Friday, October 17, 2014

Publish and Perish

               Publish & Perish 

Except for the first several years out of  gradskool
while teaching at N.C. State under the influence
of Professionalism -a-um,  I eventually lost interest
in  airport Holiday Inn Banquet Rooms &  name-tag
conferences, panels, papers, as I fell in love with Place
& Local  Foodback so to speak, disc-ing  fields for
Ernst  Laursen,  picking straw berries for Dr. Mahy,
driving  the Bluebird bus to town for Sam DeVries,
riding fire engines with Tom Showalter,  painting
dorms & Canon Lounge for Old Top,  hosing  down
the piggery, while my daughter  clipped  piggy-toe-
nails, and raised a heifer for a blue ribbon at 4H,
padding her Curriculum Vita for college admissions.

That fall our beagle, Zeke, got elected  homecoming queen.

Charity began to begin in the home and I  let slide my
subscriptions to PMLA & The  Journal of American
Literature: falling,  falling,  fallen to amateur standing..

It’s this bad:   the responses my students write in class
each day are more lively &  engaging than  professional
texts assigned for study & resurrected in real time under
fluorescence  surrounded by cinder block. Miracle workers
cultivating local food  un-eclipsed by freeze dried  mind-
on-a-page dropped by dead white men, women  & multi-
culturalists from other times & places: their undergrad
stammer,  digression, inchoate free association and
constellations  struggling toward articulation, shuffling
to Bethlehem to be born again and again as it were and
it’s no contest what counts, un-assessable as it is: making-
sense precedes the made as  existing precedes essence, and
rolling our own holy smokes beats the hell out of buying
the cellophaned pre- wrapped and packaged quality controls
not with standing.

Unpostponed joy. 


  1. I like it.

    But I need content and meaning to get exited.

    Over last while, I listened to some white men on YouTube, some dead now, some alive. In the way of interest and ideas, it does not really matter whether they are dead or alive. One was a lengthy Q and A with Marshall McLuhan, three talks by Jaron Lanier, a long debate by Calvinists on whether they share a baptism with Roman Catholics, or not.

    Marshall McLuhan became a lifelong Catholic, by the way, after reading G.K. Chesterton (a dead white Roman Catholic). I am now sure that he got "the medium is the message", from the Christ figure, who is medium and message, presented then in body, and now in body--not a dead white man who left writings behind.

    Jaron amused and put his finger on important concerns, but joked heartily about meeting a student who exclaimed "Jaron Lanier, you are still alive!" Lanier thinks this is hilarious and demonstrates how fast things are moving in computer science.

    The living Calvinists debating each other on dead Calvinists were very serious about deciding who were their brothers or not because of the organization they belonged to. I am surprised they shook hands with each other.

    My husband listened to some of all of that. He like Jaron Lanier the best, laughing heartily at his jokes.

    1. I'm a McLuhan fan, as you know. Knew he was Canadian, but did't know he was Catholic. (I like Chesterton, too) The journey is the destination, The background is the figure. The context is the text--variations on the idea of medium and message relationship. Baptism sharing is the token for argument: the back & forth (relay, relating, relationship) is the message. In my courses, the assigned texts are token--us in relationship (media) is the "message." The husband and wife fight over who took out the trash last. But it's about the relationship--not the trash, that counts.

  2. Wikipedia has that on his Catholicism. He kept it out of the limelight.

  3. While studying the trivium at Cambridge he took the first steps toward his eventual conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1937,[22] founded on his reading of G. K. Chesterton.[23] In 1935 he wrote to his mother: "[H]ad I not encountered Chesterton, I would have remained agnostic for many years at least".[24] At the end of March 1937,[25] McLuhan completed what was a slow, but total conversion process, when he was formally received into the Roman Catholic Church. After consulting a minister, his father accepted the decision to convert. His mother, however, felt that his conversion would hurt his career and was inconsolable.[26] McLuhan was devout throughout his life, but his religion remained a private matter.[27] He had a lifelong interest in the number three [28] —the trivium, the Trinity—and sometimes said that the Virgin Mary provided intellectual guidance for him.[29] For the rest of his career he taught in Roman Catholic institutions of higher education.

  4. A crypto-Roman Catholic with guidance from Mother Mary. Eh? Say the Canadians.

  5. 3 is my number too. Try reading some of Understanding Media if any is available. The Canadians have him nailed as crypto-RC. Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom: let it be.

  6. I was just thinking about this guidance business. One talks to his genius, another to his muse, another to Mother Mary, another to God. As we said, the other day, it is a thinking strategy to have culturally appropriate self-talk. I said it is something like prayer.

    It happens to me, and also more when I am exercising outside (some swear by their walks), that I may carry on a dialogue with God--or myself?--it is hard to say. They are meaningful to me, insightful, comforting, disturbing, in turn.

    But in church and in the Bible, I know who is talking to me. Take and eat, this is my body, broken for you, for the forgiveness of sins. This is a mandate and a certain word, a live, red-hot medium, but maybe not in Calvinism. In Calvinism it may be cool.

  7. Socrates called it his Idios Daemon--his tutelary genius. Paraklete, Jesus called it. A personal relationship with Jesus, some of the fundamentalist describe it. Do you feel your sins are forgiven--or just know they are because you go by the book and do the right things?

  8. Something about the word that hits the spot and a swig of port--which isn't coming thru. Grape juice and white bread distributed by decent elders, humbly and with respect carrying trays of small grape juice glasses and squares of soft white bread. Washed in the blood of the lamb and off to Sunday dinners and always a lamb chop for my great Aunt Alice Sparhawk..

  9. Which one of us is decent and humble? Church of the lame and crippled. Only forgiveness hits the spot.

  10. Only forgiveness can make us bold.

  11. Is that how you feel or what you know? Sin boldly. You know you're forgiven, decent, and humble. Me: wretched, no doubt. Feel it and know it too.

  12. Ongoing forgiveness. Go over and over again. Not so decent and not so humble.

    If I write you more about it, it will be about content more than process, and you won't like it. If I write you something very personal, you will want to "put me on", as McLuhan says, and try to anger and provoke me.

    1. No need. I know the content--so many broadcast it. Provoke, sure. Anger: why?

  13. All great questions are theological at heart, but the theological is usually excluded from our universities. Some time ago I spoke to a Christian student group in our university’s business school. I asked why they had to leave their Christian faith outside the door in order to pursue knowledge about business and management. We noted together that universities specialize in small and medium-sized questions, and have largely removed the big questions from consideration, except in philosophy or perhaps classics. The logic of academic specialization means that we have our disciplinary logics, ground rules, and accepted theories that define what we count as proper. Academics have no higher allegiance than their academic disciplines, and thus choose not to, or cannot, explore questions outside of those disciplinary confines. Thus, universities are one of the few institutions where it is true that the whole is less than the sum of the parts.

  14. That was a quote. The article critiques the lack of discourse regarding religion in public universities.

  15. Did I ever tell you that I took New Testament at Concordia sitting next to a Muslim male? "How can you do this to your text" he said flabbergasted.

  16. What is that? Was ist das? Qu'estque c'est?

    Meta thinking? Who wrote it, when, why, for whom, how? How did it come down to us? How reliable is it? What do we think of the author? Is it profound, inspired, helpful? What do we think of the critics?

    I had an adjustment in New Testament, too.

  17. A pun on sexual harassment--which is a big deal here in the states if not in Canada. "Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect against art." (Susan Sontagt)

  18. Pretty soon we won't be able to say things like Muslim male because of gender identification. We will have to start saying "human" or "Mensch". "Mensch" is good. In German, it represents all that is human, though the noun is masculine. Really, it should be a neuter noun.

    I don't know what Sontag wants. I am always looking for meaning. It is like that constant craving (k.d. Lang, Albertan.)

  19. "Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.
    Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the
    world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world
    - in order to set up a shadow world of 'meanings.'”
    Susan Sontag

    Germaine Greer in a recent review of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers said men like big ideas and write books of explanation. Women are more into writing books of understanding "There is no answer to everything, and only a deluded male would spend his life trying to find it." Women, she said, are too sensible to try to write such broad-sweep theses. "They
    are more interested in understanding than explaining, in
    describing rather than accounting for."


    Praise for Canadian media.

    1. Draft dodgers in the 60's would flee to Canada.

  21. About women writers: I don't find that I read many. It must be the tomes of explanations I like best.

  22. Deluded males. "How can we wait without idols," writes W.H. Auden. We need our explanations, blamations, reasons-why, cause and effects, because and affects, scapegoats... so as to fix things so they never happen again.

  23. Justice matters. Feminists have been the shrillest people around but they keep their mouths shut on important matters. The ideologues of ideologues.

    My mother taught me: don't point with the naked finger at dressed people (zeige nicht mit nacktem Finger auf angezogene Leute.). And point with one finger and three point back. Still, we need justice, right and wrong.

  24. Did you hear about the old ceremonial seargant at arms shooting dead the gunman. He has never had to pull a trigger in the line of duty before; formerly of the RCMP (Royal Mounted Canadian Police). The perpetrator was a converted Québécois with a criminal background.

    I can see how this happens. On YouTube you can watch Muslims convert underclass on the street, in England. There is a drunk old man, for example, a former soldier, who is talked into making a confession and then invited down to the mosque.

  25. Carl worked for 18 months--trying to save my soul before acknowledging I was damned. Religions warfare on many levels.i

  26. Or maybe Carl is the Seargant at arms.

  27. Of course. Difference is subordinate: mind-set--the same. Our differences eclipse if not occlude our sames.

  28. I'm sure he thinks he is. Isis does too.

  29. It seems like pretty irresponsible talk in our days. The shooter may have been radicalized in Calgary. We have had young Canadians travel to the Middle East from there. Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks about the preacher teacher who says to people: what are you doing? You are keeping none of the rules. We need to realize that reforming Islam will always mean going back to the sixth century and following the example of Mohammed and his companion.

    It has nothing to do with art and all with interpretation. So we gave to actually look at what is being said and what is being meant. How many ways can you interpret: strike the necks of the unbelievers? How many ways can you interpret what is said about women? Etc. Does our intellectual elite help us by saying, ah they are just fundamentalist extremists? Just like Carl. Just like Brigitte.

  30. Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

  31. Responsible talk. "For I came to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in law against her mother-in-law and a man's enemies witll be the member of his household."

  32. Scripture interprets scripture. Make it jive.

  33. How can you "explain"' exegete it, so that the same Jesus said both.

  34. Remember our conversation re "culture" some time ago--and what kinds of notions (Abrahamic) were beyond culture? The culture might more easily accommodate the kingdom, Pilate, truth saying--and yet have some difficulty with the second idea: enemies are those of the household. I'm not explining. Just saying. A good Christian will accommodate any and all of Jesus's saying--no doubt. Any decent christian I argue with has no problem explaining it all. Responsible talk.

  35. I don't remember talking with you about culture.

    Disagreements abound. It is not counter-cultural to be in disagreement.

    Inconsistencies also abound. There is nothing hard or smart about being inconsistent.

  36. I was appreciating Abraham as his beyond-culure obedience. Beyond disagreement and inconsistencies. Nothing hard or smart abouit consistency. "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

  37. Sure. At least you can't be accused of saying the same damn thing over and over, consistent or not.

    My friend's house burned to the ground this week and today is her daughter's wedding, my god child. I was her godmother even though she was baptized in the Catholic Church. There was a divorce along the way, as there have been divorces everywhere in my age group. Constancy and commitment is what I have been dedicated to. I had sworn to myself that the word divorce would never come out of my mouth, and it has not. Call it foolish, call it smart, call it whatever you want. Be my guest. Jesus said don't do it, and that has been enough for me. Against the culture of my day, and plenty of wrangling.

    But I am busy and I bought a new dress for today. Happy weekend to you.

  38. Divorce and Cancer --an environmental issue?