Humanist Archives: May 13, 2021, 7:13 a.m. Humanist 35.13 - tardy birthday greetings
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 13.
Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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Date: 2021-05-13 06:03:30+00:00
From: Willard McCarty
Subject: the 35th year began
Two explanations for my failure to notice and then immediately to
celebrate the start of Humanist's 35th year occur to me: lapse of
memory, which at my age would be no surprise, and the felix culpa
of our time that precipitated Humanist's move to its new
accommodations. When the old list of members' addresses was used
to reinvite everyone, it turned out that a large number of them were
defunct, so the decline in the official number to its present reckoning
came as no surprise. But that number is slowly increasing, which may
not be much of a surprise but is certainly welcome.
More is better in this case because of the increase in diversity of
perspectives, interests and research problems. The majority of messages
has likely always been announcements of various kinds -- events,
publications and calls for them. These are, of course, important, as
they carry (portant!) research questions with them, and those sorts of
questions and the conversations that go with them are Humanist's reason
for being as it has developed from its initial, political purpose.
I suspect that one cause of the paucity of explicit questions is a
prevailing reluctance to exhibit one's ignorance, as if we were all
about answers. That may do for fields of activity in which answers
prevail, but this is surely not true of ours. I recall many years ago a
fellow doctoral student said to me that he needed to keep his topic
secret because if others in his field found out what he was doing they
might 'scoop' him. That remark struck me with such force that I can even
remember where I was standing at the time. How odd it seemed to a
person working on the biblical and classical roots of Milton's
Paradise Lost :-) ! I fervently hope that fear of being scooped isn't true
of anyone here present.
All this is by way of encouragement to use Humanist as an instrument of
research and thereby to help celebrate the remarkable privilege of being
able to wonder about difficult things and of having the time to write about it.
Happy 34th birthday when already into the 35th year!
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews; Humanist
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