Today marks two years since I moved here from Essex. Earlier this morning I got a reminder of why I made the move. I had stopped off at my favorite caffé en route to an appointment to evaluate a Web site and had pulled out my book, The Phenomenology of Perception, by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, to read over my espresso. Not a lite read, nor a short one, but I’ve figured that if I don’t have time to read philosophy now, I’m never going to have it.
“So, are you reading about a hundred pages an hour?” this old guy asked me, winking at the size of my tome.
“No, not this one,” I said, smiling.
“That’s a fascinating one. I’ve read Merleau-Ponty.”
“You have? That’s great.”
“I read it in the original French. It took me forever.”
“It’s going to take me forever, even in translation,” I said.
He went back to his political debate with a couple of friends, and I went back to my book. When I read a book, any book, in public in Essex, people looked at me like I’d put on airs. Here, I can talk to people in caffés about philosophy. A much better fit.
When I left, I said goodbye to the man. “Have a great day,” he said. “Good reading.”