My friend and colleague William Bedford Clark has a delightful poem called “Tenure Deliberations” in his new volume Blue Norther (Texas Review Press, $14.95):
Of the long table where the Chair convenes
Our meeting. What we say must not be said
Outside this room. We adopt this strict means
Against litigation. Bile and rumor
Move among us as silent witnesses,
While we debate journals, imprints, ardor
In the classroom, what a reviewer says.
Six years, up or out! Nothing personal . . .
But the grim stakes are higher still, for we
Are in the dock; each candidate’s record
Serves as rebuke or vindication. All
Here must judge themselves too and secretly
Cower in what peace tenure may afford.
In Grand Strategies, which I will be reviewing for Commentary, the longtime diplomat Charles Hill says that the line dividing “precivilization” from civilization is crossed when justice replaces status. Status is related to family or clan; justice is one of the foundations of the state: