This is an academic blog.

As yet I have no grand designs for it, only a vague sense of what I may try to accomplish.  Certainly I want to follow other blogs.  I’m an eighteenth-century studies person by trade, a Samuel Johnson specialist as the quotation above my suggest, but my interests range quite a bit further afield than that.  Generally I hope to create a more flexible and interactive online presence than a faculty webpage and an email address allow, a more serious one than Facebook permits.  And my sentences are too periodic for Twitter.  Ergo, a blog.

As for that recondite quotation above, from which the title of this blog is taken: I needed a title.  I decided not to think for more than an afternoon; I’m simply not that creative.  So I leafed through favorite books, and I’ve returned to that passage and to Rambler 14 many times since I first read it as an undergraduate.  It’s always seemed to cut a number of ways.

I haven’t written any books, but I’m sure that if my students drop by, they’ll be tickled to confirm that I bring as much perplexity as illumination to the classroom.  And like all academics, I spend a lot of my life being impressed by distant prospects that, on closer inspection, in unexpected ways, turn out to be perplexed, narrow, and sometimes even a bit disgraceful.

I’m not sure whether it’s more apt to say that I’m frequently embarrassed by my own obstructions or obstructed by my own embarrassments, but I can say, with great certainty, that I do not smoke.