First-time commenter extravaganza
Borrowing an idea from my armwrestling buddy Chris Clarke, now that it has been borrowed in turn by Lauren the Indomitable and PZ the Pirate, this blog would like to invite comments from people who’ve never commented before. We know you’re out there—indeed, in certain cases we know where you live and whether you have any Captain Morgan in the liquor cabinet (our referral stat machine is a modern marvel). No, that’s not true. We think you’re out there, because the stats tell me this site is visited five to six thousand times a day on weekdays and three to four thousand times a day on weekends. But we know that only a handful of visitors actually stop to comment. So if you’d like to sign the guest book, so to speak, please do. And feel free to make suggestions, utter imprecations, and offer advice. Thanks, everyone.
I wished you well when you were sick, does that count as a comment? I lurk here, as I do at all the other blogs I read. The creepy part is following along in-jokes and feeling like regular posters are my friends. But never, well, hardly ever commenting. That’s creepy, right? I blame being a NYer, and a bookworm--I spend my life reading and watching and never saying anything. It’s quite comfy actually.
I swear, I’m not weird or anything, not really; I just really like reading.Posted by on 09/26 at 09:50 PM
this site is visited five to six thousand times a day on weekdays and three to four thousand times a day on weekends.
I’m impressed...and no longer curious why your casual reference to my blog has netted me a couple hundred hits since early this afternoon. So thanks for the kind words. It’s nice to know that respectable academics wouldn’t not hire me based on what I’ve written online. (Of course, that only applies to what I’ve written online. If I don’t finish this !%&!$@%&!$ dissertation soon, however, no one will ever hire me.)
To be honest, after a few beers earlier this month (after Tribble’s second tirade), some friends of mine and I wondered why you didn’t write a response, under your own name, to Tribble’s nonsense and have it published in The Chronicle. You contribute on a fairly regular basis, and “well-respected” understates your status in the discipline. (My advisor felt much better about my blogging after he learned that you do too.) I only say this because I know how hectic your life isn’t, you know, and that you’ll have to interrupt some serious thumb-twiddling to read this comment…Posted by Scott Eric Kaufman on 09/26 at 09:55 PM
Scott—well, now you know why I didn’t respond to Tribble in the pages of the Chronicle: because n-dimensional spacetime, as it is configured in my house, prevents me from responding to such things in a timely manner. But thanks for the suggestion; I’ll pass it along, in a suggestive kind of way, to the Chronicle itself.
I’m very relieved to hear that your advisor thought better of blogging when he heard that I have a blog. Honestly. Because clearly enough, too many people in our field think of blogs as Internets diaries in which people write, “Dear Internets Diary: my colleagues are such wankers! Let me tell you what foolish things they said in today’s confidential advisory committee meeting!” If I can correct that impression with a few winged words in an appropriate print forum, I will.
And mg_65, thanks so much for wishing me well when I was not well. There’s nothing creepy about reading. Around here, we think reading is one of the best ways to spend the day.Posted by Michael on 09/26 at 11:11 PM
Well I check your site a good four to five times a day, often in between my Master’s level graduate literature classes down here at IUP, which of course is just a hop-skip-and-jump away from Penn State. I must say, I’ve mentioned some of the comments you or John have made about Foucault or whatever other Joe Critic you wish as fodder for conversations in a few classes when times get lackluster (which happens all too often in 6-9 pm grad english classes here (cough, cough)), just to try and spark some life into classmates who insist on regurgitating the same questions over and over.
What I respect most about reading your site is that I can finally talk (er, listen?) with someone in my prospective profession that isn’t too uptight to step out of the ivory tower and explain things or engage readers in a way that we appreciate, and for that, I say thanks.
Your blog is a breath of fresh air in a field in which everyone around me is trying to suck the life out of me, so if I get to breathe a little fresh air and read about the going-ons in the academe or the black hole that is literary theory, well, I’d say that’s a good day.Posted by Goose on 09/26 at 11:31 PM
Hi… stopped in to visit, stayed for the fun of it.
Actually, my attention was caught by “Theory Tuesday"… I never really “got” what was going on with literary theory these days… I saw your blog, and hoped for some insights. You subsequently provided them (although I had to do a bit of homework to know what you were talking about, here and there.. I’m a computer nerd, and hopelessly out of my depth in lit crit, etc).
So, anyway… keep up the good work!
As far as advice goes… well, keep in mind that some of your readers are from foreign disciplines (computer science! biochemistry!), and a few more footnotes or parenthetical asides might be appreciated (by me, if by nobody else).Posted by on 09/26 at 11:53 PM
I read you all the time, never comment though. Your writing is fantastic, keep up the good work.Posted by Matt F on 09/27 at 12:13 AM
Funny that you mention me in the post considering I read every day and rarely comment.
Word.Posted by Lauren on 09/27 at 12:24 AM
well, professor myers couldn’t drag me out of lurkerhood, but he checks in here as well (egads, how do you guys get work done?!), so this’ll have to be a twofer.
for what it’s worth, i did start to compose a few messages here, mainly during the rehash of the nussbaum-butler battle royale (and i never thought i would be in the position of defending nussbaum as coherent and persuasive, but i thought her critique of butler was pretty good overall); didn’t, of course, because then i wouldn’t be a lurker anymore. and really, i just like the word `lurker’---i’m glad the word, if not the thing, has found itself back in decent society.
no imprecations here; you’ll get nothing but praise from me. i get top-drawer knowledge and funnies for free---damn good deal from where i sit. and you humanize the professoriate, even for those of us in academia who are surrounded by them. you’re more personable than many of the folk down the hall, or about the quad.
suggestion? sadly, it might be that you need to start disclaiming your satire.... too much of it strikes my ear as dishearteningly plausible....Posted by on 09/27 at 12:38 AM
I’m a lurker, though I know I’ve commented occasionally, a good while ago, generally on your very funny culture wars posts. I’m a PhD in English lit from about ten years ago who despaired both at the academic job market and the prospect of being visiting/adjunct endlessly and took herself off that track. I went and got a Social Work degree (because, you know, if that postcolonial theory isn’t paying off for you, the real money’s in social work!). Count me among the lurkersPosted by on 09/27 at 12:47 AM
how do you guys get work done
Personally, I don’t. Solves that problem.
Michael, contrariwise, actually wrote a 3,000-word review and four blog posts while we were eating dinner last week.Posted by Chris Clarke on 09/27 at 12:55 AM
Michael, contrariwise, actually wrote a 3,000-word review and four blog posts while we were eating dinner last week.
While downing tequila shots with Ward Churchill and armwrestling the strippers next door as I composed (with my left hand) the first draft of the Penn State AAUP letter. As you were writing the epitaph for the deserts, as I recall. . . .Posted by on 09/27 at 01:04 AM
I don’t think I’ve commented here before. I mostly don’t have anything to add, either because I agree and wish I’d said it like that (politics) or because I am struggling to keep up (lit theory). What I know about literature (let alone literary theory) would fit into a medium sized thimble, but you have managed to make what has always been an impenetrable thicket of poisonous-looking thorns not only somewhat navigable, but actually entertaining. So, this comment is just to say thanks.Posted by sennoma on 09/27 at 01:32 AM
I’m a lurker—I don’t think I’ve ever commented here, though I have no good excuse for my silence.
Like Scott, I’m a grad student whose dissertation has suffered from the insatiable demands of my blog.
I’m very happy to see your earlier post about blogging and academia. It’s something I’m worried about, though I’d do better if I worried instead about finishing my dissertation. At times, I think that I wouldn’t want to be hired by anyone who would be scared off by my blog; and also that I should show off the place where most of my work is going these days. At other times, I remember how bad the job market is, and figure that I should keep it off of my CV. I haven’t gotten advice from my advisor on that issue, because I’m not sure I want her to know how much I’m blogging.
Then again, four years into the diss, I’m not sure that I even want to go into academia anymore.
Perhaps this is why I don’t comment here—it reminds me that I’ve got a dissertation to write!Posted by Matt on 09/27 at 04:39 AM
Hi, I’m Chris Clarke’s sister and I’m a lurker, mainly because I’m speechless after reading your posts - your literary genius blows me away!Posted by Carrie on 09/27 at 08:59 AM
I mostly lurk since I hardly ever understand any of the lit crit (although since I *had* read Judith Butler, I understood some of those posts!).
I’m not a blogger, but I read about 40 blogs regularly. They sharpen my thinking, and thinking is what I’m best at. Your blog is very thoughtful and thought-provoking and I usually learn something. Oh, and I like your sense of humor. I think you’d be an interesting person to hang out with (and I’m not a people-person).
My background is in biogeography, but alas, I work in state government in an unrelated capacity.Posted by on 09/27 at 09:35 AM
I’ve lurked here for about six months. My blog provides a humanist perspective on politics, technology and culture.Posted by nanovirus on 09/27 at 10:13 AM
"Actually, my attention was caught by “Theory Tuesday”… “
...mine too. I’m a grad student at Miami University, and I was pointed this way over the summer by a post on Tom Tomorrow’s website. I’m taking a grad level “intro to theory” this semester (just read Foucault’s “death of the author” in Norton, and i’m about to break some teeth on baudrillard in a minute) and I really enjoyed/appreciated the summaries of movements and such that you were providing. Actually, I think it’s a little more useful than Culler’s “A Very Short Introduction to Theory.”
But I also appreciate your longer posts, and the fact that they happen more sporadically. My soon-to-be brother in law has Down’s, (I’ve been helping take care of him, off and on, for a few years now) and so when I came across your first post with Jaime, I found another point to connect. So.. between the theory stuff, which I’m still obviously just getting a handle on, and the life stuff, which I can connect to, this seems like a good place to lurk.
Plus, I’m actually a web-bot crawling your site from several thousand different ip addresses, so that could be one of the reasons you’re showing so many hits.Posted by on 09/27 at 10:20 AM
I’m pretty sure I’ve never posted, but I’ve read avidly for several months now. I remain cloaked in lurkerhood because I feel generally out-classed by the authors and other commenters, but it’s still almost always a pleasure to read.Posted by Matt P on 09/27 at 10:37 AM
I’m a regular reader who’s probably commented maybe 5 times or so, and then not substantively (like mg_65, I think my comments have been limited to the “get well soon” type of missive). As an attorney with a somewhat rusty graduate degree in philosophy, I feel I get much more out of reading your posts, along with the dialogues that occur in the comments, than I would get out of trying to add something.Posted by on 09/27 at 11:20 AM
Yet another lurker here. If memory serves me correctly, I believe I commented once before, wherein I mentioned a couple of first lines from some random books (Faulkner, to be sure, and Toni Morrison, I believe).
At any rate, it was most likely an utterly inconsequential remark, so it probably doesn’t count for a real comment.
I’ve been lurking around these parts for quite a while now. I wouldn’t necessarily consider it stalking, per se...but definitely lurking.
I do remember the young days of this wonderful forum. It was long before there were thousands upon thousands of visitors each day, when this humble blog was in its formative stages.
I was just a boy then—starting his first semester of graduate school (Secondary English Education, in case you care and I know you don’t) when I became enthralled by the blogging phenomenon.
Lurking around these Internets, I stumbled upon any number of good web logs that I immediately bookmarked and revisited frequently. This was one such blog.
And I’m kinda glad I stumbled this way…Posted by rdturpin on 09/27 at 11:23 AM
First of all I’ve been reading your blog for about six months or so and I came here from your infrequent contributions to Altercation.
The only thing I’d really say to comment is...write more - - as often as you can.
You and Eric R. are two of the most intelligent, thought provoking academians around today and for those of us just living a normal non-academia life we need more from the contemporary greats. I know you’re incredibly busy and writing more will be tough, but, as the say, I’m just sayin’....
Love the blog Michael. Keep up the great (and important) work!Posted by on 09/27 at 11:37 AM
I think you’re terrific, Michael. Every time I check here and there’s something new from you, I get a little thrill. So thanks.Posted by on 09/27 at 11:53 AM
I’ve enjoyed your blog immensely over the last year. I’ve been on the lookout for your non-specialist work, ever since you gave a highly entertaining talk at Haverford College in 1991. The fact that you have a memorable name has helped me remember who I was on the lookout for....
And here you are, right on the internets. Whee!
If you’re taking demographic data, I’m another one of the linear scientist/computer geek types who hang around with a lot of humanities people.
Thanks for keeping us entertained and informed (and amused)!Posted by JD on 09/27 at 12:05 PM
I’m just here because David Horowitz told me to keep an eye on “that Berube guy.”
Plus, I think it’s fun to say your name! Berube! Be . . . . rube! Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerube!!!!Posted by on 09/27 at 12:19 PM
Came for the disability theory, stayed for the humanity and the funny. And once I got it through my head that you weren’t the same guy as Allan Berube, the posts about your wife and kids started making a little more sense. As did the hockey posts.Posted by on 09/27 at 12:38 PM
Well, I suppose I fit the bill of “regular reader, hardly ever comment”. But wat can I say? I’m a lit-crit & politics junkie and so a daily shot of Bérubé just hits the spot - especially when you’re so damn entertaining. So yes, I’m one of those that spend the day reading. And actually I’ve enjoyed your blog enough to peak an interest in reading a couple of your books - most recently the Employment of English. Thanks again.
Also, my wife works with developmentally disabled adults and its been a privilege to hear about Jamie. Thanks for sharing a little bit of your experience.Posted by on 09/27 at 12:40 PM
I lurk. Somehow it feels disrespectful to comment on the posts of a man I’m quoting in my dissertation. Weird? It’s like the way I still call people “sir” and “mam,” and don’t use first names until I’m invited to. Momma raised me that way.
I suppsoe this last post is an invitation of sorts, though, so perhaps I’ll join in now and then.Posted by ms lynch on 09/27 at 12:55 PM
Since my lit degree is too far in the past to count as an asset any more, I lurk on your Internets page to continue my education - in theory, criticism, concise writing and humanity. It makes me feel like a student again. I keep having to push other stuff out of my brain to retain Theory Tuesday lessons, though. I hope you’re right!Posted by on 09/27 at 01:09 PM
Many thanks, everyone. This is most informative, especially as I think about resuming those Theory Tuesdays. I couldn’t tell whether those things were drawing the Chris Michel-like web-bots crawling over the site from several thousand different ip addresses (this always makes me think of those octopus-like machines in The Matrix) and driving away human readers, or whether I should offer more footnotes and asides, as Zork suggests. One thing seems clear, though. There isn’t much of a constituency for hockey blogging. I could, I suppose, post an end-of-season golf thing on my fluke 79 this past June, but I don’t know. Nobody likes golf stories, not even my friend Annika.
And I didn’t know Chris Clarke had a sister! Hi, Carrie. I guess Chris didn’t mention you because we were too caught up in armwrestling those brawny strippers.
rdturpin, thanks for sticking around since the early days—ah, the early months of 2004, when I was working with a 56K dialup and a commentless blog. It all seems so hazy now . . . d’oh, it’s right there in the archives. Silly me. JD, you remember me from Haverford in 1991? Good lord. That was my very first invited-speaker gig, ever. And I had to do it under duress, so to speak, because between the time I accepted the invitation and the date of the talk, Jamie was born. When I came out to Haverford in late October, he was just home from the intensive care unit (where he’d spent his first three weeks), still requiring gavage-tube feedings and supplemental oxygen. Needless to say, I couldn’t stay away from home for very long. Now those days were hectic. But thanks for remembering that talk.
IF, thanks for keeping D. Ho. up to date on me. Though I could simply send him a personal monthly bulletin, if that would be easier. It is fun to say my name, though. Allan Berube’s is even funner.
I’ll check back in a bit later—gotta finish a reader’s report on an essay and write a short talk for the Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities conference by tomorrow. Thanks again for saying hello.Posted by on 09/27 at 01:09 PM
I read ... religiously seems the wrong characterization. Compulsively, perhaps.Posted by Tyler on 09/27 at 01:29 PM
I don’t consider myself a lurker, because I’ve commented before, but I like a bit of hockey blogging too. I don’t know anything about hockey, so I don’t comment on it, but I’m always up for learning about new things.Posted by on 09/27 at 02:50 PM
gotta keep the hockey blogging. it’s reassuring to know that people who Think Deep Shit also play hockey and (almost) chainsaw tree trunks and such. otherwise, there’s no person behind the veil, it’s the Great and Powerful Oz. and what fun is that?Posted by on 09/27 at 03:45 PM
OK, enough lurking. Great blog, you come close to making pomo comprehensible, you sound like one of those profs that I would remember fondly in my dotage, recalling my golden college years, & finally—should you need it—I’ve got your back when you go mano y mano with Horowitz. Just one question: why do you say “internets” when the rest of the world says “internet?”Posted by on 09/27 at 03:59 PM
More Park Sausages, please! I mean, more lit crit please!
Hard to believe you’re teaching in the same state as they’re havin’ the Dover Monkey Trial, don’cha’ know?
Hockey? Feh. Try playing the accordion- now, that’s a man’s game! Although some in-depth drumming discussion would be OK too. Like, how do ya tune ‘em?Posted by Liv Pooleside on 09/27 at 04:03 PM
Michael: I’ve been reading you for months now, but my brain has atrophied horrifically since I left the Montana State many, many years ago. As a consequence, I don’t feel qualified to comment on here as I simply cannot hold your intellectual jockstrap, much less offer any commentary of value. But I’m a fan, and fortunately my intellectual cowardice does not prevent me from (at the very least) basking in the glow that this board casts…Posted by on 09/27 at 04:04 PM
I read this blog because of a comment I recieved from you on an essay I wrote (essay might be too generous of a term here) on “Crying of Lot 49” when I was enrolled in your Modern Novels class at U of I circa 2000.
It said, “Why does Oedipa’s search for truth have to be about self identity? Maybe you should come back to this in a few years.”
Falling somewhere between the honors darling/soon to be high school english teacher continuum of U of I english majors in both intellectual prowess and dedication this was a watershed moment were I realized I was not headed down the path of english grad school, despite the urging of other, (to me at the time) less challenging professors.
So Theory Tuesdays has turned out to be next best thing. Although my favorite posts are about Jamie playing baseball because it brings me back to my little league days with my brother, when my mom became the first “wife” to coach little league in our separate spheres suburb so that my brother (who was 10) could play with us 6-7 year olds since there werent any leagues for “disabled kids” to play in at the time.
By the way, I still revel in your description of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” as the first ever homework anxiety film when I always thought of it as “how do we make Back to the Future even more Californian?” (note: Marty’s need once he is back in time to hook up George with his Mom to prevent himself from not being born is given a proper homage in “BTEA” with Bill and Ted’s dilemna of not having a sweet video to get Eddie Van Halen as the Wyld Stallions guitarist, but being unable to have a sweet video without Eddie Van Halen as their guitarist)Posted by on 09/27 at 04:05 PM
I read your website for intellectual stimulation, but I’m one of those who never comments...mostly for lack of time and the fact that I tend to get too wordy. I appreciate the talented writing and compelling topics. I’m a young lawyer practicing in a small firm in a small town and someday (when student loans are paid off - say when I’m 80yrs), I hope to return to my original career of choice - academic research and writing in the field of history. The day to day “business” of law is not as engaging as I had hoped. Your website helps keep my brain stimulated and my hopes up. Much thanks.Posted by on 09/27 at 04:24 PM
Just one question: why do you say “internets” when the rest of the world says “internet?”Posted by Michael on 09/27 at 04:36 PM
I read off an on here--trying to be more of a regular, though-- and like so many others I never post because a) I should be writing a freaking dissertation not reading (let alone commenting on) blogs, so I read quick and try to get back to work and b) because producing the sort of clever repartee that seems to be required in the blogosphere is usually beyond me; it, again, takes time and energy I unfortunately have to deploy to my academic hoop-jumping muscles these days.
I’m a historian (but in an American Studies department) so the theory bits remind me of things I used to think about, years ago, before I had to, you know, learn facts and such . But I really relish the political and personal stuff just as much. It’s nice to read something daily by a broadly thinking intellectual who can speak to a variety of different audiences with equal fluidity, style, grace, wry humor and righteous indignation. I think I first read you back in the mid 90s in an installment of “Pistols for Two” in The Baffler (number eleven, I think), where you went toe to toe with Chris Lehmann. That little exercise, while fun, spoke volumes about the need for better, let’s say, “communication” between the academics and journalists, writers and so on outside of the academy.
Anyway, thanks, and keep it up.Posted by on 09/27 at 04:53 PM
Hi Michael. I enjoy having my mind stretched on Tuesdays but I am a musician and a rec league hockey player. So please keep on a-blogging about music and hockey. The random Fridays and comments are a blast.
Ever played defence? I recently started playing forward after being a lifelong defenceman and was amazed at how it changed my sense of the game. Two distinct mind sets. I felt like I wanted to change my wardrobe after playing forward - no more khaki, bring on the reds and purples! Somewhat like playing bass vs lead guitar, I guess. I love the way hockey and music shine a light on character - in the moment.
And I love the sense of fun you bring to your writing here. Giv’er!Posted by on 09/27 at 05:08 PM
I have been reading your blog for over a year. I read Life as We Know It years ago and really enjoyed it.
I am a regular visitor and appreciate the disability theory as well. My desire to become an advocate for others with disabilities receives a lot of fuel for the fire when reading your terrific work! When I need an escape from college work or am tired of fighting the system, this blog stimulates me - or just makes me laugh. Keep Bush bashing!Posted by on 09/27 at 05:20 PM
Hi Michael. I’m a Swedish academic that have been lurking here for 18 months. The attractions: the wit, the Dauphin commentary, the music , and theory tuesday (your reconstruction of deconstruction blew my mind). I have a soft spot for the hockey blogging as well, being Swedish and all that. Just keep it up.Posted by on 09/27 at 05:46 PM
I feel honored to have been at your first invited talk! And doubly, given the circumstances. And trebly impressed, because you were coherent and funny, which is way more than I’d be under that level of stress.
“You mean the best way to deal with right wingnuts is to MOCK them?!” we said to each other, back in our dark ages of excruciating earnestness. Very entertaining.
Cheers—Posted by JD on 09/27 at 06:33 PM
Dear Dr Michael, I confess to lurking as well. For a long time that is. I have commented on a few occassions under the guise of bridging some (less and less hypothetical) continental divide.
I’m not sure why I keep reading this blog on a daily basis, perhaps simply because it gives me insight, or perhaps some benign blindness. We did in fact meet at one time, (1991?)possibly somewhat against your will in Chicago where the wife and I attended a debate on higher education, and in its presentation somehow included the name of Paul de Man… We accosted you after the performance with a question as to ‘certainly you know Ortwin de Graef?’ the guy who put on the academic table all the relevant info on the war-time past of said authority. You did not, for fair enough reasons. That is how your name stuck (this guy either is truly intelligent or he’s freaking mad and possibly both)
Years later I came across your blog and have become close to addicted. (There is a further sentimental connection on Down syndrome as well but that is less relevant today apart from the fact that someone did change my life forever...)
I read this blog with the excuse of merely observing not only an american intellectual, but one of the liberal persuasion (and I am a fervent criticist/enemy of anything liberal, ‘anglo’ or ‘continental’ who is at the same time not only extremely charming and witty but is able to formulate darn good arguments on deep insights. Such abberations just have to be closely observed.
All this in the highest admiration as well as bewilderment from a western european (continental) punk. All I’d say, out of a sense of urgency is ‘read Lacan’(ie Freud), and Zizek is more than a good short cut for the likes of you.
In any case, thanks for who you are, and the many friends you have, and thanks for allowing so many of us to pry.Posted by on 09/27 at 06:47 PM
I don’t really comment much because I feel that I spent enough time lurking around your house over the summer. Plus, for a while I could pretend that I was not one of Nick’s friends who reads his father’s blog. But since I now do read it regularly, and it really is excellent, I am entirely giving up all pretenses. So give my regards to Janet and Jamie.Posted by on 09/27 at 07:00 PM
I’m a transplanted kiwi rhet/comp lurker who enjoys your many musings on politics, public intellectualism and tree-pruning. Thanks, and keep up the great work. I especially like the way you argue with people like Horowitz - there’s a peculiar genius to it, a way you avoid getting sucked into the muck and vitriol while wittily dissecting major weaknesses and absurdities. I also like your discussions of theory - wish you’d been blogging when I was in grad school.Posted by on 09/27 at 07:29 PM
Great work on the Blog. Pretty sensible politcally, but also
enough interesting literary and personal references to
keep it lively and human. I also appreciate that you
do not excessively “link” to other blogs, news sites.
CheersPosted by on 09/27 at 07:57 PM
I just check in once in a while for the hockey - still hoping for tales of the Plager Bros, Red Berenson and the’69 Blues.
how much curve to your stick, eh?Posted by on 09/27 at 09:24 PM
I’m a grad student in the Ph.D. program in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois, and I’m a former grad student in literature. Of course I have to look in regularly.
Plus the Bush-bashing is always entertaining. (When it’s not too depressing, enraging, etc.)Posted by Brian Zimmerman on 09/27 at 10:12 PM
I think I first read you back in the mid 90s in an installment of “Pistols for Two” in The Baffler (number eleven, I think), where you went toe to toe with Chris Lehmann. That little exercise, while fun, spoke volumes about the need for better, let’s say, “communication” between the academics and journalists, writers and so on outside of the academy.
Oh, jeebus, sz. You would be referring to the Baffler exchange in which I replied to Chris Lehmann’s bizarrely wrongheaded essay on the Yale graduate student grade strike—by being a complete horse’s ass. Yep, that was one missile I’d like to recall to the silo (to switch horse metaphors in midstream). Anyway, Chris and I made up—I’ve read a lot of his work since and have found it very smart, and he even hired me to write something for the Washington Post three years ago.
Laura, good to see you, so to speak. Hope you’re having fun at Columbia (yes, folks, it’s possible).
Hmm, looks like I need to write more stuff on disability one of these days. That’s good, ‘cause I have something cooking. And one of these days I really will try to explain why hockey is a quasi-spiritual enterprise for me. In 1000 words or less, of course. Nephew de rameau, I just broke a very curved Synergy Sunday night, and fell back on my one-inch curve tonight—but, shades of Red Berenson, managed to score six in the Old Guys’ League. I didn’t follow the Blues back in ‘69; I followed the Rangers. But fortunately, there was a Blues-Rangers Player Sharing Agreement in those days (see, e.g., Red Berenson, Phil Goyette, Jack Egers, Ab DeMarco, etc., etc.). . . .Posted by Michael on 09/27 at 10:53 PM
Only a semi-lurker; professor at PSU, first found you through the “if O’Reilly were a professor post”, regular reader since.Posted by Steinn Sigurdsson on 09/28 at 12:14 AM
I often start to comment, then delete because the written word is not nearly as witty as what I thought I had in my head. The level of wit and intelligence on this site makes it hard to comment here, unlike, say, at Free Republic. I’ll try harder in the future…Posted by on 09/28 at 01:26 AM
And I didn’t know Chris Clarke had a sister!
Two, actually, though one only comments on her daughter’s blog. I have a brother lurking around here somewhere too. Do you have anything to eat?Posted by Chris Clarke on 09/28 at 01:38 AM
I read your blog regularly. I received my doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1992. Unfortunately, my one encounter with you was ugly. We exchanged some unpleasant letters when you sent out a post-doc survey, and I responded with a ‘what the hell good was a survey when I couldn’t find a job.’ Shortly after that, I read an article by you and Carey Nelson on the plight of post-docs, and I realized you were a pretty decent guy. I never got an academic job. After two years in limbo, I eventually went to work for U.S. Customs in San Francisco. I write you as a supervisor on a 6 month assignment screening cargo in Germany and France as part of an anti-terrorism initiative. As I said, I enjoy your blog for its mixture of critical commentary and moral honesty. All the best to you and your family. JCFPosted by on 09/28 at 05:48 AM
Long time listener, first time caller.
I’m not an academic, work in documentary tv as producer/writer/editor. (always had a approach/avoid response to the post-grad academic life, managed to avoid after witnessing second-hand via a girlfriend).
I appreciate the way your blog displays varied enthusiams for sport (soccer for me, gave up baseball and hockey at 13), music (guitar-country blues, country, rock, jazz), and of course the main one of reading/writing/thinking.
Grew up in Chicago (the twentieth American century embodied), lived in DC for years after Indiana U, now live in London with new wife and coming (very soon) child. So if you use that geographic hits dispay, I’ll be one of the green lights from the UK.
Still wonder how a prof with kids, sports and music finds the time to keep your rss feeds one of the wordier (in a good way) ones in my NetNewsWirePosted by on 09/28 at 07:17 AM
"Red Berenson, Phil Goyette, Jack Egers, Ab DeMarco”
Gary Sabourin, Jean-Guy Talbot, Billy McCreary, Noel Picard, Al Arbour, Andre Boudrias… we need a Van Lingle Mungo for hockey, a la francaise.
Still having a hard time caring that today’s NHL’ers are back, though…
Synergy sticks on sale at Canadian Tire this week, eh?Posted by on 09/28 at 08:28 AM
I’m a Canadian - a mouse living next door to an elephant (I keep a hockey stick handy). I became interested in your blog via Arts and Letters Daily and then Atios, and was quickly attracted to the nuanced thinking and the considered comments it attracted.
At the time I discovered Berube, the election was roaring ashoreand the Iraqi war was underway. I became interested in how a liberal literature professor, with his supporters, could counter-punch the sniping of Charles Karuthammer, Chris Hitchens, Betty Newman, Theodore Dalrymple, the tank upon tank of righ wing thinkers (which always seems full despite the oil shortage), the religious right, the slimers, and oil money - all of it katrinaing everything in its path. I wondered how reason and academia could withstand jackboots and evangelical voodoo.
I continue to visit daily and enjoy the academic insights and wit, both of you, Mr. Berube, and your commenters. Keep up the good work.Posted by on 09/28 at 08:32 AM
I learned about this site through Bitch PhD’s blog about 6 months ago and have been here ever since. My wife and I just moved to York, PA from Seattle this year so she could accept a teaching position in the English Dept. at York College. I keep telling her she should comment on one of your theory topics, or at least tell me what I should comment, since my understanding of critical theory is limited to an introductory course in Literary Criticism in graduate school and a bunch of those “Theory for Beginners” books (I love them for their cartoons).
I’m a technical editor by trade and an aspiring jazz drummer so I love it when the talk turns to music. You are indeed the Al Jackson Jr. of cultural studies!Posted by on 09/28 at 09:22 AM
I read daily. All I have to say is thanks. Found my way here from UtopianTurtleTop initially.Posted by on 09/28 at 09:38 AM
Not a total lurker but I prefer to read. I found this blog when trying to contact Michael to come to Waterloo for the Canadian Down Syndrome Conference. I got hooked on all the smart writing, yours, Michael, and your daily commenters. May I also add that all of you contribute to my being the best informed person in my office on a number of topics, some of which nobody else is interested in, but hey. Some days I split a gut laughing and other days I rage with the rest of you but reading this blog has definitely become an addiction.Posted by on 09/28 at 09:45 AM
Call me Constant Reader. Your links are also most appreciated.Posted by on 09/28 at 11:43 AM
I’m a Berube addict, but a very rare commenter. At one period last year, I felt the need to visit several times a day, even though you rarely update that often.
Thanks very much for making me crack up, and making me sound obnoxiously superior to other people with whom I routinely discuss things - affairs of state, education and other weighty matters. And for consoling me from Nov 2004 onwards.Posted by on 09/28 at 11:50 AM
Michael—your political satire is brilliant. Laugh-out-loud-funny—and we need that these days. I started reading during the Republican National Convention last year and have been hooked ever since. Also, we have a wee connection—I grew up in Champaign and my dad’s in the English department there.Posted by on 09/28 at 12:20 PM
Hello. Nothing much to say other than that I wish I had some Captain Morgan in my liquor cabinet.Posted by on 09/28 at 12:44 PM
Semi-lurker and periodic commenter since Spring 2004. Re The Baffler missile that got away: If it makes you feel better, I’ve read everything of yours I’ve come across since I first encountered “You Are an Egg.” To this day I recommend it as an example of a well-crafted personal essay to anyone who’ll sit still long enough to listen to me. And that piece even hints at the quasi-mystical hold hockey has on you.Posted by on 09/28 at 01:02 PM
I read your blog pretty regularly these days, and don’t comment much because it seems that being in the office (where I have my internets connection) magically extracts all possibility for written wit and insight (and verbal too, but that’s less relevant here). And the wit and insight here (both in entries and comments) are formidable. Then I get home and think of all the great things I could’ve written--geez!Posted by on 09/28 at 01:50 PM
"lurking” seems like such an inappropriate symbol, or maybe it is just my 60’s sensibilities. I mean afterall, wasn’t Aqualung a “lurker!” suffering in winter’s ugly freeze?
Sitting on a park bench
eyeing little girls with bad intent.
Snot running down his nose
greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes.
Drying in the cold sun
Watching as the frilly panties run.
Feeling like a dead duck
spitting out pieces of his broken luck.
Sun streaking cold
an old man wandering lonely.
Taking time the only way he knows.
Leg hurting bad,
as he bends to pick a dog-end
he goes down to the bog
and warms his feet.
the army’s up the road
salvation à la mode and
a cup of tea.
Aqualung my friend
don’t you start away uneasy
you poor old sod, you see, it’s only me.
Do you still remember
December’s foggy freeze
when the ice that clings on to your beard is
And you snatch your rattling last breaths
with deep-sea-diver sounds,
and the flowers bloom like
madness in the spring.Posted by on 09/28 at 03:50 PM
Daily lurker, occasional commentor, of this great blog. Where else can you learn about lit. theory and hockey, both of which I know little about? My ancient degree was in History/Political Science, and I’m more a fan of baseball, football, and college basketball.
Regarding your use of “Internets”, I thought it had something to do w/ the Great Moron, but didn’t want to insult you! Keep up the good work!Posted by on 09/28 at 04:48 PM
Long time reader, first time poster, I have now realized that not all of your posts are rhetorical. So I must make up for lost time and reply to some of the more pressing matters alluded to in this blog space. My favorite Dylan cover is Shawn Colvin’s “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone,” Beatle’s cover is “Here Comes the Sun,” by Keith Hartley and Cockney Rebel (Gryphon’s reading of “Mother Nature’s Son” is a close second.) My favorite cover of all time is Talking Head’s “Take me to the River.” Southern Rock died with Duane Allman, may he rest in peace. Although here in the deep South, it is now called ‘New Country.’ Thanks .Posted by on 09/28 at 05:46 PM
.... uh, because i have a schoolgirl-like crush on your blog and i feel like i’d need to drink a lot of “the captain” to ask it to dance with me. because i, and my fledgling blog, are not cool enough or cute enough to hang out. because i’m an insecure grad student not yet sure if i’m ready to leave the kid’s table.
but i sure can mix a metaphor.
seriously, i’m a lit/theory phd student at wayne state and we love you here. i read out loud from this blog to my office mates at least once a week. really enjoyed your talk last year (i was the one with the terrible cold sneezing the whole time, and if you got sick after you left here, yep, it was my fault).
thanks for everything.Posted by sarahsarah on 09/28 at 06:14 PM
I enjoy visiting your blog and have found some of your pieces to be both touching and informative. I’m probably of all your readers the oldest 89 and still love to go blogging. I’m a playwright and still turning out stuff, so keep up the good work
Hal LiebermanPosted by on 09/28 at 06:43 PM
I’ve commented before, but not frequently enough to emerge from lurker status.
Anyway, we’ve met. I was in your 20th century Africa-American fiction seminar in your last year at UIUC. You and Janet both wrote me letters that helped me get out of there (which I very badly wanted to--Champaign-Urbana was not my kind of place).
Anyway, I love reading this. I would comment more often, but I usually agree with you, and have a neurotic discomfort with the idea of simply offering expressions of agreement.
All best.Posted by Lee on 09/28 at 07:10 PM
I’m a physician in North Carolina, and just wanted to sign in. Your commentary arrives as a breath of fresh air here. Thanks.Posted by on 09/28 at 11:02 PM
I would comment more often, but I usually agree with you, and have a neurotic discomfort with the idea of simply offering expressions of agreement.
That’s cool, Lee. I happen to have a neurotic discomfort with expressions of agreement myself, for pretty much the same reason everyone in academe does (except the truly insufferable people): we tend to discount mere agreement, thinking that critical or disparaging remarks are somehow more discerning. I’ve seen this dynamic play out on any number of younger scholars’ blogs, and it’s true for me as well. So thanks for framing your general agreement in this genial way, and I’m glad to hear you’ve moved from C-U to someplace more metropolitan (nice blog, too!).
Which brings me to a more general remark: I’m really quite surprised at how many of you first-time commenters have met me—in classes, at Haverford, in Detroit (hi, sarahsarah, and yes, I got sick after visiting Wayne State and it’s all your fault . . . only kidding! but I’ll give you an even weirder Kozmic Koincidence: one of the people at Larry Gallagher’s and Catherine Shaddix’s wedding last week was the guy who directed Bum’s Paradise, which just happened to win a major award at the 2004 Detroit Docs, which means that he and I were staying in the same odd B & B off the Wayne State campus at the same time. I hope you find this remarkable, because for some reason, he didn’t). Anyway, this blog can’t dance, but I can. So if you ever do ask this blog to get on the good foot, or to cut a rug, or to get down, it will most likely reply with some hyperintellectual demurral, like “but does not the very idea of a good foot imply a bad foot? and for how long have we been on that bad foot?” Just saying.
Likewise, I honestly can’t believe that there are readers who know me from The Baffler, or from “You’re An Egg” (hi, Terence! I have to confess I enjoyed writing that one). Or that people check in more than once a day: I can usually manage two or three hours of blog-related program activities per day, but that’s about it. (And Chris, or anyone else who wonders how I have the time: if you make me think about it I won’t be able to do it. It’s a lot like ice skating.)
So OK, you all have convinced me not to give it up. I’ll just try, as Virgil once put it, to keep on keepin’ on. And thanks again, everyone, for letting me know why you stop by here.Posted by on 09/28 at 11:27 PM
kate dailey and greg jones, perhaps two of the most intrepid penn state english undergraduates of their time, invited me to attend the last class of your postmodernism course, winter 2001. i kept my big biochemistry mouth shut, and i still do, but i pop in every once in a while because greg tells me to. keep up all the wonderful, oh, and have you ever heard the zambonis? i personally suggest “more songs about hockey…and buildings and food.”Posted by on 09/29 at 12:14 AM
I’m an unapologetic lurker. I thought your Republican National Convention coverage was hilarious. I am posting this comment, however, to express my (and my better half’s) support and gratitude for your comments in “Celebration.” I remember in the 1996 Republican South Carolina primary debate, Pat Buchanan was asked something about whether he would support an abortion for someone he knew (or something along those lines), when he launched into a spiel about how he would refer a young woman to an abortion counselor he knew to convince her not to have one. I thought it was remarkable – all he had to do was say, once we outlaw virtually all abortions, the problem goes away, right? Instead he implicitly acknowledged what I think most of the country believes: abortions will be chosen or not by the woman regardless of what law is on the books. Thank you for your moving remarks.Posted by on 09/29 at 09:44 AM
I suppose reading your blog counts as a surreptitious pleasure; my few previous comments were aberrations. As a Literature professor at a small University, I like to think the stolen moments to laugh at your humor (or bang my head against the wall in frustration at some political situation) is time well spent. I count it as professional development. Commenting, however, uses everyone else’s time, not just my own (assuming that many read the comments).Posted by on 09/29 at 10:25 AM
The web is vast, and my time limited.
So I don’t comment everywhere I go. Usually your stuff is complete enough I don’t feel I have anything to add, nor do I feel something has been explained poorly.
So I read.
TKPosted by Terry Karney on 09/29 at 11:09 AM
does accosting you to say that i read your blog while you’re having your coffee break count as commenting? i think it does. hello.Posted by petya on 09/29 at 03:06 PM
My name is Alice and I am a lurker! Keep it up, Michael, I wound up here following links during early Katrina coverage and am grateful that you are sticking with the story. Thanks.Posted by on 09/29 at 06:01 PM
I followed a link from Chris Clarke’s blog, and here I am. Interesting and provocative politics, combined with Rangers hockey...what could be better? Well, a more progressive political environment and more competent Rangers management would be better. But, in the meantime, I’ve got another blog to dip into as time permits.Posted by on 09/29 at 07:16 PM
Well, a more progressive political environment and more competent Rangers management would be better.
They would indeed, another alice. The scary thing is that these two things are secretly related to one another. But I just can’t figure out yet which one will bring about the other.
And hi, petya! Cool blog. But that was no coffee break you were seeing—that was actually a preliminary meeting to plan a conference on Alzheimer’s and disability. I’m not kidding. Honestly, we were hard at work. Couldn’t you see it in our faces?
kiki, Greg and Kate were indeed two of Penn State’s Most Intrepid. What a class that was! Jennifer, Lev, Chris, Lisa, Soma, Adam, Melissa, and Josh were pretty amazing as well—and those are just the people I can name off the top of my head. Thanks for sitting in, and for saying hi.
And yes, I’m aware of the Zambonis. Check out “The Referee’s Daughter,” folks. . . .Posted by Michael on 09/29 at 08:23 PM
By the time I get to comment, all the best positions have been taken. I’m reduced to either typing ‘wot comment 37 said’ or continuing lurking.
I’d like shorter posts though. Or least longer ones with ad breaks..Posted by on 09/30 at 08:22 AM
splendid blog here, oh, more than a mere blog. gave me a reason to dust off my copy of Powys some time back looking for a good first line. not an everyday thing, that.Posted by on 09/30 at 08:49 AM
I’m a few days too late for a timely reply to the 26 Sep “lurker invite,” but that shan’t keep me from replying anyway. I’ll skip the applause and get to the heavy stuff:
1. I support the Iraq war for the usual C. Hitchens reasons (I believe his name has come up only once in your blog, where he was dismissed without comment; yes, I’ve read Juan Cole and heard the Galloway debate: no, neither changed my mind). The current American “liberal” isolationism (yes, yes, I know you all think that “diplomacy” is not “isolationist”, but such “diplomacy” utterly failed for 12 straight years in Iraq and, in the face of widespread Iraqi suffering, amounted to doing precisely nothing) is to me indicative of “conservatism”, hence I claim the “liberal” title for those in the pro-war camp. Being “liberal” carries a responsibility to spread liberalism.
2. I think the UN is a useless waste of money. I can cite Russia (1924), Japan (1931), Germany (1938), North Korea (1950), China (1950), England (1952), America (1953), Israel (1967), Indonesia (1975), Syria (1976), Iraq (1980), Burma (1990), Yugoslavia (1991), Somalia (1993), and Rwanda (1994) as manifest failures of the UN. Does it have ANY achievements on par with its failures?
3. I think folks in N.O. who drowned were stupid and deserved to die. I simply don’t believe that any of them were so poor they couldn’t pay for a bus ticket out of town. The women mentioned in your blog whose first (and apparently only) response was to pray? I have no sympathy for those kinds of folks. (Was there NO ONE she could call for a ride out of town?) Now I know you regard such attitudes as “beneath notice” (07 Sep 05), but I prefer actual rebuttal. You said then this attitude does “not represent the sentiments of the vast majority of white Americans—or, indeed, the vast majority of sane people of any hue,” but I think it does. Your “(On the contrary, the vast majority of white people are donating their time, money, labor, and homes to help the evacuees)” is a non-sequitur. (And why did you twice feel compelled to add “white” when the quoted commenters specifically said this had nothing to do with race and everything to do with common sense?) Where is the contradiction in my helping the evacuees and not feeling sorry for those who would not evacuate?
4. I do not think race had anything to do with state or federal response Katrina. Furthermore, I’m smug enough or stupid enough to actually think I can be a white American and not be racist (conversely, I see “liberal white guilt” all over the comments that say said response, or even grandma Bush’s infamous comments, was racist). Arguments to the contrary almost always confuse issues of economics and those of race.
5. I’m not convinced I (as a taxpayer) should pay anything extra for Jamie’s education. I know you’ve written on this, but I haven’t the time to read all your books, and while I think I’ve read all your blogs from day one, I don’t recall a concise defense of your position on this. Maybe you don’t have an argument for this: maybe you simply think that’s the way it oughta be. If so, fine; I simply disagree (my “argument”, such as it is, is just personal responsibility: you spawn ‘em, you pay for ‘em).
6. I may not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but reading your 28 Sep 05 blog gives me the distinct impression that one quarter of all Americans are disabled (if I cannot generalize from those 3 southern cities to all of America, then I’d like to know why they’re special): either I’m WAY out of touch with my friends and neighbors or you’re using a VERY broad definition of “disabled”. Statements like this of yours beg for a footnoted explanation.
Okay. I’m not writing to piss you off, really. I’m writing because I actually think the above statements are true, because I think I am open to persuasion, because I concede you are 200x smarter than me, because I respect your ability to use logical argument, because you disagree with the above statements, and because I do not think I am the only one who thinks like this. I also happen to think I am a very moral person. You mostly preach to the choir, which is fun and all, but I hope occasionally you can reach out to those like me who feel we are neither conservative nor “liberal”, but are amenable to argument (and are probably libertarian). It isn’t just a “red” vs. “blue” state of affairs. I doubt that of your 5000 daily readers many feel as I do, but perhaps you can think of those like me as swing voters for the Red party ticket in 2008! (Really, I’d vote for you in a second.)
Please don’t think of me as the enemy, but rather as a six year old who needs things explained to him very clearly.
siguiPosted by on 10/03 at 07:30 AM
Sigui—Way too much to respond to in mere comments, but yes, Life As We Know It contains a defense of inclusive education, and believe me, I certainly am “paying” for Jamie, as you put it. As for the number of disabled Americans in the country, please see the comments to that September 28 post, in which I provided a footnoted explanation. The definition of “disability” that I’m using—and that our country is using—excludes “easily correctable” disabilities like myopia and hypertension. It also excludes obesity and alcoholism, just for the record.Posted by Michael on 10/03 at 07:54 AM