The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research appears to be an interesting model for higher/further/continuing adutl education. I’ll keep my ears open to hear more about this, especially if it spreads (rhizomatically?) to the UK.

Commander Dave continues to take blogging (particularly Tinderblogging) (no, not that Tinder) seriously, where we read about his column in the Jacksonville Times-Union (when online media take over entirely the domain of jouranilstic communication, we will lose such grand names as ‘the Times-Union’ or ‘the Herald American,’ which I’ll feel as a significant loss) exhorting local politicians to take their office as a meaningful opportunity to make of their lives more than just self-indulgence or marking time. Dave’s recent observations about ‘meaning’ interact provocatively with my own thoughts, so it’s particularly cool to be blogging on parallel tracks alongside (as it were) him. (Sorry for all the parentheses.)

Speaking of Dvae, a few weeks ago, Dave had something to say about a historic divergence he and I had about Joseph Campbell that rang a bell with my experience of working in biblical studies. In a draft of a post I called ‘The Limits of Good Ideas’, I wrote:

‘In biblical studies, we run into this [I no longer remember what ‘this’ referred to — these are notes from long ago] all the time. Prof. Reputable reads up a little on cheese theory, perceives a way it illuminates source criticism of the Hebrew Bible, and publishes a series of articles (soon compiled into a book, or vice versa a monograph distributed into a half dozen essays) on Cheese Theory and the Bible and pretty soon half of Reputable’s friends have formed the Cheese Theory and the Bible group at the SBL, a coterie of eager grad students have begun publishing applications of cheese theory to various biblical textual units, and a rival school of cheese theory advocates has formed. All the while, nobody has noticed that cheese theory has been thoughtfully redefined, or even debunked outright, within dairy scholarship. Biblical cheese theory outlasts dairy cheese theory by long years.’

I’m not quite sure why, but at the time I thought this was probably related to, but was not strictly the same as, the difference Dave and I had over Joseph Campbell — not that I think nothing that came out of Campbell’s pen was any good, nor that Dave venerates Campbell, but that each of us perceives different patterns of limits to the value of what he proposed. Not just different limits, but different patterns of limits. As I always say, this is just what we should expect — Dave and I have different histories, different general convictions about the world, and so on. (I was going to write that we couldn’t be much more different, but that was so egregiously false that I was embarrassed even to have thought it.) Arguments involve simple opposite claims: ‘The 2020 US election was secure and above-board’ vs. ‘The election was stolen from the rightfully elected Donald Trump’. More of the time, disagreements involve a lot of agreement, with different patterns of qualifications, limits, and weights accorded to points about which we agree. If PBS were to bankroll one of those ‘two old white guys reflecting on a topic in a way that makes them seem especially sage’ video series, we’d probably elicit from me some grudging concessions about things Campbell wasn’t entirely wrong about. Maybe. But the biggest divergences between Dave and me would be, I suspect, the way we arrange, weight, qualify claims about myth and folklore and the role of Campbell.

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