6.0277 Rs: Newsweek; Grammar; Thanks (3/84

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 6 Oct 1992 16:56:10 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0277. Tuesday, 6 Oct 1992.

(1) Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1992 11:22:29 -0400 (EDT) (41 lines)
From: David A Hoekema <hoekema@brahms.udel.edu>
Subject: Newsweek's Top 100

(2) Date: Sun, 04 Oct 92 11:51:27 IST (36 lines)
From: "David M. Schaps" <F21004@BARILVM>
Subject: Re: 6.0242 Rs: Grammar; Printing and Publication

(3) Date: Thu, 01 Oct 92 19:52:30 PDT (7 lines)
From: Paul Brians <BRIANS@WSUVM1>
Subject: Movie Usher picture found

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1992 11:22:29 -0400 (EDT)
From: David A Hoekema <hoekema@brahms.udel.edu>
Subject: Newsweek's Top 100

Mary Dee Harris's comment on the unintended ambiguity of "p.c.
scholarship" prompts this observation: is it not astonishing how few
serious thinkers are listed in NEWSWEEK's alleged 100 cultural hotshots?
Harris has cited one; then there are Susan Sontag and Skip Gates, both
writers of considerable depth who are also media figures; and then there
are a few more like Camille Paglia, who has (in my humble judgment) some
comments on literature and culture that others might take seriously if
they ever perceived a gap in her self-promotional program to listen to
those who disagree. (Coincidentally, she is also my neighbor, but lives
like a hermit and I've not set eyes on her in five years.) But apart from
that it's almost wholly a list not of a cultural elite but of media stars.
Also conspicuously missing are those who are giving serious attention to
racial divisions in American society--only Gates and Spike Lee come to
mind. As well as religious leaders--I don't think there are any, except
maybe a televangelist or two. (I'm writing from my recollections of the
list and may be missing some names.)

Where are the real cultural elite--the William Jameses and John Deweys and
Sigmund Freuds and Edward Gibbons and G. B. Shaws and John Ruskins of
today? Shouldn't a few more intellectuals have made the list--if Richard
Rorty and Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Cavell and Cornel West are too
esoteric, how about Simon Schama and James MacPherson? I'd like to think
the shallow minds at NEWSWEEK are to blame, but that is probably shooting
the messenger.

--David Hoekema <hoekema@brahms.udel.edu> AAA PPPP AAA
Executive Director, American Philosophical Association AA AA PP PP AA AA
Associate Professor of Philosophy AAAAA PPPP AAAAA
University of Delaware || Phone: 302 831-1112 AA AA PP AA AA
Newark, DE 19716 || FAX: 302 831-8690 AA AA PP AA AA
==After 11/10/92: Academic Dean, Calvin College <dhoekema@calvin.edu>===
=======Grand Rapids, MI 49546 == ph. 616 957-6442 fax 957-8551======

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------42----
Date: Sun, 04 Oct 92 11:51:27 IST
From: "David M. Schaps" <F21004@BARILVM>
Subject: Re: 6.0242 Rs: Grammar; Printing and Publication

"If swallowed, seek medical advice." (Wouldn't "If drunk" have been yet
more ambiguous?) I must offer a bit of historical justification for
this, and many other such dangling modifiers ("Turning the corner, the
Empire State Building came into view"). Classical languages (Greek and
Latin) use participles much more freely than English; the member of
the sentence to whom they refer is identified by the case (they agree
in case, number, and gender with their "subject"). If they refer to
something or someone not mentioned in the sentence at all, they and
their subject are put in a particular case used for such "disconnected"
(the grammatical term is "absolute") participles: Latin uses the
ablative, Greek (whose ablative has disappeared) the genitive. Although
German, to my knowledge, does not use "absolutes", I presume all these
dangling modifiers to be survivals of them. They are no longer
grammatically parsible (that is, a machine could not correctly
identify what was swallowed, or who turned the corner), but are
commonly used when context makes them unambiguous. Things being as
they are (a true absolute, with "things" -- the subject of the
participle -- expressed), I am not sure that the grammar books are
justified in objecting.
An amusing, but presumably artificial one, was offered by
Clifford Hallam in "Execution Day in Riyadh" (_Commentary_, Feb. '86):
"RIYADH. Mohammed Abdulaziz Yamani was beheaded here after Friday
noon prayers for the murder of his wife." In point of fact
this kind of solecism is not uncommon in English (and other
languages) written by non-native speakers, who are thinking
in languages whose normal word-order may be different.

David M. Schaps
Department of Classical Studies
Bar Ilan University
Ramat Gan, Israel
FAX: 972-3-347-601
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------14----
Date: Thu, 01 Oct 92 19:52:30 PDT
From: Paul Brians <BRIANS@WSUVM1>
Subject: Movie Usher picture found

A HUMANIST reader answered my query about pictures of movie ushers
within 24 hours with a reference to an Edward Hopper painting, which
I am using. Thanks to all.