Where have you been? Reply

Oh how I have missed you,
Your look and your touch,
I feel like I have lost you dear,
Your attention I needed so much.

The stories you once told to me,
Of lust and love lost in the night,
Secrets hidden deep within each word,
Emotions so hard to fight.

Secrets shared just between us two,
Locked deep within our heart,
Just our special memories,
A secret from the very start.

Where have you been,
I feel you too have gone away,
I look forward to your return,
For new memories each day.

Where have you been,
In a new world you have found,
I’ll keep watching for you,
As I know you’ll be around.

Where have you been,
There you are within my heart,
Just where you have always been,
from the very start.

Poem: Where have you been by Rose M. Rideout

I have missed all of you. Taking a break was needed. One month turned into two, then to six. But as with all things, I am anxious for what the future brings here at the table.

Law Culture and Humanities Day Two 1

On today’s agenda were some really fabulous panels.  There are so many interesting people that I met and want to spend more time talking to.I am going to break this post up into several posts because of the richness at this conference.

The first panel of the day was one titled Legacies of the Civil Rights Movement with really fabulous presentations including Reconstructing Hate Crime Law: Racism, Abolition and the Thirteenth Amendment by Jacob Kang-Brown; Strategic Affirmative Action, by Bret Asbury of Dexel Law School; Southern Exceptionalism or New South? “White Trash” and the Politics of Southern Modernization, 1944-1969 by Kristine Taylor; and The Community and the Zone: Competing Conceptions of Neighborhood Identity in Land Use law by my friend Kenneth Stahl of Chapman’s law school.

Of course, Kirstine’s talk was of particular interest given our interest in southern literature, race, and the law.  I kept wondering how Robert Penn Warren would conceptualize the question of southern exceptionalism versus the new south.  Perhaps I will post a discussion of Warren’s ethnography titled Segregation in the next few weeks.

I also want to say that Kenneth Stahl’s The Community and the Zone was a compelling treatment of the Chicago School.  Robert Park’s narratives of the city remain a compelling narrative that, as Kenneth points out, form a distinctive basis for the legal rules that limit neighborhood autonomy.

More from Vegas tomorrow.



Our first year… Reply

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 54 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 48 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 23rd with 125 views. The most popular post that day was Some Advice (and Demands) of New Law Students.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were thefacultylounge.org, WordPress Dashboard, facebook.com, ratiojuris.blogspot.com, and twitter.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for the literary table, literary table, warren emerson, richard parker cannibalism, and sufi poetry.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Some Advice (and Demands) of New Law Students June 2010
1 comment


Thoreau, Environmentalism, Economy June 2010


Law & Literature: A Basic Bibliography November 2010


Sufi Poetry–I August 2010


About April 2010

Law Culture and Humanities Reply

I am at the Association for the study of Law, Culture and Humanities in Las Vegas this weekend. There is a lot to like here!

Let me point out a few presentations that I have attended yesterday and today:

There was a wonderful panel titled: To Kill a Mockingbird: Reflections on the film. Amongst the presentations Sue Heinzelman’s talk “We don’t have mockingbirds in Britain do we?” was a powerful reflection on the Mockingbird’s role in defining racism against the intuition that we might not think we are racist. Also on the panel were Austin Sarat’s and Martha Umphrey’s work “Temporal Horizons: On the possibilities of Law and Fatherhood in To Kill A Mockingbird;” and Ravit Reichman’s work “Dead Animals.”

Another great panel yesterday afternoon was titled Memory, Slavery, and Civil Rights, with presentations by Mark Golub (“Remembering Mass Resistance to School Segregation”); Mai-Linh Hong (“Get your ass-phalt Off of my ancestors!: Legal and cultural boundaries of slave cemeteries”); and SpearIt (“Criminal Punishment as Civil Ritual: Making Cultural Sense of Mass Incarceration”).

Also on the agenda yesterday was our own Allen Mendenhall presenting: “Holmes and Dissent.”.

More on today’s proceedings later today.

Introducing Brian McCabe to the Table 2

It is my pleasure to welcome Brian McCabe, who will be joining us at the Table.  Brian’s interests include modern/ contemporary poetry and theology and religion.  Brian has written about the Jesuit thinker Patrick Kavanagh in an essay published by New Directions earlier this year titled The Passionate Transitory: The Jesuit Metaphysical Poetics of Patrick J. Kavanagh.

Brian, please have a seat at the table!

The Return… Reply

Wow! It seems like I’ve been gone for a while. I’m sorry to have been gone so long, though the good news is that I have a enormous amount to post…

For those of you that have been wondering where I have been, I have been researching a project I am writing on the way property norms transcend property law — that is, how we transfer our expectations of private property into areas where the law won’t protect private property. I am looking forward to sharing much of my work in the next few weeks. But, to give you some hints, I have been riding metro-trains, sitting on surf boards, hanging out with the homeless, visiting roach coaches, visiting mosques, talking to street performers, and more.

In the mean time, to make up for my absence, here is a poem by Ezra Pound…

The Return

See, they return; ah, see the tentative
Movements, and the slow feet,
The trouble in the pace and the uncertain

See, they return, one, and by one,
With fear, as half-awakened;
As if the snow should hesitate
And murmur in the wind,
and half turn back;
These were the “Wing’d-with-Awe,”

Gods of the wingèd shoe!
With them the silver hounds,
sniffing the trace of air!

Haie! Haie!
These were the swift to harry;
These the keen-scented;
These were the souls of blood.

Slow on the leash,
pallid the leash-men!

Thinking about the True History of the Kelly Gang: Billy the Kid, Jesus and Us. 4

So I have been feverishly working away on a Copyright article, but looking up from behind a starbucks table, I read with great interest Andrew’s post on the True History of the Kelly Gang.  How true it is that outlaws capture our imagination and do shape the law.   Eduardo Penalver and Sonia K. Katyal make this point brilliantly in their monograph Property Outlaws:  How Squatters, Pirates and Protestors improve the law of property.

But besides improving the law of ownership (which I agree it does), outlaws have different conceptual points of view for Americans.  Outlaws tell us quite a bit about what our culture thinks about the law. Two particularly telling outlaws are Billy the Kid and Jesus of Nazareth.

In Stephen Tatum’s Inventing Billy the Kid, the author notes that the Kid’s elusive character may render his subject almost indiscernible for historians.  Making the matter more difficult is the role Billy the Kid has played mirroring the American social dynamics of the time.  For instance, Tatum shows that in the earliest representations of Billy the Kid, the American need for order amidst changing industrial upheaval was reflected in a “satanic” kid hunted down and killed by a valiant law man. When America was unhinged by Government scandals and economic collapse  in the 1920’s and 1930’s, Billy the Kid was a defiant, individualist set amidst a tragic backdrop.  And in the 1950’s, Billy the Kid was used to reflect upon the distemper of collective middle class conformity, placing him “at odds with a society not worth redeeming.”  Indeed, Billy the Kid represents for America the perfectly ambiguous character — defiant when he has to be, oppressive when we need him to be, and all the while able to do so without necessarily articulating these traits.   Unfortunately Tatum’s analysis ends in 1981, leaving out the classically 1980’s Bon Joviesque Billy the Kid in Young Guns and Young Guns II. (Bon Jovi did play a part in the sequel, besides penning the movie’s anthem in true hair band style — “Blaze of Glory”).  Though I believe that the Young Guns movies perfectly identify the Kid with American Society — wandering, unsure of its identity, seeking to be known for something — (Just ask  Gen-X or Baby Boom fellows what its like to follow the Greatest Generation…).

In a fascinating way, Stephen Prothero makes the same points about Jesus of Nazareth in his book American Jesus: How the Son of Man became a Cultural Icon. From Thomas Jefferson’s wisdom-loving, parable saying nomadic purveyor of sayings, or its protestant’s desire to humanize Jesus by making him a moralist as opposed to a miracle worker following the Civil War, to the 1960’s free-love hippie LSD Jesus Christ Superstar, we seem to culturally appropriate narratives onto the life of Jesus which may or may not be accurate. But accuracy is not so much the point as identity.  Indeed, as Prothero shows, Jesus has been reimaged by virtually everyone –” protestants, catholics, pentecostals, jews, muslims, Hindus, gays, blacks, feminists, hippies, atheists, rappers; while Christian insiders have had the authority to dictate that others interpret Jesus, they have not had the authority to dictate how these others would do so.”  But more importantly, according to Prothero (and I agree) it probably does not matter that these images are accurate in regards to Jesus — a mystical figure who we will probably never truly know everything about– what’s more important is that they are accurate reflections of us.

In the same way that The True History of the Kelly Gang forces us to ponder the role of historical narrative in our search for cultural meaning, Billy the Kid and Jesus of Nazareth forces us to ask central questions of believability — this time, the question is whether we can believe ourselves and the cultural narratives we are telling rather than whether we believe their stories that we tell.

What other outlaw stories are there in Literature?   And please, enjoy the Bon Jovi Blaze of Glory Video — To have hair like that…. again…

Announcements: New Additions to the Zotero Project/ Call for Contributors 1

The Zotero Project. Thanks in large part to Andrew Adler’s sending a wonderfully put together bibliography, we have added some substantial resources to the Billy Budd collection at the Zotero project (and there is still more to add)!

William Faulkner. I have added a link to some recordings of William Faulkner from his days at the University of Virginia.  The Faulkner recordings are available either through iTunes or through the University of Virginia Library (which is linked through the Zotero site). They are quite intriguing.  I plan to run a series of Faulkner coming up shortly, so stay tuned.

Call For Contributors:  I have been lucky to have such wonderful and thoughtful contributors as Patrick, Allen, and Andrew at the Table.  But we would like to hear from you as well.  Drop me a line at warren[dot]emerson[at]gmail[dot]com and let me know if your interested in contributing.

Some Advice (and Demands) of New Law Students 3

I have decided that this year, I am going to include some advice and demands of my law students beyond the normal variety.  I have prepared a letter describing that advice.  What do you think? What would you add?  What would you take out?

As you begin your law study (and law career) things are moving quickly around you.    You are building new relationships, continuing old ones that will have to adapt to your new surroundings, and engaging in a life-altering, rigorous study of the legal discipline.  Some of you chose to be lawyers because of family.  Some of you chose to become lawyers for the money.  Some of you chose to be lawyers because of some meaningful interaction with the law some years ago.  Some of you chose to become lawyers to pursue justice.  Some of you had other reasons.  Whatever was the basis for your decision, I am glad you made it.   It shows that you are willing to take up a challenge.

Let’s be honest for a moment.  Some of you that start will not finish law school.  Some of you will decide that you would rather do something else.  Kudos to you for making that decision!   You came and tried the law and decided that it just wasn’t for you.  Frankly all of you come to law school without significant personal experience being a lawyer.   Its ok to decide that you do not want to be a lawyer.  Some of you will not be able to handle the rigors of law school’s academics.  Don’t get me wrong — we think you are capable.  But some of you will decide that other things are more important than engaging in the type of study that law school requires.  Some of you will face insurmountable obstacles that just don’t allow you to devote yourself to legal study.  Let me say right now: that’s ok too.   Some people are just not meant to be lawyers.   It may be because they have more important work ahead of them.  Or it may be that the timing is just not quite right at this moment.   Seasons of life change slowly, and often we do not obtain the perspective necessary to know whether we should have stayed with something or not until years down the road.  Don’t worry.   Do your best and make the best decisions you can.

Now for some advice and demands, if I may.

First, be diligent in your work. Law school can feel overwhelming.  Trust me, it is overwhelming.  But you can make it and you can succeed.   What you can’t do is just coast by.  Remember that you are sitting next to people every bit as smart and talented as you are.  For every minute that you are not working, someone else is working and gaining.   Maintain a discipline of devotion to your studies – force yourself to work hard and not accept shortcuts.   Treat this like a job.   Designate reading hours for each week and keep to your schedule like you are being paid to do so.

Every year, students ask me what supplements I recommend. And every year, my answer is the same: your textbook is a supplement to our class periods; your notes are a supplement to the textbook; and my lectures are a supplement to your inquiry into both.   Class supplements train your brain to be lazy in the disciplines of the primary things we do as lawyers – thinking.   When you purchase a supplement you are allowing someone else to think for you.   That will short-circuit your brain over time and leave you impaired. If you do choose to engage supplements, do so cautiously and in a very limited form.

Along those lines, don’t wait to begin your fidelity to diligence. Begin now with setting out the plans for how you think you will attack this course of study.  Two things about that.  First, don’t expect those plans to remain the same.  Be flexible and allow them to change as they need to in order to meet your study demands.  Second, don’t think that intelligence or other factors will make up for a lack of discipline.  There is a fable of a boy who owned a corn field.  Everyday he would wake up and say, I’ll hoe the corn tomorrow.   Finally, the corn grew up so tall that rot began to set in.   Still, the boy said, I will hoe my corn tomorrow.  In early September, an early frost came and wiped out the boy’s corn crop.   The moral of the story is start developing your work discipline now.  I can assure you, December will be here before you know it.

In maintaining your discipline, don’t assume that you will be taught anything. This sounds odd doesn’t it?  After all, you entered law school to learn from people, like me, who have had successful careers in the law.  Notice I did not say that you would not learn.  But law school is not a process in which you are given information to digest.  Rather, you must engage actively in the learning process.  Thus, expect that you will do a lot of self-learning, self-reflecting, and gain some understanding from that process.  When you come to class, we will challenge your learning and understanding, and hopefully refine it in a way that forces you to reenter your textbook and re-examine what you thought you learned. Thus, class can be at times a demoralizing and often frustrating time.  Be open to understanding and allow your Professors to challenge your knowledge.  Let me say, I know this is an exhausting process.  However, you will be a better law student, a better lawyer, and a better person by engaging in the type of discipline that assumes that you have created a base level of knowledge to work from.

Second, in your devotion to being diligent about work, communicate with those in your lives about what you are doing. Trust me, they do not want to hear it all.  Trust me, they will tell you to stop very often.  Rather than communicate about what you are learning, communicate about the process.  Be honest with them about what you like, what you hate, what you are scared of, and what you expect to be coming out of this process.  We often assume when we take on life-altering processes that everyone in our lives are on board for the change as well.  That’s not always the case.   Remember: You are the one that is in law school.  You are the one that is changing.  And you are the one with responsibilities and obligations to your professors and classmates.  Your significant other, your partner, or your family may not be on board completely.  You will find out soon enough.   The most important thing you can do is communicate with them about this process and what you expect all along the way.

Finally, don’t assume that law school is only about learning the law. It’s not, though a great deal of our time is spent doing so.  Law school, as part of the liberal education tradition, has a role in shaping you as a human being.  We are also a professional school in that you are being trained to enter a profession.   Part of being an engaged, and learned human, and being a member of the legal profession, is the ability to critically assess your knowledge and experiences against other people’s knowledge and experiences.  On a personal level we call this self-awareness.  When applied to the law, we call it policy.   Let’s be clear about both.  In order to do well at being both a human being and at being a lawyer, you have to both know the subject and be able to assess where it is going and where it should go.  As a human, you have to know yourself to understand how to adapt.  In the law, you have to know the “black letter law” before you can assess where the black letter law will go.  Law school will do its share of teaching you not only the law, but how to critically analyze the law (and hopefully yourself too).  Don’t resist either part, and don’t assume you can do one without the other.

To that end, be engaged!  You will enjoy law school more, do better, and become a better thinker, and therefore a better lawyer.  You will be thrust into classrooms where there are people from many many different backgrounds and experiences.  Embrace those people, particularly the ones who are different than you.  Learn from them.   Allow your own beliefs and thoughts to be challenged, even the sacred ones.  Particularly the sacred ones! Trust me, if they are meant to stand the test of time, not even law school will overcome them.    Remember, law school, like every other hard venture you undertake will help you put miles on your soul – some of those miles include laughter, some include crying, and some, just are hard!

Because law school puts you in contact with so many different people, remember one key piece of advice and a demand if you are in my class – be courteous to everyone. Remember, your faculty, fellow students, and the staff that make this wonderful law school work are entitled to, and deserve your respect.   As trying as law school is, there is no excuse for discourteous behavior.   Little things matter – being on time to class, being prepared, saying thank you to staff members who assist you, speaking in proper tones – these things are very important.  As an NYU business professor has said, these things in and of themselves will not make you successful – but failure to master them will certainly hold you back and prevent you from achieving the great possibilities that no doubt your talent and intellect prepare you for!  As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “There is always time enough for courtesy.”

And don’t confuse your Professor’s attempt to frustrate you or challenge your thinking as discourteous behavior. The same is true when we may show intolerance for laziness, lack of preparation, or inartful expressions.  All of these things are for your benefit.   Your Professors are interested in your development and success.   That should be the default assumption regarding any actions that your Professors take towards you.   Until there is evidence to the contrary (and I don’t mean your grade in a particular class) you should assume that your Professors (each one of them) are vitally committed to do whatever it takes to develop you as a law student, lawyer, and more importantly a human being.

And along the lines of courteous interactions, be helpful to everyone – including your fellow students. Share outlines and notes with each other.  Be a resource for each other.  Discuss together.  In short, be a community for each other.   I learned the most by helping friends understand.

Finally, a word of advice to those of you who are more successful than your peers.  Be humble about your accomplishments. Don’t brag.  Be measured and restrained in your accomplishments.  Trust me, there will be many opportunities to celebrate your well-deserved accolades.   However, boasting of your own accomplishments creates an atmosphere of distrust and disdain.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The louder he spoke of his virtue, the faster we counted our spoons.”  Decide to believe that everyone, yourself included, are smart capable people.  Do not discount anyone.   Instead resolve to do your best and allow your successes, whether measured or great, to speak for themselves.

You are an accomplished group.  Welcome to the next phase of your life.  Embrace it.  Enjoy it, as hard as it may be.  Allow it to put miles on your soul.