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Last week, from Tuesday to Sunday, I met with a group of academics from around the country interested in literary style. Their interests, if you know such academics, were pretty dull. There's not much to say (literally), of course, of folks given to reading papers in hotel ballrooms, discussing them aloud, and passing judgments upon them in terms sometimes so substantively reductive as to suggest imaginative incapacity. Such folks are, at least, mostly harmless. After all, can academics earnestly looking for "clear, concrete, comprehensive, coherent, and concise" writing be all that bad?

The group I was with — numbering around seventy — has even developed a happily elaborate and often insightful code enumerating their concerns. They've figured out how to figurate style — just a couple of points shy of a "proper" ideal maybe — so as to make time for still more substantive matters like eating and drinking. Indeed, the group last week styled things so well as to make time for a night on the town Thursday (we were near New York) and at a local mall Saturday (I fancied even Stanley Fish would have been lured by the $359,000 Bentley convertible I saw).

Anyway, all of this falls quite naturally under the rubric of "The Leisure of the Theory Class" — though I suspect Thorstein Veblen would say (observing me returned from "Back East"): "Vatch out! Dat's a T'ree, Styles."

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