August 01, 2005

Anxious and pleistocene musings

That's what Karen G. Schneider at Free Range Librarian calls Michael Gorman's interview with Josh Sanburn of the Cox News Service. Gorman, you remember, is the new president of the American Library Association, who did so much to inspire Jean-Noël Jeanneney's campaign against

"that throbbing anxiety for anything and everything, scattering knowledge like dust", characteristic in his view of Google's project, "which the president of American libraries" -- Michael Gorman -- "has so persuasively and disturbingly denounced"

(as Le Monde put it). Now Gorman is (quoted as) rallying the troops to keep "The Education of Henry Adams" from being digitized:

"It's a kind of foolishness to say that just because you want to digitize the Oxford English Dictionary and the Yellow Pages, therefore you should be digitizing a biography of Henry Adams," he said.

News flash, Mr. Gorman: it's too late.

Meanwhile, Ms. Schneider has been wondering "Why am I not as famous as Stephanie Klein?", complaining (perhaps too politely for someone who aspires to notoriety) about the lack of "kicky phrases" and high-quality one-liners in the links we send her way. She explains:

O.k., maybe I do see why this blog has not led to fame, a New York Times article, or a book deal. But I can change, starting today!

First, let me adopt a more au courant writing style. No more biblish, no more tiresome polysyllabic nonsense, no more mundane middle-class mutterings. From now on, in the words of Ms. Klein, "Yeah, right. Okay. Whatever." No more talk of buying sports bras at Target (though mind you, I did finally settle on the two-for-$8 deal and I like these bras better than much more expensive over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders I have purchased in the past. See how casual I can be?). No more free verse. No more discussion about the American Library Association. And many more kicky phrases, such as "I love etymology almost as much as karaoke." (Why can't Language Log come up with one-liners like that?) Not to mention Klein's soliloquy to her date that made my toes curl with envy: "I just spent half a day telling you, communicating with you, saying things that were really hard for me to admit, and then, you apologize, say it won't happen again. Then, BAM! You pull a fcuking Emril on me."

Then--let's get to why people really read Klein's blog--there's the sex and the other lurid personal details (because it certainly isn't the writing, and is this what Barnard turns out these days?). Yes. As soon as Sandy comes home this afternoon I will ask for her permission to write about our sex life, past, present, future, and imagined. She is very supportive of my writing endeavors (oh dear; "endeavor" is not a very Klein sort of word) and I am sure she will agree that splashing our personal life onto this blog, where it will then have a digital half-life in perpetuity, is a reasonable exchange for my personal gain, particularly for a book that very important people will read for at least one season.

I know it awaits me: the celebrity, the book deal, the book jacket with the pink cover and the high heel and martini glass on it. It can be mine! I just have to--BAM!--change my tiresome ways.

Does it help for me to point out that a librarian ought to start with an advantage in reaching at least some segments of the American reading public, as documented in Dan Lester's scholarly study The Image of Librarians in Pornography? No, I thought not. Well, I'll work on those kicky one-liners.

Posted by Mark Liberman at August 1, 2005 12:37 AM