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Humanist Archives: Dec. 21, 2018, 10:10 a.m. Humanist 32.284 - Yuletide & solstitial celebrations and gratitude

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 284.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

        Date: 2018-12-21 10:03:51+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty 
        Subject: Yuletide & solstitial celebrations and gratitude

An old and very close friend of mine, a medical doctor in Friesland,
recently retired for the second time, marked the occasion with a
lecture to the younger doctors he was tutoring. His title: "Boatcoach:
Waarom iedere dokter een boot zou moeten bouwen" ("Why every doctor
should build a boat"). The Powerpoint slides he sent along to amuse me
show he meant exactly what he said -- photos of him in his
boat-builder's workshop are there to demonstrate that he knows what he's
talking about. I knew already, having spent time under his tutelage
helping him finish off a boat he now regularly sails in. He was a
talented doctor by all accounts, deeply compassionate, highly skilled
and practical. Strolling with him around Leeuwarden we have met many
former patients who are now friends.

There are, of course, good reasons for a medical doctor electing to do
something else beyond a certain age. The professional metamorphosis of
an academic in the human sciences, if not most of the others, is less
dramatic, more of a shedding off of institutional duties to take on a
larger proportion of devotions to scholarship -- and their associated
duties. For me, tending to Humanist is one passion among others that
bridge the ante- and post-retirement eras. It is a continuing
exploration or enactment of something the significance of which I
learned from Jerry McGann: that this work of ours is all about the
conversation, probing, sometimes upsetting, sometimes outrageous, ever
more challenging -- all about reaching for that "hem of a quantum
garment". Humanist serves other purposes as well, of course. But it's
the intellectual conversations and provocations that are its reason for

As nearly everyone here will know, I do this sort of meandering musing
every year at this time. This year is particularly special, for were it
not for the quick, effective and crucial help of the King's Digital Lab
(KDL), its Director, James Smithies, and his colleagues Brian Maher and
Tim Watts, Humanist might well never have recovered from the
catastrophic failure of its server earlier this year. To James, Brian
and Tim we all owe a great debt. Others jumped in with offers of help,
for which I'm very grateful, but KDL not only had all the skills and
facilities ready to go but also, given my long association with King's
College London, it seemed most fitting. Now, in its day to day
operations, Humanist runs as smoothly as (choose your metaphor). Not
only smoothly but elegantly as well.

Given the culturally, linguistically and geographically wide
distribution of Humanist's membership, the Christmas-Winter Solsticial
associations that I cannot escape (nor wish to) pose an insuperable
challenge to formulating a suitably idiomatic greeting to everyone. So
-- forgive me, translation required -- Happy Christmas to everyone.

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/),
Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London;
Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney University; Editor, Interdisciplinary
Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20) and Humanist

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Editor: Willard McCarty (King's College London, U.K.; Western Sydney University, Australia)
Software designer: Malgosia Askanas (Mind-Crafts)

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