Friday, April 22, 2011


It's just a discreet little dagger-pin in my lapel, but it has great symbolic resonance.   I use to wear it last year when chairing meetings in the English department; and I decided it could do with an outing today ... I've hardly been to official departmental thingies this year, but I made an exception for the Honors students' presentations and awards ceremony today - I wouldn't have missed them.   But one never knows who one might run into ...

... though thoughts of Surprise Encounters dropped out of my mind in the middle of the presentations, not because of the presentations themselves (though images of Girl on Girl action were distracting in one way, and a slide of Very Cute Flying Squirrels - quite arbitrarily added onto the end of a powerpoint about Mrs Dalloway - in another).   No - I remembered, mid-afternoon, that I'd left the oven on, trying to dry out some damp-damaged books that I'd found on the basement floor (now, where did that particular flood come from?).   And images - not just of charred books, but of the whole house burned to a cinder - rose up in front of me.   And then it struck me that indeed, Fahrenheit 451 doesn't have that title for arbitrary reasons, and if that's the temperature at which paper burns, a copy of Keith Thomas's Religion and the Decline of Magic should be quite safe at 150 degrees.   Of course, I could always buy another copy - but I love this one.   I remember reading it in Italy in 1981 or 1982, in the Boboli Gardens in Florence, whilst a little crowd of Italian high school kids sat on the grass, playing the guitar and singing along to "Blowing in the Wind" - and it still has a dried flower in it from that afternoon.


  1. Yesss! My girl-on-girl slide gets a mention! Thank you, again, for your advising and mentoring over the past year. (Rob also sends his thanks!)

  2. ah, thank YOU! Working with you has truly been one of the things that's kept me going through some Dark Times in the Hallowed Halls of Academe, this last year ...