All posts by AKMA

No Pain, No Wordcount

The weekend has passed with a certain amount of writing stress, but I think I’ve pretty much settled the hash of my paper entitled “René Magritte, Krazy Kat, and Truth in Interpretation,” which I’ll test-drive on Tuesday for some Princeton Seminary students with an interest in Emergent Church, and will offer in final form to the Society of Anlgican and Lutheran Theologians on Thursday. I’ll post a synopsis of it here tomorrow, deo volente, with a link to a PDF of the full text.

When Did That Happen?

Last night, Margaret and I went into New York to visit with Joi and a couple dozen of his other friends; we had a fantastic time, and Joi caught a lovely contemplative photo of Margaret (in extremely low light), plus a shot in which she’s giving him a quizzical smile, and a better-than-real-life picture of me (which he’s already added to the Wikipedia page about me), plus one in which I look a little glazed (the spotlight over my head adds an interesting element to that one).

But the topic I wanted to discuss was The Roots, of whose act we caught a few minutes. I had listened to Game Theory when Nate urged me to check it out, and I noted it as a noteworthy example of strong hiphop. But mercy sakes, last night they rocked, hard and tight. They played “Don’t Feel Right” and another song I didn’t recognize, and in between an amazing cover of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War.” I’m revisiting Game Theory now, but if someone knows of cuts where their capacity to display the terrific ensemble playing and hard rocking they showed live, I’d be all over it.

[Later: Last night, Jackson Browne opened his mini-set by playing “World In Motion” (brave man, to cover Pops Staples!) — and today, Pops’s original version showed up in my shuffled playlist of roughly 13,000 songs for the first time in months. I’m just saying. . . .

Still later: And the joke’s on me, because it’s Pops Staples who covered Jackson Browne’s original!]
Continue reading When Did That Happen?

Adiumache

I’m just not going to upgrade Adium again for a long time. After the last time, I threw out my whole Keychain and started fresh, which solved the slowdown I experienced when I last upgraded (though it meant re-entering all my passwords). Yesterday the “upgrade” option popped up again, and like a good doobee I hit the “upgrade and install” button.

Blammo! The same again — massive slowdowns across the board while Adium and the Keychain work out their interaction. Oddly, they don’t overload the processor; the system load drops to almost nothing while Adium negotiates its access to the Keychain, but all processes go at a snail’s pace. Once Adium gets happy, everything returns to normal. But this is much too big an annoyance to put up with more than once in a great while, and if I didn’t have a bunch of friends using incompatible messaging protocols, I’d just go back to iChat.
Continue reading Adiumache

Linkcheck

It’s a little bit of a shame that the phrase “link check” or the compound “linkcheck” has been appropriated by the (very sensible) endeavor of making sure that one’s hyperlinks are well-formed and current. I appreciate valid linking as much as the next person, but I was hoping I could coin the term to apply to what Jordon calls “contextless links,” or for the inclination to make explicit reference to other online writers when the occasion presents itself (by analogy to “namecheck”).

Anyway, I wanted to linkcheck Scott McLemee’s review (which points to the New York Magazine review) of Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read. The reviews and the book itself sound partly right, partly elliptically determined by an unspeakable aversion to saying directly what they’re trying to get at.

And this morning’s Dilbert cartoon captures the thought that more than once has flashed through my mind when I heard someone enthuse about “innovation.”
Continue reading Linkcheck

Is That Good or Bad?

Somehow I suspect that there’s an implicit judgment of obscurity and pretension lurking in the assessment, but the “Blog Reading Level” site suggests that I make it pretty demanding on visitors here:

Tough Sledding

If you go to their site to try your own blog out and then paste in their medallion, you may want to edit the HTML they supply to omit the link that seems to point to an online loan shark.

Meaning as Expression-Apprehension

In a comment over at Gift Hub I suggested that the activity of “meaning” is less like “putting a birthday present for Margaret into a box” and more like “gambling that an audience will receive an expression in the way that one hopes.” There’s been some illuminating discussion there (and Phil added a subsequent post also). As I scour the world for Krazy Kat support (trying to track down a finer copy of this image from July 14, 1918), I’m turning this interpretive model over and over, trying to figure out whether I want to venture it as a reference point for my upcoming paper.

Notion

I’m aware that some scholars have suggested that the stories about Jesus were arranged to fit parallels in Scripture (the Old Testament) for the synagogal lectionary cycle; that always seemed too much of a stretch to me. But this morning it occurred to me that the pattern of Jesus’ career might — whether out of a literary theology, or a divine salvation-historical typology — be set out to correspond to the festal year. Certainly the gospels make a great deal of Jesus’ death at the Passover; Luke emphasizes the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. The eschatological tribulations and renewal of the world cohere with atonement and new year. The cultic language of “first-fruits” resonates with the sacral year.

The gospels don’t seem to associate Jesus’ birth with any distinct holy day (the dating of Christmas near Hannukah is later). Are there additional data that might harmonize other moments in the messianic plot line with holy days from Scripture?

The Big Question

In an interview David Simon, with the writer behind The Wire (which I’ve never seen, but may have to catch up on via DVD, along with Buffy), the interviewer asks, “How do you distinguish between the good and the mediocre?” As Pippa and her god-sisters Monica and Emily used to say, “Bing bing bing bing bing!”

Simon answers the question relative to a newspaper’s journalistic mission (the topic about which he and the interviewer were talking).

You see these sort of ‘we gotcha’ stories, bite sized morsels of outrage, half-assed scandals. No one is tackling big problems. That kind of ambition is gone. When I went into journalism school, which is over 20 years ago now, high end journalism seemed like it was growing by leaps and bounds in its ability to assess the most delicate and ornate contradictions in society. . . .
What happened to the people who are supposed to be sounding the alarm? While the unions die, while the jobs disappear, while the political infrastructure dispatches one reformer after another, while the police department and the school system and every other agency create systems to deny the obvious – that they’re not doing their jobs anymore – while all this is happening, what was the external monitor doing and paying attention to?

It’s good to see Simon calling attention to the corrosive effects of profitable cultural mediocrity; now I’ll spend a few minutes thinking over how this plays out in church and academy. [Link from the estimable Doc Searls.]

Paging Dr. Bechtel!

I heard a rumor that Trevor successfully defended his dissertation at Loyola last week. While we await the official conferral of the degree, we toast a distinguished scholar and wonderful friend — three cheers, Trevor!

Initials, Pro and Con

Dorothea lets off some steam directed at disciplines, journals, conferences, and authors who present their names by initials followed by last name. She has some advice for them all: “DON’T.”

I’m piqued to note this today, because my credential badge for the annual SBL meeting arrived the other day, and it read “Andrew Adam.” Now, when I filled in the forms for registration, I typed “A. K. M. Adam,” and when the forms reviewed all the data in order to confirm it, the forms all showed “A. K. M. Adam.” The confirmation email said my badge information would read “A. K. M. Adam.” (I’d upload a screenshot of it, if anyone cared.) This is important because every book I’ve written, every article I’ve written, every book review I’ve published, my whole professional life has borne the label “A. K. M. Adam.” There are few enough people who read and note my stuff, that when one of them meets me, I want them to know I’m that guy.

Nothing against the name “Andrew” —I like it very much. It doesn’t, however, communicate that “the bearer of this nametag is the person whose books you may have read, who’s appearing in several conference sessions, whom you know to work at Seabury-Western.” And with due respect to Dorothea (and “due” = “a whole lot”), I don’t want disciplines, journals, conferences, or registration bots to start unilaterally altering my self-presentation — whether contracting “Ermintrude Regisphilbin Wattbottom” to “E. R.,” or assigning me an unrequested “Andrew.” Initials: maybe, maybe not; consistency and consideration, absolutely.

Ugh

I’m leaving long comments in various other places online, and I need to nail down the “Krazy Kat” part of my presentation today (and it’s not cooperating; I think I may have erred in promising to include Herriman in my talk, I think this particular train of thought doesn’t stop at the Coconino County station, and I’ll be throwing the flow off by incorporating him), so i’ll just note that a Verizon-functional gPhone sounds sweet to me, and then will hunker down and try to squeeze out another thousand words.