I thought that no part of the dumb Harvey Weinstein drama could upset me but I have to confess that it was deeply disappointing to hear about Meryl Streep’s pathetic fawning and simpering at the feet of this stupid tub of lard and her sudden discovery that it’s no longer fashionable publicly to worship him. 

She’s the only person with any talent in the whole story. And she ends up being the most vapid and spineless.

Campus Speakers and Class

As for campus speakers, the real problem is not that some weirdo came to speak at Berkeley but that the absolute majority of departments in the Humanities have not been able to invite any speakers for years. 

Students don’t even know why. 

“We don’t ever have any speakers at this department!” they exclaim.

“We’d love to invite people,” I say. “But we don’t get funding even for a secretary, let alone for speakers.” 

Students are stunned. They honestly had no idea.

This is what I call class consciousness. We don’t exist even to our own minds. 

N-word in the Classroom

So how do you, folks, feel about To Kill a Mockingbird being pulled off high school curricula?

In all honesty, I wouldn’t want to teach any book that contains the n-word in any context or to make any point whatsoever in an 8-grade classroom. I’m not seeing any benefits that would outweigh the discomfort. It’s not even a world literary masterpiece that every cultured person needs to know by the age of 15 or else. It’s an ok book for kids that can be a lot of fun to read but that’s hardly indispensable or exceptionally urgent. 

I remember a class in Ukrainian literature back when I was 14-15. We were reading a novella by a great Ukrainian writer. The problem was that one of the characters used a word that is perfectly innocent in Ukrainian but obscene in Russian. It’s been many years, I’m a literary critic, but all I remember about that author and his novella is the obscenity because that’s how the teenage mind works. 

If I were a teacher and I had a choice, I wouldn’t teach this novel in high school. I wouldn’t teach it in college either but that’s strictly because I personally find it boring and lacking in artistic merit. 

First Kindles

Today’s Kindles are, of course, enormously better than the bulky first-generation ones that cost $400 back in 2008. (It was still before the mainstreaming of smartphones, and these Kindles were miraculous).

One thing, though, I miss enormously from the first-generation Kindle and that’s the automatic page-turn function. One could play with fonts to make it coincide with one’s reading speed. After all the tech advances since then, it would be great to see automatic page-turn regulate itself through learning from your reading patterns. But the only Kindle that even has the page-turn at all is the ultra-expensive waterproof model. As if people were desperate to automatically page-turn under water.