Tuesday, January 9, 2018

So long 'Crotchets & Quiddities' and thanks for all the ... everything

Since 2001, our very own Ken has been writing thoughtful, illuminating, and mighty thought-provoking essays in Evolutionary Anthropology, and in November's issue he wrote his last.

In it, Ken writes,
I began this series by explaining my curious title for the series: crotchets are eccentric or idiosyncratic opinions and quiddities are philosophical quirks or even intangible ideas. I said that I wanted to “examine some of our assumptions, to simulate thought about them.” I have hoped to stimulate readers to think about things evolutionary for themselves, because I think we are all far too prone to expound neat or convenient stories as if they were true, when Nature often seems to be a lot more frustratingly complex and subtle.
As a young graduate student, when he started the column, I remember thinking how radical his ideas were and wondering how on earth I could ever get to the point of being so creatively curious, of having enough knowledge to provoke so much valuable insight, and enough generosity and audacity to share it with others. It wasn't easy gunning for a glimpse from his point of view while I could barely keep up with my fundamental grad coursework, but Ken's bigger messier reality, compared to the controlled minutia of my paleoanthropological research, was a major part of what kept me going, and what kept me sane too if that makes any sense. You might imagine how rewarding it was for me to eventually co-author two C&Q columns with Ken.

During these many years of C&Q columns, only some of us were lucky enough to regularly have Ken's influence in person in the halls, labs, offices, and classrooms of Penn State's Carpenter Building where the Anthropology Department lives. But the C&Q column extended his spark and spirit out of Carpenter and into our community so vividly that readers must feel like they too can call Ken their professor, their mentor, or their colleague based on the relationships he forged with their brains on those pages. If you somehow missed out, all his columns are archived in one spot for convenience at the end of Ken's last, right here.

It's the end of an era, but not before it was the start of something beautiful, first!

Now, if they don't already, please let C&Q readers know they should continue to benefit from Ken's insight here, on the Mermaid's Tale, with the rest of us. As Ken has written, "It's a thought, at least."


Ken Weiss said...

Aw,thaks so much, Holly!

jtr said...

I remember reading, "A toe, a tooth, and a vertebra: the genetic dimensions of complex morphological traits" in Evol Anthropol before C&Q was a regular column. I was fascinated by his line of thinking and inspired to learn more. Ken in one of the major reasons I moved my lab to Penn State.

Holly Dunsworth said...

That's really cool, Joan.

Ken Weiss said...

Holy cow! Joan, it may really be cool, as Holly says, but it's a scary, starkly cold thing for me to see. Because, I had forgotten about that paper--totally! I had to check to confirm that, at least, I had it listed on my CV. 1993 was 25 years ago! So Joan, bless her, was digging pretty deep (or far back) in the barrel to remember it. Actually, looking at it, it's a pretty decent paper for someone as ignorant as I was then. In fact, I know much, much more about this topic now---no small thanks being to interacting with the good Joan herself for many years!