Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"The Office" (Workstation series) 30 ("Easter 1916" edition)

Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
[They] are changed, changed utterly:
Yeats was writing about Easter 1916, and facing the fact that even people he hated, or disagreed with, or (with the hardwired patrician hauteur of his Anglo-Protestant class, which crippled his "folkloric" interests, in contrast to the empathy, insight, and friendships which JM Synge created) despised, had, through the doomed late-Romantic rhetorical gesturing of the Easter Rebellion, simultaneously realized the sordid reality of the "blood sacrifice" Patrick Pearse had idealized, had joined hands and stepped through the looking-glass of literary modernism into a 20th Century of technology, brutality, and authoritarianism. And, despite the wrong-headed political naivete (and self-centered late-Romantic mythology) of the Anglo-Celtic Renaissance, had paid a supreme sacrifice--even if it was pointless. Death was death; courage was courage, even in the most ridiculous circumstances.

This is the first day in 15 years when, during an academic semester, I did not have to be teaching a class while courses were in session--and the first day since 1984 that I have not had to be on a college campus at all. It's a strange, though not unwelcome situation. I've got no excuse--I have more time and more support for my own research than I have had in at least 20 years. In fact, I have a mandate: they gave me a bunch of money to go off and do these two books I say I have in me.

I have to leave my department in my colleagues' capable hands, trust that the systems we've built over the last seven years are good systems, that my colleagues are capable of handling whatever and all of the minor administrative conflagrations will certainly arise, and get this done.

Time to go to work.

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