I know it must be coming up to the end of the year because my IPod keeps selecting rather gloomy music to accompany me on the trip home each day. Three days in a row this week I’ve had a shuffle list full of Sigur Ros, My Bloody Valentine Nick Cave, Tricky…. – all wonderful to be sure – but I’ve been pretty morose by the time I came in the front door. Something about the seepage of gumption that comes with the now relentless pace of academic life even with -especially, perhaps – the end of the teaching semester. Whatever happened to the longueurs of research and reflection on next year’s lectures? (then again, I never experienced those longueurs to begin with, so what do I know?).
It’s around this time of year that we start to reflect back on the previous 11 months or so and take stock: key performance indicators; performance management & development; surplus/loss etc. are all rolled out and applied against our activities. I must admit to indulging in a game when engaged in some of the more tedious aspects of this aspect of the job, which involves carving up lists of names into various categories of one kind or another (only in my head, I assure you!) …..sometimes it is colleagues (particularly wicked fun), other times philosophers (both dead and alive). So, is Hegel (or …???) a hedgehog or a fox (Isaiah Berlin)? Or perhaps a hedgehog who thinks he’s a fox? Is that colleague a ‘paleface’ or a ‘redskin’ (Philip Rahv’s deeply politically incorrect distinction between writers like Eliot and Henry James on the one hand, and Dreiser on the other..); are they mandarin or vernacular? (Cyrill Connolly on Proust vs Hemingway)? Silvertails or Fibros? Bogans or Wogs?? (as one wit of the NSW right described the standoff between the Union bosses and Morris Iemma….the bogans won)….You can see what I mean. It’s just too tempting…
Belated warm congratulations on the (slightly early) arrival of Chris and Sarah Hilliard’s new baby daughter Tess, who arrived on 7 November... A wonderful new addition to the growing SOPHI family. Mother and baby are doing fine and so is Chris!
I am traveling in the States this week (17-24th Nov), giving a few talks. Paul Redding has kindly agreed to serve as Acting HoS. I’ll be responding to emails as best I can, but for any urgent matters do get in touch with Elia or Paul directly.