by | 09.24.2009
Tickets went on sale last week for The New Yorker festival, the annual roundelay of uber-cultured readings, panels, concerts & events which -- much like The New Yorker itself -- are perhaps a bit too self-consciously about Culture with a capital C rather than about the culture (lower case c) that they are presenting.
by | 09.23.2009
Thanks to the curious rhythms of the quarter system, it’s finally now back to school here at the University of California at Santa Cruz. We’ll be marking it -- faculty, staff, and students -- with a walkout on Thursday, September 24 to protest the budget cuts that have so battered this institution and others throughout California.
by | 09.20.2009
I've been thinking about Machiavelli's obdurate man, Walter de Brienne, the Duke of Athens who ruled Florence in 1342 and became the proverbial immovable ruler of Renaissance thought. What made him obdurate?
by | 09.20.2009
Who says close reading is only for English professors? How improbable is it that I would write an update to my slog about “Total Eclipse of the Heart”? Apparently, not very improbable at all. Criticism, it seems, can be interesting and useful and not boring. My friend VW stopped reading Greek long enough to send me “Total Eclipse Of the Heart” made into a flow chart.
by | 09.19.2009
For the last week, I've been thinking about poetry and politics in mid-nineteenth century Russia. Writers then faced a situation similar to today in the United States, at least in one respect: critics kept prodding them to demonstrate their commitment to revolutionary social change. Good politics did not make a poem good, but it was for many readers a sine qua non.
by | 09.16.2009
Not too long ago, I received a quotation via email from a colleague at one of the other UC schools that read: “Nothing we have said about the teacher's primary responsibility for defining the intellectual purpose of the university should obscure the fact that American teachers in the recent past have shamelessly abdicated this responsibility.
by | 09.14.2009
The ancestral line of Henry Straith Venn (1869-1908) was a weighty, chronicled one stocked almost entirely on the male side by distinguished, formidable, moralistic churchmen. Henry's great-uncle, John Venn, was the logician who introduced the 'Venn diagram', that pleasingly bulbous, promiscuous mathematical diagram.
by | 09.13.2009
I was writing a different post, but yesterday someone broke into our house and stole assorted things, including my laptop. Farewell, my Sony Vaio, we had some good times. After adversity, one seeks distraction. I went straight to one of the most beautiful poems in the Russian language, Afanasii Fet's "Shëpot, robkoe dykhanie" (1850).