Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Selected pepigrams …

“Life is a zoo in a jungle” > All Aphorisms, All the Time. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Delightfully creepy …

Review of B.J. Hollars’ Dispatches From the Drowning: Reporting the Fiction of Nonfiction | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Sadly true …

… Poet Warrior Brian Turner: "As a Nation, We Go Too Quickly To War" | Miami New Times. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

FYI …

… AdviceToWriters - Advice to Writers - Sentences Must Be Dramatic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

What most experimenters take for granted before they begin their experiments is infinitely more interesting than any results to which their experiments lead.
— Norbert Wiener, born on this date in 1894

Searching for metaphors...

...Meghan Daum: 'I don't confess in my work – that implies guilt'
“Confessions are not processed or analysed; they’re told in a moment of desperation, to a priest or to somebody interrogating you about a crime.” If there’s any religious metaphor that explains Daum’s goals as a writer, it’s conversion: turning a particular experience into “something bigger, something that is universal” and, in the process, helping readers to see the world in a new, unsentimental light, emboldened to speak up about how they really feel.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's OK to call yourself a writer …

… Give Yourself Permission | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

In defense of Lovecraft, the writer …

… The Real Mr. Difficult, or Why Cthulhu Threatens to Destroy the Canon, Self-Interested Literary Essayists, and the Universe Itself. Finally. | The Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More than a figure of speech …

… Embodied cognition: Metaphors about the physical world help us reason. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

According to linguists George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in Metaphors We Live By, “[T]he very structure of reason itself comes from the details of our embodiment. … To understand reason we must understand the details of our visual system, our motor system, and the general mechanism of neural binding.” They mean not just that physical reality helps us think, but that mental functioning depends on corporeal experience. With their book, Lakoff and Johnson staked out a leading role for metaphor as a cognitive aid: Metaphor is that which ferries our attention between the knowable enclave of things and the veiled world of the intellect (or between the hot stove in your kitchen and your dangerously sexy new co-worker).

Ideas melding and morphing …

… The Letters of Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry | The Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Haiku

a day ablaze and bird song
gold and light and leaves
you and me wrapped in you

Something to think on …

Harmony is pure love, for love is a concerto.
— Lope de Vega, born on this date in 1562

Monday, November 24, 2014

Huh?

… British fear of Islamists and Saudi fears about atheists are two sides of the same coin | Brian Whitaker | Comment is free | The Guardian.

The treatment chosen by the Saudi government was to amend its anti-terrorism law to classify “calling for atheist thought in any form or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion” as a terrorist act.
I find the new atheists annoying, but I don't recall that Professor Dawkins or any of the others have committed any terrorist acts. The good professor may think we theists are fools, but I don't think he intends us any bodily harm. Anyway, I always thought there was a difference between thought and act.

The Tao of Stoicism …

… In praise of the logos — Philosophy and Life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Seneca also seems to have felt he had a relationship with God. "God is near you, he is with you, he is within you... a holy spirit indwells within us, one who marks our good and bad deeds, and is our guardian." Philosophy is nothing if not a promise that we can know the deity, and not primarily by our efforts but because God wills to be known to us. In another letter, he writes: "God comes to men; nay, he comes nearer, – he comes into men. No mind that has not God, is good. Divine seeds are scattered throughout our mortal bodies; if a good husbandman receives them, they spring up in the likeness of their source and of a parity with those from which they came. If, however, the husbandman be bad, like a barren or marshy soil, he kills the seeds, and causes tares to grow up instead of wheat." 

Encounters with serial killers …

… Essay Daily: Take One Daily and Call Me Every Morning: Andrew Maynard: Writing the Monster. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My take on...

Grand old bookstore …

… How the Strand Keeps Going in the Age of Amazon -- Vulture.

In large part because of Fred Bass. He’s pretty much the human analogue for the store’s gray column. His father, Ben, founded the Strand around the corner in 1927, and he was born in 1928. Ask him about his childhood, and he recalls going on buying trips on the subway with his father, hauling back bundles of books tied with rope that cut into his hands. (“Along the line, we got some handles.”) Ask him about the 1970s, and he’ll tell you about hiding cash in the store because it was too dangerous to go to the bank after dark. He’s 86, and he still makes buying trips, though mostly not by subway. “Part of my job is going out to look at estates — it’s a treasure hunt.” New York, to him, “is an incredible source — a highly educated group of people in a concentrated area, with universities and Wall Street wealth. The libraries are here.” Printed and bound ore, ready to be mined. 

Visual essay …

… Brenda Miller’s “Ordinary Shoes” Video | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Life as lived …

… Book Review: ‘True Paradox’ by David Skeel - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It’s good and right to debate questions like the world’s origin, of course, but those questions are pretty far removed from the experience of most people. With “True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World,” David Skeel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests changing the subject: “If we shift from origins to the world as we actually experience it, we will need to explain sensations like our sense of beauty and evil, as well as the puzzles of morals and law.” Each of these areas of experience contains paradoxes—real or apparent contradictions that, if we’re honest, are hard to make sense of. Mr. Skeel’s gentle contention is that the ancient creed of Christianity reckons with each in surprisingly satisfying ways.

The beauty of spiders …

… PHILADELPHIA POETRY: BY LEONARD GONTAREK (NOVEMBER).

Remembering …

… Paul Desmond At 90. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

I take a simple view of life. It is keep your eyes open and get on with it.
— Laurence Sterne, born on this date in 1713

Indeed …

… Beyond Eastrod: A villanelle worth reading and pondering.



I have been pondering that good night all my life. Part of my Catholic upbringing: regard each day as if it were your last. Of course, at my age, death is more of an eventuality than ever. Can't say I've ever feared it exactly. Dying? That's something else. That could be worrisome.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Wilde discovery …

.… Bits of Oscar Wilde, hiding in plain sight at the Free Library.

Great minds …

… The Inner Light | The Weekly Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

To his credit, Greenblatt doesn’t overstate his case. Many of the details of Shakespeare’s life are unknown, and how closely he might have read Florio’s Montaigne is unclear. But in a couple of plays, Shakespeare’s debt to Montaigne seems obvious. In “Of the Cannibals,” an essay about people recently discovered in the New World, Montaigne writes admiringly of natives who “hath no kind of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no intelligence of numbers, no name of magistrate, nor of politic superiority.” Very similar language appears in The Tempest, when Gonzalo considers the kind of society he wants to establish on the island where he and others have been shipwrecked. There’s another apparent instance of borrowing in King Lear, which includes a passage that seems cribbed from Montaigne’s observations about the ideal relationship between parents and children.

Out and about …

I leave for Mass shortly, and from there Debbie and I will head to the Curtis Opera Company, and after that to dinner. Blogging will resume tonight.

Reaffirming dignity …

… Eye of the Beholder | The Weekly Standard.

Hands off …

… Nasty bookplates | The Book Haven.

Good for those haven't, too …

Top Ten Books for Fallen-Away Catholics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Preview …

… Book Excerpt: Lisa Scottoline's "Betrayed".



There is one review in today's paper, but Philly.com hasn't linked to it.

Heroes …

… 'If We Left, They Wouldn't Have Nobody' : NPR.




A thought for today …

Art is always the replacement of indifference by attention.
— Guy Davenport, born on this date in 1927

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I rather liked them …

… Were the 1950s really that bad? | The Book Haven. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I grew up in the '50s and remember them fondly. And I still like Ike.

The latest fashion …

… Neuroscience Is Ruining the Humanities - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Further proof, if any was needed, that the university has become the place where ideas go to die.

Anecdotal evidence …

… A Fake Oral History of Allen Tate. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

incomleteness …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Memory (The Heart) - Frida Kahlo, Sonnet #213.

Hmm …

… Tayloring Christianity by Matthew Rose | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Davve Lull.)

“I am a Catholic,” our author is saying in so many (many) words, “because my experience of God is best explained by the spirituality found in radically holy Catholic lives. Such lives help me better understand the imperfect glimpses of a transcendent perfection that I perceive as God’s love. Christianity is true in that it is true to—faithful to—what is most evident in my life: its need for fulfillment and transformation by God’s love.”
This sounds about right to me.

Alasdair MacIntyre also diagnosed our culture as fatigued by the mutual antagonisms of rival traditions. MacIntyre, however, maintained a chastened confidence in the power of human reason to guide us toward the perfected understanding that is the end of all inquiry. Our confusions and disagreements, he wrote in his Gifford Lectures, “can be a prologue not only to rational debate, but to that kind of debate from which one party can emerge as ­undoubtedly rationally superior.”
My problem with this, as with this review, is that it comes close to turning reason into God.

Light-hearted scribes …

… Meet the Man Who Catalogs Medieval Cartoons - Modern Notion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



A thought for today …

The want of logic annoys. Too much logic bores. Life eludes logic, and everything that logic alone constructs remains artificial and forced.
— André Gide, born on this date in 1869

At the movies...