I've gotten into the habit of posting an autobiographical entry to mark the anniversary of my return to Texas. This year is no exception.
For those of you who don't already know, I flew back to Texas on June 21, 2003. If you aren't familiar with the story, then you can look at my academic autobiography. It will explain why I left Philadelphia after seventeen years and returned to Denton. My earlier autobiographical posts tell the story as well.
The previous two anniversary posts concentrated on my academic writing and my efforts to get settled back in Texas. The latter mostly consisted of my dealing with the house that I inherited from my parents. Fortunately, the work on the house was completed well over a year ago. Consequently, this time around I won't need to write about the many renovations that took up so much of my time in the past.
Towards the end of 2005 the Fichte chapter that I described in last year's post, i.e., the introductory piece on Johann Gottlieb Fichte's Foundations of the Entire Wissenschaftslehre, appeared in volume 3 of Central Works of Philosophy. The series is edited by John Shand and published by Acumen Publishing.
I have to confess that I caused to the volume to appear later than the publisher had planned. Because I was so overwhelmed by work and the house, and because I had hurt a tendon in my right hand in the summer of 2004, I fell behind on my chapter. Both editor and publisher were patient, and so by early 2005 I had managed to complete my contribution. It turned out fairly well, I think. It's a good place to begin to understand Fichte's philosophy, if I do say so myself.
Another overdue project appeared in 2005. Many years ago Paul Guyer, Fred Rauscher, and I began work on what would eventually be published as volume 13 of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant in Translation. This time, though, I was way ahead of everyone else! My collaborators were the ones who had to catch up, because I had finished my translations in 1999.
Things were in a bit of a lull in the summer of 2005. The Fichte chapter was done, and I decided to take some time off to work in the yard. (Oh, how I miss Philadelphia! Everything green belongs to the city!) I also decided to delay resuming work on the translations that I've been preparing for a volume on Fichte and the atheism dispute that Yolanda Estes and I started years ago. It seemed to me that I should instead begin to make good on some plans that had been on hold for a while.
If you look at my CV, you'll see that the philosophy of art is one of my academic interests. For several years I'd been thinking about taking music lessons. There are any number of ways in which a technical knowledge of music could fit into my future writing and translation projects. For example, I might begin to write about Theodor Adorno's views on music. The thought is hardly far-fetched. As I write this post, I'm in the middle of writing a proposal for a book on Dialectic of Enlightenment, a book that Adorno co-wrote with Max Horkheimer in the early 1940s. In the future I could easily branch out into Adorno's aesthetics of music. I've also given some thought to re-translating some of Richard Wagner's prose writings. Doing so would require some technical knowledge of music.
Besides any possible academic use that I might have for a technical knowledge of music, I thought that I should just do something entirely new to me. My current situation as an independent scholar gives me the opportunity to do things that I've never done before. So I started taking piano lessons at the end of August 2005. I'm no musical genius, but I've been making progress.
That same August I started going to a gun range in Dallas to do some shooting. I've always been interested in military history, but I've never really known much about guns. I inherited several from my father when he died in 2002. I kept them, of course, although I didn't know much about how to use them. When I moved back to Texas in 2003, I started to do some on-line research to determine whether any of them were of any value. I figured that they wouldn't be worth much, and my research confirmed my suspicions.
As I looked into the matter, however, I thought that I should learn about them. A little carnage to go with my culture, you might say. It would be something else entirely new to me. So I signed up for a class, learned the basics, and started going to the range once or twice a month. I'll have more to say about this in future posts.
Towards the end of 2005 I resumed work on the Fichte translations. They're my main academic project for the next year or so. I hope to have my portion completed by this time next year, but, unfortunately, it will probably take longer than that.
In late 2005 horror film maven Steven Schneider contacted me again, this time about contributing an entry or two to a European horror film guide that he is editing for the British Film Institue. I chose to write an entry on Häxan, a thoroughly odd, but fascinating, Danish silent film from 1922. I wrote a 500-word entry by the end of March 2006. The book hasn't appeared yet. More on it when it appears.
A few weeks ago I noticed that Thoemmes Continuum had published a paperback edition of my three-volume Winckelmann set, which originally appeared in hardback in 2001. I say "noticed" because no one at the press had contacted me. I stumbled across the new edition while I was looking up some information on-line. Not being notified was a bit annoying, as you can easily imagine, but I'm glad that the set is available in paperback. I corresponded with the press, and I was quickly sent my complimentary copies of the paperback edition.
As I mentioned above, I'm working on a proposal for a commentary on Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment. I've been at it for a while, but only now have I really been able to do the serious writing. I'll soon have a draft, which I'll send to an editor who has expressed an interest in the project. If I get a contract after the usual review process, then I'll have two book projects, this one and the Fichte translations, to keep me busy.
So I seem to have come to terms with being an independent scholar who is no longer pursuing a career as a professor. At least for now I'm content to remain in Texas. I don't really see any compelling reason to attempt to return to academia. Besides, that whole guns thing would probably cause me problems at some schools, I reckon.