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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More about Language

I apologize for the last post: it'd crude, borderline offensive, and witty like Jack Daw is witty. Of course, that was kind of the point: legislation that spells out offensive language is bound to be all those things too; we just don't expect an adverb loophole. More to the point, though, those are all qualities that have been, and continue to be, used to denigrate blogging and bloggers. Real journalists/academics/lawyers/etc. just don't use such language, much less read blogs that use such language (as one of my senior colleagues said in a meeting last year, "I've never knowingly visited a blog").

With that half-hearted apology and paper-thin analysis out of the way, I just want to add that one of the real pleasures of my online reading is watching people like Paul Krugman, Princeton economics professor and New York Times columnist, adopt the vernacular of the blogosphere. I love his use of the term "Very Serious People," his discussion of tax cuts and the meme that all news is good news for Republicans, and his deployment of the blogosphere staple of then/now statements. Some day (actually, someone is probably already working on this) , an industrious graduate student will have an interesting thesis to write on the news revolution of 1997-2007.

  • At 11/29/2007 05:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    Somebody known to me once (sometime back in the last millenium, 1999) wanted to write his "second book" on "The Philosophy of the Internet". He changed to an other subject (something connected to globalisation). I never talked to him about his reasons for this switch, but I guess it might have been due to the fact that there are some targets which move even faster than other targets ... .


  • At 11/29/2007 10:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    So this isn't really about "The Shrill One," as he is affectionately and not affectionately called, but I thought this article was really crazy, and figured you all might want to utter some expletives over it:



  • At 11/29/2007 10:31:00 AM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    That's an amazing find...and also surely not true (sadly).

    To begin, the headline claims the book is "thought to be bound in his skin." If so, it'd be weird for the auction house to say nothing of the sort. Instead, the auctioneer says it "looks like it has the face of a man on it," or in other words, this cover has some sort of pattern on it that some might say resembles a human face. Also, if it were actually bound in his skin, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have chosen the skin from his face, and/or if they did somehow use the skin from his head, that his face wouldn't be neatly centered and identifiable on the front cover of the book.

    But is there some way a clever seventeenth-century bookbinder could have intentionally distressed an animal skin in the pattern of a human face? Or, if it is a paper cover, were there any specially designed human face watermarks? I would be so happy if either of those were true. I've never heard of that being done, but I'm hardly an expert on bookbinding.

    M*ther f*cker [just so I can work in the requisite expletive/swear]


  • At 11/29/2007 05:19:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    Binding in human skin is not that unusual. So it may well be bound in human skin (whether or not the skin of Garnet). But the "thought to" does imply that it might be animal skin instead. The oddity is that it's pretty easy to tell the difference for a specialist, I imagine.

    I think the face is supposed to have appeared miraculously, not that they used the skin from his face!


  • At 11/29/2007 05:58:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    Well, I wouldn't say binding in human skin was all that usual. Calfskin, vellum, and pigskin were the most typical binding materials (sheepskin covers were still unusual, per Gaskell), whereas human skin seems to have been more in fashion in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Anyway, here's a short article on this practice. And here's another article with a picture. Holbroke Jackson has an interesting discussion of the different grades of human skin used in bindings.

    And, yes, a "miracle" makes more sense...for those who believe in such things (see the Angry Professor on this issue--god I love her). It's not clear whether the auctioneer believes in miracles: "It's a little bit spooky because the front of the book looks like it has the face of a man on it, which is presumed to be the victim's face." Now does he mean the victim's literal face, or just the image of his face? What a cagey auctioneer!


  • At 11/29/2007 06:09:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    S: the emphasis in my comment should have read "Binding in human skin is not that unusual." Not usual, either, of course.

    I take the auctioneer to be saying: "It's a little bit spooky[, this odd visual illusion,] because the front of the book looks like it has the face of a man on it [due to some strange characteristics of the leather], which [odd visual illusion] is presumed to be [an eerie image of] the victim's face."


  • At 11/29/2007 06:18:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    I suspect he's being deliberately ambiguous--or, rather, I want him to be. I wish the article included a better picture of the book/face.


  • At 11/30/2007 07:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    "I wish the article included a better picture of the book/face."

    But that would ruin the story because we'd be able to see that it doesn't really have a face on it. ;)


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