At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The meeting with the Social Sciences Division chair bore fruit quickly, at least, though not of the desired quality: today I received a request for about $2000 worth of history and geography videos. Unfortunately the degree of academic vigor here barely surpasses that of high school, and so many instructors like to pad out their classes with audiovisuals, for which we foot the bill.

Started E. R. Eddison, Mistress of Mistresses, last night. Does anyone else like to read out loud?

I leave you with this quote from a review of The Future of the Southern Plains in the American Historical Review:

Perhaps the clearest indication of the state of the Southern Plains today lies in its image among Americans. Earlier writers, artists, and travelers—John James Audubon, Georgia O'Keeffe, Willa Cather, and others—left remarkable descriptions of its scenery, wildlife, and open spaces. Today, though, the region evokes no such admiration. As Deborah Popper observed: "There is nothing here. It is un-country." Flores explains that modern attitudes reflect the transformation of the Great Plains in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when "we dismantled a ten-thousand-year-old ecology, very likely one of the most exciting natural spectacles in the world" (p. 223). The combination of a "war on Plains wildlife" and the plowing up of the grasslands helped produce the landscape we see today.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't normally read out loud, but for a something entitled "Mistress of Mistresses" I might make an exception.


6:07 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

I've only read the prologue and already there's a poem about "splendid breasts," so yeah, it could turn out to be that kind of book.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it's E.R. Eddison, it'll probably bear reading aloud.

Your Ms. Popper's comments have many precedents in the chronicles of urban snobbery. "Flyover country", "There's no there there", etc. Woody Allen once described everything outside of Manhattan as a place where "the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on red." However, Ms. Popper seems to be a ibt more intellectually serious than the sources of those comments, at least judging from this article.Have you ever read William Least Heat Moon's PrairieErth?

I like the place I live reasonably well, based on what I hear and read about it, but I practically never have time to see or enjoy any of it at first hand, other stopping to get gas and buying groceries at 11:00 at night.


2:36 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

Yeah, I came up with that article too, which made it seem that Popper's criticisms arose from a genuine concern about the fate of the Great Plains. And I'll admit that on the rare occasions I have come across vistas unspoiled by cotton farming (mostly northeast of here) I thought they had a sort of beauty.

5:44 PM  

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