My guest this week is Todd Mei, Senior Lecturer and Head of Philosophy at the University of Kent. Born in California, in an environment that was a hotbed of Republicanism, Todd tells us about how his main passion when growing up was rock climbing and why Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’ comprised the rebirth of his interest in Philosophy.
We learn that Todd has made a film and worked for an insurance firm as a claims adjustor and that he wasn’t planning on becoming an academic. He talks about applying his philosophical work to the business world.
We find out how Todd got into wind surfing and the extent to which it might be construed as a counterpoint to the world of academia, and indeed whether Todd could be an academic without also being a sportsman.
We discover why Todd would consider himself to be a follower in terms of music, and the influence that ‘Quadrophenia’ had on him. We also find out that he got into breakdancing via his brother and later skate punk and then on to wrestling.
The conversation then turns to the Rodney King riots and his apprehension of LA, how Todd doesn’t see himself as either American or British and how when he more recently returned to LA he saw it as foreign. Todd discusses his experience of being Asian American and growing up in a racially charged environment.
Todd tells us which teachers inspired him at school and university and who and what made him write in a different way. We learn that Todd wanted to be a poet at one point and why he has been ‘shaped by opposition’.
We also talk about the different political sensibilities between the US and the UK and the differences in news journalism. We discuss religion too and how people’s views are often a reaction to something else, and Todd reveals how he responds when people ask him whether he is a theist or an atheist.
In the final part of the interview Todd explains why his memories, even the negative ones, are positive, and about how when he was young he wanted to be an FBI agent and why he is always looking for a sense of adventure through, say, rock climbing and wind surfing, and whether he prefers academia to rock climbing. Finally, we learn why, as Heidegger would say, looking back is his way of looking forward.
Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Todd Mei and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.