How you know you've arrived, Pt 1.

You know you're in the business when you start getting rejection letters. Mind you, this isn't rejection from the big boys--Speculum, say, or the JMEMS--but from a small conference proceedings journal. I'm not mad, really, because their comments were right: that essay was really space cadet, mostly because it'd been cut down from my thesis and I'd not made the argument clearer in the revisions. In all fairness I thought the deadline was later (that's what I get for not going to the business meeting) and thus went at it in a bit of a rush.

Still, rejection's annoying, and part of me suspects I'll never amount to anything, but we carry on regardless, eh?


At the expense of taste alone

And now, taken out of context, here's a little levity. First, from Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, here's the villain's big speech:

Meanwhile, here's one of the best lists ever, this from Blazing Saddles:

That's it for now.

Update: Apparently it wasn't. In honor of the recent death of Jean Baudrillard, I present startling old evidence that Peter Sellers didn't exist, either:

I'm almost done grading!


Recoveries and Updates

. . . and what a week it was. First, some personal news: I will teach this summer, and I get to teach World Lit. Compressing sixteen weeks of half-assed lectures into six weeks of kick-ass lectures ought to be good. I hope this works. Current plans include just a research paper, abstract at two weeks, progress form at four weeks, conferences M/T/W of the last week, a midterm exam at three weeks and an essay exam at the end. I was going to sit in on Bill's Chaucer course in the summer (and I might just to harass my Spenserian friend C-- P--), but that's still up in the air.

Yesterday was tough but fair; I spent the morning getting mad at the spotty wireless connection in my office, which had just enough connection to work but not enough to stream a Doctor Who video from Netflix (which I just noticed I was allowed to do now), which ate up most of the morning. You see why I don't get work done?

Ah, I say to you, but I did: the reading journals for Bob Brinkmeyer's class are done. I understand why we do these reading journals: like the 2000-word "reviews" we did for Lynda's Gender and Sexuality 600-1100 CE course a few years ago, short reviews are practice for when we actually do get to pick apart the books in our field. I am looking forward to writing reviews when I get the chance, and I also enjoy reading them, especially the at times quite vicious ones in Speculum . I just don't like doing them for short works of criticism in which I am only marginally interested.

Did I get any work done on my papers? No.

Did I grade any more of my students' papers? No.

Am I ready to teach Montaigne's "On the Imagination" on Monday? No.

That's when the potentially useful becomes frustrating busywork.

. . .

Finally, my thoughts are with the people of Virginia Tech as they recover from the loss of so many, including the brave and the clearly brilliant. We will mourn them as we here have mourned the loss of John Locke -- privately, and quietly, and with sympathy. As usual, my response to this tragedy is mostly directed at the media (even NPR is bad about this), who have taken this opportunity to do everything but be useful. Meanwhile, Ted Rall has it right. But that's another story.


Tiny Little Post

So, over at ITM, Karl made mention of the romance Sir Amadace (introduction here), which apparently has a lot of corpses, and I'm reminded of three things: I took to this job for the weirdness; I stayed in this job for the socially oppositional space it allows me to work from; marginal medieval romances are freaking weird and I will love them forever.

Unfortunately, today has to be spent on a Eudora Welty/Utopianism project, with a little Faulkner reading (as well as a bit of grading) mixed in. Non possest omnes facere, sed tempteamus, to misquote Edward Abbey in Latin.


I've been noticed!

So, I read In the Middle on a daily basis, because it deals with things I like: medieval studies, gender studies, and really strange monsters. Today, however, it deals with... er... me! So now I'm popular and famous and will get to, if not hold up the subjects of my poetry in court, at least mill around in Fame's courtyard, right? It's not like I'm out back with the rumor mill.

Guys? Hello?

*sigh* Back to work, then. Why is this wicker house spinning so quickly?


Hallelujah, I'm a Bum?

This article by the former director of the Salt Lake City Public Library points out that libraries are frequently on the front lines of caring for the homeless mentally ill.

Cheesy as it is, I'm reminded of a very heavy-handed pair of early episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in which Sisko, Dax, and Bashir are sent back to early 21st-century San Francisco. Sisko and Bashir are arrested for sleeping in the streets and sent to live in the city's homeless ghetto, which is locked at night and is far worse than even the original ghetto. Yet despite the sheer isolation and dehumanization everyone faces there, the place depicted in that episode is somehow better than the solution we have now: if you fail in the system, you're out. Sleep on the streets, eat from the trash, and when it's cold, try to make the best of it in the library.

There are some people for whom this is a temporary situation, and others for whom this is a deliberate choice. Even since the earliest days of transience, though, there has been a system for describing the differences between these groups: as Ben Wrightman used to say, "A hobo works and wanders, a tramp dreams and wanders, a bum drinks and wanders." We know what to do with hobos (give them a good job); we know what to do with tramps (let them be tramps). What we do with bums--who drink, who do drugs, who doing neither still murmur down the corridors of their minds--is unfortunately what we do with tramps: let them be bums. And again, Chip Ward is right: we have to do something better. In the words of that old traveling nation poem:

Make the intelligent, organized choice
Get rid of the weights that crush
Don't worry about the bum on the rods
Get rid of the bum on the plush.

Only by taking money out of the hands of the apathetic rich, and putting it not into churches that do nothing or ponzi schemes that do little, put it where it belongs: in shelters full of well-trained people whose sole goal in life is to live in a world where they, and not their clients, don't have jobs any more.



Tomorrow I teach the Morte Darthur. Not the whole thing of course—this is a World Lit course, not one in the History of Literature in English or the English Romance or frankly anything else I'd like to teach but can't thanks to the fact this department runs on "tradition" rather than "job training"—but the "Tale of Lancelot." And I've already decided to write the quiz, because it would be easier to have it done early than to wait until the last minute and have to fight people for the copier. (As you can tell by that last sentence, Caxton's prose has struck again...). Deciding it needed a suitable Caxtonian preface, I went searching for a copy of Caxton's Malory... and discovered that the majority of people have only scanned the modern-spelling editions. Now, I've posted about this kind of intellectual laziness before,* and it's one reason among many that I've tried to OCR the Latin text of Newton's Principia, and have succeeded in putting up a copy of Peter the Nibbler's Historia Scholastica and Boethius' Arithmetica and almost succeeded in putting up his Musica.

I'm looking forward to it, mostly to see what they pick up on. This will be the first time that I've been able to give in-depth coverage to something over which I've written, and in some sense this will be a kind of revision process, except in the class where they look at me blankly. I'm using the big Everyman paperback I convinced Grant to buy, because it has modernized spelling but not grammar. It shouldn't be too bad for them, I think, but then I thought Genji would go well, too.

* Or I thought I had. Surely somewhere there's a post in which I rant about... or was it an email? Oh, damn.