Looking Back the Length of a Leash

This past year, I’ve been dogblogging about the things I’ve learned, working with Max.  This week I took a pause and looked back over those twelve months, the process of bringing her from adorable puppy to Almost Adult despite Life During Covid, which has been just as hard on dogs as it has people (cats, mostly, haven’t given a fuck).

I’ll be honest, there were days (weeks) when I wasn’t sure either one of us were going to make it.

Max a good girl, mostly.  Sweet, affectionate. But seemingly overnight she developed a fear reaction (expressed in defensive behavior), and it hit just as she was going into the predictable stage of “I know what that command is, I just don’t think I’m going to listen to it,” around nine months.  Also seemingly overnight, she went from “I can trust her with anyone” to “I can’t trust her with anyone but me.”  And that’s not much of an exaggeration: I knew that her barking and lunging was defensive, but to non-dog-people, it looked scary as hell, and a scared person and a scared dog is a bad combination.

I was convinced I’d screwed her up, that I’d done something wrong, or not done something right,  that I’d taken a perfectly good pupper and given her anxiety.

That was… a rough few months.  Max had to be isolated from strangers, which meant her outings, already limited by Covid, were cut back even more, interfering with her socialization – the very thing she needed to get over her anxiety.  And she – who honestly loves most people – didn’t understand why she didn’t get to go to work with me any more.

We worked with a canine behaviorist, and I talked with other people who had ACD mixes. I did my homework and Max did hers.  And what I kept hearing was, “she’s a good dog. She wants to avoid trouble, not dive into it.  She loves and trusts you, you’ve given her the right training; now you need to trust her to grow into it.”

And that was the hardest part: trusting her.  Letting her stand and observe a situation rather than redirecting her immediately.  Keeping an eye on her body language, letting her decide if this was someone she was comfortable with or not, rather than removing her as a preventative measure.  It seemed entirely counter to everything I’d been taught before.

But slowly, it began to work.

It’s not perfect yet.  It never will be – Max is too smart for her own good (and certainly too smart for my own), and overthinks herself into stress. And there will always be people who frighten or trigger her. But the past twelve months, I’ve learned to accept her for the dog she is, rather than the dog I’d expected, and not let the worry override the love. And she understands now, I think, that she’s allowed to bark when she’s upset, and come to me for reassurance, rather than throw herself into a defensive frenzy.

We’re a work in progress, and she’s probably never going to be good with running kids, or sleds, or people who stick their hands in her face.  But honestly, she doesn’t have to be.

Fact is, we’re all getting out of 2021 with a touch of anxiety.

And I’ve got nothing particularly profound to end on, after that, except….

to be continued.

a cream and red dog, in a field of snow

Seeing the old year out with the memory of books

I promised one more old post. This one is also from BiblioBuffet. It was published 10 October, 2011. I thought it matched last week’s post and also it gives you some hints of the kinds of directions I might follow with my new series. Also, it’s very, very hard to go wrong with lists of ten.

Next week is a new year and a new post. This new year is entirely unpredictable, as we’re all sadly aware. The only certainty in it is that it will contain books. I hope, for all of you, that it also contains joy. Health, income, all the things would be terrific, too.


Lists of ten – again

I love lists. Today I have a list that’s ten items long. It could have been five, or a hundred, or even a thousand. I want to tell you ten things I love about books and illustrate them using some of my recent reading. Some of the recent reading is hot off the press, and some is less so. I’ve chosen books from the speculative fiction end of the reading spectrum. This might be because they reflect my reading recently. It’s just possible. Let me admit, up front, that I know some of these writers. I wish I knew them all, but I know just a couple. Once there is something in someone’s writing that you love, the likelihood is quite high that when you meet the person in question, that you will get on. I’ve only given examples from writers whose books struck me for these precise reasons before I ever met the writer in question.

My ten things:

1. I love exploring someone else’s politics through their fiction, especially when that fiction is very fine. My book for this is Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. It’s all about freedom and the life of the mind and the limitations that we humans place upon ourselves. A lot of political books written in the 1970s have become dated, for life has changed since the seventies, but this one hasn’t become dated at all. It’s still vibrant and forceful.

2. Lyrical writing couched secretly inside a genre novel. It takes me by surprise and gives me a sense of the world being right, every time. So many of my favourite writers have this flavour in their writing: Hope Mirrlees, Alma Alexander, Mervyn Peake. My example for today, however, is Daniel Fox’s Dragon in Chains because he manages to take a non-Western universe and make it feel particular and its own, while still maintaining that lyricism.

3. Sometimes language and concept and personality infuse a writer’s work. Cordwainer Smith and Roger Zelazny are two writers who don’t seem to be able to write a word of fiction without that word somehow defining the universe anew. My example book for Zelazny is probably the least of all the writings of either author: The Last Defender of Camelot. It is, however, the one I re-read most recently. When I get some time, I intend to re-read the whole Amber cycle, plus Smith’s Norstrilia books. Which means, of course, that my example for Smith is Norstrilia itself. Time is the limiting factor. Their worlds and their words haunt me even when I don’t go near the writing for years on end.

4. The historian deep inside me (well, maybe not so deep, in fact maybe just the one who shares the same skin as the rest of me) loves a book that explores another world that breaks with what we accept as normal reality and that does so in such a way that the reader accepts things that are unacceptable or understands things that are usually conceptually too difficult to grasp. Not that I want to accept the unacceptable, but that I really like writing that’s strong backing world building that’s even stronger. Aliette de Bodard’s Harbinger of the Storm is today’s example of that. An Aztec society, with gods and belief systems and treatment of women that are very uncomfortable for me, and yet I must read and continue reading for she makes it real. Lord of the Flies was the same but more so ‑ hate the world, but must believe it can exist.

5. There is happiness in small things. Grumpy fairy tales and twisted minds. When I was a child I read James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks and The Wonderful O. They rang truer for me than most other children’s literature at that time. The other book that I fell in love with (and have a lion’s head doorknocker right now, to prove that doorknockers are crucial to grumpy magical existence) is William Makepeace Thackeray’s The Rose and the Ring. The bizarre fairytale is still my favourite book by Thackeray, and this despite me having read Vanity Fair at least four times.

6. There are warped and twisted books for adults, also. There is Shriek. An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer and there is almost anything by James Enge. I was reading Enge’s The Wolf Age and I finally realised that it’s not the sharpness of these books or even their views on society that make them so delightful, it’s their inventiveness. Enge’s imagination is always one step beyond my mind’s reasoning ‑ he manages to think of places I’ve never thought of and make fantasy worlds look fresh and new.

7. There are trilogies. There are sets of trilogies. What there are, too, are occasional authors who manage to write one big book that has been broken up into parts that make coherent narrative sense but that are nevertheless mere aspects of one big book. I always find one of these near my desk, for I have a weakness for them. Right now there are two books by Joe Abercrombie, and there is Ravensoul, part four of James Barclay’s Legends of the Raven.

8. I love it when the people of two worlds meet. There’s always a book in my vicinity that shows the clash of cultures or someone who was brought up in two worlds or is touched by two worlds and has difficult choices ahead. The most recent book that touched on this (and leaves it unresolved ‑ I must read the next book!) is Jon Sprunk’s Shadow’s Lure.

9. Steampunk! Right now, for me, steampunk is alone enough to make me look twice at something. From the reasonably standard romantic approach to machines and villains and changing worlds expressed in Andrew P Mayer’s The Falling Machine to the steampunk romance of Katie MacAlister, but the best encapsulation right now, for me, personally, is in the work of Cherie Priest.

10. New approaches to something that I thought I knew. Eye-opening and making the whole world new. This is the most exciting writing of all. My example is Kafakaesque, and I shall write about it properly in due course. Some books demand attention of their own, and this is one. The editors’ genius in placing Carol Emshwiller, Kate Wilhelm and Theodora Goss in the same volume make it something that shifts what thought I knew about short stories. This is my current reading, and it’s wonderful.

Not Civilized Yet

I started feeling very sad while out on a walk this week. I wrote a senryu about it:

My heart keeps breaking.
It aches for the not yet known
but yet very real.

I couldn’t pinpoint any one reason for feeling this way. It was perhaps the awareness that we are at a point where things will have to change coupled with the awareness that I will not live long enough to see much of that change happen.

One of the truths that hits us — or at least hit me — as we age is that everyone dies in the middle of some story. Experience shows us how long it takes to get anything finished, but when we’re young we think those many years between us and old age (and death) will be enough.

They’re not. They never were.

Even if I live to be very old indeed – and I still hope that I do – there still won’t be enough time.

From reading history and paying attention to current events, I’ve developed the theory that humans — at least the ones in wealthy countries — tend to think they are civilized. The people who came before us made mistakes (slavery, genocide), but we’ve done better.

That might be rather American-centric, but I suspect it’s true in Europe and large parts of Asia as well. Climate and political refugees are unlikely to share this belief.

It is, of course, untrue. We are very far from civilized. Continue reading “Not Civilized Yet”

What the Humans have been Up To

Bright MorningThe humans have been busy working on a book together. This is something we crows have not seen them do before. The book is in honor of someone they knew who died. We do know about honoring the dead.

They call this book Bright Morning, and they have filled it full of stories. Being the resident editor of the Treehouse, I looked it over. There are no stories about crows, but there are some about horses, dogs, and dragons, so that’s all right. At least the humans are thinking about beings other than just themselves.

Here is their announcement about the book, and a picture of the cover. There will be a paper book with a shiny cover next month, they say.

Vonda N. McIntyre preferred to keep her author’s biography short and sweet: “Vonda N. McIntyre writes science fiction.” While true, this modest claim conceals accomplishments that earned her multiple accolades and an enduring place among the most influential fantasy and science fiction writers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Even more important to the authors of this tribute anthology, McIntyre was a kind and generous supporter of other writers. In Bright Morning, eleven career writers of science fiction, fantasy, and other genres share stories of hope in her honor, along with their memories of working with McIntyre. Profits from the anthology will benefit a charity that promotes literacy for children all over the world.

Bright Morning
An Anthology of Hopeful Tales
In Honor of Vonda N. McIntyre

from the Treehouse Writers
edited by Deborah J. Ross

Order Bright Morning from your favorite bookseller


Books: a new series for a new year

On 4 April 2010, BiblioBuffet published the beginning of a thought I had. I introduced many people to my library and, indeed, to my booklife. I am still surrounded by books. The piles grow and shrink and topple everywhere. The books in them demand to be talked about. Every Monday I will post about the loudest books. Sometimes it may be a short post, sometimes a longer. When my life gets tough (as it does) I may share an old piece of writing… but it will be about books.

To begin this blog series in style, let me begin with that post from 2010. An old post for the second last Monday of the old year. Next week I’ll find another old post of an entirely different kind, but still about books. Then the new year will begin. My furniture has changed, my life has changed, even my books have changed. When the year, too, changes, we will explore books together, week by week.


An introduction to my booklife

When I’m happy, I make lists. When I’m unhappy, I make different lists. I sit in my apartment, monopolise the big armchair, slide my writing desk into place, make sure the TV remote control is within reach, take a sip from my oversized mug of tea and then I’m ready. I produce list after list. I should go into business as a list-producing factory.

Right now, I feel like making a list, so that’s what I’m doing. Mostly, however, I’m making this list to introduce you to my books and their habitat (my apartment). They are central to my existence, they protect me against the outside world and line my walls to insulate against vile weather, and they’re going to appear in this column, so they have been drafted into duty as windows to my soul. Besides, if you didn’t get my books and a list, you would get a potted biography. A half-organised tour of a life in books is infinitely more interesting than a potted biography. (Even if it were boring, it would be a list of ten and lists of ten are wondrous things.)

1. Stacks of cookbooks

Cookbooks stack. In theory, they inhabit the shelves on either side of the television and the one behind the door, have colonised the second pantry shelf and a quarter of the wine cabinet. Despite their best colonial efforts, my cookbooks don’t fit in shelves. They tumble out of place when I can’t remember proportions, ingredients, taste or history then pile up interestingly until I can find a gap, any gap, in the overfull shelves. The stacks have no regard for language, though the cuisines that predate the founding of Australia do tend to ape dignity, while the homegrown community cookbooks look haphazard no matter where they are. Some of them are sticking out of a camel saddlebag right now: these look particularly random despite the fact they this is their current shelf (is there a rule against saddlebags holding books?).

Other peoples’ cookbooks stack. My cookbooks stack flamboyantly. They stack in shelves, on shelves and next to shelves. They hide other books and obscure everything from a reproduction of the Auchlinleck manuscript to a pile of French bandes-dessinées. My cookbooks are very presumptuous. Some are also attention-grabbers. The one drawing most attention to itself right now is Mrs Child’s The American Frugal Housewife, 1833 (a reproduction). Mrs Child’s ghost is obviously demanding I write about her book one day. Today, however, is not the day.

Today I started a new stack of books that demand attention and that want to be written about, and she’s right on the bottom of it. Immediately above it is a book that flirted with me. It’s a cookbook (with stories) by romance writers. With a pink cover. A very pink woman eating a chocolate éclair. And now I crave chocolate éclairs. I think I should move on from my cookbooks, quickly.

2. Other stacks.

We shall not discuss these. The most obvious of these contain review books and do not get talked about or even thought about until the time is right. They’re demanding children and need quality time. Besides, the visible books all sport zombies on the cover and one also has a law clerk wielding an axe.

3. Reference books!

It’s impossible to write about my reference books without copious exclamation marks (!!!!). I have a USB drive containing many thousands, which deserves one exclamation mark, at the least. This means that a good part of my reference library travels with me, everywhere. If I could only remember my netbook, then I could use them everywhere, too. I never forget to put a book in my handbag, but I often forget the computer.

The hardcore reference books are the ones I use. They’re on paper, too, and sit near my desk. They range from dictionaries to encyclopedias. I have a volume on love and sex in the Middle Ages, two on Medieval folklore and several on science fiction and fantasy. I also have at least half a dozen herbals and several manuals of etiquette.

I think my least used reference book (of the paper ones) must be the rules to card games. My most used one is a nineteenth century dictionary. My current favourite is a nineteenth century guide to pronunciation of the English language.


4. A stack unto itself is my copy of Kellogg’s The Ladies’ Guide, a rather beautiful old tome. It sits next to the skull box (which contains Perceval, who is disarticulated) and some handmade lace, a few arrowheads from Hot Springs, Arkansas, and on a segment of a 1930s wedding obi. Kellogg is preachy and needs keeping under control. Between the arrowheads and the skull, civilisation is maintained.

5. The corridor is a transit zone and contains no books. The laundry and the bathroom are also transit zones.  They are officially boring.

6. The library.

The library is the room with the most books. The only books that stack in the library are the five hundred or so patiently waiting their turn for shelf space. It was the spare bedroom until my visitors rebelled against sleeping in the margins between bookshelves. Those visitors who enjoy sleeping on book-infested carpet announce to their friends “I slept in L-space last night.” L-space doesn’t fit neatly inside items 6-9, but that’s all the space I’m devoting to it.

7. Fiction

I can’t talk about my fiction in just one sub-heading in just one essay. Three walls of bookshelves stacked to the ceiling and without an inch of spare space are not summarised so lightly.

Also, Thomas Hardy and George Gissing are dignified. Robertson Davies thinks he is. I’m not sure they’d appreciate being discussed in too close proximity to some of the other writers populating my fiction shelves.

Also, how do I discuss Eleanor Farjeon and Ionesco and Alan Garner and Joan Aiken all in one breath?

8. Nonfiction

There are only two giant shelves of nonfiction. This isn’t because I don’t like nonfiction. It’s because I’m a cheat.

Nonfiction doesn’t include herbals or Judaica because both of those belong with my cookbooks. Non-fiction doesn’t include Arthuriana, because that belongs with my Medieval Arthurian collection which belongs (you guessed it) with my cookbooks.

Nonfiction doesn’t include any history before 1800. History before 1800 doesn’t belong with my cookbooks. It belongs in my bedroom where I can access it at any time and where no-one else can see things and say “Gillian, I’ll just borrow this.” My versions of the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle are not part of my lending library and I shall defend them stoutly with my corn tooth sickle (which I keep near the cookbooks, of course, because those cookbooks need defending most).

Nonfiction is everything that’s not cookbooks, Arthuriana, Judaica, Medieval, Renaissance, womenstuff… this list is getting exhausting. It’s alphabeticised by author, which is the main thing. I should just call it “Everything else,” but “Nonfiction” makes it sound as if I know what I’m doing with those two enormous shelves.

9. There’s a shelf hidden in my sorting bookshelf (where I keep those books I haven’t yet put away, for whatever reason, but that really ought not be stacked) and it has books and etceteras by me. Over time, the etceteras diminish and the books multiply. It’s still a very small shelf hidden in a sea of books.

10. The heart of the addiction

Epic legends, romances, chronicles – all Medieval. Modern editions. Modern works about them. A complete Pepys. Kemble’s promptbooks (editions of Shakespeare). A few volumes of the nineteenth century Parliamentary records relating to the British colonies now called Australia. I could list volumes for ages and every one of them would be interesting. They’re select and special and wonderful and… most people would call the room they’re in a bedroom. It’s more books than bed, but there is indeed, a bed and I do sleep on it. I try not to sleep on books.

The trouble with writing a list of ten things is that the numbers run out before one has even begun. I haven’t even talked about the books I haven’t yet met. Some of them are clamouring to join my library, and yet they don’t fit in this list. I’ll do another list, one day, of books I yearn to meet. I’ve already done a list (on my blog) of the piles of books waiting to be read or written about or returned or dealt with severely. And I’m not going to get started on the many volumes on loan to friends (for my library is also a circulating library, payment in dark chocolate).

All these things are important. My life is books: books are my life. Right now, though, my booklife has probably outgrown my two-bedroom unit. I just need a few more rooms and my life would be perfectly ordered.

Writing Is Hard

One of my old daily senryus showed up on the (far from meta) Book of Face the other day. Since I was desperately trying to finish a book review on deadline — that is, since I was both writing and finding ways to avoid writing — I shared it and noted that I needed to remember the point:

Actually writing,
regardless of quality,
is what keeps me sane.

It generated a lot of discussion. One person, who was also struggling to finish an essay, observed that writing is “the hardest thing in the world.”

That got me to thinking.

Writing is hard. There’s figuring out what you want to say and then there’s figuring out the best way to say it. Both those things can be daunting and difficult, and the more complex the project, the harder it gets.

Take my book review (which is safely finished) as an example. I loved Elie Mystal’s Allow Me to Retort (get it on January 11 when it comes out), so what I wanted to tell people was why I thought it was a good book.

That’s actually hard enough for me, because a lot of my response to what I read — even when I’m reading a book addressing the shortcomings of the U.S. Constitution — is a gut reaction. And if the book is funny — and in this case, the author is very good at being funny even when he’s writing about outrages — I’m too busy laughing to think about the details.

Which is why I put sticky notes all over books I’m going to review. I don’t label them; I just stick them there and then I go back to those (many) pages. That helps me figure out what I want to say when I tell people why they should read this book.

Then I had to figure out how to say it. This review was for a lawyer publication, and while that means I could say “equal protection” or “establishment clause” without explanation, it also meant I needed to make sure my points in favor of the book would pass muster with lawyers.

Lawyers are inclined to argue with things. If you want them to listen, you must at least make it clear that what you said is worth arguing about. Or, in the case of my book review, that what the author said is good legal analysis.

This is, as the person on my FB page commented, hard work. Continue reading “Writing Is Hard”

Coping With Winter Blues

Painting by David Cox (1783-1859)


As the year draws to a close, I reflect that it’s been, as Mark Twain put it, “One damned thing after another.” Some good, some not-so-good, some most excellent, some terror-inducing. Whatever is happening, however, I remember the mantra, “This too shall pass!”

Life sometimes sideswipes us with occasions for rejoicing or unspeakable tragedy, but hard times run in cycles. It’s important to find ways of reminding ourselves of this rhythmic nature. Outward-facing periods of great vigor and challenge are followed by periods of apparent stagnation. These fallow times can feel like the pits of despair when nothing seems to be changing (except for the worse) and no matter how hard we engage with the problems in our lives, we seem to make no discernible progress. Winter is never going to end; all our senses convince us of it. We are never going to find “the one,” or sell that first story. And we’ve heard enough tales of folks who actually never do find a partner or make a sale that we are sure we belong in that group. As the days shorten and snow or rain turns into mud, we become even more certain the sun will never return.

That’s when I need black belt survival tools. My mantra (above) is one of them. Here are some others that work for me.

  • Every day, I speak with someone who loves me.
  • I try to do a daily act of kindness in a way that I will not be found out.
  • I try to begin each day with trust and end it with gratitude. These can take whatever form seems good to me on that day.

What helps get you through winter blues?

Treading Lightly – Repurposed Calendar Art

Treading Lightly is a blog series on ways to lighten our carbon footprint.

I have a confession to make – I am a hoarder of old calendar pages. I love the photos and artwork, and some of it I just can’t bear to throw in the recycle bin. So I tear it out and keep it, pin it up on a bulletin board, and gaze at it now and then.

Another confession: I am addicted to stationery, specifically pretty notecards. Since the pandemic hit, I’ve been writing lots of notes to friends and family, and going through a lot of cards.

This fall I had an epiphany that brought these two (ahem) habits together into a new way of treading lightly. Hand-made notecards!

The art starts out something like this: (a page from the 2021 Sierra Club engagement calendar).

I trim it, and if there’s a photo credit as there is here, I trim that out too, then glue them onto cardstock cut to an appropriate size. (A paper cutter makes this and subsequent trimming pretty easy.) I add a sticker pointing out that the art is repurposed.







I make the envelopes, too. I’m sure I could buy some, but I enjoy this, and it’s also a lower carbon footprint to make my own.

I even make some out of eco-friendly gift wrap*.





This year’s holiday cards will, I hope, bring additional inspiration to their recipients along with my wishes for the happiest of holidays.

*Alas, foil and glitter render paper un-recyclable, and many of the inks used to print gift-wrap (and cards) are toxic. Sadly, tissue paper is un-recyclable as well. Fortunately there are plenty of sources for eco-friendly gift wrap – or you could make your own! Check out https://www.ecosia.org/search?q=eco-friendly+gift+wrap

Award-Eligible Works by Treehouse Residents

As 2021 draws to a close, writers in the Treehouse want to call attention to the new works they published this year. These works are eligible for writing awards based on year of publication. These works include three novels, a novella, and three short stories that are already in print.

Additionally, four of the stories in the forthcoming anthology Bright Morning, which will be published on December 20, 2021, qualify as short stories. Bright Morning, edited by Treehouse resident Deborah Ross, honors the late Vonda N. McIntyre. All proceeds go to Room to Read, a nonprofit supporting literacy and education for girls.


A Valentine for One – book 8, Wisteria Tearoom Mysteries, by Patrice Greenwood. August 2021.  (mystery)

The Green Children Help Out, by Gillian Polack ( (fantasy)

For the Good of the Realm, June 2021 by Nancy Jane Moore (fantasy)


Intermezzo – Household Matters” – novella, tie-in to Wisteria Tearoom Mysteries, by Patrice Greenwood. January 2021. (mystery)

Short Stories:

“Mannikin,” by Madeleine Robins in the March/April 2021 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (science fiction)

The Missing Forget-Me-Nots,” – mystery short story, tie-in to Wisteria Tearoom Mysteries, by Patrice Greenwood. August 2021. (mystery)

Karen’s Secret Story,” by Gillian Polack (science fiction)

Original Stories from Bright Morning (forthcoming December 20), all science fiction:

“Sanitizing the Safe House,” by Leah Cutter.

“More Lasting Than Bronze,” by Judith Tarr.

“Panacea,” by Pati Nagle.

“Harden,” by Gillian Polack.

Another Take on Eden

In 1968, I took a seminar in political science from Professor Elliot Zashin, who held a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley and was considered something of a firebrand on the University of Texas campus.

He announced at the beginning of the term that this class was to be student-run. In practice, that meant that each of us put together a project or presentation for class.

There was the one where we all decamped for the day to someone’s house in Blanco and ended up divided into several cabals. (I no longer recall what we intended to accomplish.) My cabal decided that we needed to stay overnight and, since we had a mechanically inclined member, tried to enforce our position by removing the rotor cap from cars belonging to other members.

This led to someone storming out and then storming back in to demand that their car be returned to operating order, a demand we complied with, given the level of rage. It was still funny.

But I digress. The story from that class I want to tell is the one about our final exam.

A few days before finals, Elliot announced that we had been goofing off too much and that therefore we would have a final exam. We were, to put it mildly, outraged.

For one thing, we really hadn’t been goofing off. For another, this idea contradicted the entire spirit of the class. Some of us got together to rant and, eventually, to organize a protest. (Remember, this was 1968.)

We showed up on the appointed day, ready to declare our opposition to the exam. I’m sure I said something about the unfairness of the situation. My friend John Logue said something that I’m sure was very rational. (John was always very rational.)

But the only argument I remember from that day was from a guy whose name was, I think, Steve Shankman. He waxed quite eloquent, eventually excoriating Elliot for the failure of his “Harvard-Berkeley ideas.”

Elliot remained unmoved. He passed out the exam paper. It was one sheet of paper on which, in the middle of the page, had been mimeographed this quote:

Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau

There were no instructions. Continue reading “Another Take on Eden”