Friday, April 5, 2013
Academic writing stinks.
I'm sorry. I know it doesn't stink to fellow academics. I'd even be willing to admit that, in a parallel reality, it qualifies as great. Personally, I think Ludwig Wittgenstein was a literary genius. But the fact is that most newspaper editors would rather be stranded on a desert island with nothing but a list of the active ingredients in Sinutab to read than so much as glance at another piece of academic prose. Perhaps it's that academics don't realize that those little bits of incomprehensible jargon that keep turning up in their work are kind of creepy. "The gaze," "embeddedness" and "discontinuities of discourse" are words and phrases that, like clammy-handed zombies, drag an editor into a swamp of meaninglessness.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
My daughter has an uncanny way of gravitating to music that her father and I were listening to a lot when we first got together, when she was no more than a dust mote of a dream, years away from being born. You could made a strong case that... Leah wafted her way to earth on soundwaves of Chrissie Hynde, Grace Slick, and Elizabeth Frazer of the Cocteau Twins. Leah sent me this song of Fraser's below on Spotify, sort of in the spirit of "you need to hear this." I first heard this song in Oxford, Mississippi, mid 1980's, in an old Civil War era house with high ceilings, on the Walkman of some English kid prodigy undergraduate from the OTHER Oxford, who I hired to tutor me for Ph.D. prelims. He introduced me to the Cocteau Twins as a way of illustrating the principle of vers donnee, the words that are given, dictated by presumably by whatever you construe to be God. What I did not know at the time was that these given words capture EXACTLY what it is like to be the mother of my own particular girl full of words given from God. I may have already been pregnant with her when I first heard this, not sure.