From 7 p.m. on January 28th to 7a.m. the following morning, I was expecting to be in some strange but wonderful version of heaven. How could I not be when talks like Tamar Gendler’s “Modern Questions, Ancient Answers”; Bernard Stiegler’s “New Limits, new Critique”; Paul Boghossian’s “Moral Objectivity”; Souleymane Bachir Diagne’s “Inhabiting Our Earth Together”; David Chalmer’s “The Virtual And The Real”; plus talks on the Post-truth era; and a quick dive into the quandary of how much we should care about Future Generations would all be under one roof!
Upon entering the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch at Grand Army Plaza around 9p.m., my excitement and wonder quickly turned to another question: What if this roof, housing such a surprisingly large community of thinkers and concerned citizens, fell in? A dramatic thought, I know, but the place was packed and chaotic with such a smart and inquisitive crowd that I just couldn’t help but wonder.
After getting through claustrophobic traffic jams and trying find out about last minute scheduling changes and mix-ups, I discovered it was impossible to actually hear the lecturer. In every room I dared to venture, I’d find the same situation: nowhere to stand and nothing to hear. I guess the event spent all their sound system power on the music groups playing in the main lobby and less on the philosophy itself or, maybe we were all supposed to work harder for the content. Regardless, I suppose, I expected more from an institution with a bent towards learning and organization.
Besides hearing the words: “phantom limb” from a speaker in a lecture titled: “Modern Questions, Ancient Answers” (I assume the rooms got mixed up, because at the same time in a room down the hall there was supposed to be a talk titled: “You Can Be In Pain Without Knowing It,” which would be a more appropriate place to discuss phantom limbs), I learned that there are a good many folks who care about philosophy. And that’s a good thing.
I do, however, look forward to actually hearing the lectures next year and sincerely hope that philosophers being drowned out by music at a philosophy event in a library isn’t a bi-product of the era of post-truths and diversions.