This summer I’m going to a conference in Berkeley on the subject of my graduate thesis, Emmanuel Levinas. It’s for doctoral students so I felt pretty lucky to be accepted as an auditor—hello, it’s being taught by Richard Cohen, a giant in the field, people are attending from six continents, the subject is free speech and texts are from “Difficult Freedom.” If you’re way into French-Russian Jewish ethics-first phenomenologists it’s a dream come true.
But right now I’m brooding about titles. I’ve always felt free to wander wherever my interests led me. I read—just like you—I have ideas—just like you---and I've always considered these just as important a part of my life as what I fed my kids or painted my walls, or queued up in Netflix. And when I say equal, I really mean it. Every one of those actions are important. But I get my growl on when I hear people be dismissive about conversations that focus on ideas: “Well, now we’ve solved the problems of the universe, lol,” or “It’s like we’re back in college, lol.” Please. Stop. The search for meaning doesn’t end in college; it doesn’t even begin in college (and PS college, I love you) and this backtrack from expressing substantive ideas rings so false to our true selves. I think it’s particularly problematic for women. So, ladies, I have every right to stand at New Seasons and have an existential crisis in front of the cabbage and, believe me, so do you. Then we can all go through the fifteen items or less check stand because we have one less burden on our hearts. Lol.
So, back to titles. I’m not attached to any university and I’m not a doctoral student. I’m no expert or giant in the field. But I have to get called something at this conferences, next to my name on the list of participants and I wonder what it should be. I’ve gone as “Ad-hoc” which makes me feel like a kind of bird. I’ve gone as “At large” which does nothing for my body image. I think my favorite was “Independent.” So I’m putting out the call to every thinker. What shall we call ourselves? Feckless intellectuals? Studiers? Read thinkers? Jenn and I are still tossing ideas around about how to describe our business to people, so we need some words to describe people who dream up ideas!
PS I just saw they listed me as “Poet”. Now my life is complete.