Monday, March 24, 2008

I confess...

...that until today, I was convinced that the New School was a front. That it was nothing but a series of facades in the NYU-Union Square area, in front of which college-aged men and women chain-smoke cigarettes while wearing academic-hipster garb (think leggings paired with an elbow-patch blazer). I'd seen the inside of CUNY and Columbia. You can see into Cardozo when you walk by. But the New School always seemed something of a mystery, so I decided it was all made up.

But I realized I needed a book that was out at Bobst, and so today was forced to confront the interior of 65 Fifth Avenue, where NYU students also have library privileges. Turns out there's a New School, after all! The library's on the small side, but has enough in the DS 135 F area to keep me busy. For some reason along with the call numbers, the stacks have descriptions of what subject matter the call numbers denote, as though it were a bookstore, which I thought was silly at first but could see getting used to.

I should have gone sooner, because Sander Gilman's book, Jewish Self-Hatred, is brilliant. So brilliant that I'm kind of relieved he wrote on Germany and not France, so there's a chance there's work left to be done.

4 comments:

Hayden said...

Given your interest in Jewish history and NYC, it's shocking that you don't know the importance of the New School. From its formation by Veblen and Dewey, to its place as a home for exiled (mostly Jewish)scholars escaping the Nazis, the New School has been a vital academic institution. It was the home of Hannah Arendt, Robert Heilbroner, Levi-Strauss, and was even Derrida's home away from home. In addition to the traditional intellectual offerings, The New School was a catalyst for continuing and adult education programs, which continue to this day. I don't mean to be insulting, but I must ask, are you just a simple snob?

Phoebe said...

Hayden, yes, I am simple and a snob. It is only via the intervention of anonymous and pseudonymous (or first-name-only) blog-comment-leavers that I will be extracted, at last, from the depths of my simple snobbery. So, thanks!

Rest assured, I know (a bit) about the history of the New School, and did not really believe it was just a facade. I had just not been inside and so, like a child who believes himself invisible if he closes his eyes, decided this meant it did not exist.

Hayden said...

Phoebe, I think that you are much more sophisticated than some of your posts would let on. For example, I've read your article on the Jewish singles culture, which I thought was excellent and much broader than than the title indicates. In that article, you've highlighted some of the most outstanding contradictions of American Jewish identity. Kudos on such strong writing. I just wonder why your blog posts fall short of such excellent and thoughtful work. You come off like a reactionary in the blog. Of course it's not my duty to be your critic. But I think you can do better with revision and more thought. I think your writing could be as strong as can be found on the net. You have courage, intelligence, and a willingness to use your voice. Great traits all.

Phoebe said...

"I just wonder why your blog posts fall short of such excellent and thoughtful work. You come off like a reactionary in the blog."

How much time or revision do you think goes into a blog post versus an article?