Montaigne: The First Blogger; or, Nick Hornby’s Surprise

When my monthly Believer finally arrives, one of the first pieces I read is Nick Hornby’s “Stuff I’ve Been Reading.” Hornby’s polite sarcasm and gentle disdain of the academic suits the Believer’s editorial voice, a voice which, however, aging with success, must now search for ever new ways to seem avant-garde, if not anti-academic, such…

Jane Kramer tosses a toad to Montaigne

Jane Kramer tosses a lit toad into Montaigne’s lap – sitting in his tower, surrounded by his books, like nothing else in Tennessee: “He would have loved Google” (p. 40). Would Montaigne have loved Google, which, according to Nicholas Carr, is making us stupid? Certainly, Montaigne was a blogger, his “hits” count initially limited by the…

How Do Professors Think? More Crisis in the Humanities

At the bottom of her n+1 review of Michele Lamont’s How Professors Think, Amanda Claybaugh laments that Lamont “fails” to answer the promise of her book’s title. Claybaugh appears to buy into the title’s assumption, that professors think differently than others. But why would professors think any differently than anyone else? Indeed, from the professor…

Overhearing one’s own writing

In “The Gutenberg Galaxy” (1962), Marshall McLuhan was the first modern blogger. Though published in traditional book form, the structure resembles many of today’s blogs. Norman O. Brown followed suit with “Love’s Body,” in 1966. McLuhan and Brown built their books on a framework of short paragraphs full of quotes, or links, to a cornucopia…