Fencing Bear’s Day Out With Milo and the Boys

I got my wish! Remember how envious I was of Laurie Penny, getting to ride around with Milo in his “swank black trollmobile” last summer? Well. Let me tell you about the day I had yesterday with Milo and his boys!

It was just as Laurie Penny says. There was the “swank black trollmobile.” There was the posse of twenty-something young men. There were the incessant jokes about how much expensive champagne the band of pranksters drank the night before. There were the endlessly replayed videos of the bottle-smashing (Milo is half-Greek, after all). There were the tales about going to strip joints and how beautiful the strippers were. There was...absolutely nothing that made me nervous about any of this.

I don’t know Penny, but I have been writing about Milo for almost a year now, and I have never seen anything in him or his friends that she describes. Sure, they are boisterous. Sure, they are twenty-something young men. Sure, they spend time joshing each other – and Milo – and telling joke…

St. Milo the Dangerous and the Dragon of Chaos

This time last year, I had myself sorted out. I had gotten over my writer's block and was looking forward to getting my book manuscript finished. I had qualified for the USA Veteran Fencing Team for 2016 and was going to Germany in October to compete in the World Championships. I was even making what felt like real progress in learning the fiddle. Sure, I was heavier than I liked, but all things considered I was doing well. I was going to be on leave for the Autumn and Winter terms, which meant going to Germany would not cut into my teaching schedule, and I was reasonably confident that I would be able to finish the revisions on my book in time to submit my manuscript to my publisher before going back to the classroom in the Spring. It was going to be a relaxing nine months, or so I thought. Little did I know how dangerous--and exhilarating--my year would be!

I have lost track of how many times I have told the story. About how our deans sent out the letter explaining to our incomi…

Three Kraters Symposium: How I Met Milo

This Symposium is a group of friends who came together over Facebook this winter in support of my writing about Milo on this blog. This is our first episode. Our lighting is bad, our sound quality leaves much to be desired, and we all need to work on our resting bitch faces (except Shelley!). But we love Milo and wanted to give you the DL on how I started following his tour and what happened to me on campus when I wrote a piece for our Divinity School newsletter, "Why Milo Scares Students, and Faculty Even More." The rest is...dangerous! Watch episode here.

The Most Dangerous Bear

We're number one!

On Pronouns, and Blowing Your Nose

Back in the Middle Ages--according to J.S. Mill--it was possible to be an individual. Not. Any. More.

As Mill argued in his On Liberty(1859):
In sober truth, whatever homage may be professed, or even paid, to real or supposed mental superiority, the general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendent power among mankind.  In ancient history, in the middle ages, and in a diminishing degree through the long transition from feudality to the present time, the individual was a power in himself; and if he had either great talents or a high social position, he was a considerable power.  At present individuals are lost in the crowd. In politics it is almost a triviality to say that public opinion now rules the world. The only power deserving the name is that of masses, and of governments while they make themselves the organ of the tendencies and instincts of masses. Mill’s contemporary Jacob Burckhardt begged to disagree. Publishing his Die Cultur der Renaiss…

Self-Authoring Meta-Tale

“I will tell you the tale of Tinúviel,” said Strider, “in brief--for it is a long tale of which the end is not known...” It was not the thing that I expected to find most difficult about doing Professor Peterson’s Self-Authoring Present: Virtues and Faults.

Confessing my sins to the world? No problem! I have been doing that on this blog for nine years now, which is why I started after Easter with my Faults, to get warmed up. Plus, it seemed appropriate to do a confessional novena, having been newly confirmed as a Catholic. Writing about my Virtues after Pentecost was more challenging. I have a hard time seeing my strengths as strengths. I tend to want to change them into Faults so as not to feel like I am bragging.

But writing stories to illustrate my Virtues and Vices? That should have been easy! Like a good Franciscan preacher, I know the value of exempla. Except, it seems, when it comes to my own life.

I have spent my life “self-authoring” in one guise or another. The diary that I …

Why I Study Mary

Recommended reading! Read on...

Signal Virtue: Right Rule

Virtue: Love order and regularity

Describe an experience: Please write a short story (approximately 1,000 characters) about a time in your life when this positive trait or virtue contributed to or created a situation that had a positive impact on your life.
It is how I finished my second book this last year. Brief regular sessions of writing, no more than six or seven hours per day, and even that was pushing it. I know because I kept a record, clocking myself in and out every day.

Ideally, I would have stopped at four hours a day, but last summer I was on fire. Only once or twice, however, did I push myself beyond seven hours in a day. For the most part I kept myself to five or six.

I used a similar discipline to finish my dissertation (I have those time cards somewhere) and my first book. It was my dissertation advisor who gave me the idea of time cards. But it was Professor Boice’s advice about recovering from writer’s block that solidified the practice.

Not everything benefits from …

Signal Virtue: Me, Myself, and I

Virtue: Am comfortable alone

Describe an experience: Please write a short story (approximately 1,000 characters) about a time in your life when this positive trait or virtue contributed to or created a situation that had a positive impact on your life.
There’s a reason I find it hard to think in stories. Stories involve other people, and I spend most of my time alone.

Not completely alone. Like a good medieval scholar, I have a dog, who sleeps while I’m reading or writing, barks at every hint of intrusion, and is ecstatically happy to go outside and chase the squirrels in our backyard while I watch Jordan Peterson videos on my iPad.

But mostly I am alone, except when I take my dog for a walk or, during term, when I have to teach.

I have spent whole years of my life almost completely alone. The years I was working on my dissertation. The years I was working on my second book. (While I was working on my first book, I had a year--nine months--at the National Humanities Center, which was s…