Saturday, February 24, 2018

Living abroad …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Voltaire in Exile by Ian Davidson (2006).

Something to think on …

We say that someone occupies an official position, whereas it is the official position that occupies him.
— Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who died on this date in 1799

Don’t mess with these ladies …

… VIDEO: Female Clerks Win Insane Gunfight With Armed Robber - Blue Lives Matter.

Take-down …

… Unenlightened thinking: Steven Pinker’s embarrassing new book is a feeble sermon for rattled liberals. (hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… for Pinker there are no bad Enlightenment ideas. One of the features of the comic-book history of the Enlightenment he presents is that it is innocent of all evil. Accordingly, when despots such as Lenin repeatedly asserted that they engaged in mass killing in order to realise an Enlightenment project – in Lenin’s case, a more far-reaching version of the Jacobin project of re-educating society by the methodical use of terror – they must have been deluded or lying. How could a philosophy of reason possibly be implicated in murderous totalitarianism?

Awaiting contingency …

… Zealotry of Guerin: A Near Infinity, Sonnet #393.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Yes, he would …

 I miss Auberon Waugh. He’d know what to say about relentless women’s issues | The Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I didn’t know Auberon Waugh at all well, though at different times we both wrote for this magazine and I used to see him at Private Eye lunches. He called me (one of his favourite invented words) ‘a homosexualist’: Bron had a lifelong antipathy towards people who turned a disposition into a cause. But one could never get indignant about his sallies, even though I disagreed with his conservative theology, his derision of the anti-smoking lobby, his instinctive and contrarian twitting of almost anything you could call socially progressive, and his snorting dis-regard towards Margaret Thatcher.

Encouraging words …

… MUSIC: Remodernism Resonates with Composer George Pepper | THE REMODERN REVIEW. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



One of my sayings is, “if your life is not a spiritual adventure, you’re doing it wrong.” It applies to music as well. I feel connected to the Holy Spirit when I’m in the zone composing.

Q&A …

 The TLS interview: Twenty Questions with Steven Pinker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Which author (living or dead) do you think is most underrated?
Thomas Sowell, an eighty-seven-year-old African American economist, has written more than thirty mind-expanding books. These include his Culture trilogy which (among other things) anticipated Jared Diamond’s ideas in Guns, Germs, and Steel and explains the ubiquity of anti-Semitism; A Conflict of Visions, which identifies the rival theories of the human condition underlying left-wing and right-wing political ideologies; The Quest for Cosmic Justice, which compares this quixotic pursuit with the quest for human justice; Intellectuals and Society, an uncomfortable exposé of the follies of all-star intellectuals; and Late-Talking Children, which anticipated Simon Baron-Cohen’s work on the extreme male brain. Sowell is a libertarian conservative, which makes him taboo in mainstream intellectual circles, but even those who disagree are well advised to grasp his facts and arguments.

Chilling indeed …

… Outside It Is Already Winter: Two New Books on Stalinist Terror - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

Stalin’s innovative contribution to mass terror was to blur the lines separating prisoners from guards, the guilty from the not guilty, traitors from loyal Soviet citizens.

Odd that they're called "Intelligence" …

… Treachery and the Cold War - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Those dreaded artistic differences …

… Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral and artist spar over ‘Paul Cava/Inks’ | Broad Street Review.

I agree that this dust-up was avoidable. On the other hand, the exhibition just got more notoriety than it would have otherwise. God works in mysterious ways. Cava should say a prayer of thanks

Well, maybe …

… That’s What Experience Is All About - The Sun Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



Depends on your outlook, I guess.

Hmm …

… Enclosures | belz. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Verlaine, I think, put it rather well:



Let your verse be a good-luck charm

Scattered on the brisk morning wind

That passes smelling of mint and thyme.

And everything else is mere literature. 

Roundup …

… 8 New Photography Books Released in February. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Heading west …

… Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Blood and Thunder (2006).

Irresistible anecdotage …

… Two Classy Intellectual Sports Reunite | The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

On the question of the world as a whole, science founders. For scientific knowledge the world lies in fragments, the more so the more precise our scientific knowledge becomes.
— Karl Jaspers, born on this date in 1883

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Good Lord — Holmes! …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Empress of India (2006).

Blogging note …

I am off to do mucho errands. Will resume blogging when I can.

Utterly fascinating

Free CrossFit, Hot Yoga, and Lots of Naps:
A Week in the Life of a Lululemon Employee

Master of light …

… Vermeer (Modern Library Nonfiction #83) – Reluctant Habits.

Gowing frames Vermeer’s achievements by observing that this painter, unlike his 17th century Dutch peers Gabriël Metsu and Jan Steen, eschewed line and overt modelling work. Vermeer’s purity as an artist emerged with his curious pursuit of diffuse light at all costs. He remained quite impartial about how light spilled into his scenes.

Dreams and a theory of time …

… Reading Nabokov’s Dream Diary | New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

I bought a used copy of the red Faber edition of An Experiment With Time in 1991, at Abacus Book Shop on Gregory Street in Rochester, New York. Abacus has since moved to Monroe Avenue, but according to Dunne’s theory the bookshop still exists in its old location inside one of the matryoshka dolls of universal Time, with the unbought copy of his book still waiting on the shelf. I didn’t get very far in the book. Dunne writes, of his theory: “Serialism discloses the existence of a reasonable kind of ‘soul’—an individual soul which has a definite beginning in absolute Time—a soul whose immortality, being in other dimensions of Time, does not clash with the obvious ending of the individual in the physiologist’s Time dimension.” His dream prophecies and “Master-minds” and “Superbodies” bewildered me—really they seemed like a fancier way of talking about sibyls and angels and the hierarchy of heaven. And the pseudogeometrical figures, reminiscent of drawings in paperback explications of Einsteinian space-time, seemed—not to be rude—quite nutty.
What seems nutty to me is finding the book wanting after not getting very far into it.

Short on laughs, though …

 A Cartoon History of Late Antiquity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Most of The Darkening Age reads like an underachieving college sophomore's term paper.  Nixey stacks up superlatives for Romans, Greeks, and their culture as well as hate-drenched words for early Christians and their culture. She includes long paragraphs in the passive voice that make the reasoning impossible to follow, and even makes the bizarre observation that “thoughts were policed.” She footnotes inconsequential statements, but almost never footnotes the most sweeping (and usually false) claims. She uses words incorrectly (“assure” for “ensure” and “breathless” for “breathtaking”). She even has trouble with complete sentences, mixed metaphors, and noun/verb agreement.
Why would anybody publish something this bad? Because anti-Christianity is currently fashionable.




Q&A …

… Writing Isn't a Career, It's a Mission: An Interview with André Aciman - The Millions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Hmm. Samuel Johnson said that "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." He was a pretty good writer, and people still read his stuff. Of course, as Max Beerbohm sagely observed, "Only the insane take themselves quite seriously."

Good idea …

 Edna St Vincent Millay's poetry has been eclipsed by her personal life – let's change that | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Where should one begin with Millay? She had a famed predilection for Petrarchan sonnets and rhyming couplets, at odds with prominent experimental modernists of the era, such as TS Eliot and Wallace Stevens. But Millay expanded the scope of these poetic forms, presenting a bold, sexually charged vision of the female experience. Her verses serve as a kind of elaborate architecture, housing the fickle, frenetic movements of the heart that falls in love and then out of it. Renascence and other poems (1917), which includes the 200-plus line poem that brought her acclaim, also boasts six sonnets, all of which are outstanding in this respect.
She also wrote the libretto for Deems Taylor's opera The King's Henchmen, which was quite a hit, though long a victim of our cultural amnesia.

Listen in …

… Episode 257 – Jerry Beck – The Virtual Memories Show.

“I loved movies and I loved drawing, so animation was the perfect middle ground.”

Something to think on …

A man ceases to be a beginner in any given science and becomes a master in that science when he has learned that ... he is going to be a beginner all his life.
— R. G. Collingwood, born on this date in 1889

Life without misery...

...The poison we pick (Hat tip: Cynthia Haven.)
To see this epidemic as simply a pharmaceutical or chemically addictive problem is to miss something: the despair that currently makes so many want to fly away. Opioids are just one of the ways Americans are trying to cope with an inhuman new world where everything is flat, where communication is virtual, and where those core elements of human happiness — faith, family, community — seem to elude so many. Until we resolve these deeper social, cultural, and psychological problems, until we discover a new meaning or reimagine our old religion or reinvent our way of life, the poppy will flourish.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Dutch Conan Doyle …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): DeKok and the Dead Harlequin (2009).

Q&A …

… David Mamet on Chicago, His New Crime Novel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I’m basically nuts. I sit by myself every day, most days, eight hours in this little room. It feels like either a torment or an adventure. The only way I can still the torment or appreciate the adventure is to write it down.

Heft and gravity …

 Adam Zagajewski and “the battle to imbue life with maximal meaning” | The Book Haven.

 “We’ll be living in small ghettos, far from where celebrities dwell, and yet in every generation there will be a new delivery of minds that will love long and slow thoughts and books and poetry and music, so that these rather pleasant ghettos will never perish — and one day may even stir more excitement than we’re used to now.” 

RIP …

… Billy Graham, world's best-known evangelist, dies.

Hmm …

Marilynne Robinson’s Essays Reflect an Eccentric, Exasperating, Profound and Generous Mind. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
“Slander” is the story of Robinson’s strained relationship with her mother. “With a little difficulty we finally reached an accommodation, an adult friendship,” she writes. “Then she started watching Fox News.” 
Robinson seems more than a little like her character, the Rev. Robert Boughton, whom I described in my review of her novel Home as "self-righteous and self-centered." She is, after all, talking about her mother here. She may say that  democracy is my aesthetics and my ethics and more or less my religion,” but for her democracy and religion seem to be defined in a strictly partisan manner.

Something to think on …

You must be patient, you must wait for the eye of the soul to be formed in you. Religious truth is reached, not by reasoning, but by an inward perception. Anyone can reason; only disciplined, educated, formed minds can perceive.
— John Henry Newman, born on this date in 1801

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

To join or not …

… Two By Two | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

I’ve never been a writing group person.
Me, either. Unless you consider a newsroom a writing group.

An American faith …

… Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): American Transcendentalism (2007).

Someone has to do it, I guess …

… Help Wanted: Save Civilization - Taki's Magazine.



There are other signs of the end of civilization, according to the article, among them the election of Donald Trump and the vote on Brexit. This means that what stands between us and the collapse of civilization—or one of the things—is the European Parliament and the European Commission. I thought I was pessimistic, but this takes pessimism to a stage well beyond even mine. If one of the only things standing between us and the new Dark Ages is the European Commission, then all I can say is that those new Dark Ages will be very dark indeed.


Poetry roundup …

… including another review of Nausheen Eusuf's Not Elegy, But ErosA Single Small Voice and a Silence Answering After: Six Brief Reviews by Dante Di Stefano - The Best American Poetry.

Cultural capital and its depletion …

… the man-eating flower | Elberry's Ghost.

i don’t think it is possible for the demons to wholly sever our connection with the gods; though they are certainly trying and have thus far succeeded, by installing people like Theresa May, Angela Merkel, “Pope” Francis in order to destroy what remains of the traditional European religions and races. 

Bicentenary …

 Frederick Douglass at 200: A Reading List of American Slave Narratives — Black History Month | Bookwitty. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Bicentenary …

 Frederick Douglass at 200: A Reading List of American Slave Narratives — Black History Month | Bookwitty. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

FYI …

… New Poetry by Indigenous Women | Literary Hub.

A recent DNA test gives me reason to believe I have a drop of two of American Indian blood. The overall impression from the test is that my late brother was right when he said we were Heinzes — 57 different varieties.

Everyday human nastiness …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `The Flatulence of Pride'.

Flashback …

For Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Nearly 100, the Beat Goes On. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Bookstore adventures …

… Rough Draft 2/19/18: Flash Booksigning and Computer Surgery | Bill Peschel.

Saint Francis, a sow and more …

 On Poetry: Broken hearts are lovely, too | Local News | record-eagle.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



I am reminded of D. H. Lawrence's poem "Pomegranate," with its final lines:


For my part, I prefer my heart to be broken.
It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack.

Much in what he says …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Piece On Liberal Democrats And Illegal Immigrants.

I take cabs a lot these days, thanks to my increasingly gimpy knees, and as often as not the cab driver is an immigrant, a legal immigrant. I have talked to a lot of them, and their take on the subject of  illegal immigration is aptly summed up by the fellow from India who told me that “they should all have to go through the same crap I went through.” I often wonder why The Inquirer has never bothered to seek out the many legal immigrants in this city and solicit their viewpoints. I guess because it wouldn’t harmonize with the paper’s editorial platitudes.  

Master of word and image …

… The Lost Modernist by David Bentley Hart | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 The days when long, difficult poems were read by more than the tiniest and most eccentric minority, or when strange and wonderful pictures could divert any appreciable number of eyes from the vacuous spectacles of the popular media, are long past. But it is encouraging to see Jones receiving even a small measure of the attention he deserves.


The Real History and Legacy of the Knights Templar

One can almost smell the distinct air of the stake burning as the story advances.
In the end, the Templars fell short in sainthood and knighthood. Victims of both success and failure, the order’s spiritual virtues were undone by temporal vices—their own and others. Despite the dark corners of conspiracy theory and occult interest in which the name of the Order of the Temple is too often whispered, the truth of the Templars still resonates. At a recent Catholic Men’s conference in Phoenix, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said that knighthood provided the “animating ideal at the core of the Templars: to build a new order of new Christian men, skilled at arms, living as brothers, committed to prayer, austerity, and chastity and devoting themselves radically to serving the Church and her people, especially the weak.” To be a Christian is to be a warrior because, he said, “living the Gospel involves a very real kind of spiritual warfare.” 
The University Bookman's review of The Templars.

Political entropy …

 Witnessing the Collapse of the Global Elite - The Atlantic.

What was once a gathering of western national security experts, attended by a few scores of military people, civil servants, scholars, and journalists, has mutated into a policy happening attended by a global mob. And the seeming success of this event—its quantum growth in size, the policy stars it draws, the media attention it receives, its ever-growing sense of self-importance—masks its failure as an institution.



Something to think on …

The modern state no longer has anything but rights; it does not recognize duties any more.
— Georges Bernanos, born on this date in 1888

Monday, February 19, 2018

Mohsin Hamid


It's not often that I read contemporary literature, and it's especially not often that I read literature focused on modern themes: the iPhone, the Internet, gentrification -- these are topics that don't interest me as much as others. 

But for a number of reasons, I've recently read Exit West, Mohsin Hamid's novel of migration and dislocation in the modern world. Reading it was an unusual experience -- if for no other reason than I felt I was re-reading the news. For me, this was fundamentally depressing: for while the novel endows that news with a human quality, with people and places, the story it told was familiar. Sure, this shouldn't be held against its author, but for me, it didn't provide enough of an escape. 

Which is not to say that I target science fiction or fantasy: indeed, I don't. But thinking about it, I do target novels which chart a different space, which uncover a different way of seeing, of being. Often, these spaces, these worlds are set in the past -- they might, for instance, be Victorian. Regardless, there's something about them -- in their strange qualities, in their distance from the contemporary -- that holds my attention, that serves as a mirror for our experience today. 

I was talking with a friend about Exit West and she argued that while the story is familiar (in the sense that we continue to read about migration from the Middle East and North Africa), the novel has the potential to attract a different sort of attention to the crisis: it has, as I say, the potential to humanize the sorrow -- and in so doing, inspire action. 

All of this, of course, I agree with: there's no doubt that novels like Exit West cast a light on horrific stories, on stories that need to be told. But at the same time -- for me, at least -- they do that in a way that can be generic, almost rushed: the characters in Hamid's novel, for instance, show and share emotion; they do it, though, without the sort of intensity or detail I might have expected. The same goes for their motivation: Hamid makes it clear why they're on the move, but the way they process this change, as fictional entities, felt limited. 

Ultimately, Exit West was most successful, I felt, when posing questions about the idea of "home." What is it? How do we construct it? And what does it take to leave it? These questions were at the heart of the novel and helped reorient my approach to "the news." When seen as a quest for home, contemporary migration becomes a fundamentally human journey. There's no looking away when it comes to building a home: we all share the desire for rootedness, even as we exit our native land. 

2-18-18 Big Sky MT



And the winner is …

 Philadelphia author Erin Entrada Kelly wins prestigious Newbery medal - Philly.

Inquirer reviews …

…My review of a book by a young poet well worth keeping an eye on: Nausheen Eusuf's 'Not Elegy, But Eros': Love, and the life of the senses.

… Pinker's 'Enlightenment Now': Sometimes overdone, but a much-needed reminder of reason's place.

… Kate Bowler's 'Everything Happens for a Reason': Love stands up to terror, suffering.

You can't make this up …

 Dr. Helen: Men Living Longer: Women and minorities hardest hit?






Blogging note …

I have to be out and about again. So blogging will resume sometime later.

Virgil as oracle …

… Ed Simon: When Books Read You. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

John Aubrey records that a year before the King’s decapitation, Charles’ son then living in exile in Paris asked the metaphysical poet Abraham Cowley to divert his own sorrows, writing that his friend offered “if his Highnesse pleased they would use ‘Siortes Virgilianae,’” as the poet, of course, “alwaies had a Virgil in his pocket.” This time, instead of letting the book fall open, Cowley rather took a pin and pushed it into the soft pages of the Aeneid, the prick arriving at the proper prediction for the royal estate. Both father and son, as it turned out, arrived at the exact same line regarding the Stuart family fortunes.  What of Charles’ lot, and that of the prince, which so distressed both of them? Book 4 of the Aeneid, line 615, which is Dido’s prayer against her former lover, reading: “Nor let him then enjoy supreme command; / But fall, untimely, by some hostile hand.” In 1649 Charles would stand as upon the scaffold at Westminster, wearing his extra heavy shirt and quoting his Sidney, awaiting the regicide’s blade on his neck. Virgil may guide everyone to the truth, but that doesn’t mean that the truth will always set one free.

Something to think on

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.
— André Gide, who died on this date in 1951

On the road …

A Literary Road Trip Into the Heart of Russia. (Hat tip, G.E. Reutter.)

It's by Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Mark thy calendar …

… Memento Park (2018) — Mark Sarvas.

Forthcoming …

… Cli-Fi.Net -- the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi: Barbara Kingsolver's new novel "Unsheltered" probes new feminist territory in New Jersey history.

The way things were …

… The Magical Power of Dictionaries - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In school we were taught to be curious. Whenever we asked a teacher what something meant, we were told to "look it up in the dictionary!" We never thought of this as a punishment. On the contrary: With this command we were given the keys to a magic cavern in which one word would lead without rhyme or reason (except an arbitrary alphabetical reason) to the next. 

Anniversary …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Wheresoever She Was, There Was Eden: For Mark Twain, It Was Love At First Sight When He Saw A Photo of Olivia Langton.

The dangers of received opinion...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Renaissance man …

 Public intellectuals, private intellectuals, and a professor of football | The Book Haven.

Announcement …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): The boy who cried wolf must now confront the bastard.

Still truckin'

 Q&A: At age 90, Mary Higgins Clark is still the queen of literary suspense | WTOP. (Hat tip, G. E. Reutter.)

Q&A …

… Paul Davis On Crime: An Interview With British Thriller Writer Len Deighton, The Author Of 'The Ipcress File,' 'Funeral In Berlin' And 'SS-GB'.

Watering holes …

… A Visual Tour of 35 Literary Bars and Cafés from Around the World | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Home is where the heart is …

… Making a Music Room #01 Photo by Rus Bowden — National Geographic Your Shot.

Trusting the inner voice …

… ‘I strive to bring the unimaginable into my poetry and into readers’ ordinary lives’. (Hat tip, G.E. Reutter.)

Poets are not prophets or journalists, but artists of a visual language, words their medium. Fear of being misunderstood is the greatest obstacle, so one inevitably begins to write for an audience rather than for oneself. Working in this manner only creates predictable and static poetry, obsessed in getting our message across, as if this is the poet’s only pursuit, but the inner voice is the only voice the poet can truly trust.

Latter-day orthodoxy …

… Stone Walls and No Discussions - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ideas freeze. Their proponents become harsh-minded and dictatorial. Many of the ideas the left affirms now grew out of ’60s radical politics. Then they were vital and life-endowing. Now it seems that, though still worthy on some level, they are tired. Their proponents have no humor, no brio. They do not like to laugh. Emerson tells us that we need to pass beyond frozen, once-worthy ideas — or at least break them up and reconsider.
Or, as Max Beerbohm sagely observed, "only the insane take themselves quite seriously."


Experiment and popularity …

… Hanif Kureishi: my beautiful box-set binge | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I grew up in the '50s watching TV when it was supposed to be a vast wasteland (you know, crap like a dramatization of Boswell's life of Johnson starring Peter Ustinov on Omnibus). Today, about the only thing I turn it on for is to watch a movie. I did watch some episodes of Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle, but wasn't impressed. 

An anniversary and a question …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): On this day in 1885 — Twain publishes the GAN.

Something to think on …

Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Well socialism is exactly the reverse.
— Len Deighton, born on this date in 1929


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Much in what he says …

… Steven Pinker: Identity Politics Is 'An Enemy of Reason and Enlightenment Values' | The Weekly Standard.

… when it spreads beyond the target of combatting discrimination and oppression, it is an enemy of reason and Enlightenment values, including, ironically, the pursuit of justice for oppressed groups. For one thing, reason depends on there being an objective reality and universal standards of logic. As Chekhov said, there is no national multiplication table, and there is no racial or LGBT one either.

The Psalms and the editor from Hell …

… Maryann Corbett on Alan Sullivan. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Anniversary …

… Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): On this day in 1801, Thomas Jefferson is elected the third president of the United States.

Hmm …

… La Lumière Blanche | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Congratulations!

 Anecdotal Evidence: `My Yale College and My Harvard'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The mysterious Sappho …

 Guide to the classics: Sappho, a poet in fragments. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Pictures of a lost world …

 Unseen 1960s Photos of London's East End - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

“…the photographer knows he’s getting the last shots of those wharves, steamers and warehouses before they are replaced by imagined hotels and marinas, the proto-blueprint for the new world dominated by leisure, tourism and heritage replicas. These post-dockland utopias are soon to be upgraded into big business steel and glass, craven monuments of late capitalism. The future was in a distant haze, just around the corner.”

Who?

… Zealotry of Guerin: Little Owl (Durer), Sonnet #392.

Words and drawings …

… Frank O'Hara & ‘the Skies of Italy in New York’ | by Barry Schwabsky | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The collaboration between O’Hara and Schifano is fully realized in the eighteen-page-long Words & Drawings, just published in its entirety in a beautifully designed and printed edition by the Archivio Mario Schifano in Rome (unfortunately, in an edition of just 300 numbered copies, plus fifty hors de commerce, which means that it still won’t be as widely seen as it should among admirers of the poet and the artist; though it is a step forward considering that, until now, just four pages had been published in an obscure journal from Palermo.)



Classic debut …

 Project MUSE - The Bestiary, or Procession of Orpheus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.
— Jiddu Krishnamurti, who died on this date in 1986

Friday, February 16, 2018

Makes you wonder …

… 25 Legendary Literary Feuds, Ranked | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No one comes off well in this except Janet Flanner.

Reading plan …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): 13 minutes a day — reading plan.

3 times 365 means over a thousand in the past year alone ...

If you reside in America and it is dinnertime, you have almost certainly broken the law. In his book Three Felonies a Day, civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate estimates that the average person unknowingly breaks at least three federal criminal laws every day. This toll does not count an avalanche of other laws — for example misdemeanors or civil violations such as disobeying a civil contempt order — all of which confront average people at every turn.

Master inspector …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Maigret (2015).

The miraculous puddle …

… First Known When Lost: Mirrors, Glimmers, Glimpses.

… I have sung the praises of puddles -- those World-reflecting wonders -- in the past, and I will do so again now. At the beginning of last week, on my afternoon walk, I was marveling at how the beauty of bare branches set against a cloud-dappled blue sky becomes deeper, more profound, when seen on the surface of a humble puddle. But that is not the end of it: the beauty takes on yet a different aspect as you begin to walk. All of the intricacy, color, and depth moves along with you, at your feet, as you pass beside the bright water -- an entire upside-down World in motion.

Beyond categories …

 Literatainment: A Personal Breakthrough - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It’s a ceaseless tide, I suspect, a ceaseless back and forth. It’s also the subject I seem to keep veering toward (just now I’ve decided to commit myself to it, once and for all), a subject that already wakes me up in the morning and tucks me in at night. “Hybridity,” it might be called. Or genre mixing, “register” mixing — the shaking up of categories, the alchemical stirring together of “high” and “low.”

Something to think on …

They know enough who know how to learn.
— Henry Adams, born on this date in 1838

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wow …

Poetry Daily: Elegy for India's Daughter, by Nausheen Eusuf.



I have been assured that review I have written of a volume of verse by Ms. Eusuf will run in this Sunday’s Inquirer.

Clint Eastwood's latest

Just as the movie is built as a long flashback, Eastwood works out his story in reverse, looking at the American society in which the three heroes were raised and seeing particular tendencies that allowed their characters to flourish, even as they floundered, before they had any accomplishments to show for themselves. It’s here that Eastwood crafts a distinctively American tale: a story of second and third chances, of alternate schools and the right to own guns, of casual employment and easy credit, of loose families with tight bonds. If you want a society to produce these types of men, the film suggests, you’d do well to start with this set of conditions. 

R.I.P.

To the people that died in the horrific school shooting in Florida.  
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Cultural Clickbait!

Fifty years after the sexual revolution, sex in America is in decline. Americans are having less sex, the share of Americans who say they never once had sex in the past year is rising, and—perhaps most surprising—this revolution in sexual behavior is being led by the young. 

Reading about reading

In the preface to his great collection of essays The Dyer’s Hand, W.H. Auden claimed: ‘I prefer a critic’s notebooks to his treatises.’ Auden’s criticism is like that: a passage of insights instead of a single sustained argument, and the same is true of Samuel Johnson, whose works are a pleasure to read for the feeling of the pressure of a great mind at play. Clive James belongs in this company.
His new book Latest Readings is a kind of reading diary: a collection of short essays, each prompted by one book or a handful he happens to be reading. 

Conspirators …

… Twenty | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)