rummaging around in boxes of old files, i came across a number of drafts of my dissertation (finished '89), with richard rorty's marginal comments, as well as a number of typewritten memos detailing his responses. if i am recalling correctly i wrote three complete non-overlapping versions before they acquiesced. (he told my friend josh tonkel [a junior professor at uva at the time] "we better let him defend this one or else he'll just write another"). some highlights, for better and worse:
"As I said in my note about the new chapter 4, there seems no overall coherence to that chapter--but simply a series of jottings not synthesized by an overall plan of argumentation. . . I think you should map out an outline of what the thesis is going to argue, and go over it with me. Try to spell out what your grand plan is, and tell it to me in a perspicuous way."
"When I made a lunch date with you for this Wednesday, I stupidly forgot that I'll be out of town for the last three days of this week. Can we change it to lunch next Wednesday, the 9th? My office at 12:30?"
"You are going to have to write much more patiently and less hectically to get this job done."
"You will need to write up...your own detailed statement about what counts as a language, as representation, as resemblance, and as reference." [yo, no prob!]
"Between now and August ['86], I'd be glad to do some reading in Gombrich, Danto, Wollheim, etc. and discuss their stuff with you, if that would be helpful. I blush to say I still haven't read The transfiguration of the commonplace nor Wollheim's On art and the mind, and it's high time I did."
"This [early version of chap 1] is a convincing and notably well written (despite occasional lapses) presentation of the least common denominator of Dewey, Kallen, Heidegger, Gombrich, Goodman, et al. It's enlightening to have these diverse figures brought together. . . . My feeling is that, assuming you still cling to your project of confuting the pragmatist theory of perception and showing that Gombrich and Goodman are wrong in relativizing everything to contemporary practices, you still have the hard part of the dissertation to write. . . . Come talk to me about how things are going sometime.
well, there is a shitload of this stuff, most of which requires some context to get ahold of. i remember being maddened by the comment (feb 29, 1988), 'I really don't find much to disagree with'. i was trying to destroy his philosophy! but that there was dick rorty. one thing that all this reminds me of: how generous he was with his time and energy, and this at a period where he was taking up his role as a world-bestriding intellectual colossus, always jetting off to debate habermas or whatever.
of course i cherished 'notably well written' (even with the lapses).