Monday, January 31, 2011


Monday morning involved a walk in a rainforest (leeches included) with a very Dr Doolittle like bearded gentleman, who had a whole extended family of pademelons (see below - like very small wallabies) who hopped around after us to be fed slices of sweet potato, and musky rat kangaroos who are very very small and dark brown, and birds who flew out of the trees to perch on his hands and eat over-rope bananas.   They all had names ... Elizabeth the matriarch, and the shy, vocalizing Cathy, and my favorite, the rich brown Audrey ... this is Connie (it's a matriarchal society, and we only met one outcast male, on the edges of the property).

And then we sat under a canopy and drank tea and instant coffee brewed up on a stove, and ate Anzac biscuits (Elizabeth burrowing around in the foreground).

bookending Sunday

Having just received the latest Campus Weather Update from Rutgers, it seems rather cruel to point out that this is the beach below our bungalow (itself high up in the trees, so one sees both leaves and sea) - just after dawn, and just below sunset.   Tourist pictures ...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

storm approaching

We are very pleased that the cyclone has headed off to the south of us - nonetheless, it's meant some extremely beautiful skies - this was the walk to Saturday's dinner, which we were, somehow, very much up to enjoying, lengthy travel or not ...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

what happened to Friday?

Friday disappeared.   Friday slunk off behind the international date line.   Friday was darkness for six hours or so.   And now it's Saturday evening, and we're drinking Margaret River Chardonnay, looking at a thick thunderstorm anticipating the cyclone that's sweeping in over the sea in Northern Queensland, and strange frenzied seabirds swopping round.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Our back deck, dreaming of Australia, has turned into a sheep.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Ah, this is all very pretty.   But that was hours ago, and the weather has been distracting all day - causing the curtailment of a two-period class half way through (and the discussion was going great, too), and making me wonder if I'll ever manage to get on a series of planes heading to Northern Queensland, where there seems to be a tropical cyclone waiting for us (Australia? in January? ah - reports will, or should, follow, from the Australian Victorian Studies Association Conference in Adelaide, plus a few diversionary days in which we'll start to celebrate Alice's upcoming Significant Birthday).   So nervous am I about getting everything done, sleeping properly, headaches, etc etc that I've completely sworn off alcohol the last few nights.

This has possibly not been a good idea.   I poured myself a couple of glasses of water just now, and fretted hard that the water pressure was low.   Frozen pipes?   Panic.   Then ten minutes or so later, the phone rang - the local police, saying there was a major water main break, and that all water needs to be boiled until further notice.   Ummmm ....  Maybe I should try some Absolut Citron as a prophylactic against giardia?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the president's speech

Photographing television is always a strange gamble, but never so strange as when it bleaches out our president.   Or maybe it's some kind of celestial, luminous light coming off him?   Though his measured, reconciliatory, let's rebuild the Greatness of America speech didn't exactly shimmer with incandescence (though I've just heard Barbara Boxer describe it as "visionary and inspiring"), even if, from another point of view, I can't imagine too many people (even if Tea Party spokespeople staring into the wrong camera) thought that he hit Roswell scary territory.   Nonetheless, visually, this is unmistakably ET stuff.

There was, however, very little in this speech for the humanist (unless one's meant to head off and analyze Google and Facebook, which were put forward as recent examples of US entrepreneurship and inventiveness) - much praising of education, much exhortation to go off and be teachers - but, it would seem, of science and technology.   It's interesting, though, to speculate how he could have worked in the importance of reading and thinking and exploring language and using one's imagination and playing an instrument and and and and etc.  (though the speech itself was an example of how one builds, quietly, on examples from history) without sounding fusty and / or elitist.   It would be so wonderful if he were to work on this for next year ...

Monday, January 24, 2011

anticipation ...

This is the nearest thing to a cockatoo in the house - on a very strange (but completely quirky and much loved) lamp - just over my right shoulder as I type, and reminding me - as though I needed reminding - that this time next week I'll be in a tropical rainforest with such birds, and parrakeets, and kookaburras, and suchlike flying around (or more likely hiding from the rain under the leafy canopy).   I'm watching the weather forecast for Northern Queensland with increasingly raised eyebrows: if it's startlingly cold here, it's going to be startlingly wet there - my only thought being that if the thunderstorms are as intense as seem to be predicted, perhaps I'll be able to take some new photographs of lightning ...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lola's paw

I may be biased, but this is a very fine paw, and a companion piece to the picture of LucyFur's paw that I posted sometime last summer.   It's dangling over the radiator in the front hallway - I can't quite fathom how Lola can bear to be on such a hot surface - and somewhere underneath this radiator cover is, we found, a very gently dripping valve.   There's another, similar, dripping valve in a radiator in the living room.   It's not hard to convey how very, very glad we will be if we can ever off-load this house, which seems to develop a new and potentially costly problem every week or so.   And I will be equally glad when I come to the end of checking the positioning of commas, the spelling of Bulwer Lytton, the absence of periods at the end of bibliography entries, and all the thousand and one minutiae that are involved in the 1st round of copy editing of the New Cambridge History volume with which I have a very sulky relationship, and actually start to read books again that might have some bearing on my research ...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

back in NJ

There's no way of pretending that Newark Airport offers a picturesque induction into the Garden State - though in the freezing cold, like today, there's a certain magnificence to the industrial wasteland.   Nonetheless, it's hardly surprising that first time travellers look around them with a heart-sinking depression (though possibly not induced quite as early as the depression that sets in when arriving at Heathrow's Terminal 3), and that returnees - well, wish that they hadn't had to return.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I found it very hard to sleep last night - worrying about the snow, watching the snow, convinced that my plane to Raleigh-Durham would be cancelled, checking the Flight Status at periodic intervals - but it wasn't, and I was most impressed by the battery of de-icing trucks ranged against the NY skyline at Newark airport (I was also impressed, for that matter, by the fact that I was able to buy a copy of North and South at the airport bookstall ...).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

pink ribbon

The status of this ribbon rather mystifies me.   It's hanging in a tree at the side of the Rutgers carpark that's in front of my office - but I don't have a clue whether it's a hang-over from Breast Cancer Awareness month, or something to do with construction work, or some kind of tagging clue in a treasure hunt, or some mysterious symbol to do with some fraternity or sorority ritual (for this is Union Street, where a substantial number of these institutions maintain their houses).   There's another one a little further down the street, but that doesn't further the argument one way or another.   For that matter, the trees on Voorhees Mall all seem to have red ribbons tied round them - but is that simply a cheery demonstration of Rutgers red, or a show of strength in relation to AIDS awareness, or something else more obscure?   Enlightenment welcome.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

icon of Englishness

I really should have taken this into class today, when we were discussing Icons of Englishness.   Yes, it's just what you fear that it might be - a bar of Marmite flavored chocolate.   Marmite - for those of you who may not be familiar with it - is a peculiarly English substance, made of whatever yeasty substance is left from brewing beer, and a whole lot of salt.   When I went, once, into a huge bat-cave in Bali, I knew exactly what simile to employ for bat shit.   You spread Marmite on bread, or toast, or make it into sandwiches with cheese.   But putting it into chocolate?   

This was, of course, a Christmas present from my father.   But I can't quite bring myself to try it.   There are some very discouraging on-line reviews, and these made me look at the ingredients - what's truly peculiar is that the bar contains not just the promised, or threatened, Marmite, but onion powder, garlic powder, and celery.   Putting chocolate together with celery seems very peculiar indeed.

We didn't actually have any food in class today, though there was one teabag - of British Breakfast Tea, rightly introduced as a blend of all kinds of colonial relations - a teacup, and a Paddington Bear book, which was the item that really got me thinking - since Morgan, introducing it, spoke about it as a kind of allegory of Becoming English - even if the bear was from Darkest Peru, rather than Jamaica or Bombay, he certainly does learn how to assimilate along some very orthodox middle class lines ... I'm not sure how to analyse, though, his jar of marmalade ...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

ham and egg

This unbelievably depressing object was served up on a BA flight from Heathrow today.   At least "lunch" made a plausible effort at imitating "new British cuisine," offering roasted chicken with rosemary jus (!) and celeriac mashed potatoes.   But this ham and egg salad sandwich (not forgetting the limp lettuce leaf), but with no mustard of mayo in sight, was a horrible relict of English cuisine from the 1960s or 70s - at least, I think that's the last time that I actually consumed a sandwich like this, made of processed ham sitting damply between two slices of Mother's Pride white, o so white, bread.   The final touch is given by that flourish on the wrapping - "Enjoy."   Luckily - though it's barely visible here - this came accompanied by a two-bar Kit Kat.   The scary thing about it is that it's an all-too-perfect example of Real British Cuisine.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Misery memoirs

Teaching a course on Memory last semester, I remarked, when we arrived at a session on Memoir, how prevalent the vogue for Misery Memoirs had been over the last ten or fifteen years - stories of overcoming drug abuse, sexual abuse, over-eating, under-eating, poverty, dysfunctional familes, etc - and how I wish I'd taken an illustrative slide of a section in Wimbledon's W. H. Smiths.   Now I've remedied that!   And how happy I am (after enduring *Eat Pray Love* on the plane over, albeit without sound) to see both of Elizabeth Gilbert's memoirs filed in this category, and Alan Clark's diaries - Clark, the maverick adulterous politically incorrect Tory MP of the 1980s ... I'm not quite sure how to read the juxtaposition of signage, but there must be a way ...

Sunday, January 16, 2011


If only one could take pictures of smells ... the smell that was seeping through the house this morning was one of marmalade cooking: an annual ritual in which my father hurls himself on the Seville oranges that are in season (do we get these in the US, he was asking?) and makes several batches of marmalade - enough to last the year.   Only I haven't been in the house at marmalade time for the last decade or so, which meant that it was a very nostalgic smell.   Here he is crushing some kind of pulp through a sieve in the sink with a wooden spoon, before turning back and re-amalgamating it into the simmering mixture.   I'm not quite sure that today's batch quite worked out as planned - he filled two large stone jars with the stuff, and half of what looked like a small goldfish bowl (but was probably a flower bowl of some kind) - which, this evening, he turned upside down, and it didn't budge.   That's a suspiciously solid consistency, even for thick chunky marmalade.

I'm especially pleased with the lighting of this - it looks like one of those pictures in which the photographer has studiously modelled his or her style on Vermeer's paintings - Tom Hunter's "Persons Unknown" series, say - yet wasn't remotely posed, apart from my shuffling around to get the line of light right.

Alas, I've never liked marmalade - except the smell of it, cooking.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Oxford is very full of ghosts for me - some of them good; some not at all so - and I go back with a certain amount of reluctance, and great apprehension that something - or more likely someone - is going to appear round a corner at any moment. In fact, the experience of walking round is much more like being a ghost: one sees a familiar figure, smiles, and they pass on their way.   An unexpected presence, I'm invisible.   Happily, that didn't happen today - meeting Dinah by design, and with much pleasure - and encountering only other generic ghosts, of students glimpsed through a window in their rooms sticking up post cards with blu-tac; of others trailing back into their colleges with plastic bags from Sainsbury's.   And cell phones - none of those in my time as a student, of course, which emphasises the whole generational thing.   Truly, no longer teaching there, I find it a bit creepy.

But this afternoon, as dusk was coming down (though it was such a dank grey day it was hard to tell where day ended and something darker began), I was walking down Parks Road and met the Ghost Forest.   I'd missed it when it was in Trafalgar Square (let alone in Copenhagen) - but these twelve huge tree trunks and branches will lie on their plinths till next summer, as an installation inviting environmental awareness about the African rainforests that are being decimated.   This particular tree is the Wawa (hello, Lynn!) - which of course I thought was some Hiawatha-deriving goose that had transformed into a mid-Atlantic convenience and coffee store chain. My knowledge is now expanded, and for the record, it was such an exceptionally tough seed that it's an image of strength and resilience, which seems very suitable.   Here it's highlighted against the Ruskinian Gothic of the Pitt Rivers Museum - I'm not sure whether or not the window that Ruskin worked on is actually visible.

And here is another big tree trunk.

And here is a ghostly kind of bicycle.

And here is a kind of ghost of Oxford Past - behind window panes.   It would be a rephotography engagement with Fox Talbot's very early calotype of Queens College if it were a little further down - but it's not.

Friday, January 14, 2011

shepherd's delight

Red sky at night / shepherd's delight / red sky in the morning / shepherd's warning, or so I was brought up - though why shepherds should be more delighted with fine weather than anyone else I don't know.   Because they're outdoor a lot, watching their flocks by night, as the carol goes (or washing their socks, as we lamely used to sing at Junior School)?   In any case, it was great that it stopped raining at all.    I'm intrigued by how one might know this is an English sky (from my room): the particular combination of gnarled oak - I think it's a kind of oak - and badly pollarded ash trees?   Is there anything especially English about the clouds?   Sometimes I just look at a piece of countryside, or town, and think - o.k., does that carry with it national marks of identification?   And it almost always does, even if it's just the shape of an electric pylon or junction box or a way of doing brickwork.   But sky and trees?   I think I can feel the warning signs coming on of next semester's teaching - not the Material Fiction grad course, here, but "The Changing Face of England" - yes, yes, pun intended - my C20th/21st u/grad Brit Lit seminar: I'm warming up for Wednesday, and the whole question of national identity, today best epitomised by a Waitrose carpark in the rain.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Flowers. Ritual.


Bedroom windowsill.


Ah - the ritual post, on celebrating the presence of the ritual flowers.   The deep dull damp grey outside sets off their wintry colors of white and yellow pretty well - it's about the only thing that it's good for.   On the other hand, after yet another delayed flight - this one from DFW to LHR - I was just deeply glad to reach England, at last.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pony express

Ideally, I'd be on a plane at this moment, heading for Dallas/Fort Worth, en route for London.   I should, indeed, be on another plane heading in that direction later - that is, a 2nd rebooking, having once been re-routed via Chicago, and then having that reassessed because of weather up in Illinois.   Etc.   The (admittedly very helpful) personnel at the AA check-in desk say that if this plan doesn't work, I can always fly back to Albuquerque, and try again tomorrow.   I am too weary with snow-rearranged flights this season to contemplate the possibility ... or, for that matter, to cast around me for some suitable airport scene to sum up working here for a couple of hours (though it is, indeed, my favorite airport for work, given that there's free wi-fi and computer stations - just the company of loud guys on their cell phones buying and selling cheap shirts - "$26 - that's just too dear" - or plotting politics - "the last election - there were 267 of them - yes, each precinct - no, we can't do that, I don't think it would be legal").   Here's a tin horse, to symbolize speed in transportation better than a stationary plane would do - bought this summer, at La Posada, it's a great piece of folk / outsider art from a local craftsperson.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Slide boxes - dating from around 1966, then 1969-1974 - containing the strangest assortment of images.   This vacation, I've been scanning some in order to share them with my parents - most of the ones that I've resuscitated are of summer holidays on the Ile aux Moines, in Britanny, though some are older, and show, among other things, my mother with a quite scarily bad 1960s perm.   Of course, I wish (as I think I noted a few weeks back) that I'd taken many more of people, and many fewer of picture postcard views in Greece.

And then some are just weird.   No amount of Googling has yet revealed what film I was witnessing being shot in the big hole that was developing as they demolished Les Halles, in Paris, in 1973.   It seems to be a Western of some kind: hardly a spaghetti Western, in Paris - a moules Western, a coq au vin Western, perhaps?   In the background it looks like the American cavalry; in the foreground, Indian women and children being forced on the Long Walk, maybe?   But then ... are those army trucks part of the scene, or just parked there?   All guesses very welcome ...

Monday, January 10, 2011

powering away

It was a bleak cold morning in Arizona as we passed the Cholla Power Plant (which I've seen look more spectacular against the sky than this, but seldom more inhospitable).   It's a coal burning plant, burning coal from - from where?  Web sources say the McKinley mine in Northern NM, but different pieces of information say that this mine closed in 2009.   Whatever the origins of its fuel, it's busily producing electrical energy for California and Oregon - which is little consolation to the inhabitants of Arizona, or NM, who don't see so much as a kilowatt of it.   Supposedly those great clouds of emissions aren't toxic - and it's going to be retrofitted to comply with the Clean Air Act by 2020 (2020! I must remember to take another photo, to compare ...) - but what these statistics don't say is what a blot on the otherwise wild and barren and space-filled landscape it is.   Admittedly this isn't the most picturesque section of I-40, despite the Route 66 hang-overs.   Travelling eastwards, this is just past the sign for the Giant Jack Rabbit - which, made of pale grey concrete, isn't very Giant at all - not like this -


But the landscape, at least heading towards the Navajo reservation, isn't dissimilar, and the power station is a startling apparition.   That being said, I've become apprehensive recently about the environmental impact of windfarms, too - not because of their weird whirling and humming presence, but having read of the numbers of migrating birds who can get fatally caught up in them.    Nonetheless, and even if it's not actually on native soil, every time I pass this, I'm reminded of a photo by the Tuscarora artist and art historian Jolene Rickard, of a power plant where (thanks to subtle photo-collageing) buffalo are plunging and kicking in the clouds of smoke and steam, as though the fuels that are being burned up are going the same way as earlier occupants of the surface of the land.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Ah, The Standard tries to be so hip (and probably is host to many photographers who don't allow a shadow halo from their flash to appear in the picture - but that's neither here nor there).   Its multi-striped orange and grey blankets - echoed by grey and yellow and white wavy stripes on the wall - have the legend woven into them: "All people are multi-dimensional."    This allows for all kinds of interpretation: the obvious self-flattery over one's personal complexity; the adaptability necessary for all candidates on the job market; the ability of individuals to do yoga stretches on the bed and with their shoes on.   I have a quiver of conscience in that I assured Alice that I wasn't taking a picture - but that, truly, would have been a foolish thing to have believed.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

city of angels

Down by the Convention Center, there are a good number of angels adorning lamp-posts.   Probably I'll get tired with Hipstomatic shots soon - but they work very well in turning the glitzy neon atmosphere down there into something a little more ethereal and weird.   Not that the MLA counts as glitzy nor neon - but its surroundings do, in a cheesy sort of way, as one engages in the super-quick march from the Center to the J. W. Marriott, with a suicidal road crossing thrown in for good measure in the middle.   I think, given all the distances involved in moving from one room to another in this particular location, that I would have lost a good deal of weight this MLA, if I hadn't also bumped into rather too many glasses containing vodka and bits of fruit juice at other times.

It's very hard to locate any dominant theme among the largely late C19th and early C19th sessions that I've been to - a continued interest in the material, and its linkages to form; a continued interest in the implications of C19th technologies and media shifts - but nothing that's emerged as any new direction here.   John Plotz's paper gave me one of those imaginative jolts when one thought about William Morris looking at projected images of early typefaces / medieval manuscript lettering, blown up onto a large white screen, but although I know that will find its way into next semester's teaching, it didn't represent a paradigm shift.   Of course, I keep my ears open for mentions of flashes (telegraph flashes included).   But I have a bundle of order forms from the book fair, and sometimes I think that the very best part of MLA - apart from running into old friends for hasty 3-minutes updates on their lives - involves trawling all that new print.   It was one of the best MLAs I've ever been to - in the sense of truly enjoyable - though I don't know how much that has to do with anticipating actually living here in the City of Angels - and getting, at the same time, a rare chance to spend time walking around downtown, a part of the city that I normally swish through at some speed.

Friday, January 7, 2011


This isn't a row that I'll be sitting at, but it's a new MLA intervention - presumably to stop people tapping and clacking away during sessions and driving people crazy - though wouldn't that apply to anyone who was just taking notes on their computer?   Would they need to be banished to the back row, too?   There were two people in residence in that row in our divisional session on Old Media this morning (and an excellent session it was, too), but I don't know whether or not they blogged about it - nothing turns up from a quick google.   Maybe they Twittered - there seems to be a great deal of tweeting going on, which suggests to me whole flocks of people far better capable than I of summing up arguments, points, sessions, biases, and posing questions in the flick of a few opposable thumbs.   I'm not sure how such instant publishing of one's response affects how one actually listens - for me, it's hard - impossible - to imagine having the confidence to blast one's responses into the public sphere so quickly.

Next year I'll be organising a panel on Horror ... I'm not sure where that idea sprang from, but get thinking ...

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Tomorrow will be time to put the M back in front of LA - morning panel, etc etc.   But there was a good deal to do in the city today that didn't quite involve stepping inside the conference hotel, and that did include looking at the sunset down at Marina del Rey

- that is, post and prior socializing with various people.   It's impossible to deny the allure of Los Angeles sunsets (or, indeed, the city as a whole).   So, today, it's just pictures.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

corner - Winslow, Arizona

No, not that corner - that's about three blocks up - but a small, closed diner, that looks as though it's been closed a long time.   With the exception of our favorite Arizona hotel, La Posada, most of Winslow looks as though it's been closed a while - a once busy railroad town that still has plenty of long trains passing through (I counted ninety three cars on one, at breakfast, until it stopped ... goodness knows how much longer it trailed on for).   It was a brilliant, cold morning, with wonderful light for photographs - but unfortunately we had to hit the gas and skedaddle off quickly to LA and the MLA.   The Standard is a quite other world from downtown Winslow ...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

tourist snapshot

Driving west from Santa Fe, our lunch stop is usually the lay by that overlooks Laguna Pueblo (and lunch, for that matter, usually a frittata made from whatever bits of potato and onion and vegetable and cheese are in the fridge).    Today, a large mobile home pulled in behind us (maybe from Indiana - there seemed to be a number of such vehicles with Indiana plates today), and the occupants went to take the obligatory shot of the pueblo.   And then - the man posed with a large black furry stuffed toy against the same backdrop.   Unfortunately - or maybe not, since the style seems to have worked quite well - my nearest camera was the iPhone (Hipstamatic set, I think, to the Holga camera setting and the "Float" film), and indeed, I just flourished it vaguely and hopefully in their direction, as though getting out of the car to check my email.   They were, of course, ideal subjects for Arbus, had she happened to be passing: I completely lacked the courage to extract the Nikon, engage them in conversation, and shoot away.

All of this is, of course, a million miles away - well, o.k., about 500 miles away, at this point - from the MLA.   

Monday, January 3, 2011

quails in winter

These are just a pair from the flock that descended today on the ground underneath our bird feeder, scratching around for seeds like barnyard fowl, but all bunched together in a speckled, feathered mass.   These two appear to have rather genteel mohicans.

I can't possibly make any easy transition from them to Diane Arbus's mid-1960s images, which are what I've been reading about - happily I've hit the moment when she didn't go anywhere without her flash, firing it off (and getting complaints) in people's faces on buses and in the street.   What I hadn't known was that not only did she become inspired by Weegee's style, but she actually on at least one occasion had travelled with him in his car, with its radio tuned to the police responder channel - and so that makes a great transition for my chapter on photography and exposure.   I think that she would (and with justification) have found a couple of quails remarkably sedate.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

what the camera sees

By way of experimenting, I tried photographing at ground level today - not lying stretched out on the snowy driveway, but bending down with the camera in the snow, and pressing the shutter without any idea what would come out.   Of course, some of the results were clear and focused and technically fine - see below - but I rather preferred the ones where I was doing what one can't actually do with the viewfinder to one's eye - looking straight at the sun.

Even though the digital camera can't record, necessarily, anything brighter than pure, clear white, it's striking how unbearably glare-like this sun appears.   I was looking today at various paintings of St Paul on the road to Damascus - blinded by the light (yes, that is where Springsteen took that line from) and of course not really illuminated by the flash - not until Ananias healed him (and set him on his way to write various misogynist texts, though that's another story).   But it has come to stand for the prototype of divine light flashing down in order to make a spiritual intervention - and it's notable how few painters really show it as painfully bright, enough to fell a man.   The best, so far, is Caravaggio's version, who quite sensibly doesn't show the heavens lighting up at all, but instead depicts Saul/Paul writhing around on the ground in the full blast of God's bright rays (the horse seems fairly unperturbed, though may be about to put his hoof heavily down on him and make things even more painful).

I very much like the idea of the autonomous camera - the anonymous lens - leaving it to do its own business and then see what turns up when cold grasses turn into magical forests.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

birthday cake

Doesn't everyone buy or bake their blog a birthday cake?   Happy 2nd birthday, FTBL!   (when someone referred to it thus in an email, it took me a long while to work out that this wasn't some abbreviation referring to my strange compulsion to watch Rutgers' football team being beaten yet again - at least this year we've been spared trekking through the cold southwestern weather to an empty sports bar in order to watch some minor bowl being contested).  

A year ago, I wondered whether I could, really, continue for another year, and yet knew I couldn't quite stop.   Two years in - I think I'm not quite as maniacally distressed if I can't post absolutely on time (viz last night's power cut) but have, in fact, done so about three hundred and sixty days of this year, with a few straggling numbers.   It's been an odd year from the point of view of writing, since I've not been teaching a photography course (nor will I be, again, till the spring of '12), nor doing as much photography research as I would have like - even if the Flash! book has gathered steam again, most of this year has - academically speaking - been devoted to dragging the Victorian volume of the New Cambridge History of English Literature to what are now, I hope, the last wheezing gasps of the copyediting stage - and whilst that will be most satisfactory when it is, say, in proof, it's hardly conducive to musings about the visual.   Only the "Memory" course that I taught this last semester has really forced its intellectual way into this space, and that, perhaps, not as often as it might have done.

And when it comes to photography - my only real advancement has been falling in love with alternative processes, especially albumen printing, which has hardly found its way here.

And what I have learned, is that although in some ways this reads like a journal, a meditation, a more or less style-polished-on-a-good-day piece of writing; a piece of writing that usually reads as personal, rather than otherwise - I rarely let rip on the political stuff that I talk about in real life, despite the maulings of Higher Education at the hands of New Jersey - and other states - and the new, far from glittering British coalition.   But then, nor do I talk much about the truly personal - chairing the department for half the year?  Not chairing the department for the other half of the year?   Going through the whole anguished business of whether to accept a new job or not, complete with all the tussles of loyalty involved?   All of this seems to have been channelled around, or through, a few cryptic remarks (though I know I have readers out there skilled at reading between the lines), and via the ongoing (well, stalled) saga of trying to sell the house.   Curiously, in all of this, I think I've learned something about the emphases and evasions of memoir writing, let alone the blogging challenges of writing for a largely unknown audience - yet one that's simultaneously private  - in that it includes family and close friends - and public at unsuspecting moments (when being introduced as a plenary speaker, I've found my introducer can know a good deal more about my life than I'd bargained for).   Of course,  by and large, everything that goes up here is Public.

So thank you, loyal readers - and thank you for putting up with the busy days when, at 10.30 at night, all I can find is a drooping flower or a kitty with luminous eyes, and can barely stutter out a sentence or two of commentary.    It's fun, even when it's hard work; it takes me out of myself - sometimes when I most need it - and I'm heading into Year 3.