the NAR


I. Participants

The NAR began in the Spring of 1976, after an invitation promulgated by Steve Picou, Professor of Sociology. Attendees included Picou, Jon Alston, Ken Nyberg, Bruce Dickson, Norm Thomas, Dick Wells, David Sneppinger, McIntosh, and several others. The NAR was later joined by Peter Hugill, Ben Aguirre, Jane Sell, Jim Burk, Ed Portes, Mike Levy, Mary Zey, Barbara Finlay, Dave Carlson, Paul Thompson, Robby Robertson, Harvey Tucker, Patti Strannahan, Bruce Thompson, Walter Buenger, Jim Rosenheim, Jonathan Coopersmith, Jonathan Smith, Art DeQuatro, Roberto Vichot, Wes Peterson, Sherry Bame, Glen-Bob, Stepe Mestrovic, Gary Varner, Tom Glass, Celesta Albonneti, Harland Prechel, Sam Cohn, Bret Cooke, Barbara Johnstone, Steve Jennings, Mark Fossett, Dudley Poston, Dick Startsman, Vatche Tchakerian. Students such as Starla Fitch, David Johnson, Peggy Shifflet, Flor Galaves, Nan Yang, Jackie Burns, and others whose names I can't remember.

The NAR began at the Beef and Brew on Harvey Road. After our unceremoniously ousting from those refined climes, we were at such places as Fish Richard's, Aggieland Hotel Bar, The Backstage, Dudley's, Chicken Oil Co., Interurban, Steinbecks', Bennigans, The Deluxe, Gizmo's, the Faculty Club, Brazos Brewery, Cenare, and Chef Cao's. During one period we met at one another's houses. Spousal disapproval put an end to that.

II. Places We Met

III. Name and Motto

"The NAR - there's nothing 'semi about it" is derived from an alternate etymology for the word seminar. Instead of deriving the word from the Latin seminarium like most scholars, Narophytes prefer a derivation that assumes nar is an unrecognized Latin root word meaning scholarly discussion and debate (possibly related to narcissism and narcosis). Academic meetings with a single leader are semi-nars, whereas Narophytes participate in a full NAR with many leaders all speaking at once. Rumors that it derives from the German "narr" are considered slanderous.

The motto of the NAR, "to Prate and Loiter" comes from Hobbes famous skewering of natural philosophy in Chapter XLVI: "Of Darkness from Vain Philosophy and Fabulous Traditions" in Leviathan. The relevant section is below in case you've misplaced your copy.

IV. Miscellaneous Trivia

Our first book was Randall Collins' Conflict Sociology. Our habit was to have a presenter who provided copies of an outline of their presentation. Some of us have files stuffed with these pitiless comments. We sent Collins a copy of our notes; funny, he never wrote back. We do know that he is aware of Texas A&M; he has suggested it serve as ground zero should the nuclear test ban treaty be abrogated.


by Thomas Hobbes

Chapter XLVI: Of Darkness from Vain Philosophy and Fabulous Traditions.

❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀

Leisure is the mother of philosophy; and Commonwealth, the mother of peace and leisure. Where first were great and flourishing cities, there was first the study of philosophy.  .  .  . At length, when war had united many of these Grecian lesser cities into fewer and greater, then began seven men, of several parts of Greece, to get the reputation of being wise; some of them for moral and politic sentences, and others for the learning of the Chaldaeans and Egyptians, which was astronomy and geometry. But we hear not yet of any schools of philosophy.

After the Athenians, by the overthrow of the Persian armies, had gotten the dominion of the sea; and thereby, of all the islands and maritime cities of the archipelago, as well of Asia as Europe; and were grown wealthy; they that had no employment, neither at home nor abroad, had little else to employ themselves in but either, as St. Luke says, "in telling and hearing news," [Acts, 17. 21] or in discoursing of philosophy publicly to the youth of the city. Every master took some place for that purpose: Plato, in certain public walks called Academia, from one Academus; Aristotle in the walk of the temple of Pan, called Lycaeum; others in the Stoa, or covered walk, wherein the merchants' goods were brought to land; others in other places, where they spent the time of their leisure in teaching or in disputing of their opinions; and some in any place where they could get the youth of the city together to hear them talk. And this was it which Carneades also did at Rome, when he was ambassador, which caused Cato to advise the Senate to dispatch him quickly, for fear of corrupting the manners of the young men that delighted to hear him speak, as they thought, fine things.

From this it was that the place where any of them taught and disputed was called schola, which in their tongue signifieth leisure; and their disputations, diatribae, that is to say, passing of the time. Also the philosophers themselves had the name of their sects, some of them, from these their schools: for they that followed Plato's doctrine were called Academics; the followers of Aristotle, Peripatetics, from the walk he taught in; and those that Zeno taught, Stoics, from the Stoa: as if we should denominate men from More-fields, from Paul's Church, and from the Exchange, because they meet there often to prate and loiter.

V. Inspiration

Twisted Tales: A Brief, Inaccurate, Forgettable NAR History by Alex McIntosh and David L Carlson