Alert!  Philosophers headed this way!  

Is this just another philosophy scare?  A government conspiracy to divert attention from rising bus fares?

No.  This is serious.  Philosophers have commandeered The Marsh, at 1062 Valencia Street, on Sunday afternoon July 19th for the live taping of two “Philosophy Talk” radio shows; at noon and again at 3 p.m..  They dare Mission thinkers to show up.

Warning!  These are real philosophers, not the kind who can be found hanging around Ritual and La Boheme.  They are professionals; trained in secret classrooms outside Palo Alto, experts in constructing intricate questions timed to undermine even the most conventional of wisdom.  One simple question has been known to baffle an entire community for weeks!

Are the philosophers coming here to lecture, to drone and to put the barrio to sleep while real estate sharks pick our pockets?  Not a chance.  This is philosophy as performance art, starring a couple of nouveau Socrates,  John Perry and Ken Taylor, the guys who do “Philosophy Talk” on KALW 91.7 on Sunday mornings at 10.

“Philosophy Talk” has been on the air for six years, produced by Ben Manilla Productions, a Mission-based production company. Sunday will be their second time to record live in the Mission.

Can talking philosophy be compelling theater?  Maybe. The show has drawn sold-out audiences all over the country and recently 800 souls attended a live recording in Portland. (Don’t forget, most Portlanders come from Southern California so they know their show biz!)

Two shows are scheduled for Sunday.  The first, at noon, will feature, linguist Geoff Nunberg, known for his contributions to understanding right wing propaganda as well as frequent appearances on NPR and in The New York Times.  He will be discussing with Jon and Ken “What are Words Worth?”

The current controversy over NPR’s refusal to use the word “torture” with respect to U.S. interrogation methods, and the reasons given for that refusal, should provide plenty of grist for this philosophical mill.

If you can’t make it out of bed by noon on Sunday, don’t worry, they’ve planned something special for you.  The show at 3 p.m. will feature the magnificently controversial Judith Butler.   Post-structuralist, feminist, queer and gender theorist; cultural, political and religious critic, Butler is one of contemporary philosophy’s true divas.  The author of Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? Butler will discuss the way our understanding of modern warfare is conditioned by its shallow one-sided portrayal in the dominant media.

Tickets are $20 for one show, $35 for two.  Entirely black attire optional.

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I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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1 Comment

  1. I see they’ve taken you off the restaurant beat and put you on the strange stuff beat. If I was you, I’d get the Managing Editor to reassign you to Giants coverage. I’m sure there are many covert sports fans in the Mission.While at a game, you could report on the hot dog situation and muse about what Judith Butler would say about why even the best hitters don’t hit .500.

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