November 04, 2006

A Tribute to The Elfin Ethicist

I was both shocked and saddened today to learn that my good friend Jonathan Wilson has decided to discontinue his blog of some years, "The Elfin Ethicist." His gravitas, his humor and his many high-quality contributions to our little circle of blogs will be sorely missed for as long as he exiles himself from self-publication. I happened to be talking with him when I discovered this, so of course my first impulse was to tell him how I felt personally. My second was to leave a few words of my own on his final post. And my third was to "relive" Wilson's blogging years, as it were, and to compile a few memories and old favorites here as a sort of tribute.

This marks yet another transition in our slow departure from The College Years. I've wondered over the past few months if my residence on campus this year is prolonging the agony of parting, like tearing a band-aid slowly off of a wound. But I'm not ready to let go just yet, and there are too many good friends still here for me to even begin to regret. Meanwhile, Wilson's decision feels like just one more connection severed between us and those wonderful times.

I'm not actually certain when Wilson started blogging. I believe it was during the summer (perhaps spring) of 2003, months before he encouraged me to do the same. For a more precise date I would need to ask one of the older bloggers (one of the Scholls, or even Wilson himself). His blog began, as many of ours did, at a blogspot address, and that original content has since been taken down.

The current Wilson archives begin in the spring of 2004 . . . the historian in me is horrified by the gap. And speaking of horrifying gaps, as I trolled through said archives I quickly noticed definite gaps where further posts have been culled from the published ranks (I have vague memories of Wilson doing this, I had simply forgotten). In particular I felt rather keenly the loss of a comparative essay on Secondhand Lions, Big Fish and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which I have revisited and even shared numerous times since its original publication. Where is that essay, Mr. Wilson?

Ah, well.

The following anthology is not meant to be comprehensive, or to really capture "the essence of The Ethicist" in any particular form. They were simply entries that jumped out at me as I scanned the past few years. I hope they will be revisited and enjoyed as such.

Quotations I & II

These two entries really brought the memories flowing back. Our "Quotation Booklet" days were always so much fun, and Wilson's inclusion of some of our finest gems was one of the highlights of blogrolling in its time.

The Yiddish Project

Remember this? Anyone? Such a mechaieh. Halevai, such hulien, such fun. I could just plotz.

A day in the life of Stupid Penguin

Wilson's unique version of stress relief sometimes resulted in some really great creative efforts involving nothing more than some free time, a camera and a few friends (along with the occasional prop).

Whatever is excellent, part I

Whatever is excellent, part II

When it comes to being a "Culture Warrior," Bill O'Reilly hasn't got the first clue. This sort of thing is where it's at, and I've always appreciated Wilson's ability to articulate the positions we share.

A recent call to Dr. Laura

Speaking of great creative efforts, I'm still not sure what inspired this hilarious exercise. Sheer whimsy. A true classic.

Spring Break Open Thread 2005

I'm sure everyone remembers these little rule-breaking games. They always wiled away the breaks very nicely. I won one at some point. I don't really remember which. Anna and Ma Hoyt took the prizes on this one.

The first duty of a doctor

In the absence of that excellent essay I mentioned earlier, I present another excellent film journal . . . Wilson's mid-summer encounter with Ingmar Bergman.


Another of Wilson's occasional recurring games (often cribbed from other sources, of course, but shared liberally nonetheless). I always liked this sort of thing.

In search of reform

Mmm. Such youthful idealism . . . ode to a Lost Cause.

First-person pronouns

A plea for growing up

Far be it from me to resurrect controversy, but I'm still rather attached to both of these posts, despite the firestorms of flaming they provoked. In addition to the fact that they gave me a chance to really think about and discuss something I felt strongly about (I always relish the opportunity), I think these discussions really taught all of us a lot about having a good discussion. I know they helped me a lot, at any rate. I credit these posts with the civil, productive nature of discussions on my own blog in recent months. Oh, be sure and jump to the bottom of the comments on that first post for good times . . .

Always greener

Ah, World. A consistent source of inspiration in the culture war. Posts like this were the reason I was pleased to discover that Wilson's mother has recently renewed his subscription to that publication.

History Carnival XXIV

Wilson was our reliable source for the History Carnival every time it rolled around with historical goodies for people of all persuasions. The one he presided over himself was particularly excellent, I must say. And I remember fondly the fun resources he brought in amidst his research and preparation, as well.

My quest for the Holy Grail

I recall trouble breathing when I first read over this journal for our Grail quest class last semester. Months later, it is still good for several chuckles and a few guffaws, and I doubt it will diminish any with age.

The Great Longview Marketing Tour

Another one of those creative bursts with good friends and a digital camera. We'd been planning this one for years, but the urgency of imminent parting finally made it happen.

Reading List

I wouldn't want to have a tribute without including a "Reading List:" Wilson's occasional submission of some of his best finds during his Daily Reading of the Internet.

How to write tendentious history

Wilson generates some pretty great lists when inspiration strikes. And they're didactic as well as entertaining.

Jonathan W. Wilson

Not from Wilson's blog at all, I thought it might be appropriate to conclude with Leatherwood's glowing commendation of Wilson himself.

Wilson, when you get the urge to start blogging again, be it tomorrow, next year, or even further down the road, don't hesitate just because I've thrown up a tribute for you. After over three years of running a top-notch blog that has enriched us all, you had one coming anyway.


Posted by Jared at November 4, 2006 02:32 AM | TrackBack