Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good at Loving

I'm home from my delicious three days at the feminist philosophy conference at the University of Washington. The conference was stimulating and inspiring, especially a paper by my favorite contemporary philosopher in the English-speaking world, Cheshire Calhoun. Cheshire Calhoun writes on the most interesting possible topics in the sub-area of philosophy known as moral psychology. She has a fabulous essay on forgiveness, called "Changing One's Heart" - and one on integrity, called "Standing for Something." She's written on civility and decency - such wonderful topics! Her paper for this conference was on boredom. Nothing could be less boring than a paper by Cheshire Calhoun on boredom. What does it say about human beings that we have a capacity for boredom? Why does boredom lead to "normative delinqency" (all that bad behavior that we do when we're bored: drinking and eating too much, throwing spitballs at the ceiling)? Why does repetition of a familiar pastime generate boredom rather than contentment? Cheshire had fascinating speculations on all of these.
I love Cheshire Calhoun so much that at one time I was the founder and president of the Cheshire Calhoun fan club. The club had other officers and members, too, so I wasn't the only one. We had meetings, and minutes from the meetings, and we even had letterhead, with the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland on it. I have to admit that we haven't had a meeting in a while. But maybe it's time for another one.
When I was a judge of the National Book Award in 2005, in the category of Young People's Literature, people would sometimes ask me what my qualifications were for the post - and wasn't I nervous being entrusted with the responsibility of conferring such a major award? But all I had to do as a judge was read a few hundred books and find the one I loved best. And I've always been excellent at loving. Loving is one of the things I do best.

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting topic. I'd love to read that. My biggest pet peeve is hearing people say they are bored. I want to shake people and say look around you. Look inside of you. Do something. Think something. Isn't boredom really a symptom of something else closer to unhappiness?