January 12: Mark Edmundson

Mark Edmundson quote from his essay "On Shit; Profanity as Weltanschauung" (The Los Angeles Review of Books) | Literary Quote @ Literary Cobblestones
Mark Edmundson quote from “On Shit: Profanity as Weltanschauung”, published by The Los Angeles Review of Books


Happy Tuesday, my literary friends.

(You may have noticed that last week’s Thursday and Friday posts were MIA, but fret not! This unfortunate situation will be rectified with a double-post Thursday and Friday this week.)

Today’s featured quote comes from the scholar Mark Edmundson and his recent essay, published by The Los Angeles Review of Books, entitled “On Shit: Profanity as Weltanschauung”. Admittedly, I initially chose this piece solely based on the title. (Who wouldn’t?) But I was quickly sucked into Edmundson’s writing style, and before I knew it, I was thrown into a crisis of self-reflection: “Is my extensive use of profanity really a reflection of my life view? I am ‘hopeless’?” Fortunately, this was only a momentarily crisis before I realised that no, I am not a hopeless cynic, and I still enjoy cursing and those who decorate their conversation and writing with curse words. But, this moment of self-reflection does serve as proof of how persuasive Edmundson writes, which is precisely why I’ve chosen to feature him today.

The Links You Need in Your Life

Today’s must-read, aka the essay that inspired today’s post, from The Los Angeles Review of Books: “On Shit: Profanity as Weltanschauung.”

Want more Edmundson? Here’s another essay from him, published by The American Scholar: “Enough Already: What I’d really like to tell the bores in my life.” I chose this piece for today’s links because it could’ve essentially been a Facebook rant, but Edmundson takes the basic concept and turns it into a piece of scholarly art. Seriously. Here’s an excerpt: “If we’ve got the imagination, we seek in nature some of the facts that undergird all human experience: we listen to nature, or try to, rather than impose our truths on it.

Are/were you an English Major?  Then this one’s for you (as well as all other humanities majors): “Why major in humanities? Not just for a good job – for a good life.” Published by The Washington Post, this piece is a refreshing look at why we chose to enter into a humanities program in the first place, a reminder that is often needed after graduation when some of us find ourselves struggling with the concept of “success”. This is a line that struck me on a personal level: “But the humanities are not about success. They’re about questioning success — and every important social value.”

Want a closer look? Then head over to the Times Higher Education for Matthew Reisz’s interview with Edmundson, along with a review of Edmundson’s new book “Self and Soul”: “Eternal dilemmas: Interview with Mark Edmundson.”


That’s it for today. Don’t forget to check back on Thursday for two new posts!


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