Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Life? Or Blogging?

There's probably no more tiresome sort of blog post than the apology for not blogging, but that's what circumstances have reduced me to. These days, I find teaching and family life absorb nearly all of my energy, and what little is left over goes either toward other projects (writing reviews, talks I'm giving at Lake Forest in the coming weeks) or leisure reading (last week's spare moments were consumed by a copy of Woodward and Bernstein's The Final Days that I found in a box on the street—anticipatory schadenfreude on my part). Current literary events, like the sad and sudden passing of David Foster Wallace, are passing me by. I'm not even reading blogs much anymore, a new trend as disturbing as it might be healthy.

If I did have time to blog, I'd blog about the Modern Poetry course I'm teaching, which has been a very exciting adventure. I have some very bright students in that class (including Brother Tom, who's auditing) who have never before encountered the likes of Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, or William Carlos Williams (the story so far). One beneficial effect for me has been to reread these writers as a clever undergraduate might—I find myself concerned with what these poets might mean, whereas normally when I read poetry I just permit myself to be ravished by surface effects and sociohistoric echoes. So I have to construct a narrative for each poet's work to guide the class, while letting the range and scope of it suggest to the students the necessary provisionality of such a narrative.

I'd also probably blog—it's a mercy I do not—about the presidential campaign. Despite his being by any world measure a center-right candidate, despite the likelihood of his turning into neoliberalism with a (multicultural) human face, I badly want Obama to win, and to win big. I have a daughter—have her while she is mine—and that puts me a lot closer to Polonius and his desire to keep the ship of state afloat than it does to Hamlet's revolution. If McCain and Palin get in—satyrs to Obama's Hyperion?—I will fear not for the decline of the American empire (that would be just fine, I long to live in a "normal country"), but its convulsive self-destruction. Which is to say, my little family will likely be stumping for Obama in Kenosha, Wis., this weekend. And I'll be checking the latest polls every spare second between now and November 4, hoping for current financial crisis-driven trends to continue to boost the guy who does indeed offer hope, however slender a reed that might be.

Going back underground, for a time.

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