Well, a very good first day. Woke up at 5:15 local time this morning. Nice, cool weather as I walked around the beautiful campus(es) of the Claremont Colleges. I found out later that I wasn’t the only one who thought, mistakenly, that they would be serving us breakfast on campus. So after I gave up on finding food here, I walked into the “village” and had a large cup of coffee, then stopped at a market to get a typically weird George breakfast of milk, a chunk of tofu, a peach, and a raw carrot.
The most-of-the-day trip to the Huntington was great. We had an hour-long tour of the library itself, then we were set free to wander the 130 acres worth of gardens on our own. Yes, I could have gone to an art exhibit or two, or even asked to look at some rare books, I suppose. But it’s California and it’s beautiful here! I can stay inside and look at art and books in Missouri. Not the same thing, I know.
After getting a shot of espresso at the garden espresso cart (and how many research libraries can brag of such a thing?), I walked with U of Minnesota PhD student Melanie Brown, whom I had just met on the van ride to the library, through the desert garden (more variety of cacti than you could possibly imagine; thanks for the tip, Matt), the Japanese garden, the Shakespeare garden (yeah, I don’t know why they call it that, either*), and the Australian garden. Now, much to our surprise and on-again-off-again fear (do they eat people? or just cats?) in the Australian garden we saw a coyote. Later in the afternoon, when I met Kathleen for coffee, she told me that after five years in California she’d never seen a coyote. Me, I’m here for less than 24 hours and one just trots right by.
After coming back to Claremont, I went to see Melanie’s panel on “Books in Series,” which was very interesting. Melanie’s paper had an interesting take on the marketing of the editorial personality of Emanual Haldeman-Luis’ “Little Blue Books” A little background info from the Cal State Northridge Libary Special Collections:
Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, publisher and writer, made books readily available to the ordinary American reader that were inexpensive, covered an extraordinary variety of subjects, and were easily obtained by mail-order. The Little Blue Books, small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, sold for 5 cents. The larger format Big Blue Books sold for 10 cents. An estimated 500 million of these books had sold by 1951 when Haldeman-Julius died.
After the session, I walked down to the Somecrust Bakery to have a cup of coffee with Kathleen. It was an interesting experience to meet someone I’d only known via the Internet, and I felt self-conscious telling people at the conference, “I’m going to have coffee with someone I met on the Internet.” And trying to explain, “We both have blogs” didn’t help matters. Anyway, we had a great conversation about blogging, technology and literature, academia, and Southern California. As I write this very brief summary of our meeting, I’m reminded of one of L’s observations regarding the editing of letters (a subject upon which she is currently writing): we think the story told to us by letters is the whole story, but sometimes the richest exchanges are the ones that happen face-to-face, and those are the very exchanges that are absent from the epistolary record. And so it is with blogging.
Kathleen and I walked back to the campus together, and then I went on to the tail-end of the opening reception tonight, talked a bit with folks, then went to an impromptu, eclectic picnic (fruit, smoked salmon, cheese, chocolate, crackers, and wine) with a variety of folks including my UMKC colleague Jane Greer, Lisa Gitelman (about whom Matt recently blogged, Ellen Garvey, Erin Smith, Pat Crain, the aforementioned Ms. Brown, and myself (and a couple of other people whose names escape me right now).
The picnic, in one of the beautifully landscaped courtyards here on campus, reminded me that SHARP is a very positive conference where even the most accomplished people are generous and friendly.
And as Samuel Pepys was wont to write, “And so to bed.”
*Okay, I can guess that the garden features plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays or poetry, but there was no explanation.
Sounds like happy experiences all around. Interesting observation about letters/blogging not telling “the full story.” Given that the concept of letter writing had been somewhat subsumed by email, I’m wondering if blogs are picking up on a “need” that letter writing answered, but that email doesn’t quite answer: both email and letter writing often involve communication at a distance, but email isn’t always archived like blogs. I rarely emailed people about my intellectual interests. Just thinking out loud, but I found that connection interesting.
Your and Kathleen’s meeting sounds lovely. I should really ping her at some point before I leave Los Angeles at the end of August. Have fun at the rest of the conference! — you aren’t finding yourself in LA with nothing to do, between SHARP and flying back out?
Back to metalepsis…
“I rarely emailed people about my intellectual interests.” Chuck, I had the same sort of realization recently, that I have never written posts to academic listservs with the same care that I use in writing my blog entries.
Vika, I don’t anticipate having time to kill in L.A., but we’re scheduled to tour the Getty Center tomorrow and hear a plenary panel discussion entitled “The World From Here.” The panel features Cynthia Burlington (Deputy Director of Collections, UCLA Hammer Museum), Noriko Gamblin (Art Collections and Programs Consult, Los Angeles), and Bea Beck (Library, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Library, Claremont Consultant, Los Angeles). I don’t know quite what to expect but if you’re feeling adventurous, why not come to the Getty Center and tag along? There’ll also be a reception at 4:30, which is sure to include free drinks. How can you resist? I’ll be wearing a bright red shirt to be extra-obvious.
Eek, George, I obviously didn’t read this in time. Ah well; I wouldn’t have been able to make it anyway. But hope you enjoyed the Getty! I’ll be, er, getting there sometime soon, when a friend comes to visit next week.
The Getty was fantastic, Vika, and you should definitely make the trip. Beautiful grounds and beautiful views. The Huntington cactus garden is better than the Getty’s though! Not that cacti are the primary reasons people go to these places.
2003 MLA Round-Up
I’m nearly recovered from my adventures on the left coast just in time to start thinking about spring semester in specific detail. The temporal dislocation associated with air travel and the self-indulgence of dining out are still taking their toll…