Monday, September 24, 2018

Good for her …

… SEE IT: Woman Chases Down, Attacks Man Who Groped Her — CBS New York.

You still have time …

… A Common Reader: Choose your madness: King Lear or King Lear. Or King Lear.

Sizing things up …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Emily Dickinson on the Brain.



Syllable and sound are like love and marriage — you can't have one without the other.

In case you wondered …

… How to write the perfect sentence | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The word “sentence” comes from the Latin sentire, to feel. A sentence must be felt by the reader, and a feeling is something that grows and fades like anything else that is alive. A line of words should unfold in space and time, not reveal itself all at once, for the simple reason that it cannot be read all at once.
Well, sentire also means to think, perceive, understand. Think of the sense one has of something. Sentence more directly derives from sententia, which means thought, opinion, judgment, etc. I'm not sure we should set about trying to write perfect sentences. Good, clear ones will do.

Annotated noir …

Revisiting an incorruptible knight in a corrupt world.
The editors note that in their annotated edition of “The Big Sleep” they trace the many veins of meaning into the intricate novel, which they call “a ripping good story.” The editors inform us that Raymond Chandler (July 23, 1888 March 26, 1959) did not think of himself as primarily a “mystery” writer, calling his novels and stories only “ostensibly” mysteries. But his work was confined within the limitations of genre fiction during his lifetime and many years after, even though he was lauded while he was alive by W.H. Auden, Evelyn Waugh, T.S. Eliot, Graham Greene and Christopher Isherwood.

Something to think on …

A dress makes no sense unless it inspires men to take it off of you.
— Françoise Sagan, who died on this date in 2004

Good Bye and there is no "other side" -- I am who I am

Frank posted on “transgenderism” which isn’t even a word.  The rest of the article was filled with similar stupidity, including a lack of any understanding of the science as well as uninformed speculation.  (For example, yes I knew I was trans when I was very young.)

To make it very clear there isn't anything substantive and real in the article, rather it is about one man’s opinion who doesn’t like people like me.  That makes it transphobic and hostile.  Same thing as an uninformed article about people who are different religions, colors, sexual orientations, etc. etc.

I deal with this all the time in life and work, pure prejudice based on ignorance.  I’m not dealing with it now here in Books Inq. where I was an invited blogger.

Crap.  I just wanted/needed one place.  This one came from nowhere and it hurt.

Take care all and good bye.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Against the grain …

… It’s not transphobic to question transgenderism | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So what sorts of, if you will, transgressive thoughts do acquaintances fear being overheard? They sometimes venture timidly that maybe, just maybe, telling three- and four-year-olds that they have to ‘decide’ what gender they are, before they’re old enough to entirely grasp what gender means, might be a little confusing. Or that perhaps adolescents whose brains are still developing should be discouraged from taking irreversible medical steps while they’re still figuring out who they are. Others might worry tentatively that swapping genders could seem to offer the troubled a cure for problems that are bound to survive surgery intact. Still others might puzzle over why so few gung-ho parents on those documentaries seem concerned about their kids’ capacity to reproduce.
It does seem to be the sort of decision best left when you’ve got some experience under your belt.

Skywatching …

… Jennifer Reeser's CLOUD BANK OVER BROKEN ARROW | National Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Take a look around …

 Great American Read: John Updike’s Shillington | WITF | WITF. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Edward Feser: Reply to Blackburn on Five Proofs. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Feser does a predictably fine job of defending himself, but I was taken by some other things Blackburn says.
"Functional explanations of the prevalence and survival of religions are not calculated to appeal to practitioners themselves …"
 This would come as a surprise to Rudolf Otto, author of The Idea of the Holy. Otto was a practicing Lutheran.
"I suppose that later ages can always be said to have inherited something from the past, but otherwise this is a bit like supposing that republicanism is a vision inherited from monarchism."
Well, there is a connection between the two. See the history of the Roman Republic.

Inquirer reviews …

 Sarah Weinman's 'The Real Lolita': A girl is kidnapped in Camden, and a great novel is written.

… Sarah Weinman, author of 'The Real Lolita': In search of the real Sally Horner.

… The first biography of Mr. Rogers ever published changed the man who wrote it for the better.

To say nothing of its devaluation …

… The coddling of American journalism | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Rick knows how this works. He’s become something of a bête noire for the #MeToo movement because his magazine runs controversial pieces and he refuses to apologise for them — even if it means upsetting some of his staff. Harper’s recently published another ‘confessions of male predator’ type piece from the disabled writer John Hockenberry, which was also deemed unacceptable. But Rick has stood by the piece and has weathered the Twitter storm, as he did last year when Harper’s ran a piece by Katie Roiphe that suggested the #MeToo movement was becoming unhinged.

Season of evanescence …

… First Known When Lost: Threshold.
We have seen this passing and vanishing before. But we never tire of it. Or we ought not to. If we ever do, our life may as well be over. This is the World we were made for.

Appreciation …

 Paul Davis On Crime: A Look Back At Eric Ambler, The Father Of The Modern Thriller.

Birthday — maybe …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Euripides — Happy birthday? Really?

...and the funnies...

Baffled as to how the potentially disastrous mistake could have gone unnoticed for so many years, White House sources confirmed Friday that roughly 417,225 hours of private presidential conversations were discovered immaculately preserved due to the fact that no one remembered to turn off Richard Nixon’s tape recorder. “Uh oh—it turns out that every single word that has been uttered in the Oval Office since the early 1970s has been perfectly recorded on this hidden device. This could be pretty bad,”

Something to think on …

Before you can begin to think about politics at all, you have to abandon the notion that there is a war between good men and bad men.
— Walter Lippman, born on this date in 1889

May you live in interesting times...Sunday morning edition

"Over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty, and the global poverty rate is now lower than it has ever been in recorded history. This is one of the greatest human achievements of our time,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim
The wealthiest 1 percent of the world's population now owns more than half of the world's wealth, according a Credit Suisse report.
And I just realized that latter statistic, which is symbolic of wealth inequality, has actually little historical data behind it, to give it context and show perspective.  Has the balance aways been that the wealthiest 1 percent own more than half (despite the "now")?  Or maybe even more tilted in the favor of the wealthy -- one would think Julius Caesar for example, would have had more than half of the world's wealth at his peak all by himself.  And since there has been no other time where, I think, the average person in the world has been better off than now, which is a measure in part of wealth, it might well be that wealth is more spread out than even before...

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The little engine that continues …

 Jung at Heart — Reviewing Carl Jung's persistent hold on our attention. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There really is some heft to Jung, and he certainly cannot be blamed because others misunderstand him. Modern Man in Search of a Soul is well worth reading.

Anniversary …

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Let the witch hunts begin (and continue).

I was just reminded of this …

… "Winter For A Moment Takes The Mind," by Conrad Aiken.

Chorus and light …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Tree Cricket and Firefly (Kitagawa Utamaro), Sonnet #423.

Revisiting the financial crisis...

'Wokeness' as quasi-religion...

May we all be so brave …

 Occupation Gone | From The River in the Sky by Clive James. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

I recommend you to take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.
— Lord Chesterfield, born on this date in 1694

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mark thy calendar …

AN OPEN POETRY READING presented by The Green Line Cafe Poetry Series & POETRY IN COMMON - 9/25/18 7PM

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THE GREEN LINE
CAFÉ POETRY SERIES &

P O E T R Y   I N   C O M M O N


PRESENT:

AN OPEN POETRY READING


Guest Host: JEN ANOLIK


Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 7 PM

Sign Up In Advance: jenanolik@gmail.com
Each Reader Has 5 Minutes


THE GREEN LINE CAFE IS LOCATED
AT 45TH & LOCUST STREETS
PHILADELPHIA, PA
(Please note the address, there are
  other Green Line Café locations.)

greenlinecafe.com

     This Event Is Free


Coordinator: JEN ANOLIK

Series Coordinator: LEONARD GONTAREK

This will not end well …

… Ian Buruma and the age of sexual McCarthyism | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Anyone who thinks this sort of thing does not invite pushback is at best naive. 
I’m with Margaret Atwood: “I believe that in order to have civil and human rights for women there have to be civil and human rights, period, including the right to fundamental justice, just as for women to have the vote, there has to be a vote,” she wrote. In regard to the specifics of Galloway’s case, she added, “a fair-minded person would now withhold judgment as to guilt until the report and the evidence are available for us to see. We are grownups: We can make up our own minds, one way or the other.”
There's also this:

Looks like fascism …

 … sounds like fascism, I’ll bet it is fascism: Le Pen & The Sovietization Of France | The American Conservative.

… because she shared “images of Islamic State group atrocities … in response to a journalist who drew a comparison between IS and her party.” 
Doesn’t exactly sound insane to me, though I’m sure my progressive friends (notice I do not call them liberal) will correct me on the matter.

Dutiful son …

… Philip Larkin was a brilliant poet but his father admired the Nazis, his mother was a neurotic | Daily Mail Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Anniversary …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: H. G. Wells — birthday, bicycles, and the human race.

Begging letter increases in value …

… Jack Kerouac letter to mother recounts ‘On the Road’ adventures | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In a particularly tender line, Kerouac writes: “Gee, you can’t realise how much I miss you, and the house, and writing in my room. But I’ll be back in a few months and we’ll save some money.”

Something to think on …

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.
— Bernard Williams, born on this date in 1929

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Anniversary …

… Remembering Poet Donald Hall. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Donald Hall was born on September 20, 1928.

A poet on stage …

… Conjuring Pushkin | Peter Wood | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Leaf could have written Pushkin as a Byronic hero, given that Pushkin played his own life as if he had stepped out of one of Lord Byron’s romantic poems. Eugene Onegin is rich with mocking allusions to the English poet: 
Lord Byron, with his shrewd caprices,
Dressed up a desperate egotism
To look like sad romanticism.
But what Pushkin mocked, he also envied. 
The philosopher René Girard would not have have been surprised.

Listen in …

… Episode 287 – Audrey Niffenegger – The Virtual Memories Show.

“The success of The Time-Traveler’s Wife didn’t change me as an artist, it changed me as a person who was able to control her own time.”

“A voice which has no fellow” …

… Revisiting a forgotten children’s book by one of the 20th century’s most distinctive writers - The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Once upon a happier time, de la Mare’s most ambitious work of fiction, “Memoirs of a Midget” (1921), earned acclaim as one of the finest novels of the 20th century — which, incidentally, it is (see my 2004 Washington Post essay on the book) — while admirers of his exceptional animal fantasy “The Three Mulla-Mulgars” (1910) tended to agree with Richard Adams, who, when asked about its possible influence on “Watership Down,” declared: “To try to copy ‘The Three Mulla-Mulgars’ would be like trying to copy ‘King Lear.’ ”


Here is my review of Memoirs of a Midget.

More than just a writer …

… Victor Hugo Drawings on View at LA’s Hammer Museum Are Rarely Seen | Observer. (Hat tip, David Tothero.)

My Struggle

Sort of an anti-Knausgårdian exercise.  Or not...
Last weekend I went to Provincetown, which is a town on Cape Cod, MA, to play flag football in a women's tournament.  I got hurt by the mostly lesbian players -- at a tournament I have played in for years. The refs let me get beat up, never threw a flag, so much so that I limped off the field after getting hammered into the ground and just left because no one cared if I got hurt. It was incredibly lonely and sad to be in the middle of what was supposed to be a safe place with such palpable trans hate -- including from my own team.
After an afternoon and night of ice, I went into town, which really is pretty.  
I ended up shopping, retail therapy in a jewelry store right? and overheard an (older) man and his sister looking for presents for the man's "friend". The conversation had a certain rhythm which I knew well and finally I broke in and said "Hey excuse me, I'm trans and it's ok if you are buying some nice things for yourself. You don't need a friend." ("friend" in airquotes) 
The "sister" (wife?) looked a little surprised. He looked stunningly relieved. We chatted for a minute, nothing too heavy, they turned to finish their purchases and I looked around.
They left and I went up to the salesperson with my earrings. She was smiling. "They were paid for," she said and nodded out the door. The man had paid for my earrings. 

Something to think on …

The Divine Thing that made itself the foundation of the Church does not seem, to judge by his comments on the religious leadership of his day, to have hoped much from officers of a church.
— Charles Williams, born on this date in 1886

A fugue of sorrow and anger …

… In Sylvia Plath’s final letters, Ted Hughes comes across as a monster.

See also: The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume II: 1956-1963 – review.
Hughes … is not just her husband; he is her religion. “My marriage is the center of my being,” she admits, “I have given everything to it without reserve.”
(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Uh-oh …

Tower of London is running out of ravens as Historic Palaces say shortage risks 'prophecy coming true'.

Dream and reality …

R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Hawthorne and Melville — reading for a lifetime.

Unionpedia is a "concept" map...But Whose?

linking Wikipedia's data in ways like James Burke's old Connections series:



What is odd is there is no information about who it is at all.  Nothing about its founders, organization etc.  Nor can anything be found on google or facebook.  

Someone somewhere has a reason for that.  Creepy.  And if you find me suddenly erased you now have a clue.  It's like Or All the Seas With Oysters”.

According to Psycholog(-y) (-ists)

these are the five basic personality traits.  Previously I wrote somewhere about this test.  I was 50-50 on four of the five but 85% percent agreeable, which no one really thinks...hmmm.  And then there is the old Warren Harding saw:  if he was a girl he would always be in trouble...double hmmm.

Elephants in mourning …

… Poignant moment elephant herd gather to pay final respects to dead leader after being killed by rival.

Cool, of course …

(Hat tip, dave Lull.)

A victim speaks up …

… My Rape Doesn’t Justify Punishing People Without Due Process.

There is also a moral and ethical obligation with recognizing what happened to you and the power you wield from your ability to accuse. If I stumbled upon the man who raped me, as I have often thought about, could I accuse him in public? Could I shout his name and the crime he committed against me that has redefined my concept of intimacy, autonomy, and lifelong health?

Birthday …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Noteworthy :-)

The why of poetry …

… Poetry Daily Prose Feature - Christian Wiman: He Held Radical Light. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Poetry itself—like life, like love, like any spiritual hunger—thrives on longings that can never be fulfilled, and dies when the poet thinks they have been. And what is true for the poem is true for the poet: "No layoff from this condensery," as Lorine Niedecker says, no respite from the calling that comes in the form of a question, no ultimate arrival at an answer that every arrangement of words is trying to be. Perhaps only bad poets become poets. The good ones, though they may wax vatic and oracular in public, and though they may even have full-fledged masterpieces behind them, know full well that they can never quite claim the name.

Something to think on …

Humans feel at home in a world of things, whose essences and laws it can grasp and define in terms of concepts; but shy and ill at ease in a world of existences, because to exist is an act, not a thing.
— Étienne Gilson, who died on this date in 1978

Experientia docet …

… No Pasarán: A French Veteran of la Résistance During WW II: "Use the word Resistance only if, by misfortune, the duty to Resist were again to arise for real".

Wittgenstein’s confession

He thought it important.  
From the comments:

When I was young wanted to be a philosopher, turning out abstruse tracts wrought from my brilliant intellection. Now that I'm at the other end of life, I can say with certainty that a handful of simple aphorisms carried me further in life than the greatest works of those esteemed thinkers.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Look and listen …

Still time to listen …

 Helen Sung Spins Dana Gioia's Poetry Into Jazz On 'Sung With Words' : NPR.

Birds of many parts …

 The Ravens at the Tower of London Are More Than Symbols - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Skaife calls attention to the birds’ beautiful contradictions. In sunlight their dark feathers shine with the iridescence of oil on water. They can be friendly, curious, even loving. In the wild they’ll take turns sliding down snowbanks and make toys out of sticks. At the Tower they play games of KerPlunk, pulling the straws free from the tube to retrieve a dead mouse as their prize. Yet, as that special raven edition of KerPlunk suggests, they’re also birds of gothic darkness and gore, the birds that followed Viking raiders in quest of fresh corpses and that feasted on executed bodies hung from roadside gibbets. You might visit Skaife’s charges in the Tower and watch, entranced, as they gently preen each other’s nape feathers, murmuring in their soft raven idiolect—but you might also see them gang up to ambush a pigeon and eat it alive.

Unsung no more …

 Rediscovering a Founding Mother | History | Smithsonian.



While researching my new book, Rush: Revolution, Madness & the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father, I managed to track down new and revealing correspondence to, from and about Benjamin, the misunderstood patriot, physician, writer and educator known as the “American Hippocrates.” But one of the biggest surprises was finding unpublished writing by and to Julia. The Rushes’ descendants hid much of the couple’s writing away, partly to shield the unvarnished opinions of Benjamin and his favorite correspondents, Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and partly to protect the career prospects of some of their sons. (Their son Richard served four presidents, as attorney general, secretary of the treasury and U.S. representative to Great Britain and France.)

Hmm …

… The Problem With All Those Liberal Professors - Bloomberg.

The real problems arise in subjects like history, political science, philosophy and psychology, where the professor’s political perspective might well make a difference. (The same is true of law.)


The comments  unintentionally provide considerable evidence in support of his thesis.

Not your usual coming-of-age novel …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: The Amalgamation Polka (2006).

In case you wondered …

… How George V. Higgins Invented the Boston Crime Novel | CrimeReads. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The world of Higgins’s first three novels is where the Boston crime genre still largely resides in the popular imagination, but the author himself wasn’t content to keep exploring this one particular slice of the city. In the decades that followed, he chronicled cops (The Judgment of Deke Hunter), politicians (A Choice of Enemies), defense attorneys (the Jerry Kennedy quartet), and high society (Swan Boats at Four), expanding his Boston canvas far beyond the working-class Irish neighborhoods that spawned his memorable crooks. Though he would return to that world occasionally (Trust, The Rat on Fire), he disdained being known as a crime writer. Not all of the books hold up. At times the deadpan humor is lost and his thickets of dialogue become virtually impenetrable, providing camouflage to stories that unfold on an almost subliminal level.

Something to think on …

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.
— Samuel Johnson, born on this date in 1709

Karl Ove Knausgaard


Well, I've made it: I've toured the seasons with Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Most recent was Summer, the final volume of his seasonal quartet. This installation was similar to the others in its tone and approach, but different, I felt, too. 

As with the other volumes, Summer offers brief mediations on a range of seemingly banal topics: everything from clothing and bicycles, to dogs and wasps. In almost all of these essays, Knausgaard manages to derive some unexpected meaning, some sort of aphoristic conclusion. 

I must say, I came to enjoy these meditations: not just in Summer, but in the other volumes as well. Sure, they're delicate, and they can be a bit contrived. But they served, for me, as a reminder of the beauty that surrounds us. In this sense, I found them inspiring: they ask us to look, and look again, and to embrace the mundane: for in it,  Knausgaard seems to imply, there must be a spark. 

Where Summer differs from the other volumes is in two extended sections which include Knausgaard's journal entries. These, I felt, were less effective, and could be rather self-indulgent. The second of these sections, though, does include an interesting -- if not fully evolved -- fictional rendering of a love story from the Second World War. The story seemed oddly placed among Knausgaard's diary entries, but did serve, I suppose, as a welcome interlude. 

All told, I'm really pleased with Knausgaard's seasonal quartet. As I say, there's a quality to each volume that inspires, that asks readers to reconsider their lives and the objects surrounding them. I found this refreshing, and refreshingly hopeful. No doubt, the diary sections of Summer, especially, can be a little trying, but that doesn't cloud the rest of the collection, which includes a number of thoughtful observations on the world around us. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Getting Advice...

...From a philosopher

And again …

… The Wry Eye: Cutting Looks at Contemporary Life w/ Elisabeth Cohen & Kathy Anderson | Penn Book Center.

Mark thy calendar …

 EVENTS - NARBERTH BOOKSHOP.
THURS., SEPT. 20 @ 7PM: NATHANIEL POPKIN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR OF HIDDEN CITY DAILY AND AUTHOR OF PHILADELPHIA: FINDING THE HIDDEN CITY, READS FROM HIS NOVEL EVERYTHING IS BORROWED AND DISCUSSES IT WITH JOURNALIST AND FICTION WRITER EMMA EISENBERGTHE NOVEL, ABOUT AN ARCHITECT WHOSE LIFE STRANGELY PARALLELS THAT OF A 19TH-CENTURY MAN WITH A SIMILAR NAME, IS A MEDITATION ON CRUELTY AND REGRET, A DREAMLIKE TOUR OF A CITY THROUGH TIME, AND AN EVOCATIVE PORTRAIT OF RADICAL JEWISH LIFE OF ANOTHER AGE. POPKIN AND EISENBERG WILL EXPLORE THE BOOK’S MANY THEMES: THE HISTORY LIVING WITHIN US, THE DESIRE TO LIVE A JUSTIFIED LIFE, AND THE WAYS WE DEAL WITH MISTAKES AND REMORSE.​

God at work …

… Pope Plunges In Poll | The American Conservative.

The way we were

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Religious Roots (Boston born on this date in 1630).

Q&A …

… The Magazine Interview: William Boyd on his Gordonstoun years with Prince Charles, and why novels can best explain humanity | The Sunday Times Magazine | The Sunday Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

He certainly inserts writers into everything he does. Even describing how he found and bought his Chelsea house requires the assistance of John le Carré. Thirty years ago, Boyd and his wife, Susan, decided they needed a larger house than the one they had in Fulham. It had to be end-of-terrace to minimise the risk of neighbour noise. They were offered this one — it was cheap for Chelsea. This was because it was, in his mind, written by le Carré at his seediest. “It was,” says Boyd, “very Smiley’s People. There was a woman who rented rooms to gentlemen from the Ministry of Defence. There were Ascot water heaters and socks drying on radiators.”

Present at the creation …

… Clarence H. White & His World: Exhibit of Photography as Early Art | National Review. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

“Lyrical” is the word most often used to describe his work, but that’s too glib and dismissive in that it suggests a reassuring beauty, almost a mild sedative. Yes, he did many photographs of young women, psychologically absent, as allegories of spring, and Spring in Triptych from 1898 is the best known. They’re beautiful, and I have no quibble with beauty, but in White’s case they’re daring and new. He used low light to reduce shadows, creating a limited, consistent tone and flattening space but only as much as he wanted. He made contact prints from his negative, cut and cropped, and moved bits around. He found a composite pose of the figure and distribution of foliage he liked and arranged the puzzle pieces in a Renaissance-style triptych. Drops of Rain from 1902 is an abstract, offbeat play of forms — the glass orb became a favorite prop — juxtaposed against the drops of rain. His son was the model. Like the boy’s youth, it’s about transience and fragility.

Well worth a listen — or three …

… Hear Langston Hughes Read His Poetry Over Original Compositions by Charles Mingus & Leonard Feather: A Classic Collaboration from 1958 | Open Culture. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Further recommendations …

… Must-Read Poetry: September 2018 - The Millions. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Recommended …

… 23 hot picks for cool fall books - The Boston Globe. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

No mask …

… “No Makeup” | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Birthday …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: William Carlos Williams — a celebration of the damned.

Something to think on …

Sometimes I find myself thinking, rather wistfully, about Lao Tzu's famous dictum: 'Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish.' All around me I see something very different, let us say — a number of angry dwarfs trying to grill a whale.
— William Carlos Williams, born on this date in 1883

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Philip Larkin...

...The poet's afterlife

Cape Cod MA - 9-16-18


When men were men …

… Laughing Shall I Die,’ by Tom Shippey | Brandywine Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Vikings, Shippey says, were violent. They excelled at violence and intimidated their enemies, not only through their advanced ships, but through a “death cult” ethic, one which glorified courage and trivialized death. The proper way to face it was with a quip, a laugh, a pithy exit line. Not, he says, because of faith in Valhalla, but simply because courage was the value above all others, the thing other warriors esteemed.

Anniversary …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Anne Bradstreet — d. 16 September 1672.

Man of Aran …

Aran Islands, Hiding in Plain Sight. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Synge’s most famous work, “Playboy of the Western World” was inspired by a story he heard while on the islands, and caused riots in Dublin when it was first staged in 1906. The foremost playwright of the Irish Renaissance — a movement inspired by strong political Nationalism and a revival of Celtic traditions — Synge was co-founder of the Abbey, also known as the National Theatre of Ireland. All six of his plays are either set in or heavily influenced by his time in Aran.

Seeing all that’s there …

… The Hawks in the Leaves by Robert W. Crawford | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Appreciation …

 Paul Davis On Crime: A Look Back At Samuel Fuller's Classic Crime Film. 'Underworld USA'.

Corrective …

… Peter Hitchens says it's time we faced the truth: Winston cost countless British lives | Daily Mail Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Novelist Olivia Manning, who lived through some of the bitterest experiences of that war, concluded her series of brilliant autobiographical novels on the war with these words of sympathy and hope for the surviving characters: ‘Like the stray figures left on the stage at the end of a great tragedy, they had now to tidy up the ruins of war and in their hearts bury the noble dead.’ We who came after are now those stray figures left on the stage. Until we understand the true nature of that great tragedy, which we seem unwilling to do, I do not think that we can ever, in our hearts, bury the noble dead. Worse by far, we may be tempted again into wars that may utterly ruin us, because we have been beguiled into thinking that these wars are good.

Inquirer reviews …

… The best books to read this fall: Michelle Obama, Stephen King, Lin Manuel Miranda's 'Little Pep Talks,' more.
 Book talks in Philly this fall: Tom Hanks, Jennifer Egan, Barbara Kingsolver, Jeff Tweedy, the 'Evan Hansen' crew - and John Cena.

Anniversary …

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Saints and Strangers — 16 August 1620.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Romance and Romantics...

...And drawing a distinction between the two

Q&A …

Birthday …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Agatha Christie — b. 1890.

Bird of legend …

 Zealotry of Guerin: Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (Audubon), Sonnet #422.

Odd trio …

… Three Blockbuster Novels From the 1950s, and Their Remarkable Afterlife - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the aftermath of Sputnik three towering and best-selling works of fiction by dissident Russians — “Atlas Shrugged,” “Lolita” and “Doctor Zhivago” — were published in quick succession, crowded into an 11-month span, from October 1957 to September 1958. Today, all three still live on, each a universe in itself, read and discussed — and fought over — as if written not in prose but in hieroglyphics or code.
Here is my review of Sam Tanenhaus's excellent biography of Whitaker Chambers.
The conclusion seems citing:
… to many, Hiss was a martyr and Chambers a pariah. As Chambers noted in Witness: ``No feature of the Hiss case is more obvious, or more troubling . . . than the jagged fissure . . . between the plain men and women of the nation, and those who affected to act, think and speak for them. It was . . . in general the `best people' who were for Alger Hiss . . . the enlightened and the powerful . . . who snapped their minds shut. . . . ''
In attempting to explain ``this curious disjunction,'' Tanenhaus cites critic Leslie Fiedler, who traced it to ``the implicit dogma of American liberalism'' that in any political drama ``the liberal per se is the hero. '' The Partisan Review's Philip Rahv put it more bluntly: The pro-Hiss faction ``fought to save Hiss in order to safeguard its own illusions. ''

An offer he couldn't refuse …

… Plunder My Songbook, Bob Dylan Said. So He Did. - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the multicharacter drama Mr. McPherson has written, the first original work by this Irish playwright that is set in America, represents a sidelong route into Mr. Dylan’s musical and cultural roots.

Something to think on …

The artist tries to see what there is to be interested in... He has not created something, he has seen something.
— T. E. Hulme, born on this date in 1883

Together at last …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Geraldine Brooks, Louisa May Alcott, and King David.

Something to think on …

Sheer madness is, of course, the highest possible brow in humor.
— Robert Benchley, born on this date in 1889

Friday, September 14, 2018

V. S. Naipaul...

...His life and legacy

Poetry and life …

… Colm Tóibín reviews ‘Selected Poems’ by Thom Gunn — LRB 13 September 2018. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In his introduction, Wilmer writes that in 1965 he lent Gunn copies of Sylvia Plath’s last poems. When he returned them, Gunn wrote that they ‘make a kind of rambling hysterical monologue, which is fine for people who believe in art as Organic but less satisfactory for those who demand more’. He admired ‘some incredibly beautiful passages’, but felt that ‘the trouble is with the emotion, itself, really: it is largely one of hysteria, and it is amazing that her hysteria has produced poetry as good as this. I think there’s a tremendous danger in the fact that we know she committed suicide. If they were anonymous poems I wonder how we’d take them.’ In The Alvarez Generation, Wootten quotes the opening two lines of Gunn’s late poem ‘My Mother’s Pride’: ‘She dramatised herself/Without thought of the dangers.’ Gunn’s mother committed suicide in December 1944, when Gunn was 15, by gassing herself, leaving her two sons to find her. Like Plath, she was the mother of two children. As Wootten writes, ‘the connection between one mother who dramatised herself without thought of the dangers, who gassed herself leaving two children behind, and another is not a difficult one to make.’

September Poetry at North of Oxford …

… Baptism of Sorts by Cliff Saunders.

… The Greeting by John D. Robinson.

 2 Poems by Louis Gallo.

… Temple of Jupiter by Jefferey Cyphers Wright.

Working writer …

… Anthony Burgess’s boundless curiosity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… The Ink Trade can be read as a practical handbook of reading, writing and reviewing, as a compendium of shrewd maxims and epigrammatic wit, and as a defence of the business of writing alongside a gently ironic lament to a writer’s plight in the age of mass media and marketing. For those with a deeper interest in Burgess’s bountiful output, it is also a vital source for his theories of literature and language, and how these animate his work.

Not your usual book launch …

… friends and family honor Roger Forseth, who had something very important to teach: HAVE A THINK — Cassandra Csencsitz. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Little did I know that turning hundreds of pages of old printouts into new book form would take four years from the time of that email. It truly killed me not to have the published book in his hands when he passed away in December of 2016. I was able to show him our cover but the interior took another year+ to clean up as my mom, Dave and I vetted scanning errors, and I contended with the limitations of Word. The lessons for any aspiring bookmakers: 1) Sometimes it's easier to start from scratch than try shortcuts.  2) Never, ever design a book in Word.
But here's the fun part: as I started to re-read my grandpa's articles with an eye to the eventual book, I was astounded by the clarity of his insights, the beauty of his prose, and the breadth of his reading
Read the whole thing, and discover who the Dave she mentions is.

I just got the Kindle edition of the book.