My partner Liz claims that you never forget your first Hamlet. I think the same thing is true with the first work of philosophy with which you fall in love.
I was a late bloomer in this regard. I’d had a long flirtation with philosophy: a philosophy minor in college, a graduate English program saturated with Continental Philosophy, and so forth. But it wasn’t until I was a junior professor looking to carve out a little time for myself–a space to continue to grow and to think–that I found the book for me: Gilles Deleuze’s Logic of Sense, his book about (no kidding) Through the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland.
One day a week I’d ensconce myself at my favorite restaurant and dive in for as long as I could spare. That was almost fifteen years ago, and one story of the subsequent years is that I’ve seized on every opportunity to keep expanding that space. I’m grateful that I’ve been blessed with some lucky opportunities in this regard. But it was the prior space–the little assemblage of quiet, Deleuze, and a cappuccino–that gave me a clear sense of where I wanted to go with those opportunities.
So now that Tim Burton’s movie is out (so far we’ve seen it three times), I’ve found myself returning to the Logic of Sense. To borrow one of Alice’s favorite terms (but appropriately enough, in an opposite sense) the book is just as “provoking” as ever.
P.S. Derek Jacobi