RIP Richard Rorty...

Damn... Professor Richard Rorty has died from pancreatic cancer.



(From Idealism and Textualism: "If you just spring the question 'what is the ultimate nature of reality?' on somebody, he won't know where to begin. One needs a sense of what some possible answers might be..." The solution, oddly enough, has not yet been found either in emo or within the hallowed alcoves of the newly launched Creation Museum. I think the answer's definitely hidden in Paris, or off the Egyptian coast. Or, maybe Ossining.)

Of all contemporary philosophers, his work has had the most profound impact on my tiny reptilian brain... I wouldn't have pursued a three-year post-grad dither and slide through Ethics if I hadn't been reading a lecture of Rorty's one afternoon at the university library. I was so absorbed in the essay (extracted from his brilliant Consequences of Pragmatism) that upon leaving I walked across the campus into the foyer of the office of the acting head of the philosophy department... I was signed up for the program by the end of the week.

There was but a single Broadcast Ethics class offered in my Mass Media BFA program, and I was pretty pissed about it. With the rise and influence of doggerel nets (Fox, etc.) and the Bush admin's astute but nonetheless appalling preference for simulacra and sizzle over dull, old-world truth, I felt the need to be washed in the blood of the Ethics martyrs. I'd always been a linguistics/semiotics/phenomenology buff anyhow, so the transition from the Avid machines to full-on nerddom was easy... Ultimately, it was a wonderful slog.

(As for VSU, too bad their department's primary focus is on religious studies, but, y'know, the goddamned school's in the Deep South... What can one do?)

The dread trifecta of my son's deployment to Iraq, the impact of the ever-worsening state of my father's health on our family, and last October's shocking and ultimately senseless death of Gerard Klauder (a Chicago/South Florida freak-scene legend and my business partner in the Smack Shire label) pretty much stilled my university aspirations, at least for the foreseeable future...

But, Hell, without Professor Rorty, I would, er, probably be making a shitload of cash in a corporate media gig, married to the hot Russian gal, and sweating the 9-to-5... Best detour of my life!

Merci, good sir, and rest in peace.

TS



(Doubtless all extant copies are similarly well-thumbed...)

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By the way, this was TLASILA Blog's 500th post. No threat as yet to the Daily Kos, but we're making headway. Professor Rorty's obit fails the litmus test for gaiety, so I'll devise some sort of celebratory, super-secret, ultra-obscure upload for next time...

Comments

Brent said…
was the ossining comment a reference to sonny sharrock? i believe he was born there ...

more of an adorno/benjamin man at this stage, but the loss of rorty is a loss for all. rip.
ommyth said…
It was a mimetic reference to a possibly apocryphal Linda Sharrock dry cleaning anecdote, actually...

All the sublime thinkers in Olympian/Stygian redoubts have their pipes and ascots at half-mast - farewell RR!
dancdy said…
goddamn what day is today this is the first i heard of this and this is the first i've look at your site. fuck. contingency irony and solidarity is the one that i've always gone back to.
ommyth said…
Yes, Contingency is an excellent read. I cited Consequences because I like the raw, malleable quality of Rorty's text. Just about everything he published is worth submersing oneself into...

Thanks for posting, dancdy.

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