Peter Schindler

1973-1977 - Persönlicher Sekretär des ETH-Präsidenten

Letter to Paul on His 65th Birthday

A small selection of opinions that - asked or not - were given about Paul Feyerabend before he came to Zurich

Feyerabend has a reputation for going from place to place.

He apparently likes collecting job offers.

His at times impish penchant for a succes de scandale has aroused ire in some quarters.

He has continually been in conflict with the course committee. I am not sure whether this is a good or a bad recommendation.

Under no circumstances would I bring him to Zurich.

If I had to decide whether to have him around full time or else not at all, I am far from sure what I would choose.

In sum it seems that his appointment would contribute greatly to the renown of any department of philosophy.

A small selection of statements by Paul Feyerabend

Thank you for trying to cheer me up, but - when I'm tired, I don't lose words, but substance, and some people have noticed that.

Here the sun is high in the sky, it's very nice weather, but I'm sitting in my house and writing, God help me, my last book. (Reporter's note: God did not help.)

13 gentlemen have asked me for an assistant position so far and I had to write to all of them that I am a private person, not an institution, that I gather my intellectual nonsense myself, etc. All of which was not received very kindly.

I hear that my lecture (on Plato) will again be a mass affair. Well, last time I often found myself running out of breath and sanity in the middle of a lecture because I didn't have a suitable opportunity to sit down. Could you please set up a small table in front of the audience, with a chair and a lamp, so that I can sit there and give the lecture in front of them? I need the lamp because I'm going to read quite a lot from Plato, and comment, and read again, and with the usual lighting I often don't see enough (and then I just pretend to read, invent the words as I go along).

The table and lamp are excellent - now I can sit and think and talk instead of tiring walking.

I will have to tell you later about my other experiences with authorities - especially in connection with cars and driver's licenses. It's very funny at times. But the people are all very friendly and helpful, probably because I make such a helpless impression.

In order not to leave America too far behind, I bought a video machine and get the best US soap operas delivered straight to my house every week: Dallas, Falcon Crest, Dynastie, Flamingo Road, All my children and so on. Murder, seduction, theft, robbery. And the creeping bad conscience. As for the latter, I'm reading Henry Kissinger's account of the Nixon years.

Afterword by the rapporteur: All these quotes are authentic. I am not allowed to name the authors of the opinions about Paul Feyerabend; With the exception of the first, Paul Feyerabend's letters were addressed to the reporter.

November 1988 Peter Schindler, ETH Zurich