Thursday, May 21, 2015

Update: Tenure, Patience, & Banjos (Among Other Things)

It goes without saying that I've gotten away from the blog and from keeping up with other blogs. (I do miss the discussions I had with some folks on our blogs). You'll see what happened to "blog time" below. Here's a sort of year-in-review, since it's been almost a year since I last posted.

I received tenure this spring, starting in the fall. (That's a pic of the application.)

I continue to work on getting my patience manuscript placed with a publisher and will spend some time this summer doing some tweaking. Also, look for an article by me on "Nietzschean Patience" in The Journal of Value Inquiry some time soon. (It's in press as of now.)

For a year, I'll be the President of the Kentucky Philosophical Association. The annual meeting will be at Bellarmine University some time in late March or early April.

I'm also coordinating the summer programming at the local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. The community minister recently gave me a bumper sticker that she said reminded her of me. (Thanks, I think!)

I taught a very interesting honors course with Christopher Jackson of EKU's Department of Art & Design called "Arguing with Images." We examined the idea of "visual arguments" and spent time looking at philosophical and visual arguments on issues like abortion, animal ethics, and in politics. The students created their own visual arguments at the end of the semester and some of them were quite impressive. This class has also continued to steer me, along with a recent thesis I mentored and a paper I commented on recently, into that other realm of "value theory" that is aesthetics.

Right now I'm reading Vladamir Jankelevitch's Music and the Ineffable, and have also been reading stuff on, roughly, "the limits of language." My position right now is still that there aren't the kinds of limits to language that the early Wittgenstein insisted; I think that those who claim that there are things within our cognitive and experiential grasp that "words can't express" forget about the power of figurative and poetic language and that those uses are part of language, too. I've been trying to write on this a bit, but it's all mostly taking the form of notes right now. I need to read more.

I shaved (left), which was a real shock to my children. (I also have a new scar on my forehead from taking an elbow to the head while playing basketball. It was a bloody mess, literally. I did make the shot, though.) I guess I'll have to finally retire the profile pic I use in various places, which was a picture taken by my friend Craig Earl Nelson (right), who passed away at the end of 2013.

Last, but hardly least, I started learning to play the 5-string banjo in January 2014. That's primarily where "blog time" went. And family life is keeping me busy, too.

Here's something I made up a few days ago that I'm pretty happy with, although the recording and the playing are rough:

And here's another song that's fun recorded a few months ago (although it turns out that I switched up some things from the version I'd been listening to. One nice thing about the Old Time scene is that variations on themes rather than lock-step imitation seems to be part of the tradition; I've heard over a dozen versions of Cumberland Gap and each one is a little different). "Ramblin' Hobo":

You can see the top of my other, fretless banjo in the background of this video. Maybe I'll post something on that soon. I'm working on something on it that's sort of a musical dialogue.