Sunday, December 09, 2018

More on that song …

… Daughter of 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' writer Frank Loesser blames Bill Cosby for recent radio bans. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Very interesting …

 Essay Daily: Talk About the Essay: Dec 9: Silas Hansen on Sarah Einstein’s “Self-Portrait in Apologies”. (Hat tip,  Virginia Kerr.)

This last question asks students to tell me the single essay we read that taught them the most about writing creative nonfiction, the most important thing it taught them, and how they did something similar in their own work.

     Every semester, without fail, no matter what other essays I teach, a solid 75% of students (often more) choose the same essay: “Self-Portrait in Apologies” by Sarah Einstein.


Anniversary …

… Beyond Eastrod : John Milton — birthday, biography, and more.

Song of the hour …

Me, too …

… You can hate me as much as you like – it’s not a crime | Spectator USA.

Hate crimes can be committed against some groups, but not against others. Thus the assault on a woman motivated by a prejudice against women is a hate crime; the assault on a redhead motivated by a prejudice against redheads is not. But it was as a redhead that I was bullied at school, and if you doubt the prejudice against redheads can be destructive read Jules Renard’s Poil de carotte.
If someone hits me in the face with a baseball bat it fairly safe presume such person is not fond of me, But I would not want him prosecuted for his preferences and predilections. I would want him prosecuted for a crime already long on the books — aggravated assault.

In tune with heaven …

… At a Solemn Music by John Milton | Poetry Foundation(Hat tip, Rus Bowden, who reminds that today is Milton’s 410th birthday.)

Knowledge and meaning …

Gaertner gives a fine explanation of Barfield’s remarkable book on the scientific revolution, Saving the Appearances—whose title is a phrase long used by natural philosophers to indicate that their theories were attempts to find the simplest explanation consistent with what the senses told them. It was a modest approach, for it never claimed to have the final truth about the physical world. Barfield argues that the great scientific thinkers of the Renaissance cast aside this modesty and claimed that their theories not only saved the appearances but were completely true. Kepler and Galileo, Barfield says, “began to affirm that the heliocentric hypothesis not only saved the appearances, but was physically true.” This attitude has led today to an overweening certainty among some scientists (and even more among many non-scientists) that science has all the answers, including answers to metaphysical and humanistic questions. Such scientism is contradicted by all the Inklings, along with many other modern thinkers. As Jewell and Butynskyi (whose essay begins by tracing the development of this attitude in the nineteenth century) put it, “The Inklings called for scientism’s adherents to recognize that science can respect, even if it cannot explain, the mythic or metaphysical.”

In between worlds …

… Old Age by Edmund Waller | Malcolm Guite(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Listen in …

… Terry Teachout: interview with Debbie Millman. (Hat ti, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
— John Milton, born on this date in 1608

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Interesting take …

… A 1940s French film is one of the most Catholic horror movies ever made | America Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… this fictionalized story of Bernadette Soubirous, a French peasant girl who claims she sees a mysterious “Lady” in a secluded part of the city dump, follows a classic horror-film structure in order to make a theological point that could not be more urgent and contemporary.
I watched the film recently and thought Jennifer Jones did a fine job doing the hardest thing for an actor — making goodness credible.

Here is my review of Franz Werfel's novel.

Behavior and usage …

… Brian Bilston on Twitter: "A Christmas poem about being haunted by ghostly grammarians.… " (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… ‘Brideshead Revisited’ changed my life. Can it work its magic on the ‘Downton Abbey’ generation? | America Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We have somehow hurtled past the supposed end of history into a volatile new order, where diversity surges alongside inequality, old alliances have been alternately reformed and fractured, technology both connects and divides us, and even war has been decentralized, disaggregated and outsourced. Were he alive now, Waugh would find a surfeit of black-comic grist for his satirical mill.
I first read Brideshead during the suer between my sophomore and junior years of college. It was on a list of books we were required to read in preparation for a course in the novel. I chose i because I had recently read Waugh's Decline and Fall, which I found hilarious. I figured Brideshead would be a fun read. But not long into it, I paused, and said to myself, "I think this is the saddest book I have ever read." That sadness, I think, it the key to its power. It is the sadness born of the absence of faith.

You can't have one without the other …

… Imagination and truth – Mark Vernon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Charming monster …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Boar Hound (Alice Bea Guerin), Sonnet #434.

Something to think on …

You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.
— James Thurber, born on this date in 1894

Making a soul appear...

Friday, December 07, 2018

Hmm …

… France braces for trouble, Macron to address 'yellow vest' anger | Reuters.

The way we were …

… Medieval skeleton’s boots reveal harsh realities of life on the Thames | Ars Technica

The boots, combined with evidence from his bones, suggest that the man may have died on the river while trying to earn a living. The condition of his bones suggests that he was about 35—near the upper end of average life expectancy for a man in Tudor England, which ranged from around 35 to around 42. It had been a hard life of intense physical work, leaving the man with signs of osteoarthritis, which would, no doubt, have caused considerable aches and pains. Deep grooves worn into his teeth suggest the nature of that work: that kind of wear often comes from passing or holding a rope between one’s teeth, as a medieval fisherman or sailor might have done.

The afterlife …

… Damn It All. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The Penguin Book of Hell, edited by the Fordham history professor Scott Bruce, is an anthology of sadistic fantasies that for millions of people over many centuries laid a claim to sober truth. Not all people in all cultures have embraced such fantasies. Though the ancient Egyptians were obsessively focused on the afterlife, it was not suffering in the Kingdom of the Dead that most frightened them but rather ceasing altogether to exist. At the other extreme, in ancient Greece the Epicureans positively welcomed the idea that when it was over it was over: after death, the atoms that make up body and soul simply come apart, and there is nothing further either to fear or to crave. Epicurus was not alone in thinking that ethical behavior should not have to depend on threats and promises: Aristotle’s great Nicomachean Ethics investigates the sources of moral virtue, happiness, and justice without for a moment invoking the support of postmortem punishments or rewards.
Well, Jesus refers to the everlasting fire, which seems to me to give a hell a temporal dimension. Eternity is not time  going on forever. It is timelessness. So I think it reasonable to posit that Hell may only last until the end of time. The Abbé Mugnier famously said that he believed in Hell because it was a doctrine of the Church, but added that he didn't have to believe anyone was there.  While looking up the Abbé to check on this, I came upon a piece I wrote in which he figures. It has some bearing on all this, so here it is;
Look at the moon, not at the finger.

Triumph of the spirit …

 Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And as he digs more deeply into À la recherche
du temps perdu something miraculous happens.
The huge chasm between the affluent Parisian man
of the world Marcel Proust and the incarcerated Polish prisoners begins to
narrow. Proust, after all, may have gained renown as a witty and charming
presence in the salons of his day, but when he embarked in earnest on his
career as a novelist, he renounced this fashionable world and isolated himself
to an almost pathological degree. Not only did he rarely leave his home, but he
sequestered himself even more tightly in his bedroom, where he had the walls
lined with cork to prevent sounds and pathogens entering from the outside.
The analogy of a prisoner in an isolation cell comes immediately to mind.

Q&A …

… Scholars Talk Writing: Hyphens, Oxford Commas, and Pronoun Preferences - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The important thing is that the decisions rest with the writer. The copy editor has to suppress her ego. But the writer doesn’t have to be an ass. In general, the better the writer, the more open he or she is to being copy-edited. The best writers need the least copy-editing and are also the most open to being copy-edited.
As a former copy editor,  I can vouch for this.

Recommended …

… 15 Black Authors to Read in 2019 | Black Excellence.



25 Black Poets You Should Know.



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

An eye for detail, and the heart to go with it …

 Prairie Spring by Willa Cather - Poems | Academy of American Poets. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



Cather was born on this date in 1873.

A formidable task …

… Can you rewrite the Bible? This man has made it his mission - The Jewish Chronicle. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Attempting to answer his own questions, he produced a “feisty” article in which “I took to task modern scholars for spending all their time hunting down Akkadian loan words while they showed no ability to read a story.”
Well, he isn't trying to rewrite it. He's translating it more accurately (and rather gracefully). I might just get a copy.


Something to think on …

There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.
— Willa Cather, born on this date in 1873

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Indeed …

… Instapundit — REMINDER: All modern American presidents exercise power that is morally and constitutionally illegit…

Worth noting …

… Effect of Aspirin on Disability-free Survival in the Healthy Elderly | NEJM.

Very nice …

 Poem of the Week: ‘Evidence’ – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winner is …

… 2018 Thurber Prize Winner Announced : The Booklist Reader. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A wonderful poem …

… On Poetry: Finding the spirit of holiness | Local News | record-eagle.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Centenary …

… Untethered | Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as he saw himself. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Solzhenitsyn, at long last, found his writer’s refuge up a winding road from the town of Cavendish, Vermont. There, he expanded and winterized a Swiss-style wooden house and erected a tower for his library, archives and, on the top floor, multiple tables, where he worked standing up because of sciatica. An underground tunnel connected the two structures. “Now,” he writes, “I had the office of my dreams, spacious, with a high ceiling and bright windows (there were even windows in the roof, and no attic beneath them).” The compound, which he christened “Five Brooks”, also acquired an interior chapel dedicated to St Sergius of Radonezh. The author swam, played tennis, scythed grass and sawed wood, while contemplating the past and future of Russia in “the American wilderness”.

A cool Christmas …

… A Reflection: Vince Guaraldi Trio — A Charlie Brown Christmas : Aquarium Drunkard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In May 2012, when the Library of Congress included the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas in its selections for the National Recording Registry, it said, “A Charlie Brown Christmas introduced jazz to millions of listeners.” That feels right. School-age children were able to access jazz because it was couched in cartoon and Christmas. Like the Christmas special itself, Guaraldi’s compositions reside beneath the veil of tradition. Shroud removed, you find in each something much deeper.

He knew whereof he wrote …

… The Grandfather of New Nature Writing Was a Bird-Loving Poet | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Through his rootedness in one place, during his twenties and thirties John Clare produced some of the finest nature poems ever written. However, for over a century these were neglected by literary critics and the general public alike, until from the 1950s onwards his reputation was restored and rehabilitated. Today he is widely hailed as one of the most influential of all writers on nature.

Hear, hear …

… The importance of the novella: Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville — MobyLives. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cause for concern …

… Fears Grow for Tania Bruguera After Cuban Authorities Detain the Activist-Artist | artnet News. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Sad tale …

… Poetry Twitter Erupts Over Plagiarist Ailey O’Toole. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

At the center of the controversy is a void: O’Toole herself, and her unexplained motivations. Poetry is as intimate as it is non-remunerative, a tiny part of the small word of books where writers lay themselves bare and mine the darkest corners of their lives for art. To steal the words of another poet isn’t just theft, but violation. Yet what O’Toole did wasn’t just outrageous; it’s also deeply weird, from her self-incriminating emails and interviews to the Scooby Doo-esque denouement: She would have gotten away with it — maybe — if not for her own seemingly compulsive need to advertise what she’d done.

A subtle eye …

… Vivian Maier's Rare Color Works Show the Mysterious Photographer in a New Light—See Them Here | artnet News. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Many of the pictures are more vibrant—a shock of bright red lipstick, say, or a buttery bunch of flowers abandoned by a street post—and they often offer clues to the political and societal shifts underway when they were taken, such as newspaper headlines and cinema posters.

Something to think on …

If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshipped.
— Evelyn Underhill, born on this date in 1875

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Taking it personally …

Dr. Frankenstein, call your office …

… First ever sun-dimming experiment will mimic volcanic eruption in attempt to reverse global warming | The Independent.

Something to wrap your head around …

… Revisiting the Dyson Sphere - Scientific American Blog Network.

Somebody tell The Inquirer …

… What’s behind a recent rise in books coverage? - Columbia Journalism Review(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Art and money …

… State of the Art - Taki's Magazine - Taki's Magazine(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Appreciation …

… Underrated: Jonathan Haidt | Standpoint.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Haidt argued from a coolly scientific, even-handed perspective, demonstrating that our political and religious convictions are deeply rooted in human nature and hence largely impervious to rational analysis. We are ingenious at finding reasons to justify our gut feelings: “Anyone who values truth should stop worshipping reason.”

The march of time …

… Beyond Eastrod : Onward against the odds — thoughts on life expectancy and figuring out the basics while time permits.

Blogging note …

I have to take my wife to a couple of appointments today, so blogging will resume sometime later.

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: David Frum on Trumpocracy and Trump: The Novel.

A timely thriller …

 How thriller writer Frederick Forsyth sees cyber warfare - Washington Times.

According to Mr. Forsyth’s publisher, Putnum, his new thriller was inspired by the cyberterrorism cases of Lauri Love and Gary McKinnon, two computer hackers who have Asperger’s Syndrome, like Mr. Forsyth’s fictional character, the Fox, a teenager named Luke Jennings.

Cautionary tale …

… Military Book Review The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic.

Art and technology …

… An art gallery in your pocket: See Vermeer’s paintings in augmented reality. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… now, you can experience all of Vermeer's known artworks in one place for the first time. Thanks to the Mauritshuis museum in the Netherlands and other cultural institutions guarding Vermeer’s legacy, they’re available in Pocket Gallery, a brand new feature on the Google Arts & Culture app. Pocket Gallery uses augmented reality, so you can pull out your phone and step into a virtual exhibition space to see all of his works, curated by experts from the Mauritshuis. All 36 of his paintings—including the missing masterpiece and the famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring”—hang lifesize and perfectly lit. As you step closer, you’ll see each painting in stunning detail and can learn more about each piece.   

In case you wondered …

… How the Ancients can help the Moderns | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What is perhaps more surprising than the enduring appeal of studying the Classics through the ancient languages is a developing demographic trend: despite this being a discipline whose civilisation was primarily controlled by men, and almost exclusively created by men, Classics has seen in recent decades a predominance of female undergraduates. The average cohort of Cambridge Classicists, for instance, has comprised 61 per cent women over the last five years. Across the UK sector, UCAS reported in 2017 that the student body for “Linguistics, Classics and related" subjects has 3.3 female undergraduates for every male. It is true that there is a general preponderance of female students in UK universities (58 per cent of the 2016-17 cohort), but it is increasingly marked in the Classics. Among younger (under 35) classical academics in the UK, women are also slightly in the majority. Such a trend seems to be replicated among British secondary schools: the proportion of women taking classical subjects at A Level has risen steadily over the last ten years, from 53 per cent (2009) to over 62 per cent (2018); for Classical Civilisation, two-thirds of candidates are female.

Here is Donna Zuckerberg's blog.

A most interesting list …

 Here are the Biggest Nonfiction Bestsellers of the Last 100 Years | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull..)

Dialogue …

… Shakespeare: Mimesis and desire | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In 2005, Girard met Harrison, author of Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age; Forests: The Shadow of Civilisation; and The Dominion of the Dead, for a two-part interview on Harrison’s celebrated Entitled Opinions radio and podcast series, available on iTunes. Together, they recapped Girard’s long career and thought. This is the first of the two interviews. Both transcripts will be included in the forthcoming Conversations with René Girard (Bloomsbury), edited by Cynthia L. Haven, who is also the author of Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard (2018).

Something to think on …

I think that modern physics has definitely decided in favor of Plato. In fact the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense; they are forms, ideas which can be expressed unambiguously only in mathematical language.
— Werner Heisenberg, born on this date in 1901

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Anniversary …

… Beyond Eastrod : Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens.

FYI …

… A Note to My Catholic Friends about Hanukkah | Spengler.

There is a deeper side to the story, though. The eight-branched candelabra of Hanukkah is not a mere remembrance of the Eternal Light of the destroyed Temple. It is actually the flame of the Temple, relocated to the Jewish home. Every Jewish home is a temple in minature.

Correspondence …

… “Just a touch of wildness” — or, How Evelyn Underhill schooled C. S. Lewis on the ways of God | Carl McColman.

Perhaps what it all comes to is this, that I feel your concept of God would be improved by just a touch of wildness.

Q&A …

… Camille Paglia: ‘Hillary wants Trump to win again’ | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have been trying for decades to get my fellow Democrats to realize how unchecked bureaucracy, in government or academe, is inherently authoritarian and illiberal. A persistent characteristic of civilizations in decline throughout history has been their self-strangling by slow, swollen, and stupid bureaucracies. The current atrocity of crippling student debt in the US is a direct product of an unholy alliance between college administrations and federal bureaucrats — a scandal that ballooned over two decades with barely a word of protest from our putative academic leftists, lost in their post-structuralist fantasies. Political correctness was not created by administrators, but it is ever-expanding campus bureaucracies that have constructed and currently enforce the oppressively rule-ridden regime of college life.

Q&A …

… Camille Paglia: ‘Hillary wants Trump to win again’ | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have been trying for decades to get my fellow Democrats to realize how unchecked bureaucracy, in government or academe, is inherently authoritarian and illiberal. A persistent characteristic of civilizations in decline throughout history has been their self-strangling by slow, swollen, and stupid bureaucracies. The current atrocity of crippling student debt in the US is a direct product of an unholy alliance between college administrations and federal bureaucrats — a scandal that ballooned over two decades with barely a word of protest from our putative academic leftists, lost in their post-structuralist fantasies. Political correctness was not created by administrators, but it is ever-expanding campus bureaucracies that have constructed and currently enforce the oppressively rule-ridden regime of college life.

Listen in …

… Episode 298 – Summer Pierre – The Virtual Memories Show.

A mix-tape isn’t just saying, ‘I want you to enjoy this’, it’s, ‘I want you to enjoy me making this.'”

Recommended …

 Notting_Hill_Eds on Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Blogging note …

It's one of those days when I have to be out and about. Blogging will resume later on.

Mentoring …

… TT: Entry from an unkept diary | About Last Night.

Learning a craft …

… 'We Begin in Gladness' delves into how poets teach themselves to write their best - CSMonitor.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In “We Begin in Gladness,” Craig Morgan Teicher assigns himself the task of explaining how poets teach themselves to write their best. His title comes from a couple of lines by William Wordsworth: “We Poets in our youth begin in gladness; / But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.”

Listen in …

 … 1888 Podcast Center | 237 – Pico Iyer.

Words, words, words …

… The American Heritage Dictionary usage panel: Defining Characteristic - The Dictionary and Us. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Time, obviously, makes it own decisions about what is right and wrong in usage, and tracking the many changes wrought by history as it comes barreling through a dictionary is a major part of the work of professional lexicographers. In 1972, for instance, usage editor Bohle pointed out that the courtesy title Ms. had become common enough that it could no longer be ignored by a standard English dictionary—this was shortly before Ms.magazine popularized the term even further. Graham wrote the entry, and Ms. appeared for the first time in a dictionary, along with the first definitions for sexism and liberated woman.

In case you wondered …

… What Made Vladimir Nabokov Tick?The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the arrival of a new book, Vladimir Nabokov in Context (Cambridge University Press), is most welcome and will appeal to anyone wondering what made this man tick. The title is apt; Nabokov was very much a product of his times, of his context.

Something to think on …

Experience is the best of school masters, only the school fees are heavy.
— Thomas Carlyle, born on this date in 1795

Monday, December 03, 2018

Inside story …

… With ingestible pill, you can track fart development in real time on your phone | Ars Technica.

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Stephen Greenblatt on his book Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics.

Appalling …

… Home invasion | About Last Night.

Sounds good to me …

 Beyond Eastrod : Joseph Conrad — writing to make you hear,feel and see.

Why not?

… Should Studying Literature Be Fun? - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
In applying to graduate school, I had written a statement of purpose declaring that I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. because I believed that "studying literature was fun." One of my professors crossed out that line with the comment, "STUDYING LITERATURE IS NOT FUN!!"
At the time I took that to mean that I needed to come across as a serious and potentially professional academic critic rather than a wide-eyed enthusiast. After getting to grad school I came to regard the remark as a warning: not only of the myriad ways in which being in a Ph.D. program is no fun at all, but also of the systematic refusal of aesthetic pleasure within academic literary studies. Looking back, I see the two motives as aligned: Disavowing aesthetic pleasure is precisely how academics have sought to signal their professionalism and affirm the joblike nature of the work.
Well, why the hell would you take up a profession that didn't afford you any pleasure? To be a professional grump? I got into what I ended up making my living at precisely because I enjoyed reading. That is the reason a good part of my day is still spent reading. The best job is a fun job that pays reasonably well.

Hmm …

… The American Scholar: A Pleasure to Read You - Arthur Krystal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I try to read whatever I read on its own terms. If it brings to mind other things I have read, for good or ill, fine. I don't bring an ideology to anything I read, probably because I don't subscribe to any.

Poetry and painting …

… Annunciation by John Donne | Malcolm Guite. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The poem I have chosen for December 3rd in my Advent Anthology from Canterbury Press Waiting on the Word, is The Annunciation by John Donne, and once again it is accompanied by a beautiful illustration from the book of responses to these poems by Linda Richardson.

We can do without the ism …

… ‘Essayism’ Review: Tell Me a Bit (Less) About Yourself - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The essayist is allowed to be familiar, with the understanding that familiarity differs crucially from being personal. What has changed in recent years, and not in the essay alone, is the new penchant among writers for the uncomfortably personal, chiefly residing in confession. The great essayists have also been great adepts of tact, with bone knowledge of precisely how much of themselves they should reveal, how much to hold back. They did not foist their sadnesses on their readers, did not feature their weaknesses. In contemporary writing, consummate tact has been replaced by constant confession. Contemporary writers, essayists among them, provide us with accounts of their sexual kinks, their addictions, their longings, the nightmares of their childhoods, their mental illnesses. Balzac called the artist, by which he meant chiefly the writer, a prince among men; today the prince has increasingly become a patient.

December Reviews and an Essay at North of Oxford …

… Ghostographs: An Album by Maria Romasco Moore.

… Beauty and the Unrequited Landscape by John Goode.

… Revealing Self in Pictures and Words by Tom Taylor aka the poet Spiel aka Thoss W. Taylor.

… Gothic Orange By Robert Milby.

… The Poet Idris Davies (1905 – 1953).

Something to think on …

Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life.
— Joseph Conrad, born on this date in 1857

Sunday, December 02, 2018

In case you wondered …

… Why We Want What We Want: René Girard and Robert Harrison in conversation | The Book Haven.

Countering terrorism …

… BOOK REVIEW: 'Operation Devil Horns' by Michael Santini and Ray Bolger - Washington Times.

Worth reading …

… No Pasarán!: BLOGGER IN PARIS IN THE MIDST OF TEAR GAS CANISTERS RAINING DOWN ON THE CROWDS (video).

Poems without line breaks …

… The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem, edited by Jeremy Noel-Tod – review | Books | The Guardian(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

By the end, my copy of the book was bristling with bookmarks. I loved Turgenev’s On the Sea (1879), about what it is to be a living creature, about a man’s encounter with a pet monkey on a steamer – he holds her “little, black, cold hand”. Emily Berry’s Some Fears (2013) escalates – thrillingly gets its wind up. And Margaret Atwood’s In Love with Raymond Chandler (1992) is an entertaining, fully furnished must read.

Farewell interview …

Marguerite Yourcenar, The Art of Fiction No. 103.
The French title is Quoi? L’Eternité, which is from a poem of Rimbaud’s: “Quoi? L’Eternité, elle est retrouvée.” The book is the third volume of my memoirs. The other two are being translated into Engish at the moment. There are certain words one can’t translate literally, and one has to change them. For example the first volume is called Souvenirs pieux in French, and I have translated it as Dear Departed, which conveys the same nuance of irony. The second volume is called Archives du nord, but “the north” in another language evokes a different image: In England the north refers to Manchester, or even Scotland; in Holland it is the Fresian Isles, which has nothing to do with the north of France. So I have changed it completely, and taken the first line of a Bob Dylan song—“Blowin’ in the Wind.” I quote the song inside as an epigraph: “How many roads must a man walk down /  Before you can call him a man?” It is very beautiful, don’t you think? At least it defines well my father’s life, and many lives. But to come to the present volume, I don’t think “Quoi? L’Eternité” would work in English, and we will have to find another title. Among the Elizabethan poets there must be quantities of quotations about eternity, so I think I might find something there.

Cool …

… Snapshot: Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong sing a duet in 1967 | About Last Night.

Hmm …

… The Promise of Polarization | The New Republic. (Hat tip Dave Lull.)



Well, the mid-terms have come and gone, and the change wrought makes for more polarization.

Q&A …

 Ron Slate on Moby-Dick, Cane, and the Addiction to Visibility | Book Marks. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For the season …


(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Words by Richard Wilbur, music by Walt Harrah.

FYI …

… Beyond Eastrod : Advent isn’t just for religious people.

In case you wondered …

… What Makes a Poem? > David Solway(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Poetry, then,—genuine poetry—does not merely echo, mirror or imitate life. It is neither an effigy nor a replica. Nor, as novelty theories in the boutique of poetic practices hold, does genuine poetry mimic its own composition, like a postmodern snake biting its own tail. This is only the latest freak in a misguided effort to appear cutting-edge. The compulsion to “make it new” does not necessarily make it good. Despite the reigning hype that some poets hold dear, serious poetry is never “experimental,” collage-driven, aleatory, duplicative, computer generated or Flarfist, or a mere congeries of mechanical gimmicks assembled according to some opaque “method” of composition. This is not to say that it cannot be innovative, only that there are limits established within the bounds of communication. After all, if poetry is ever to flourish, even minimally, it should appeal not only to the specialist or sophisticate but to the proverbial common or educated reader.

The old order changeth …

… Inside Mount Melleray: 'The world as you know it is passing away' - Independent.ie(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

At one time, Mount Melleray had 150 monks; today there are 19. Two-thirds are over 80, and just four under what the world knows as retirement age. The youngest man, who has yet to take his final vows, is in his mid-40s. The monks are about evenly divided between brothers and priests, though no hierarchy is observed between ordained and others. A few men, some young, some less so, have expressed an interest in joining, but the novitiate at Mount Melleray is currently closed, pending the outcome of deliberations concerning the future of the order.

For the season …

Today is the first day of Advent. Here is my say:

Advent




The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear
(Though winter’s scheduling an arctic flight).
The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.


Some say a telling sign will soon appear,
Though evidence this may be so is slight:
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.


Pale skeptics may be perfectly sincere
To postulate no ground for hope, despite
The rumor that a rendezvous draws near.


More enterprising souls may shed a tear
And, looking up, behold a striking light:
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.


The king, his courtiers, and priests, all fear
Arrival of a challenge to their might:
The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.


The wise in search of something all can cheer
May not rely on ordinary sight:
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.


Within a common place may rest one dear
To all who yearn to see the world made right.
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.
The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.
© 2006

Poetry roundup …

… Identity cards by William Logan | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Inquirer review …

… Gift books for 2018: Birds, astronauts, Airstream trailers, and Tony Bennett.

Something to think on …

If you tell a novelist, 'Life's not like that', he has to do something about it. The poet simply replies, 'No, but I am.'
— Philip Larkin, who died on this date in 1985

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Apologia pro vita sua …

 Critics & criticism by John Simon | The New Criterion.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have always inveighed against the bleary journalism practiced by newspaper reviewers, as opposed to the real criticism performed by, well, critics. 
Well, I guess I fall into the former category.

Lovely …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Chrysanthemum (Piet Mondrian), Sonnet #433.



See also: SONNETS FOR RUTH.

René Girard roundup …

… The Prophet of Envy | by Robert Pogue Harrison | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not the Mafia …

… The Underworld | The Hudson Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

PC reviewing …

… Greatness in History — Review: 'Heirs of the Founders: The Epic Rivalry of Henry Clay, John Calhoun and Daniel Webster' by H.W. Brands. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the book-reviewing world seems to be slowly turning against Brands, straining to find a way to express a discomfort with his popular writing. And it's not for anything he's done, exactly. It's more for what he isn't doing. His subjects are too . . . well, what, exactly? Too little involved in the topics that should matter. Too little determined to make a tale of yesterday useful for the cultural battles of today. Once upon a time, the demand was that our accounts of history be opened to include obscured or oppressed voices. Now, the demand is that only those voices be heard.
Or so, at least, one could assume from the prepublication notice of Brands's Heirs of the Foundersthat appeared in Kirkus Reviews—as mainstream a venue as exists for news about impending books. The small unsigned notice is, in its way, a perfect specimen of the problem the American literary world suffers. It opens, for example, "The author's return to the ‘great man' school of history is somewhat problematic, since those presumed great men of American history are mostly white and seldom women."