Wondrous Communications

There are various consequence to being around academics so much, even when not at MLA. Here is one of them: regular exposure to commentary on journalism in which the vigor of perfect self-assurance is never dampened by a complete lack of knowledge.

That is a topic for another day. (People in lit seem particularly bad about it. I have theories.)

Right now, instead of just bracing for the onslaught, I can celebrate. The urbane and peripatetic Richard Byrne -- editor, playwright, alchemist --  has just published "Ranter and Corantos: Renaissance Journalism" in The Nation.

Besides recommending this piece, I want to add a small reference of tangential interest.
One minor discovery during my years of research on C.L.R. James was that he published a number of articles in Trotskyist journals under the pen-name G.F. Eckstein.

At a time when lots of Jewish-American radicals took Anglo-Saxon "party names," James went vice versa. This was a year or two after the FBI started hauling him in for questioning from time to time. A six-foot tall black radical from Trinidad in the U.S. on an expired visa, he was not exactly able to blend into the national woodwork. As party names go, G.F. Eckstein may represent some kind of subliminal acknowledgment that assimilation was probably not in the cards.

In any case, CLRJ/GFE published a two-part essay called "Tercentenary of the English Revolution" in 1649. It discusses, among other things, the pamphlet literature that flooded England after press censorship collapsed in the 1640s:

In Thomas Walwyn can be found in germ everything that was to make Rousseau the great protagonist of modern individualism and the Romantic Movement in the eighteenth century, with the added virtue that here for the first time is someone who speaks from out of the people and as one of them; while Overton, the marvelous Overton, at his best has no superior in English as a writer of political journalism from the seventeenth century to the present day. His only peer is Tom Paine.

The abiding miracle of Overton is that this seventeenth-century writer is already completely modern and he could walk into a revolutionary newspaper office today, get the situation explained to him, and could write in a manner that would be immediately understood with delight by soldiers suffering the oppression of officers and workers suffering the oppression of bureaucracy.

It may appear from the writings of Lilburne, for example, that his work is something of a jumble. In reality it is not so. Those pamphlets appeared sometimes two or three times a week. They served the function of modern newspapers, and in one and the same pamphlet you will find what is equivalent to a theoretical article, an editorial, a piece of agitation and the latest news of the class struggle. In this sense they are the founders of modern journalism. And Defoe in his contributions to journalism merely expressed in more finished form what they had begun.

This passage is all the more interesting in the context of James's other writings of the period. (A matter I need to explain in a full-dress, footnoted paper at some point.)

Naturally Rich's article made this one come to mind -- and not just because of the historical overlap. The casual reference to Overton making an appearance at a modern newspaper office underscores something that C.L.R. and Rich have in common: When they talk about journalism, it's thoughtful, informed, and based on something besides pure attitude.

And on that note, I'm off to go stand in the wind tunnel.... 
December 27, 2008 11:43 AM | | Comments (0)


Leave a comment

Recent Work

Fidel Castro: My Life 
A review from Newsday
40 Years of "The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual" 
Marking the anniversary of Harold Cruse's great book
Style and Grace 
A review of a book by the late, great Grace Paley from ... sheesh, almost ten years ago.
Oh, Canada 
National identity -- going south?
The LaRouche Tabernacle Choir 
An interview with me about the LaRouche movement, on Pacifica radio in Los Angeles
Open Library 
An interview with Aaron Swartz, one of the developers....
Sailing From Ithaka 
The new report calling for a digital platform for scholarly publishing deserves a wide audience


Battle of the Titans 
Dinesh D'Souza and Alan Wolfe debating? Imagine a slime mold in conflict with a patch of mildew. It's just that inspiring.
To the Tehran Station 
Not about Edmund Wilson
more picks


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Quick Study published on December 27, 2008 11:43 AM.

In Transit was the previous entry in this blog.

Notes on Oldgirlfriendophobia is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

AJ Ads

AJ Blogs

AJBlogCentral | rss

About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.