on the radio in North Dakota and on the internet everywhere else (www.whyradioshow.org), I invite people to share philosophy with me, other professional philosophers, and as many people who will call in, or e-mail, or listen.
I wanted to write for xtcian because it’s a community with goals I share. My wife Kim (a college friend of Ian and an ex-pat Tarheel,) turned me on to it and in the comments, I see others, like me, trying to find ways into an adult intellectual life, remembering the days when we stayed up all night talking about stuff without worrying about work the next day or kids waking up in the middle of the night, or the headache from lack of sleep that comes from being older.
I’m wondering what you all do to reinsert inquiry into your lives? What do you do daily (or weekly) to have an intellectual core? I’d love some help and some guidance to see where I can go and where I can take the radio show. Our first guest will be Clay Jenkinson, (Thomas Jefferson himself), and we’ll be talking about the place of philosophy and humanities in the world.
It will be a better conversation if you all participate, if I can read your comments in advance to prepare myself, and if we can start a discussion that will last longer than this one post. And, if you hang around until June, you’ll get to ask a United States senator what the purpose of government is and what he means by freedom. When was the last chance any of us got to do that?
Write me if you want: firstname.lastname@example.org