Interview with me reproduced from The Philosopher:
1. If you were allowed only one philosophical sentence to take to a desert island, what would it be?
That of Plotinus, where he says that philosophy should be concerned with what matters most. And I would read and reread it in shame and wonder.
2. If you could invent a philosophical 'ism', what would it be?
Doubtism, remembering Pessoa's Bernardo Soares, who writes of that stage 'when we doubt both ourselves and our doubt'.
3. Which did you prefer writing - Spurious or Blanchot's Vigilance?
I feel less ashamed of Spurious, since I was at least able there to admit my terrible shame at posturing as a thinker. But better still that neither exist.
4. Is there a great philosopher you really don't like?
Sartre, for his smugness.
5. What has been the most rewarding philosophical experience of your life?
6. Which non-philosophical writer should be compulsory reading for philosophers?
Fernando Pessoa, and, in particular, his Book of Disquiet. But I would hesitate to call literature non-philosophical.
7. What is the latest worthwhile philosophical work you have read?
Charles Juliet's book of interviews with Bram Van Velde and Samuel Beckett vies with McGhee's Transformations of Mind.
8. Mary Midgley once compared philosophical thinking to plumbing; which craft or trade would you choose as a comparison?
Crash test dummy.
9. Is there a particular philosophical dispute that is crying out for resolution?
'Philosophy has absolutely nothing to do with discussing things', Deleuze says provocatively. 'It's difficult enough just understanding the problem someone's framing and how they're framing it, all you should ever do is explore it, play around with the terms, add something, relate it to something else, never discuss it'. I wonder if the same doesn't apply to disputations.
10. Do you know any philosophical jokes?
Lukacs, admirer of the realism of Thomas Mann, opponent of Kafka, said wrly in 1956, in the back of a police van when Soviet tanks rolled in to crush the Hungarian uprising, 'So Kafka was a realist after all'. The best kind of joke is at your own expense.
11. Which philosophers would you invite to your dinner party?
The friends I've made at conferences and the like, but who are scattered all over the world.
12. What is the stupidest thing that any philosopher has ever said?
Many examples come to mind, none worth recalling. More cheerful, however, to end on a positive sense of stupidity. Beckett only gave one official interview, of which this is one part:
- Why do you write your books?
- I don't know. I'm not an intellectual. I just feel things. I invented Molloy and the rest on the day I understood how stupid I'd been. I began then to write down the things I feel.
Interview in The Philosopher, 2011