more than 95 theses

oddments

A journal, commonplace book, and Wunderkammer by
Alan Jacobs.

My blog on technologies of reading, writing, and knowledge is called Text Patterns; I am an occasional contributor to the Technology channel of The Atlantic; I'm a Contributing Editor for The New Atlantis. Also, I tweet.

My biography of the Book of Common Prayer has now been published by Princeton University Press, and I’ve created an associated tumblelog.

My critical edition of W. H. Auden’s long poem For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio is now available.

My next book will be about Christian humanism in a time of total war.

I invite you to a meditative encounter with my online project The Gospel of the Trees.

Please consider supporting this tumblelog by buying some of my books. I will thank you, my family will thank you, and the internet — surely — will thank you.

”Reverting to Type: a Reader’s Story”

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

The Age of Anxiety, by W. H. Auden — a critical edition. A PDF of my Introduction to the poem is available online.

Wayfaring: Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant

Original Sin: a Cultural History

Looking Before and After: Testimony and the Christian Life

The Narnian: the Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis

Shaming the Devil: Essays in Truthtelling

A Theology of Reading: the Hermeneutics of Love

A Visit to Vanity Fair: Moral Essays on the Present Age

What Became of Wystan: Change and Continuity in Auden’s Poetry

  • September 29, 2014 5:51 pm

    houghtonlib:

    Today is National Coffee Day, but here, from our Tumblr Archives, is a contrary view on some alleged drawbacks to its enjoyment.

    houghtonlib:

    The women’s petition against coffee : representing to publick consideration the grand inconveniencies accruing to their sex from the excessive use of that drying, enfeebling liquor, 1674.

    *EC65.A100.674w

    "Our men, who in former Ages were justly esteemed the Ablest Performers in Christendome; But to our unspeakable Grief, we find of late a very sensible Decay of that true Old English Vigor; our Gallants being every way so Frenchified, that they are become meer Cock-sparrows, fluttering things that come on Sa sa, with a world of Fury, but are not able to stand to it, and in the very first Charge fall down flat before us. Never did Men wear greater breeches, or carry less in them of any Mettle whatsoever."

    The mens answer to the womens petition against coffee : vindicating their own performances, and the vertues of that liquor, from the undeserved aspersions lately cast upon them, by their scandalous pamphlet, 1674.

    *EC65.A100.674m

    Houghton Library, Harvard University

  • September 29, 2014 5:49 pm
    houghtonlib:

Click here for a zoomable high-res image, and read about the many ailments coffee is claimed to cure, including “the Stone, Scurvey, Gout, Dropsie”.
The virtues of coffee, chocolette, and thee or tea, experimentally known in this our climate. [London : s.n., ca.1690]
EB65.A100.B675b   v.2
Houghton Library, Harvard University View high resolution

    houghtonlib:

    Click here for a zoomable high-res image, and read about the many ailments coffee is claimed to cure, including “the Stone, Scurvey, Gout, Dropsie”.

    The virtues of coffee, chocolette, and thee or tea, experimentally known in this our climate. [London : s.n., ca.1690]

    EB65.A100.B675b   v.2

    Houghton Library, Harvard University

  • September 27, 2014 4:39 pm
    Lovely day for a hike … until a nearby volcano erupts — via @pourmecoffee on Twitter View high resolution

    Lovely day for a hike … until a nearby volcano erupts — via @pourmecoffee on Twitter

  • September 27, 2014 12:44 pm
  • September 27, 2014 10:41 am
  • September 27, 2014 8:19 am

    Mr Gumpy’s Outing, by the great John Burningham, was probably my son’s favorite book when he was small.

  • September 27, 2014 8:13 am
  • September 26, 2014 7:13 pm
  • September 26, 2014 7:13 pm
  • September 26, 2014 7:12 pm
    architectural-review:

Architectural fantasy of the decaying building of the Cardiff Coal Exchange View high resolution

    architectural-review:

    Architectural fantasy of the decaying building of the Cardiff Coal Exchange

  • September 26, 2014 7:12 pm
    drawingarchitecture:

Nicole Marple, 2014, Mixed Media. View high resolution

    drawingarchitecture:

    Nicole Marple, 2014, Mixed Media.

  • September 26, 2014 6:03 pm

    Progress Report: Continued Product Focus

    yahoo:

    By Jay Rossiter, SVP, Cloud Platform Group

    At Yahoo, focus is an important part of accomplishing our mission: to make the world’s daily habits more entertaining and inspiring. To achieve this focus, we have sunset more than 60 products and services over the past two years, and redirected those…

    I am genuinely, not in the least ironically, nostalgic about the end of an internet era. I remember those first years on the Web when the Yahoo Directory was the only way to find out what was happening online. There were certain categories in the directory I knew so well that when I logged in and saw that yellow “New!” image next to a category I almost got heart palpitations.

    Farewell, Yahoo Directory. Even though I have used you in fifteen years, you served us well in our hour of need. We will always remember you with great affection.

  • September 26, 2014 9:20 am

    "

    The pundits who say that President Obama has failed to demonstrate leadership have never considered whether the public is capable of following him, or even their own train of thought. The American public is not even capable of not following him in any recognizable way. We might have been dropping bombs in Syria against Assad to the benefit of ISIS a year ago had it not been for the hearty “No” vote in the British Parliament that denied Obama the fig leaf of multilateralism. A democratic people should be bewildered that their president was urging them to join one side of a civil war a year ago, and now joins them to another. But the American people are as responsive to this stimulus as a cattle herd is to the conclusion of a Dostoyevsky novel.

    Among a people that flatter themselves as democratic, nothing is more gauche than the expectation of democratic exercise. To demand as much is to wander dirty in the streets with a sign saying “Wake up, Sheeple!” So, forget I mentioned it. Fifty more years? No way. But, whatever, sure.

    "

    Wake up, America: It’s time to properly debate our endless war in the Middle East - The Week.

  • September 26, 2014 8:30 am

    "Closely related is the sheer exhaustion of being constantly tapped into in the network. Every tweet I read or write elicits some small (or not so small) emotional reaction: anger, mirth, puzzlement, guilt, anxiety, frustration. I’ve tried to prune my following list so that when I do find myself engaging in a genuine way, it’s with a person I genuinely want to engage with. But there’s a limit to how much pruning can be done, when unfollowing a real-life friend is the online equivalent of punting his puppy across the room. So all day long, I’m in and out of the stream, always reacting to whatever’s coming next. Setting aside the question of how distracting this is when I’m trying to get work done, the fact is that I have a limited capacity for emotional engagement, and the code-switching that’s required when the character of my response is supposed to change every 140 characters only increases this overhead. A life spent on Twitter is a death by a thousand emotional microtransactions. I want to be pouring these energies into my family and my friends and my work."

    Boone Gorges

  • September 24, 2014 8:39 pm

    "

    Students in my history of architecture course are amused to discover that the final exam offers a choice of questions. Some are bone dry (“discuss the development of the monumental staircase from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century, citing examples”) and others deliberately open-ended (“General Meade overslept at Gettysburg and the South has won the Civil War; you are commissioner for the new national capital and must tell us which architects you will choose and what instructions you will give them.”) In offering this whimsical range of options, I do nothing original; my own professors at Haverford College did much the same in their day.

    But a peculiar thing has happened. When I began teaching twenty-five years ago, almost all students would answer the imaginative question but year in, year out, their numbers dwindled, until almost all now take the dry and dutiful one. Baffled, I tried varying the questions but still the pattern held: Given the choice, each successive cohort preferred to recite tangible facts rather than to arrange them in a speculative and potentially risky structure. In other respects, today’s students are stronger than their predecessors; they are conspicuously more socialized, more personally obliging, and considerably more self-disciplined. To teach them is a joy, but they will risk nothing, not even for one facetious question on a minor exam.

    "

    Children Who Never Play | Michael J. Lewis | First Things