Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Alright, I know I'm doing that thing again where I post a little after I have not posted in a while.  But it'll be good.

On the way home from the New York Aikikai this evening, something happened to me for the second time.  As is my custom, I was reading one of the journals that took forever to get to me; the issue, several months old at this point, is a hefty one, looking more like a book than the periodical that most folks who read on the train read.

Not long before the train emerged from its tunnel into the cool night air of a Brooklyn November, a man tapped me on the shoulder and asked me about my reading.  He seemed genuinely interested in the material, asking several questions that seemed designed to elicit more information from me and following them up with yet more.  It was delightful, really; I enjoy talking about what I read (as those who read my blog no doubt know), and the chance to do so in so public and pedestrian a forum as a moving subway car was most welcome.

I have noted, I think, my desire to (among many other things) be a public intellectual.  Talking literary and historical criticism on a train in Brooklyn qualifies as an instantiation of that desire, I believe.

I mentioned that this was the second time.  The first happened as a good friend, my beloved wife, and I made our way to Brooklyn.  We had gotten onto a train at Herald Square (to which I did not remember you, for which I do not apologize), doing so by way of a platform where, as is not uncommon, a musician was performing...not entirely well.  One of us made a comment about the quality of play, and that comment provoked a response from one of the other straphangers who had gotten onto the train with us.  A discussion about music sprang up, one which shifted slowly (and completely sensibly at the time) to academic work; our friend, my wife, and I all teach college, and the woman who had responded to our earlier comment was fascinated by our talk to one another and to her.

I got her business card, and I hope to have something come of it later on down the line.

In both cases, I was part of a scholarly conversation largely unlooked-for.  Certainly, I was surprised--and pleasantly--on both occasions, and both times, I noticed that the conversation did have an audience.  So I can hope to have done a little bit--with apologies to Horace and Sidney, among others--to teach and to delight and to delight in and through teaching in the world.

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