josephine sent around this article from the american scholar a couple of weeks ago and in between envy and recognition it made me think of nohrnberg again, and the handshakegame, and this unfinished entry from months ago.

...but mostly i ache to be there, to be present at those times of change (not kings and empires, you understand, i speak purely of the academy.) i am insanely jealous of the 600 harvardlings who were in nabokov's lecture as he spoke to them of don quixote in a way the text had never been taught at harvard before, and of the freshmen who had been at yale in that lecture room when nohrnberg and paul fry and maria di battista and mike seidel and all the people who'd as junior profs taught for a. bartlett giamatti's undergraduate lecture course were speaking about their special areas, and i am grateful the collection of lectures have survived in a book, though in time i would come to meet some of these people myself. and i am grateful for the times i meet professors at different schools who had themselves been at yale when nohrnberg was teaching, and who recognised in my projects and ideas the shapes of minds before mine, and who affirmed those and mine. but in general because i play the fadiman handshake game and want those ancestral connections and i love people telling me stories of how they were an adoring student at this or that professor's feet, because they were there. and when davenport writes about auden in his new york apartment being deliberately provocative and i see in my mind edward mendelsohn beside the poet in same apartment, and the nohrnbergs' apartment several blocks away only. and i'm thinking of dan donoghue talking of trekking to fred robinson's house for tutorial, and of addy wanting to catch and press to her forehead the trailing ends of gayatri's sari, and one day perhaps i would have nohrnberg stories to tell to the next generation of nohrnberg devotees. (i once met a girl who had never met nohrnberg, but who knew who he was, for her parents met and fell in love in nohrnberg's spenser seminar, and i laughed aloud, for i had met him of course, of course.) but most of all i think it the lecture format works on you in a way that is more electrifying than a tutorial -- intimacy, there, and conversation, is the essence of the tutorial -- but to be present in a room with 200 others, half-hypnotised, not knowing what was coming next from the lectern -- that immediacy of words and ideas which at once took all of you -- all 200 of you, and that memory, afterwards, shared. what would one give to be back in time, in '68 when blind borges delivered the norton lectures (i use blind as an epithet, he would not, i think, have objected to being likened to homer?) and the recording left to us now mere echo of a historical moment. or when frye gave his radio lectures which were to become the educated imagination - i have the book, came on it my first year of college and read it over and over, my very first contact with frye's words, but nohrnberg heard the very first radio broadcasts as they came over the airwaves, not knowing what was going to be said next.