Saturday, May 31, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 10, Reaganomics & Domestic Policy in Reagan's First Term (Con't)

The choices this year are not just between two different personalities or between two political parties. They're between two different visions of the future, two fundamentally different ways of governing -- their government of pessimism, fear, and limits, or ours of hope, confidence, and growth.

—Ronald Reagan, accepting Republican renomination, August, 1984
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, May 30, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 10, Reaganomics & Domestic Policy in Reagan's First Term (Con't)

Paint Reagan as the personification of all that is right with or heroized by America. Leave Mondale in a position where an attack on Reagan is tantamount to an attack on America's idealized image of itself.

—Republican Campaign Memo, 1984
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 10, Reaganomics & Domestic Policy in Reagan's First Term (Con't)

What I want to see above all is that this country remains a country where someone can always get rich.

—Ronald Reagan, June 28, 1983
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 10, Reaganomics & Domestic Policy in Reagan's First Term (Con't)

Reagan was to money what Hefner was to sex: an iconic cheerleader for a profound moral change in an age when celebrities created as well as reflected values.

—Historian David T. Courtwright
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 10, Reaganomics & Domestic Policy in Reagan's First Term (Con't)

Kemp-Roth was always a Trojan horse to bring down the top rate... It's kind of hard to sell 'trickle down,' so the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really 'trickle down.' Supply-side is 'trickle-down' theory.

—David Stockman, Reagan's 1st term Office of Management & Budget Director
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, May 26, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 10, Reaganomics & Domestic Policy in Reagan's First Term (Con't)

I sure hope he doesn't go on television to promote the elimination of fucking.

— Democratic Congressman, on the day Congress passed Reagan's 1981 tax cut
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 10, Reaganomics & Domestic Policy in Reagan's First Term

In a 1976 episode, Archie [Bunker, on the TV show All in the Family], brooding over the Democrat Jimmy Carter's White House victory, may have had the last laugh when he warned that liberals would not be so happy when Ronald Reagan won in 1980. The prophesy was supposed to be an attempt at absurdly dark humor.

—Jefferson Cowie, Stayin' Alive, p. 195
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 9, Ford, Carter and Politics in the 1970s (Con't)

I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.... It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation....

We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own. Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy....

As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning. These changes did not happen overnight. They've come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy. We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate. We remember when the phrase "sound as a dollar" was an expression of absolute dependability, until ten years of inflation began to shrink our dollar and our savings. We believed that our nation's resources were limitless until 1973, when we had to face a growing dependence on foreign oil.... The gap between our citizens and our government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual.

—Jimmy Carter, July 15, 1979 (so-called "malaise" speech)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Beginnings and Endings

This week we took Joseph to register for Kindergarten for the fall.


And today I went up to Hobart and William Smith for what may have been the final time.  (As happens to contingent faculty, after four years of being a Visiting Assistant Professor there — and eight years teaching there overall — I won't be returning next year.)



"In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see."

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 9, Ford, Carter and Politics in the 1970s (Con't)

Carter believes fifty things, but no one thing. He holds explicit, thorough positions on every issue under the sun, but he has no large view of the relations between them, no line indicating which goals (reducing unemployment? human rights?) will take precedence over which (inflation control? a SALT treaty?) when the goals conflict. Spelling out these choices makes the difference between a position and a philosophy, but it is an act foreign to Carter's mind.... Carter thinks in lists, not arguments; as long as items are there, their order does not matter, nor does the hierarchy among them. Whenever he gave us an outline for a speech, it would consist of six or seven subjects ("inflation," "need to fight waste") rather than a theme or tone.... Carter's cast of mind: his view of problems as technical, not historical, his lack of curiosity about how the story turned out before. He wanted to analyze the "correct" answer, not to understand the intangible irrational forces that had skewed all previous answers.

— James Fallows, "The Passionless Presidency" (1979)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 9, Ford, Carter and Politics in the 1970s (Con't)

I've looked on many women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. God knows I will do this and forgives me.

— Jimmy Carter, Playboy interview, 1976
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 9, Ford, Carter and Politics in the 1970s (Con't)

When [Jimmy Carter] met privately with editorial-board members and veteran political figures across the country in the early days of his campaign—people who had seen contenders come and go and were merciless in spotting frailties—the majority of them went away feeling that in Carter they had encountered a person of truly exceptional political insight and depth. (You might not believe me; I have the notes.)

—James Fallows
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 9, Ford, Carter and Politics in the 1970s (Con't)

We built it, we paid for it, it's ours, and we're going to keep it!

— Ronald Reagan on the Panama Canal
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, May 19, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 9, Ford, Carter and Politics in the 1970s

...was there ever a Ford Administration? Evidence for its existence seems to be scanty.

—John Updike, Memories of the Ford Administration (1992)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 8, Society and Culture in the 1970s (Con't)

What mistakes do people make about the “Film Stills”?
Referring to them as self-portraits.

—Interview with Cindy Sherman (2008)

Sherman completed the project three years later, in 1980, when she "ran out of clich├ęs" with which to work.

— Biography at cindysherman.com
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 8, Society and Culture in the 1970s (Con't)

On TV POWs returning from Hanoi were shown passing the time by watching POWs returning from Hanoi on TV... We have entered an epoch in which nothing is real until it has been reproduced. With events and their copies standing in for each other... the objective form of modern culture has become the farce of mistaken identity. Facts no longer enjoy any privilege over various renderings of them.

— Harold Rosenberg
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, May 16, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 8, Society and Culture in the 1970s (Con't)

Television ate my family.

—Lance Loud
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Very Brief, Spiler-Free Thoughts on Marvel's Agents of Shield, Season 1

So Agents of Shield turned out fun, in the end. For those of you who bailed, the place to start is probably episode 10, when the show got significantly better. To be sure, it took a second step up around episode 13... but I think 10-11 are good enough, and also important enough plot-wise, to make 10 the starting place. 12 is worth skipping; after 10-11, go on to 13, and then all the remainder.  (There are a few threads from eps 2-9 you'll miss references to if you skip 'em... but they're well worth skipping anyway.)

I do worry, however, about Season 2. What made s1 work in the second half was the arc. But the *last* time a flawed Whedon show tried this — Dollhouse, which also had lame standalones in the first half of s1, good arc in the second half — they went back to lame stand-alones early in season 2 long enough to get it canceled before returning to good arc. I worry Whedon comes from a time in TV's history when stand-alones were just expected, and that he tends to try 'em. And I can totally see A of S going back in that direction. Which would suck.

But maybe not. And the second half of s1 was fun. It wasn't as good as Buffy/Firefly, to be sure, or even Dollhouse; but it was enjoyable. Which nine eps in I really didn't think it ever would be.

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 8, Society and Culture in the 1970s (Con't)

...the consciousness revolution, once confined to the youthful counter-culture, has mushroomed into a mass movement particularly popular among the more affluent members of society who can afford the time and money to develop their inner depths. From yoga classes at the YWCA and university extension programs to local "growth" centers and luxurious "awareness" cruises in the Caribbean, the movement has created a network of therapeutic outlets servicing outlets servicing millions of Americans who are bored, dissatisfied with their lives or seeking a God they can experience for themselves. It has also produced a lucrative market for packaged programs in enlightenment, such as Silva Mind Control, Transcendental Meditation (TM) and est, which have blossomed into million-dollar organizations by promising a "new you" to anyone who can pay for it.

Emporia Gazette (Emporia, Kansas), September 3, 1976, p. 4
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Three Exciting Pieces of Humument News


I just found out three exciting pieces of Humument news!

— News about what now?

A HumumentA Humument is a book by artist Tom Phillips  Kinda.  Maybe it's three books.  Or not a book.  It's a something.

...Let me start over.

Once upon a time, there was a novel by one W. H. Mallock (1849-1923) called A Human Document (1892).  It came out, was presumably read by someone at some point, and then was completely forgotten, until an artist named Tom Phillips (b. 1937) found it at an old store when he was looking for a book to alter, to treat, to change, as part of an artistic project.  He bought it and began to alter its pages.  He crossed out, painted over and drew on each page — leaving, however, some words to make up a new (hidden, revealed) story running through the art.  The first edition — which was unnumbered, but which given subsequent events should perhaps be considered edition zero —came out, from a small press, in 1970.  A edition came out from a larger publisher, Thames & Hudson, in 1980.  (It is considered, I believe, the "first" edition, although so far as I know it isn't formally numbered.)

But.  Phillips continued to work on it.

He'd altered the entire book into a single, amazing artwork. But he kept altering pages — replacing old ones with new versions.  And then he'd publish a new edition with the new pages substituting for the old versions.  (Thus each edition is slightly different.)  The second edition (so-called, actually third) came out in 1986; the third in 1998; the fourth in 2004.  I own the fourth, having read it (Browsed it?  Looked at it?  What does one do with A Humument, anyway?) from the library.  Apparently Mr. Phillips's ambition is to replace every page from his original 1970 edition.  With a new version.

I understand that.  The various pages from the original edition is simply not as rich, not as wonderful, as the pages from the later editions.  Here, see for yourself: here is the third page from the original (1970) edition, paired with the current (AFAIK) page three:


You see what I mean.

On the other hand, sometimes he replaces a page I really like.  For instance, I really like both versions of p. 15:


And of p. 20:



So the process of replacement is a loss, too.  At least sometimes.

Not all of the replaced pages are originaly from the 1970 edition; some pages he has replaced more than once.  So far as I can tell (I don't have access to all the editions) these are often great pages replacing equally great pages (or nearly so).  (I should say at this point that not all of Phillips' treatment of this book is even part of the Humument project.  He's done altered pages of Mallock's novel separately, as part of other projects, e.g. as part of an illustrated version of Dante he did.)  What's really wanted is A Complete Humument, with all the versions of all the pages included.  Perhaps someday someone will publish one.

In the meantime, it's a marvelous book, highly, highly recommended.

Which leads me to the first of the three pieces of exciting Humument news.

1. The Fifth Edition of A Humument Has Been Published

Two years ago (why does no one tell me these things?) Phillips published his Fifth Edition (not counting, as always, the original, small-press, Zeroith edition.  So you can go buy it & read it.  It's great.

But what if you don't want that book?  That leads us to...

2. A Humument has an Ap (= an Ebook version)

Yes, there is an iPad — and iPhone — version of A Humument.  It seems to be based largely on the Fifth Edition (op. cit.), but also has brand-new, never-before-seen pages.  — Actually, I haven't checked out the iPhone version, but given Phillips's record, I have no confidence that the art in the two Aps are at all identical.

I just downloaded the iPad version.

It has one feature — an "not-too-serious oracle", which displays two paired random pages (a feature which Phillips seems very taken with) — not in the book, although I suppose you could flip through the book and pick two pages.  Or roll a 367-sided die, twice.  Or something,

It also has one flaw: it doesn't seem to remember your place if you close & reopen the ap — there's no bookmark function.  (It does, fortunately, have a "go to" function, albeit not one with the easiest to use UI.)  Or maybe I've just missed it so far.

But mostly it's the latest version of A Humument, with all the astonishing brilliance that implies, as an ebook.  (And about 1/3 - 1/4 of the price of the paperback.)  So go ahead and get that, too.

Still, it would be nice to see various versions of a single page, wouldn't it?

Which leads us to...

3. A Humument had an art show, and it's now online.

Through most of 2013 — and I really rue that I only found this out in 2014 (why does no one tell me these things?) — there was a show of A Humument up at the Mass MoCA museum in North Andover, Massachusetts.  The show displayed two versions of each page (it doesn't seem they ever included more than two, which is a pity).  They also presented the unaltered version of Mallock's book along with them.

Yeah, it's over.  It sucks.  But: they now have an online gallery of it.

With three versions of each page: Mallock's unaltered, and two by Phillips.  (A few of the latter versions — maybe 1/10? — are missing, perhaps to encourage you to buy the book and/or ap, which you should do anyway.)  But it's A Humument.  Twice.  Online.

'Nuff said.

Go see it. It's one of the great books — great art projects — great nested collection of various related....

Aw hell.  Who knows what it is.  But whatever it is, it's one of the great ones of our time.

Update:

Here are some Humument-related links from my bookmarks folder.
Enjoy.

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 8, Society and Culture in the 1970s (Con't)

In a simpler time, advertising merely called attention to the product and extolled its advantages. Now it manufactures a product of its own: the consumer, perpetually unsatisfied, restless, anxious, and bored. Its 'educates' the masses into an unappeasable appetite not only for goods but for new experiences and personal fulfillment. It upholds consumption as the answer to the age-old discontents of loneliness, sickness, weariness, lack of sexual satisfaction; at the same time it creates new forms of discontent peculiar to the modern age. It plays seductively to the malaise of industrial civilization. Is your job boring and meaningless? Is your life empty? Consumption promises to fill the aching void...

— Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (1979)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 8, Society and Culture in the 1970s (Con't)

[There is a] growing despair of changing society, even of understanding it, which also underlies the cult of expanded consciousness, health and personal "growth" so prevalent today. After the political turmoil of the sixties, Americans have retreated to purely personal preoccupations. Having no hope of improving their lives in any of the ways that matter, people have convinced themselves that what matters is psychic self-improvement: getting in touch with their feelings, eating health food, taking lessons in ballet or belly-dancing, immersing themselves in the wisdom of the East, jogging, learning how to "relate," overcoming the "fear of pleasure." Harmless in themselves, these pursuits, elevated to a program and wrapped in the rhetoric of authenticity and awareness, signify a retreat from politics and a repudiation of the recent past.... To live for the moment is the prevailing passion -- to live for yourself, not for your predecessors or posterity.

— Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (1979)
 Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, May 12, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 8, Society and Culture in the 1970s (Con't)

The '70s was the decade in which people put emphasis on the skin, on the surface, rather than on the root of things. It was the decade in which image became preeminent because nothing deeper was going on.

— Norman Mailer (1979)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 8, Society and Culture in the 1970s (Con't)

I wish a buck was still silver
It was back when the country was strong
Back before Elvis
Before the Vietnam war came along
Before The Beatles and 'Yesterday'
When a man could still work, still would
The best of the free life behind us now
And are the good times really over for good?...
Wish a Ford and a Chevy
Could still last ten years, like they should...
I wish Coke was still Cola
And a joint was a bad place to be
It was back before Nixon lied to us all on TV
Before microwave ovens
When a girl could still cook and still would
The best of the free life behind us now
Are the good times really over for good?

— Merle Haggard, "Are the Good Times Really Over?" (1982)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 8, Society and Culture in the 1970s

The South Bronx is a necropolis—a city of death. There's a total breakdown of services, looting is rampant, fires are everywhere.

—Head of Neighborhood Health Clinic, quoted in The New York Times, 1973
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, May 09, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 7, The Rise of Conservatism (Con't)

... we really need to realize that there is a limit to the role and the function of government. Government cannot solve our problems, it can't set our goals, it cannot define our vision. Government cannot eliminate poverty or provide a bountiful economy or reduce inflation or save our cities or cure illiteracy or provide energy. And government cannot mandate goodness.

— Jimmy Carter, State of the Union Address, 1978
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 7, The Rise of Conservatism (Con't)

Everywhere we turn, Christian values are assaulted and in retreat. As Christians, we are not going to take it anymore.

— Reverend Robert Grant (1978)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 7, The Rise of Conservatism (Con't)

[W]hat galvanized the Christian community was not abortion, school prayer, or the ERA. I am living witness to that because I was trying to get those people interested in those issues and I utterly failed. What changed their minds was Jimmy Carter's intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation.... It was at that moment that conservatives made the linkage between their opposition to government interference and the interests of the evangelical movement, which now saw itself on the defensive and under attack by the government. That was brought those people into the political process.

— Paul Weyrich
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 7, The Rise of Conservatism (Con't)

... the have-nots are gaining steadily more political power to distribute the wealth downward. The masses have turned to a larger government.

— Notes from meeting of corporate executives, 1974 - 1975, plotting political strategy
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, May 05, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 7, The Rise of Conservatism (Con't)

It is completely apparent now that the women's lib movement means government-financed abortions, government-supported day care and lesbians teaching in our schools.

— Phyllis Schlafly
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 7, The Rise of Conservatism (Con't)

They may call it the new South, but as far as I'm concerned they still vote like the old South. These are the same states that voted to keep slavery.

— Karen DeCrow on the states that didn't ratify the ERA
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 7, The Rise of Conservatism

No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack.... The day is long past when the chief executive officer of a major corporation discharges his responsibility by maintaining a satisfactory growth of profits, with due regard to the corporation’s public and social responsibilities. If our system is to survive, top management must be equally concerned with protecting and preserving the system itself.

— Future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, 1971
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, May 02, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 6: Lesbian & Gay Rights in the 1970s (Con't)

As to the epilogue, I could hardly be expected to stultify myself by implying that Joan's history in the world ended unhappily with her execution, instead of beginning there. It was necessary by hook or crook to shew the canonized Joan as well as the incinerated one; for many a woman has got herself burnt by carelessly whisking a muslin skirt into the drawing-room fireplace, but getting canonized is a different matter, and a more important one. So I am afraid the epilogue must stand.

— George Bernard Shaw, Preface to Saint Joan (1923)
A note of explanation for this one: I used it to introduce the final section of the Harvey Milk section of the lecture, talking about his reputation after the immediate post-assassination events (i.e. after the White Night Riots).

Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 6: Lesbian & Gay Rights in the 1970s (Con't)

If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.

— Harvey Milk, in a recording made November 18, 1977, "to be played only in the event of my death by assassination"
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.