Thursday, May 27, 2004

A man speaking to men (about himself)

These people* are only beginning to scratch the surface of this guy's narcissism. Although, to be fair, once one's embarked on a fourteen-book epic someone has written about himself**, one shouldn't be too surprised to find lines such as the following:
When, as becomes a man who would prepare
For such an arduous work, I through myself
Make rigorous inquisition, the report
Is often cheering; for I neither seem
To lack that first great gift, the vital soul,
Nor general Truths, which are themselves a sort
Of Elements and Agents, Under-powers,
Subordinate helpers of the living mind: ...

*No permalinks; see entry of May 25th, 2004.
** And yes, we at Ample Hills are quite aware that we're paying tribute to another great narcissistic poet; but our man, inter alia, is stucco’d with quadrupeds and birds all over, and we're willing to forgive him a lot for that image alone.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Trochee trips from long to short ;->

Buried in today's NYT arts section is a blurb for a new translation of Homer into, um, text-messagese. Money quote:
The translation is not written in Homer's dactylic hexameter, but it does use emoticons to emphasize intense moments.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Is there a subtext in this class?

Stanley Fish, blowin' my mind on the NYT op-ed page today:
"Marx famously said that our job is not to interpret the world, but to change it. In the academy, however, it is exactly the reverse: our job is not to change the world, but to interpret it."
But wait, there's more:
"Performing academic work responsibly and at the highest level is a job big enough for any scholar and for any institution. And, as I look around, it does not seem to me that we academics do that job so well that we can now take it upon ourselves to do everyone else's job too. We should look to the practices in our own shop, narrowly conceived, before we set out to alter the entire world by forming moral character, or fashioning democratic citizens, or combating globalization, or embracing globalization, or anything else.

"One would like to think that even the exaggerated sense of virtue that is so much a part of the academic mentality has its limits. If we aim low and stick to the tasks we are paid to perform, we might actually get something done."
I'm in agreement with the man, clearly. But is this an example of making a radical a conservative by putting him in a position of power for a while?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Reading habits on the 4/5 train

So the other day two people across from me were reading books in my personal library: Men of Mathematics and What to Expect When You're Expecting. Oddly enough, I think the former is much more female-friendly than the latter.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Yeah, they were dancin' and singin' and movin' to the groovin'

Curse you, Ben H., for loading me up with that earworm; but that anecdote rings true (ha, ha) as an example of clueless tastelessness in emerging markets.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Always traveling ahead of me

One of the three books I carried around endlessly in high school was Gravity's Rainbow - despite its scatology, which, frankly, I hardly understood. Later I came to summarize (and dismiss) its main theme as "War is sado-masochism." After viewing the images from Abu Ghraib, I feel as though I owe Thomas Pynchon a serious apology.

Well, gee, I feel much better now

This morning's NYT has a quote from one of the defense lawyers about the Abu Ghraib scandal:
Harvey J. Volzer, a lawyer for Specialist Ambuhl, said the "following orders" defense should work in this case. "It's not like we're using the Holocaust excuse: we followed orders," he said. "This isn't that bad."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Oh, man, and I was waiting for the posthumous takedown by Isaiah Berlin

John Holbo is just no fun.

I guess what I’m really saying is it’s about time that whole ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ meme - which was funny for about three days - gets laid totally and finally and utterly to rest. It doesn’t need, at this late stage in its career, to morph into a giant sequel to the Phenomenology of Spirit.
PS Holbo prefaces his remarks by saying, "Steven den Beste has a long post...." Can you play spot the tautology?