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Writing well is the best revenge

Guest post by Sprezzatura

So you’ve heard that I was canned by The New Republic.  But you haven’t heard the whole story.

The real deal is this:  I was fired for being more clever, more creative, and more incisive than anybody else working for the magazine.  So I made up a “sock” “puppet.” So what?  For one thing, it wasn’t a very elaborate disguise.  “Sprezzatura,” as you probably don’t know if you’re a mindless Jon Stewart fan, is a term from Baldassare Castiglione’s The Courtier (1528), and it means “effortless grace,” the courtier’s most important attribute.  Sprezzatura is all about doing things brilliantly . . . and with no obvious effort.  That’s the way I write.  So when the Herpetofascists of the liberal blogosphere cry, in their hollow, self-flattering “triumph,” “‘Sprezzatura’ is really Lee Siegel,” I say, “exactly so.  That is what I have been telling you all along.”

For another thing, I didn’t write a single false word.  For instance, on August 27 I wrote,

I’m a huge fan of Siegel, been reading him since he started writing for TNR almost ten years ago.

And pardon me, but has a truer sentence been uttered since the emergence of human languages?  This is not Stephen Glass or Ruth Shalit material, people.  This is raw honesty, the real deal—just what readers like me love most about my writing.  As I pointed out in the same comment,

I ask myself: why is it the young guys who go after Siegel? Must be because he writes the way young guys should be writing: angry, independent, not afraid of offending powerful people. They on the other hand write like aging careerists: timid, ingratiating, careful not to offend people who are powerful. They hate him because they want to write like him but can’t. Maybe if they’d let themselves go and write truthfully, they’d get Leon Wieseltier to notice them too.

Again, what’s wrong with any of this?  I do write the way young guys should.  Even I say so, and I should know.

It’s not like I beat around the bush.  I was straight up and straightforward, and I wasn’t afraid to call ‘em like I saw ‘em.  I’ve been consistent and steadfast throughout.  Even back in February I was writing,

Siegel is my hero. . . .  Siegel is brave, brilliant, and wittier than [Jon] Stewart will ever be.

I’ll say it again today: Siegel is my hero.  He was writing bravely and brilliantly and wittily while you were still worrying about whether it was safe to walk around the Upper West Side at night.  What’s to apologize for?  What’s to retract?

All right, I did say, when provoked beyond endurance by one moronic commenter,

I’m not Lee Siegel, you imbecile. If you knew who I was you and your n + 1 buddies would crap in your pants.

And I suppose the first sentence isn’t exactly true.  But I was being ironic and self-effacing—two things you wouldn’t know anything about if you listen to that pompous Jon Stewart blowhard.

So the herd of independent minds at The New Republic sent me packing.  I’m not surprised.  It’s a simple law of writer physics: the star that shines twice as brightly gets fired first.  Foer and Chait and Judis and the rest got tired of being outshone, so now they can have their tiny little firmament all to themselves.  So be it.  I’m still my hero, and I’m still my biggest fan.

UPDATE:  If I were you I’d check out my terrific new blog.  H/T Blogogoebbels.

Posted by on 09/02 at 03:40 PM
  1. This is a terrific post.  You said exactly what I was thinking but phrased it much more elegantly and graciously than I ever could. Thank you so much for writing it!

    Posted by  on  09/02  at  05:18 PM
  2. ... and I’m still my biggest fan, and I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people I like me.

    And speaking of Internet deceptions:
    What I want to know is: Who the hell wrote this this post? Since the real Michael Berube is surely sitting out in the drizzly 50-degree remnants of Ernesto supporting his team and coach in the critical Akron game.

    Posted by  on  09/02  at  05:18 PM
  3. That I am, JP!  And I hope the Fighting Irish were watching when Morelli tossed that 42-yarder to Butler.  In the rain, no less.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/02  at  05:27 PM
  4. Well, I know Lee Siegel didn’t write it and I certainly didn’t write it - I’ve been busy over on my own brand new blog all day. I am certainly not so clueless about blogging and the Internet to write a guest post and leave out a link to my own blog. ... But I must say, that despite getting my true identity wrong, I like the way this other me writes. I He must live on the Upper West Side - I’m He’s no cornpone, that’s for sure.

    Posted by  on  09/02  at  06:10 PM
  5. OK, now I’m really confused.

    Posted by  on  09/02  at  06:21 PM
  6. Hilarious

    Posted by  on  09/02  at  06:32 PM
  7. Comment #1 over at majikthise is now officially Best Comment Ever. 
    Just noting it for the record.

    Posted by jre  on  09/02  at  07:25 PM
  8. "Sprezzatura” does not mean “effortless grace.” It means: “grace that appears effortless but is actually the result of a lifetime of hard work and practice.”

    Poseur.

    Posted by  on  09/02  at  07:59 PM
  9. Quite right, Lee.  Once again, you’re the best.

    Posted by  on  09/02  at  09:06 PM
  10. That’s a pretty damn good comment, jre.  I always thought that Mary Rosh was a sharp one myself.

    Nice to see Uma Thurman turn up in that comments section, too.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/02  at  09:20 PM
  11. You know, I have been trying all day to place the tone of the “sweaty, obsequious” blah blah about Klein, and I finally got it- he’s aping the asexual, effete Clifton Webb from Laura.  I could see Siegel telling his beloved audience, whom he’s about to attempt to murder in a fit of possessive rage “don’t you know a dame got a fox fur out of him?  Can you not imagine the sweaty, common pawing (and obsequious) of a common blogger?”

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  09/02  at  09:51 PM
  12. Imagine how beautiful and successful Klein would have been if Lee had taken him under his well-bred wing-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoQIBUvZQS8

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  09/02  at  09:56 PM
  13. I’m a huge fan of Siegel, been reading him since he started writing for TNR almost ten years ago. (Full disclosure: I’m an editor at a magazine in NYC and he’s written for me too.)

    I watch the goings-on and have to scratch my head. The people who hate him the most are all in their twenties and early thirties. There’s this awful suck-up named Ezra Klein--his “writing” is sweaty with panting obsequious ambition--who keeps distorting everything Siegel writes--the only way this no-talent can get him. And I ask myself: why is it the young guys who go after Siegel? Must be because he writes the way young guys should be writing: angry, independent, not afraid of offending powerful people. They on the other hand write like aging careerists: timid, ingratiating, careful not to offend people who are powerful. They hate him because they want to write like him but can’t.

    Maybe if they’d let themselves go and write truthfully, they’d get Leon Wieseltier to notice them too.

    Posted by  on  09/02  at  11:58 PM
  14. Let me join in the fulsome praise of Lee Siegel. He is my god. And we’re practically neighbors! I’m only a couple of islands away!!
    We’re having too much fun, and it makes these young folks so mad who can’t live in Hawaii but must live in cold and dreary places. And who have to slave away at crappy jobs while we swim and frolic in the sea.
    Ha ha!

    Posted by Hattie  on  09/03  at  04:09 AM
  15. A great bellows that puffs up— and makes emptier.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  09:01 AM
  16. Clarence Carter . . Clarence Carter . . Clarence Carter

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  09:31 AM
  17. Makes me think that we college profs are rather stupider than even our students believe.  We sit around and complain about ratemyprofessors.com--but how many of us are actually getting out of our funk, creating “sock puppets,” and improving our ratings?

    Hmm?

    Posted by Aaron Barlow  on  09/03  at  10:13 AM
  18. In honor of our guest host:
    An Arbitrary But Childish Holiday Weekend subthread.
    Sprezzatura’s favorite songs

    From when it was working:
    I Touch Myself - Divinyls - “When I think of me you, I touch myself”
    Hot for Tutor Teacher - Van Halen
    I’m 2 Sexy - Right Said Fred - ”I’m He’s ... nevermind.
    Take the A Train - Duke Ellington

    But now that the gig is up, Tyler Durden the Sprezzster is probably having some existential concerns:
    Don’t You (Forget About Me) - Simple Minds
    Without You - Harry Nilsson

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  10:56 AM
  19. Without youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. I can’t live anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  09/03  at  11:54 AM
  20. We sit around and complain about ratemyprofessors.com—but how many of us are actually getting out of our funk, creating “sock puppets,” and improving our ratings?

    Well, Aaron, the problem is that the sock puppets today just don’t listen.  Back when I was young, sock puppets looked up to you, they respected you, they did their homework on time, they paid attention.  Now they spend all their time “instant messaging” each other and playing Game Cube.  The decline of the American sock puppet is one of the tragedies of our civilization.  I blame the sixties.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/03  at  11:57 AM
  21. Aaron and Michael, you are getting into dangerous territory here.

    The first rule of Sock Puppet Club is - you do not talk about Sock Puppet Club. The second rule of Sock Puppet Club is - you DO NOT talk about Sock Puppet Club.

    Posted by I am Jack's Utter Bewilderment  on  09/03  at  12:39 PM
  22. I must correct my earlier posting. Lee Siegel is not my god.
    He is God.

    Posted by Hattie  on  09/03  at  12:48 PM
  23. I’m a huge Bérubé fan, been reading him since he started this blog back in 1985.  And I can tell you that he’s no stranger to dangerous territory.  His home address is Dangerous Territory, U.S.A., and he holds an advanced degree in Dangeral Studies.  To get to his office hours you have to take the Highway to the Danger Zone.

    So, anonymous commenter 21, I am who I am.  Who are you?

    Posted by spitzatura  on  09/03  at  01:33 PM
  24. Sock puppetry is a serious charge, one that should not be bandied about with the frivolity I’ve seen here.  Nowhere does the New Republic say that sprezzatura is Lee Siegel.  What Franklin Foer does say is that sprezzatura’s comments “were produced with Siegel’s participation.” I would liken this to the concert ”Eric Clapton with the Special Participation of Phil Collins” (1986).  Surely no one would claim that Phill Collins sang and played guitar in Clapton’s stead.

    Posted by J—  on  09/03  at  02:02 PM
  25. Eric Clapton is God.

    Posted by Phil Collins  on  09/03  at  02:09 PM
  26. I am who I am
    I know you are. But what am I?

    Who are you
    Re: #18 - Good one. That works.

    Posted by OK, I'm scared. You win. Uncle.  on  09/03  at  04:07 PM
  27. Actually, sock puppetry is a minor infraction.  (There might even be some on this very thread!) Sock puppetry that consists largely of fulsome self-praise is teh funny and should be met with ridicule and raillery.  But what Siegel tried to do to Ezra Klein was simply despicable, and deserves every kind of opprobrium.  For that he should be cast into the lowest circle of the Hungarian Pastry Shop on 111th and Amsterdam, there to fulminate over espresso about the artistic integrity and brilliance of (a) Eyes Wide Shut and (b) his own oeuvre to whomever will listen. 

    Posted by Michael  on  09/03  at  04:29 PM
  28. Has anyone consulted Lamb Chop on this sock puppet thing?

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/03  at  07:37 PM
  29. One Sock Puppet
    (with apologies to Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller)

    One early mornin’, as I was bloggin’
    I read a posting, a damn fool talkin’
    I then responded, got in a few cuts,
    But all I had was a sock puppet
    One sock puppet was the cause of it all.

    I don’t remember just how it started,
    I only know that we should have parted.
    I stole a name, and then another.
    I didn’t mean to take it further.
    One sock puppet was the cause of it all.

    The lights were burning low, there in the parlor,
    When through the kitchen door, up popped my editor.
    He said ‘I saw you when you posted that slander.
    Better leave right now, or face my anger!’

    I didn’t know just what I was doin’
    I had to leave and now face ruin.
    A sock puppet, a sock puppet,
    A sock puppet, a sock puppet,
    One sock puppet was the cause of it all.

    Now, I don’t want to bore you with my troubles
    But from now on I’ll be thinkin’ double.
    I’m through with flirtin’ and drinkin’ whiskey.
    I got six sock puppets from a-gettin’ frisky.
    A sock puppet, a sock puppet,
    A sock puppet, a sock puppet,
    One mint julep was the cause of it all.

    Posted by Aaron Barlow  on  09/03  at  07:42 PM
  30. No seriously, kids.  Watch that clip I posted upthread.  Lee Siegel is Clifton Webb in Laura. He probably writes his screeds from an antique bathtub.  In fact, just go watch the film.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  09/03  at  08:20 PM
  31. I’m truly surprised.  It’s been known for months now that Mr. Siegel convieniently aquired an “alternate” personality to write the adoring silly comments.  I’m surprised the TNR didn’t rush him to a non licensed therapist specializing in integrating sock puppets, rather than suspend him

    I would have thought that the readers and writers of this blog would have been much more sensitive to a poor fool with obvious DID.
    /satire

    Posted by imfunnytoo  on  09/03  at  08:36 PM
  32. The most beautiful sound I ever heard:
    Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel,
    Lee Siegel.
    All the beautiful sounds of the world in a pair of
    words:
    Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel, Lee Siegel.
    Lee Siegel, I’ve just read a guy named Lee Siegel,
    and
    suddenly the name will never be the same to me.
    Lee Siegel!
    I’ve just read a guy named Lee Siegel.
    And suddenly
    I’ve found how wonderful a sound can be.
    Lee Siegel, say it
    loud and there’s music playing.
    Say it soft and
    it’s almost like praying,
    Lee Siegel, I never stop saying:
    “Lee Siegel!”

    ______________

    Brand new post!
    Brand new post, gonna treat you great!
    Gonna give you laurels, fully fulsome kudos,
    backup fer yer prattle,
    Sign ‘em with some pseudos!
    Planted in the comments where the blogomeanies loom,
    Plen’y of air and plen’y of room,
    Plen’y of room to swing a cat!
    Plen’y of yermama and plen’y of scat.
    Sprezzatura backing Lee comes sweepin’ down the post
    And his scornful bleat can sure sound sweet
    When his praise stands right behind the host.
    Sprezzatura,
    Ev’ry night my honey Lee and I
    Sit alone and talk our sock puppet talk
    Makin’ joyful noises by and by.
    We know it belongs to our hand
    And the hand it belong to is grand!
    And when we say
    Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
    We’re only sayin’
    You’re doin’ fine,
    Sprezzatura!
    Sprezzatura O.K.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  10:55 PM
  33. Is that a puppet in your sock, or are you just glad to post?

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  11:17 PM
  34. On the internets, A tube sock is the preferred puppetry device.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  11:19 PM
  35. Michael, way OT, but I left an apology to you on Pandagon.  I hope you forgive my thoughtlessness…

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  01:55 AM
  36. The real Lee Siegel has finally spoken with a member of the non-fascist (ahem) media:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/9/4/1407/27656

    It was all a prank, don’t you see?

    Posted by Hudson  on  09/04  at  02:24 AM
  37. Sorry to interrupt the extraordinary (and extraordinarily entertaining) conventicle of sockpuppets, pseudo-sockpuppets, lip-synching musical theater parodists, and the like (of which I am most certainly one), with a semi-serious point, but....

    Ezra Klein in his interesting and sensible Coda on Siegel notes that during the whole Zengerle fiasco—which, despite its poorly sourced hysteria, was far, far from the silliest or least reality-based thing printed in TNR in recent years—he “attacked Jason’s speculations but worked to defend TNR the institution, begging folks not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

    In this case the baby is the bathwater, and has been pretty much since it was purchased by its current Editor-in-Chief in 1975.

    For the last thirty years, progressives—among both contributors and readers—have been steadily deserting this sinking ship.  Like the particular moment that an Old Leftist decided to leave the CPUSA, when a person stopped taking (or looking at or even giving a shit about) TNR says something about him or her.

    Here’s hoping that Ezra Klein won’t end up rhetorically going down with this ship.

    (Captcha: “plant")

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  03:08 AM
  38. Surely Falling in love with myself again by Sparks on Kimono My House would be a favorite song.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  03:41 AM
  39. What Pinko Punko said in comment 30.  The clip really is strangely on target.

    Peter Ramus, thank you so much for the lovely lyrics—or wait a minute—are you really one of Sondheim’s or Hammerstein’s sock puppets?

    Bruce, Ezra’s 22.  He’s allowed to make the mistake of defending TNR the institution.  He learns quickly, this kid.  And his coda on Siegel was pretty gracious, under the circumstances.

    And MikeEss, thanks!  I’ve replied chez Amanda.  No forgiveness necessary—we’re cool.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/04  at  07:33 AM
  40. Did some motivational counsellor at a Napa weekend give you that definition of “sprezzatura”?

    Chi adunque vorrà esser bon discipulo, oltre al far le cose bene, sempre ha da metter ogni diligenzia per assimigliarsi al maestro e, se possibil fosse, transformarsi in lui. E quando già si sente aver fatto profitto, giova molto veder diversi omini di tal professione e, governandosi con quel bon giudicio che sempre gli ha da esser guida, andar scegliendo or da un or da un altro varie cose. E come la pecchia ne’ verdi prati sempre tra l’erbe va carpendo i fiori, cosí il nostro cortegiano averà da rubare questa grazia da que’ che a lui parerà che la tenghino e da ciascun quella parte che piú sarà laudevole; e non far come un amico nostro, che voi tutti conoscete, che si pensava esser molto simile al re Ferrando minore d’Aragona, né in altro avea posto cura d’imitarlo, che nel spesso alzare il capo, torzendo una parte della bocca, il qual costume il re avea contratto cosí da infirmità. E di questi molti si ritrovano, che pensan far assai, pur che sian simili a un grand’omo in qualche cosa; e spesso si appigliano a quella che in colui è sola viciosa. Ma avendo io già piú volte pensato meco onde nasca questa grazia, lasciando quelli che dalle stelle l’hanno, trovo una regula universalissima, la qual mi par valer circa questo in tutte le cose umane che si facciano o dicano piú che alcuna altra, e ciò è fuggir quanto piú si po, e come un asperissimo e pericoloso scoglio, la affettazione; e, per dir forse una nova parola, usar in ogni cosa una certa sprezzatura, che nasconda l’arte e dimostri ciò che si fa e dice venir fatto senza fatica e quasi senza pensarvi. Da questo credo io che derivi assai la grazia; perché delle cose rare e ben fatte ognun sa la difficultà, onde in esse la facilità genera grandissima maraviglia; e per lo contrario il sforzare e, come si dice, tirar per i capegli dà somma disgrazia e fa estimar poco ogni cosa, per grande ch’ella si sia. Però si po dir quella esser vera arte che non pare esser arte; né piú in altro si ha da poner studio, che nel nasconderla: perché se è scoperta, leva in tutto il credito e fa l’omo poco estimato. E ricordomi io già aver letto esser stati alcuni antichi oratori eccellentissimi, i quali tra le altre loro industrie sforzavansi di far credere ad ognuno sé non aver notizia alcuna di lettere; e dissimulando il sapere mostravan le loro orazioni esser fatte simplicissimamente, e piú tosto secondo che loro porgea la natura e la verità, che ‘l studio e l’arte; la qual se fosse stata conosciuta, aría dato dubbio negli animi del populo di non dover esser da quella ingannati. Vedete adunque come il mostrar l’arte ed un cosí intento studio levi la grazia d’ogni cosa. Qual di voi è che non rida quando il nostro messer Pierpaulo danza alla foggia sua, con que’ saltetti e gambe stirate in punta di piede, senza mover la testa, come se tutto fosse un legno, con tanta attenzione, che di certo pare che vada numerando i passi? Qual occhio è cosí cieco, che non vegga in questo la disgrazia della affettazione? e la grazia in molti omini e donne che sono qui presenti, di quella sprezzata desinvoltura (ché nei movimenti del corpo molti cosí la chiamano), con un parlar o ridere o adattarsi, mostrando non estimar e pensar piú ad ogni altra cosa che a quello, per far credere a chi vede quasi di non saper né poter errare? - Castiglione, Il Libro Del Cortegiano, XXVI

    “Sprezzatura” is a appearance of casual contempt characteristic of noblemen, the air of negligence, scorn and careless of those who are to the manner born, which the parvenu courtier must feign in his demeanor at all times, to give the appearance of artlessness to the artificiality of his speech and manner.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  09:15 AM
  41. Ars est celare artem, m’fren’.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/04  at  10:05 AM
  42. Well precisely, as I just wrote repeatedly, once in boldface. When the pretence and affectation shows, you can only expect to be poco estimato by your potential patrons and competitors for favour.

    So. When did decide you wanted to grow up to be a courtier? Was it a childhood ambition, or a choice later in life?

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  11:35 AM
  43. It was when I read The Courtier in 1979, my good man, and became, as Stanislaus Joyce said of his brother James after James had read the book, more polite and less sincere.  When the occasion demands, of course.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  11:42 AM
  44. The occasion certainly demands it now, because my Italian is far superior to yours, professore vizioso.

    Posted by Cortegiano  on  09/04  at  11:52 AM
  45. Well, that’s probably true.  “Effortless grace” was too offhand a form of shorthand.  But Lee Siegel himself showed up in comment 8 to straighten things out, so score one for the self-correcting blogosphere.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/04  at  11:57 AM
  46. Seems to me Sprez was about graceless effort.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/04  at  12:06 PM
  47. And Bill Benzon nails it like Digby!

    Posted by Michael  on  09/04  at  12:08 PM
  48. the Cortegiano at 44 is an imposter! Was not I.

    Seigel at 8 is a poseur, too.

    I would suggest you read my little book again, professore, and pay more attention, but that you seem to have learned the essential lesson of pleasing authority in your era and ingratiating yourself with the powerful. Doubtless it is my turn to learn from you L’art de parvenir.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  12:57 PM
  49. the Cortegiano at 44 is an imposter! Was not I.

    Ah, a truly wonderful remark in a thread about sockpuppetry!  This must be the work of the real sprezzatura.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  01:07 PM
  50. the possessor of sprezzatura could not call himself Sprezzatura. You cannot boast of sprezzatura; if you boast of it or even name it, it vanishes, you have already proven your manner is not characterised by it in the least.

    “I have a sort of natural, aristocratic indifference to and contempt for your opinion, so that I will never bother to address you, perform for you, or explain myself to you, in fact I don’t even notice that you are there”. You see the assertion itself gives the lie to its content. To dub oneself Sprezzatura is rather like boasting of one’s discretion by listing the details of all the secrets with which one has been entrusted and giving the phone numbers of those who have entrusted you with them and sworn you to secresy so that people can check up on it.

    Personally I think it is the double zeds which fool the poseurs about the meaning of the word. They don’t hear disprezzo and sprezzante, they hear champagne, verve and vigor, dazzle, sizzle, pizza, fizz, and suppose the word conjures ‘brilliance’ and effervescence and achievement and all these American business virtues. The courtier who feigns an aristocratic negligence, who feigns breeding, is a weasel, a cunning social climber out to ingratiate himself with a patron and make himself useful and decorative for Princes and Dukes. Boasting of this is peculiar, and unusual in our day, so of course it must be that the professore has misunderstood. But it is just this sort of pretention and affectation, the quoting of works one has not read, the mistranslation of words just as if one supposed the entire world only spoke English and one could never be outed as a pretentious fraud, is precisely what the skilled deployment of a certain sprezzatura in everything is counselled in my little book to prevent. Because in the parvenu courtier’s game, which is to pass himself off as something he is not in order to ingratiate himself with those who can make his career, such exposures are fatal.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  01:36 PM
  51. Are this working toward some kind of “I am Spartacus” knockoff?

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/04  at  02:23 PM
  52. Oh good idea. No I am not really a cortegiano and have no aspirations in that direction whatsoever.

    No I was only amused that il dottore would clearly intend to give himself a nom de plume signifying something like ‘super-achieving maverick’ but through the over-confidence of an habitual con artist playing to gulls end up christening himself ‘cunning little smug aristo wanabee with his tongue up the tukus of power’.
    Perhaps inadvertantly apt. Anyway it’s one of those small accidentally satirical delights that occasionally the blogsphere throws up.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  02:41 PM
  53. Since we seem to be Stuck Inside of Meta this weekend, some may be interested in this more earnest treatment of on-line identity, reputation and Internet communities in general at Meatball Wiki. (if you can tolerate the CamelCase that is).

    And in the spirit of the nexus of anonymity, reputation, Internet snark, the earlier RateMy thread here, and “Unbelievably juvenile sense of humor. See his website if you don’t believe me.”, I stumbled upon this great example of same when I googled up Prof. Riley, and idly clicked on the first link, not realizing that it led to his RMP entry. The very first rating read:

    He announced that he hates rateyourprofessors.com and would like to destroy it. Isn’t that a crime? I feel like turning him in to the government. Also said he would like to destroy grades and rid the university of students who refuse to think. Or something like that. I wasn’t really paying attention, I was IMing a friend during class.

    Now if I were ever to actually sockpuppet myself, something like that is what I would aspire to. [And for some reason I feel the need to state in this instance: NO, I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS WAS AN ACTUAL SOCKPUPPET.]

    Oh, and I just wanted to say I’m a huge “anonymous commenter 21” fan, been reading him (or her) since yesterday morning. And though I of course know nothing about him (or her), I can see that he (or she) represents a kinder, gentler anonymous commenter, only wishing to warn SerialIdentitys “Michael” and “Aaron Barlow” of the possible consequences of their putative words.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  02:46 PM
  54. Ah, JP Stormcrow, you make me wax nostalgic for earlier days, when I would receive student comments like “He didn’t teach.  He made us do all the work.” Naive, I loved such comments (I also didn’t want an academic career--oh how we change).

    If I could have sock-puppeted (how’s that for a putative hyphenation?) myself, that’s how I would have described my teaching of that time.

    Posted by Aaron Barlow  on  09/04  at  03:44 PM
  55. No I was only amused that il dottore would clearly intend to give himself a nom de plume signifying something like ‘super-achieving maverick’ but through the over-confidence of an habitual con artist playing to gulls end up christening himself ‘cunning little smug aristo wanabee with his tongue up the tukus of power’.

    Perhaps inadvertantly apt. Anyway it’s one of those small accidentally satirical delights that occasionally the blogsphere throws up.

    Wow.

    Could this Cortegiano be any more of an asshole?  First of all, Cort, the name “sprezzatura” is not a nom de plume of Michael’s.  It was the name chosen by freelance writer Lee Siegel for the sockpuppet device he used on his TNR blog in order to praise his own work.  This post is a parody of Siegel’s device, as is the blog “Sprezzatura.” Sorry to have to fill you in on the joke at this late hour, but everyone here understood it except you.

    And Michael, I think comment 44 is onto something.  First this Professor Riley of Bucknell University goes after you on his blog.  Then he accuses you of being General J. C. Christian.  Then someone appears in this comment thread who (1) is a pompous, pedantic ass, (2) doesn’t understand much about how blogs work, and (3) is dripping with puerile disdain for you.  Now, this Riley said he couldn’t attend your talk on Friday because he’s in Paris.  If I were you, I’d check the IP address on this “Real Cortegiano” joker and see if they don’t turn up a match.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  03:46 PM
  56. "First of all, Cort, the name “sprezzatura” is not a nom de plume of Michael’s.  It was the name chosen by freelance writer Lee Siegel for the sockpuppet device he used on his TNR blog in order to praise his own work.  This post is a parody of Siegel’s device, as is the blog “Sprezzatura.””

    Dearest Tekkie, you miss the point. It is about earning the ability to deploy contempt. Would not this mockery have succeeded better had professor Bérubé had some idea of what the use of a sock-puppet called sprezzatura suggests? Has professor Bérube exhibited anything but

    far come un amico nostro, che voi tutti conoscete, che si pensava esser molto simile al re Ferrando minore d’Aragona, né in altro avea posto cura d’imitarlo, che nel spesso alzare il capo, torzendo una parte della bocca, il qual costume il re avea contratto cosí da infirmità

    ?

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  04:27 PM
  57. Well, I noted that Lee Siegel using a sockpuppet named “sprezzatura” was basically a performative contradiction, because sprezzatura was precisely what the sockpuppet and Siegel didn’t have.  I thought that was clear, and of course I apologize for defining the term offhandedly, without the requisite 600-word citation from the original.

    But my goodness, what a live one we’ve hooked in this Cortegiano!

    By striking coincidence, tekkie, Cortegiano is posting from Ile-de-France.  Thanks for the suggestion!  And you’re right, he sounds very much like the Professor Riley guy who wrote this:

    Something else you might ask, if you are at all close to sharing my sense of what a professor ought to be about: who on earth would imagine Michael Berube to be a speaker on this topic from whom one could learn anything of any use, given that he has so completely cemented himself into the ideological position of the ‘left anti-conservative professor’ to which the ‘conservative anti-intellectuals’ oppose themselves? Just the other side of the poisonous coin, in my view. If you dislike the vicious conservative anti-intellectuals, you will like the viciously anti-conservative left professor (who sees “harassment” and “threats to academic freedom” every time his/her ability to preach his/her own private opinion as scholarly truth is challenged by anyone) just about as much.

    Berube has made it absolutely clear in his writing, and in his blog (which is recently little more than a sales pitch for his newest book--the professor as huckster and book salesman, this is where we are now--and, surely, Professor Berube, you must realize how strange it seems that YOU fashion yourself the academic counterpoint to the conservatives outside the academy threatening to kill it with their language of practicality and bottom lines and the like, you, the professorial bookseller, charting your sales on amazon.com and doing promo at every opportunity) that he does not represent a scholarly position on this issue of politics in the university; he represents one of the two political enemies of the university.

    And this:

    So far as I can see, you’re just one more guy in the university seeking to make a living by writing ideological books about the ‘culture wars’ for non-academics (surely you don’t think that serious people in the university will buy or read your book?).

    Whew!  As I told this volatile fellow on his blog, I certainly hope “serious people” like him don’t buy or read my book.

    And JP, I hate to disagree with you about anything, as you know, but I think Professor Riley was doing some brilliant and innovative sockpuppeting on RateMyProfessors.  Just check out some of the other entries:

    VERY biased, never considered the perspectives of bigendered, Third World, anarchist-socialists of color in his lectures, it was very hurtful that he couldn’t at least have an open mind, I wanted to read a poem or do an interpretive dance about my feelings in class, but he wouldn’t let me.

    Like, way too serious, you know? Like, he thinks you’re, like, here to study or something, you know what I’m saying? Puh-leeze. I have parties to go to. Talk to the hand. What-EVER!

    Got mad at me once because I was asleep in class, very uncool, also doesn’t like students to browse online or listen to IPods during lectures, totally wack

    Forces students to talk in class by randomly selecting them from his class printout and then makes you feel like a retard. Hated it! I got so upset one time I pee’d a little bit in my pants. He’s a mean person and GRADES SO HARD! I think he was a police officer in his past. He says he plays police games at home for fun and how he admires them.

    It’s pretty ingenious, really—insulting your students and praising yourself for your high intellectual standards in one sprezzatural swoop.  But also kinda disturbing in a kinda Lee Siegelish kinda way, when you think about it.  And so now I will stop.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  04:50 PM
  58. non lo so… maybe i should have stayed on the playa, as this thread seems to have twisted into a mockery of itself.  I can say, with some degree of authority (though that degree is tainted by the remnants of neurochemical breakdowns and residual analogs), that i most recently have seen a great number of sock puppets at play (and foot/toe puppets as well).  It was difficult to focus on the theater pieces as the bearers of many of the sock puppets, making a concerted effort to reveal their “true” identities, were naked; i did note that the sock puppets were not at all as interesting as the painted-breast puppetmasters themselves.  Suffice it to say, the sock puppets deserved not one shred of contempt.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  05:00 PM
  59. And if it’s twisted mockery you want, spyder, just wait ‘til you see this blog’s sockpuppet rendition of Abelard and Heloise!

    Captcha:  yet, as in “ain’t seen nothin’.”

    Posted by Michael  on  09/04  at  05:04 PM
  60. but everyone here understood it except you.

    Well, yes Tekkie, “Ballad of a Thin Man” does come to mind. But I would caution that it doesn’t ever pay to forget that at some level we’re all Mr. Jones. (whoever he was, I guess I ain’t got no culture)

    ... well OK, some more than others.
    So be careful out there.

    And Cort, from your writings here it is clear that you have “the ability to show that one is not showing all the effort one obviously put into learning how to show that one is not showing effort” , you know, to like coin a concept

    Posted by Dylan Thomas Rocks  on  09/04  at  05:07 PM
  61. Michael, you’re being far too kind to The Notorious Riley. He seems to be under the impression that *you* defined sprezzatura in a way that allowed him to preen himself on his Italian. When in fact it was “Sprezzatura” the guest blogger who did so, and did so in a way consistent with its use by Lee Siegel Himself. A refresher course on the tricky concept of the “literary persona” might be in order. Of course, since you *used* the name of the most famous contemporary sockpuppet as your sockpuppet in a post *about* the case of that very same sockpuppet, I can see how all that meta-discourse might be pretty hard to follow. Of course, I myself am only capable of “incoherent gurglings,” so what do I know?

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/04  at  05:16 PM
  62. You’re right, John, I’m always too kind in these situations.  But at least you’re still my friend!

    Posted by Michael  on  09/04  at  05:24 PM
  63. . . . . all that meta-discourse might be pretty hard to follow.

    Um, err, would someone stuff a sock in it.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/04  at  05:37 PM
  64. But at least you’re still my friend!

    And proud to receive that title I am!

    Oh, and next time you’re in France, you might want to remember this, from The Notorious Riley’s Other Blog:

    Montreuil is just east of the city, in the ‘banlieue,’ that phrase generally mistranslated in English as ‘suburbs’--some such areas are rather more like lower-class housing projects

    You’ll find other nuggets of cross-cultural insight there, such as that the French do their grocery shopping more often than Americans! I haven’t looked closely enough, but maybe he’s explained that whole first floor / ground floor thing too.

    And don’t forget the “Notes Toward A Visual Sociology” section. Some of us call them “snapshots,” but that just lacks a certain sprezzatura, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/04  at  05:38 PM
  65. A refresher course on the tricky concept of the “literary persona” might be in order.

    John, John, John...don’t you know that we’d need to have a social scientist of some sort on hand to explain such a concept?  And around here all we have is apparently professors of literature and other humanists, who are but one side of the academic crisis coin!

    Do you (or Michael) even know who Durkheim, Boudu, and Dr. Pangloss are?!?

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  06:03 PM
  66. This exchange is hysterical, but taking potshots at the Riley character seems a bit like shooting big fish in a small barrel. It’s hard to imagine that anyone can be such an idiot and survive in a classroom setting.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  06:19 PM
  67. Re 61: I think I’ve out-meta-discoursed myself! It’s obviously not The Notorious Riley who’s preening himself on his Italian, but “Cortegiano”! D’oh! You’d think in a post mocking someone for not noticing a literary persona I’d notice his use of one too! Sigh. Must have been that Bachman Turner Overdrive reference on the other thread. Is there such a thing as a beer and quaaludes flashback?

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/04  at  06:30 PM
  68. taking potshots at the Riley character seems a bit like shooting big fish in a small barrel

    OK, OK.  I hereby declare that it is now Duck Season, and no one is allowed to take any more potshots at Riley.  Unless he reappears wearing a duck suit, of course.

    He may insult me all he wants on his own blog, though.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/04  at  06:52 PM
  69. Oh, dad, why do you have to take away the keys to the blog just when we’re having fun? But I guess you’re right and we callous sophisticates should lay off Judy’s TNR’s tiny cranium. He does have a head, you know, not like that Acephalous fellow.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/04  at  07:31 PM
  70. Re: “Has anyone consulted Lamb Chop on this sock puppet thing?”

    The Poor Man at http://thepoorman.net/ has consulted me.

    lamb_chop.jpg

    But my contribution was overwhelmed by that of:

    <object width="425" height="350">

    <object>

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  08:55 PM
  71. Pray, please tell me that your latest theatrical masterpiece, the sockpuppet version of Abelard and Heloise, will not be based upon the musical version, but rather a blithe and sublime reading of the story.  Sockpuppet musicals can only be as valued as, well, say, sockpuppet soap operas (of which we seem to be dilating a bit much).

    What i would give to experience a beer and quaalude flashback (cue the musical duet of Archie and Edith [Abelard and Heloise?]).  The sheer unbridled idiocy of that level of stupor suddenly showing up in one’s consciousness, reminds me of how much cheaper life would have been if acid flashbacks had been a reality.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  09:52 PM
  72. spyder, I promise that the sockpuppet version of Me and Heloise will be based not upon the musical version (libretto by Aaron Barlow, comment 29) but, rather, upon a blithe and sublime reading of the story.

    We sockpuppets have our standards, after all! 

    Posted by Abelard  on  09/04  at  10:05 PM
  73. Not the sharpest pupils I ever schooled, this crowd.

    But being a devoted teacher, I will take you through this now in steps.

    Lee Siegel is sinister and silly man, an easy target for mockery, which indeed one would imagine would be superfluous.

    In this case at least.

    Because:

    This was what he did. He invented a sockpuppet to masquerade as his own flattering courtier. He himself posed as his own sycophant.

    He dubbed this sockpuppet what any literate person would recognise as suggestive of, or be able swiftly to discover indicated, “posing sycophant”.

    That is the wit. It’s not much to be sure, but evidently more than you can comprehend.

    What professor Bérubé then did is attempted to mock the ‘discovery’ that “posing sycophant” was really only a posing sycophant. Except he didn’t know that, exactly.

    For his brilliant hit on this sitting duck, he himself adopted the name “posing sycophant” and for some reason, not difficult to divine, misinterpreted it as signifying what he in fact thinks of himself and would name his own sockpuppet, and indeed believed he was naming his borrowed sockpuppet - “effortless grace”.

    And this is how he has, in the needless, and what ought have been effortlessly graceful, attempt to expose the posing sycophant as exactly what he appears, proven only that the sock really does fit.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  10:18 PM
  74. Oh, this poor man doesn’t know when he’s had enough, does he.

    OK, Duck Season is over.  It’s Cortegiano Season again, folks!

    You may start with Cortegiano’s explanation of Siegel’s behavior:  He dubbed this sockpuppet what any literate person would recognise as suggestive of, or be able swiftly to discover indicated, “posing sycophant”.

    That is the wit. It’s not much to be sure, but evidently more than you can comprehend.

    Good.  Now that we understand Siegel wanted to praise himself in this way, we might as well presume that he also wanted to be fired from TNR and publicly humiliated, too.  That’s far more plausible than thinking that Siegel believed “sprezzatura” to denote the kind of ars-est-celare-artem grace he associates with his own writing.  Let’s move on to his account of me--

    What professor Bérubé then did is attempted to mock the ‘discovery’ that “posing sycophant” was really only a posing sycophant. Except he didn’t know that, exactly.

    Actually, I was mocking Siegel for fulsome self-praise by pretending to write as Siegel.  I’ve even done it on this blog before!  But I like Riley’s version better, because of the typo and because it’s kinda wonderfully deranged.

    And then there’s his account of my motivation:

    he himself adopted the name “posing sycophant” and for some reason, not difficult to divine, misinterpreted it as signifying what he in fact thinks of himself and would name his own sockpuppet

    Right again!  I thought that I had sprezzatura, which is why I adopted the name and then, at the very top of this post, hyperlinked it to the Google cache of Lee Siegel’s comments about himself.

    My stars, it looks like Cortegianoriley is one of those rare beasts, the glutton for punishment.  John, everyone, you may have the keys back.  Start your engines! 

    Posted by Michael  on  09/04  at  10:37 PM
  75. May I say a word, at long last?

    Professor Berube, surely some of your readers do not have Italian.  Allow me:

    I have discovered a universal rule which seems to apply more than any other in all human actions or words: namely, to steer away from affectation at all costs, as if it were a rough and dangerous reef, and (to use perhaps a novel word for it) to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura which conceals all artistry and makes whatever one says or does seem uncontrived and effortless. I am sure that grace springs especially from this, since everyone knows how difficult it is to accomplish some unusual feat perfectly, and so facility in such things excites the greatest wonder; whereas, in contrast, to labor at what one is doing and, as we say, to make bones over it, shows an extreme lack of grace and causes everything, whatever its worth, to be discounted. So we can truthfully say that true art is what does not seem to be art; and the most important thing is to conceal it, because if it is revealed this discredits a man completely and ruins his reputation.

    You might have explained, also, that “ars est celare artem” means “the art is to conceal the art.”

    And yes, this Cortegiano of yours, he is a piece of work. 

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  10:56 PM
  76. I think I’m starting to catch on. “Cortegiano” is really The Notorious Riley, but he (TNR) has created a literary persona, “Cortegiano,” who is a hopeless buffoon. I would have seen this earlier, but

    Like the fish in the pond, you are I am perhaps incapable of even beginning to inquire into the makeup of this thing you swim in.

    If only I were one of those others, who perhaps do not so automatically and perfectly fit into the ideological mold demanded by that cultural space, notice things.

    What I would give to be able to notice things.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/04  at  11:08 PM
  77. I love synchronicities, and upon going through my stacks of mail, i came across the new Harper’s.  Lapham--or is it just a sockpuppet doppleganger?--returns with a parodic essay.  In it he presents a germane and appropriate Upton Sinclair quote:

    “...those pecunirary standards of culture which estimate that the excellence of a man by the amount of other people’s happiness he can possess and destroy.”

    Of course Lewis also goes onto satirically suggest that:

    the once vigorously imperialist curricula softened into sentimental platitude by two generations of English professors telling their students that arms trade is neither a gentleman’s profession nor a wise career choice.

    . I can only surmise that he is not referring to the arms that support sockpuppets. 

    Oh dear me, the captcha word is “income”

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  11:18 PM
  78. Is this the best thread ever, or what?

    captcha=myself

    HA! Irony, thou slay!

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  09/05  at  02:19 AM
  79. Man, I can tell this site is for-real academics ‘n stuff.  Not one person has called this Don Cortegiano (wasn’t the Godfather the greatest movie series EVAH?)a stupid wanker! Of course, with the combination of humorlessness, pomposity, and that special extra soupcon of over-the-top hysteria, maybe he’s just an Objectivist.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  07:19 AM
  80. You left the cedilla off “soupçon,” you poseur.

    How I tire of the canaille on this blog.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  07:57 AM
  81. EmoGirl21Toronto demonstrates sprezzatura.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/05  at  08:29 AM
  82. I took a quick look around the intertubes to see if there was any support for our remarkable Cortegiano’s curious insistence in #73 that the term “posing sycophant” is synonymous with “sprezzatura,” and all I could come up with was a famous quote by Inigo Montoya.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  09:43 AM
  83. The Notorious Riley has a new post.

    but unfortunately a quirk in the format has disabled comments.

    Here’s the post:

    So what’s the difference between literature professors and sociology professors?

    To date, I’ve never heard any of the latter fawningly and oh so preciously repeat lines from their favorite texts, say, Weber’s _Protestant Ethic_ or Marx’s _Grundrisse_ to one another in order to show how scintillatingly hip and meta-everything they are.

    If I were able to comment, here’s what I’d say:

    “Dood, the answer’s obvious! Sociology rulez and teh literature is for looosers!1!!!111! Take that, bitchez!1!!!!11!”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/05  at  10:37 AM
  84. So what’s the difference between literature professors and sociology professors?

    I found this a useful ‘ethnography’ of that tribe, presumably written with some view toward the author’s own experiences as a lecturer at the University of Texas. Wish I had my copy with me at present so I could see map a few real life people on to the book’s characters.

    There is the great “on to” vs “onto” divide, as well, I suppose.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  11:02 AM
  85. Dang!  That Riley totally pwned me with that Grundrisse reference.  In my defense, though, I must say that when I quote the Grundrisse to show how scintillatingly hip and meta-everything I am (and why not? it works like a charm), I usually try to recite the whole thing.

    And Peter, you obviously don’t read Italian.  In the original—or so I’m told—“sprezzatura” clearly means “posing sycophant.” It has nothing to do with an art that conceals the art.  Perhaps you, like me, were fooled by the double zeds?

    Which reminds me.  What’s a zed?  Is that what sociologists who were born in Columbus, Ohio call the letter “z”?

    Posted by Michael  on  09/05  at  11:36 AM
  86. Zed = Zed Bush, evil spawn of Barbara and the Emperor Zurg.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/05  at  11:46 AM
  87. All hail the newly slim Wayne Knight, voice of the Evil Emperor Zurg in the cartoon series, where he (EEZ, not Wayne Knight—we gots to keep our personae straight around here!) maintains a troll doll collection. I wonder if he has Cortegiano in that collection?

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/05  at  12:05 PM
  88. Against all better judgement, once more into this “maze of twisty little passages all of them different” (although some of them quite similar.)

    1) Michael - but I think Professor Riley was doing some brilliant and innovative sockpuppeting on RateMyProfessor
    Indeed you were correct, he was, per his public acknowledgement of same (and recruitment of others to help) here and here. So all may judge as they will - the scheme and rationale were stated - the results available. I initially responded in pure “Snark Appreciatist” mode, but I do think that Michael’s point is well taken on how it plays out in terms of the image of students and professor. And it does add that little something <insert clenched-fist-thumb-out smiley here> to this whole thread.

    2) Peter, you stole my Princess Bride material (see below). However, from what I have found I do think “posing sycophant” is one possible (narrow) reading (convenient for Cort’s point and a bit post hoc - but then the Prof seems to be fond of various post hoc on-line actions and attitudes.) The term appears to have been “well used” with changing meanings in different times and contexts. The Everything2 article is worth looking at - in particular has pointer to some good references. (Though one of which, by Peter Burke, may be hard to find as its publisher seems to be located in the middle of nowhere.) For one interesting sample on atitudes towards the book - here is the concluding sentence on the article on Castiglione in the EB 11th edition
    ...,What constitutes a perfect courtier? is debated. With but few differences, the type determined on is the ideal gentleman of the present day.

    3) So I think all actors in this charade have (at least) three Princess Bride characters to choose from.
    Inigo: (per Peter) Doesn’t mean ...
    Vizzini: You only think I guessed wrong! That’s what’s so funny!
    or Wesley’s sockpuppet, AKA The Man in Black.
    All should choose as their own delusions, professional pretensions, self-deprecating narcissism or self-images dictate.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  12:09 PM
  89. I was reminded last night of the scene in Bright Lights, Big City rather than the Princess Bride
    In a restaurant Michael J Fox (a hockey fanatic born in Edmonton) is talking to Tracy Pollan (shortly after filmed she become his wife) discoursing about a character played by Keifer Sutherland.  He calls him a “sprezzatura” to which Tracy responds with some ugly slur (i can’t remember it now).  I suspect that the reference was intended to connote the synchophantic nature of Keifer as a sockpuppet, but that would be reading something into it.  Of course i could also suspect that Lee based his efforts on that scene in the first place.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  05:46 PM
  90. Many many apologies for the hideous and inappropriate use of the English language in the above post.  Not counting the lack of appropriate punctuation, the second parenthetical should read: shortly after filming she became his wife.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  05:49 PM
  91. ... I was told this thread had an Uma Thurman reference.

    Ah, fuck it.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  08:03 PM
  92. Prof. Riley writes:

    “huckster and book salesman,” ... “with their language of practicality and bottom lines and the like, you, the professorial bookseller, charting your sales on amazon.com and doing promo at every opportunity)”

    Them’s fightin’ words, sir. I have been a professional bookseller for 33 years and I have never engaged in hucksterism. I left academia, oh, the glorious ivory tower, which is safely, not reality-based, for bookselling much, in part, to avoid the likes of people like you. And the sin that Prof. B. might want to be read, and sell some books, my, what a frickin’ crime. Michael, if you ever make it to Seattle, feel free to look me up. We can have a shot of Jameson’s and look for the panther.  I’ll have you sign some books. And Prof. R. good luck with the Durkheim book. Nearly all my customers have been clamoring for work on the great Emile.

    Posted by SeattleDan  on  09/05  at  11:29 PM
  93. Thanks for giving Sperseszzta equal time so we could all hear the truth.

    Posted by Bulworth  on  09/06  at  09:16 AM
  94. You’re welcome, Senator.  Now back to hucksterin’, which is hard, hard work.  SeattleDan, I hope you’ll enjoy seeing Prof R’s words in their new home, the blog’s right sidebar.  I’ll be sure to drop by when I’m next in Seattle—but while we can toast to the panther and wish A. Rile well with his book, I don’t think we should try to sell his book to people who might want to read it.  He would hate that kind of thing.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/06  at  11:43 AM
  95. Like, way too serious, you know? Like, he thinks you’re, like, here to study or something, you know what I’m saying? Puh-leeze. I have parties to go to. Talk to the hand. What-EVER!

    I know I’m incredibly late to this, but I just want to point out that the sockpuppet who wrote that fake student eval on RMP has a bad ear for language use.  That’s not the way “like” is used unless you’re Shaggy or that beat generation character that Gilligan played before he was Gilligan. It’s certainly not Millenial-speak.  And they don’t *write* “like” that way.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  09/06  at  05:47 PM
  96. Are you suggesting that the person who wrote that fake student eval has a sockpuppet named Shaggy?

    Posted by  on  09/06  at  06:42 PM
  97. Which reminds me.  What’s a zed?  Is that what sociologists who were born in Columbus, Ohio call the letter “z”?

    Thank you! And while you’re at it, find out who translated the Italian for him. Riley’s usual written English--with its larding of precative preambles, dangling participles, superfluous modifiers and split infinitives--is more ponderous than administrative law. Any attempts at a direct translation of such gracelessness would have have bruised the language.

    Evidently, Riley also skipped the rhetoric class where the other graduate students learned that achieving the apex of erudition does not require that one write like a prig.

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