Monday, September 17, 2007


Today's blog is to celebrate, and respond to, an anonymous message that came this morning via the "Contact" facility on my website. It reads:

"Professor Cahill,
Your website is a godsend. Ironically, your approach is "new" to me. The so-called New Art History is all I've ever known; to me, it is "old", it is the orthodoxy. I cannot thank you enough for your generosity in sharing your knowledge online. No password. No subscription. No membership. Your writings have not only stimulated my interest in style-history and connoisseurship, but have also given me bountiful ideas for research in my soon-to-begin graduate studies. Your noble spirit has my deepest respect."

Blessings on whoever wrote that; it warms the heart of this aging academic, makes him feel he still has a function in his field.

It also inspires me to recommend, to anyone who wants to read the messages that embody what I most want to communicate to young people coming into the field, two of my CLPs ("Cahill Lectures and Papers") that were written especially with that purpose in mind. One is *CLP 112, a talk titled "Passing On the Torch," given at a celebration held on Sept. 18, 1993, planned by Joe Price to honor three senior scholars of the history of Japanese painting as they were nearing retirement: John Rosenfield, Tsuji Nobuo, and myself. The other is *CLP 176, "Visual, Verbal, and Global (?): Some Observations on Chinese Painting Studies," delivered at a one-day symposium organized by Jason Kuo at the University of Maryland on November 13, 2005; attached to it is "position paper" prepared for a public conversation with James Elkins the next day. Together, these two can be taken as embodying the deepest messages that I would want young historians of East Asian art, potential or practicing, to receive from me.

Note of advice: Clicking on "Writings of James Cahill" on the home page calls up the whole list of CLPs; but only those with asterisks* are in digital form and so readable on the website. Click once on the orange "Cahill Lectures and Papers" title at left, under Directory, and a long list of numbers, small and black, appears below. Clicking on any one of those calls up the paper.