men heeft een feestje voor me gegeven! en ik een speech. ben in de wolken van vreugde.
Oscar Wilde tells us that the only way to attone for being occassionally a little over-dressed is by being always absolutely over-educated. Now I don’t have a difficult time taking care of the over-dressing, the over-education comes harder. But I’ve been working on it, the last 7 months.
From dutch point of view, the mid-west is supposed to be the pinnacle of american lack of culture and me and my weblog were ready to take it all in. We would capture the Stupid World in witty phrases and hilarious pictures, receiving input from nauseating ‘like’-using collegekids and politically over-correct philosophy students, who are studying at a good school right now, but who are still recovering from their poor highschool-education. But most of all, we, with an innate european capacity to perceive Beauty and Culture, we would laugh and be above it all.
Unsurprisingly, it all turned out to be rather different. New friends have taken pleasure in showing me the borders of my intellect and replacing them quite a bit. I’ve been fed an endless amount of new sounds, poems, books, movies, words, stories, facts and experiences and I’m very grateful for that. Special thanks go to Emily, for telling me that my beloved Sam’s Club belongs to the Walmart chain and to Arnon, who took an unusual delight in pointing out the holes in my cultural knowledge I wasn’t able to hide. I still hear this voice ringing in my ear: “Have you seen this one? What? No, you’re kidding. Oooooh. Really?”
The philosophy department I’ve been thrown into has been nothing but a nice warm bubbling bath. I’ve learned a lot about doing philosophy and about people that do philosophy. Philosophy is fun, addicting, frustrating, wonderful and deeply depressing. I’ve been warned for that, though. In Ecclesiastes it says: “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” Nevertheless, I’ve had tremendous amounts of fun. You, philosophers at Wash U, are a bright, happy, warm and friendly group of beautiful messed-up people with an unbounded and ever-growing pile of unsolved issues and it has been an honour and a pleasure to be one of you for a while. Non-philosophical friends, rejoice yourself in the fact that philosophy only exists in virtue of everything else.
When leaving for a big journey, one is expecting to come back as a totally different person, to be reborn, to find oneself, or, if all of that fails, at least to discover new parts of oneself. I’m not sure if that actually happened. I’m afraid that I’m leaving slightly more confused than how I came here. What’s for sure, I have no idea anymore which question about me and the world and the relation between those two needs to be answered first. And which ones can be answered. But that doesn’t matter, for Oscar Wilde tells us not to worry: only the shallow know themselves.