Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Austin City Limits: The Philosopher's Rock

photograph of The Philosopher's Rock by Hallie Cohen
You might want to visit the Philosopher's Rock next time you're in Austin. It’s located in Zilker Park and commemorates the regular meetings of the naturalist Ray Bedichek, the chronicler and folklorist ,J. Frank Dobie and the historian Walter Prescott Webb who gathered regularly in a kind of Socratic discussion to hash out the problems of the world. It’s the perfect complement to Austin’s famed capital dome which portentously captures your eye as you  gaze down Congress Avenue, one of the city major thoroughfares. One of the side pleasures of visiting the Philosopher’s Rock is the proximity to Barton Springs Pool, a natural wonder resulting from underground streams that afford a respite from the city’s burning summer heat. When you first see Barton Springs you think you’re looking at a very large swimming pool, until you realize, the pool is natural and surpasses Olympic proportions. Like a lot of things in Texas, it’s larger than life. The Zilker Botanical Garden is another nearby attraction which amongst its many delights also includes a taste of Japanese horticulture in a Texas setting. Austin may be landlocked, but it’s not lacking in water sports. On a warm night you can join the crowds lined up against the fence of the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge (famous for harboring the largest urban bat colony in the North America) to watch the sculls racing up and down Lady Bird Lake, whose paths are always filled with joggers running with or against the tides. Wonder what the philosophers would have said? Is the world in a constant state of flux, as Heraclitus argued, or is it stoic and unchanging, the view of Eleatics, like Zeno, whose famous paradox, about the tortoise and Achilles might find a fertile testing ground in this famed legislative seat.

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