The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that memory was “the treasure-house of the ideas supplied by Invention.” They took this metaphor very seriously. To them, visualizing things in time and space was central to the art of remembrance. In the first century A.D., Quintilian developed an elegant technique that has withstood the test of time.
At the peak of its underground prestige, Sub Pop Records was known to wave off the innumerable demo submissions that didn’t interest them with a form letter that opened with “Dear Loser.” It was less a gesture of hipster mean-spiritedness than brand consistency. In its late-1980s infancy, Sub Pop had found the tone that most appealed to and came to define a generation, that of self-deprecation and detachment, but also of self-identified social and economic ostracism. It printed a t-shirt that simply read “LOSER,” worn by its most popular bands (and Eddie Vedder), who played the label’s first “Lamefest” in 1989. It didn’t seem to matter that Sub Pop’s own motto was “World Domination,” and that its business model was borrowed from pop factories like Motown, or that the business itself was near bankruptcy.
In 1954, at the behest of Alfred A. Knopf, Wallace Stevens gathered his seven books of poetry into a single volume. The Collected Poems was full of typos, chance misprints, and inconsistencies of spelling and punctuation, and has remained that way in half a century’s worth of subsequent printings. Vintage Books has now published a corrected edition, albeit only in paperback. The editors, John N. Seriro and Chris Beyers, have done exemplary work, drawing upon manuscripts, Stevens’s amended galleys, correspondence, and common sense. Missing section numbers are supplied, misspellings (“scrurry”) are emended; occasionally words are replaced or inserted.
Teaching is the most misunderstood profession in America today. Too many people—politicians, parents, school administrators, even teachers themselves—seem to be under the impression that education means meeting or exceeding “standards” set by state authorities and “testing”: if students can prove without the help of others, while isolated in silent focus at their desks, that they know what the gurus want them to know, the way they want them to know it, they’re home free. Teachers are considered either miracle-workers who put sight into blind eyes or dilettantes who have failed to find a real job. In Woody Allen’s memorable phrase, “those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.”