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Meander Away


  1. That's quite an image, avrds. Meandering fractals?


  3. I hope people followed that NY Times link to Kalman's "blog." She is amazing -- this time on Jefferson and slavery.

    As for me, I'm headed back to Montana after an incredible weekend in Nevada City at a reunion with all my old musician friends. It was great to see all my friends show up in one place as if so many years were but a mere blip of the calendar.

    But I"m ready to get back to reasonable weather. As one of those old friends said, "They have weather like this in Bakersfield where I used to live. But I moved."

  4. Unsuccessful for 2nd day at being able to read/get posts in the ToR reading group (last one I can get to is mine of June 26). I see robert's "The comment section is physically restricted..." post but clicking on it or any other entry point still doesn't get me in. Am just putting this here as what the lawyer folk call due diligence...hope to be able to continue conversation soon. Still have a good bit of ToR to go, and the petty quarrels, hurty feelings, proffered resignations etc. truly wearies...has made me wonder about the much-touted "genius" of bringing all these rivals together. Sure, it neutralizes them as political rivals and keeps them in view, but it doesn't mean they stop feuding among themselves or with AL. As I foresaw, reading about those squabbles while tracking the battlefield disasters is making me crazy.

    Hope to be able to focus on other aspects of ToR with you folks soon.

  5. Sure enough, as soon as I posted the above I went back & saw the teensy word "Newest" at the end of the 200 embarrassing. I may post more...or just slink away in shame.

  6. No shame, NYT. I thought the same thing until I figured out the page had turned over after posting a second time.

  7. Glad you figured it out NY. Great comments as always.

    Driving home today we listened to Assassination Vacation -- sort of the compromise book between daughter and myself which turned out to be fantastic. I highly recommend it. If I ever teach public history this would definitely be a text I would use.

  8. NY, I haven't listened to this yet, but if you missed the Reich interview check out the website:

    There's a link on the cell phone that brings up the interview.

  9. Fun to see that this is the anniversary of the publication of Gone with the Wind.

  10. Many regarded GWTW as a romanticization of the Southern Lost Cause. I've never read it and it has been a long time since I've seen the movie, but the scenes of Atlanta were obviously supposed to make us feel empathy for the fallen Confederate city.

    A more direct link to the "Lost Cause" was D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, derived at least in part from the Rev. Dixon's The Clansman.

  11. I watched the entire Birth of a Nation as part of a class I took -- Wilson is in it, talking about how, yes, it really _was_ like that. Now that's scary.

  12. I tried to read Gone With the Wind. The only novelist who has bored me more quickly than Margaret Mitchell is Jim Harrison.

  13. That comment should get Bo's attention....

    Have any ideas for our next book? Maybe we can get something that would interest Chartres or Strether (although I think she's in Europe right now) or maybe Barton?

  14. Here's a meandering question for everyone: Who are your favorite nature writers?

    I'm teaching a class next semester on the "naturalist tradition" in America. It's a short course, only six weeks long, so I don't have to put together a full syllabus, but am looking for ideas for readings that I can group over five weeks -- the first week I'll do some sort of lecture/discussion to get everyone oriented.

    I've thought about grouping writers thematically (e.g., around elements or geography), but will probably go with writers over time, starting with say Bartram and maybe as late as Thoreau, and then moving onto other writers into the late 19th and then 20th and even 21st century (e.g., Heinrich).

    Any favorite writers out there? And if so, any favorite selections? I'm looking for samples of work that are up to 20 or 25 pages long so I can have a collection of around 100 - 150 pages each week -- they complain bitterly if they have to read more than that and it's not worth the battle.

  15. You couldn't go wrong with a chapter from Thoreau's "Walden." Tough to pick just one chapter, however. Maybe "Higher Laws." Wendell Berry is also very good. Robert Nash has good chapters in "Wilderness and the American Mind" on Thoreau, Muir and Leopold.

  16. Thanks, Rick! This is why raising the question here is so helpful. Totally forgot about Berry, who is wonderful. I'll have to go to the library and see what I can find. Thanks for reminding me.

    For Thoreau I was thinking about his writing from Maine since he sort of qualifies his ideas about wilderness. Maybe that along with Higher Laws might be a great combination.

    I like Thoreau since he provides an interesting inroad into the idea of the middle landscape as historians like to call that area between wildness and civilization. I love the idea of him rejecting civilization and living out on the pond, but walking back into town for parties and getting his laundry done. There comes that thematic idea again -- a week on middle landscapes would be fun to put together.

    I'll check out Nash -- haven't read him in years. He may give me some other good ideas.

  17. "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers," which is arguably Thoreau's most intentionally symbolic book, also has many good parts.

  18. I'll pull out my Thoreau, Rick, and we can compare notes. I'm actually looking forward to this class. Last one was on the history of the national parks which was fun, but really covering old ground for me. The secret of teaching, as I'm sure you know, is to learn the material along with your students.

  19. I taught a course about a year ago at a local college. The professor scheduled to teach it had something come up at the last minute and I was pressed into service.

    We used four texts: "Wilderness & the American Mind"; Gary Snyder's "Turtle Island"; "The Hudson River School" by Louise Minks; and "The Bear" by William Faulkner. Thoreau wasn't on the syllabus, although I did manage a few brief detours into his writing.

    Faulkner's "Bear" was a real bear for most of these students. After the fact, I suggested that the professor consider David James Duncan's "The River Why" as a substitute. Not sure if he took me up on that. Probably felt he needed something Southern.

  20. Interesting class, Rick. Faulkner is always a bear for me.

    The Nash book, along with Marx's Machine in the Garden and Smith's Virgin Land were my foundational texts as a student the first time.

    There's also a newer, succinct book on the naturalist tradition called Finding Order in Nature. It may be too academic, though, for this class although it really does set the stage for understanding naturalists and natural history.

    Last time I used a different (short) book each week. I may end up opting to go that route again. It keeps things simple, but it doesn't give enough reading options in such a short time frame.

  21. I see it is the anniversary of the Amistad revolt. I remember this was Spielberg's attempt at American History. The movie was pretty good with Hopkins as a convincing J.Q. Adams.

  22. And now he's doing Lincoln with Tony Kushner writing the screenplay....

    Speilberg also started work on a Lewis and Clark project which I almost got involved with until he decided to drop it. That was why I was so interested in joining you all at the Times forum which was discussing Lewis and Clark at the time.

  23. avrds: Kushner on Lincoln!!! In my kid's terms, I'm SO there!!!

  24. NY, I first noticed it here (I'm a fan, too):

    But then he also shows up in that panel discussion because of his work on the screenplay.

    (The other non-academic on the panel is the New Yorker's Adam Gopnik who wrote the book on Darwin and Lincoln -- Angels and Ages -- I recently read. He is interested in Lincoln the writer.)


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