Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Clash of the Titans

I've seen this awesome anecdote sourced to places like Wikipedia (whose current page on the topic seems to have deleted it, presumably in keeping with their "make sure Wikipedia isn't cool or fun" policy), and even seen doubts cast on its veracity, so I thought I'd quote the incident, with sourcing intact. Besides, it's too fun & funny not to:
It was at another party, given a little later in the year by the highly fashionable clothes designer, Fernando Sanchez, that [then 77-year old British philosopher A. J. Ayer] had a widely reported encounter. Ayer had always had an ability to pick up unlikely people and at yet another party had befriended Sanchez. Ayer was now standing near the entrance to the great white living-room of Sanchez's West 57th Street apartment, when a woman rushed in saying that a friend was being assaulted in a bedroom. Ayer went to investigate and found Mike Tyson forcing himself on a young south London model called Naomi Campbell, then just beginning her career. Ayer warned Tyson to desist. Tyson: 'Do you know who the fuck I am? I'm the heavyweight champion of the world.' Ayer stood his ground: 'And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic. We are both pre-eminent in our field; I suggest that we talk about this like rational men.' Ayer and Tyson began to talk. Naomi Campell slipped out.

-- Ben Rogers, A. J. Ayer: a Life (2002), p. 344
(The footnote on this paragraph, incidentally, is to John Foster, A. J. Ayer (1985), p. 297.) I just submitted this to Awesome People Hanging Out Together, but since it's prose, not an image, I'm not optimistic.

No, Tyson couldn't best old A. J. If you want to see Professor Ayer get slapped around but good, you'll have to look elsewhere.

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