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[DECEMBER 2008.]

Again, I Went to an Academic Conference

It would be different if I were looking for a job, but I’m not, so it was just the usual bunch of people with badges standing around in a hotel, and that situation I know how to deal with: get in the Starbucks line and look out for empty chairs. The women were better dressed than the men—snazzy glasses, scarves, skirts, boots. I attended one panel and learned that a noted professor at a rich university is feeding the entire text of Finnegans Wake into some kind of 3D modeling software so she can spread it out in an enormous plane and... look at it. She seems to be having a good time.

I wish I could look at Finnegans Wake.

cheap version: text file, 4-point font, print 16-up

we could zoom in on the right part of the enormous plane and maybe catch sight of someone's burrow.

I wish Finnegans Wake could look at me.


I don’t know, did the Internet just get too big for your vanity? After you’ve gone through the airport metal detector you move stumbling for the nearest chair with the components of your bourgeois respectability bundled in your arms; even if you were careful that day and wore socks without holes in them, you’re still a piteous naked thing until you pack up your laptop and replace your shoes.

“I never shall forget how well this was expressed to me one day by Mr. Meynell: ‘The chief advantage of London,’ said he, ‘is, that a man is always so near his burrow.’”

I got to rest in my burrow for all of 2008; in a couple of weeks I have to get out and exhibit myself in front of a classroom again; why am I doing this? Because my father (I was reminded over Christmas) thinks I can still become an excellent teacher and should keep trying to do so? Because of the title of “Professor”—the last corona of prestige from a star that went supernova decades ago? The MLA conference is happening across the bay and I might even attend it.

I think it all can be vanity and still equalize out to a structure that is not vanity. But square pegs, star-shaped holes.


Dies Natalis Solis Invicti

For Christmas I gave myself some time to read the Life of Johnson; the moral Tory Boswell is a funny fellow to encounter after getting to know him through all the juvenile boozing and whoring in his 1762 London journal. Poor Boswell, striving for respectability and having to come out against female inheritance and the abolition of the slave trade; poor Dr. Johnson, condemned to take every conversation as a contest in which one man must prove superior; and poor Dr. William Dodd too.

Tucson is full of grackles; I don’t know why. They hang out by the dozens on top of billboards, bobbing their long tails and swiveling their dark heads and casting those bright yellow icterid eyes on the landscape. I’ve seen them in raucous clumps in Texas, but never here; I hope they’re migrating through and aren’t planning to replace the cactus wrens.

Also for Christmas Tyche dropped the plan for a new novel into my lap, I hope a good one. Is it not time, Sir—says the ghost of Samuel Johnson, when he isn’t making fun of my Latin—that you worked at a good novel?


The Kind Old Sun

Just in time for the Holidays of Change I have some CDs to give the world, or sell to the world with the sale ported to a donation, because I’m unequipped to run benefit marathons. Cheers.


Does the Job

The teeming thousands who want the Sphinx to do Latin verbs are by this instrument informed that the Sphinx now does Latin verbs. I got re-interested in medieval Latin by trying to re-puzzle the Joyce and Aquinas connections, and then by all the Giordano Bruno in John Crowley’s Aegypt tetralogy, which I really wanted to love. From the outside it’s obvious when an author is trying too hard to explain everything, writing an instruction manual to wrap around the book instead of letting it hang free. It’s much harder to know when you’re doing it yourself.


What is't makes you smile?

Linux, loves, and the Linux community with its shameless use of cute animals to promote anarcho-communitarian ethics and socially critiquable judgments of taste all at one go... irresistible for anyone with fantasies about joining the minor landed gentry of the mind.

I took the five-finger torrent discount on some software dictionaries and suddenly it’s much easier to read through German and French—take Lessing’s Laokoon with its delightful periodic prose—eighteenth-century German is just like eighteenth-century English, only it comes in a different order.

But most important: the 2008 Iberian lynx litters are here! Apparently lynxes are named like hurricanes, so last year’s were Domo and Drago, and this year we have √Čbano, Elfo, Erizo, Erica...


Opponents On Your Journey

Fellow on campus with a clipboard: is he with a movement, will he want me to sign something, or is he just studying the local ecology? Hide.

Tuneless “funky” song at Andronico’s, lasting the entirety of my ten-minute shopping trip, which narrated the revision of a belief about the world from ~∃(Santa Claus) to ∃(Santa Claus).

If you ask me point-blank whether I am to become a professor, the answer is surely not. I’ve been keeping busy remembering that I know how to do other things: putting together some Oil and Water CDs, adding Latin verbs to the sphinx, building a new computer from mail-order parts and sending short stories to the gatekeepers of letters. Retuning the piano and getting it right this time. In a dream I was histrionically shouting at people that my life was over because I was thirty, but no one was buying it.

It’s fine now; for the last few years it’s always been fine, or better, risotto and beer and poetry, who’d spurn it. For those who don’t know I’m getting married this summer; that is better than fine. You want answers, you want to be put in a small soft container. Who are the opponents who make you feel naked inside a warm house.


“See, you should be proud of not blogging—you can join my movement! By not blogging, you’re helping to combat the anxiety over authenticity that plagues us all.”


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