Show #38: Oberlin, Ohio
"Can we not conclude that we, as humans, can relate more to the experience of a dog than we can to the experience of an ant?"
"No, my good man. I regret that I cannot conclude that."
"Come, sir! Epistemologically, the conclusion is self-evident!"
"I'm sorry sir. I cannot conlude that this conclusion is self-evident. You may subscribe to the bankrupt logic of 'I think therefore I am.' However, in our postmodern age, this conclusion is far from conclusive."
'But, sir, I implore youÂthink now of a dog. Now, think of an ant. Can you not see that we, as homo sapiens, can relate more to the mammalian experience than to the ant-lerian experience? This is just common sense!"
"Common sense? Ha! Common sense to a ribald heretic such as you, perhaps. But, sir, I must inform you here and now before all these witnesses—I do not believe in common sense."
So ran an explosive Socratic dialogue I overheard whilst trying to purchase potato chips in a convenience store on the campus of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. Make no mistake—I am in full support of the college experience and the pseudo-philosophical explorations that experience cultivates. In addition, the college experience provides a unique opportunity to play obnoxious free jazz, read semiotic texts, consume large quantities of illicit drugs, eat at diners in the wee hours of the morning, and engage in spontaneous sexual encounters with individuals one may or may not know. However, before a show, I like to eat potato chips. If your explosive Socratic dialogue is holding up the line at your liberal arts college's convenience store, please continue that explosive dialogue outside so I that can buy my Ruffles.
Of course, not everyone at Oberlin is hunched over discussing Cartesian logic and Nietzche's Superman. For example, consider the gentleman pictured above. I cladestinely photographed this gentleman and his ladyfriend at Oberlin right before my performance. Though this man is seated directly in front of a loud band that is prepared to crush him with its superior aesthetics, he does not give a solitary f*ck! Rather than scrutinize the glorious art that is about to unfold before his eyes, he would rather spend his time "chilling"—that is, exchanging pleasantries with a lovely lady and, should the mood strike, checking his email on his laptop. Don't worry, this laptop will not run out of power—this laptop was plugged into the same outlet as my guitar amp.
Now, some might be reluctant to sit directly in front of a band, open laptop in hand. Some might worry that a open laptop could prove distracting to the band and its audience. Some might fret over a breach of etiquette. Absurd! Haven't we the right to check our email and talk to our ladies whenever and wherever we please? This man is a model of human freedom! This man has no concerns, epistemoligcal or otherwise. No better situation is imaginable for this man. He's got 1) his lady and 2) his laptop. Perfect!
When I applied to liberal arts colleges in the Fall of 1993, Oberlin appeared on my radar screen. I did not apply, as I found the alliterative "o's"—that is, one "o" in "Oberlin," and the other in "o" in "Ohio"—off-putting. My "o-phobia" was as good a reason as any not to fill out another college application at the time. In retrospect, I regret not exploring Oberlin further. Had I been accepted, I would undoubtedly have been able to relax with my laptop and my lady at numerous campus events. At age 32, I would have organized a 10-year lady/laptop reunion. The invitations to this reunion would be simple and to the point. "Oberlin Reunion Planned!" they would read. "Bring your laptops and your ladies! No jacket required!"