I'm as over-inaugurated as anybody. For fully understandable reasons, the nation is partying hearty. Wall Street fell a full 4% yesterday, and nobody cares. We're all drunk (for good reason), and the hangover's gonna be a real monster.
So be it.
Last Tuesday my 7-year-old came home from school and proudly showed off his new library book about a super-hero who wears nothing but a cape and tighty-whitey underwear (I won’t mention the name lest it be quoted as an endorsement. Just ask any 7-year-old or parent of elementary-aged children if you’re not sure what I mean. A clue: he’s addressed as “Captain.”). The books in this series are full of potty humor—perfect for second graders—but a little too much for parents.
If you believe that the truly educated never graduate, then I'm still a student. Certainly, I read a lot. And my interests are sufficiently eclectic (and my patience sufficiently short) that even the library at Greenback won't fill my needs.
Still, a lot of the books I'm interested in are (or have been) used as teaching texts. And if I'm reading for my own purposes, I don't need the latest edition. So, I buy used. And cheap. Which usually means online.
My occasional book the past few weeks has been Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu (Columbia UP, 1967), translated by the great Burton Watson. The philosophical writing covers from about 400 to 233 BCE.
Han Fei is my least favorite; he was of noble birth, and if he were alive today he would have written editorials in support of a Cheney presidency:
I’m teaching a new course this semester, and it’s one that requires me to stretch quite a bit beyond my normal boundaries, beyond what Gerald Graff recently called “coursecentrism” on this very site. A couple of years ago, I was part of an ad hoc committee that examined how we introduce students to the English major and decided to change it.
When Barack Obama was born, his parents' marriage would have been illegal in Virginia. This Fall, he carried Virginia.
I've been accused of being just a little cynical. (TW mentioned that this marks the end of the 8 year long relationship between her butt and President Bush's face. No more annual state-of-the-mooning.) Today, I'm glad to put that aside.
We need hope, and we need it now.
For those of you who will attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Chicago next month, I hope to see you there. In addition to being Inside Higher Ed’s boots on the ground, I’ll be reading with University of Illinois non-fictionists and serving on a panel with fellow McSweeney’s dispatchers.
The poet W.D. Snodgrass has died. Here's a poem of his written in the spring but just as right for the beginning of the year.
UD interrupts each stanza with a little interpretation. Go here for the poem unmolested.