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Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Yesterday was a remarkable day for me.  I got up at  5 am, traveled to New York, poured my heart out in one of the most intense two hour lectures I have ever delivered,  and then flew home.  All the while, the political world was turning upside down.  I have been in a heightened state ever since.  We shall see what it all means, but about the lecture I have no second thoughts.

Lord, I love teaching.


Anonymous said...

"There and back again", Professor Wolff. Has a better ring to it.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

You are right. My bad. I will leave it for posterity, with your correction.

Anonymous said...

I find it funny how many "critics" are out there in Internet land.

I was going to suggest "home there and again" or maybe "again there and home".

And I'm not sure that there ever was any IWW member who wanted to correct Alfred Hayes' poem "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night". My philosophy is "go with the flow". I truly don't know what the difference is between "there and home again" and "there and back again". I've read Tolkien but you and your critic put me to shame for my lack of literary acuteness.

I think you are too generous with your critics. I always enjoy your attempts to "liven things up" with literary and movie references. It humanizes you. To use a cliched term it creates "solidarity". I really enjoy your deep knowledge, but I also love your personal asides where you relate stories about your own life. You are a very interesting character. And I love to hear that you are having the time of your life lecturing again at Columbia. I'm not sure I could handle the grueling travel and I'm a "spring chicken" compared to you!

On a more serious note: Any comments on a 16 year old lecturing the US Congress and the United Nations? Can you think of any time in history where senior government officials sat with such attentive concern what what an adolescent had to say. Have you ever seen elders quietly having their ears pinned back by such a young fanatic? I'm amazed that they showed such deference. I sure don't remember anybody paying that kind of attention the Vietnam War protestors in the late 1960s/early 1970s. I don't remember any august body allowing itself to be flayed alive by a teen lecturing on the evils of the nuclear arms race and the need to find some disarmament treaty. I don't remember any august body being lectured to by a militant from SNCC let alone letting the more elderly MLK lecture them on their "civic duty".

What a strange world we live in.

By the way, you might find this article from the Australian journal Quadrant interesting where a senior climate modeler talks about some of the limitations of his work:

He isn't a fly-by-night, here's his publishing record:

I wonder why Congress and the United Nations don't invite him to harrangue them!

LFC said...


Are you suggesting that, b/c climate models have their limits (as all models presumably do), AGW isn't a real and pressing concern?

As for being lectured to by a 16 yr old, it costs them basically nothing to sit there and listen. So that in itself I don't find esp. surprising. The UN General Assembly, as distinct from the Security Council say, has never had trouble accommodating a fairly large variety of people who want to address it, sometimes at prob excruciating length. That's part of its function actually. The age of this person may be unusual, but I think the fact of the speech isn't.

s. wallerstein said...

Malala was also 16 when she spoke at the UN.

Dean said...

"Any comments on a 16 year old lecturing the US Congress and the United Nations?" This is a really interesting question on a few levels, and not only the tables-turned one. I suspect kids are well aware of the ways in which adults condescend to and tokenize them. And they're rightly tired of it. So it's not just the ordinary inter-generational tension that comes with puberty, adolescence, and "growing up," not just this generation's version of "Don't trust anybody over 30" (which remains a good default position, and I'm w-a-y down on the not-to-be-trusted end of the axis). Furthermore, the parents and grandparents of Greta's cohort have clearly mucked up the world in increasingly irreparable ways, and less insidiously than the capitalist pigs of my parents' and grandparents' generations mucked up the world in which I grew up. It's now more likely, too, that an average kid will have at least as much awareness of goings-on in the world as the average adult. (The flip side is probably true, too. Kids and adults are now equally vulnerable to being distracted or deceived.) I don't think that was quite the case when I was 16. And so setting aside obvious developmental differences, the playing field is adjusting in favor of youth.

stephen said...

I would be very wary of anything published in/by the Australian magazine called Quadrant. It's a very rightwing (ie, neo-conservative/neo-liberal) publication which lacks any peer-review credentials. It recently published an anti-climate change anthology. One of its authors was the so-called journalist Andrew Bolt, a well-known spokesperson and 'prize-fighter' for the Murdoch media empire(he writes syndicate articles for the popular press and fronts a tv programme called the 'Bolt Report'); he's the 'everyman' champion who fights the good fight against the 'elites' (who are for him and his ilk the academics and the liberal-left of the world). This magazine takes an anti-stance policy on most things from a proper recognition of the Indigenous people of Australia (it was against PM Rudd from saying sorry to them for both past and present wrongs) to a humane policy regarding refugees, as well as taking (of course) a very anti-union stance.

Stephen Darling

TheDudeDiogenes said...

Since climate change was brought up, I just finished reading this - Earth's Oceans Are Getting Hotter And Higher, And It's Accelerating - on NPR, about a new UN climate report.

Anonymous said...

And speaking of Quadrant magazine: it was founded in 1956, by an Australian offshoot of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a CIA front group.

Andrew Bolt, one of its authors -- as Stephen rightly noted above -- is on the record for mocking 16 year-old Greta Thunberg for her autism. To that Anonymous (September 25, 2019 at 4:14 PM) adds the slander of "fanatic".

We are breaking ground in this comment thread.

-- Rudolph, the RED-Nosed Reindeer

rupa said...

"Lord, I love teaching." Teaching? Or is it lecturing that you love?

Anonymous said...

Try teaching four classes in one day without adequate preparation time. You might not love that.....

Matt said...

"Lord, I love teaching." Teaching? Or is it lecturing that you love?

Try teaching four classes in one day without adequate preparation time. You might not love that.....

What's the point of comments like these? The first is just stupid and mean. Why bother? There's good evidence that it's false as well. As for the second, well, Bob, in his memoir, does talk about times in his life when he was teaching a very large number of classes, but even if it's not "four classes a day without adequate preparation time", so what? If Michael Phelps said "Lord, I love swimming", after winning a gold medal, and someone who had been on a ship that sank said said "try swimming for hours after your ship sinks and see if you love that!" we'd think the person was being a bit dense. The same seems to be true here. Really, why post this stuff? What does it add? Does it just make you feel better about yourself?

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