Thursday, August 27, 2015
"How much sex did Virginia Woolf want? How much did she have? And what was the ratio between the two? The French writer and critic Viviane Forrester poses these as political, not prurient, questions. Her book, newly translated into English by Jody Gladding, won the Prix Goncourt de la biographie in 2009, four years before her death in 2013, aged eighty-seven."
From the TLS.
From the TLS.
… Review of *NeuroTribes*, by Steve Silberman. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
I hate to rain on the parade of this book because a) I love the topic, b) the author’s research is impressive, and c) the book is genuinely humane and tolerant and it will have an almost entirely positive impact on popular discourse. Still, I think that the original organizing themes in the work are mostly wrong.
… A Brutal American Epic by Charles Simic | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The crimes and vices of other countries are surely as bad, but is the violence among their citizenry as prevalent and as lethal, their brutality and sadism so commonplace, their acts of injustice as frequent as ours?Well, when it comes to murder at least, the U.S. doesn't make the Top 25.
… Article The Best Of Scribblers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
In his essay, “Gibbon’s Historical Imagination,” Glen Bowersock notes that Gibbon “treated the raw materials of ancient and medieval history much as a novelist treated the plot line.” Gibbon was a regular reader of novels. His admiration for Henry Fielding was unbounded. In Memoirs of My Life he refers to “the romance of Tom Jones, that exquisite picture of human manners [that] will outlive the palace of the Escurial and the imperial eagle of the house of Austria.” Gibbon never thought of writing fiction himself, yet, as Bowersock notes, he “shaped his truth as if it were fiction, preserving thereby the animation of human history and the art of the novelist.” As Simon Leys noted: “The novelist is the historian of the present and the historian the novelist of the past.”
Gibbon does write wonderfully, and his history is highly entertaining, but I have always found his opinions narrow and obtrusive. But I read him so very long ago that I should perhaps give him another look while I still have time.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
A Reading by Two Writers Who Explore the Lives of Outsiders
Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, August 21, 2015
Musehouse, a supporter of writers and the literary arts in the Philadelphia area, will host ALL BUT TRUE: THE MUSEHOUSE FICTION SERIES at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 5, 2015, at the Chestnut Hill Gallery at 8117 Germantown Avenue in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. Reading from their work will be two writers of fiction who explore the life of outsider characters: Nomi Eve, who will read from her novel, Henna House, and Mark Lyons, who will read from his short story collection, Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines.
Nomi Eve’s vivid saga, Henna House (Scribner, 2014), begins in Yemen in 1920, when Adela Damari’s parents desperately seek a future husband for their young daughter. An evocative and stirring novel about a young woman living in the fascinating and rarely portrayed community of Yemenite Jews of the mid-twentieth century, Henna House is the enthralling story of a woman, her family, their community, and the rituals that bind them.
Nomi Eve is the author of Henna House and The Family Orchard, which was a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection and was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award. She has worked as a freelance book reviewer for The Village Voice and New York Newsday. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Glimmer Train Stories, The Voice Literary Supplement, Conjunctions, and The International Quarterly. She teaches fiction writing at Bryn Mawr College and lives in Philadelphia with her family.
Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines (Wild River Books, 2014) is the debut story collection by Mark Lyons, who builds “story shrines” along U.S. highways and depicts the struggles, insights, and encounters of undocumented Mexican immigrants, hospital “lifers,” returning veterans, and highway philosophers, among other unforgettable characters. Many of the tales focus on descansos, the intimate shrines seen on roadsides and street corners.
Pushcart Prize nominee Mark Lyons is the Director of the Philadelphia Storytelling Project (PSP), where he uses digital storytelling in his work with teens and the immigrant community. Lyons’s past literary work includes writing, translating, and co-editing Espejos y Ventanas / Mirrors and Windows: Oral Histories of Mexican Farmworkers and Their Families. He was the director of the Farmworkers Health and Safety Institute and serves as the editor of Open Borders, the Wild River Review series of immigrant stories.
See the ALL BUT TRUE Facebook page for this event at https://www.facebook.com/events/511267032361083/
The event is free and open to the public and will include complimentary refreshments.
About Musehouse. Founded in 2011 as a nonprofit center for the literary arts, Musehouse offers classes and workshops in poetry, prose, memoir, fiction, and nonfiction for aspiring and accomplished writers, as well as readings, panels, and open mic nights. Classes and other literary events are offered at various venues throughout the greater Philadelphia area. For further information, contact Founding Executive Director Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno at email@example.com, by phone at 484-432-1792, or at Musehouse, P.O. Box 27268, Philadelphia, PA 19118. Visit Musehouse online at www.musehousecenter.com.
… Bristol University | News | August: Charles Tomlinson. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… How Jonathan Franzen Became Our Leading Moralist -- Vulture.
It has been weird watching Franzen become the heir to Mailer and Roth, a role that was never sought by DeLillo. His new phase is marked by his conviction that novels be animated by causes, and oddest of all might be his choice of crusades: against the cats that prey on migratory birds, for example, or the irresistible intrusions and distractions of the internet, which has come to obsess him. His political causes come with a whiff of connoisseurship (and of futility); he rarely raises his voice too loudly in the liberal chorus against outrages like torture or drone killings. His “I’m not a Luddite, but …” statements, on the other hand, are distinguished by their generic (and also futile) technophobia, mitigated only by his nostalgia for obsolete hardware and software: Whither WordPerfect 5.0? Whenever he surfaces as a critic of the internet, it’s hard to tell whether he’s stumbled into the fight blindly — or whether he’s just trolling. But his complaints are so commonplace they must be from the heart, which isn’t to say he doesn’t take a perverse pleasure in trolling.
… The Claremont Institute | Recovering the American Idea | Conservative public policy think tank | Conservative Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… Cartesian dualism was by no means a desperate rearguard action against the scientific revolution; on the contrary, it was the logical outcome of the scientific revolution. Matter, on the scientific conception, is comprised of colorless, soundless, odorless, tasteless, meaningless particles in fields of force, governed by mathematical laws which describe how these particles happen to behave, but no purposes for the sake of which they behave. To be sure, we might, when doing physics, redefine certain qualitative features in terms of some quantifiable doppelgänger. Color, for example, can be redefined in terms of a surface’s reflection of light of certain wavelengths. Sound can be redefined in terms of compression waves in the air. But these redefinitions, which even a blind or deaf person can understand, do not capture the way red looks, the way an explosion sounds, and so forth. Color, sound, odor, and taste as we perceive them can—given the scientist’s essentially Cartesian conception of matter—exist only in the conscious experiences of an immaterial mind or res cogitans. Meaning can exist only in this immaterial mind’s thoughts. Purpose can exist only in its volitions.
… The Great Bob Dylan Conspiracy - Hit & Run : Reason.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… Thurber Prize for American Humor Announces First All-Female Trio of Finalists - Speakeasy - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… Pat Banks, 61, editorial assistant at The Inquirer.
Pat was a dear colleague of mine, one of the sweetest, funniest people I've ever known. Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord and may perpetual light shine upon her.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
… William Jay Smith, former U.S. poet laureate, dies at 97 - The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
… Episode 131 – Ever After | Virtual Memories.
John Clute, winner of multiple Hugo Awards and World Fantasy Awards, joins the show to talk about the history of science fiction, its market-based ghettoization and eventual superseding of realist fiction, the advantages of reaching one’s 70s and what it means to live after one’s time, his bar-coding model of identity and interaction and the loss of prestige, why the loss of streetcars explains so much about our time, and more!
… 50 years ago today the word “hypertext” was introduced | Gigaom. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… What Science Can Tell Us About Bad Science — The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
No wonder Norbert Wiener warned scientists against taking government funding.
A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reviewed 2,047 retractions of biomedical and life-sciences articles and found that just 21.3 percent stemmed from straightforward error,while 67.4 percent resulted from misconduct, including fraud or suspected fraud (43.4 percent) and plagiarism (9.8 percent) .See also: Deceptive temperature record claims.
No wonder Norbert Wiener warned scientists against taking government funding.
Monday, August 24, 2015
Hitler, Orwell writes, "knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene... they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades."
For good reason, the Atlantic's Graeme Wood quoted this same piece in his lengthy meditation on the worldview of the militants of the Islamic State. The militarist pageantry of fascism, and the sense of purpose it gives its adherents, echoes in the messianic call of the jihadists.Wood cites this passage in Orwell's review: "Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people 'I offer you a good time,' Hitler has said to them, 'I offer you struggle, danger, and death,' and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet."