Friday, July 22, 2011

Essay on space

To: Colin A.
From: Geoffrey Klempner
Subject: Essay on space
Date: 15 January 2004 13:45

Dear Colin,

Thank you for your e-mail of 31 December, with your final essay for the Pathways Introduction to Philosophy program.

Although we will not be corresponding as mentor and mentee in future, I do hope that you will continue to keep in touch. And I am always happy to receive submissions for the Pathways newsletters.

Good to hear that you have made contact with Anthony Ross. I hope that you can be a good friend to him.

As you have taken the liberty of commenting on all manner of subjects, so will I.

I agree that there may be a clue to the nature of space in the metaphoric uses that we make of that word. The 'space' on my computer hard drive, and the space on this rectangular screen overcrowded with icons, windows, messages and even electronic post-it notes within which so many things happen, each is defined as that which can, in its own metaphoric way, be 'empty' or 'occupied', shrinking or growing as more or less of it is 'used up'.

So with physical space - the possibility of getting from location A to location B, or the empty space left by the removal of object C giving rise to the possibility of its occupation by object D.

I don't recall your telling me that you read Tarot cards. Maybe it did come up in a previous essay and I've forgotten.

You believe that coincidences are more than just coincidences. I believe in serendipity. Things happen which were never part of the game plan which take you into a better, more exciting game. From my early days as a student, I based my reading list on chance discoveries in second-hand book shops, ignoring my teachers' carefully prepared lecture note handouts.

Pathways came about as a result of my reading 'Dice Man'.

Ask me why I'm doing this and I couldn't tell you. There's the official line. But that's just PR. I like to meet minds similar to my own, puzzled in the way that I am puzzled - afraid too, as I am afraid whenever I catch a glimpse of the bigger picture.

This term, I have allowed one of my students, Brian, to take over my WEA Wednesday evening philosophy class, which I have been running since 1988. It was time to let go.

Brian has an MA from Sheffield so is well qualified. He first enrolled in the same evening class only a few years ago. So it's my turn to the 'student'.

Brian did take over the class on one previous occasion when I was ill with sarcoidosis. He gave a series of talks on 'Death as an introduction to philosophy'. This term, the topic is 'the philosophy of the body'.

Pathways will go on, because it now has a momentum of its own. I couldn't stop it even if I wanted to. It would take at least two years just to complete my on-going dialogues with my current Pathways students. Now the ISFP has a Board whose members are fully capable of making decisions without me. So I am no longer in full control of what happens.

I have enjoyed reading your letters. You mentioned once that it was a kind of therapy to revisit your past 'lives'. That's the sort of thing I tried to do in 'Glass House Philosopher'. I thought I could fit the pieces of the puzzle together but I gave up. Maybe I'll try again some time, it's never too late.

- Before I forget: your essay submissions satisfy the requirements for issuing a Pathways Certificate. This I will send you soon, along with a summary report.

All the best,

Geoffrey