Good morning E-mail! Yesterday was President’s Day, but today everybody is back to work and so is my Treo, blinking with new messages. The real world is starting to intrude on this, our philosophical retreat.
For the first time when I get outside the sky is cloudy and the temperature – freezing. Up until now it really has been too good to be true.
I love today’s readings on equality and social welfare. We start off talking about the trade-offs between economic efficiency and giving people an equal opportunity. Next Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex”, which everyone, especially the female members of our group, really feel is still incredibly relevant today. I posit that it doesn’t just speak to women but to anyone – black, Hispanic, muslim, gay – who is seen as somehow “less” in our society. What I especially like about it is that while de Beauvoir talks about the external prejudices women (and all minorities) face, she doesn’t let them off the hook either: you have to step up and “carry the weight of the world on your shoulders”. Into this heady mix we add readings from Martin Luther King, The Communist Manifesto (good thing I read it on the plane!) and a Burmese political prisoner.
It’s almost a relief to go back to my room and run through my e-mails. There is a mini crisis at work that will take some telephone client intervention tomorrow. To clear my head I go for a walk in the snow along the river and listen to the immense quiet.
At 4 o’clock the whole group – minus the instructors – meets in the theater where we are to put on our Antigone. We do our first run through of the individual sketches, to see how each works and how they hang them together. Since I had the bad sense on the first day of introductions to say that I had done some amateur theater in the past, I have been named the unofficial director of the proceedings.
Sophocle’s Chorus has morphed into three couch potatoes channel switching and commenting on the news as Antigone’s tragedy plays itself out. (Actually in our interpretation it’s more comedy than tragedy). I get a technician to hook a camera up to the plasma screens on each side of the stage so that some of the scenes can be transmitted on them. We cut here, add there; it actually seems to work! We are a bit concerned though that the actors for one of the scenes don’t show up. Didn’t they get the memo?
Dinner and an early night – I have to get up early for a business conference call – about that work crisis.