My latest for 3 Quarks Daily:
Old School: Torpor and Stupor at Johns Hopkins: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2017/11/old-school-torpor-and-stupor-at-johns-hopkins.html
This piece was inspired by an essay Leanne Ogasawara posted to 3QD in September: Take My Camel, Dear..... Here’s the opening paragraph:
There were not many things that drew me back to America, but the thought of joining a bookclub seemed like one potential perk of moving back. I am not sure if bookclubs exist to this extent in other countries, but in the US they are incredibly popular! More and more people I know had been joining, taking part and talking about their bookclubs... And, I became --slowly but surely--intrigued.
I enjoyed the piece and posted a comment in which I told here about the Tudor and Stuart Club at The Johns Hopkins University, a literary society:
Bill, I actually got chills when I read the first paragraph about the torpor and stupor! The nun with the black leather --- and the cognac and cigars and cold cuts! it just kept getting better and better. Seriously, it. sounded like heaven on earth! And was exactly what I was imagining!! Old school can be a good thing sometimes, don't you think? Thank you so much for leaving this, and it made my day!
That’s it! I had to do it, devote a whole 3QD piece to the Tudor and Stuart Club. That's what I did for this month.
Clipping the genitals of Adam and Eve
But I didn’t tell all the stories.
It came to pass one day that the Club decided to move some of its rare books to a more secure and a more accessible location, the Evergreen House, a mansion owned by the University where it had various collections, rare books included, and a nice closet theater. That’s the library up there.
On the appointed day I showed up at the Club Room. Here’s what it looked like in 1929 or so:
If you open the panel where Revere Osler’s portrait hangs–that’s it up there in the corner–you’ll find a modest safe, at least one was there back in the day. And inside the safe were the Club’s rarest books, including a 1st edition of The Fairie Queen and a 1st edition of Paradise Lost. The Paradise Lost had an engraved frontispiece depicting the ejection of Adam and Eve from Paradise. Alas, some meticulous prude had taken a knife and excised the genitals from the picture.
Some time after I attended a small celebratory dinner, just the officers of the Club and, I suppose, a guest or two, in a private room at the Evergreen House. That was very nice.
But, alas, it did little from poor Adam and Eve.
That famous grin
Maybe one day I'll tell the story about how I ghosted an essay about Pink Flamingos – "a 1972 American transgressive black comedy exploitation crime film" – for Dick Macksey so we, The Office of the Chaplain, could get the film approved by Maryland's Board of Censors. It has nothing whatever to do with Tudor and Stuart, except that Macksey and I were members, but, in a way, everything to do with Hopkins in the 60s.