Recollections of Rorty

Via Crooked Timber, Raymond Geuss remembers Richard Rorty, in Arion:

When I arrived in Princeton during the 1970s my addiction to tea was already long-standing and very well entrenched, but I was so concerned about the quality of the water in town that I used to buy large containers of allegedly “pure” water at Davidson’s—the local supermarket, which seems now to have gone out of business. I didn’t, of course, have a car, and given the amount of tea I consumed, the transport of adequate supplies of water was a highly labor-intense and inconvenient matter. Dick and Mary Rorty must have noticed me lugging canisters of water home, because, with characteristic generosity, they developed the habit of calling around at my rooms in 120 Prospect, often on Sunday mornings, offering to take me by car to fill my water-bottles at a hugely primitive and highly suspicious-looking outdoor water-tap on the side of a pumphouse which was operated by the Elizabethtown Water Company on a piece of waste land near the Institute Woods. This pumphouse with its copiously dripping tap was like something out of Tarkhovski’s film about Russia after a nuclear accident, Stalker, and the surrounding area was a place so sinister one half expected to be attacked by packs of dogs in the final stages of radiation sickness or by troops of feral children who had been left by their parents to fend for themselves while the parents went off to the library to finish their dissertations. On one of those Sunday mornings in that insalubrious, but somehow appropriate, landscape, Dick happened to mention that he had just finished reading Gadamer’s Truth and Method. My heart sank at this news because the way he reported it seemed to me to indicate, correctly as it turned out, that he had been positively impressed by this book. I had a premonition, which also turned out to be correct, that it would not be possible for me to disabuse him of his admiration for the work of a man, whom I knew rather well as a former colleague at Heidelberg and whom I held to be a reactionary, distended wind-bag.