A titan arum or “corpse plant” is about to bloom in a Cornell University green house:
[The] bloom…has been recorded only 140 times in cultivation, and perhaps that’s for the best, as the plant smells like rotting meat when in bloom. The strong odor and deep purple color of the inner leaf attracts carrion flies for pollination in its native rainforests on the island of Sumatra.
The plant has reached 66 inches in height as of Saturday, 3/17, and might bloom today. Live video can be seen here.
But it also speaks to a broader puzzle, especially regarding the recent games in the press and in blogs concerning Islam. Any fool can Google up a copy of a religious text and pull out verses to prove almost anything; the connection between disinterested academic discourse about the interpretation of a passage, breezy bloggy…
1. Thought of Aristotle’s failure to succeed Plato at the Academy in terms of a proto-tenure-denial, which makes the founding of the Lyceum a totally sweet vindication.
2. Reflected further that if Aristotle didn’t get tenure, it was probably due to teaching and not scholarship (“Outside letters compared his writing to rivers of gold.”) Pondered what his evaluations must have been like (“Paces too much during lecture.”)
3. Recalled, while reading Plato, a theory expounded by one of my undergraduate professors that, according to some scholars of ancient philosophy, Plato’s dialogues were originally intended to be performed. This theory permits the interpretation of some parts of Plato as addressing the audience directly, and allows bits of dialogue to be taken as asides to the audience, or read as intended primarily for humorous effect rather than philosophical value…
On his authority as Admiral of the battlestar Galactica, Edward James Olmos addresses a crowd in the United Nations chamber and gets them to condemn the use of the constructed term [edited] “race” with a shout of “So say we all!”
Apart from the, I believe, indisputable general awesomeness of this moment, I’m not sure there’s that much else to say. The poor UN official who set Olmos off by using the word “races”—in quotation marks—was pretty good-humored about it.
(This beast began as the post I promised last week. Now that I’ve played hooky all my points about the uniqueness of Watchmen‘s narrative mode seem more salient in light of their absence from the film. So I decided to fold my review into the half-composed post. But for the record I still never get around to discussing my larger theory of Manhattan as readerly proxy.)
Some books teach you how to read them: Ulysses, Gravity’s Rainbow, JR, and Infinite Jest spring first to mind. From a purely formal perspective Watchmen belongs in their company. It does to the conventions of comic narrative what Joyce did to realism, Pynchon did to pulp, Gaddis did to dialogue and Foster Wallace did to sentiment. All the techniques discussed in the following had been used in comics before—there is nothing new under the oxen of the sun—but never in the service of creating a new breed of read…
Oh, no. Not the stimulus package. BattlestarGalactica. I thought Zarek’s actions were out of character, and designed to ensure that they could wrap up the coup in two episodes, ensuring the audience knew who they were supposed to back.
Key evidence: The Quorum are wimps. More discussion (with spoilers*) after the jump.
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This blog is a blog about history, Yiddishkeit, and the Muppets, neither exclusively nor necessarily in that order. And as William Gibson said about this very blog (no, really), “History can save your ass.” Yiddishkeit and the Muppets are just extras.
is the associate director of the Cornell in Washington program and a senior lecturer at Cornell University. He teaches courses on European history, modern military history, guerrilla war, and the role of popular will in waging war.
is an associate professor of history at UC Davis. He is the author of A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans, which won the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize in 2004, and his new book, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, will be published by Harvard University Press in fall 2012.
is a professor of history at UC Davis. She is the author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford, 2009); Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (North Carolina, 2002); and Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI (North Carolina, 1996).