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And these ones are far away. - Sex and Sums and a Controlled Dose of Rock and Roll [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Richard Clegg

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And these ones are far away. [Feb. 10th, 2012|10:23 am]
Richard Clegg
Did I see Ardal O'Hanlon at the theatre last night? I guess that would have to be a matter for the philosophers(*). Certainly I went to see Port Auhority and Southwark Playhouse. Certainly I chose to buy the tickets in part because of his presence. The play itself is an interesting enough affair albeit slightly unconventional. Three disparate Irish characters (one young, one middle aged and one elderly) give interspersed monologues at best tangentially connected about their lives and lost loves. For me the middle-aged guy's story (of being whisked from a mundane life into a cocaine and rock-stars lifestyle) was the funniest and some lines were delivered with that beautiful deadpan pathos that works so well in a Dublin accent.

However, as I'd forgotten Ardal O'Hanlon was in the play, I did not immediately connect him with the middle-aged bearded man speaking. Well, when I say immediately, I mean "until I happened to be browsing the leaflet for the play this morning". This provoked a little mental pause. In my mind, he's still fresh-faced father Dougal and that was nearly fifteen years ago now. Even now, I can't really connect the performance I saw with the person I thought I was meant to have seen. Mentally, I'm trying to slip it sideways and say "maybe he was the younger one" or "maybe he wasn't there that night".

Did I see Ardal O'Hanlon in a play? In a philosophical sense I honestly can't be sure although it seems certain I have seen a play and he was in that play.

Edit: It has been pointed out in email by D. Muir that I missed a golden opportunity to say "That... would be a philosophical matter."
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: drdoug
2012-02-10 02:45 pm (UTC)
I think you have to be much more of a subjectivist in your epistemology than you or I are to think you didn't see Ardal O'Hanlon last night. The fact that you didn't know it was him at the time is a fact about your state of mind, not about the position of a particular Irish comedian/actor.

Unless ... he was ill last night and you saw an understudy? Feck!
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-02-10 05:20 pm (UTC)
I think I'm subjectivist enough to at least consider it a matter for confusion. I did not at the time experience the qualia I would associate with seeing Ardal O'Hanlon and, had I actually seen that I was seeing Ardal O'Hanlon, then my experience of the evening would have been different. I looked at a photo of him in this play and then it was obviously him... but when I was in the play it was obviously not him because it was someone older and wearier and with a beard rather than all young and perky and full of enthusiasm.

The Ardal O'Hanlonness of him would have affected my experience of the play greatly... so did I really see him or did I see a great performance by an unknown actor who later turned out to be him?
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[User Picture]From: drdoug
2012-02-10 05:29 pm (UTC)
Can't we draw a logical distinction between "the qualia {one} would associate with seeing Ardal O'Hanlon" and "the qualia generated by seeing Ardal O'Hanlon"?

Your subjective experience was certainly not of seeing Ardal O'Hanlon, but it's entirely possible for subjective experience to be quite wrong. I certainly have plenty of direct personal experience of that.

At the moment I'm working with someone on a project, and I have this fixed idea in my head that their name is the same as a very famous porn star. So far as I can tell, there is in fact no porn star with that name - I can't claim an encyclopedic knowledge of porn, but Google certainly doesn't show any trace of it in the first several pages. But my subjective experience of seeing their name pop up in my email is "blimey, more porn-themed spam".
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-02-11 01:36 am (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand the distinction you make in the first sentence. Are you talking about the difference between the expected qualia the actually generated qualia?

This is why we need a qualified philosopher present I think. To take a simpler example, would we say that someone had really seen the colour green if they had provably never experienced the qualia green.

If my subjective experience was not that of seeing Ardal O'Hanlon (except in retrospect) then have I actually seen him given that I have not had the experience of seeing him (that is, at the time my experience I would have confidently asserted was not that of seeing him)? I accept subjective experiences can be in some sense "wrong" but is the claim to have seen someone in a play a claim about a physical thing which happened or about the emotions and sensations experienced.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2012-02-11 02:05 am (UTC)
Wow -- just listening to Elvenquest on "listen again" radio four and (as usual) there was a few minutes of the previous program before it. It finished with "thanks to my guest Ardal O'Hanlon and those of you in London can see him in Port Authority at Southwark Playhouse." Seems I am doomed to miss him in one way or another.
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