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William Ian Miller

Autor(a) de The Anatomy of Disgust

11 Works 636 Membros 9 Críticas 1 Favorited

About the Author

William Ian Miller is the Thomas G. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School.

Includes the name: williamianmiller

Obras por William Ian Miller


Conhecimento Comum



William Miller embarks on an alluring journey into the world of disgust, showing how it brings order and meaning to our lives even as it horrifies and revolts us. Our notion of the self, intimately dependent as it is on our response to the excretions and secretions of our bodies, depends on it. Cultural identities have frequent recourse to its boundary-policing powers. Love depends on overcoming it, while the pleasure of sex comes in large measure from the titillating violation of disgust prohibitions. Imagine aesthetics without disgust for tastelessness and vulgarity; imagine morality without disgust for evil, hypocrisy, stupidity, and cruelty.… (mais)
MarkBeronte | 5 outras críticas | Jul 15, 2021 |
William Miller was a year or so ahead of me in grad school, in one of 2 semesters I had on Chaucer, under Alice Miskimin & E. Talbot Donaldson. I never knew him personally. He did an ingenious structuralist-type interpretation of (if I recall correctly) The House of Fame which impressed me quite a bit. He rode a motorcycle and wore a leather jacket (kind of edgy in 70’s New Haven).

Eventually we both moved across the street from the Hall of Graduate Studies, he to law school, me to library technical services. Through some coincidence, his wife worked under me as a copy cataloger for a time, but left with him for Wisconsin, where I assume he got a job teaching law in the state of cheese & the Green Bay Packers. He started to publish books somehow combining his knowledge of Icelandic sagas and estate or tort law, or whatever law topics might be prefigured in Njal’s Saga.

I downloaded this book because, like him, I believe I’m starting to Lose It: marbles, memory, energy, and the other “its” you lose with aging. The book is entertaining and funny, and it was hard to avoid recognizing some of the troubling symptoms as they manifest in the bookish privileged like myself. One of the characteristics of the aged is a tendency toward rambling digression, and Miller manages to wander about sometimes, like a Montaigne essay (On Melancholy, maybe), though Miller’s allusions are to Norse poets and killers rather than Montaigne’s Greek and Roman icons. The digressions cleverly (intentionally?) play with the possibility that the author is losing it with age, or is using style as a performance of its subject.
Here are some quotes:

“The belief in the resurrection of the thirty-year-old body is sustained by our inability to think of our real selves as the wretched old people we are destined to die as, if we are lucky enough to live so long, just as we are unable to imagine ourselves as the babies we once were. ... One view, Thomas Aquinas’s, is that Christ chose not to grow old. Suffering the degradation of being incarnated as fully human is one thing but, says Thomas, having God suffer the indignities and failing powers of old age is quite another.”

“But now it seems, in some kind of poetic justice, that I have come down with ADD, the only difference being that I really do have it. My doctor actually prescribed Ritalin for me, which, as it turned out, my health insurance refused to cover for anyone over eighteen. Not willing to pay the unsubsidized price, my avarice, itself an attribute of old age, has kept me Ritalin-free and my mind wandering. ... Ambient noise, intrusive trivial thoughts, e-mail, stock prices, Green Bay Packer blogs variously and predictably plague me. “Nor is the story just one of forgetfulness triumphing over memory. The productive capacity to forget is decaying too. … Forgetting comes in more than a few flavors, some of them quite beneficent, like the ability to inhibit memories irrelevant to the task at hand that intrude and disrupt it, or the ability to forget insults or disses, or hated songs. For those things my memory is acuter than it ever was. It helps explain my late-onset ADD.”

“In fact, there is plenty of novelty for the elderly, thanks to our decaying memory. A book read before can now be read again with all the original joys of discovery. … Would that that could also be said of hearing the same story a second and third time told by a colleague or friend.”

“For all this glum talk of mine, I must confess to taking delight in simple vain pleasures (beer and a football game). … Delight is not quite the right word though, for the Packers make me suffer, win or lose, and at my age so does the beer.”

“You strove to reach it, you desired to achieve it, you were afraid you’d not reach it, and now, arriving, you complain. Everyone wishes to reach old age, but nobody wishes to be old.”

“Let us not even think about the collapse of the sense of touch, which now fails to warn you of large chunks of food you have managed to park on your chin, though your pain receptors seem to be working quite well, thank you.”

“Old age stymies revenge not only because it weakens you but also because it kills your enemies before you can.”

“After a certain time, we all head downward, but the transition states are awkward, like revisiting the inverted metamorphosis of puberty in which a young butterfly enters a cocoon and emerges a caterpillar with hair in unsightly places.”
… (mais)
1 vote
featherbear | Sep 10, 2019 |
This was certainly an interesting book! I've never really given any thought to the idea of disgust before (other than thoughts along the line of "oh my god what did I just step in"), so I was fascinated to read the potential relationships between disgust, class structure, morality, feelings of superiority, and sexuality.

I've noticed that I seem to have a much different concept of what is disgusting than that of my peers (nobody wants to look at the pictures of my recently excised tumor, for example), but after reading this I realized that there is a consistency among our views that I'd previously unrealized.

I tend to experience disgust in a moral/intellectual sense rather than the physical, and even though I don't seek out either feeling I am almost looking forward to the next time it happens so I can put my new perspective to use analyzing my feelings and seeing what they potentially say about me.
… (mais)
ratastrophe | 5 outras críticas | Nov 10, 2013 |
This was a fascinating book presenting a a far different, and more interesting, take on the meaning of justice than most people would form for themselves. Writing about various ages, from Mesopotamia to honour societies, from ancient practices to the formation of the modern court system, Miller presents modern justice as merely a codification of the concept of 'an eye for an eye'.

Referencing sources both modern and ancient, including the Bible, the Torah, Shakespeare and Harvard Law Reviews, Miller makes his point thoroughly and often. My main gripe with this book (and the one thing that prevented me from completing it) is that it tended to become quite repetitive - I feel it could have been quite a bit shorter. Having said that, the author makes some good points and this book is worth reading.… (mais)
seldombites | 1 outra crítica | Feb 15, 2012 |


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