Monday, July 25, 2016

Blogging note …

Once again, I am on call for friends in need. Blogging on my part will not resume until tonight.

Last month …

 Quid plura? | “And there’s talk in the houses, and people dancing in rings…”

The correctness of romantic effusions …

… First Known When Lost: River.

I am one of those who believes that Stevens wrote his most moving, most human (and his best) poetry in the last five years of his life, between the publication of The Auroras of Autumn in September of 1950 and his death on August 2, 1955, at the age of 74. … Mind you, Stevens's essential theme never changed from beginning to end: the belief that the back-and-forth between the Imagination and Reality is the central element of what it means to be human.
I am inclined to agree, though I think that back-and-forth had to do with faith, the search for it and, ultimately, the experience of it.

Courts and courtiers …

… The University Bookman: A Return to the Thought-Murders. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There’s a parallel between Grielescu and Ravelstein. They are men strangely removed from the killing fields. They—like the conservative movement, in our ongoing humiliation—are men who court power instead of noticing its victims. Ravelstein loves the “handful of human beings [who] have the imagination and the qualities of character to live by the true Eros,” the “great-souled”; the rest, the average American, he ignores.
I was — long ago, when I was young — much involved in the conservative movement (I identified with its libertarian branch). What passes for such now was long ago taken over by neo-conservatism. And that has devolved into the sour bloviation of the likes of George Will (currently in the most risible phase of his career). Bill Buckley's oft-quoted sentiment —"I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."— is utterly alien to such people.

By the way, this is an excellent piece. The following paragraph is almost poetic:
In after years, the people who had gathered around those tables dispersed like their cigarette smoke. They went into think tanks and academic departments and magazines; many went to law school. Two or three entered the armed services, our other dream factory, where power becomes suffering and suffering justifies power. None of us were people who could tell you what the President was thinking.

Appreciation …

… Clive James on the Poetry of Kingsley Amis | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


I am not quite persuaded. Much that is quoted is entertaining. But I find only the reflection on his father's death moving. The religious bits seem frivolous and shallow.

Fancy free …

… Solitary Praxis: Carpe diem: "To the Virgins to Make Much of Time" by Robert Herrick.

I love Herrick's poetry. When I was in college I read it over and over. A wonderful person shines through his verse. His Noble Numbers display true faith, in my view.

Something to think on …

It is the malady of our age that the young are so busy teaching us that they have no time left to learn.
— Eric Hoffer, born on this date in 1898

When the commentariat doesn't get it...

...The Long War on Terror

First, the bald fatalism of the piece--"since we can't do anything about terror, we might as well grin and bear it." Second, the idea that xenophobia, however bad that may be, is somehow a worse response than dying at the hands of teorrists. Third, carrying on with the canard that deprivation breeds terror, even though recent attacks, such as the one in Bangldesh, show again and again that there is little connection between the two. 

Different words...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sounds like hit and miss …

… The Queen of the Thunderbolt - Washington Free Beacon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I found her opening essay on the need for criticism today, where she draws a hard line between criticism and review writing, particularly baffling. Not only does she overstate the function of criticism—what does it mean to “stimulate a living literary consciousness”?—but she also arbitrarily determines that the length and limits of a review (the focus on a single book) make them categorically different from the literary essay. “Critics,” Ozick writes, “belong to a wholly distinct phylum.”
Well, if you're going to write a review of a book just out, it helps to have some critical skills — and a talent for verbal economy.


Appreciation …

 Happy firthday to the mixed-up guy who invented Spoonerisms! | The Book Haven.

Aiming to remember …

… Writing Memory | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Keeper of the flame …

… My father Robert Graves, the war poet who cheated death.

Robert Graves was born on this date in 1895. Here is one of his finest poems:
 To Juan At The Winter Solstice.

Better late …

 Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Belated Birthday To Raymond Chandler.

Haiku …


After Mass, sitting
In the park, the old man tries
To discern God's grace.

Inquirer reviews …

 'Big Book of Science Fiction': Huge book, huge pleasures!

… "The Pier Falls": Short stories, detached, wandering the woods.

… Celebrated novelist writes a travel book - mostly about himself.

 'Little Girl Gone': Thrilling new departure.

Something to think on …

The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good.
— Robert Graves, born on this date in 1895

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Encounter …

… Clive James’s intriguing poetic response to Proust. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Kerry: Air conditioners as big a threat as ISIS | Fox News.

I look forward to learning that he has ordered the State Department offices to do without air conditioning. And of course I presume he already forgoes it at home.

Not what some say it is …

… Taking Back ‘Social Justice’ - Washington Free Beacon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Non-Catholic readers may be inclined to skim the chapters discussing the papal encyclicals that first used the term and concept of social justice. That would be a mistake—first because Novak’s writing is consistently lucid and instructive, and second because it’s only by following the development of Catholic thought on social justice is the reader able to see why the term “social justice” was needed in the first place. Briefly: Two pontiffs—Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum (1891) and, forty years later, Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno (1931)—struggled to answer a question that in one form or another dominated Europe from the mid-19th century on: Would economic activity be governed by a centralized state, or not?
I had courses in Catholic social justice in high school and college. They were formative.

Q&A...

Just when you thought the science was settled …

… How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology - The Atlantic.
Of course, only those who want to use science for political purpose use the phrase "settled science"

The undiscovered country …

 Jenny Diski’s Jisei: On Death Poems and In Gratitude | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

There is no one-size-fits-all in living. Which is why there isn't one in dying. Diski notes that she was never in the presence of someone when they died. I have been. And just a few weeks ago I saw my brother just an hour or so after he died. His body was there. He was not.

Bearing witness …

… Chris Hedges: Writing as Resistance - Truthdig. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dawid Graber hastily buried some of the archives in August 1942 as deportations in the ghetto were being accelerated—between July 22 and Sept. 12 some 300,000 Jews were driven out of the ghetto to the gas chambers at Treblinka. He wrote: “What we were unable to cry and shriek out to the world we buried in the ground. I would love to see the moment in which the great treasure will be dug up and scream the truth at the world. So the world may know all.” He ends with the words: “We may now die in peace. We fulfilled our mission. May history attest for us.”

Art and science …

… How William Burroughs's drug experiments helped neurology research | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

“Hallucinogenic molecules could open up frightening new vistas of exploration and if Burroughs was right, my trip to the Amazon would lead me to unimagined cures. I wanted to see whether yagé could infuse my monochromatic research canvas and open up vivid new scientific perspectives,” he writes in the memoir, which has just been published by Notting Hill Editions.
The author of this piece refers to yagé as a narcotic. I do not believe that is correct.

Pain and pattern …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Anthropomorphic, Sonnet #207.

Very interesting …

… Hindus for Donald Trump | RealClearPolitics.

Some four million Hindus reside in the United States. As a group, we have a higher per capita income than any other group. We also have the highest average education levels, the highest proportion of people employed as managers, the highest number of entrepreneurs (one in seven), the largest donations to charity, and are the least dependent on government. Self-sufficiency is a given in our community, and we don’t spend more than we earn. Hindu-Americans pay almost $50 billion per year in taxes, and we expect the government to be as judicious with its income as we are as individuals.
This does not surprise me. Only yesterday I had quite an interesting conversation with a cab driver from India. Not surprisingly, he supported immigration — as long as it was, as his had been, legal.

Something to think on …

An age which is incapable of poetry is incapable of any kind of literature except the cleverness of a decadence.
 — Raymond Chandler, born on this date in 1888

In memoriam...

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hmm …

 Colonel McCormick: A softie behind the ego - Chicago Tribune.



… the standard view: Whatever It Is, I'm Against It.

The latter piece is a dreadful review. "The American intervention in Europe in 1917, McCormick believed, had claimed some 50,000 American lives yet had done nothing to redeem the hopelessly rivalrous Europeans." That happens to be true. Or has the reviewer never heard of World War II? I'd like to have heard more about the book under review and less about the reviewer's detestation of the book's subject. I doubt if I would have printed that review, but I doubt if I would have assigned the book to that reviewer.

Sorry about the blogging …

… or, rather, the lack thereof. There are a number people currently depending on my attention. People, obviously, are more important than blogging. I will get back on track as soon as I can.

Nobody gets out of here alive …

 Solitary Praxis: Lost in the cosmos: a few words about old-age, confusion, contradictions, foolishness, incoherence, and silence.

To get the job you need to take a test


The Strand Bookstore NY, NY

Academic writing is mostly bad...and it's ok!

I’m not trying to impugn Pinker: Anyone can make a mistake, especially when writing a book like Better Angels of Our Nature, which attempts to synthesize a vast amount of information from a wide variety of fields. But that’s exactly the point. It’s not easy to communicate complicated data and ideas with precision, style, and a modicum of propulsive punch. Many professional writers stumble into infelicities and inaccuracies. Why should academics be any different?

Blogging note …

I have some serious responsibilities to attend to today. So blogging will not resume until later on.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes …

… Edith Wharton: Why the Age of Innocence author is vanishing from New York City | Culture | The Independent. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Doublethink …

 George Orwell, call your office | Washington Examiner.

"People here pride themselves on a kind of militant open-mindedness," Manjoo writes. "It is the kind of place that will severely punish any deviations from accepted schools of thought."
Mr. Manjoo and his editor need to read what he writes more attentively.

Something to think on …

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.
— Stephen Vincent Benét, born on this date in 1898

All things Dickens …

… Solitary Praxis: Announcement: this is my sands through the hour glass reading resolution for the coming months.

Making a community...