So as I mentioned in my last post, I attended a conference at Columbia last weekend, which was very exciting on many levels, the most basic of which is that it was a chance to go hang out at my alma mater for awhile. I stayed with a friend who is a third-year at Columbia Law on Thursday and Friday nights, which meant I could roll out of bed Friday and Saturday mornings as if almost eight years hadn’t rushed on by since I graduated! Friday I spent conferencing, but by Saturday I had had enough of French academics (they are such a different breed from we Anglo-Saxons) and decided my time would be better spent in the stacks at Butler all day. First, though, I made an obligatory visit to the Hungarian Pastry Shop (truly my favorite café in the world) and to Labyrinth Books, which was something else before it was Labyrinth but I’ve forgotten, and which is now no longer Labyrinth but something called Book Culture. Seems to be exactly the same place, just with a name change. I was in heaven– piled onto tables, stacked onto stairs, laid out on shelves, were books you just don’t see at Borders or Barnes and Noble or even at McNally’s or (the New York version of) Shakespeare and Co. Mixed in with books I’m impatient to read, like Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise and Janet Malcom’s Gertrude and Alice were Franco Moretti’s two-volume study of the novel and a remainder copy of The Very Rich Hours of Adrienne Monnier. So many books tempting me, so many books I couldn’t take with me, not only because of their cost but because of their weight! I limited myself to one. (The Monnier, if you’re curious to know, came home with me. It was $6. And directly relevant to my thesis. I couldn’t resist.) They had Irène Nemirovsky in the Gallimard poche versions. They even had Le Canard Enchaîné. American bookstores don’t get much better than this.
Charles McGrath thinks publishers think America is a nation of graduate students. I think anyone who really thinks that hasn’t been to America. Or maybe I haven’t been to their America.
This is a really old article (from 1996!) but I just discovered it (don’t ask how) and it’s worth looking at now, 11 years on: Edward Mendelson’s article "The Word and the Web," an early attempt to think about textuality and the web, where relentless hyperlinking "suggests a world where connections are everywhere but are mostly meaningless, transient, fragile and unstable."
A charming link via Delphine (merci!!): this Guardian article asks "What do Parisians read on the metro?" and introduces the game "Sartre." Don’t worry, you don’t need to have read any of his works to play. All you need is a strong sense of Gallic cliché.
These two go nicely as a pair: In Boston, parents congratulate themselves on having oddly intelligent children. In San Francisco, they worry that this generation of kids is dumber than ever. Where do your kids fit on this wacky hyperbolized scale?
And finally, here is my weekly shameless plug for Gridskipper: this week I wrote about the Viaduc des Arts and the Promenade Plantée in the 12th.