Thursday, 26 August 2010
A Visit From Nicholas
It is the last week of August, which is usually the last week of quiet in the Center before we welcome our new Fellows. I'm scrambling to pull a syllabus together for my graduate seminar. It meets for the first time on Monday. It is too soon and I am wishing for just another week. This moment of panic is, I'm imagining, repeated in many offices in many colleges all over the country.
However this summer things are moving faster. By midweek, Wednesday 26th, three visitors have already arrived. Hylarie Kochiras and Kareem Khalifa were first. Then shortly after P. D. Magnus appeared in Karen's door. My morning cruise down the hall to my office is different now. I pass open doors with intense thought seeping out.
In our lounge I'm no longer alone for my lunchtime ritual: apple, yoghurt and a crossword. It's good. I'm enjoying the stimulation of new people and new ideas. There are new smells of as different lunches are cooked. Curry. Toast.
On that same Wednesday, an old friend, David Shrader, Executive Director of the APA, dropped by. He'd tends to pop in now and again, so it seemed time to take a Polaroid for our Wall of Fame.
It's now Thursday and I'm sitting in my office. I can hear Nick Rescher's gentle voice. He's come in to finalize some arrangements for a conference early in the coming month. I hear him cross the hall and then say "hello." He must be in Hylarie's office, I infer, since I hear her say "Hi?" He then says, "I'm Nicholas Rescher."
Years ago, when I first arrived and walked down the hall of the Center, I stopped in front a closed door and saw the nameplate, "Nicholas Rescher." He was then already a legend. This was the dissonant moment in which I realized that there truly was a real person behind the legend and that this very junior imposter was about to meet this very senior scholar. That was nearly thirty years ago. Today Hylarie is having her Nick moment.
Nick is now down the Hall talking to Kareem. "Do you know any arabic?" I hear him say. "No. Do you?" comes the reply. "Well yes, but I've forgotten it all. I worked on arabic logic for a while."
John D. Norton