Friday, September 03, 2010

Department of Small Miracles

by J J Cohen

I recently received an email from one Cormac Keane of Edinburgh announcing that he had found my missing black notebook on his flight to France. I didn't dare to blog about the potential recovery of my ancillary memory storage device (AKA my paper brain) for fear of jinxing its return ... but look what awaited me when I returned home last night. Mr. Keane discovered the notebook exactly where I'd left it, in the pocket of the airplane seat in front of where I sat. I'm suddenly thankful that airlines no longer clean their vehicles.

Though I had inscribed in the notebook the offer of a monetary reward for its return, Mr. Keane insists that I give him a book of any genre, so long as it "changed my thinking or views significantly." THAT is not an easy charge and will require some rumination. What would you send if someone asked you for such a book?

Sadly, the notebook does not hold any new additions that might give an account of its life in a filthy BA Airbus 300. It may have traveled thousands of miles. I'll never know, but I'm happy to have the notebook returned ... even if the abecedarium I thought was close to completion inside turns out not to be nearly so finished.

9 comments:

Got Medieval said...

Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel.

Myra Seaman said...

I honestly find myself almost incapable of believing this story. As one who has no capacity for handling the loss of irreplaceable things, I will now be latching onto this every time. Your Mr. Keane sounds like the perfect discoverer, as well, given his reward request. One wonders: had no one sitting in that seat actually noticed the notebook? Or did only he fully appreciate its value? Congratulations on your reunion.

Simon Gruening said...

Marc Bekoff: The Emotional Lives of Animals.
http://www.rakkaathaukut.fi/flyer_Bekoff.pdf

York CMS Postmedieval Reading Group said...

I agree with Myra - such a great story. I lost my notebook with ALL my dissertation notes in it last month (cue panicked Facebook statuses) and, through the marvel of FB friends-of-friends, someone from another university's debating society contacted me - sent it in the mail -PHEW.

Book-wise, I think either Serres & Latour 'Conversations', maybe De Landa, something excitingly psychoanalytic, perhaps - Adam Phillips' 'The Concise Dictionary of Dress' ?

All good choices, I'm sure you'll agree. Although, for something more pop-book-y, maybe Malcolm Gladwell's 'Tipping Point' which I quite enjoyed!

I'm surprised, though, JJC, you didn't just send him one of the (inevitable, piled-up) copies of MIM you have?!

M x

afarber said...

My first instinct would be to send Goethe's _Sorrows of Young Werther_, but then I'd decide that's not a nice gift to send to such a helpful person, and I'd send Calvino's _If On a Winter's Night a Traveler_ instead.

Daniel said...

How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation by Marc Bousquet of Santa Clara University.

Medieval History Geek said...

That Mr. Keane is interested in receiving such a book is very encouraging.

One recently published book which intrigues me as having the potential to change someone's thinking is: Kathleen Davis and Nadia Altschul, eds. Medievalisms in the Postcolonial
World: The Idea of "the Middle Ages" outside Europe
. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.
ISBN: 978-0-8018-9320-9.

It was recently reviewed by Carol Symes for The Medieval Review (hasn't shown up in the archives yet or I'd post the link) and she writes, "Within this master narrative, as editors Kathleen Davis and Nadia Altschul observe,
the idea of "the medieval" functions as "a spatiotemporal baseline" (1)--whether conceived (for example) as the birthplace of modern European nations and institutions, or as the black hole of barbarism from which they have
successfully escaped."

Would Mr. Keane be interested in such a book? Do you want to shell out those kind of dollars ($56.24 plus S&H from Amazon US)?

tenthmedieval said...

Fantastic that it came back, such a heartening thing. I doubt our personal reading lists overlap very much, though, so I shan't offer a suggestion. Oh, OK, I will: how about Natalie Zemon Davis's The Return of Martin Guerre?

NaProus said...

Since Mr. Keane was kind enough to return the notebook, I would recommend being kind to him in return. Though he said he would be open to "any book," you might want to consider that a highly theoretical book might not be quite up his alley. There's no need to add to the reputation of academics to be eternally stuck in an Ivory Tower.