Form Follows Content

Essentialism versus dereification

I’ve been wondering lately if. I am not one of those #woke racists who thinks that everything in society, except what I think and do, is #racist.

According to the Preface to the echt Confucian Canon of Poetry,

“The tone of a well-governed state is peaceful and happy; its government is harmonious. The tone of a chaotic age is resentful and angry; its government is perverse.”

Form follows content ; the end of rhyme marks the end of life

Only the Moon Can Bounce My Worry Back to You

Notes  prepared around the Mooncake Festival, 10 Sept, 2022


Song dynasty poet Su Shi, aka Dongpu, whose second, honorary name has been borrowed for a succulent dish of glazed pork rind, wrote of the Mooncake or Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhōngqiū Jié, 中秋).

“May we live long and share the beauty of the moon / together, even if we are hundreds of miles apart.”

This is something Nasrin and I experienced in 1989 during my first visit to Curaçao, the story of which I cast into a poem for her.


Barbara Tropp, Mastering the Art.


Su Shi – Poet Su Shi Poems

Mid-Autumn Festival (Mooncake Festival, Zhong Qiu Jie) 2022: Traditions, Stories, Food…

水调歌头 (Water Music Song) by Su Shi / Su Tung-P’o

2 of the Most Famous Chinese Mid-Autumn Poems

蘇軾 水調歌頭 Translation: Water Song, by Su Shi (明月幾時有)

Mid-Autumn Moon – Mid-Autumn Moon Poem by Su Shi


An Introduction to Literary Chinese: Revised Edition (Harvard East Asian Monographs) Paperback – November 15, 2004

An Introduction to Chinese Poetry: from the Canon of Poetry to the Lyrics of the Song Dynasty (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center Press, 2017)


Mastering the Glyphs

Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs
by Camilla Townsend. Oxford University Press, 320 pp., $29.95; $21.95 (paper)

The Aztecs: Lost Civilizations by Frances F. Berdan. Reaktion, 232 pp., $25.00

Conquistadores: A New History of Spanish Discovery and Conquest by Fernando Cervantes. Viking, 493 pp., $35.00

Deciphering Aztec Hieroglyphs: A Guide to Nahuatl Writing by Gordon Whittaker. University of California Press, 210 Pp., $34.95

J. H. Elliott, NYR, 02.12.2021

The Comparatist Harry Levin on French Theory

[Said’s] mentor Harry Levin tried to check his enthusiasm for French theory, which, as he put it, ‘does not truly aim at the understanding of literature, but at deriving metaphysical paradigms from authors by superimposing certain abstractions supported by quotations taken out of contexts’

LRB Adam Schatz 6.05.2121, p 26

Today’s Twitter Thread

I was one of the lucky ones, retiring 13 years ago as a #Dean. I was also lucky in that during my term I presided over 70 hires, which means over 250 actively potential candiates and 1000s of files and letters of recomendation in those five years alone….1/4

2/4. With all due respect to those who got a leg over the gunnel, those who passed muster did so not only because they had ante’d up the basic qualifications, but because they were in the right place at the right time. The fates smiled on them….

3/4. What is insufferable is that once they make it, many of those who won the lottery think it was due to their innate brilliance alone. They continue to feed the #meritocractic myth, in part because they also need students to maintain enrolment in vanity seminars….

4/4.  My advice to prospective PhDs is to chose well your subject of research. If you are lucky you’ll be stuck with it for the rest of your life. If not, you will have at least pursued something worthy in its own right. END of 🛢.