Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Joy of Conversation

To assuage anyone's fears about my state of being, I should post that today was a good day for me. For one thing, it has finally snowed! The lack of snow was worrying me. We live in Canada, for crying out loud, and there's been no snow? In December? The white flakes were a relief.

Also, I visited the university to meet with the professor I will be working for this semester and spent quite some time talking with other grad students in the History Department lounge. It's pretty funny to think about it- we got 'caught up', but I have no idea what they did over the break; it was more like us talking for two hours about education, Italian post-war culture, and why it might be depressing to write a dissertation on the bomb! So, I have no idea how they're doing personally, but it was good to visit with people again.

I think Patrick was right that I'm looking for community. When you spend all day reading these books, one naturally wants to discuss them with someone, and often you discover that most 'civilians' don't want to hear about it. I suppose it's much the same for model railroad enthusiasts, or collectors of mono LPs, or something. I've noticed how easy it is for males my age to relate to each other, even if they're strangers, by bringing up the local sports teams. Many academics I know follow sports and can keep up in these conversations. But, alas, I pay no attention to any sports, so I have little to say.

Similarly, I have no real interest in computer technology, or career moves, or new products. So, I spend a lot of times at social gatherings talking to my wife. She is lovely though, and I think I should also note the sheer joy of having a conversation with her about anything. I was thinking the other day, while we were strolling around the Mall together, and I was watching these teenyboppers (who seem to be older every year! I mean, some of them must have been 28!), about how many American movies there are in which the 'sexy' femme is essentially a borderline retarded teenage girl. But, this is nonsense. There is nothing sexier on earth than an independent woman who has come into her own and who can carry on an intelligent conversation. Seriously, compare Charlotte Rampling in any film with Hilary Duff in any film and see who's sexier!

So, I think that this weird monastic job that I have, with its introverts and oddballs, and our desperate need to have lots of time alone, also requires us to spend time together. Freud, Socrates, and countless other people wiser than me worked out their ideas mainly in conversation. We might think alone, but we refine and reflect and develop our thoughts together. We really are social animals, aren't we?

1 comment:

Jen P. said...

So true, so true. Here's to catching up (research-wise), snow in Canada (but none in Maryland), ignorance about sports (etc.) and excellent intellectual conversations!