I heard that old John Cleese , of Monty Python fame , has made several ads to promote philosophy . I like John Cleese . Ada and I went to see him in a Culver City theater last year . He’s a hundred and two or three or more but still going strong .
I couldn’t do ads for philosophy . It just wouldn’t be right . I understand philosophy just about as well as I understand poetry , which is to say not at all . Sorry , Poetry , but you’ll have to go on without me .
I went to see Charles Bukowski in Venice , CA , back in the late 70s at the urging of my friend Joe , writer and poet , teacher of literature , etc. Bukowski was known as The Drunken Poet . He’d be drinking throughout his shows as he read his poetry and cursed and insulted his audience and continued until he eventually passed out . At that point the show was over . Joe , the poet , doesn’t remember the Bukowski show . Now Bukowski’s a big deal , but maybe not so much back then .
I took a philosophy class at UCLA . The class members discussed a chair, at the urging of the professor , for several hours . What you hear always is about contemplating your navel ; but what they really contemplate , in real life , is a chair . Philosophers contemplate chairs to death , evidently . Is the chair there ? How do we know that ? Let’s spend the next few hours discussing that in order to come up with an answer . When we get the answer , how do we know the answer is an answer ? Let’s discuss that . As you might imagine , I was really in to this —NOT .
Logic is a part of philosophy , too . I’ve never been very logical . I think I might have been frightened by Logic when I was an infant . Maybe that’s it. . I know that I was frightened by mathematics , but that’s another story . I like to believe I’m logical . Sometimes , no doubt , I am . It may be a statistical phenomenon , a random chance . I don’t know . The left side of my brain overtakes the right side ; or is it the other way around ?
I suspect that I nursed a case of autism from the early days on . My first grade teacher suggested , evidently , to my parents that they consider psychological help for me . According to my mother , my father , an MD ( and a PhD ) wasn’t about to take the medical diagosis by a schoolteacher seriously . In those days , I think, a lot of us kids we merely ” going through a phase ” instead of being seriously messed up .
I could write poetry to express my plight , if I were a poet , but I ain’t . I could philosophize , of course ; but with no decent grasp of philosophy I might just end up jabbering non-sensically about this or that .
I appreciate poets , though , and , for that matter , philosophers . Well , in a distant sort of way , anyway . Everyone has a function . Without poetry where would we be ? Without philosophy who would know whether the chair is there or not ? I know , I know , I’m being facetious and unfair . I’m compensating for a serious lack of this and that . .
If I were more of an intellectual I’d be getting angrier and angrier at the drift in this country , and the world , towards fear and intolerance , history-ignorance , zenophobia and mean-ness , hate speech and narrow-mindedness .Sometimes an attention deficit comes in handy .
I’m looking out for public service announcements about the value of poetry . John Cleese ? No. Then , who ? Does it matter ? This may be a metaphysical issue beyond immediate concern .