At Home He's a Tourist

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

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cultural Gluttony July (ultracondensed)

Books: E. R. Eddison, The Worm Ouroboros--Eddison's Renaissance prose is beautiful, his Renaissance value system less so. Stephen R. Donaldson, Lord Foul's Bane--Exciting fantasy which plops a cynical Moorcockian antihero into a lyrical Tolkienesque universe. Agnes de la Gorce, Saint Benedict Joseph Labre--Sober hagiography (I don't see that as an oxymoron) of an Enlightenment-era Frenchman who embraces extreme poverty as a hobo visiting pilgrimage sites across Europe. This sort of outwardly useless life doesn't make much sense without a Catholic belief in the treasury of merit, so the book left me cold.

Flix: The New World--The John Smith/Pocahantas story. Lots of beautiful shots of Virginia, some good old-fashioned noble savagery ("these people do not know greed or envy," says Smith of the Indians), a lot of mumbled monologues drowned out by James Horner's swelling tone poems (and what is audible is remarkably hokey coming from the pen of a former MIT philosophy prof, e.g. "His love flows through me like a river"), Jewel Kilcher's cousin in a leather bikini, minimal plot. A Nun's Story--Audrey Hepburn as a beautiful Belgian nun who has problems with the vow of obedience while serving as a medical missionary in the Congo. Competent, but I preferred Black Narcissus. Don't Drink the Water--Woody Allen revisits one of his sixties comic plays--pretty funny except for Dom Deluise's hammy performance. To Have and Have Not--Fun, minor-league Casablanca with Bogey and Bacall giving off sparks. Dark Passage--Bogey and Bacall have a lot less charm in this noir yarn. Merton: A Film Biography--Done in the 80s, so doesn't mention the later-revealed love affair between Merton and the nurse, but features interesting interviews with the likes of the Dalai Lama and some famous beatnik poet I can't remember now, plus some audiovisual of the man himself.

Tunes: Horace Silver, Song for my Father, The Jody Grind, Serenade for a Soul Sister--catchy without being trivial. Herbie Hancock, Best of the Blue Note Years--maybe a little too mellow--there's even a flugelhorn in there--but well-written nonetheless.


An academic librarian advises hiring committees not to drag out the process into an "Endless Searche" lest their desired candidates get offended and take a job elsewhere:

Few recent Ph.D.'s searching for faculty jobs would reject a tenure-track offer out of resentment over how the search process was handled. But academic librarians are in a seller's market and may be able to afford that luxury. [!!!] A good academic librarian might not think twice about turning down an offer, since a move elsewhere is not only possible but will almost certainly come with a raise and an increase in prestige and responsibility.

Methinks Dr. Gilman's perspective is one-sided. After all, as far as I can tell he got a plum job at Yale straight out of library school. Or maybe the problem is with me not being a good academic librarian. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

I was talking to J.E., my coworker who taught English in China, about the possibility of my doing the same. He said his Chinese wife recommended I do it. I asked why. Because, he said she said, I'd pick up a wife easily, being the sort of guy Chinese women would find very handsome. Presumably that means more than "having an American passport," but I didn't want to inquire further into her rationale. Anyway, sounds interesting.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

So if a rejection letter informs you of another opening in the same institution, is that mere professional courtesy or a sign that they're interested?