Monday, November 22, 2004

Random Notes

I am relieved that the damned presentation thing is over. I am glad it’s over. How well did it go? My paper was not as well organized as the others, but I think I left it open enough to generate some better questions from the audience. Now I want to stop thinking about French republicanism. For the next month, I will ignore the French side of my subject. There is only one problem. Some guy talked to me for fifteen minutes about how intolerance of regionalism could be used to understand intolerance of Muslims in France. An interesting question, but for later.

Last night my wife and I watched Laissez-passer (Safe Conduct). Bertrand Tavernier is my favorite contemporary French director. This film, based on real experiences, deals with the French film industry during the occupation. The action surrounds writers and directors that was overseen by the SS. As a micro-study it does an great job of showing the extent to which resistance and non-conformism required collaboration. And after watching it, I want to see many of the films that Tavernier depicts. Two critiques, which apply to all Tavernier films: he tends to cast people who look similar to one another, and the dialogue can be so rapid that subtitles are somewhat ineffective.

We also had a mini-fest of Planet of the Apes. It got me thinking about how concepts of degeneration (and the requisite fragmentation of humanity) must necessarily lead to speciation.

I am completing the syllabus for by Ancient Civ class. Advice that I got from someone yesterday: find the two best books on the subject; assign the second best, teach the best.

I am happy with the progress of Dictionary of Received Ideas: lots of good things to read. I want to thank whomever changed the format. It looks better now.


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