Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I've reached an age when it's time to consider more closely the Big Questions--whether to go gently into the night having poured my soul into painstakingly crafted emails to friends, or to aim for something in another form. In my field of French literature, I find sobering the image of bookstore remainder tables filled with hard-won works of scholarship by my famous colleagues who have (as L, who died this week, put it) "cast their lot with the profession." In using that phrase, she had been referring to a particularly ambitious and briefly successful (before they burned out) wing of the independent scholarship movement. What does it mean that our own little independent scholars' group that has always had more modest aspirations is still going, even if L is not?

I am also haunted by the image of a famously talented writer who was said to have "wasted her brilliance writing copy for cereal boxes." An inveterate clutter-bug (my family is missing the throw-away gene), I have come to recognize my unfortunate tendency to hoard everything--including my own words. Time for a change?

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