A bit of dialogue from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s novel Kavanagh (1849), as seen on a poster in a middle-school hallway:
“Give what you have. To some one, it may be better than you dare to think.”
I just picked up Walden — and couldn’t wait to put it down. Henry David Thorough is thoroughly crabby. He dislikes furniture. He dislikes houses. He dislikes railroads. He dislikes coffee, tea, and wine. He would certainly dislike this brief, breezy commentary on his work. Like I said, crabby.
Reading Walden, I realize that what I most dislike in E. B. White’s writing — the language of man and men — comes straight from Thorough: “If a man,” “When men,” “A man must.” The maleness is less a problem for me than the everybodyness: Yes, we all think and feel as you say we do. You are thoroughly correct.
By Michael Leddy at 7:19 AM
A produce-crate label depicting three boys standing behind produce crates depicting three boys standing behind produce crates depicting three — that’s the Droste effect.
[“Repetition Pears: Produce of U.S.A., grown and packed by R. Wachsmith, Yakima, Washington.” Lithograph by Schmidt Litho. Co., Seattle. 1940–1949. From the Boston Public Library Flickr set Produce Crate Labels.]
“Repetition Pears” sounds like a title for a John Ashbery poem.
I didn”t realize until after writing this post that it nicely follows this one.
By Michael Leddy at 7:07 AM
The May 20 New Yorker has a long article by Nathan Heller on Harvard University and MOOCs (massive open online courses): Laptop U. The article suggests, at least to me, imperial ambitions. Here is Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s president:
“Part of what we need to figure out as teachers and as learners is, Where does the intimacy of the face-to-face have its most powerful impact?” She talked about a MOOC to be released next academic year, called “Science & Cooking.” It teaches chemistry and physics through the kitchen. “I just have this vision in my mind of people cooking all over the globe together,” she said. “It’s kind of nice.”This article also suggests, at least to me, the reluctance of some in prestigious positions to speak frankly about the effect that MOOCs will have on the academic job market. Michael Smith, Harvard’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences:
“I think oftentimes this question is oversimplified,” he said. “We’re working very closely with our graduate school and our graduate students to think about how they can be involved in this process.” Job offers today, he said, will necessarily “be different from the ones I saw when I finished up graduate school.” Some Ph.D. students are being trained in MOOC production as “HarvardX fellows.”It’s not an oversimplification to say that growing reliance on MOOCs will further diminish the already diminished possibilities for tenure-track teaching. That Harvard would employ its doctoral students in audio-visual production, call those students “fellows,” and cast the matter as the unfolding of an inevitable “process” speaks volumes, at least to me, about academia and self-deception.
The HarvardX Fellow plays a key leadership role in the development and delivery of high quality, high impact online learning experiences for HarvardX, part of Harvard’s partnership with MIT in the edX online learning initiative. Working closely with faculty and as part of a community of HarvardX Fellows, the HarvardX Fellow ensures innovative course development and integration with new technologies and educational research across HarvardX, and plays a key role in the organization’s mission to enhance teaching and learning on campus and worldwide.There are two such positions now available.
This is a 2 year term position, with the possibility of renewal contingent on funding, university priorities and satisfactory job performance.
By Michael Leddy at 9:04 AM
If I didn’t already have several Jotters around, this advertisement would inspire me to buy one, no joke. Charles Newman was right, and remains right: a Jotter refill lasts a long time. How long? As yet I do not know: my black and blue Jotters still have their original cartridges. But given this circumstance, this as-yet-unknowing, it is appropriate to ask: are these “original” cartridges themselves refills? And if so, of what? Which is to ask: what is the nature of the now-lost plenitude that they attempt to re-fill? And the Jotter in my hand: was it itself a pen as such before it came to possess a point? These questions take us to the boundary, beyond which we cannot proceed. Yet if we remain on this side of that line, it is nonetheless permissible to ask: how does one tell the difference between the so-called refill and the cartridge whose place the refill takes, the “original” cartridge, the pen’s “point,” as it were, imperial, serene, solitary, or so it would seem, yet always to be displaced by a New-man, an identical impostor, one in a series of impostors, each claiming the work of inscription as its own? We “miss the point,” we say, but the point at the same time misses us, eluding our grasp, leaving us to scrape and scratch like an inferior writing instrument — some not-Jotter — against metaphysics’s corrasable bond. [Translated from the imaginary French.]
Other T-Ball Jotter posts
Last-minute shopping (A 1964 ad)
Parker T-Ball Jotter (A 1963 ad)
Eaton’s Corrasable Bond
[Advertisement from Life, August 27, 1971.]
By Michael Leddy at 8:37 AM
From Christine Kenneally’s The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language (New York: Viking, 2007):
There is a saying among primate keepers . . . that if you give a screwdriver to a chimp, it will throw it at someone. If you give a screwdriver to a gorilla, it will scratch itself. But if you give a screwdriver to an orangutan, it will let itself out of its cage.The First Word is a disappointing book: oddly organized, with much textbookese and many cumbersome sentences. (How many times can you begin with For example before catching yourself and breaking the habit?) I had to correct an error in the text (“give a give a screwdriver”) to share this passage, which is well worth sharing.
By Michael Leddy at 8:45 AM