Now I Guess I Have to Buy a Sports Car

Well, that was a good trip: two interesting conferences, some fun in between, family and friends along the way. I loved most of the places we visited, both cities and wilder areas.

Try as I might to feel otherwise, the landscape of this part of the eastern US is just never going to make me feel the way that the west does.

It’s an old, old observation, but this is one of the bigger kick in the teeth you can give to liberal or contractual ideas about personhood, or to conventional formulations of rational choice theory, even the “bounded rationalities” form. At 22, I knew some of the general things I needed to know about my own personality and preferences. So I chose to pursue graduate study: that was a pretty sound choice, a good understanding of my own nature and likely skills. I didn’t understand how graduate school actually was, but in the longer term academia, with all its faults, has been as good a place as any for me. I understood enough about my relationship with my wife to commit to her, and that too has been a great choice. Though even there, a good relationship thrives not because the two people in it stay the same as they were when they first met, but because they change in relationship to one another.

But there are things you can’t know. You can’t know how some choices unforeseeably preclude others, or how the stars of your desire are going to align. Your younger self makes choices for your older self, even when they’re choices the older self wouldn’t necessarily make. This is not a big deal when it comes to being in a mild state of middle-aged funk while roaming around the mountains of Oregon or in a Portland neighborhood, comparing your own lived environment unfavorably to them, and knowing that the comparison is one that you’re powerless to do anything about. It’s worth a mumble or two and then back to the everyday business of a satisfying life. (But: while I agree with some of the comments in an earlier thread that Philadelphia has good farmer’s markets, really, the big farmer’s market in the old ferry building near the Embarcadero in San Francisco puts them all to shame.)

However, it is a big deal when we’re talking about living wills or other profound statements we make about the disposition of our lives: this was one of the legitimate subsurface questions that burbled up during the Schiavo fracas. Then you really have to acknowledge that our conception of a continuous individual is a powerful but possibly untrustworthy fiction in some ways.

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6 Responses to Now I Guess I Have to Buy a Sports Car

  1. Chris Clarke says:

    And that Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building is four blocks from where I’m sitting right now, so drop a line next time you’re out and I’ll buy you a cup of Peet’s.

  2. Gary Farber says:

    “…the big farmer’s market in the old ferry building near the Embarcadero in San Francisco puts them all to shame.)”

    Have you visited Seattle’s Pike Place Market, and if so, what did you think? (If not, possibly your answer might be less interesting.)

    At risk of being banal, I’ll observe that I’m very fond of both San Francisco and Portland, as well, albeit that I’ve not been back to either in about twenty years now. But, hey, back in the day: many visits.

  3. Timothy Burke says:

    I like Pike Place Market a lot too. Especially for fish. But the established “permanent” businesses in the Ferry Building in SF are really amazing, quite aside from the farmer stands that pop up there.

  4. Chris Clarke says:

    Gary, that part of San Francisco has become much, MUCH nicer since your last visit. Mainly because Mother Nature took out the freeway that loomed over the place back before October 1989.

  5. Gary Farber says:

    “Mainly because Mother Nature took out the freeway that loomed over the place back before October 1989.”

    That didn’t hit the papers, did it?


    Otherwise, I’d love to spend a couple of weeks each in catching up with contemporary Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco; reading about innumerable developments, and from their papers, with great frequency, is no substitute. Perhaps sooner or later.

    Murble to Tim that PPM in Seattle has plenty of — indeed, is mostly composed of — permanent shops on the many levels — but I can well believe that in SF it’s grander, bigger, larger, better, whatever.

  6. Timothy Burke says:

    I’ve spent quite a lot of time in PPM–but the shops in the Ferry building in SF are of a different character and operate frankly on a different level of foodie greatness. Boulette’s Larder is only one of a number operating at that level.

    On the other hand PPM has a really nice SF-and-comics oriented shop on its lower levels, so…

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