[ilds] Police, puritans and changing times

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Fri Dec 14 13:09:31 PST 2007


Hey Bruce,

I'm glad to hear you had a good trip.

> Academics, on the other hand, are sane, rational,
 > grammatically correct, and often boring.  They
 > don't have the madness necessary to write great
 > books.

Ummm, when's the last time you strolled down the hallways of a nearby 
institution?  Perhaps a larger proportion need institutionalization than 
in the population at large...  I've been looking through the Robin 
Skelton fonds here (a local professor/poet), and I think he'd have to 
qualify as having the necessary madness if any academic would (and he 
did correspond with Durrell).

But what of those who are neither academics nor great writers?  Hmmm. 
Does their madness or health figure in a different way, or does it 
figure in any way at all?  Personally, I suggest the designation 
"academic" is just an easy way for some to label a group so that they 
don't need to think about it too closely.

More genuinely, I must admit that I'm not always accepting of the 
madness-creativity nexus.  I think academics are very often writers, but 
we spend all of our days using our noodle, so it's tired when it comes 
time for the more creative stuff.  Also, for every Burgess you'll have a 
Bach, or for every Milton a Murdoch -- I don't think the madness element 
is necessary.

But, there is an extensive discussion of that in the latest book 
promoted by the Durrell School of Corfu, which had a seminar dedicated 
to the issue: _Creativity, Madness and Civilisation_ edited by Richard 
Pine.  I'm drawn to the possibility that artists can be mundane 
creatures as well, thinking about the number of signatures in a volume 
when they make revisions, etc...  And in that mundane mode, anthologies 
(often by academics) can play a large role in keeping authors like EH 
and LD in view -- EH wrote plenty of short stories, which makes it easy 
to include him.  LD did not.

Can you tell us more about Egypt?

Best,
James

ps: Bill, I've heard you howl, and I suspect Wild Bill displaces the 
Mild Bill of daylight hours...


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