Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn died last night at 7:12 PM, EST.

Unable to face the State of the Union address, I was grading quizzes. One defined Romanticism as “a literary movement which arose in Germany in the late eighteenth century and then spread elsewhere and which, in contradistinction to Classicism, values imperfection and seeks darkness.”


14 thoughts on “Howard Zinn

      1. But isn’t it glib? I know I’m not one to talk, considering my own glibtude, but still…

    1. Which? I don’t need it — they were allowed to look up information before the quiz, and the quiz was to generate material for discussion.

      Relax — there are 30 students — between them and me and the reading they will end up with a more complete description of Romanticism.

      I think this student’s comment is as good a place to start as any, and more interesting than many — especially given what our reading is.

  1. Congratulations on getting your piece published! It does have a kind of Catholic formalistic elegance to it. As I read it, I reflected on how strange some middle class attitudes to intellectual production really are. There were these individuals at the Marechera Celebration — kind of New Left types — and one expressed an attitude that it was imperative to work very hard to produce a body of work before one dies. I thought that seemed unphilosophical, because I had been reading and considering Bataille and Nietzsche, and their ideas are more along the lines that one works to express who one is. Certainly, the amount of work on produces before one dies is not so important, rather it is whether the work expresses the purest form of what one wants to achieve.

    My sense is that those who want to produce a body of work before they die don’t really understand sufficiently the concept of death. One isn’t around to enjoy the sense of achievement anymore, and there is no guarantee that others will somehow bring you to life in spirit by appreciating your body of work. And even if they did, it would not be the same as you being there to enjoy your own achievements. You are really and truly dead!

    So, I think one must be more philosophical and less middle class about production.

    1. Somehow it’s all very macho, this life beyond death thing. “Exegi monumentum aere perennius,” said Horace of his poetry (I erected a monument more lasting than bronze). His poetry will outlive his enemies. Bandeira: “As bem-amadas ingratas sao po, tu vives, Hafiz” (The girls who did not return your love are dust, but you live, Hafiz). And on, and on.

      I always like it when, when I met an author, I like them BETTER than I like their work.

      That piece, it really does force one to read slowly, I notice; it’s like a slow quadrille or something.

  2. Hattie – no, it was a question on a quiz. They only had time for 2-3 sentences on each question. I realize the standard 2-3 sentence answer to the question “What is Romanticism” isn’t that one, but that’s why I found this one more fun. The quiz was to force them to come to class prepared and to then have something to speak about and from. I could give a lecture on Romanticism but it was more interesting to compose a lecture together based on what everyone came up with.

  3. I still haven’t seen the State of the Union address. I did hear snippets of Obama sticking it to Republicans at their Baltimore retreat. It was all the more fun because I was on the way back from the ceramics studio where I’d seen my (Republican) Congressman’s wife. She said he was at the retreat and complaining because of the cigar smoke.

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