Gramsci: Prison Notebooks

Prison Notebooks – Wikipedia

I like using the word hegemony. I like it a lot. I even made reference here recently to the hegemony of meat pies in Australia.

So I’m chatting to Janna today. Janna is not on this forum.

And Janna says, “If you want to know about hegemony, you’ve just got to read Gramsci. Prison Notebooks.”

And I say, “… I don’t read any more, babe. Just history.”

Now. Go to Google Images, and look up “Withering Look”

You got it?

Good. Because that’s what I got from Janna.

Janna then remembered that Gramsci just kept writing while he was in prison, and writing, and writing, because he had nothing better to do. Janna had not volunteered the information that Gramsci wrote THREE THOUSAND PAGES.

And bless her, Janna recommended a precis.…, linked from Wikipedia, is 800 pp. Does that count as a precis?

Suggestions about pre-reading reading welcome.

What is a four-tined fork called if a three-tined fork is a trident? Serious and not so serious answers welcomed!


3780 hits on Google.

Here’s a commercial instance:


The Coralign brand has a large variety of differents accessories tridents and quadridents to fit the threaded 6 X 100 shafts.

Take the name of your first pet and the name of the street you grew up on. What is your porn name?


I answer this with the assertion that I am secure in my masculinity! Secure, I tell you!

Fluffy St John.

… Wasn’t there a Bond girl surnamed St John? That’s right: Jill St. John

Like looking into a fricking mirror, I tell ya:

Answered 2017-01-17 · Upvoted by

Garion Hall, Owns leading porn site, since 2000.

Should I delete my answers which are of lower quality in order to raise the overall quality standard of my answers on Quora?

I am not Kat Rectenwald, as the following should show:

Nick Nicholas’ answer to Do any popular Quorans ever delete their answers?

(tl;dr: NOOOOOOOOO!!!)

And you, OP, are neither me nor Kat. So it’s impossible to make an absolute determination on matters of personal preference.

But let us lay out the considerations.


  • Your old answers may well be crap, especially if your Quora Kung-Fu did not emerge fully mature from the skull of Zeus, like mine totes did.
  • You know more stuff than you did, and you have better judgement now: you don’t want your past incorrect or ill-formed questions to represent you.
  • You take pride in your work.


  • Non-trivial effort in seeking, judging, and eliminating old answers. Especially if you’re garullous.
  • Damaging others’ content, in case they have referenced yours for whatever reason.
  • How often does an old answer of yours even show up in someone else’s feed? How often do you see someone year-old answer in your feed? To my mind, not often enough. So you’d be expending effort for a problem that will very rarely surface.
  • How often do you scroll down someone’s collected answers, all the way down to their answers from last year? Especially in the unpaginated Quora UI, which makes jumping back in time acutely painful. Once again: it will normally take work for an old answer to be surfaced.
  • If the Quora algorithms can tell an old answer is crap, they won’t surface it anyway.
  • You looooove every single word you have ever uttered. (Well, I do.) So you would never countenance deleting a single jot. (Well, I wouldn’t.)

The Con arguments are, admittedly, laziness, low return on investment, conceit (though so is pride in one’s work), and a small risk of linkrot. For many people, those Con arguments aren’t compelling. For me, they are, and it’s the Pro arguments that aren’t compelling.

How do Greeks feel about having such a big and influential history?

Ambivalent. See:

Nick Nicholas’ answer to Do many modern Greeks feel a sense of failure or perhaps inferiority when compared with their ancient Greek ancestors?

The feeling has been there for a very long time. Theodore Metochites in the 14th century lamented that the Ancients had said everything that needed to be said, so there was nothing left for his contemporaries to do. The Greek peasantry would make up stories about the pagan giants who built the inexplicable structures all around them.

The more superficial have translated the feeling of inferiority into the bombastic (“When we were building Parthenons, you guys were eating acorns”—noone that feels secure in themselves bothers to say that to Westerners). The more sensitive have had the feeling of failure gnaw at them.

Dimitra Triantafyllidou’s answer to Do many modern Greeks feel a sense of failure or perhaps inferiority when compared with their ancient Greek ancestors?

It is a mixed blessing: a treasure and a burden. It all depends on the view of the person carrying the legacy. Being Greek can be seen as an enormous honor and an opportunity. People struggle to grasp things that are obvious at first sight. You set yourself the goal to reach high and embark on the journey like Odysseus. […]

There are Greeks who despair of the road and turn to Lotus-eaters. I am sorry for them. They have missed the journey.

How can I become a field linguist and/or a historical linguist?

First part, you get the PhD. Margaret FalerSweany has got that covered.

Expect to have to do at least one postdoc too.

Now the fun part. How do you become an academic.

Nick Nicholas’ answer to What is your personal experience with obtaining a linguistics degree?

Did you run into any unexpected issues? Apart from the fact that you can’t become a tenured academic without

  • stepping on corpses
  • selling out and doing research in fashionable areas
  • coming to view both research and teaching as drudgery
  • having your career contingent on grants funding
  • having no free time, let alone time for research, because you spent half your life applying for grants, half doing admin, and the other half marking?

… Still here? OK:

Field Linguist:

Read Nick Nicholas’ answer to I want to be a linguist focusing on conserving languages. Should I do it?

You’ll need to get a job in a country that has a fieldwork tradition, and where grant authorities are prepared to fund you to go to Boingo Boingo (or wherever). Australia is a good country for that. So’s Germany (Max Planck). Bits of the US. But not, say, Italy or Spain.

There’s some chance of getting a gig as a language worker with an indigenous community. That’ll get quite political, you won’t be running your own agenda, the pay will be even worse, and you’ll be living in Boingo Boingo. Some people enjoy that. 🙂

Historical Linguist:

You’ll need to get a job in a country where historical linguistics is still taken seriously, or is put up with as a necessary evil adjunct to fieldwork of underdocumented languages. The former: Germany, UK, very small patches in the US. Most European countries, though in niche positions (e.g. lexicography). The latter: Australia I guess, and other fieldwork places, although you can kiss goodbye to any work on Indo-European.

There’s some chance of getting a gig as a language revival worker with an indigenous community. See above.

Academic Linguist at all.

See unexpected issues above. You will have to network; publish; chase fashionable work; work wherever there is a gig; put up with successive postdocs and penury; and be a good salesperson to grants bodies.

Many linguistics departments in most countries were created by baby boomers, in the post-Chomsky boom. (The boom in Australia was a bit later, and more fieldwork-driven.) Waiting for people to retire (or, failing that, die) is going to have to be part of your calculation.

… Z-Kat, you didn’t expect a positive answer from me, did you? 😉