Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A year!

I'm going to Wernersville again, so I've been blogging here a year. Sobering thought. I thought I'd take along Ronald Knox's Captive Flames, some of his sermons on Christian saints recently put out by Ignatius Press. Anything more systematic would be too daunting. I want something with that odd sparkle that illuminates everything else.

I think that's a worthwhile way to approach intellectual study. Quirky interests can be good--they show a certain love for the world. And they should lead to reflection on greater things.
Often today, students go backwards. We fill them full of Grand Theory before they've had a chance to be captivated by the facts of the world. See E. D. Hirsch, The Knowledge Deficit.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Thought of the Day Tangentially Involving Super Tuesday in a Non-partisan Way

Remember when executives and administrators used to "spearhead projects" and "lay foundations" with "heavy lifting" and even "establish beachheads"? Now we have "servant-leaders" who listen and "nurture growth." That's fine if you have ultra-committed team members who are itching to do their own thing anyway. Most of us just want to make a living and contribute to the smooth operation of something worthwhile [with our households being the most worthwhile thing of all]. Maybe we're not 100% invested: our work, while important, is not the sum total of our lives. Just tell us what you want done and we'll do it--but tell us! I think real leadership is neglected. Instead of leaders we have listeners. And more time is spent probing the psychological states of workers than on actually directing people's efforts. We need leaders who take us outside ourselves, in short.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Thought of the Day #2

How about that Superbowl? Or, as L. calls it, "The Guacamole Bowlie." Which we did consume, along with two bags of fancy chips. We enjoyed the game immensely, staying awake for the whole thing. I sometimes think the only way I've affected L.'s life is that now she watches football.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Thought of the Day

Since I stopped working on Thursday nights, I don't get much time to blog anymore. So, with some trepidation, I hereby launch "The Thought of the Day."

I think--as I was shelving some Norman Mailer--that we tend to make too much of artists. Of their biographies, I mean. We idolize them, and the more whacked out they are, the better. Plato warned us about the poets! When I was in college, Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg and the Beats--all those guys we admired for their lifestyle as much, if not more, than for their poetry. In recent times we've seen Mozart, who was probably a fairly conventional sort, transformed into a wild genius and eccentric by "Amadeus." Before, people who listened to Mozart were considered stuffy--now they are thought to be "with it" and sort of rebellious. For every weird artist, however, there are sober and thoughtful ones who also produce great art.

The herd mentality of this adulation first hit me when I read Dan Wakefield's New York in the Fifties. He describes people standing five and six deep at a Greenwich Village bar-- watching Dylan Thomas drink. It struck me as very silly.