Friday, 15 January 2010

A collection of quotes

From an article in The Economist:
Universities are feeling the strain in various ways these days. With government funding under pressure, Cambridge is [...] considering tapping the bond market for the first time in its 800-year history, to raise some £300m for building projects. There is a massive debate about the purpose of higher education. At the heart of it all is a widespread perception that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are being unfairly barred from Britain's most famous universities, and thus must struggle harder than the more privileged to escape a lifetime of mediocre job prospects.
Which reminded me of this exchange in George Pelecanos's The Way Home (a haunting novel which I'm still trying to get my wife to read):
"Don't... don't compare yourself to me. Back in my day, with only a high school degree, you could still make something of yourself. But now there are two distinct societies, Chris, plainly separated. The educated and the uneducated. You don't just go to college to learn. You go to mingle and forge a permanent network with people who all move up the chain together. Don't go to college and there's going to be a ceiling on your earnings. The pool will be limited on who you date and marry. Not only will you probably live in a lower-income neighborhood, but so will your children, and their peers will be lower income, too. Don't you see how it works? There are people who strive to make it to the upper level of society and then there are the other people who stay down below."
"It was you who was always cracking on the lawyers and doctors in our neighbourhood. Saying how they came up from privilege and money, and how they had a leg up. Being all sarcastic about how they never got their hands dirty or broke a sweat. Like how you sweated every day."
The Way Home's epigraph is from Bruce Springsteen's 'My Father's House':
Last night I dreamed that I was a child
out where the pines grow wild and tall
I was trying to make it home through the forest
before the darkness falls
Pelecanos's Hard Revolution also has a Springsteen epigram, this time from 'Adam Raised a Cain' (on Darkness on the Edge of Town) - a song that also features in yet another Pelecanos novel, which my wife is currently reading - but in a part she hasn't read yet (I'm very excited about her getting to it):
Daddy worked his whole life for nothing but the pain
Now he walks these empty rooms looking for something to blame
You inherit the sins, you inherit the flames
The last two lines quoted here definitely form part of the epigraph; I can't check it as HR is one of the GP novels that Pete owns. We have kind of a joint collection. I haven't yet found the movie equivalent of Springsteen, but I'd say Pelecanos is definitely the novel one.
We listened to some Springsteen tonight, but also to the Traveling Wilburys:
Well it's alright, riding around in the breeze
Well it's alright, if you live the life you please
Well it's alright, doing the best you can
Well it's alright, as long as you lend a hand
I'm slowly getting through Gaye Tuchman's Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University One of its epigraphs, from Robert Birnbaum, is:
An educational philosopher might claim that those things of greatest value are precisely those things that cannot be measured [...] If we cannot measure what is valuable, we will come to value what is measurable.
We watched Lifeboat this evening too. In Hitchcock's Films Revisited, Robin Wood, reviewing his earlier description of the movie, comments:
I would now wish to offer a more political reading, examining the film's very subversive critique of capitalist values: the way in which, by paralleling the Nazi captain and the American self-made millionaire, it suggests that fascism is an extension rather than the opposite of capitalist democracy. This is [...], however, too simple a formula for this extremely complex work, one of the guiding principles of which seems to be that every position, once established, is elsewhere qualified or contradicted.
The movie contains a very moving reading of a psalm that in any case never fails to move me, probably the most famous of all the psalms:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

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