This past weekend, four of us, rather than buckling down and getting a good start on our term papers, jumped in the car and sped down winding Interstate 65, through flat Indiana and past the rugged, rusty ridges of Kentucky and Tennessee, to Auburn, Alabama. Primarily, we were there for a much anticipated conference on Wittgenstein's Tractatus (pictured above is the conference location, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, which houses a few Edvard Munch pieces and even more Audubons--a nice way to spend one's time between philosophy talks!). What really made the trip for me, however, was getting my first real glimpse at the American South and, at the same time, gaining a better sense of who one of my friends and fellow road-trippers is (he, having grown up in Alabama).
After the first day of the conference, we met up with his fiancee and a few old friends of his and had dinner at the Amsterdam Cafe. The dinner itself was great--I had my very first fried green tomatoes and a superb little taste of Gulf snapper. But it was our company that really made the night. Never have I met such people--so wonderfully warm, kind, earnest, reflective, and open from our first handshakes. Though they weren't philosophers by training--but artists, chemists, etc.--they welcomed my fumbling explanations of what it is that I do and what analytic philosophy is, more generally. And when we were done talking philosophy, we spoke of such things as bee-keeping in the city, community gardens, activism, Joel Salatin, guerilla gardening, and Ernest Hemingway. These are people I would have wanted to spend my undergraduate years talking to, late into the night and long after. I hope that we'll cross paths again.