Sunday, December 21, 2014

Great Scott …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Look Back At 'A Christmas Carol' With The Late Great George C. Scott As Scrooge.

FYI …

… Paul Davis On Crime: 10 Things You Might Not Know About 'A Christmas Carol'.

The mystery of faith …

… Pious Anxiety: Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal | Work in Progress. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Pronouncements like that one (found all through her essays and letters) suggest that when it came to religious belief she hadn’t searched at all, but had been a firm believer always. The Prayer Journal shows otherwise. It is an uneven, immature, incomplete work, and these qualities contribute to its significance. It establishes that O’Connor’s religious search was desperately sincere, not just an epistolary conceit or a motif for fiction. It shows that from the beginning of her career her search involved what became the two main religious themes of her published writing: the nature of a calling, or vocation, and the question of how religious belief bears on the writing of fiction. And it illustrates how tightly the two themes came to be bound up together, for her and for her readers—so that in her work the credibility of the Catholic point of view depends not so much on argument and propositions as on her ability (as she put it) to “make belief believable,” especially in the character that is Flannery O’Connor herself.

I follow them; you should too...

Submissions sought …

… Call for CNF: Booth | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

The ambiguity of faith …

… Updike’s Wager: Brilliance, Doubt, and the Miracle of Existence | Public Discourse. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Inqirer reviews …

… Staff recommendations: Looking for a good book?

Something to think on …

One ought to go too far, in order to know how far one can go. 
— Heinrich Böll, born on this date in 1917

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hmm …

… BBC - Future - Will religion ever disappear?

It’s impossible to predict the future, but examining what we know about religion – including why it evolved in the first place, and why some people chose to believe in it and others abandon it – can hint at how our relationship with the divine might play out in decades or centuries to come. 
We know why religion evolved? Well:

Understanding this requires a delve into “dual process theory”. This psychological staple states that we have two very basic forms of thought: System 1 and System 2. System 2 evolved relatively recently. It’s the voice in our head – the narrator who never seems to shut up – that enables us to plan and think logically.
This seems to be theory in rather a loose sense, more a hypothesis at best.  And all System 1 seems to amount to is this: If you think the way we think you do, then that explains what you think, which seems a dubious proposition.

The problem here seems to be that the people doing the research themselves have no inner life and can't even imagine what it means to have one. Propositions are to religion what notation is to music. They are a means to an end, not the end itself, the finger pointing at the moon, not the moon. Moreover, the practice of faith is a good deal more harrowing than its cultured despisers imagine.

A genre of death

… Crimes and Detectives, Inc.: The Sublimation and Displacement of Death through The Moonstone (R.I.P.* - 3rd Installment)



As a Catholic, I have been counseled throughout my life to consider death every day, and I pretty faithfully done so. I am perhaps somewhat less fearful of it as a result. But the mystery of it is no less now than it ever was.

Unhand that lady …

… Blaspheming Dorothy Parker � The Dish. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I read over that phrase myself, but I see Andrew's point. But I'm always glad to see De Vries get a plug. And you can praise someone without having to put anyone else down.

The Murdoch grip...

Speaking of Molloy …

… Artful words …



… Artful words.

Another smile …

… December, 1964 by Rebecca Gummere | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Unintended consequences …

… Paul Davis On Crime: From Poisoned Cigars To Exploding Seashells: How Half A Century Of Crackpot CIA Plans To Overthrow Fidel Castro Were Born When JFK Invited James Bond Author Ian Fleming To Dinner.

Balancing is all …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Triamphibiangle (David Birkey), Sonnet #218.

Something to think on …

Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments.
— Sidney Hook, born on this date in 1902

Failed state...

...It wasn't the final atrocity
First, let’s openly admit that the killers are not outsiders or infidels. Instead, they are fighting a war for the reason Boko Haram fights in Nigeria, IS in Iraq and Syria, Al Shabab in Kenya, etc. The men who slaughtered our children are fighting for a dream — to destroy Pakistan as a Muslim state and recreate it as an Islamic state. This is why they also attack airports and shoot at PIA planes. They see these as necessary steps towards their utopia.

In Boston, Delhi, and others...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Samuel Beckett


Let me begin with an admission: I didn't follow any of Samuel Beckett's Molloy. Not a word. 

OK, some of it - maybe. But by and large, I was lost. Or I think I was. I found Molloy impenetrable, and the few sections of the novel I did follow were so disjointed, so opaque that I had trouble orienting them within the context of Moran's quest for the book's namesake.  

For me, Molloy remains an enigma: both as a work of art - and as a character. Ultimately, I read Becket's book as a mediation on death. The first half of Molloy represented, for me, the slow slog toward a state of inaction, of palliative decline. Meanwhile, the second half, dominated by Moran's search for Molloy, amounted to a meditation on death itself: here was Beckett evaluating, and re-evaluating, his own mortality, wrapped up as it is with Molloy's. 

"The news was bad," writes Beckett toward the end of the book, "but it might have been worse." Which, I suppose, is true. But this is a pretty bleak novel, and what light does shine through, is couched in uncertainty: as if the conclusions Beckett draws regarding death are themselves subject to study, to evaluation. In this way, Molloy seems to be a book in search of certainty - which is something, ironically, only death can guarantee. 

Tracking down bad guys …

Paul Davis On Crime: Hunting The Worst-Of-The-Worst Criminals: My Q & A With Mike Earp, Former Associate Director, U.S.Marshals Service, And Author Of 'U.S. Marshals: Inside America's Most Storied Law Enforcement Agency.

Hmm …

I recently came upon a peculiar quote: "Most people do not understand the word god is not the name of anything other than a concept, an idea in people’s minds." The quote was attributed to one Thomas Vernon, described as a professor emeritus of philosophy, as quoted by someone called Newton Joseph, Ph.D, in something called “It Is the Way You Think” (March 8, 2002). 
What is peculiar about it is that it seems to imply that a concept has no bearing on reality, which I doubt the professor really believes. Even something as abstract as justice corresponds to some actual  state of being. And the notion of bird does indeed correspond to a good many creatures so classified.

Lower education …

Bargains …

… NYRB Classics 2014 Holiday Sale.

In case you wondered …

… How I Read by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tempo and more …

… John Baker's Blog — The Rhythm of Language.

A certain smile …

… Smile for Santa by Emma Kate Tsai | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Together at last …

… The TLS blog: Shakespeare, sex and scholarship.

Adventures in language …

… Tok Pisin | The Dabbler.

Not making it …

… AttackingtheDemi-Puppets: What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Favorites …

… Musicians Are Hip to These Christmas Songs - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In praise of De Vries …

… The Millions : A Year in Reading: William Giraldi. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



If faith means, as John Henry Newman said it did, being capable of bearing doubt, De Vries is more of a religious writer than most. Faith, as I have experienced, is a lifelong agon.
Life is neither ugly nor beautiful, but it's original!
— Italo Svevo, born on this date in 1861

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A lovely bit of Handel …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Night Music: 'Sarabande' From The Film 'Barry Lyndon'.

FYI …

… Wigilia, or, how to have a Polish Christmas | The Book Haven.

Funny foreigners …

… Slang Begins at Calais – 2. Holland | The Dabbler.

Human, all-too-human …

… Bryan Appleyard � Blog Archive � What Can’t Be Found on the Internet. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

You need to be a rounded human being to make sense of the internet. Anybody else is liable to lose contact with reality or go completely mad, which is why online is not necessarily safe for children until they have acquired the basics of judgment and reason.

And the winner is …

… Indiana Review 2015 Nonfiction Prize | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Good question …

… What Is the Point of Academic Books? - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



They would seem to be the ideAl candidates for electronic publication, especially from an ecological standpoint. The exceptions would be those that might have some appeal outside the academy.

Real-time reading …

… Crimes and Detectives, Inc.: R.I.P.* - The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.



Writing about what you're reading while you're reading it seems a good idea.