Fiddling While Rome Burns and other clichés

Let us descend for a moment into some rather exquisite gossip from the intellectual history of communication studies. Commenting on Herb Schiller, a scholar noted for his radicalism, James Carey said in a 2006 interview:

…he was supremely bourgeois. When the troubles began in the 1960s, Herb couldn’t be bothered. He was home reading The New York Times and clipping articles for his next book.

These words echo in my own ears, because I have found myself busy with my own academic work, while a student movement takes over McGill, Montreal and Quebec. I have been gone on speaking engagements for about half of March, which has left me out of a wide swath of events closer to home. It’s also affected my blogging, as it seems silly to write about more trivial matters when 200,000 people are taking to the streets, where Montreal police are making some really bone-headed choices (like releasing gas in my neighbourhood metro station!), and where some members of my own university — both admin and faculty — seem so irrationally consumed with maintaining order than they cannot distinguish between matters of discipline and matters of dissent.

There is a voice, perhaps Carey’s, that says I should drop everything and get involved, but I simply can’t. This state of affairs will continue for awhile as I tend various gardens, but perhaps as I catch up, I can say more about what’s going on as well.