Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Content with details …

… Complete Poems by RF Langley review – subtlety and flashes of clarity found through ant-like observation | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Critic's choice …

… Best poetry books for February: It’s not just about love - The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Neat …

… A Pop-up Museum Documents the Stories of Philadelphia's Black Women | Innovation | Smithsonian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



I wonder where she lives in Germantown. I lived there for 20 years, and was born in Germantown Hospital.

On the other hand …

… Review: ‘Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth’ by A. O. Scott — The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“People say this kind of thing all the time,” Scott explains. “Magazines publish surveys in which celebrities are asked to name the book, film, or song that changed their lives.” Indeed they do. Why is this important? Who cares what celebrities do? The vulgarization of “you must change your life” into the American pastime of personal growth may be less an indictment of Rilke and his preferred state of concentration, and more an indictment of us and our preferred state of dispersal. When it comes to the question of what bearing the lower realities of American culture should have upon its higher ambitions, Scott regularly acquiesces in too much. “Culture now lives almost entirely under the rubric of consumption,” he proclaims. Speak for yourself, friend. The fight for the integrity of aesthetic experience is not over. Scott is not a fighter, he is a man on the scene.

A poem …

Deus Absconditus


“Mother Teresa … lived much of her life tormented by doubt. … looking for God’s face … often all that stared back at her was the face of human suffering.”
— Richard Rodriguez

I see now
What I missed: How
You were always there,
Looking through the eyes
Of those afflicted, their gaze
Revealing a presence I mistook
For absence. I see now
In the beauty of their pleading
You were always there,
Your voice sounding
In the weakness of their sighs.
Day after day you revealed
Suffering’s aloneness, your own
Sense of abandonment,
Transparent love I took
For emptiness. I could not turn
Away, held steady beneath
The solemn weight of doubt,
I see now.

A reader sent along this (post bumped):
 

The way it wasn't …

… The Top 3 Myths About Beatlemania | PJ Media.


For the defense …

… The Critic's Job and Why It Matters | Books and Culture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Better Living Through Criticism is not a how-to manual for aspiring critics, but something much better: an intelligent, lively defense of criticism itself and, thereby, a backdoor argument for bringing both one's intellect and gut to bear on one's experience of art. Which is simply to say that Scott wants us to act like humans—not merely brains on sticks, not only bundles of emotions—when we encounter the things that other people create.

Doing the Pope's bidding …

After Mass this morning, our pastor told us that the Pope had requested that those of us who got ashes for Ash Wednesday take a selfie and show it around. Here's mine.

Something to think on …

Clap an extinguisher upon your irony if you are unhappily blessed with a vein of it.
— Charles Lamb, born on this date in 1775

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Mysterious skepticism …

… 194 – Afield Notes. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This isn't good …

… The Press In Hillary’s Purse | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

That is not how journalists are supposed to behave, to put it mildly.

One per person …

 The Odds of Dying.

Dim bulbs in my own backyard …

… and at a select school, no less: Instapundit —  THE MOROZ FAMILY – FROM THE SOVIET UNION TO THE LIBERAL GULAG.

In a school system where socialist “justice” prevails, it’s a safe bet that much of the dark history of socialism is forgotten. Just ask these young Philadelphia-area skulls full of mush, as a much more rigorous educator from a more civilized era might describe them ….

Probably not the last, though …

… do you cli-fi?: America's First-Ever ''Cli-Fi Book Club'' Sets Up in Minnesota -- with more nationwide to follow.

Perhaps …

… Imagining the Weimar Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



The problem for me with some of these is the preachy social justice business.

Careful what you wish for …

… Beyond Eastrod: "A Quiet Life" and a wistful desire for time-travel.



I've always had a fondness for the Middle Ages, but I doubt if I'd want to visit them. In fact, I rather doubt I'd want to live at any time before the discovery of antibiotics and the development of modern surgical techniques. Good to remember Miniver Cheevy.

The trouble with taxonomy …

… I Am Not a Kook - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I know Lionel, but am surprised to learn that she is a fellow libertarian. I happen to think that abortion is wrong, but I do not favor outlawing it. I also do not want to pay for it. I also don't support assisted suicide. But, as a Catholic, I learned in my ethics class in college that I am not obligated to take any extraordinary means to preserve my life (I am obligated to take ordinary means). When I learned that, I resolved not to take any extraordinary means to preserve my life. But, as Thomas Marshall, my favorite Vice-President, said when explaining his opposition to capital punishment, “I do not believe it rests in human hands to say when a life shall cease.”  I have had in my life an uncommon acquaintance with suicide. I think it is best avoided.

Something to think on …

In science, read by preference the newest works. In literature, read the oldest. The classics are always modern.
— Amy Lowell, born on this date in 1874

Monday, February 08, 2016

RIP …

 Margaret Forster obituary | Books | The Guardian.

The poet and his wishes …

… RANSOM, THE EQUILIBRISTThe Collected Poems of John Crowe Ransom. Edited by Ben Mazer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ransom kept revising his Selected Poems into his eighties, but this is the first Collected, and includes not only Ransom's three volumes of poetry, but poems added in assorted ‘Selected Poems’, uncollected work (mostly sonnets, including a sort of aggregate sonnet, ‘Autumn Love’, consisting of three octaves and a sestet), an eye-opening section of poems reworked in ‘Distinct Versions’, prefaces, introductions, an index of titles and first lines, and a compendium of textual variants. Often referred to as a ‘major minor’ poet, Ransom has fallen in recent decades into some obscurity – I inevitably have to gloss his name for students, even though they are likely to have come across one or two of his masterpieces in anthologies. This volume should go some way to rectifying this state of affairs.

Good to know …

… No Writer Is An Island | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Oscar Wilde, Plato, and Hank Williams …

… together at last: Maverick Philosopher: Saturday Night at the Oldies: The Perils of Pleasure on the Lost Highway.

Terrible …

… do you cli-fi?: News for international community about Taiwan's recovery (and search) efforts for survivors of the 2/6 Killer Quake.

Q & A ...

… Kareem Abdul-Jabbar | Conversations with Tyler — Conversations with Tyler — Medium. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A lovely work …

Resurrected darling …

… Beyond Eastrod: Kate Chopin's birthday celebration (and a question about other literary "darlings" who have been "resurrected" from the past).

Mysterious ways …

… Chad Bird on the novelist as priest | Brandywine Books.

Should you wish to …

… Setting Up Your Indie Company | Bill Peschel.

"Snow" as a verb …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `All Strange Wonders that Befell Thee'.

A dutiful revisionist …

 The Contours of American History (Modern Library Nonfiction #94) | Reluctant Habits.
… Williams was far from a typical progressive. He was a registered Republican when he first came to Wisconsin. He voted for Nixon as the lesser evil in 1960. And even inContours, he defended Herbert Hoover’s hands-off Depression era policies, seeing this as a necessary tactic to forestall property holders from creating a business-friendly fascism that could have had a more diabolical effect on our clime than the many Hoovervilles that had mushroomed across the nation. Williams argued that Hoover’s perceived failure to do anything represented a more active resistance against special interests than the Progressive Movement was willing to acknowledge or act upon at the time.

Un romancier …

… do you cli-fi?: Meet French writer of climate fictions (cli-fi) Mr Yann Quero.

Something to think on …

I have noticed that many who do not believe in God believe in everything else, even in the evil eye.
— Jules Verne , born on this date in 1828

With time past...

Welcome to...

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Infinite Jest...

...Turns 20. From the NYT.

RIP …

 Dan Hicks of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks Dies at 74. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As Ash Wednesday nears …

… Updated Invitation for Lent.

Measured accounts …

… Take the opening to Tacitus’ Annals, from the early second century AD –
urbem Romam a principio reges habuere.‘Kings first governed the city of Rome’This statement opens a famous passage in which Tacitus describes how the government of Rome transitioned from monarchy, to aristocracy, back to a virtual monarchy again under the Emperor Augustus. What is not so apparent, at least until we read the words aloud, is that they form a perfect dactylic hexameter – the very verse that, since Ennius, had been used by the Romans for the writing of epic poetry. There is no chance that this is just a coincidence. Aristotle calls the iambic trimeter the closest metre to natural speech, remarking that we often utter trimeters in conversation by accident – whereas no-one, he says, would ever unintentionally come out with a dactylic hexameter. And an artist of Tacitus’ calibre just does not do things by accident.

Good news …

… How the Internet will disrupt higher education’s most valuable asset: Prestige — The Washington Post.

Much on what he says …

… do you cli-fi?: Rightwing conservative higher education website criticizes the teaching of cli-fi classes on USA college campuses: Part 2.


Well, I'm not too big on the idea, either. Teach the classics, and let the new generation find its own way to write about what's going on in the world. There is a reason I quit grad school and gave up any dreams I may have had of finding a comfortable chair in the faculty lounge.