Pass the popcorn, and mix up a pitcher of Pisco Sours!

Triple suicide at fifteen paces!

Here’s your free laugh of the day, friends.  I bring you the return of Colorado’s crazziest Republican politician yet, Tom Tancredo!

Former GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo issued an ultimatum Thursday to both Republican gubernatorial candidates: Drop out of the race or I will jump in as a third-party candidate.

Tancredo’s entry as an American Constitution Party candidate likely would create a GOP implosion, splitting the vote in the general election and handing a win to Democrats.

Campaigns for Dan Maes and Scott McInnis said the Republican candidates intended to remain in the race.  Continue reading

Meanwhile, back at El Rancho Radical: Part III of our discussion of Terry Castle's The Professor

I hope you’ve been following our discussion of Terry Castle’s The Professor and Other Writings. Today, we’re back at Tenured Radical for Part III, the final installment of our conversations, “She’ll Always Be A Player On the Ballfield of My Heart:  Tenured Radical and Historiann Wrap Up Their Conversation about The Professor.” If you recall, we were talking about the function of villains in autobiography, and the need for female heroes, when I asked Tenured Radical, “Do you really think “Terry Castle” wouldn’t have turned out to be Terry Castle without her having endured this abusive relationship [with The Professor]?  Do you really think she wouldn’t have become such a “profoundly imaginative and original scholar,” or is that just what “Terry Castle” tells herself to justify the affair, to redeem it in some fashion, or at least to justify telling us the story?”  Continue reading

Humiliation and Longing: Part II of my discussion with Tenured Radical of Terry Castle's The Professor

If you recall, when Tenured Radical and I broke off yesterday in Part I of our discussion of Terry Castle’s The Professor and Other Writings, we were talking about the odd attraction and revulsion that characterizes relationships between academics and public intellectuals.  At least, it’s why I’ve always forgiven Gore Vidal for his nasty swipes at the “Assistant Professors” of his imagination, who according to Vidal were always scurrying off to write something narrow and pointless.  Vidal never went to college.  (The Deuce had a lot to do with that, since he was Philips Exeter Class of 1943.)

So here we are again–gossiping about Susan Sontag!  Today, we’re moving along to some of the even knottier issues that The Professor raised in our minds, those of desire, longing, and the price one pays to join the academic club.  And as some of you have reported here, sex is one way young scholars can gain admission, or at least imagine that that’s what they’ve done.

Tenured Radical:  I think it’s important that Sontag isn’t a feminist, even though she has always been honored by feminists. In contrast, I’ve begun to develop a relationship with a highly successful feminist writer from the 1970s, and she seems to be very clear why our work is differently important, and she is making a point of being generous about the kind of collaboration that can be possible between two very different kinds of writers.  It’s just one example, but it is a strikingly different experience than I have had in the past with “famous” people who rely on me for all kinds of support, but wouldn’t dream of offering to introduce me to an agent.  I think the Sontag essay also illustrates two paradoxes that you allude to in your comments, paradoxes that actually structure the whole book.  The first is that the cost of being smart and accomplished as Castle is – particularly because she is a woman and of working-class and immigrant origins– is the ever-present fear of humiliation, that humiliation that comes from not belonging. In “Courage Mon Amie,” Castle’s essay about her love affair with World War I, she emphasizes the inescapable humiliation of being female in a world where female heroism is impossible, and particularly impossible for those who suffer from the dread and fear of not belonging.  “I was female,” she writes dolefully about her inability to face the post- 9/11 world with stoicism; “and a wretched poltroon.” (21).


The second paradox you raise is that we academics seek out larger than life “female/heroes” like Sontag and The Professor, but inevitably, the heroism of such people is not unconnected to their narcissistic need to humiliate us.  The question is, are we drawn to them because somehow we actually know that they will do that thing which we fear the most?  In this sense, all the essays strike me as exercises in coming to terms with humiliation and the longing to be part of the most exclusive club.  It’s no accident, I think, that Castle’s obsession with Art Pepper, maniac cockmeister and a sublime, brilliant drug-addicted jazz musician covered with tattoos, takes hold at the exact time she is driving around in her persona as a respectable professor with a trunk full of research intended for an article she knows, in her heart, she will never write.  Continue reading

Sisters, sisters: Part I of our discussion of Terry Castle's The Professor

Can you guess I’ve been waiting all summer to post this one? That’s George Clooney’s Aunt Rosemary starring as Tenured Radical on the left, and Vera Ellen as Historiann on the right. (Or the reverse. It doesn’t matter! She’s the smart sister, though, whichever side she’s on.) Anyhoo–we’re co-hosting a  three-part conversation about Terry Castle’s collection of essays The Professor and Other Writings this week on our blogs.  Plus, our pal Comrade PhysioProf is going to chime in with his review of Castle’s book–just in time for beach reading season!  Part I is over at Tenured Radical today–go read and join the discussions over there and at CPP’s blog, and I’ll host part II at el Rancho Historiann tomorrow.  We hope you have fun!  Continue reading

Helicoptering: what does it matter to faculty?

What does it matter?

Last week’s discussion of helicopter parents inspired a lot of comments.  But, I felt a little bad about having started the conversation without more of a setup or guidance from me.  (Aren’t any of you away from the summer, or unplugged from blogs at least?  Jeezy Creezy!)  After all, the author of the original article opened up her life and her parenting to close scrutiny by the general public, which I think was terribly brave of her.  (If I am a parent, I certainly am not courageous enough to write about my family life like she did.  After all, I won’t even tell you if I am a parent!)  I didn’t mean for our discussion to be a pile-on of one woman, and I was really pleased that the discussion you all generated remained focused on the issue of helicoptering generally rather than on one parent personally.

But, really:  why should college or university faculty care about the parenting styles of our students’ parents?  Is this discussion of parenting just an online form of rubbernecking and taking easy shots at what goes on in other families?  (After all, I’m the blogger who has urged us all to refrain from judging parents too harshly because of the bucketload of cultural assumptions and expectations we put on parenting, and on mothering in particular.)  Continue reading

Ah, wilderness!

A bit overdressed, aren't we?

Well, friends–it’s time for me to head on up to the mountains again.  Summer here is short–so we’ve got to get a move on, and it’s a good weekend to get the heck out of Dodge.  It’s our annual wilderness camping trek, so tonight I’ll be sleeping at 11,000 feet!  That’s right–unlike the campers shown here, we’re carrying everything in and out on our backs.  Phew!  Apparently, there’s good fishing where we’re going.  Now, I don’t fish–so I’m wondering just how heavy a few books are going to feel after hiking a few miles in with my frame pack.

In the meantime, I think the last time I updated my blogroll was in about. . . well, never.  Here are some fun and fab blogs I’ve been meaning to add to my list–please put your suggestions (or your blogs) in the comments below, and we’ll see if I can get around to this little bit of housekeeping this summer when I get back!  Click around and stay awhile. Continue reading


Unsound methods

Is it possible that “helicopter parents” are just responding to incredibly needy and dependent children?  (Is it possible that some children shouldn’t be sent away to college, but continue to live at home while they study?)

Mobile phones and the erasure of long-distance charges has enabled this kind of codependence, or whatever you want to call it.  I also completely understand the urge to answer the phone when a child is calling.  When I was in college, it never dawned on me to call my parents with every question or concern that popped into my head, and not just because it cost more money than it does now.  I was happy to be away from home and my parents–even if it meant screwing up or not taking care of myself as I probably should have.  Continue reading