9 No. 6
The Greatness Game
Strengthening faculty distinction at Emory
“We have a distinctive institutional culture and history that is what we have to offer in the higher education world, and I don’t want to give that up in order to chase some abstract image of excellence.”
“I think in many ways some of the people who ask why this is this such a big deal are the very ones who are keeping the status quo.”
The End of Work?
Riding the Retirement Wave
Hard Money/Soft Money
The two cultures
The Gentle Madness
The gentle madness of bibliomania is in fact a recognized disease. I think it shows up in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual [of Mental Disorders]. Anytime I mention this, someone will inevitably say to me, “if that’s the case, how come there’s no literature about people seeking the cure?” My answer to that is nobody I know ever wants to be cured. This is one disease that you acquire and have for life and are happy to have for life. . . . When I first learned of the arrest in 1990 of Steven Blumberg, having picked up a copy of USA Today, a newspaper I don’t often read, there it was, four paragraphs from the previous evening. Seventeen FBI agents had swarmed this house in Ottumwa, Iowa, and had removed two tractor trailers filled with 25,000 books conservatively estimated at the time to be worth $20 million. They had been gathered from 268 libraries in 45 states, 2 Canadian provinces, and the District of Columbia, and 95 percent of them were never known to be missing until the day he was arrested. Some people have wondered why I would include him in my book [Gentle Madness], which had at its driving premise to pay tribute to how much we owe to the collector—so much of what we treasure in our history, literature, culture, it was my contention in this book, would be lost if it weren’t for the collector. . . . Blumberg’s defense at trial was not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury found him guilty after twenty-two minutes of deliberation.
—Nicholas Basbane, book culture expert and author, from his talk, “On Paper: A New Quest,” March 13, 2007, sponsored by Woodruff Library
Success Born of Desperation
The discovery of vocalese [the setting of lyrics to established jazz orchestral instrumentals] was an act of God. And of desperation and ignorance. It’s the truth. I had to find some way to express myself. I never learned to read music. I found myself in a world full of musicians. I couldn’t play it, but I could sing it. So I started to sing everything I heard. During the Depression, my father was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He had twelve boys and two girls. . . . I loved to go to the movies, but it cost ten cents to get in. So I used to hang out at Stanley Cowell’s hamburger joint (Stanley Cowell has a son, Stanley Cowell Jr., who is a renowned jazz pianist). I’d stand there in front of the jukebox and say, “Why are you putting all that money in the jukebox? I’ll sing the song. You want to hear Inkspots? Give me your nickel.” [Sings a bar of “If I Didn’t Care”]. You see, the success of vocalese is the success of ignorance and desperation.
—Jon Hendricks, jazz vocalist, speaking in a master class on February 1, 2007, in the Emerson Concert Hall as the Coca-Cola Artist in Residence