Just a short post to the effect that all is well at PBS, just slightly limited in the internet access way. More will follow, but not for a while. The wheels of the IT machine turn very slow (and not too fine) here in Oxon.
My abdominal butterflies, heavily medicated with Gravol, are packing the last of their belongings and have placed all the liquids in those transparent bags for security. All the diligent office workers upstairs have set ‘out-of-office’ messages on their phones and e-mail. The stylish European designers who continue to renovate the old ‘Language’ floor into a strange collection of three-wall sets following the blueprints of an arcane bargain-bin version of a memory palace have bogged off to wherever it was they came from. And I, slightly shaky with nerves and possibly fending off a pre-trip mugging by the common cold, fight to keep my figurative ‘sh*t’ together and get through this. Monday morning I fly out to Heathrow and on to Oxford. Thursday and Friday I take That Test.
I quoted John Arnold the other day to the effect that the study of medieval history was an inherently political act. Imagine my amusement at this synergy of cover design and theme:
At some point in higher education a student crosses an invisible threshold which turns what was once smug satisfaction and certainty about the world into a painful awareness of just how little one actually knows about anything. You can tell which side of that barrier you stand depending on how you react to a question like this:
“Did European women gain anything from the Renaissance?”
It’s easy for me to forget that people actually read this blog. Most of these unknown readers think differently than me, and it isn’t the big issues that seem to irritate, it’s the casual, throw-away lines that are part of the idiom of psuedo-anonymous blog writing. Since I was singed by that casual book-review in August, I’m trying to moderate my tone, which I now learn, can be ‘abrasive’ and ‘acerbic.’ Who knew I was capable of all that and ‘squalid’? This is a learning experience for sure.
J. Ostwald at Skulking in Holes and Corners posted a very thoughtful entry on the metaphor of war and modern sport. The tendency to use the visual language of warfare in the context of sport has a long history and, as Ostwald deftly explains, it says a great deal about popular understanding of sport and war in a complex way. The cynic might say that this use of bellicose language is little more than a ploy to make something largely irrelevant (large-scale commercial sports leagues) into something both visceral and meaningful by close association with abstract martial symbolism and an audience that is predominantly a passive observer of both sport and war. I’m something of a cynic, but that rarely produces interesting writing so I’ll take a slightly different tack, down the related path of violence as sport (or sport as violence).
A recent article at Inside Higher Education, which is mostly about plagiarism and related ills, reminded me of a personal peeve with citation rules. Some recent changes to citation guides, like APA, are advising the use of DOI (digital object identifiers) for sources that are both print and digital, but otherwise identical in content and pagination.
PBS was silent for a few days while Z and I visited some of my dispersed family before my trip overseas. Although I plan to write regularly each day until the actual move, most of that writing will stay in draft form. Writing needs to be a habit if any progress is expected but posting blog entries isn’t an essential step in the process.
I did get some nice books this week, so I will pick the easy route and write about that.
Things are beginning to deteriorate here at PBS as the Oxford trip approaches. I’m getting sick of answering the question ‘are you excited?’ with politeness. No, I can’t say I’m excited. Teens with few responsibilities and overly optimistic imaginations have the luxury of excitement. I have something that lacks a proper name but has a vague similarity to anxiety and nausea but with a slightly less negative tone. Oh, and I feel really poor right now.
With that, here is the August review.