Saturday, February 28, 2015

There's always time for love …

… Reflections on Faith and Culture: Valentine's Day — Thoughts on love. (Hat tip, Cynthia Haven.)

Putting on a tie and coat...

Author interview manual...

Terms of life …

… The word-hoard: Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Enemies of civilization …

… Libraries Burning: From Sarajevo to Mosul :: Center for Islamic Pluralism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Much effort has been expended in trying to analyze why the "Islamic State" so dedicates itself to brutal atrocities. In addition to murdering thousands of people, Muslim, Christian, and affiliated with smaller sects that have survived for millennia in the region, they raze libraries. Such fanaticism is a reflection of the metastasized form of Wahhabism the "Islamic State" has imposed, in which the diverse legacy of the Muslim world is declared to deserve annihilation, on the pretext of religious purification. In the Balkans, Serbia conducted "ethnic cleansing" -- a repellent euphemism for "ethnic purging." The "Islamic State" is bent on "theological cleansing," which amounts to the same evil impulse

A voice silenced...

Today's music …

Long nights …

Zealotry of Guerin: Ascending and Descending (Escher), Sonnet #231.

Hey, I like this guy …

… Sohrab Ahmari: France’s Anti-Terror, Free-Market Socialist - WSJ



Answering these questions requires an honest public conversation that will be especially fraught in France. “There are four to six million French citizens who are Muslims,” Mr. Valls says. “How can Islam prove that it is compatible with our values? With equality of women? With the separation of church and state? Therefore you have to put a name on things. . . . If you only say Islam has nothing to do with that, people won’t believe you.”

Something to think on …

I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.
— Michel de Montaigne, born on this date in 1533

Francoise Sagan


To think that Francoise Sagan published Bonjour Tristesse (1954) when she was eighteen is evidence that some are born to write - and write well. 

What a tremendous book. I mean it. What a vibrant, knowing, sorrowful book; what an accomplishment. I found myself captivated by Bonjour Tristesse, envious of its insights, rejoicing in its simplicity. Sagan composed her story with such poise, such restraint: she captures what she knows, and the result is a portrait of youth dotted with even parts beauty, sexuality, and confusion. 

And Sagan's writing: line by line, paragraph by paragraph - she's a master, and Bonjour Tristesse masterful. I can't remember the last time I read a book so in tune with its time, and yet so modest, so reserved. Sagan had me from the start: from her characterization of place, of parenthood and its complexities. 

I've read a number of books this winter about childhood - novels by Edna O'Brien and Alberto Moravio to name a few - but none compares with Bonjour Tristesse. I tip my hat to Sagan: here's an author who's captured cruelty and compassion with rare readability, and who's written of youth with remarkable prescience. That's a rare combination, indeed.



Friday, February 27, 2015

Happy birthday, Mr. Steinbeck …

… Stanford’s most illustrious drop-out | The Book Haven.

The fickleness of fame …

… A Reputation More Durable Than Marble | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Marginalia …


God is love, we are told. But Exodus tells us that God Himself says only that "I Am Who Am." Job discovers, up close and personal, what that means.

Today's music …

His own man …

… Who is Jamie Wyeth? — Delaware Today. (Hat tip, David Tothero.)

Both sides now …

… La Bloga: Valentín Sandoval's South Sun Rises. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Q&A …

… Professor Camille Dungy talks African-American nature poetry and how it relates to writers today | Rocky Mountain Collegian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



We were brought here as livestock and we were brought here to work the land. When you actually aren’t engaged and dehumanized, that very kind of consciousness develops in awareness to the land. There is kind of this tradition to western nature poetry that is about objectification and idealization of the landscape. Kind of city boys writing about how lovely it would be to live in the country. There is a large body of African-American poetry that comes from the South. Those are country boys and they themselves or direct relatives were working the land. That mentality shifts everything. I grew up in the American west, hiking in the mountains. I was deeply engaged in the natural world around me and that was important to me. Understanding the landscape that I walked through and connecting with the landscape was really important to who I was as a human being. I do think another thing to think about when considering African-American poetry is a legacy of being pushed away from the land. There is a lot of memory with being pushed away with loss. There are major periods in African-American literature where writing is engagement in dislocation.

Appreciation …

… Falling in Love with Simenon | The Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)





Is Simenon’s work dated? Historical? Timeless? I’d argue the second two. I personally like my Paris streets dark and narrow, with glistening cobblestones, the air thick with mist and suspicion. The Montmartre cemetery wall, the same as it was then, hulking with old, lichen-covered stone; I’ve imagined a corpse there more than once. Returning late at night from the last Métro, walking uphill from Place de Clichy, the cinéma marquees dark, the café lights fading as I cross over the cemetery, I hear the thrum of the old Citroën or Renault engine, the shift of gears, and smell the cherry tobacco. (I like to think he smoked cherry tobacco, though I don’t know that it’s ever specified; perhaps there’s a Simenon scholar out there who can tell me.) Flashlights illuminate the corpse sprawled on the damp pavement. Maigret nods to his lieutenant with a, “Take this down,” and we’re off on an investigation. An investigation that leads to the hidden life behind the walls, intrigue in the quartier, and worlds we’d never visit otherwise.

Something to think on…

I imagine, therefore I belong and am free.
— Lawrence Durrell, born on this date in 1912

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Big time …

 Detectives Beyond Borders: My first book cover as a photographer!

Submissions wanted …

The Poetry Foundation Welcomes Submissions to the 2015 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships

Submissions accepted March 1–April 30
CHICAGO – Five Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships in the amount of $25,800 each will be awarded to young U.S. poets between 21 and 31 years of age through a national competition sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. Submissions will be accepted from March 1 through April 30 of this year.
The original Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships were established in 1989 by Indianapolis philanthropist Ruth Lilly to encourage the further study and writing of poetry. In 2013, the Poetry Foundation received a generous gift from the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fund to create the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships, which increased the fellowship amount from $15,000 to $25,800.
The Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships honor two extraordinary women and their commitment to poetry and give five young poets a more auspicious start to their careers. The awards are among the largest offered to young poets in the United States.
“From Harriet Monroe’s founding of Poetry in 1912 to our constant search for fresh new voices today, Poetry has always discovered work that enlivens our sense of what poetry is worth and what it can do,” says Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine. “The Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships are especially inspiring because they identify emerging writers whose promising work shows how poetry helps compose our lives.”
For information on how to submit, visit poetryfoundation.org/foundation/prizes_fellowship. The fellowship winners will be announced in September 2015 and featured in an upcoming issue of Poetry magazine.
The 2014 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellows are Wendy Xu, Hannah GambleSolmaz SharifDanez Smith and Ocean Vuong. The Poetry Foundation’s annual awards to poets include the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, which honors a living U.S. poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition, and the new $7,500 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism, first given in 2014, which honors the best book-length works of criticism published in the prior calendar year, including biographies, essay collections and critical editions that consider the subject of poetry or poets.
About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit poetryfoundation.org.

About Poetry MagazineFounded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in Volume 1 of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry’s mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre or approach. The magazine established its reputation early by publishing the first important poems of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented—often for the first time—works by virtually every major contemporary poet.

Follow the Poetry Foundation and Poetry on Facebook at facebook.com/poetryfoundation or on Twitter @PoetryFound.

Barbarism Inc...

Reading habits …

Anecdotal Evidence: Q & A. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI …

… 6 things you didn't know about Fatima Bhutto and 'Democracy' | VOGUE India. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Appreciation …

… Phillis Wheatley: America’s First African American Poet. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the winners are …

… Winning Poems for January 2015: IBPC.



The Judge's Page.



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Shades of Gray …

… Elegy For Gray | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



… Gray sees the United States as a diabolical force that has institutionalised “perpetual war” in the name of defending democracy. In Gray’s anatomy, the symbol of America today is not the Statue of Liberty but the jump-suited terrorists of Guantanamo: “Along with mass incarceration, torture appears to be integral to the functioning of the world's most advanced state.”
We can only guess at the perversion of logic that has led Gray, who has taught at Harvard among other universities, to bite the hand that feeds him. Still, his critique is not merely wrong, but perniciously so.
Ah, but Harvard surely shares Gray's view of the United States.

Violent Christians …

… Snowball Fight Outside Jerusalem Monastery — AccuWeather VideoWall.

Bah, humbug …

… The happiness conspiracy: against optimism and the cult of positive thinking. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is madness, as anybody who has been subjected to team-building or any of the other devices from the shabby book of spells that is management theory will attest. It produces palpably false statements such as this one from Marc Andreessen, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor: “And I can tell you, at least from the last 20 years, if you bet on the side of the optimists, generally you’re right.” In fact, once you take into account the number of optimistic failures, you’d lose every penny.
Shortly before I retired, my then-colleague Carrie Rickey was writing a piece about holiday films. The focus of the piece was those moments in such films that elicited tears. I told Carrie that, when watching A Christmas Carol, I often broke down when Scrooge abandoned his free-market principles. Carrie begged me to let her use the quote, and I readily agreed, since it would only enhance my curmudgeonly image, of which I am very protective. I like to think of myself as a realist: God maketh His rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike; get used to it. But having had the opportunity recently to witness severe depression, I can say that the power of negative thinking can prove devastating. Neither a pessimist nor an optimist be.

The beheader...

Today's music …

Pretty impressive piece.

Comments and suggestions invited …

 Beyond Eastrod: a journey through literature: 20 best English-language novels of the 19th c. . . .



I'd probably go with Wuthering Heights because of the thrill it gave me when I first read it in my teens. The Moonstone  is tempting, but my other choice is not on the list: Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native.

Something to think on …

Here's the point to be made - there are no synonyms. There are no two words that mean exactly the same thing.
— Theodore Sturgeon, born on this date in 1918

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Interesting …

… Now Playing - Underrated Movies We Recommend by Now Playing Podcast — Kickstarter.

Karl Ove Knausgaard Goes Global

Oh, wow: he's definitely arrived. From the NYT.

Haiku …



The sparrows chatter
A morning ostinato:
Sunny winter day.

The roundabout way …

… First Known When Lost: "Love, What It Is".

I am thus tempted to fall back upon my old standby in situations of this sort: "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." Ludwig Wittgenstein, Proposition 7, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (translated by David Pears and Brian McGuinness) (1921). Of course, Wittgenstein is only repeating what Taoist and Buddhist philosophers stated centuries ago. And what they say is true, you know. (Contrary to what purveyors of Science would have you believe, all of this explaining we moderns engage in gets us nowhere.)


Indeed.

In brief …

 Issa's Untidy Hut: Mark Levy & Dan Franch: Wednesday Haiki.

Hope and gladness …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `It Is Rowing Without a Port'.