Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Putting aside the aesthetic merits of USC's new statue of Hecuba (or demerits - it really is an overwrought and embarrassing piece), let's just acknowledge that, like all bronze statues, it's taking on a pleasing greenish patina.  But what about the hand (and, indeed, some other spots).  Did Hecuba have vitiligo?  Did a seagull or three take a crap on it, and was some unfortunate bleaching liquid used?  I'm sure that it shouldn't be taking on such a strangely lightened hue.

Monday, November 20, 2017

late autumn leaves

At last - at home, and, here, on campus - leaves are turning golden and falling off the trees, as opposed to looking parched and withered and sad.  I can never quite get used to Los Angeles seasons - not least after coming back from five days of snow ...

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Rockies and the Anthropocene

(and yes, I'm going after the colors of an old-fashioned tourist postcard here, because this was taken through a tinted bus window and was strangely colored in the first pace).  Ah ... the beautiful Rockies.  That was the collective sighing appreciation of a Banff Airporter bus full of NAVSA attendees this morning, sad to leave the mountains ... I'm not sure how many others saw this other than my seat mate and myself, but its jarring presence on the landscape was a perfect analogue for all the discussions about the anthropocene, nature, resources, extraction that we'd had over the previous few days.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

some Victorianists take a hike

This morning's hike was the greatest fun - up a snowy mountain (Tunnel Mountain) behind the Banff Centre, in the company of a Cree who told us about the sacred nature of the mountain and - below - the one it overlooks; talked about the sacredness of the earth; lit a bundle of cedar and sweet grass and sage; said a prayer and sang in Cree; gave us tobacco to sprinkle at the foot of trees.  He also asked us not to photograph; not to recount his stories - but at the same time was eloquent about the need to tell things that at one time he would have kept to his own people.  It was a very special hike - even if (despite having brought strong hiking boots with me) it left me vowing to buy a pair of snow cleats for any similar hikes I might do in the near future.  My iPhone tells me that I climbed 86 flights.

The cloud was really settling in when we were down again.

Friday, November 17, 2017

walking between sessions

The day started with an 8 a.m. executive committee meeting, and ended after the last session, after dark ... but in between, this was some spectacular landscape.  I was in a couple of seminar rooms, too, when it was well-nigh impossible not to stare, and stare some more, at the view.  Please can we have more conferences up mountains?  The quality of the papers and discussion (and both, today, have been wonderful), are just the same - or indeed, on this occasion, possibly stronger than ever, since the topic, "Victorian Preserves," has elicited all kinds of provocative and imaginative and stimulating stuff.  Alas, I haven't (bearing in mind the conference title) heard anything yet about jam making - though that is, of course, the effect of the impossibility of being in seven places at once.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

conference time

Ah, NAVSA - my favorite conference - these are my peeps, through and through.

The setting doesn't hurt, either ... I just wish that we were all here for two weeks, which would give us - well, me, at least - time to go skiing.   It's very frustrating, having new snow, and having to be in a room talking about ... well, let's just say, my paper was about snowflakes.  Sublimation, perversion - I don't know.  But it's great to be with so many friends, and in the mountains, too ...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

the beauties of Banff

The map made it look as though it would be a relatively easy (if bracing) walk to the Banff Centre from my hotel.  Hmmm.  I don't think that the map can have been to scale.  By the time that the street lights ran out, and the sidewalks disappeared, and ice took their place, and it had started to snow, I came to the conclusion that I'd made a crazy decision, and turned around - just about at the point that a large stuffed buffalo head stared out at me from someone's front yard installation.  Mercifully, a cab - a hailable cab - appeared at that moment, too.  Lyft and Uber aren't allowed to operate in Banff, which obviously would have made eveything much easier.  So I managed to get to NAVSA's opening reception, well-exercised ...

Here's a downtown view;

some local residents on a bench;

and the very pleasing view from my room (there are, indeed, advantages in not being at the conference centre, like being downtown ...).