FONY: it’s great to mix things up a bit and interview one of New York’s most iconic residents, rather than someone random from the street. Thanks Sol (is that short for Solange?)
Sol: Sure, thanks for asking to do this – most people just take photos of me – it’s a bit weird really. Some like to talk about me and what I stand for, but few make the effort to explore it more personally.
FONY: You do have a reputation for being somewhat cold.
Sol: Yeah, reputations are funny things. People tend to just look at me and assume stuff. Sometimes I cry about it actually, but only during severe weather events when no one will notice. Those floods a while back were quite destressing actually – cleansing both physically and mentally.
FONY: Talking about storms, you’ve appeared in quite a few movies, particularly disaster movies, it seems. Do you have any favorites?
Sol: Oh, I didn’t actually realize, no-one had bothered to tell me before. If I’d had any choice in the matter, I would’ve been in boutique French films. France was, at least according to one dubious historical narrative, the place of my birth. You know, it’s kind of funny that someone who represents liberty has no real choice about how they’re portrayed, don’t you think? I mean, it’s not like I’m bitter or anything, but less lip-service and more actual commitment to freedom would go a long way around here. And don’t get me started on the ‘Enlightenment’ concept of freedom as autonomy – a complete load of merde.
FONY: Interesting. So, what photo did you pick to go with the piece, and why?
Sol: I didn’t pick one – as I say, no choice. One problem with being an empty material shell, along with having a cognitive system that wasn’t designed, is that I don’t have free will or conscious experience. Also you said something about maybe adding one in later when you have better internet.
FONY: Oh, right. You’re quite an idealistic kind of a person, and it sounds like you’re philosophically inclined – do you have any favorite quotes on liberty?
Sol: A good quote is of far more practical importance than a wad of cash or a ‘like’ on Facebook, young man. My favorite on that topic might surprise you, it is from the Bible – “the truth shall set you free”.
FONY: Wow, that’s awkward. I’d heard, that as a rational French intellectual you were an avid secularist, with deconstructionist leanings. Are you just being ‘ironique’ in quoting such a fundamentalist text from what is generally considered the world’s most dangerous instrument of oppression?
Sol: Deconstructionist leanings are the last thing I need perched out here – being washed out to sea would not be a good look for the national symbol of freedom! No, something more substantial is much more appealing. As an inanimate concrete object I’ve come to really appreciate both the personal and abstract or universal nature of ethical claims such as ‘liberty’, and it’s fairly clear that secularism and deconstructionism both radically undermine what’s important to me. I think the various theistic accounts of metaethics are the most promising for grounding normative terms such as ‘dangerous’, ‘oppression’, and perhaps even ‘rational’, and the Christian doctrines of incarnation and trinity really put flesh on the virtue and community aspects of ethics. Jesus talks about the wise man who built his house on the rock. With all the storms we get out here, I appreciate that.
FONY: Umm, thanks for the interview.