Can you guess the location of the International Cherry Blossom Festival? Wrong! it is held in Macon, Georgia, which is allegedly known as the “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World.” However, the Japanese undoubtedly should own the geographical indication rights to Sakura. Sakura are treasured as a reminder of the fleeting nature of life and the impermanence of the things we cherish most. So there is a decided irony to writing a post about cherry blossoms that will be captured in digital format in perpetuity.
Back to School for the “Spring” Semester (1861)
How many aspects of life at Bowdoin College have remained unchanged since the days when faculty, president, and students all lived in Mass Hall? In January 2022, we can still fervently empathize with this account of the “spring” semester in the Journal of John Deering, Jr., class of 1864: “Find myself back to this honored institution after an absence of nine weeks… Nothing can be seen except a boundless expanse of snow… But after all, I suppose I can pursue my studies and carry out the objects for which I was sent just as well as if the grass were green and the birds singing.”
Don’t look now, but the life of the book club is the undead. Subscribers to streaming can rejoice that Elizabeth Bennet is being resuscitated in the realm of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Even books from the nineteenth century are being exhumed to satisfy the current craving. The genre in its current incarnation shows a great deal of variance. Six feet below average molders such entrants as Deadworld. No doubt there is a good explanation for why vampires are clustered in the American South, but please don’t text me about it. Replace “zombie virus” with covid-19, and these epics are immediately transformed into documentaries.
Publish and Perish
Montparnasse, Paris on a chilly winter afternoon Murder can be elegant, but only if it takes place in foreign lands. The most effective literature in this realm evokes a sense of place that is as central as the narrative or characters. This is the premise that guides my reading of murder mysteries and modern detective […]
Reading on Location
The first thing I do in a new location is to secure a library card (no, this essay is not about Libraries I Have Known, although it could be). It is like going home, to review the familiar faces of volumes long cherished; this sense of physical place and proximity is inevitably absent from e-books. […]
The (New) Cultural Revolution in China
A few years ago, I rated on Netflix over 1000 movies with which I was familiar. The top 10 included (in no particular order): Bladerunner, Woman in the Dunes (Suna no onna), Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, A Bout de Souffle, Pan’s Labyrinth, Das Leben der Anderen, Casablanca, Metropolis, 2001: a Space Odyssey, Chinatown. (Lord of […]
Between the Covers
I’ve always thought that being in college is the greatest obstacle to a good education, because nobody has time to read outside of class. Economists are not fond of Thomas Carlyle, a curmudgeon who called Economics “The Dismal Science,” and classed us with “sophists and calculators.” But I do agree with him that “What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.”
An Essay in Idleness
Sushi in Boston means O Ya, sushi in New York means Soto, and sushi in Maine means Miyake of Portland. However, I am not intolerant, so I did not hesitate to meet a cordial Asian Studies Professor (ASP) for lunch at Little Tokyo restaurant, in “downtown” Brunswick. My theory is that, in the absence of other information, one should […]