Merleau-Ponty

The Phenomenology of Perception
The Phenomenology of Perception

Maurice Merleau-Ponty is my worst enemy. This is the cover of the newest edition of his book, The Phenomenology of Perception. It is terrible.

I tried to read the Preface, first and fourth chapters for class last week. I read them, read them again, downloaded some articles on them from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, and even checked out Wikipedia. I still don’t get it.

I went to class, and on the way there, the instructor for my first class, Bioethics Theory, was talking to me, trying to explain what’s going on. I went to the seminar, which was a class discussion, in which the professors didn’t participate. I felt a little better, because at the end, one of the other students asked what the motivation behind Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological project was. That’s philosopher-speak for, “Why on earth did he write this terrible book?”

If the Preface were submitted to me as an essay by one of my third-year students in the class for which I am a TA, I would fail him. He does not define his terms. He does not give a clear thesis. He rambles. I do not like phenomenology.

I spoke to the prof afterward, asking for some help, and she indicated that it’s normal to feel totally confused. That didn’t make me feel much better. I’ll have another go this week. I don’t have a choice. Maybe it won’t be as bad.

Driveway

Graffiti on the buildings along the driveway to our indoor parking garage
Graffiti on the buildings along the driveway to our indoor parking garage

One of the great things about our place is that we have indoor parking, so our car isn’t broken-into (as much). Here is a look at the graffiti on the way in.

Pickles took these photos, and I rather like them. :)

There’s a white truck at the end of the driveway in the second photo, and periodically, when Pickles takes the van out for a drive, he has pulled up in front of the doorway. So she has to go out and find the driver and yell at him to move. And in the time this has happened, the garage door closes, locking her out of the building, with the van running inside.

It’s not a perfect system, but it’s better than getting broken-into. Something that we haven’t totally avoided either.

The entrance to our indoor parking garage
The entrance to our indoor parking garage

Westmount Public Library

Westmount Public Library
Westmount Public Library

While I’m on the subject of beautiful buildings in Westmount, here is the Public Library.

It is in the middle of a beautiful park with a little lake that some old man was sitting at. There were dozens of people, since it was Labour Day weekend.

It’s not quite as impressive as the City Hall, but considering that it’s a public library, it’s really nice. :)

The front doors for the Westmount Public Library
The front doors for the Westmount Public Library

Westmount City Hall

This is the City Hall for Westmount, which is in Montréal
This is the City Hall for Westmount, which is in Montréal

Look at this building. It is a castle. The City Hall for Westmount is a castle. Westmount is a municipality on the island of Montréal. I think that Pickles’ workplace is in Westmount. Westmount is the area of Montréal that is very fancy-pants, it would seem.

I went for a walk around there to visit the library, and walked past this building. It is really impressive.

My unicorn doesn’t look right

"My unicorn doesn't look right"
"My unicorn doesn't look right"

I’ve been saving this post for a special day. And today is 09.09.09. At 9h, I have my Bioethics Theory course. What were you doing?

The last time that I was in Stratford, visiting my family, I dragged my little sister out of her bed to play a game with me and Pickles and mom and dad. My little sister had gone to sleep early, saying that she was tired from work or VBS or something.

We decided to play Cranium, and part of the way through, she started drawing a unicorn for Pickles. She started by drawing the horn first, and then drawing the horse around it.

My little sister must have been tired, because she stopped drawing and looked at her picture and proclaimed, “My unicorn doesn’t look right, and I don’t know why.”

After a few minutes, she realised that she had put the horn in the wrong place. Does this make it a rhinoceros rather than a unicorn? I grabbed the piece of paper while she was still incapacitated from laughter, before she could correct it. I like the unicorn just the way it is, to be perfectly honest. :)

Things that professors tape to their doors

I found this note on a prof's door. I think it's hilarious.
I found this note on a prof's door. I think it's hilarious.

While I was a student at UWO, one of my favourite things to do while waiting for an appointment or a class to start would be wandering around Talbot College, where the philosophy department used to be, and looking at all the things that professors would tape to their doors for passers-by to see.

Profs do this at McGill as well. While I was waiting for my advising appointment on the 1st of September, I walked around the 9th floor a bit to see what profs had taped to their doors. There were a few of the usual jokes that you see periodically circulated by email, but this one that I photographed stood out to be, by far, the best.

Click on the photograph attached to this post. It is worth the time to read it. This is an account of a philosophy conference, as given by a child in elementary school.

I think my favourite part is “They couldn’t make jokes, many had beards.” But then again, the bitter conclusion, “I’ll never go to a philosophy conference again,” is pretty good too.

The Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill

This is the building for the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill
This is the building for the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill

Here is the building for the Biomedical Ethics Unit. It is an extremely impressive structure. Just look at it! On the first floor, there are seminar rooms, and a fancy-looking foyer, and there are offices all through the other floors.

After my meeting with the philosophy department, it was recommended to me that I speak with the Biomedical Ethics Unit, to discuss my course choices, and to see what courses they could offer me for the autumn term.

When I arrived, I was greeted by the unit’s administrative coordinator, asking if I was their long-lost bioethicist.

“I might be …” I answered, not entirely sure. Apparently they were wondering when I was going to drop by or contact them. I had been doing most of my communication with the Department of Philosophy, but my programme is very much inter-disciplinary, and so I had neglected to communicate much with the Bioethics side.

We figured everything out and chose the remaining course that I will take this term, and I wandered off and took some pictures of the interior of the building, which is beautiful.

This is the interior of the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building
This is the interior of the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building

Here is a photograph of the sitting area that you’ll see when you first enter the building. Doesn’t it just look warm and inviting? Of course it does.

When I was talking to the director of the Bioethics programme, I finally got to ask about how big my class is. Ready for this? It turns out that there’s four new students in Bioethics this year. Four. Usually it’s a two-year degree, but of course there’s always a few hangers-on, and so there’s about 16 people in the programme, in total.

That’s a small class!

I remember back at Western, in second year, my professor proudly announced that at the time, my Orgo class was the single largest chemistry course ever taught at the undergraduate level, at 1600 students.

Mind you, I’m sure that there will be more than four people in my classes, but still: Four.

Here is a photograph of the door to the Unit, which is also beautiful. I’m going to enjoy studying here. :)

This is the front door to the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building
This is the front door to the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building