Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day!

Cartoons from The New Yorker

The poet and her garden …

 Jane Kenyon’s Peonies | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Kenyon emphasizes her love for her peonies here, but the imagery also intensifies their poignant brevity. Their loss becomes the loss of a loved one. As night descends in the poem, we are reminded of the brevity of all of this world’s beauties and loves. As Kenyon put it in another of her newspaper columns, “We are in fact like the grass that flourishes and withers, just as the psalmist says. Gardening teaches this lesson over and over, but some of us are slow to learn. We can only acknowledge the mystery, and go on planting burgundy lilies.”

Trio …

… Weekend Poetry: Three Poems. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Provocateur …

… Essayist Richard Rodriguez on Latinx: ‘the problem is in the liberation’. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“I don’t even think Latinos can justify affirmative action on the basis of race discrimination, because we’re not race,” Rodriguez said. “So, giving affirmative action to a white Latina from Miami and not giving it to a white Appalachian kid from Kentucky is ludicrous to me.”

Harbinger...

...Jordan Peterson and Conservatism’s Rebirth
In short, modern political discourse is noteworthy for the gaping hollow where there ought to be conservatives—institutions and public figures with something important to teach about political order and how to build it up for everyone’s benefit. Into this opening Mr. Peterson has ventured.

Something to think on …

Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none.
— Thomas Kuhn, born on this date in 1922

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Hmm …

… Love Anecdote by Joyce Carol Oates | Poetry Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Tracking the decline …

 ‘New York Times’ Gets Rid of Copy Editors; Mistakes Ensue – Lingua Franca - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thinking out loud …

… Freeman Dyson: "I kept quiet for 30 years, maybe it’s time to speak." (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The real mystery is what is going on in the head of a six-month-old baby that enables the baby to make sense of all the things that are going on around it. So if we can somehow study the brains of babies in real detail, we might get a feeling for how consciousness begins. But of course, we are very far away from being able to do that.

Read all about it …

… A hit in the making | About Last Night.

“The Royal Family of Broadway” is based on the 1927 backstage comedy in which George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber spoofed the eccentricities of Ethel, John and Lionel Barrymore, who once were America’s first theatrical family but are now mostly remembered only by golden-age movie buffs….

Taking a look around …

… Tracy K. Smith's 'Wade in the Water' Grapples With America - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



… Smith captures the triumph and burden of forgiveness so embedded in black spirituals. As both speaker and writer, in this and a majority of the poems in the collection, Smith reflects on how her art form can and should unify people.  

Exotica …

 Deep Water: 'Butterfly Farm' by Richard Foerster - Portland Press Herald. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Pure spirit …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Angel, Sonnet #409.

Encore …

The Galloping Gourmet made cooking fun on TV long before Food Network. Now he’s back. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unusual residence …

… In Shades Magazine › House On The Edge Of Town.

How dumb are these people no. 2

Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes, who reigned briefly as the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire over her promise to revolutionize blood testing, was criminally charged with defrauding investors along with the company’s former president

How dumb are these people no. 1

The National Institutes of Health on Friday canceled a mammoth study of moderate drinking after determining that officials had irrevocably compromised the research by soliciting over $60 million from beer and liquor companies to underwrite the effort.

Something to think on …

The learned ignore the evidence of their senses to preserve the coherence of the ideas of their imagination.
— Adam Smith, born on this date in 1723

Friday, June 15, 2018

A lesson in grace …

… Timothy Murphy may be the most prolific lyric poet in English ever – and he’s dying. | The Book Haven. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And yes:
Put in a warm word with the Holy Ghost.

June Poetry at North of Oxford …

… Waiting for the Big Blue Bus on Grand and Ninth by Martina Reisz Newberry.

… Crows at Dawn by Robert Milby.

 Voices by Linda Stevenson.

… endpaper epigrams (graffiti from a cultural nervous breakdown) by Sean Howard.

Writing and walking …

… A Ramble About Books About Walking - Los Angeles Review of Books. Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
You might not consider thinking or walking to be in any sense doing nothing, although it’s possible to understand why others might. Speaking personally, however, there’s certainly no denying that walking is a treatment (if by no means a cure) for angst.

When it rains …

 Strict Diet by James Crews : American Life in Poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Addressing a disaster …

… The artistic responses to Grenfell Tower | Terri Apter. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hmm …

… Saul Kripke’s chains of communication | Footnotes to Plato. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“Christopher Columbus” undoubtedly denotes a fifteenth-century Genoese explorer; but most English speakers don’t have any description in mind; or at any rate none that uniquely specifies any fifteenth-century Genoese explorer. “The first European to visit America” probably specifies some tenth-century Viking. “A fifteenth-century Italian explorer” doesn’t specify anyone. 
True of most people, perhaps, but not true of someone who has read Samuel Eliot Morison's Admiral of the Ocean Sea. Words have greater meaning for those who have greater knowledge.

Writer as human being …

… Learning to Love the Stories of Andre Dubus | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Not gifted with genius but honestly holding his experiences deep in his heart, he kept his simplicity and humanity.
— Kobayashi Issa, born on this date in 1763

English v. English

For English speakers in an alien English-speaking country, she writes: “A complex calculation has to be made weighing up the relative advantages of being understood, fitting in, and avoiding mockery versus the definite costs of losing one’s linguistic identity and saying things that sound plainly ridiculous to you.”
The Prodigal Tongue, by Lynne Murphy, NYT book review 

Switch

[H]igh heels, they essentially weren’t first created for women--they were created for male warriors to lock into a saddle. It was not an idea that came about to beautify the female body. It did emerge later, still for males, with Louis XIV, who was famous for wearing these big heels because he was not a very tall man. And it was like a symbol of power. Then it became kind of a competition of nobles.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Consideration

… Consideration: Sub specie aeternitatis: J.F. Powers, 1917-1999. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For another thing Powers was a Roman Catholic whose principal topic — in both of his novels and a majority of his stories — was the Catholic priesthood. Educated by Anglicans, I arrived in adult life with a full set of anti-Catholic prejudices: dark-robed Jesuits plotting against the Crown, Bloody Mary and Foxe's Martyrs, the Borgia Popes and pig-headed James the Second, celibate priests denying birth control to the overpopulated Third World. Reading and traveling mellowed all this, of course, yet still I can tolerate Catholic writers at book length only if they leave their dogma at the door. Like many other Englishmen I regard Graham Greene as a brilliant narrative talent yoked to an irritating ideology and Brideshead Revisited as a regrettable lapse on the part of our finest mid-century novelist. (And I relish Orwell's slap at Waugh: "As good a writer as it is possible to be while holding untenable opinions".)
Proddy dog. (Just joking.)



Blogging note …

I am already out and about, but hope to be back home in a couple of hours, at which time I will resume blogging.

Crime, punishment, and justice …

… Arthur Conan Doyle, True Detective | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Prescription for writer’s block: fear of poverty.
— Peter Mayle, born on this date in 1939

RIP …

… David Douglas Duncan, 102, Who Photographed the Reality of War, Dies - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Retro chic...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

FYI …

 From cultural appropriation to clean eating: Lionel Shriver's most controversial quotes.



That's our Lionel. God bless her.

Happy birthday, Fernando …

 Nigeness: An Unlikely Debut.
Pessoa's novels are wonderful. Here's a piece  wrote about his poem.

Wonderful …

(Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Anniversary …

… Bloomsday Tribute to James Joyce, Greatest Mind-Scientist Ever - Scientific American Blog Network. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Joyce brings the psychological hypotheses of James and Freud to life. He dunks us in streams of thought that swirl, eddy, cascade and collide with the objective reality of Dublin in 1904. Joyce’s major characters—Stephen Dedalus, a young, intellectually pretentious teacher and would-be writer (modeled after Joyce himself); Leopold Bloom, a gregarious Jewish ad salesman; Molly Bloom, his songstress spouse—are individuals rooted in a particular time and place. And yet these fictional humans feel universal.

Place of memory...

Cry of the heart …

… There's a Place for Us Part II: More on Revoice & Gay Christian Homemaking. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… when people (or ducks) try to tell you how to order your desires, they always try to get you to keep the expression of desire the same, but change the object. This is the “become straight” option, if “option” is the word I want. There is another way for desire to become ordered: same object, different expression. People who long for same-sex love and intimacy should maybe be encouraged to learn how to do that, since it is good, and holy, and beautiful. In spite of our consumerist, erotically-obsessed, and fragmented (but I repeat myself) culture; in spite of original sin; in spite of all our rationalizations and all the bad advice, I’ve seen gay people form deep same-sex friendships. (This is one of the many ways in which gay people are just like straight people! It’s almost as if “gay vs. straight” is a social construct, and only one way of arranging and understanding a complex array of longings.) Some of these friendships are with other gay people. Some aren’t. All of them, from what I can tell, have brought the participants closer to their Lord.

Professional writer …

 Stephen King: Master of Almost All the Genres Except "Literary" | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 The things of his I have read were quite good.

Monknik …

 The Clever Concrete Poetry of a Benedictine Monk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Poetry roundup …

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

Q&A …

… Philosophers, meet the plagiarism police. His name is Michael Dougherty. – Retraction Watch. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My first plagiarism discovery occurred in 2009: I was doing some research for a book I was writing on medieval moral dilemma theory, and I came across an article that provided a stunning experience of textual déjà vu. Via Facebook, I contacted the primary victim of the plagiarism (who had left academia and was serving as an MP in the Finnish government) and with his publisher we jointly requested a retraction on the basis of plagiarism. My first venture in correcting the scholarly record in philosophy for plagiarism resulted in a retraction. I was contacted by other colleagues, and we eventually sent retraction requests for more than 40 articles and book chapters by the same author of record (who thereby earned a brief appearance on the Retraction WatchLeader Board). So, my first foray in correcting the scholarly record for plagiarism went surprisingly well, but not all subsequent cases have gone so smoothly.

Something to think on …

I have looked into most philosophical systems and I have seen that none will work without God.
— James Clerk Maxwell, born on this date in 1831

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Catherine Nixey - Redux

Regarding The Darkening Age...

A far more generous review, I think, than what's warranted: certainly more positive than the piece I posted on the blog a few months ago.

Faith and Mary Poppins …

… How Teilhard de Chardin’s hidden response to Vatican censure finally came to light | America Magazine.

Blogging note …

I have to be at The Inquirer today and must leave shortly. So I won't be blogging again until later.

Lost and found …

… The Strange Case of the Missing Joyce Scholar - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lisen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Jonathan Galassi on FSG and Book Publishing.

Grief …

… Two bourbons past the funeral | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Pass through knowledge to arrive at simplicity.
— Trevanian, born on this date in 1931

When to trust the experts?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Listen in …

… Episode 273 – Alberto Manguel – The Virtual Memories Show.

“I don’t know how people survive in the world without reading.”

Faith and a toothache …

… Informal Inquiries : This World is not Conclusion.

Hmm …

 Bill Clinton: Norms of ‘What You Can Do to Someone Against Their Will’ Have Changed.



I was under the impression it is always wrong to do something to someone against their will.

When TV was worth watching …

… Replay: Ingrid Bergman performs Jean Cocteau | About Last Night.



Francis Poulenc's opera version is also outstanding:



Tracking the decline …

… When diversity means uniformity | The Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… diversity, both the word and the concept, has crimped. It serves a strict, narrow agenda that has little or nothing to do with the productive dynamism of living and working alongside people with widely different upbringings and beliefs. Only particular and, if you will, privilegedbackgrounds count. Which is why Apple’s African-American diversity tsar, Denise Young Smith, got hammered last October after submitting, ‘There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.’ She hadn’t bowed to the newly shackled definition of the word, which has now been effectively removed from the language as a general-purpose noun.
The essence of a thing, classically defined, is that which makes it what it is. But what makes this particular thing what it is in particular is precisely what it does not have in common with anything else. This is true of persons as well as things. Diversity is the norm of being.

Anniversary …

 Informal Inquiries : The sound of water being poured in 1935.

The revel now is ended …

… Forgotten Poems #44: "After the Ball," by Nora Perry.



This is quite a haunting poem.

A winning combo …

 Rare and Common Sense by Theodore Dalrymple | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Great writers and artists should take part in politics only as a defence against politics.


–Tchekhov


In that last quotation lies the explanation of how a man as fundamentally indifferent or even hostile to politics as Leys should not only have written so much about it, but have written so well about it. Only a man for whom politics is a regrettable distraction from what is most important in life has the detachment to be so clear-sighted.
What Leys says about the opening sentence of Anthony Burgess’s Earthly Powers is correct, but I think the novel justifies it. He should have read it.


Something to think on …

As fascinated as I was by words on paper, it was matched by my fascination with words in people's mouths. The spoken word. And that is the world of theatre.
— Athol Fugard, born on this date in 1932

Sunday, June 10, 2018

In case you wondered …

… Dames, detectives and dope: why we still love hardboiled crime | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Seems to me crime stories have been around since Cain and Abel. In the case, the gumshoe is God.

This one truth …

… First Known When Lost: Arrival.

Wittgenstein's term "the sense of life" (in German, "der Sinn des Lebens") is a lovely way of describing what we may experience during one of those moments when the World communicates with us.  And, although science-enamored, ironic moderns may not like it, "mystical" is an entirely appropriate word to use when contemplating the possibility of arriving at a place where "the sense of life" becomes clear to us.

Grim but true …

… Informal Inquiries : ”Suicide in the Trenches”.

Shocking anniversary …

 Informal Inquiries : Hey, Ben, go fly a kite!

Hmm …

… A word to the wise: Why wisdom might be ripe for rediscovery - The Globe and Mail. (Hat tip, Dave Luul)

But what are the “domains of wisdom”? Alone and with colleagues, Dr. Jeste combed through wisdom about wisdom – ancient and modern texts, Eastern and Western texts, religious and scientific texts. When I asked what he had gleaned, he replied: “The concept of wisdom has stayed surprisingly similar across centuries and across geographic regions.” Again and again, modern scholarly definitions mention certain traits: compassion and prosocial attitudes that reflect concern for the common good; pragmatic knowledge of life; the use of one’s pragmatic knowledge to resolve personal and social problems; an ability to cope with ambiguity and uncertainty and to see multiple points of view; emotional stability and mastery of one’s feelings; a capacity for reflection and for dispassionate self-understanding.


Methinks, you have to have schools different from most of those that now claim to be such.

Time for a Raven Revival? - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog

… Time for a Raven Revival? - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… his work is full of allusions which most of us will not get, to Homer as well as to Shakespeare, and many, many other lesser names once commonly read, now forgotten.  This is probably the last faint echo in our cultural life of the old Classical education which the Public Schools used to provide, melancholy, beautiful, contemplative, best suited to summer evenings as the shadows lengthen, or to autumn days by the river Cam as the yellow leaves begin to fall on sheeted, chained-up punts.

An honest man …

 The Intimate Orwell | by Simon Leys | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the end, Orwell seems to have essentially reverted to his original position of “Tory Anarchist.” In a letter to Malcolm Muggeridge, there is a statement that seems to me of fundamental importance: “The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.”

Something to think on …

It has been said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but may it not be truer to say that to be absolutely powerful a man must first corrupt himself?
— Terence Rattigan, born on this date in 1911

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Karl Ove Knausgaard


I've been touring the seasons with Karl Ove Knausgaard; our most recent stop: Spring

I have to say at the start that while I liked this installment, I didn't find it as compelling as the first two: Fall and Winter. Perhaps that's because the content of this edition is a departure from those before it: in Spring, Knausgaard tells a story involving his family; the style and approach here are more reminiscent of My Struggle than of Fall or Winter, in which Knausgaard effectively offers short, aphoristic meditations on topics relevant to the season. 

Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy the book; it's more that I found it a little light: more a shell than a fully formed piece. As in previous volumes, Spring hinges on Knausgaard's newborn daughter; his relationship with her; her relationship with her siblings; and everyone's relationship with Knausgaard's wife, who struggles throughout Spring with mental illness and depression. Despite her absence, she's the figure, really, who propels the book, who drives Knausgaard to action. 

Of course Knausgaard's willingness to reveal the details of his wife's struggle -- and of his family's response to it -- can make for some uncomfortable reading. I felt the same way while reading the first volume of My Struggle: there's a sense in which Knausgaard's revealed too much: that even though I admire his honesty, I worry that he's using his family to advance a narrative that's not entirely his own. It can be too intimate. Though again, I think there's something laudable about this approach.

For me, one of the most lasting sections of Spring focuses on the distinction Knausgaard draws between the banal and the magical. "It was as if," he writes, "our lives played out in the borderland between two parallel realities." I think there's something to this: that, despite the often mundane aspects of our lives, we're still in the end surrounded by beauty. And so in this sense, Spring reads as a reminder: to seek that beauty, and to recognize wonder. We should be as children: giddy with excitement upon discovering the world around us. 

Turns of phrase …

… The Lost Lingo of New York City’s Soda Jerks - Gastro Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Behind the counter were the soda jerks. Their responsibilities were many—breaking and draining eggs with one hand, carving chicken, remembering orders, pulling the correct spigots and spindles on the drugstore soda fountain. But most of all, the Times reported, “the prime requisite of their station is the ability to bandy words.”

Anniversary …

… Informal Inquiries : Charles Dickens — R.I.P. (9 June 1870).

Odd surplus …

… The Vermont Town That Has Way Too Many Organs - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Thoughts for an aniversary …

 Far from alone | 100 years of fiction by enfranchised women. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Perhaps a more useful approach is to ask whether we can trace within women’s writing what Denise Riley called, in 1992, in an essay of that name, “A Short History of Some Pre­occupations”. Does the work reflect not simply current realities, but complex questions about women’s identities and roles? And do such reflections as occur fall into patterns that suggest either societal shifts, or the movement of literary generations and traditions, or both? Attempting to answer such questions with anything short of the entire library seems reductive. But if the centenary of suffrage helps us to view women’s writing not simply as an adjunct to men’s, nor as a set of spontaneous occurrences, but as a hundred years of women writers listening to each other, and paying attention to their own situation as emergent citizens, that’s surely to be celebrated.

In case you wondered …

… How to Eat an Apricot: Diane Ackerman on Art, Science, and Wonder – Brain Pickings. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

RIP …

… A People’s Historian: John Julius Norwich, 1929-2018. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Writers learn by reading other writers, and reading Norwich is a masterclass. Spring-heeled in his Gibbonian rhythms, alert for aesthetic and narrative treasure glinting by the side of political and military highways, magisterial in his sweep and subtle in his corrections of earlier historians, and never without a touch of Augustan irony, Norwich was a serious writer. He was also a modest one.

Soul without a face …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Olen Pond WWI Memorial (Frederick Hibbard), Sonnet #408.

The real deal …

… Mr. Rogers's Simple Set of Rules for Talking to Kids - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



The author of this piece, Max King, is also the former executive editor of The Inquirer.

Something to think on …

Do all the good you can and make as little fuss about it as possible.
— Charles Dickens, who died on this date in 1870

Pariah state...

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Blogging note …

A lot of things had to be dealt with today, starting very early. Hence, no blogging. In fact, I probably won’t resume blogging until tomorrow afternoon.

Something to think on …

Chance is better than choice; it is more lordly. Chance is God, choice is man.
— Elizabeth Bowen, born on this date in 1899

Roundup …

… MBR: Reviewer's Bookwatch, June 2018.



If you scroll down, you will see that, among the reviews is mine of Nausheen Eusuf's Not Elegy, but Eros.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Never forget June 6, 1944 …

… D-Day - World War II - HISTORY.com.

Anniversary …

 Informal Inquiries : “Big Brother” enters our vocabulary on 6 June 1949.

Cool …

 Photos Of The Week #22. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Revision …

 spotlight: Jericho Brown — underbelly. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Inside story …

… Amazing interiors: Osterley House, Isleworth - we love interiors. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Exploring the Ruins ...

In South Philly, Rebecca Bunting was a popular, tatted-up, 30-year-old bartender. 
But around the world, she was known as @_bword, for the persona she used to interact online with the global urban exploration community made up of photographers and thrill-seekers who trespass in abandoned spaces: Some enter these “bandos” for the sake of great photography, others do it for pure, unadulterated adrenaline.
And Bunting was one of the greats.
“She was the bando queen,” Carly Weiss, a friend and fellow urban explorer, said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
From philly.com

Differences …

… The New Yorker & Me: Amis v. Wood. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… there are at least two writers Amis and Wood disagree on – Nabokov and Updike. Amis loves their work; Wood, not so much.

Second thoughts …

… Memoir as Addiction: On Michelle Tea’s ‘Against Memoir’ - The Millions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… why is she now, after having made it such an important aspect of her writing life, against memoir? Well, she isn’t, exactly. But as she writes from her now-sober, more settled life, she recognizes it for the dangerous occupation that it is—a betrayal of friendships and confidences, the desire for revenge always slipping around under the surface like a shark.

Something to think on …

There are so many different kinds of stupidity, and cleverness is one of the worst.
— Thomas Mann, born on this date in 1875

Revival …

… Nine angry men | About Last Night.

So much life, so much death …

… Nigeness: 'At last overcome'.