Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Google Cognition: The Job Termination

In an earlier post on this blog I described my job termination in October 1991 by the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld in the following way:

When I was fired from my job at Akin Gump, when Dennis Race said he was terminating me, I said nothing. I didn't get upset or angry. I didn't get into an argument with him. I face reality calmly. I simply smiled at him, as if it wasn't my problem. Doesn't that say something about my personality?

I can recall reading the following article about literature professor Stephen Greenblatt in The New York Times Magazine in March 1993.  The article contains the following passage:

The essay Stephen Greenblatt has been working on at the moment began to take shape after he read an account of the interrogation and torture of Anne Askewe, a Protestant who had the misfortune of falling into the hands of Catholic authorities in 1545, during the last bloody years of the reign of Henry VIII.  She was asked "whether a mouse eating the host received God, or no?"  The point of asking this obscure question was to trap Protestants into making blasphemous declarations about the rite of communion celebrated at Catholic Mass, the nature of the Eucharist or the mystery of transubstantiation.  Anne Askewe avoided what Greenblatt refers to as "the mouse trap" by saying nothing at all--she merely smiled at her tormentors, as if to imply that it really wasn't her problem.  Begley, A. "The Tempest Around Stephen Greenblatt." The New York Times Magazine at 34, March 28, 1993.

Like Professor Greenblatt I am a Litvak.  I suppose it was unfair of me to fail to disclose to Dennis Race that he was dealing with a Litvak.  The stereotypical Litvak is unemotional, withdrawn, intellectual, and mercilessly critical; he challenges authority and is by nature skeptical, stubborn, and impatient with, and suspicious of, others.

I discuss Google cognition in an earlier post:


1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

Despite the linguistic contention among Litvaks and Polish and Galician Jews, and although Litvaks always made up a relatively small minority of the East European Yiddish-speaking Jewish population (on the eve of World War II there were approximately 1.3 million Litvaks out of some 7.5 million Yiddish-speaking Jews in Europe), the Litvak pronunciation of vowels was almost universally recognized as the correct one, and was the standard used for Hebrew and Yiddish instruction in Jewish schools throughout Poland, Galicia, and the Russian Empire from the late nineteenth century. The notable exception was the Litvak enunciation of oy as ay (e.g., Tayreh, instead of Toyreh, for Torah).

Oy veh? Give me a break! What did they think I was -- a Galicianer?