To know oneself is to disbelieve utopia.
— Michael Novak, who died on this date in 2017
… cowboy poetry is more contemporary than it wants you to believe. Hal Cannon—folklorist, cowboy poetry anthologist, and one of the Gathering’s founders—tells attendees in his keynote, “National Cowboy Gathering, here’s to the next 35. Even as we count the years, you exist outside of time.”
Well, I am sufficiently literate historically to know that the Great War was anything but, except in terms of its unprecedented scale. But I don't think that is any reason for not seeing Jackson's film. We all know the original films were produced by the British military. (Recall the reaction to John Singer Sargent's painting Gassed.) To bring the world and the life recorded therein into vivid color seems to me to make the participants less distant, both in time and place, and that means to make them more human. Of course, war is horrible. No news there. And World War I was particularly horrible. But to deny that there nothing noble happens during war is as purblind as the myth Hedges is denouncing. The real tragedy is that, sometimes, war is necessary. Should World War II not have been fought?
The world is changing; mediums are evolving; and the language and content of poetry is shifting, too, to accommodate this. So why the anxiety? Well, to paraphrase William Gibson, the future may be here, but it’s not evenly distributed. For all the talk of a poetry boom, this appears to be confined primarily to poetry’s new wave; the traditional market remains challenging. Although Paterson reports a rise in poetry sales across the board at Picador, he acknowledges “it hasn’t quite been the tide that’s lifted all boats”. At Carcanet, meanwhile, director Michael Schmidt believes “the ‘boom’ is based largely on poetry which originates in the social media, where would-be writers develop a substantial following”.
This is not a book that will end with the monks becoming an itinerant mendicant order. The latter, though, is far from obvious, and in resolving it Westlake shows that he takes seriously the idea of Benedict’s vocation. From a world of structure and calm, Benedict finds himself thrust into a realm of almost infinite possibilities, with all the temptations and terror that implies. His journey through it, while never presented with the seriousness of a proper dark night of the soul, is handled with grace, care, and a convincing understanding of the rewards and costs of seclusion and devotion.
… Rybczynski reviews Dystopia | Architecture Here and There. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)It may be understandable, given the intense pressure on critics, to parrot the conventional wisdom about modern architecture. Maybe that explains why Rybczynski’s rebuttal to Dystopia‘s powerful but rarely heard explanation for the rise of modern architecture is so lame. But he makes up for it, big-time, by returning, in the last segment of his review, to the most vital truth: that traditional architecture’s replacement by modern architecture was very bad for the world. That took courage. Read the review.
The idea is to combine a nonfiction writer's practice of reportage and analysis with a lyric poet's first-person subjectivity. It's a tough balance to strike, and one that calls into questions the kinds of truth-telling to which poetry is suited.
It is my contention that a large proportion of our clergy, and of our laity, at every level, have undertaken to believe in things they have no faith in. What is the proportion I do not know – the gathering of statistics for what cannot be counted is another sign of the times.
This is not a case of a professor calling someone "nigger." This is a case of a professor exploring the thinking and expression of a writer who voiced the word to challenge racism. This is not a case of a professor negligently throwing about a term that’s long been deployed to terrorize, shame, and denigrate African-Americans. This is a case of a professor who, attentive to the sensibilities of his students, sought to encourage reflection about their anxieties and beliefs.
In an interview with Bookforum about Leaving the Atocha Station, Ben Lerner said: “in a way [digital] chat is closer to poetry than prose in so far as the fragmentation of syntax bears an emotional charge”. This is a striking suggestion. When you think of modernist poetry, with its shards of speech and broken lines, the similarities are hard to deny.
Amazingly, for all our whimpering, this isn't anything like a record snowfall year — yet. As of Wednesday, we were at just under 68 inches for the season, and average is 58 inches at this point. We average 86 inches of snow per winter in Duluth, with a record of 135.4 inches in the winter of 1995-96. Raise your hand if you remember that winter of 1995-96. Oh — you can't raise your hand because of an old shoveling injury to your rotator cuff that year? Sorry.
Yours truly makes a guest appearance.
Bear in mind that Newman was also one of the masters of English prose. As Somerset Maugham wrote, "Newman had an exquisite grace, music, playful sometimes and sometimes grave, a woodland beauty of phrase, dignity and mellowness."
Priestley's Literature and Western Man and Man and Time are important books. Debbie and I just watched a recent TV adaptation of An Inspector Calls. It happens to be very good. His play, Time and the Conways, was recently revived on Broadway. Terry Teachout wrote this about it: "In truth, it’s a fine play, one whose Ayckbourn-like time-travel premise (the three acts are set in the same room of the same house in 1919, 1937 and, once again, 1919) is no longer innovative but remains dramatically potent." I haven't read Priestley's novels, but I plan on doing so some time this year.
Yours truly makes a guest appearance.
The proper role of humanists is not to bring 'human values' to the attention of technicians otherwise engaged in a purely instrumental approach to their calling, but to demand the restoration of the practical or moral element in callings that have degenerated into techniques.
— Christopher Lasch, who died on this date in 1994
We think we see the world laid out before us. We don’t. There is a landscape of smells that Muffy can access but never describe. It’s said that trees can communicate through the fungi buried in the soil. And anyone who has encountered something they can’t explain — like the nudge on my shoulder in the nighttime the night my mother died – are left with the feeling that there’s more going on in the world than we will ever chart.As I like to say, experience trumps all theories.
Criticism was also leveled at theWell, I was the editor of my college newspaper and I would have done the same thing. And I sure in hell wouldn't have backed down. , for not only advising students that it was “safe to go outside” while the police was still searching for the last suspect, but also for plastering his photo on their front page, despite clearly appearing to be a minor.
The style of this book is really different from my other works. The poetry of Li Bai has permeated into my narration. Some says the book is beautifully written. That is owing to Li Bai himself.I came to understand more after two years. Li’s principle in writing poetry is, in his words, “out of clear water lotus engraved by nature”. In English, we say “effortless.” It requires many years’ efforts so that it does not appear to take great pains to do it well to the eyes of the audience.Li also said, “bright moonlight shines through, and there is no space for the heart to play.” Some contemporary poetry is made foggy, leaving readers in the clouds. But the real state of being profound is as the moon spreads through and occupies our heart, instantly, we don’t have to guess. It is the sensation of the thought.
I love Li Bai. And I just got the Kindle version of this book. Read this whole interview. It's great.
Lacking self-awareness, many liberal arts professors blame “soulless” business schools and STEM programs for their woes. Capitalist greed and technocracy are at fault, they insist. In fact, motivated, highly industrious students, who come from modest circumstances and are often foreign-born, are exactly what colleges and universities seek out. Their outlook toward higher education tends toward the contractual and transactional. Coming as likely as not from distressed circumstances, they want to monetize what they have learned. Family expectations that graduates will do something to advance their finances and status often drive the education project. Such students are not mere careerists and grinds. They want to avoid economic hardship that they have known firsthand, unknown to cosseted children of privilege. Forgoing shared assumptions of reality, and making ambiguity and uncertainty their studies’ core, the liberal arts might seem pointless in the minds of increasingly practical students.
"… Crichton near the end of his life became notorious as a sensationalist climate change denier."
“People submitting comics to the New Yorker could expect a 98% rejection rate. What kind of a sane person would go into that field?! You have to have some sort of personality aberration to do this!”
… I was, am, and always will be grateful that among those rare occasions was the day I accompanied him—traveled in his wake, would be more like it—to the California International Antiquarian Book Fair. The experience was kind of a cross between walking into a Strip casino with Frank Sinatra in his heyday, touring violin shops in Cremona with Itzhak Perlman, making a circuit of the Tokyo fish market with Jiro Ono, and returning to the North Pole with Santa Claus after a long night’s around-the-world journey. With Ricky’s encyclopedic knowledge, critical eye, connoisseur’s enthusiasm, and some money in his wallet, he was every bookseller’s favorite and most fearsome customer.
Trusting the urgency of the creative process is one thing; holding on to that trust after publication is another.
ust three essays long, only sixty pages, These Possible Lives is more of a chapbook. The essays are each biographies of famous writers—Thomas De Quincey, John Keats, and Marcel Schwob—and its shortness, its compactness, delivers the pleasure of reading an entire book in one sitting, but its fluid and expressive prose also accentuates the rush through life from naïveté to death. Each essay ends with the subject’s demise.
Private Eye recently featured a tweet by Titania McGrath in Pseuds’ Corner. She was advertising her new book Woke: a Guide to Social Justice: ‘I have written the most important book of 2019. Do not buy it for my sake, but for the sake of humanity.’ The magazine was fooled. Titania is a spoof, and her book, out next month, is categorised on Wikipedia as ‘Genre: Humour’. She tweets every day. On Monday: ‘Dear Hollywood, please reshoot every scene that Liam Neeson has ever acted in and replace him with Christopher Plummer. Do this NOW’ and, ‘If you don’t think exactly the same way as me, you have clearly got a lot to learn about diversity.’ Last week: ‘It’s a broken kind of democracy which allows a majority of voters to impose their wishes on the rest of us.’ She is a genius.Well, I got taken in, that's for sure.
I find it very difficult to write real free verse. My quirkiest habit is my need to have a meter in mind before I start writing, and most of my poems end up at least roughly metrical. I’ve said this before: I think of rhyme as a ladder down into the dark of the subconscious and of meter as the underground spring I find there.
Few could imagine a powerless papacy today, as well, unless they point to the office’s relinquishing of power. Pope Francis has disarmed the chair of St. Peter of pretense, bluster and certainty—in contrast to another fictional pope—the one played recently by Jude Law in the often obnoxious and mercifully limited series, “The Young Pope,” on HBO. Paolo Sorrentino, who writes and directs the series, made his reputation creating films about loan sharks, mafia bosses and rock stars. It is ironic—though no less ironic than Catholic support for the current U.S. president—that the antireligious, antifaith vision of Sorrentino appeals to some neoconservatives in the church today. They enjoy the fictional Pope Pius XIII’s refusal to speak to the modern world. We imagine the popes we want.Well, Pope Francis seems pretentious and blustery enough to me, and I don't think it's my imagination. But then my religion is not progressive politics — or any other politics.
The Doctor’s question, which he might have phrased as a brusque , shows us the mission of his prose: truth, simply formulated. In a piece about the Marquis de Custine, he quotes Custine’s reference to “the true greatest gifts of God—the soul and the speech which communicates it.” To use that speech for the good and to record its misuse by everyone from despots and junkies to intellectuals and diversicrats are chief among Dalrymple’s aims.
Science spotlights three dimensions of nature that point to God. The first is the fact that nature obeys laws. The second is the dimension of life, of intelligently organized and purpose-driven beings, which arose from matter. The third is the very existence of nature. But it is not science alone that has guided me. I have also been helped by a renewed study of the classical philosophical arguments.
— Antony Flew, born on this date in 1923
The real story is, like Plath’s own, more complicated. Originally written in 1952 for a class assignment at Smith College, “Mary Ventura” wasn’t widely known outside scholarly circles before Faber and Faber published it in the UK earlier this month. Plath had revised the piece despite discouraging comments from her professor, then sent it to her mother to retype and submit to Mademoiselle magazine — which rejected it promptly. Eventually, it went into her archives — not as lost riches but as an open secret, complete with a treasure map in the form of a finding aid.
I wasn’t trying to be a professional boxer anymore, but I had a friend in Santa Barbara who lived near my ex-wife. A real tough guy, an ex-marine. He asked me to spar with him. And I thought, Well, I don’t have to demean myself. I just assumed we were friends. I’m a little guy compared to him. He has shoulders like this and a little waist. He would run fifteen miles just for the hell of it. He had a heavy bag hanging from the tree and he worked on that every day. He wasn’t actively boxing anymore, but he was one hell of an athlete. So we sparred and I can’t remember whether I went one round or two before he hit me with this shot. I’ve never had a reaction quite like that to a punch. And I told him, “I got to stop for a minute.” There was this crack in reality where I looked at him and there was a crack in his face. I looked out to the trees in his yard. The trees had this crack in them. And that crack in reality was the last straw for me. I’d never read about that anywhere and I’d never heard of it, either. Ever. I always read The Ring magazine, I still read it and never once have I heard a guy say, After he nailed me, I saw a big crack in reality.
Well, that makes them smarter than me.
By creating music that is free-moving yet deep-rooted, Frisell has forged something entirely distinctive and of itself, a sound that, even after one note, is unmistakably his and his alone. And by steadfastly following his own path, Frisell has become the most unlikely of guitar heroes, an unexpected agent of change who has inspired others to expand their view of what jazz and music can be.
Although the splendidly unreliable Diogenes Laertius says that Plato possessed no property other than what is mentioned in his will, he received a large sum of money from Dionysius I. Plato had a significant fund of money at his disposal (the exorbitant figure of 80 talents is mentioned). Indeed, Plato is also said to have had a banker called Andromedes. In other words, Plato was rich and had wealthy patrons and very probably wealthy students.
Among the Bach devotee’s sincere affection and understanding of his music, veneration for the man frequently evinces an odd marriage of nineteenth-century hero worship with modern-day alternative spiritualities and occultism. He is Christ, Übermensch, and the astrology column in a glossy magazine all rolled into one. Surely many of the practices and attitudes sketched above may, in some forms, be culturally acceptable and even beneficial. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if it is really healthy for us, as a whole culture, to idolize him. Is it fair to use him as the “gold standard” against which all others must be measured? Certainly, it seems reasonable to think that Bach himself would be horrified to find himself a golden calf of classical music worship.
My mother laughs at me in my grandmother’s living room for pretending to feed a baby doll my grandmother has just given me. I am five. It’s my first memory of anger and shame. “You ruin everything,” I say to my mother.
Justified explores the decline of mining and the rise of criminal activities in its place. Harlan has long had a reputation for lawlessness, and though Raylan is less than thrilled to return to his roots, he takes cleaning up Harlan very seriously. Justified is based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, and it retains some of the best aspects of Leonard’s crime writing: vivid storytelling, likable and sympathetic characters, and, most distinctively, a dry and pronounced sense of humor that permeates even the show’s considerable violence. It’s a show in which a criminal talks endlessly about “the twenty foot rule,” wherein it’s easier to kill a man with a knife than a gun within that distance, only to find that character running with his knife toward Raylan, tripping, and stabbing himself.