The Grateful Dead and Philosophy: Getting High Minded about Love and Haight

By Steven Gimbel | Go to book overview

12
Blind Hope: Wharf Rat,
Levinas, and the Face of
August West

STEPHEN STERN


Faces

Here’s my philosophical story, for now. I write a lot about faces and stories, which at first made writing about “Wharf Rat” ideal. August West has a story to tell. I wanted to listen, so that I could tell you a story about August West in relation to Emmanuel Levinas. But when I started writing, I felt strange. It seems strange to be writing about two faces I have never faced and perhaps stranger to write these faces into facing one another, Emmanuel Levinas and August West. And what about the faces of the Grateful Dead and your face that is reading this? There are lots of faces intersecting in this paper. However, I don’t see anyone facing one another at this intersection. Nonetheless, in writing it I am introducing lots of faces to one another, figuratively speaking. (In fairness to me, I have faced the Grateful Dead. I’ve looked into all their faces many times. But I doubt they ever looked into my face while playing before me. Plus, we’re not facing one another now.) Do you think its odd that I’m writing and introducing faces for so many who are faceless to me, to whom I am faceless, and are faceless to one another? I do. But that’s my job. I am philosopher who defaces the very faces I emphasize. I de-face with the written word.

More often than not, the written word pulls me or takes me away from the face of the other, such as your face. Even if the written word introduces me or shows me the way to the other’s face, the written word is still beyond facing the other. While writing or reading, I am not facing others’ faces. Sometimes I

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