If I’d met him a few years ago (and in an alternate universe), I would totally go on a second date with Bruno Latour. I would enjoy listening to him talk: I think he has really fascinating ideas that I almost understand, but there’s enough that I haven’t quite grasped to keep me wanting more, you know?
I get the sense that he’s really passionate about the co-evolution of society and technology– he uses a lot of exclamation points–and his insistence on bringing ideas of power and dominance into conversations about the proliferation of camera technology is confusing, but in that kind of intriguing/sexy way.
Plus, I am really curious how “syntagm” is pronounced, and there’s a chance that I can get him to say it out loud.
So yeah, I would agree to a second date, because I would want to believe that there was something between us. I think I could fool myself into thinking he could respect me intellectually, at least until the waiter brought the dessert menu. (And by then, I mean, hell, you might as well try the flourless chocolate cake, right?)
He probably won’t have heard a word I said all night (he definitely wouldn’t have been listening to my anecdote about the Kodak case study I read in business school, which I at first thought was relevant, and then thought I could spin as amusing, but really by the end of it, even I realized that I had missed the point) so I won’t feel too bad if he insists on paying.
What I would really want to do is set him up with a friend of mine. That way, I wouldn’t have to date a man who would throw out the word “actant” right away, and then blaze ahead until I was too embarrassed to ask what it meant, and then define it 45 minutes later so I have to simultaneously:
1) parse the definition: “a list of answers to trials– a list which, once stabilized, is hooked to a name of a thing and to a substance.”
2) try to understand the last 45 minutes in light of this information.
3) wonder if he only defined it now because he could sense that I had no idea what he was talking about, and is he starting to think I’m an idiot?
4) wonder if he is actually trying to test out an extension of this theory in which “actant” is an actant, which is part of a program in which he (the literal enunciator?) is using vocabulary to try to get women to leave him alone (?).
5) confuse myself, and try desperately to figure out what he’s talking about now that I’ve been distracted for, let’s be honest, kind of a long time.
6) wait– did he just slam stamp collecting??
You see, I wouldn’t want to seriously date a guy who would do that, or who honestly sounds kind of high when he explains things that you are pretty sure are smart (? but, again, he could just be messing with you). Like, I was pretty sure I knew what “translations” were until he started talking, so either he’s brilliant, or so charismatic that he has me rethinking the word “substitutes” just to prove he can.
I would want to be that guy’s buddy. You know, me and Bruno getting some beers and theorizing, and arguing, and trying on ontological hats until we close down the bar? I go home feeling intellectually inferior, but in a challenged and excited way? And his girlfriend (who is grateful to me for introducing her to such a Mysterious Genius) could deal with him.
Oh my gosh, can you imagine what it would be like if, you know, down the road a few years when you’re living with him? And whatever spark you’d mustered is kind of gone, but you’re comfortable, and you have your own lives, but he keeps forgetting to do the laundry, so you leave him a note on the fridge? And then he dissects your note and your sighs and your conspicuous placement of the laundry basket and tells you all about how “unreal” your program is, and explains, in a sort of exhausted tone, how he’s going to continue to create anti-programs until you truly innovate? And how he explains this in tiny little words, which he defines right away, because that’s the only way he thinks you can understand by now?
Yeah, no thanks. A second date, but that’s it.