Monday, March 19, 2007

2 dark secrets about JJC

You would think that at this point in my career I'd be used to giving papers and presentations. You'd think I'd just be able to toss them out with the carefree devil may care insouciant joie de vivre of a blog post.

You'd be incorrect.

I'm still waiting for the day to arrive when I summon a stale paper from my hard drive and deliver it with a patina of smarminess to an audience that I don't think that much about but am certain somehow will be impressed by my sheer Me-ness (<-- any resemblance in the foregoing to any actual living Star Medievalist is based on acute observation is purely coincidental). I still get anxious before I teach (What if my students discover that I don't care about Chaucer's relation to Lollardy?), so I suppose my obsessiveness about presentations will never fade.

With all that in mind I've noticed that my OCD has the odd effect of making certain songs stick in mind as permanent reminders of the conference or lecture I'm traveling towards when I hear the tune. I've decided to make an iTunes playlist called "Scholar" that will have the following songs, each of which is permanently linked for me to a paper I've given:

  • Peter Gabriel, More Than This (on the drive to Bucknell in April 2006 to give a lecture on children and animals, I heard this odd song three times)
  • Joseph Arthur, There is a Light That Never Goes Out (this ethereal remake of the Smiths's song was playing in a coffee shop in Princeton as I obsessed over a presentation on Derrida and animals)
  • Coldplay, Swallowed in the Sea (I am so behind in the times that I never listed to this Big Pop Album until I was on my way to Leeds in 2005, when my British Airways flight had it as an option. I remember thinking about my paper and then looking down at the vast space of ocean between Iceland and Ireland just as the song came on, fixing it forever in my mind ... along with a weird image of a medieval hermit setting sail from the latter to the former and wondering if he would ever arrive)
  • Capercaillie, Hoireann O (I was trying to explore some music that mixes traditional Irish and Scottish elements with contemporary instruments and settings while working on a piece on the survival of Celtic Britains in medieval England for a Dartmouth symposium)
  • Robert Miles, Children (I was stuck at Gatwick as I flew from Washington to London to Naples to give a paper on William of Norwich, exactly one month after Sept. 11 2001. The Virgin Music Store kept playing this, so I bought the CD not knowing the song's title ... talk about serendipity).
  • REM, The Great Beyond (something about the lyric "I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs" and the Uri Geller references stuck in my mind as I was trying to do the impossible, deliver a coherent paper at Cornell in 2002).
  • There are more but you would lose all respect for me and/or take away my iPod as part of an intervention.
So, here are your two dark secrets: (1) I am far from self-confident and (2) I have atrocious taste in music.

9 comments:

Karl Steel said...

The big question is: which medievalist does not suffer from impostor syndrome? Which of us has the phallus? (I've always imagined it to be Bynum, but I bet even she worries).

I'll leave your taste in music alone. this is mine, but I can't say I associate any of this, oddly enough, with my work. But I do want to call attention to this, so long as we're talking medievalists and music. Except a little piece on it maybe tonight or tomorrow.

Geoffrey Chaucer said...

Ywis, in what corner of the erthe do Petrus Gabrielis and Rem maken for atrocious tast in musique? For my recommendaciouns, ye kan chekke the 'on myn i-pod' seccioun of my blogges sidebar. Ich kan nevir saye ynogh good concerninge the band the Mountayn Goats, yf ye are in to the whiny and introspective wyth guitares kynde of thing.

Yowers in pop musique
Le Vostre
GC

Ancrene Wiseass said...

It's a relief to know I'm not alone on #1--and especially that I'm in the company of someone whose work I admire!

And I agree with GC about the music you mentioned: I don't see a thing wrong with that list!

J J Cohen said...

Karl: can hardly wait for your post on that Sabbath studies link.

Geoffrey: wow, thanks for the Mountain Goats link. Whiny introspection is indeed my thing, so I enjoyed listening to the mp3s on the site ... do you have a recommendation for a first Mountain Goats album to buy from iTunes?

Acnrene: when your ten year old son is telling you that your taste in music "stinks like a dead skunk," it's hard to heal the scars!

Karl Steel said...

do you have a recommendation for a first Mountain Goats album to buy from iTunes?

His output is enormous and generally constant in quality, so it's hard to recommend any one album. But I'm a big fan of this one. All Hail West Texas is also very very good. And there's about 300 songs he recorded before those albums that I have stored someplace weird and inaccessible, so no advice on that: so I pass it over to VGC.

You will note that I didn't link to itunes. Here's a plug: if you want to avoid DRM-clogged files, emusic is the way the go. Unfortunately, emusic offers only mp3s (i.e., no ogg vorbis), but, you know, nobody's perfect.

Karl Steel said...

DEPT OF UNIMPORTANT EDITS: on being a big fan. No I'm not. Bad suggestion on my part.

Geoffrey Chaucer said...

on being a big fan. No I'm not. Bad suggestion on my part.

This soore confuseth me, Magister Carole Chalybs. Talasey pleseth yow nat? Ywis, it doth speke of a declynynge marriage fueled by despair and alcoholisme, so it can be somedeel of a downer, but it is really very wel don for late-era mountayne goates.

Le Vostre
GC

Dr. Virago said...

Once again I am waaaaay behind on reading blogs, and only spottily catching up here and there, so I'm a couple days behind on this post....BUT this:

(What if my students discover that I don't care about Chaucer's relation to Lollardy?)

made me spit my tea out my nose.

I *heart* you JJC.

J J Cohen said...

Dr V: I am thinking about adding a warning to the blog along the lines of "CAUTION: reading the following while imbibing hot beverages could cause injury to self or others."