Friday, August 05, 2011

Found on another page: "Trying to write a literary masterpiece entails originality being privileged over clarity and sense. Clarity is not the hallmark of literature. Art-forms and clear exposition are orthogonal."

The adversarial systems of justice and of divided government are defined by the orthogonal.

Most historians aren't popularizers, but they write for an audience of anyone who might be interested. There's nothing wrong with wanting to write a book that gets reviewed in the newspaper in addition to professional journals. Which is more important, the London Review of Books or the NDPR?

Specialists in Islam and the Middle East deal with big questions because they have no choice, and it makes their work more resilient. Compare an anthro blog to Jadaliyya and the references to Margaret Mead that come up always in these arguments become silly.

Perhaps it's because Arabists share a specialty that they're free to involve themselves in discussions of poetry. But it's also that given the scope of their subject they're not only scholars of but in Arabic. Whatever their ethnicity, they see themselves as part of the tradition that they study.

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