So, there's a thing going around on Facebook that asks people to list 25 random things about themselves. I usually delete messages like this immediately, but for whatever reason I actually filled out the list this time. I suppose that the point of this exercise is to show something revelatory about what the author finds "random" about him- or herself, and in this case, I was actually a little intrigued by my own list. Of all the random things that one could say about oneself, what makes it to the top 25? And why those 25 things and not others? There are all kinds of idiosyncracies that might explain the list, but the truth is that the way it is set up really does make possible a closest-to-actually "random" list.
I've reposted my list below. You'll probably notice that I somehow overlooked the fact that I listed numbers 17 and 18 twice, so there are actually 27 (and not 25) things listed here. Just count that as another random fact about me-- I am not numerically-inclined. Here's my list:
25. I was a Preacher's Kid. Although I'm not particularly religious anymore-- or, at least, not "religious" in any traditional sense-- I think that being a PK played an essential role in shaping the person I am today. I also am totally fascinated by how many philosophers were/are PK's. I met 6 others just while I was in grad school, and many more since.
24. I lost 3 of my 4 grandparents while I was in graduate school. I miss them terribly. All the time.
23. I love children and I'm really, really good with children. However, I would never, EVER, want to be a mother. I think I would be an awful mother. That said, I'm an awesome aunt.
22.I've never been to a drive-in movie or a rodeo.
21. I believe that we never know what kind of baggage people are carrying around with them. We should try every day to lighten the load, not add to it.
20. I'm a complete sucker for the underdog. And also students who cry.
19. My favorite numbers are 19 and 3. 19 because it's the day of my birthday. 3 because it was (Atlanta Brave) Dale Murphy's number, and my number in every sport I played up through college.
18. I think I'm better as a behind-the-scenes player than a leader. Kind of like Dick Cheney. People are suspicious of me when I'm in charge... probably because of things like that Dick Cheney comment.
17. I don't think tolerance is a virtue. At most, tolerant people are merely refraining from being vicious. You don't get moral credit for that in my book.
18. Scary movies really scare me. As do haunted houses. I know it's irrational and I know other people think they're "fun," but I think that being terrified is one of the most miserable human experiences. There's nothing fun about being really scared.
17. I wish I could write a song as good as Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright."
16. I failed "Public Speaking" THREE TIMES as an undergraduate at The University of Memphis. They only let you retake a class for a higher grade 3 times, but you still had to pass the "Public Speaking" class to graduate, so I actually had to take it 4 times and I still had it as the only "F" on my transcript. People find this hard to believe, but it's true.
15. I think my little brother might be the greatest human being I know. He's smart, compassionate, wickedly funny, generous, tough, loyal, and he is the first person I would call if I was in trouble.
14. I hate to tell strangers what I do for a living. I wish there was a way to say "I'm a philosophy professor" that indicated that I'm not that kind of philosophy professor. I love my job and am really proud of what I do, but we live in a viciously anti-intellectual culture. I do my best to break down the presumed wall between academics and everyone else, but it's unfortunately made of (in the parlance of Lucinda Williams) concrete and barbed wire.
13. I love "reality" television. Even and especially the really bad varieties.
12. I don't remain friends with my exes. Never have. Probably never will. It's complicated.
11. I believe in love. I don't care who somebody loves, if they want to ceremoniously sanctify that union-- in whatever way they choose to do that-- we should let them. However, I do not believe that marriage is a "right" and I do not believe that fighting for the "right to marry" is a progressive political cause.
10. For all of its problems, and there are many, I love and will defend the South for as long as I have energy and breath to do it. This is the most complicated, maddening, and yet culturally rich part of our country. I love the food, the music, the people, the traditions just as much as I hate the racism, the provincialism, the backwardness, and the pretense. I absolutely CANNOT STAND to hear ignorant, regionalist summaries of the South from people who aren't from here, who have never spent any significant time here, and who know nothing about it.
9. Wild Bill's Juke Joint (in Memphis) is my church. When I die, I want my funeral to happen there. And I want everyone to get sloppy drunk, eat a lot of fried chicken wings, dance, fill up the band's tip bucket, and laugh. Then, I want them to forget me but remember their awesome night at Bill's.
8. I concede that Derrida was a one-trick-pony. But I think it's a pretty amazing trick.
7. I find Sartre's account of "Bad Faith" in Being and Nothingness to be the most intuitively true account of human consciousness I've ever read.
6. I am absolutely positive that I will not outlive my parents. And that makes me sad for them.
5. There are very few things that I enjoy more than showing visitors a good time in Memphis. The 901 is my home and I love it more than anything. If I could get paid to be an Memphis Ambassador, I think that would be as close to a dream job as I can imagine.
4. I ALWAYS feel judged. (See #25.)
3. I'm far less confident than I may appear. (See #4.)
2. I'm a humanist... something that is very difficult to reconcile as a person who works on the philosophies of race and gender. I really do believe there is something different and unique about human beings that ought to be protected and valued. I don't think non-human animals are the same. That doesn't mean that I think we should mistreat non-human animals, that they don't need their own protections, or that we don't have special kinds of obligations to them, but I really can't consider them on a par with human beings. I also think that "Enlightenment" humanism is deeply flawed, though not rotten to the core. I've been working on a manuscript that is an attempt to resuscitate a viable humanism. Will get back to you on that.
1. As much as I hate to admit it, I really do want you to like me. Whoever you are.