<= 2001.03.04

2001.03.06 =>

la tour bruyarde

My dialup connection will last around two minutes at a time; then, inevitably, it makes a despairing little pop and my icon with the two computers and the phone line is overlaid by a big red circle, letting me know that there's one more way for me to lose contact with the outside world. So I can't go hunting for links today, much.

Over the weekend I read A.S. Byatt's Babel Tower. It's good. She's a smart lady. There's one of these books-within-the-book that, as Lyse points out, is an unusually clever self-referential exercise since, as the main plot goes on, it requires you to re-evaluate your reaction to earlier passages and then it implicates you. Busted! It also gleefully references everything from Blake to Tolkein to Chomsky.

There's been argument recently as to whether you can use "reference" as a verb. According to Merriam-Webster, it's been a transitive verb for over a century:

Main Entry: reference
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -enced; -enc·ing
Date: 1891
1 a : to supply with references b : to cite in or as a reference
2 : to put in a form (as a table) adapted to easy reference

Chris Offutt claims that's crap, it's an ugly verb, the verbing of language is destroying our language, and that we already have a perfectly good verb in "refer." But it's not the same since "refer" isn't transitive; you have to refer to things. Furthermore, they mean different things. In conversation I might refer to Hitchcock's Vertigo; but in the Simpsons episode where Principal Skinner climbs the school tower, looks down the staircase and sees the same shift of proportion that Jimmy Stewart saw, the episode is referencing Vertigo. There wasn't much of a need for this word before the meta-post-whatever era of quotation, but now that it's here the word has naturally come into common speech. It seems to fulfill the basic requirement for a new word, which is that it concisely describes something which previously had no concise descriptor, so even if it is overly academic we'd all better get used to it.

The KKK adopted a highway, which sucks, but we can still take comfort in the fact that the KKK is dumb. James Alan McPherson, a genial if abstracted Workshop teacher who was the first African-American to win the Pulitzer for fiction, is also Iowa City's local KKK organizer. They didn't have one here so McPherson just wrote in and became a member by mail, and our friends in the white hats have no clue. He seems mightily amused by it, though there's a more serious "know your enemy" undercurrent.

 

<= 2001.03.04

2001.03.06 =>

up (2001.03)

The Warm South
The Roof Rat Review