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Humanist Archives: March 18, 2023, 5:17 a.m. Humanist 36.460 - excitement everywhere all the time, but no Oscar

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 460.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2023-03-18 05:14:48+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: excitement everywhere all the time, but no Oscar

Since I no longer have to mark papers, Lorna Finlayson's offering 
in the latest London Review of Books, "Everyone Hates Marking",
didn't at first look like it would strike home with quite the force it
once might have. But that judgment proved premature. Note her second and
third sentences:

> But the university is not the safe space for complaint that it once
> was. Negativity, even ambivalence, is frowned on. Nothing less than
> complete enthusiasm will satisfy: you must at all times be thrilled
> to announce, excited to be part of, delighted to share.

This got to me because of the many announcements I see buzzing with
pretended excitement, or alternatively so peppered with asterisks as to
blank out the communication which the author obviously intended to dress
in urgency. Under such a regime quiet statement shouts far more loudly,
or rather, satisfies and draws attention by understatement, don't you
think? But yes, if you're writing a letter of recommendation for someone
applying to an institution in a country where overstatement is the norm
you do have to add loads of glitter, or the reader will assume the
worst, I'm guessing.

Back to Finlayson: why the put-on enthusiasm? Are we (as
possibly we should be) so worried that the anxiety of identity (and
everything else, all the time) is creeping in everywhere? Perhaps
play-acting calm would prove therapeutic?


Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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