Saturday, June 9, 2007

1 degree of separation from Lisa

My dear dear friend Alex Frey has been telling me about the extremely fabulous Lisa, who does highpowered matchmaking among companies. He also tells me she loved The Last Samurai.

"She should find me an agent!" I say. "Tell her to find me an agent!"

Alex seems not to see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Lisa to match a great writer of our time with a great agent of our time. He says Lisa does not find people jobs.

Alex and I then have a conversation about God. Alex believes in the existence of God. I believe in the existence of Lisa. I also believe I know what would count as existence or non-existence of Lisa, and I believe I know what would count as evidence one way or the other. I do not know what is meant to count in the case of God. This seems too much like religion by tombola. Everyone pulls something different out of the tombola; what matters is not WHAT is pulled out of the tombola, the important thing is pulling SOMETHING out of the tombola. The important thing is to believe in SOMETHING. If the time spent in schools on English orthography were devoted to philosophy, might we see a world where as many people thought logically as now spell "receive", "separate", "siege" and "seize" correctly?

I remember a story about Bertrand Russell. Russell gave a lecture on the history of philosophy to a general audience, which included a reference to the cosmological theory that the world rests on the back of a giant turtle. Russell pointed out that the theory had a problem: what was the turtle standing on? An old lady at the back shook her head in violent disagreement. She came up to Russell after the talk. "You think you're very clever, young man. But it's turtles all the way down!"

When one deals with the publishing industry one finds oneself so often in the sort of discussion where "turtles all the way down!" is brought out in triumph. A hyperheadhunter, I think, might find a head which did not do this.

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