19 November 2005

Now Where Was I?

Over Veterans Day weekend, I vowed to finish revisions to a linguistics paper provisionally accepted to a volume in memory of a departed colleague--and to stop blogging until I had done so. Well, the revisions dragged on for a week, for no particularly good reason. Generalist blogging is just so much easier than finalizing words to be printed in indelible ink on acid-free paper for the benefit of an obscure bunch of academic specialists.

The other reason for light blogging has been my reading matter lately, which has not easily lent itself to excerpting:
Here's a short paragraph from Days of Obligation (p. 29) that captures one of my favorite things about Rodriguez. He has a keen sense of tragedy, and no desire for utopias.
I have never looked for utopia on a map. Of course I believe in human advancement. I believe in medicine, in astrophysics, in washing machines. But my compass takes its cardinal point from tragedy. If I respond to the metaphor of spring, I nevertheless learned, years ago, from my Mexican father, from my Irish nuns, to count on winter. The point of Eden for me, for us, is not approach, but expulsion.
In the wake of Veterans Day, that passage seemed especially appropriate.

UPDATE: While I've been reading about John Peabody Harrington, Impearls has posted huge chunks of Harrington's contemporary (and my dissertation advisor's teacher) A. L. Kroeber's Handbook of the Indians of California, with some great maps, too.

No comments: