Friday, 24 August 2012

HEY EVERYBODY I’M OVER HERE! DON’T LOOK AT ME! This article from The Hill is making the conservative rounds and I’m not sure what to make of it. The author, Mike Lillis, opens by claiming that the Obama team is “[b]ucking protocol” because Presidential candidates have traditionally kept a low profile during their opponent’s nominating celebration, but Democrats are throwing those rules out the window in an attempt to spoil Mitt Romney’s coronation as the GOP nominee. This must be more of that Chicago-style politicking conservatives can’t stop complaining about. But let’s ask the experts: “Traditionally, there was a kind of courtesy extended to the party having the convention—the [other] party would basically stay out of the public eye,” said Ross Baker, political scientist at Rutgers University. And what’s the Obama team planning that’s so ungentlemanly? Even first lady Michelle Obama is in on the act, scheduling an appearance on the “David Letterman Show” smack in the middle of Romney’s nominating bash. Just out of curiosity, what was John McCain doing on 25 August 2008, the first night of the Democratic National Convention? According to “What’s on Today,” which you can find on page 7 in Section E of the New York Times on 25 August 2008: 11:35 P.M. (NBC) THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO Senator John McCain and the super swimmer Dara Torres are guests. Juliana Hatfield performs. I’m not sure how Michelle’s decision to go on the less popular late-night show bucks protocol, but whatever. Because you know what John McCain did on 26 August 2008, the second day of the Democratic National Convention? According to “Calling in the Big Guns,” which you can find on page 18 of Section A of the New York Times on 26 August 2008, he didn’t do much of anything. But what was that about “Big Guns”? Republicans on Tuesday stepped up their incursion into Democratic territory in Denver, with two party stars, Mitt Romney and Rudolph W. Giuliani, crossing enemy lines to get inside the convention hall for rounds of cable television interviews. It was a jarring image for Democrats: The two former Republican presidential candidates—one of them, Mr. Romney, right, a potential running mate for Senator John McCain—happily chatting on television with the elaborate Democratic Party stage at their backs. I’m sure Mitt Romney literally showing up and running the circuit at the Democratic National Convention doesn’t qualify as “[b]ucking protocol.” I’m not sure why it doesn’t, but it must not, given that Obama’s decision to do something on the second day of this year’s Republican National Convention represents such a grave break from tradition. But just so we’re clear about this tradition, we should look at how McCain went to great lengths not to upstage Obama on the fourth and final day of the Democratic National Convention. According to “McCain Has Made His Pick and Is Set to Tell on Friday,” which can be found on the 24th page of Section A of the New York Times on 28 August 2008: Senator John McCain has decided on...
Thomas Meyer's Beowulf Via Eileen Joy and the outstanding number of medievalists I know on Facebook, I see that Thomas Meyer's translation of Beowulf is now available. For free. It possesses a striking cover: And though I haven't had a chance to read it yet—this translation, I mean, because I've obviously read Beowulf before—the excerpt from the publisher accords neatly with my recent obsession on the relation of form to content in film: The eyes of Hygelac’s kin watched the wicked raider execute his quick attack: without delay, snatching his first chance, a sleeping warrior, he tore him in two, chomped muscle, sucked veins’ gushing blood, gulped down his morsel, the dead man, chunk by chunk, hands, feet & all. & then footstephandclawfiendreachmanbedquicktrick beastarmpainclampnewnotknownheartrunflesho feargetawaygonowrunrun never before had sinherd feared anything so. As the publisher notes, "the reader is confronted with the words themselves running together, as if in panic, in much the same way that the original passage seems in such a rush to tell the story of the battle that bodies become confused." This is a readerly experimental mode, in which the formal experimentation is meant to assist the reader in understanding the content of the poem by replicating the experience being described. The fact that that it's not easy to parse that second stanza is the point. (I've read it about twenty times now I still keep seeing the word "dreach," if only because it sounds like a word that belongs in Beowulf.) Point being, there are far worse ways to spend your Saturday night than reading a poem in which "hot gore pour[s] upon whirlpools." Or with supporting an endeavor which, to quote Eileen, Every book we make, we will give away for free in electronic form, because we believe in the richest possible artistic-intellectual para-university commons in which everyone has access to whatever they need and want, whenever they need and want it, and so that authors can have the widest possible readership. But we also believe in the printed book: as work of art, as a stylish object for one’s cabinet of curiosities, as a material comfort [or bracing cocktail] to hold in one’s hands, as something that takes up weight and space in the world and adds something of beauty to the thoughts, images, and narratives we hold in common.

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