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May 25, 2007
But another kind of teacher, the artist, shows us how to see, and some of the most interesting are those who model growth of consciousness over time, using developing craft to expand ambition. These career arcs offer much pleasure and instruction, especially when combined with letters, memoirs, interviews, and secondary sources.In literature, Joyce’s arc grew toward unintelligibility, as did Henry James’s, in a different way. Twain’s arc grew from high jinks through moral profundity and into prescient bitterness. In painting, J.M.W. Turner and Picasso come to mind.
May 23, 2007
My acquaintance Chaz and I were imagining an ideal teacher. Actually, we’d been talking about the future, when I intend to move my family to some fallow farm and live an idyll of slow food, deep thought, and lazy fun. Chaz plans to quit the academic IT business in a huff and live in a pop-up camper back in the woods on our property.
May 20, 2007
I succumbed this week and created my own MySpace page , largely on the advice of a New York Times article about artistic networking. According to my acquaintance Chaz, a midlevel IT manager at a Big 10 school, this puts me, in terms of technology use, still far behind his two year-old niece but ahead of 90 percent of all other academics in America. Academics may not use MySpace, but the rest of America seems to be there.
May 18, 2007
The liberal arts have been in crisis in American colleges and universities in one way or another throughout my academic life. Whether challenged by Sputnik, assaulted by the rise of vocationally oriented education, or rejected by the fine arts as irrelevant to performance, we in the liberal arts have found ourselves playing defense for a long time.
May 16, 2007
This morning I had to climb up on the roof to release a squirrel caught in our trap.
May 14, 2007
Oh sure, Sir Isaac Newton wrote the Principia and Opticks and all, and he too was Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge, but he probably never did this:Professor Stephen Hawking rides the Vomit Comet and sings Led Zeppelin
May 11, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007ACE, the American Council on Education, is a remarkable organization. Their mission, to speak for and about the entire range of higher education institutions, is admirable for its impossibility. Even so, ACE is almost always there when we need someone saying the right things about significant national issues related to higher education. Indeed, David Ward's reign, which is sadly nearing its end, has been a model of effective representation, and we are sorry to lose his charm, insight, and forthright courage in speaking on our behalf.
May 11, 2007
That’s what a grad student next to me said when he saw the most recent publisher book fair in progress in our department.
May 9, 2007
The end is near: It’s time to grade the stacks of final papers, estimate student participation grades, tabulate everything and record the sums. Yesterday it was also time for my ritual end-of-semester shearing. I dislike getting haircuts intensely, but I couldn’t stand being trapped in this house any longer—not another gottverdammt minute in this lovely old house—and set off to get some sun on my hairy white shins, on the walk of shame.
May 8, 2007
I was telling Crazy Larry about being an undergrad at North Hinterland State University at Tundra, when out of my mouth came the words, “And then I was expelled.”

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