Stalin's Blue Pencil (via).
Djugashvili (later Stalin) was a ruthless person, and a serious editor. The Soviet historian Mikhail Gefter has written about coming across a manuscript on the German statesman Otto von Bismarck edited by Stalin's own hand. The marked-up copy dated from 1940, when the Soviet Union was allied with Nazi Germany. Knowing that Stalin had been responsible for so much death and suffering, Gefter searched "for traces of those horrible things in the book." He found none. What he saw instead was "reasonable editing, pointing to quite a good taste and an understanding of history."[more inside]
Two lengthy appreciations of Jacques Barzun's influence: Barzun's grandson remembers the letters of his well-known grandfather, and Helen Hazen reminisces about Barzun's unexpected effort to help her write her first book.
Slash: Not Just a Punctuation Mark Anymore - Anne Curzan writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a new slang word that she learned from her undergraduate students in a History of English course slash analyzes how it fits with traditional parts of speech.
The Delights Of Disgust
I confess I am disgusted by a great many things about people (and about myself, but let's put that aside). I do not believe it is particularly urgent for me to overcome my disgust, even if I recognize that this emotion must remain entirely separate from my thinking about which laws would be most just. I am disgusted by other people's dandruff, facial moles, food stuck in their beards, yet I do not accept that in feeling this way I am judging those people to be subhuman. I take it rather that humanity, while endearing, is also capable of appearing disgusting.[more inside]
The Secret Lives of Readers Books reveal themselves. Whether they exist as print or pixels, they can be read and examined and made to spill their secrets. Readers are far more elusive. They leave traces—a note in the margin, a stain on the binding—but those hints of human handling tell us only so much. The experience of reading vanishes with the reader. How do we recover the reading experiences of the past? Lately scholars have stepped up the hunt for evidence of how people over time have interacted with books, newspapers, and other printed material.
While at college I yearned to feel connected, to be a part of something larger, something that involved more than bricks and mortarboards. I never managed it. Now, two decades later, I felt a familiar ambivalence. Those bright college years are so influential, so much a part of who we become, that revisiting them brings up a host of conflicting, tumultuous emotions. Going back stirs the pot. Maybe that’s a good thing.Author and columnist Rachel Toor on mixed feelings about going to a class reunion when you haven't exactly become successful in the traditional sense. (This essay also appeared in a 2004 issue of the Chronicle Review, the essays and opinions insert of the trade periodical The Chronicle of Higher Education.)
A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education tells the story of The Education of Dasmine Cathey, a 23-year-old football player for the University of Memphis. Writer Brad Wolverton met Cathey, who taught himself to read his second year of college, while doing research on student-athletes with severe reading, writing, and learning problems.
"For international visitors who see people boarding trains, pulling people off, asking for documents, it feels a lot like East Germany did when I visited in 1980."
Tales of academe Newly-minted Ph.D.s describe their varied experiences on the academic job market. Most use pseudonyms. Many writers are remarkably bitter; some are not. Notable essays: the adjunct professorship as a career; teaching at a county jail; racism on the tenure track; and a series of columns by "Thomas H. Benton," who desperately tries to talk students out of entering graduate school, and then gives helpful advice to those who want to go anyway.
What's So American About American Culture? Richard Pells launches a spirited attack on the notion that American culture dominates the world, noting how almost all its sources are European, which would explain why "American culture has never felt all that foreign to foreigners". As a sideline and a Sunday provocation, I suggest to you that, apart from medicine, computers and entertainment(movies; music; web sites) Europe is either as good as America(art; literature; architecture; universities; publishing)or a damn sight better: telecommunications; TV; cars; pharmaceutical products; food and drink; luxury goods...In fact, America and Europe complement each other quite perfectly. Though we win in the end, of course, because we're much better at appreciating this symbiosis. If only because know and enjoy more American stuff than you Americans do European stuff. So there!
Why are our images reversed from left to right and not up and down in a mirror? You can get mirrors that give a 'true' reflection.