Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tallapoosa Loses Progressive Citizen in William A. Flurry

[My mother's great grandfather's obituary]

Various newspapers of Tallapoosa county have chronicled the passing of William A. Flurry, aged 51 years, who died at Camp Hill following a brief illness, on July 7. Mr. Flurry, although just in the noontide of a fruitful and progressive life, had lived and accomplished the full destiny of mankind and leaves many evidences of his progressive nature behind him. From various sources the following recognition of his breadth of constructive vision is gleaned.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tabors, Wilco, Fraktur

I very much enjoyed seeing the Tabors ever-so-briefly this weekend--particularly Nick, who I haven't seen in over a year. If I end up at Vanderbilt next year, we will be only an hour or so away, which would be fantastic.

Nick and I talked about the new Wilco album--he enjoys it but is significantly less enthusiastic than I. I think it's fantastic start to finish.

Here Tweedy pairs grim lyrics with aggressive, upbeat music--just as, in the wondrous album closer, which I posted recently, a dark story of paternal disappointment is told in a peaceful, lovely manner. I love the wailing guitar line. As Tweedy says in a really nice piece about the creation of this track, "I can play that guitar riff. I can't make it sound like [Nels Cline does]."


I filled the past week with late nights translating smudged German Fraktur, a frustrating but also rewarding task. This was my first time doing any extended reading in Fraktur, so it was good to work on that long overdue skill. And as always, there's a certain pleasure in correcting some little technical, grammatical error and then seeing the whole phrase or passage fall into place and make sense.

My translation work Friday morning went much slower than anticipated, and I did not finish before I had to go to work. So at 11 PM that night, after work, I sat back down to the task of translating and worked until 4 AM, slept, woke again at 8 AM, worked two more hours, and then slept again. I woke for good 11:30 AM to burn a cd for Bill Nye. Then I washed some dishes and cleaned the bathroom before the Tabors arrived.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I want to sit one morning on the porch of a wood cabin in the hills next to my wife with a hot cup of a coffee and a Book of Common Prayer. I don't even want to read it, just sit with it in my lap.

It feels like the story of Jack Boughton distilled into a song, and it sticks to your ribs after it's finished.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

There was an error in my latest mix. If you've already downloaded it, you can easily fix it here. If you haven't downloaded it yet, what are you waiting for?

Monday, October 3, 2011

If you've ever downloaded and enjoyed one of my mixes, you should absolutely hop over to the tumblr and download my friend Bill's late-arriving summer mix. It's a gem.

And while you're over there, you must check out Dr. Birzer's contribution to our high school playlists.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Writing (Popular) History

I am currently taking a class in early modern European history titled, "Is a history of popular culture/religion possible?" We were asked this week to write a short personal statement identifying what consider the central problem of writing popular history and gesturing towards some possible solutions. Mine, as you'll see, ended up being a little more generalized. Oddly enough (considering my undergraduate thesis), I'm not big on theory.


I believe the center of all historical study should be the human person, meaning, as de Certeau suggests in today's reading, not the atomized individual but rather the relational person. When I get a whiff of real human beings in a reading, I get interested. When I sense faceless masses or impersonal forces, my eyes glaze, my reading slows, and perhaps a little drool drops from my gaping, bored mouth.

This might sound like I'm about to advocate only the most micro of micro-histories, but I don't think that's a solution because you don't get a person without the context of their community, and you don't that community without the context of some larger community, and so forth. For me, the major problem comes down to the relationships between the personal level and the larger culture you're ostensibly studying. You have to find a way to bring out the faces of human persons while preserving their foreignness, and without removing them from their culture and community.

I don't know that the solution can be found in theory, abstract schemes, or definitions. I'm not sure there actually is a solution. As nice as it would be to solutionatize what we've problematized, I think we're stuck with contingency and relationship. This means employing flexibility in our studies. I also think that since even our most minute and limited conclusions are tenuous, we might as well make big claims and gesture towards sweeping conclusions too. Basically, we have to recognize that our statements are strongly relative yet make them anyway. We realize that every generality is sweeping, but we still generalize. We'll fashion a history of popular culture the way we tend to form a concept of anything: not by agreeing on what it is, but by bickering over what it isn't.