This morning, as I stared at my feet on the subway, feeling the irritation and dismay build at the dehumanizing sardine-can conditions in the car, which were thrown into stark relief by a long weekend spent, in part, on horseback, moving at my pace of choice through lovely and quiet autumnal trails on the Niagara Escarpment, I had an unexpected light-bulb moment. I was, as usual, rifling my mental archives for a point of departure for today’s post, hoping to “turn up” a suggestive line or paragraph or page, perhaps one authored by one of this blog’s intellectual exemplars (you will find most of their names – their number is small – under the heading “Local Forecast” on the right-hand sidebar of the main page). Perhaps it was the press of the crowd on its collective way-to-work that prompted a different impulse: why not inquire of others regarding their sources of intellectual, theoretical and ethical inspiration? And (since an insta-poll of my fellow commuters was neither viable nor, quite honestly, all that promising) why not avail myself of Twitter in order to carry it out? There were a handful of folks on my timeline, I thought, who might be willing to share in this regard, should they chance upon my fleeting inquiry.
So, a short time ago, I sent out 8 or 10 tweets, a combination of DMs and @replies, that read more or less like this:
Hey. For an informal poll of some folks I follow on Twitter: who are your intellectual (philosophical/theoretical) exemplars/heroes?
I got my first response in under two minutes (an interval brief enough to flag in the context of my critique of the ideology of the “real-time” Web), when one of the people I was most interested in hearing from fired back. @CodyBrown is someone I have followed for some time, and know only through Twitter. I know (or at least I believe) him to be a denizen of Brooklyn, a co-founder of @kommons and @nyulocal – two worthy projects, it would appear – and the author of a “Blog on Journalism, Collective Knowledge, and What Makes Things Cinematic.” And I follow him on the basis of this fragmentary biographical information, and (much more) because of the nature, the character of his tweets, which are well-turned, stringent, funny, and which nearly always include worthwhile links.
Virtually as soon as I had finished sending my queries into the ether, I got @CodyBrown’s response: “Mario Savio.” When I replied to thank him and to give him an opportunity to gloss his response in this context, I promptly received a link that led me to a video clip of Mario Savio addressing a crowd on the steps of Sproul Hall at Berkeley, on December 2, 1964.
@CodyBrown exemplifies what I prize about Twitter. If he is not (yet) among my intellectual exemplars, he is close to the top of my very short list of social media and journalism go-to guys. I am grateful to him for “turning up” the footage of Mario Savio speaking at a historical juncture.
Based on what is admittedly minimal evidence, I believe that Cody and Mario have a trait or two in common. So, while I thank the former once again for his timely replies, I offer as well a word of advice. Call me superstitious, but if you’re thinking of moving any furniture, you might want to consult the Yellow Pages. http://writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/savio-obit.html
Now, let’s see if anyone else has responded.