an appealing evenhandedness
what are the top 5 words you'd hate to read in a review of your work? for me, the list would include terms such as sloppy, vainglorious, reprehensible, feeble, and depraved.
ok, what about words you'd love to see? hmm. that's a bit tougher. i would have believed that i'd most treasure descriptors such as thoughtful or insightful or clever -- assuming, of course, that visionary, sexy, thrilling, and spine-crushingly cool* are off the table.
well, after reading jason deparle's thoughtful** review of locked out in the current new york review of books, i've learned that two phrases are even better than spine-crushingly cool: (1) an appealing evenhandedness; and, (2) exacting and fair.
no, it ain't sexy. at the end of the day, however, a social scientist takes particular pride in conducting research to exacting standards and presenting it in a fair and evenhanded manner. here's hoping people can say the same thing when i pass the boomerang along to a new department chair.***
* spine-crushingly cool is klosterman's fine phrase. uh-oh. once i add one footnote, more are sure to follow. i can write a 30-page paper without any notes, but once i break the seal i'm up to note 39 within a few pages.
** see, isn't thoughtful nice? who wouldn't want to be called thoughtful?
***that is, unless fair is used in the "less than good" sense and "exacting" appears in verb form with reference to extortion (e.g., "though vainglorious and reprehensible, uggen might have been a fair to middling administrator if he hadn't started exacting bribes from graduate students").