Baruch writes: I have been away, thus the lack of posting. Here’s a little gem, Rebecca Goldstein of the wonderful and moving Betraying Spinoza dramatises Leibniz and Spinoza’s rendévous in 1675.
Warning: some vaguely annoying intellectual posing and name-dropping, mostly from the blogaviewer, has to be endured to get to the interesting stuff from Goldstein. There is a part 1 and part 3 of the blogalogue, accessible from the link.
This I like particularly:
He is sitting in a sparsely furnished room, although it does contain the large four-poster bed that he had inherited from his parents, as well as a simple wooden chair and table, where he is seated. His long silken black wavy hair partially obscures his face as he leans over the table, quietly scribbling with a quill. He will remain there the entire time, intent at his writing, as ushers continue to show the audience to their seats.
The audience members will either discover his silent presence for themselves, or be directed by the bemused gesturing of their neighbors to the figure on the stage. Eventually, it is to be hoped, all of them, even the most distracted, will become aware of him and be swathed in the hush of anticipation as well, most importantly, of confusion.
Thus, even before a word of dialogue is spoken, the audience will be entangled in theatrical-ontological uncertainty, each onlooker forced to consider for himself the fundamental metaphysics of the situation: is the play in progress or is it not? And if it is not, at what point will it be? And if it is, then was it even before there was anyone there in the theatre to see it?
At some point, Benedictus Spinoza will look up, pushing away his luxurious locks from his brow and squinting out at the audience. He will pick up one of the lenses that lies, quite naturally, near to hand, and place it before his eye, studying the audience for a long uncomfortable time, provoking uneasy laughter, at which noise he will scowl. This can be drawn out for as long as it remains funny, which may amount to absolutely no time at all.
I didn’t know Goldstein and Steven Pinker get it on. Bento, did you? Also odd she seems to be a bit down on Matthew Stewart, but maybe that is just a bit of Spinozan scholar backroom back-biting. No doubt they’ll both start on us soon.