Dust, dirt, and hair. This is what I saw as I looked into the bathtub in the flat of my Airbnb host in London. I did not have time to waste. I was scheduled to deliver a research talk later that afternoon and was in haste to leave the flat. But, there I stood, paralyzed by a collection of barely noticeable reminders of the human occupant of the flat, whom I had only just met. I wrinkled my nose and pursed my lips as I contemplated the situation.
My host was unnerved. His neighbors had been talking loudly outside of his apartment again. He explained to me that there is a “certain class of people” who behave this way. They have loud conversations in public, behave and speak crassly, and they have taken over the public spaces of the city. He supposed the volume of their conversations might be because of cultural differences. In London there are ever increasing numbers of immigrants from beyond the shores of the United Kingdom. It didn’t used to be this way, he told me.
On Thursday I visited Highgate Cemetery in London to spend some time reflecting on the philosophy of Karl Marx. The celebrated Prussian thinker is buried there; in fact, his is the most visited grave at the site, according to the cemetery guide. I arrived there seeking inspiration, and with the intent of writing about my own philosophy. However, as I stood at his grave, I was overcome with emotion, and with the undeniable urge to appeal to Marx for guidance. So, I did.