Debts of Gratitude

Critical Mass has a roundup of some recent tributes to John Leonard, including the one that ran as my column yesterday. In due course, I'm going to write more about him -- with much less emphasis on my own experience, and more on his work as such.

But it felt necessary to write something in a personal vein first. Particularly so as an IA column -- given that he was part of its audience.

More than "part," actually.....
I remember John saying that it seemed as if there were two or three topics at any given time that everybody in the online world felt the need to comment on. The example of the moment he gave was the revelation that a chick-lit novel by some Harvard student had turned out to be plagiarized from other books of that ilk. But, he said, he knew he could count on Intellectual Affairs not to do so -- that he could never predict what the topic would be.

Now, that was precisely the effect I had always hoped for with the column. Only John seemed to get this, however, let alone regard it as a virtue of some kind.

With respect to the new media's pack mores, of course, it is a long way from being a virtue of any sort. Still, it's what my temperament seems to require (doing the column from week to week, what counts is that it be something I'd actually want to read; nothing else matters half as much, really) and it's too late to change temperaments now.

This is stubborn, as well as a formula for considerable frustration. But as Auden says somewhere, you should never itemize your gripes -- instead limiting complaints to things that can be expressed at the level of an aphorism.

I'm not up to doing that, just now -- so will end by trying to express some gratitude to John for that moment of recognition. He was generous to so many people, in so many ways. The only thing he'd want is for us to pay it forward. 
November 13, 2008 12:12 PM | | Comments (0)


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This page contains a single entry by Quick Study published on November 13, 2008 12:12 PM.

The Heart Longs For the Crooked Place was the previous entry in this blog.

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