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Travelogue H20

May 24, 2016

The organ concert moved through the pieces that one might expect of such an occasion: a classic German piece to begin and the name and nature of which I have not retained; a second inspired by the play of afternoon light in the Chagall stained-glass; a third, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, to show off the church’s recently restored organ, courtesy of donors and tithers. I sat quietly amongst my fellows, rapt with attention, and took in the setting a last time as best I could in the inner dimness. Some thirty minutes passed before we could at last rise to our feet and bring our hands together in appreciation for the priest’s demonstration of skill.

As it happened, one conference participant had her birthday that same day, and so evening found a small group of philosophers getting dinner and drinks and swapping stories in the Augustinerkeller. Somewhat to my surprise, those assembled showed as much enthusiasm for talk of sex as any other group which I had frequented. Certainly, the contexts for discussion varied, but the subject proved one and the same. By way of example, one professor from Belgium intended to present on the Prussian king Friedrich III’s character and his “Enlightened” depiction in the work of Kant. Despite its outwardly innocent character, that presentation would spend no little time on the question of Friedrich’s sexuality, for tales had long circulated of his meet-ups with men of unsavory reputation in secret locations.

Another from farther west in German was rather more humorous in his approach and took aim at the title of a prominent work on Hegel by a certain Walschaff or Wolfschiff, the precise spelling of which I missed in the bar’s din that evening. The professor launched into his own tale with gusto, explaining that “Walschaff” had dubbed his introductory work “Einführung in Hegel” (Introduction in Hegel) rather than the more carefully worded “Einführung in Hegels Philosophie” (Introduction in Hegel’s Philosophy). By his poor choice of words had “Wolfschiff” suggested that the work constituted an introduction of his own person into Hegel’s by one the few means of ingress available. The German professor capped his story by remarking that “Wolfschaff” would have conveyed much the same by titling it “Sodomizing Hegel”.

I myself would have contributed a bawdy philosophical tale or two to entertain the Königsbergerin on her birthday but could not find one up to the height of those which came before. Ever the observer, I looked on, quiet in my cups.

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