Sublime, Telling, Funny


I just finished David Lodge’s Deaf Sentence. As in his other books I’ve read, Lodge provides a poignant and reflective ending. One part that caught my eye was the extended quote from Bruce Cummings, the naturalist who wrote under the nom de plume W. N. P. Barbellion.

To me the honour is sufficient of belonging to the universe – such a great universe, and so great a scheme of things. Not even Death can rob me of that honour. For nothing can alter the fact that I have lived; I have been I, if for ever so short a time. And when I am dead, the matter which composes my body is indestructible – and eternal, so that come what may to my ‘Soul’, my dust will always be going on, each separate atom of me playing its separate part – I shall have some sort of finger in the pie. When I am dead, you can boil me, burn me, drown me, scatter me – but you cannot destroy me: my little atoms would merely deride such a heavy vengeance. Death can do no more than kill you.

The first part particularly resonated with me, the honor of belonging to this universe and the fact that I have lived, and that these are sufficient.


The NPR station in Tampa has a program I hadn’t heard before – The Story. It is hosted by Dick Gordon and distributed by American Public Media.

The Story with Dick Gordon brings the news home – through passionate points of view and personal experiences. The program brings together ordinary and extraordinary people to provide perspective on the issues which affect us all. Our goal is to inspire conversation, thinking and understanding.

Gordon often spends half an hour or more doing an in-depth interview with one person. It is compelling listening, and offers lessons to anthropologists, qualitative researchers, and other people who listen to and want to communicate people’s stories.

Two recent ones I’ve listened to are:

How Many Are Too Many?, an interview with Jen Blood, about her efforts to rescue animals and her growing realization that her boyfriend was an animal hoarder, not simply a man driven to do good for abandonned animals.

A Place to Hang His Hat, which covered the story of Graham Thompson and his decision to take over a hat shop and learn the craft of making original hats.

Other stories people might like are Love in the Time of Tenure, Recuperating after the Quake, and Iraq: Walls within Walls.

Telling compelling stories is part of what anthropologists need to do to reach a broader audience. When we go to the field, we could have in mind that we want to produce something like a Dick Gordon piece. That means we would collect “data” that helps tell a story, alongside what we need to do our theoretical work.


Finally a video which made me laugh. It is a parody of Flight of the Conchords’ The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room. That song of theirs is not my favorite (I prefer “Business Time” which I featured in the Sex Round Up), but the parody below is well done – even funnier if you have seen the original.

So here it is, Most Beautiful Girl in the Lab.

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4 Responses to Sublime, Telling, Funny

  1. Coturnix says:

    The Story is recorded here at North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC. I love it and often listen to it in the car.

  2. mangrist says:

    FotC rules!

  3. mdMcAlister says:

    Small Correction: In the quotation from Bruce Cummings, “Death can do more than kill you” should read “Death can do no more than kill you”.