Bye Bye Berkeley

After years of neglect perpetrated by a continuing state of abject denial exercised by one of this household’s occupants — wanna guess which one? — we’re making repairs. New roof. Holes in ceiling (where leaks rendered destruction) sealed up, entire exterior repainted, replace gutters, repaint interior, rework landscaping, and more. Chaos abounds inside and out.

outboundI vowed to divest myself of broken-down bookshelves and deteriorating books I will never open again. These number in the hundreds, including most of the philosophy texts I’ve carted around and stored since my graduate school years ended in the middle 70s. Adieu, Aristotle! S’long, Sartre! Hit the road, Russell! Bye-bye, Berkeley! Just Kant take it anymore.

It’s more cathartic than sad, which pleasantly surprises me. Here’s an example of what makes this relatively easy:

The distinction us illustrated by the pair of statements ‘my hand moves,’ expressing a mere event, and ‘I move my hand,’ expressing an act. The existence of a distinction here is evident: whereas ‘I move my hand’ entails ‘my hand moves,’ it is not the case that my hand moves only if I move my hand, since the movement might be caused by someone else or might be entirely reflexive. Both statements might refer to the same bodily movement, but in one there is reference to an agent that is lacking in the other. If ‘my hand moves’ is true, but not ‘I move my hand,’ then the former expresses an evet devoid of agency on the part of the speaker. If the latter is true, however, it expresses an act.  — Kenneth M. Sayre, Consciousness: A Philosophical Study of Minds and Machines, 1969, pp 15-16.

Thousands of pages of mind numbing shit like this, all underlined and annotated by an eager young student out to earn an advanced degree in an totally unemployable field of study. Working through nights until sunrise, processing this nitpicking drivel into thesis chapters, counting pin-dancing angels and analyzing glasses neither half-empty nor half-full, but half-assed.  To quote a famous American philosopher, “Seven years of college education wasted.”

And people wanna know what the hell is wrong with my brane? After this?

Thousands of books remain in this house, mostly the fiction I’ve pursued so happily over the last 30 some years. Disposing of boxes and bags of unwanted texts frees up not only space on remaining bookshelves, but floor space, both of which in short supply given our clutter-loving instincts and packrat habits. We both promised one another we’d winnow further, if only to reduce the layers of dust, mildew, pollen, and reptile droppings that have accumulated unseen but not unnoticed.

As for the departing volumes, my hope is they’ll find their way into the hands of readers who, for their own perverse reasons, want to immerse themselves in the intellectual anguish this rot inspires. Hume-ever they may be.

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7 Responses to Bye Bye Berkeley

  1. Ted End says:

    Berkley is a retired basketball player. What’re you talking about?

  2. Ted Williams' Head says:

    If a book sits on a bookshelf and there’s nobody there to read it, does it have any print? Inquiring (and detached) minds want to know.

  3. Dawgbowl says:

    By dumping your library of philosophy texts and replacing them with fiction, you’re simply substituting one batch of myths for another. Not that there’s anything wrong about that.

  4. Beardsley says:

    While I fully understand your decision here, it’s not without a sense of sadness. As an academic pursuit, philosophy is a full-time activity, impossible for most people to keep up with as a sideline. You’ve come to grips with that conclusion, as well as that there’s no return. The road not taken, and all of that — that’s what’s sad, but that happened a long time ago, and regrets aren’t productive. On the positive sign, others may benefit, and you remain intellectually involved and active as long as you keep reading and writing. My guess is you’re keeping a select few volumes, among them the works of Schopenhauer. Am I right?

    • Squathole says:

      Good Guess. And the Wittgenstein, Also some Plato and Bertrand Russell (including his fiction. Um, intentional fiction). Feels good to move on.

  5. Frank of Oregon says:

    “What is mind?”
    “No matter.”
    “What is matter?”
    “Never mind.”

  6. Living Will says:

    Is it true philosophy is really just mind porn?

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