Archive for September, 2012

Jonathan Mayhew says …

… in his unsparing and witty way, if you don’t write like crap and don’t waste time, you could do just fine in academia when it comes to publishing articles and books. Mayhew’s blog, Stupid Motivational Tricks: Scholarly writing and how to get it done, is a great delight to read. (Note: I am nominally one of the blog’s “authors,” but that is because Jonathan is a generous fellow and not because I’ve contributed anything lately.)

“Culture Days” in Vancouver

From my friends and colleagues at AhaMedia: “Culture Days is a collaborative, Canada-wide volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities. The first annual Culture Days event swept across more than 700 Canadian cities and towns during the last weekend of September 2010, generating an extraordinary amount of enthusiasm in the process. This year’s Culture Days weekend will take place on September 28, 29 & 30. … Once again, the event will feature free, hands-on, interactive activities that invite the public to participate “behind the scenes”—and to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators, and designers at work in their community.” It will be a beautiful weekend for the event. I’m looking forward to stopping by. It will provide a lovely break in a weekend of marking student reports (though that, too, will be a lovely time).

Thomas Szasz: RIP

This is sad news.

Dr. Szasz was “an author of mine,” for Prometheus Books Inc., back in the day. I was lucky to meet him once in person, on his 74th birthday, at his house near Syracuse, as the guest of his brilliant daughter, Suzy Szasz, also “an author of mine.” Drinking Johnny Walker Black with him and his daughter and their friends, and talking about drug laws and politics in the kitchen … that was indeed a very good day and evening.

I’ve given Dr. Szasz’s The Untamed Tongue: A Dissenting Dictionary to numerous friends and former students. It is just so beautifully put together, limpid and witty. He has a piece in On the Barricades: Religion and Free Inquiry in Conflict, which I coedited (the book was a “greatest hits” collection from Free Inquiry magazine). His essay, “Tea and Sympathy on the Way to Mecca,” is adjacent to one I contributed (on “New Age Gurus”).

From The Untamed Tongue:

“Beware of the psychoanalyst who analyzes jokes rather than laughs at them.”

“In science, it’s dangerous to lie: if discovered, the liar is cast out of the group as a faker and fraud. In religion, politics, and psychiatry, it’s dangerous to tell the truth: if discovered, the truth-teller is cast out of the group as a heretic and a traitor.”

“Mental illness is a myth whose function is to disguise and thus render more palatable the bitter pill of moral conflicts in human relations. In asserting that there is no such thing as mental illness I do not deny that people have problems coping with life and each other.”

Joe Sacco’s “Journalism”

Final panel from Joe Sacco’s piece “The Unwanted,” which describes the often hostile reception African asylum-seekers have received in the small island nation of Malta.

Joe Sacco’s reportage is presented in the medium of cartoons.  His images are dazzling and detailed, though the scenes he depicts are more often than not ugly and awful, and his faces are *never* pretty. His most recent book, simply called “Journalism,” collects some of his shorter pieces and takes the reader to Chechnya, Iraq, India, Malta, The Hague, and back to Palestine (the subject of two earlier books).

In the preface to his book Sacco writes, “I chiefly concern myself with those who seldom get a hearing, and I don’t feel it is incumbent on me to balance their voices with the well-crafted apologetics of the powerful. The powerful are generally excellently served by the mainstream media or propaganda organs. The powerful should be quoted, yes, but to measure their pronouncements against the truth, not to obscure it. If I believe power brings out the worst in people, I’ve observed that those on the short end of the stick don’t always acquit themselves well either, and I’ve endeavored to report that.”

I finish a Sacco book feeling a lot better about art than I do about people.

Juliana Hatfield

Her new album of covers is astonishing. I love her voice inside of my head. Here is her cover of The Who’s “My Wife.”

Live chat with Hardball’s Executive Producer, John Reiss

MSNBC puts my buddy in front of the camera …

Kwantlen’s New President

As a long-ago graduate of SUNY/Buffalo, I’m pretty jazzed about the new guy, Dr. Alan Davis, whose most recent tenure was as president of Empire State College at the State University of New York.

From the Kwantlen website: “With his colleagues at SUNY Empire State College, he expanded the range of graduate and undergraduate offerings, worked towards more effective shared governance, improved retention and quality, and substantially raised the profile of the institution as an alternative and unique institution. His final contribution was a bold new proposal for ‘Open SUNY’ in which all the SUNY colleges and universities could collaborate to form the largest public open and online system in the US.”

Kwantlen was smart to get Dr. Davis. I am looking forward to working with him.