Sunday, April 16, 2017

A letter to the Master of Balliol: Homelessness as part of my Plato experiment?

Dear Master,

Allow me to inform you that from May 2 onwards, in all likelihood, I shall be spending some time in front of Balliol daily with a poster ‘A HOMELESS PHILOSOPHER APPEALS TO OXFORD PHILOSOPHERS: LET US DISCUSS PLATO’.

I plan to leave Dursley on my bicycle on April 30, and arrive at Oxford on May 2. I shall be looking for a place to live in Oxford.

I say in all likelihood, for if my financial situation improves before the end of April, so that I become able to pay the council tax (£211 a month), and the service charges (£185.10 a month) to ‘midland heart’, I shall be happy to stay where I live at present. At the moment, I have £177.51 on my current bank account; this is all I have. I expect to receive the State Pension of £112,12 in May, I receive it every fourth week; in June I expect the Czech pension of approximately £484.97 (the amount I received in March), which I receive every three months.

At the beginning of March I applied for the State Pension Credit, and yesterday I received a letter informing me that I have the right to it – ‘The decision is made on the grounds that you have obtained the right of permanent residence in the UK … Your Pension Credit application has now been passed on to our processing section who will assess your award and advise you of your entitlement accordingly’ – so it is possible that the Pension Service will step in.

I hope to find accommodation in Oxford as soon as possible, so that I may resume my work on Plato. Let me use this opportunity to inform you about my Plato experiment. Shortly after my arrival at Oxford, on October 15, 1980, the Czechoslovak Communist Party Cultural Weekly tvorba published a letter from Radovan Richta, Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Sociology, to Professor A. Diemer, President of the International Federation of Philosophic Societies. In the letter Richta wrote: ‘Tomin is worth nothing in philosophy. He would not find the means to live for a single week if he were interesting merely for what he did in philosophy.’ I translated the letter, gave a copy to each of my Oxford colleagues, and began my Plato experiment, which consists in trying to find out, whether I shall ever be paid for what I am doing in philosophy. In doing so, I decided to devote myself fully to Plato and the Ancient Greeks, and to inform my colleagues of my progress. Thirty seven years have elapsed since then, the results of my studies are presented on my website and on my blog. Whoever wants to understand Plato must get acquainted with my work – my Oxford colleagues may try to prove me wrong, I should welcome their attempt to do so – yet, so far, Richta’s words have proved to be prophetic; so far, I could not find the means to live for a single week for what I have done in philosophy.

Julius Tomin

PS: I do not fancy a single night sleeping in front of Balliol College in my sleeping bag. See ‘Cycling for Plato?’ posted on my blog on April 28, 2016. 

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