I’ve been here in NYC a little under a week now, so I thought it’s time for a quick update. Briefly about the background: I’m a visiting scholar at NYU for three months from the beginning of March until the end of May. The visit is part of my Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher’s project, which commenced in the beginning of 2011. My visit is sponsored by Kit Fine and the purpose of my visit is to work on the interface between essence and modality.
I had no trouble getting into the country, although my 9h flight was 2.5h late. There was a further wait to the passport control, but after that everything was smooth. I was asked a couple of simple questions about the purpose of my visit and waved straight through. No one checked my bags either.
I’ve got a small room in a shared apartment on West 47th street on Manhattan, virtually next to Times Square. The place is very basic, but functional, and my flatmates seem easy to get along with. It’s not really worth posting any photos of the apartment, more important is its location; it’s very well connected in the heart of Manhattan. I can get to the philosophy department in about 10 minutes, and more importantly, I can jog to Central Park in less than that.
Every day has been pretty busy so far. The first two days I was hanging out with CUNY people, as a friend of mine is at CUNY. They seem like a great bunch. Already on the second day I got the philosophy aspect of the visit going on, by attending a seminar on the contingent a priori by one Saul Kripke. It’s a weekly seminar at CUNY and I will probably attend it while I’m here. The 2h hour session was a bit of a slow starter, but we did get into some interesting discussion about de re knowledge in the familiar example concerning Le Verrier, the planet Neptune, and the hypothetical planet Vulcan.
The next two days I spent at and around NYU. The philosophy department is downtown in very nice surroundings. It’s a lovely building, and it’s just incredible that the whole 6-storey building is dedicated to philosophy! I haven’t attended any NYU philosophy events yet, but there are plenty to choose from. The grad students have put together a ‘Metaphysics Boot Camp’, which is essentially a work in progress seminar; I hope to attend that next week. I did manage to have a chat with Kit Fine though and I look forward to working with him. I’m also considering of attending Hartry Field’s lecture series on Truth. Kit is teaching a metaphysics intro himself, which might be fun to attend as well, but the two lectures overlap.
There are some great restaurants and bars around NYU, and I stumbled upon a nice tea place as well, called Argo Tea, on University Place. Stocked up with some Nilgiri and a thermos/brewing mug. If it weren’t for the need to be close to the Central Park for the purposes of running, I would rather live somewhere close to NYU. There are a lot of restaurants near my place as well, but the Times Square area is very touristy and quite main stream, so not so much to my liking. In contrast, I had lunch the other day at one of the many vegan restaurant in NYC, near the department. I found it via this great website that lists vegan/vegetarian restaurants in NYC. The place is called Red Bamboo, it’s at 140 West 4th Street. I had a Seitan sandwich (which you can have either with fries or salad, I chose the latter), but I was surprised how massive it was, and very tasty! The service and atmosphere were so great (or maybe it was the hot alternative-looking vegan waitress) that I decided to treat myself with a slice of vegan carrot cake as well, which was just as excellent. Will certainly have to go to this place again for dinner.
In general, NYC is clearly a heavenly place for food. It’s pretty good value, there’s so much choice that it’s actually difficult to even get your head around it (50+ dedicated vegan restaurants just on Manhattan, so it’s not so hard to be a vegan here!), and the quality of the food is unsurpassable. Strangely, the groceries in supermarkets are very expensive though, there is very little difference in cooking yourself or eating out at a cheap place in terms of price. Since the cooking facilities at my place aren’t great anyway, I think I will mainly eat out. Alcohol is not particularly cheap, although a little bit cheaper than in Helsinki. There’s a decent selection of local and imported beers in most places, but unfortunately it’s dominated by lager. Brooklyn lager, which you can get it Helsinki too, is a decent brew though, as is Yuengling, which claims to be America’s oldest brewery.
Yesterday I had a chance to sample NYC’s night life as well thanks to a friend who is also visiting NYU. We went to a club called Bunker in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — the famous area for alternative night life. This was also the first time I’ve ventured out of Manhattan so far. The place was surprisingly small and much too packed, but the music was ok: minimal trance/techno. Apparently it was some famous DJ. My friend wasn’t too impressed and it had been a rather long day already, but it was a nice night anyway, and I think I’ll give Williamsburg another chance at a later date.
A final comment about running in Central Park. I’ve been on two runs there so far, and I do like it, although it’s not quite as great as I expected. It will probably be nicer when the trees get some leaves and the weather gets warmer. In any case you can do a nice 10k loop around the park on a surfaced road of which one lane is dedicated for runners. Surprisingly, Central Park is actually rather hilly even though Manhattan is very flat. But it’s good for training. I had a good session yesterday: a 15k test run at my half marathon target race pace, 4:10min/km, which would give me a comfortable sub 1:30h half marathon. There’s just under a month until the New York 13.1 half marathon, so this was a good confidence booster. Before that I’ve got a 5k race booked in just a week’s time, and also a 10k race a week after the half marathon (you can stay up to date about my running by following this page. Unfortunately there aren’t many natural places to run in NYC, or at least on Manhattan, apart from Central Park. I’m planning a long run tomorrow though and I might see if the Riverside park next to Hudson river is a good area for running.
Well, it’s been less than a week and I already had this much stuff to report, so I better try to keep updating fairly frequently! Hopefully I’ll get a chance to visit some of the museums soon. I also hope to do some more photography in NYC, although it may be better to wait until the Spring kicks in properly before that — reports will follow!