Credit where credit is due
OK, by popular demand, it’s Tales of Dangeral Copyediting time! I have two problems, one of which requires your help. The first is this: there’s a new style in town, apparently, whereby book and article titles are cited in full in the Works Cited but, if they begin with an “A” or a “The,” the definite or indefinite article is dropped in the notes. At first, I found this merely puzzling, but I didn’t mind. First they came for the definite and indefinite articles, and I did not object, because I was not a definite or indefinite article. . . . Changing Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine to Suskind, One Percent Doctrine, doesn’t look all that weird. But changing Judith Williamson’s “The Problems of Being Popular” to Williamson, “Problems of Being Popular,” sounds a little telegraphic. Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, maybe; Hastings and Jenkins, Battle for the Falklands, perhaps; but Thompson, Poverty of Theory, absolutely not. And I notice that the copyeditor didn’t touch The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 70s Britain, because, come on, Empire Strikes Back sounds like it’s been through the Babelfish once too often.
So I’m inclined to restore all the definite and indefinite articles to their rightful places, which means writing “stet” in the notes a couple dozen times. In fact, the minute this post goes up, I’m going to go a-hunting for all those deleted definite and indefinite articles. This, I believe, is what they call sweating the small stuff. And it’s gotta be done. Today. My question is this: should I take the opportunity to change all these “The”s to “Teh”? It’s not like the opportunity presents itself very often.
The other problem is simpler but more vexing. Readers, comrades, beloved interlocutors, lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song. You know I have an allusive writing style. I can’t help it: sometimes when I’m thinking up words, I think of words that other people have written, especially if they’re words I like. Today, however, I’m thinking of words I can’t stand, because last night, there came a killing frost. Really! On May 18, it was 30 degrees here overnight! Janet and I had to haul a bunch of plants inside, and cover a bunch of flowering bushes, and even still, the pony she named Wildfire busted down its stall. In a blizzard he was lost. But the words that bother me right now are “There’s been a hoot-owl howling by my window now for six nights in a row”—words I didn’t even remember until Janet mockingly sang them this morning, and which now sound to me like even more of an abomination than the idea of a pony busting down his stall because of a killing frost, because, as Janet pointed out, (a) there is no such thing as a hoot-owl, (b) owls don’t howl, and (c) what’s all this supposed to mean, anyway, that there’s an owl outside your window for six nights in a row? Is it trying to deliver a letter from Hogwarts? What?
Now, where was I? Oh, right. Allusive writing style. OK, so at one point in The Left At War, I’m talking about how the left tries to balance the imperatives of equality and freedom, because I have been inspired in this regard by the late Ellen Willis. And I’m saying that I consider myself to be on the social-democratic left:
“democratic” because I do not see how one can fully nationalize an economy without creating an enormous and repressive state apparatus, “social-democratic” because I believe that without a measure of practical equality with regard to fundamental human needs, freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.
The first half of that formulation is a nod to Nussbaum’s and Sen’s “capabilities” approach to human rights; the second half is from a popular song. So the copyeditor changed this to “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose (apologies to Janis Joplin).” When I saw that, I screamed, because
(b) it’s Kris Kristofferson’s song, anyway
Much later on, I’m talking about Stuart Hall’s response to the Falklands war, and I’m suggesting that there might have been a way to oppose that war without mocking the idea that, as Hall put it, “tin-pot dictators should be stood up to.” In a most uncharacteristic lapse, Hall had written, “Mrs T is simply our most-beloved Good Housekeeper. Children should be brought up as our parents brought us up. Mothers should stay at home. Tin-pot dictators should be stood up to. These are the grand truths which history and experience teach.” And I reply that it’s a mistake to lump the third of these with the other two, if indeed one is trying, as Hall puts it elsewhere, to reach the man in the pub and his family and persuade them not to support the Falklands escapade. So I offer this counterexample: the Torrijos-Carter Treaties. If you’re my age or older, surely you remember the mid-to-late-70s outrage, on the wingnut right, at the idea that the U.S. would cede control of the Panama Canal. It was quite a thing at the time; an allusion to it even made it into that famous “Saturday Night Live” skit in which a liberal couple finds that all their friends have been taken over by Reaganite pods. One former liberal (played by Harry Shearer, iirc) hypnotically intones Reagan’s famous line, “We bought it. We paid for it. It’s ours. And we’re gonna keep it,” to which the couple replies, “what, the Panama Canal?” and the friend says, “no, the patio.”
Anyway, when control of the Canal finally passed to Panama in 1999, the funny thing was that nobody gave a hoot-owl except for the six remaining John Birchers in the country. Whereas, I argue, if some guy named Noriega had simply seized the Canal in 1983, the way Galtieri did the Malvinas, Reagan would very likely have responded by invading Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Cuba for good measure—and would have done so with overwhelming public support. So I wind up the discussion by noting that Hall, in his family-in-the-pub appeal, considered only two options: solidarity with the Argentines (not bloody likely, he admits) or “this war is none of our concern.” I suggest (and of course I’m thinking also of Iraq, folks),
instead of being astonished at the surge of seemingly farcical patriotism during times of war, and instead of consigning “tin-pot dictators should be stood up to” to the vocabulary of the reactionary, mothers-should-stay-at-home right, the left should find ways of negotiating the difficult terrain between tin-pot dictators and farcical neo-imperialists: all we are saying, we might try saying, is give international law and institutions a chance.
You might reply that the left did do that during the runup to the Iraq war. But then you wouldn’t be thinking of the left I’m talking about, the one that opposed no-fly zones and UN weapons inspections as illegitimate, Imperialism-Lite violations of Iraqi sovereignty. Anyway, the copyeditor, sure enough, added “(apologies to John Lennon)” to this stirring allusive phrase of mine, and I took that right back out, on the grounds that there isn’t anyone in the English-speaking world who wouldn’t catch the allusion to Mr. Lennon’s work.
I just don’t think I owe any apologies to John Lennon or Janis Joplin, OK?
However: I most certainly do owe an apology to one Dan McEnroe. Some time ago, he wrote what remains by far the single funniest thing on the global financial crisis—something about how an apocalypse built on credit default swaps is Teh suXX0r as apocalypses go. I heart that line dearly and wanted to work that into my commencement speech, but I was so sure that Thers wrote it, and I couldn’t find it. So I paraphrased it as best I could, opening by attributing it to a generic Somebody Else Not Me: “I recently came across someone remarking that we’ve produced a lot of apocalyptic fantasies in the course of the past century,” and closing with “‘So,’ my friend said, ‘if civilization winds up collapsing because of credit default swaps, I’m going to be really disappointed. It’s terribly anticlimactic. We’re not even going to get zombies.’” Because although I’ve never met him, I do consider Thers a kind of Internet friend. And I hate it when people swipe stuff from the Internets and don’t credit people. Don’t you?
So of course I found it yesterday. It was from early March, and it was indeed Thers, in a way, but he was posting at the Light Blue Satan, not at Whiskey Fire; the “zombies” line is indeed his, but the whole conceit is actually Mr. McEnroe’s, as the “hyper-link” makes clear. And, in fact, when I first read it I even left a comment on Mr. McEnroe’s blog, which is called “A Blog Named Sue,” which appears to be an allusion to a popular song. My comment, of course, consists of an allusion.
My apologies for forgetting that, Mr. McEnroe, and attributing your very funny line to “someone” (which, although accurate, doesn’t really follow proper citation format). I promise that when I repeat this bit in the future—and I will!—I will say, “the writer Dan McEnroe.” And then I will say, “as the blogger known as ‘Thersites’ replied.” In the meantime, thank you for writing what is by far the single funniest thing on the global financial crisis. I can assure you that the graduates of Marlboro College and their families enjoyed it too.
I can’t stand that song either. As for the (nonexistent) hoot-owl by the window, it always reminded me of this.Posted by on 05/19 at 01:16 PM
Well, fooey. Sorry about the code there - not sure what happened.Posted by on 05/19 at 01:18 PM
Maybe we can take this one step further and add gender to the articles like they do in other languages. And since we would be doing this WE GET TO DECIDE what is masculine, feminine or neuter.
Der Hund - the dog (which has been deemed always masculine by a commitee of Hitler’s ancestors)
e.Posted by on 05/19 at 01:31 PM
and by the way it’s “Freedom’s just” not “Freedom is just” let’s use those apostrophes the way god and country songwriters intended.Posted by on 05/19 at 01:33 PM
I kept waiting for this post to bring up Maureen Dowd’s latest op-ed escapade.Posted by on 05/19 at 02:14 PM
Freedom isn’t just, Elliot. It’s free.
And Leslie: all fixed! There were two extra space’s in there.Posted by on 05/19 at 02:14 PM
There is so such a thing as a hoot owl.
And you’re the literature guy around here. Don’t you know what the hoot of the owl is a premonition of? http://www.ponddoc.com/WhatsUpDoc/Predators/MystiqueHootOwl.htmPosted by on 05/19 at 02:20 PM
I kept waiting for this post to bring up Maureen Dowd’s latest op-ed escapade.
Didn’t I allude to it at the end of the antepenultimate paragraph?Posted by on 05/19 at 02:20 PM
And you’re the literature guy around here.
OK, so maybe there’s a “hoot” owl. And maybe it’s a premonition of something. Fine. Next you’ll be telling me that “Metatron” isn’t the name of one of the Power Rangers.Posted by on 05/19 at 02:29 PM
I’ll let it slide this time, but only because you called me a writer.Posted by dan mcenroe on 05/19 at 02:50 PM
Jeez, does “Tales of Dangeral Copyediting” pay you by the word, Bér? I had to wade through a mile of entropy in order to reach the bag of Gummy Tummies.
Didn’t I allude to it at the end of the antepenultimate paragraph?
I won’t know for sure until I’ve correctly parsed “antepenultimate.” Or have constructed a universal Turing Machine to do it for me.Posted by on 05/19 at 03:09 PM
Thanks, Mr. McEnroe! Hey, if you want me to call you anything else as well, now’s the time to ask. Because I owe you one.
Also, your post yesterday was some mighty fine writing. Though I especially liked the title of the post before that, because in today’s society today it is getting harder and harder to find good allusions to popular songs in this ever-changing world in which we live in. As I told the graduates of Marlboro College.Posted by Michael on 05/19 at 03:12 PM
...."And we crashed through the wall and into the street. Kicking and a’ gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.”
From “A Boy Named Sue”
Our Chavezian overlord will be so proud to inherit this cultural heritage....
capcha “respect” speaking of allusions to popular songsPosted by on 05/19 at 03:51 PM
With apologies to Aretha Franklin!
OK, awaiting correction in three . . . two . . .Posted by Michael on 05/19 at 04:00 PM
Also, to be a little meta, “Left at War” seems to have a completely different meaning from “The Left at War.” You don’t want people to think that you were somehow implying that people were abandoned at the war, like a kid at the mall.Posted by on 05/19 at 04:10 PM
I must admit I’m having a giggle at stetting all the articles. In one of the last books I edited I applied the press style of hyphenating modifiers (like decision-making body) and the author had a hissy and they all had to come out. Not that I’m suggesting you’re having anything like that. Sometimes rules are just dumb and they’re pretty much always negotiable.Posted by on 05/19 at 04:47 PM
Would (apologies to Alice in Chains) it (homophonic apologies to some Addams Family writer) hurt (apologies to Johnny Cash) you (apologies to your mother) to acknowledge Michael (apologies to you) Murphey?Posted by on 05/19 at 05:03 PM
Those are truly dangeral copyediting stories. Perhaps you should seek vengeance on your copyeditor by writing a preface in which every single phrase is a citation from a song. You could start like this: “One fine day, pushing through the market square...” You could call it “no apologies.”Posted by on 05/19 at 05:57 PM
- Posted by John Protevi on 05/19 at 06:27 PM
Bonus points to those who can spot what needs correction in #19. Which I put there on purpose.Posted by John Protevi on 05/19 at 06:29 PM
Clare @ 16: In one of the last books I edited I applied the press style of hyphenating modifiers (like decision-making body) and the author had a hissy and they all had to come out. Not that I’m suggesting you’re having anything like that.
Au contraire! I am putting in extra hyphens, sorta deconstruction-style but also sorta Onion-style. You know, arche-writing, auto-mobile, etc.
JP @ 17: yes (apologies to Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, etc.)
Stephanie @ 18: yeah, but see, copyediting is like working on the chain gang, or working for the man every night and day, or maybe for a hard day’s night working like a dog. This editor did a massive amount of work cleaning up my various mistakes, like citing stuff in the notes and then missing it for the works cited. So the most I’ll do is complain on the blog, ‘cause that makes me look really gracious and not at all petty.
John @ 20: “you’d” doesnt take an apostrophe, of course.Posted by Michael on 05/19 at 06:45 PM
Yours is no excuse. (See how easy it is to be original.)Posted by on 05/19 at 07:07 PM
You don’t want people to think that you were somehow implying that people were abandoned at the war, like a kid at the mall.
Bonus points to those who can spot what needs correction in #19.
In Latin, Protevi is spelled with a “j.” Make it more difficult next time, won’t you?Posted by on 05/19 at 07:41 PM
We’re not even going to get zombies.
We do have zombie banks. I’ve not been in one but I’m told they are something of a disappointment.Posted by on 05/19 at 07:59 PM
Captcha word, “yes”. Seriously.Posted by fsg on 05/19 at 08:23 PM
OK, Bloix beat me to it, but this and this should prove to you and the missus that owls do, in fact, hoot. Maybe they don’t punch that final “t” the way you hifalutin’ English perfessors would like, but their hootin’ is just fine for us plain folks.
Or maybe the owls near you are zombies. Keep a shovel and a cricket bat handy.Posted by Dr. Drang on 05/19 at 08:29 PM
Sorry, to match the house style, that should have been “hifalutin English perfessor’s.”Posted by Dr. Drang on 05/19 at 08:33 PM
Thank you for the hootin, Dr Drang. I think we all agree that owls hoot and do not howl.Posted by on 05/19 at 08:47 PM
owls don’t howl,
Howland Owl. <insert joke here.Posted by on 05/19 at 10:09 PM
Perhaps you should seek vengeance on your copyeditor by writing a preface in which every single phrase is a citation from a song.
Or perhaps you could write the preface by just taking lines from the thousands of them in Grimms’ Fairy Tales; i am fairly certain they are free from copyright laws, although you would have to check with Larry Lessig about that (there seems to be a number of issues about whether the copyrights of the various editions supercede those of the original texts that have none).Posted by on 05/20 at 01:22 AM
Well. Since I’m hopeless where pop allusions are concerned, I had to Google “There’s been a hoot-owl howling...” so’s to follow this particular thread. And oh, yeah, I guess I remember that. The interesting thing (to the likes of me) is that this particular thread is already the number six reference at the moment on the big G. Pretty soon pop songs will be alluding to Bérubé, rather than the other way ‘round.Posted by proportion wheel on 05/20 at 01:41 AM
Perhaps new citation style is result of takeover Russian publishing house? Soon authors will drop all articles, definite and indefinite. Pages will teem with references to “Peter Greenaway’s Cook, Thief, Wife and her Lover”, ”Battle for Falklands”.
In next step, editors will impose comedy Rrussian accents. All Rrs will be doubled, and all vs rreplaced with ws. This may wery well impose furtherr difficulty in werifying rreferrences. Ectually, you know.Posted by on 05/20 at 06:15 AM
Assuming that freedom is indeed just another word for nothing left to lose and then compiling a representative list of words from which freedom was drawn one might create something like:
broke busted freedom tapped
Turns out the Bush Administration wasn’t so bad after all introducing tens of millions of every day Americans to full frontal freedom.
captcha: evening. Spread out against the sky. Or the social democratic solution to income inequality.Posted by on 05/20 at 08:00 AM
You know what I don’t like about this blog? Well, since you ask . . . it’s that you, Prof. Bérubé, routinely dredge up really objectionable songs which then lodge in my brain and hurt me.
And no, I’m not referring to the owl-and-pony-show, but to the ever-changing world in which we have a numbing overabundance of prepositions. I suppose Mr. McEnroe bears the original responsibility for resurrecting that bit of unpleasantness, but you’re the one who dragged it over here to stink up the joint. That is the third most annoying lyric ever, after Neil Diamond’s extended whine about his furniture ignoring his lamentations, and the unspeakably vile thing in which some nameless unfortunate is alleged to be havin’ Paul Anka’s baby.
Also? While I’m airing my grievances, I really miss the ginormous looming head. I found it oddly cheering. I’ll be watchin’ you, with apologies to (capcha) Police . . .Posted by on 05/20 at 08:26 AM
Not sure if you should apologize to Michael Murphey or to Michael Martin Murphey, the latter being the name he assumed after he went and got all country on us, shocking the pop world.Posted by Russell60 on 05/20 at 08:41 AM
Not apologize, give credit to...geezPosted by Russell60 on 05/20 at 08:42 AM
Regrettably, Dr. Drang, I must correct your spelling. It’s perfesser. Plain folks don’t have no truck with Latinate word endings.
Has paper gotten so costly that publishers are desperate to condense the notes by jettisoning articles at the start of titles? That’s just wrong, unless the title follows the possessive of the author’s name. And even then “George Lucas’s The Empire Strikes Back” isn’t an abomination, at least from a copyediting standpoint.
My captcha is a lowercase york. Michael, can your technical department incorporate case-sensitive and case-correct captchas, please?Posted by Orange on 05/20 at 08:53 AM
I’m still trying to determine if you tried not to sing out of key.Posted by on 05/20 at 08:53 AM
I must defend Sir Paul, in spite of everything he’s sung recently. The line is “But in this ever-changing world in which we’re living,” which is still an awful line but not grammatically awkward. The true violator of this rule is (are?) the Cowboy Junkies for ”things of which I dream of still.” That pops into my head regularly, and I was last a frequent listener to that album circa 1994.
Stephanie @ 18, maybe he should call it “All Apologies.”
Hey, hoot owls may not howl, but screech owls screech. And when hoot owls say “who cooks for you all” it’s actually “for yooooooooooo!!!aaawwwwwwwwl” which sounds pretty howlish. I don’t know why I’m defending this. But I like owls. Dogs bark, cows moo, I can recite them all. Hoot owl howling bullfrog croaking . . . happy trails.Posted by on 05/20 at 09:09 AM
From above, I think “kickin’ and a-gougin’ in the mud and the blood and the beer” is one of the finest poetic lines ever. Apologies to Shel Siverstein, of course, not the man in black. Is the last phrase polysyndeton, or does that have to be an actual run-on sentence?Posted by on 05/20 at 09:22 AM
Ah, I see rm beat me to it in 39.
Maud @ 34, I confess that I do not mind the furniture song, despite the lyrics, but am strongly agreed on the other. There is another highly objectionable song that I am unable to think of at the moment. Since that’s a blessed state of affairs, I’m not trying very hard.
And Michael @ 6, thanks!Posted by on 05/20 at 10:00 AM
Pretty soon pop songs will be alluding to Bérubé, rather than the other way ‘round.
Perhaps new citation style is result of takeover Russian publishing house?
In new Russian publishing house, pop songs allude to you!
Michael, can your technical department incorporate case-sensitive and case-correct captchas, please?
I can do you one better, Orange. I can set the captcha function so that it includes yoghs, wynns, and thorns. That should cut down on the comment spam!
I must defend Sir Paul, in spite of everything he’s sung recently. The line is “But in this ever-changing world in which we’re living,” which is still an awful line but not grammatically awkward.
I think that even in that corrected line, there are too many “ins” in it. But no one heard at all, not even the chair.Posted by Michael on 05/20 at 10:00 AM
“There’s been a hoot-owl howling by my window now for six nights in a row”—
Would Strunkwhite approve that ugly anglo demonstrative +passive, or even the present participle, dude? Unlikely . Maybe “For six nights in a row, a hoot-owl howled by my window.”
When in doubt activize like a drunken sportswriter (as I’m sure yr aware). Activization also tends to scare academic bureaucrats, as like Ring Lardner (not to say Pops Hem) well knew.Posted by Ezra Hound on 05/20 at 10:02 AM
42.1: On Socialism blog, low hanging fruit plucks you!
Mad props to David Byrne and Talking Heads for being way out front on articlelessness (and not being able to use articles is a small price to for shutting down that avenue of Internet pedantry). “The The” guys, not so much.Posted by on 05/20 at 10:22 AM
Strunkwhite was taken down quite nicely, and not at all passively, by Somebody Else Not Me. As for being plucked by low-hanging Socialist fruit, you know I like to start out with the simple stuff first thing in the morning.
And: I now have completed my copyediting. Huzzah. Except that I left my summer 2007 Dissent in my office at school and don’t have the page numbers for Johann Hari’s review of Nick Cohen’s What’s Left? If anyone has a copy and wants to spare me a trip to campus, now’s the time!
Also, I wonder what people make of the Panama Canal/ Falklands analogy. Any suggestions on that front?
Captcha: ask.Posted by Michael on 05/20 at 10:33 AM
It’s JP in the mornin’, at WTWT.
I believe that without a measure of practical equality with regard to fundamental human needs, freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.
John Dewey in the Haight! I’d ah nixed it, given that it rates a bit close to DeweySpeak, the prevailing style of the Uni-apparatchik. Though even DeweySpeak superior to the pop-colloquial-ironic belches of most of the modern cafe-gauchiste, aka snark. (see Crooked Timber, or the vomit boxes of Unf’ed, or KOS for examples of what to avoid).Posted by Ezra Hound on 05/20 at 10:39 AM
Plain folks don’t have no truck with Latinate word endings.
First the footnote thing, now this. Did I accidentally run over your dog with a misplaced metaphor*, Orange?
And: I now have completed my copyediting.
Liveblogging: you’re doing it wrong.
And I for one look forward to untranslated Beowulf** providing the captchas***.
*If you can believe it, I was originally going to go with “conjugate your dog.” Talk about easy setup.****
**If this were Slashdot, I’d have to insert a joke about computer clusters here.****
***If my brain were up to it, I’d have to insert a joke about Beowulf’s various “captchas” here.****
****Yes, it’s the return of the multiple asterisk footnotes, which I was eschewing so as not to crush Orange.Posted by on 05/20 at 11:34 AM
Liveblogging: you’re doing it wrong.
Isn’t it spelt “ur”?Posted by Michael on 05/20 at 11:43 AM
Isn’t it spelt “ur”?
Also, it’s “May I have this cheeseburger?”Posted by on 05/20 at 11:56 AM
I must admit that I had a little trouble following the Panama/Falklands thing both because of allusiveness run amok and (more substantively) because I get stuck on things like how Noriega was pretty much *our* tinpot dictator until suddenly he wasn’t, just cause. So the “international law and institutions” part seems a bit more tangled. Also, from the Wikipedia link:
A few days before final agreement on the treaties was reached, President Jimmy Carter had sent a telegram to all members of Congress informing them of the status of the negotiations and asking them to withhold judgment on the treaty until they had an opportunity to carefully study it. Senator Strom Thurmond responded to Mr. Carter’s appeal by stating in a speech later that day, “The canal is ours, we bought and we paid for it and we should keep it”.
But apparently Reagan had used that basic construction as early as 1976, so no apologies necessary.Posted by on 05/20 at 12:16 PM
I’m pretty sure the lyric is “But if this ever-changing world in which we’re living makes you give in and cry, say live and let die.”
Which is definitely active voice, so Ezra might even approve.Posted by on 05/20 at 12:21 PM
Yr from Ez Pound. Strunkwhite might not approve. Tant pis. Strunkwhite were not writing for MIT “linguists”, or Sylvia Plath wannabes, MB, or zombie-pomos who think Derrida did the world a favor by offing Reason. Strunkwhite offered advice for journalism, non-fiction scribblers, political writing so forth.
Speaking of Ez P, the ABCs of Reading offer some helpful hints on prose pedagogy, guaranteed to scare the F out of the Knesset-cheks--or Dewey-Speakers-- who have seized control of Berube’s <del>mind</del> site. Not too quotable for east coast sappho -college oratory, howevah.
Hey Doc mds: you into some sparring? Tae Kwon Do style, LA, like 405 Roscoe, Doc. Helps to break up the academic routine.Posted by Ezra Hound on 05/20 at 12:21 PM
And it’s, “I’m in your Government House renaming your colony”.Posted by on 05/20 at 12:23 PM
I’m not a real doctor. And not really an academic, so much as an employee of academics. And I only ever trained in Hapkido. Also, what?
And though JP Stormcrow is still correct, we must be careful not to go too far in our LOLygagging. For example, “All your base are belong to us” is perfectly valid* Engrish.
*No, not “cromulent.” Check the declension.Posted by on 05/20 at 12:53 PM
I had a journal copyeditor ask that “love that dare not speak its name” get quotes and a cite. OTOH I’m wondering how I would explain to a student who is properly worried about plagiarism why my use of a phrase like that without quotes or reference is an “allusion” and therefore way cool while an oped writer’s uncredited use of a blogger’s prose is pathetic theft. We’re assuming a lot of specific cultural knowledge. This also comes up if the audience for a work includes people who read English but who have a different cultural immersion.Posted by on 05/20 at 01:35 PM
Hey Ezra, when you were young and your heart was an open book, you used to say live and let live (you know you did, you know you did, you know you did) (With apologies, etc.)Posted by on 05/20 at 01:46 PM
If elected/appointed to the Angela Davis chair, I will enlist my student’s assistance in creating an alternative to multiple asterisks in favor of a net notation scheme that uses a new group of emoticons deliberately designed by/for oppressed females.
capcha “writing” no kiddingPosted by on 05/20 at 02:02 PM
How do you know it’s a V-Ed? It’s a not funny.
Not into Beatless, V-Ed. Mingus, not McMoptops. Bachhooven, etc. Or Dickie Wagner and the Imperials.
And the hip Heinleins of MB.com missed out on a real comic lead: Oratory for small, lesbian-oriented liberal arts colleges of New England. At least one schmoe might have had enough non-PC spine to run wit’ it.Posted by Ezra Hound on 05/20 at 02:07 PM
I get stuck on things like how Noriega was pretty much *our* tinpot dictator until suddenly he wasn’t
Ah, yes, that part. But I’m saying that if he’d gotten it into his head, in 1983, to “go Galtieri” (no need to cite, phrase in common parlance), it would very likely have given Reagan the opportunity for an all-out war. WRT the Falklands, I’m trying to imagine a way of standing up to tin-pot dictators without launching a neo-Armada for a remote Southern Atlantic outpost. Because I’m suggesting that the families in the pub didn’t care so much about the Falklands qua Falklands as they did about the idea that some two-bit Latin American dude spat in their faces from 8000 miles away. If only there were, you know, some supranational organization capable of repudiating the seizure and arranging a gradual transfer of sovereignty instead, as w/the Canal, while offering to resituate the good people of Stanley. . . .
I’m wondering how I would explain to a student who is properly worried about plagiarism why my use of a phrase like that without quotes or reference is an “allusion” and therefore way cool while an oped writer’s uncredited use of a blogger’s prose is pathetic theft.
Yep, it’s not only a question of fair use and attribution (heisting the specific concept and the specific words used by, say, a prominent blogger) but also a question of cultural capital (knowing, or presuming one’s readers know, famous phrases and demiphrases from Shakespeare or Kristofferson). Very tricky business, indeed. And then there was the time when I was a copyeditor for New Literary History and one of my graduate-student colleagues decided to change “westward empire makes its way” to “empire makes its way westward,” because the latter is less awkward. That didn’t go over so good with the author.Posted by Michael on 05/20 at 02:30 PM
V. Ed @ 56: I laughed. And that makes it funny.Posted by Michael on 05/20 at 05:01 PM
A bit of Falklands/Malvina/Panama trivia that I just learned was that Panama was an elected member of the UN Security Council in 1982 and was the only member to vote against the resolution demanding the withdrawal of Argentine troops (China, USSR, Spain and Poland abstained). Point for the analogy.
In 1866, again at Founders’ Rock, a group of College of California men were watching two ships standing out to sea through the Golden Gate. One of them, Frederick Billings, was reminded of the lines of Bishop Berkeley, “Westward the course of empire takes it way”* and suggested that the town and college site be named for the eighteenth-century English [sic] philosopher and poet.
*I’m not sure if your use is an an example of a demiphrase, paracite** or that freedom’s just another word for the alluder’s right to choose.
**To use John Protevi’s apt proposal for a famous quote notable for being misquoted.Posted by on 05/20 at 05:13 PM
Then, you make use of old hippie rants in a commencement speech too, MB.
Maybe Pynchon was wrong re Pointsman’s positivism.....Posted by Ezra Hound on 05/20 at 05:50 PM
“There’s been a hoot-owl howling by my window now for six nights in a row”—
Would Strunkwhite approve that ugly anglo demonstrative +passive, or even the present participle, dude?
While I don’t give a damn what S&W have to say about anything, I do feel compelled to point out that “there has been” is not in any way a passive construction. Nor a demonstrative, for that matter. It’s an existential in the present perfect. So there.Posted by The Ridger on 05/20 at 09:09 PM
When I first heard the song in 1975, I must have been 9, and I thought the lyric was “There’s been a luau outside my window now for 6 nights in a row.” And I thought that the narrator was so sad because of the song’s events, he did not want to partake in the Hawaiian-themed festival.Posted by on 05/20 at 10:16 PM
Makes much more sense to me, Paula. But Janet tells me there’s no such thing as a “luau,” so I suppose I have to reject that reading.
As I recall, though, Dave Barry owns the all-time record for Misinterpretation of Pop Lyrics, Owl Division, for his rendering of “Help Me, Rhonda”: Well, since she put me down there’ve been owls puking in my bed. Little did he know that owls don’t puke!
And Ezra, old friend, if you have a moment (as you clearly do) you can check out the hippie rants I actually did deliver at Marlboro! The “web” “stream” is here, and the ranting begins at the 52:20 mark. Because I am a decent fellow, and wanted to wrap things up in 15 minutes, the ranting ends at the 1:06:50 mark.Posted by Michael on 05/20 at 10:24 PM
If there is something to the Falkland/Panama analogic, then perhaps viewing the pair through the lens of the British abandonment of Hong Kong might reveal substantive discourse? It was one thing to take on Argentina, quite another China. Then there is a mountain… no no, then there is Grenada; yes that’s it.Posted by on 05/21 at 06:36 AM
Hong Kong! Good one. Remember when Hong Kong was up for grabs?Posted by Michael on 05/21 at 07:46 AM
...with an open heart, with intellectual curiosity, with negative capability, and with magnanimity...
Well put. You serve as a pretty good model of that behavior, if I may say so.Posted by on 05/21 at 08:18 AM
Your blog’s “avid audience”? Yeah, that’s certainly one valid way of putting it. Damn, President McCulloch-Lovell is good.
If your handwriting is sufficiently bad, do they make you Doctor of Inhumane Letters?
“wit and reason.” Obviously, you and You Know Who are playing entirely different sports.
Wait, so the practice phase doesn’t automatically end at 40? I’m not sure whether I’m disappointed or relieved.
Nicely done, of course. I really envy you skillful souls who make public speaking look comparatively easy. If I could give public presentations entirely via blog comment, I’d be golden. Hmmm…Posted by on 05/21 at 10:34 AM
63: I don’t give a f*ck about you either, Ridger, but you’re wrong. “There” IS a demonstrative, puto. And “been” past participle of Be. It’s a passive construction. Wiki it, or ebonics-wiki it, for hints. (And another lame post from one of MB’s snarkies).
(I might check it out, MB, after the dope’s cooked. On a more serious note, Gravity’s Rainbow sucks, really. Far too much kabbalistic mumbo jumbo, and for that matter liberties with History. I enjoy COL49, but still a bit too much day-glo. On the Road, while perhaps sludgy and narcissistic, spatter with meth and rotgut, at least was real, unlike the day-glo dreams of Pynchon, Vonnegut & Co).Posted by Ezra Hound on 05/21 at 11:09 AM
Oh, I dunno, Ezra, I still think Gravity’s Rainbow is a work of twisted genius. Brilliant, almost completely out of control. After I read Vineland and got over the disappointment, I went back and reread GR and was freshly amazed by its lushness and density. Liberties with history? C’mon, d00d, that’s like complaining that the ending of Lear is sad. Of course it takes liberties with history. See also Reed, Ishmael; Coover, Robert; Doctorow, E. L.; Powers, Richard; Whitehead, Colson; etc.
V. Ed, many thanks. But honestly, I’m not very good at some of those things yet. I need much more practice, especially with the negative capability part. If I were better at that one I’d be a novelist or playwright. And I was actually thinking of my family for the first two: Nick, Janet, and Jamie all have amazingly open hearts and a voracious intellectual curiosity. I often tell Jamie it’s one of the coolest things about him: disability, schmisability, he approaches the world with a kind of eager curiosity, and utterly without malice.
And I have to admit this was the first speaking gig in almost 20 years about which I was palpably nervous. The first 45 minutes of the ceremony set a very high standard, and I didn’t want to be the guy about whom all the students and parents said, later in the day, “it was really a lovely ceremony except for that Bérubé fellow.”Posted by Michael on 05/21 at 11:49 AM
amazed by its lushness and density.
Or turgid, sludgy, excessively hyperbolic, and not really like say Joyce’s prose (or Faulkner’s goth jazz of Absalom), but a script for a zooper Prince Valiant cartoon of WWII. And given the usual ‘merican students’ ignorance of euro-history, sort of eh je ne sais kwah, phucked up (ie. they need details of WWII, not just the HBO nazi-movie of the week, or the Pynchon mega-manga). Then some of us’d rather read history than Schackaspeare or TP anyhoo
Reed ishmael? His books anything like the anthologized poetics, I’m not too interested. Biff and Bunny can’t handle Pynchons (or Joyces): they barely get Vonnegut’s somewhat competent pop-surreal satire of Breakfast of champions. For 60s info. they could do worse than read like Tim O’Brien’s The Things they carried (rather more intense than the ho-wood Nam blockbusters, or usual hippie rants). Or even Miss Didion’s cool cynical essays on 60s hype. Or just stick to History.
(actually “there has been/there’s been” falls under the class of anglo present progressive form, but using demo. pronoun form of There, AND past tense, been. So yr still wrong)Posted by Ezra Hound on 05/21 at 12:22 PM
Wait, mds, are you also Dr. Drang? I’m confused. And I don’t have a dog.*
* Why don’t I have a dog? Could it be that I had one but it was run over?†
† I cannot prove that I had a dog that was run over.‡
‡ There is also no proof that mds did not run over my dog.§
§ Nor is there definitive proof of god’s existence.ǁ
ǁ Some things must be taken on faith.¶
¶ Man, I hope these footnote symbols display properly. I put a lot of work into this!Posted by Orange on 05/21 at 12:29 PM
Wait, mds, are you also Dr. Drang?
Let’s just nip this one in the cannabis flower, okay? No. Also, Chris Clarke probably isn’t the father of my child.
See, at comment 23 I noted that Mr. Protevi’s last name should be spelled with a “j” in a weak attempt at a jape about I <-> J in Latin (and a Last Crusade reference). Whereupon you later commented:
Plain folks don’t have no truck with Latinate word endings.
Combine that with your hurtful words about multiple asterisks, and what was I to think? Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action. So we were at, um, coincidence, but I decided to skip that step. No hard feelings, I hope? Even though, by your painstaking use of different footnote symbols, you continue to mock me?
Of course it takes liberties with history.
Yeah, better keep Mr. Hound away from Mason & Dixon, because I haven’t been able to find a historical citation for the prophetic talking dog. Yet.Posted by on 05/21 at 01:17 PM
Anyway, I think TP hisself drifts to a rightist-Trotskyite vision at times: like you, Doc Mds. Oy vey! Entiendes, basura?
M & D: another history cartoon from TP. With those so-radical cats, Ben Franklin and Co. Melville he ain’t.Posted by Ezra Hound on 05/21 at 01:21 PM
Ah, but the plain folk may say “perfesser” without ever having heard of Iohn Protevj. I thought that was funny and wasn’t picking on your Latinate endings, mds.
My only regret about the footnote symbols is that Michael has not yet (to my knowledge) had a single Arbitrary but Fun Friday about our favorite typographical symbols.Posted by Orange on 05/21 at 01:25 PM
Michael has not yet (to my knowledge) had a single Arbitrary but Fun Friday about our favorite typographical symbols.
£o£!Posted by on 05/21 at 01:28 PM
Well, I’m much more inclined toward SI than 4I, but if all that entryism worked, I suppose I could be a conservative Trotskyist and not even know it. And honestly, I didn’t find Mason & Dixon particularly compelling. However, both the historical record and our own memories take liberties with history, so that’s still not the most salient criticism of a novel.Posted by on 05/21 at 01:41 PM
Do you have a salience-meter handy? I am for strict realism, historically speaking, though of a non-ideological sort. Novels are another thing. Someone who chooses to write a massive novel about WWII and focus on someone’s putative magic skills at predicting V2 strikes, well (yes, there’s more to it. tant pis). The zaniness overwhelms as well, sort of like most corporate liberal snark-speech does. TP’s a hero to like the same people who think The Simpson’s to be cutting edge.
Most out in Consumerland know more about the lit-er-ary spins of 20th century (via TS Eliot, Joyce, Woolfe, et al) than they do about specific battles of WWI or WWII, or the great depression, soviets, china and so on.Posted by Ezra Hound on 05/21 at 02:05 PM
It’s Trotskyists, you dolts. The other one is a Maoist slur.Posted by on 05/21 at 04:23 PM
owls don’t puke!
Do y’all not know about owl pellets?
Not strictly “puke,” of course. “Owls puking in my bed” makes a little bit of sense, though.Posted by on 05/21 at 04:36 PM
"Trotskyite” quite common, dolt, and the maoists don’t have a monopoly on its use as pejorative ( hopefully the e-Trotskyites won’t start deleting any and all pejoratives in the name of some PC zionist nicenik code...)Posted by Ezra Hound on 05/21 at 05:32 PM
Garsh, was busy lately, missed this—grading week for community college perfessers.
Michael is MORE than just my Internet Friend, I should hope: I have always considered Michael the sort of person I might borrow money from. (Also I think we both went to Regis. But not the same year. My year was cool.)
Style note: Kos is the Great Orange Satan; Atrios is the “Cerulean Cherub.” I made that up myself, and I hope for no higher claim to immortality.Posted by Thers on 05/22 at 05:12 AM
Hi, Thers! Thanks for the style tip—do I have to credit you every time I say Cerulean Cherub now? Or is it indelibly associated with you, so that actually mentioning your name would be kind of redundant, like saying “Wittgenstein” every time one says “language games”?
Deo et patriae, dude! My senior year was 1977-78, the bestest and coolest year for pop music in American history, opening with Player’s “Baby Come Back” and closing out with the Little River Band’s “Reminiscing.”Posted by Michael on 05/22 at 08:27 AM
rm: You can go where you wanna go/Do what you wanna do/With whomever/You wanna do it with.
Always bothers me.Posted by on 05/22 at 01:24 PM
Berube, you really have to get over your obsession with the radical movement. Do you see Noam Chomsky or Alexander Cockburn writing obsessively about you and Todd Gitlin? Get a life.Posted by on 05/23 at 11:23 PM
Josh, yeah. The second “with” slips in there unnoticed; took me a good while to see what was wrong.
It’s your thing/Do what you wanna do/I can’t tell ya/To whom to sock it toPosted by on 05/24 at 12:28 AM
Ah, I see the voices in Proyect’s head have told him that there’s something about Chomsky and Cockburn in this post.Posted by Michael on 05/24 at 09:31 AM
You do have to admit that nothing quite lends pathos to “get a life” like a midnight drive-by comment.Posted by John Protevi on 05/24 at 10:29 AM
True dat. I’m feelin’ the pathos! Also, saying “obsession” a lot makes one’s comment all the more piquant.Posted by on 05/24 at 12:00 PM
It’s embarrass sometimes you are singing a song and the you realized your lyrics are wrong.Posted by Florinda on 04/22 at 01:34 PM
yes, its really a shame specially when you sing it loudly. I have tried it once and I was really ashamed of it. I just took it as a joke. hahahahaPosted by jason on 01/03 at 07:35 AM
I must defend Sir Paul, in spite of everything he’s sung recently. The line is “But in this ever-changing world in which we’re living,” which is still an awful line but not grammatically awkward. The true violator of this rule is (are?) the Cowboy Junkies for ”things of which I dream of still.” That pops into my head regularly, and I was last a frequent listener to that album circa 1994.Posted by White Gates Hastings on 02/21 at 08:55 AM
Yeah, better keep Mr. Hound away from Mason & Dixon, because I haven’t been able to find a historical citation for the prophetic talking dog.Posted by Las Vegas branding wraps on 03/12 at 02:52 AM