There was a time when a university education meant reading books and having a weekly chat with a professor about them. It’s the system that produced Wittgenstein and it can work for you. Every weekday at about 9:30 am the business types finally file out of Arabica with their coffee and toast. What’s left behind in the relative quiet is usually four or five academics who, like most professors most of the time, have nowhere in particular they need to be. They are desperately bored and will be there for hours.
See what they are reading, head over to the nearby public library to skim it yourself, and then go strike up a conversation. Don’t ask them what they think of the text. They will dumb it down too much or wax pretentious. Better to offer your interpretation and defend it tenaciously. It will get them to scrape away some of the intellectual rust and think. Be patient when they glance past you toward whichever member of the Arabica staff they are crushing on — they can’t help it. The house faculty at Arabica (mostly on leave from Bates, the University of Southern Maine, and the University of New England, since Bowdoin faculty make enough money to buy in the suburbs rather than rent in town), has particular strengths in the humanities, especially European political philosophy. And while Arabica does not offer diplomas, the T-shirts are nice.
Arabica | 16 Free St, Portland | 207.879.0792