The Fallen Cypress


Austin, Texas,
Remember how in that communion only, beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may. Would that be an ignoble life? --Plato, _Symposium_, translated by B. Jowett


Diotima's Links
MARCH 27, 2010 12:01PM

Open Call: 20 Authors, Not 10 Books

Not 10, but 20.  Not books, but authors.


The list is ranked in order of the initial, influential appearance in my life.


1.  T. Williams, The Glass Menagerie

I first encountered this as a live performance when I was 13.  From the opening monologue,/… Read full post »

"Do you want to know if your Christianity is genuine? Here is the touchstone: Whom do you get along with? Who are those who criticize you? Who are those who do not accept you? Who are those who flatter you?" – Archbishop Cesar Romero, 1977

As I remember… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 3, 2010 9:07PM

Who Dat Say Dey Own the Rights?

The controversy over the NFL’s claim to own the phrase “Who Dat” raises questions that go beyond one city’s cheer.  Who owns the name “New Orleans” or the term “Saints”?  By Friday morning, I posted/… Read full post »

Usually it’s enough that I face, semester after semester, the same old bad arguments and weak inferences from students.  Sometimes I have to lay off the news-reading, so as not to get too large a… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 21, 2009 2:14PM

How to Irritate the Professor


The fall term is almost upon us, and my thoughts turn to my syllabi and the first-day spiel.  A few years ago, I wrote up a handout titled How to Do Your Best in This Course.  Its main point is that students must read a lot.  Some people seem to… Read full post »

I’m not entirely sure, but I think this past week I felt a whiff of Republican ressentiment.  I’ve never been a Republican, nor am I particularly prone to ressentiment.  But my 10-year-old car needed repairs,… Read full post »

AUGUST 2, 2009 2:39PM

Aristotle v. iPhone

I can’t get it out of my mind.  About five days ago, in my ethics class, we had a session on Aristotle’s concept of virtue:  happiness is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.  There, in the front row, I saw a girl texting on her iPhone.

No, I’m… Read full post »

AUGUST 1, 2009 12:14AM

Open Call: Unasking the Firsts

I can't find the originator of this list.  But the questions assume so much about one's life, as if most of us live a life defined by the categories in which we must have a "first."  So let's deconstruct the questions.

Questions I can't answer at all:

2. Who was your FIRST… Read full post »

Another one of these.  I'd appreciate it if the lawyers on OS could parse it and correct me if I'm wrong.

From today's updated TOS:

"By submitting or posting User Content using the Service or the Site, you grant to Salon an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldw… Read full post »

JULY 26, 2009 2:01AM

Where I Was Before I Came To Meta

I’ve been AFK, or maybe just AFOS, for a month now.  Self-protection motivated part of my absence:  it seemed unwise to announce that I was going out of town for three weeks.  I didn’t trust the nom de blog to protect me from literate robbers who might connect an avatar to… Read full post »

JUNE 18, 2009 12:23PM

My Rescued Cats

In the spirit of Kind of Blue's post on adopting or rescuing cats and dogs, here are some pix of mine.

Billie & Sundae

The black cat is Billie, adopted from a shelter in Chicago.  Some lady brought her in with a litter of kittens.  By the time I saw her, she… Read full post »

You know those days when your mind seems not just cluttered, but cluttered with stuff that clashes – stuff that has no right to inhabit the same mind in the same day?  The past day has been one of those.  Herein is an inventory.

I allow some stretch in the term… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 11, 2009 1:29AM

Not Again (On the Holocaust Museum Shooting)

Here’s the sickest part, for me:  the shooting at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum didn’t surprise me.  It reminded me.

Reminded me of That Man, the glassy-eyed non-traditional student who plagued my first semester of teaching; of the day he remarked, in a world religions… Read full post »

Let’s get the obvious out of the way:  the murder of Dr. Tiller was abhorrent; anti-abortion rhetoric fueled it, and the purveyors of such rhetoric should be called to account; and the ultimate agenda of the hard-core pro-life movement includes not only ineffective abstinence-only sex ed,… Read full post »

Recently, the Texas Senate passed a bill to permit those with concealed carry permits to carry firearms on campus.  Yes, that includes to class.

The similar House bill appeared dead in committee, but then again, maybe not.  The clock is ticking:  by end of business Tuesday, the House mu… Read full post »

MAY 23, 2009 5:29PM

Searching for News of Ivor

I have not forgotten the story that motivated me to resume posting on OS -- LSU's firing of Ivor van Heerden, the scientist who predicted a Katrina-like event and who persistently investigated the role of engineering failures -- that's human disaster, not natural -- in Katrina.

But I can't find much.… Read full post »

MAY 21, 2009 8:48PM

Narcissism and Me

I bought The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell for the same reason I bought Twenge’s solo work, Generation Me, a few years ago:  I needed help with narcissism.

Not my own.  On the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, I score about as high as American eighth graders… Read full post »

MAY 7, 2009 10:06PM

OK to be Gay in Class

Those few of you who have been following my posts know how worn down I’ve been feeling about those myriad petty demands of academic life.  So much of my work time seems to be sucked up by things completely unrelated to knowledge, its cultivation and transmission.  So much of what I… Read full post »

MAY 6, 2009 4:45PM

Just Empathy

Is empathy a positive or negative quality in a justice of the Supreme Court?  In our current national tea-leaf-reading over Obama’s first SCOTUS pick,  some commentators have found a neglected leaf:  empathy.  Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago says that empathetic… Read full post »

MAY 5, 2009 11:32PM

Because It IS The Real World

Spent about an hour this morning going line-by-line through a draft essay with a student who has been grumpy about her grades but resistant to improving her writing.  She keeps implying that I am an inadequate reader, and yet ignores highly specific advice about problem areas.

Said No to a stude… Read full post »

The interstate ramps up to clear a levee and then levels out across the Bonne Carre Spillway, a set of gates that allow the Mississippi River to be vented into Lake Pontchartrain.  The intervening area between river and lake isn’t what one would call land.  It’s swamp – in… Read full post »

APRIL 28, 2009 11:24PM

Out of the Ballpark

Within an hour of my arrival at the parental units’ place, I am told this story:  at my 8-year-old nephew’s little league game late last week, the score was tied in the last inning.  Alex bats first in the line-up because he can run fast; he’s not the best hitter.  Hi… Read full post »

Two weeks before Jazz Fest ’97, I had moved out of Chicago – the one place I’ve lived, wanting to live there.  The dissertation was in the can, graduation was in June, and I didn’t have a job.

In need of a new ambition, I settled on seeing Fats Domino perform before… Read full post »

I keep a mental list called “See Them Before One of Us Dies.”  Fats Domino was on it, and I saw the shy performer at the Jazz Fest in ’97.  He’s still alive (and kickin’).  Christopher Plummer, “Barrymore” in Chicago, ’97.  Bob Dylan… Read full post »

APRIL 20, 2009 8:31PM

Before One of Us Dies -- Overview

At the end of this week, I head to New Orleans for the Jazz and Heritage Festival.  I don't go every year.  In fact, all but one of my Jazz Fest days fall under the Before One of Us Dies heading -- acts I wanted to see before . . .… Read full post »