Gunning for Me

Joyce Carol Oates wrote movingly of the referee in a boxing ring as a "ghostly presence" that embodies our conscience, freeing us to enjoy the almost animal fear and awe of the sport. The idea of an embodied conscience has fascinated me until I realized that mine would be Tim Gunn from Project Runway. He is not a judge exactly, but he offers judgements. He is stern, and has a spare minimalist personal style. His job on the show is to task the designers with projects and then to float throughout the room, Tim-Gunn-like, as they work. As someone trained in Thomistic philosophy, I can only conclude that Tim Gunn’s being and essence (ente et essentia) are inseparable. More formally, Tim Gunn is Tim Gunn-ness itself.

I imagine him at my office, looking over my shoulder at some half-finished jokes about Mike Huckabee. "I have to be honest," he’d start gravely, "I think this needs alot of work, Michael." I would explain my thinking. He would nod again, then snap. "Okay, well make it work." And I would make it work.

What my Tim-Gunn-conscience would say to my co-workers, I will never share.

Alternately, I can imagine my embodied conscience as Gob from Arrested Development. (By the way, this is the best news I’ve heard in weeks. )