You Got Style
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June 4, 2006
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This happened to a portion of my philosophy class recently. A wise administrator gave my class permission to do a short field trip there, and a good choice it was, for as we left I heard my students agree: "Best field trip ever." That is maybe heartening news today with so many plugged into their I-Pods, for books are in some ways, still, "equally technological."
Jack Goody once famously said "Literacy is the technology of intellect" — a wise judgment partly stemming from the old Baconian saw that "Reading maketh a full man." You may perhaps recall Francis Bacon's essay
Happily, as we left I noticed no real defect of mind in my own students. For over a meal later in another Portland landmark — The Old Spaghetti Factory — I overheard a pair debating the fate of World Federation Wrestling under Vince McMahon. Though I was about to mention Roland Barthes' great essay on professional wrestling, in Mythologies, I desisted, with some apt Baconian principles perhaps partly in view. Sometimes heated participation in the ring does beat cold theory in print.
Besides, I'd induced one of them to buy a book to supplement his favored music major, Frank Conroy's Body and Soul. For the human arts are, all — don't you think? — really of a piece.Permalink
having recently landed in a tiny town as a librarian for its tiny library, i found myself drooling at your description of what sounds like a great field trip. i, too, have been to Powell's and i visit their website often. there is much to be said for small ponds, however. here i am the sole guardian of a much-neglected collection of books in a tribal resource center. having once gotten over my hesitance to discard books, i went a little mad, and nearly emptied the shelves: Readers Digest condensed books, ten year-old computer instruction manuals; books about indians written by clueless caucasions — all these went to the landfill. so how now to fill these shelves? now, finally, all those years of study may come to my aid as i become more familiar with the individuals who people this small native community: what do they want? what do they NEED? how can i help? Will books become, as some predict, obsolete? i shudder to imagine such a world.
you haven't given much about his style.
Indeed I haven't, quite purposefully.
Students are open to suggestion sometimes (and sometimes not).
If you care to bring home some stylish Bacon, I suggest George Williamson's The Senecan Amble: A Study in Prose Form from Bacon to Collier (1951).
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