It is nowadays fashionable to say that one is “on the right side of history.” Such a statement of one’s own sanctity wins arguments by demonstrating the speaker’s piety. What remains unclear is the character of the great force or being toward which the speaker is pious: what is history? What makes history a force? Is the force the individuals who live or is there a logic to history that transcends the individuals? And how can there be a right and a wrong side to it?
Midway through her memoir, Hold Still, photographer Sally Mann recounts the first of several journeys she took through the Deep South with her portable photograph studio, seeking, “To whatever extent it is possible to photograph air… To whatever extent photographs can reveal the dark mysteries of a haunted landscape.” Using the archaic process of wet-plate collodion, which requires enough explosive, ether-based chemicals that her Suburban was “effectively a rolling bomb,” Mann produced massive landscapes, sometimes 40 x 50 inches in size, whose washed-out ethereality and mystery can stir the viewer much like the Civil War photographs of Matthew Brady or Michael Miley (whose work Mann discovered in an attic, and later saved, while working as the campus photographer at Washington and Lee University).
In a draft of Saul Bellow’s Herzog (1964), Moses Herzog, a failed academic in the throws of a personal crisis following the breakdown of his second marriage, says that according to “the latest from Paris and London, there is no person…‘I’ is a grammatical expression.” For Herzog, however, the “human soul” is a mystery, an “amphibian,” which is cause for intellectual humility. “It lives in more elements,” he tells himself, “than I will ever know.”
A Pennsylvania high school teacher is suing the state’s largest teachers union for violating her right to free speech.
Linda Misja, a 35-year veteran high school teacher, alleges that the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) is discriminating against her by refusing to allow her to donate dues money to People Concerned for the Unborn Child, a pro-life charity.