Friday, August 31, 2007
Well, I guess not. It is extremely useful to distinguish, as Derbyshire does, between illusion and representation. Derbyshire mentions Descartes, but I kept thinking of Schopenhauer.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Bryan links to this also, but I want to make sure you don't miss it: Angels and Quanta.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
And this indeed an interesting bit of ecumenism.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
... I find Simenon's The Engagement grimly fascinating: Absorbing novel from Simenon's dark side.
... Katie Haegele finds a replacement for authors: At last, books without those pesky authors.
... Jonathan Trumbull is charmed by Aoibheann Sweeney's Among Other Things,
I've Taken Up Smoking: Bearing her own metamorphoses.
... Sandy Bauers heeds the flock: Sheep safely graze and play sleuth in this charming tale.
During the past week:
... Ed Pettit liked an old diary: A Phila. gentleman warms to Lincoln.
... and Glenn Altschuler pondered a fresh look at the Bard: Much ado was not always made.
I sent an email alerting the powers that be that the link to the slide show of Eric Mencher's wonderful photos is not working. With any luck that will soon be fixed.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
I especially like the refrain "Gra-ham Greene!"
Here, by the way, are the lyrics.
Friday, August 24, 2007
|You Are a Club Sandwich|
You are have a big personality. It's hard for anyone to ignore you!
You dream big. You think big. And you eat big.
Some people consider you high maintenance, but you just know what you want... and when you want it.
Your best friend: The Tuna Fish Sandwich
Your mortal enemy: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Nowadays, people spend tens of thousands of dollars every year so their kids can go to a big-box university and be taught by teaching assistants. John Burke may never have been a "name" scholar, but he was one hell of a teacher. One of the things I learned from him is that literature is first and foremost about life and the living of it.
Somerset Maugham was out of fashion in the academy back then - I guess he still is - but John Burke taught us to be suspicious of literary fashion. He made sure we knew the people behind the texts and the circumstances that gave birth to them. A class of his would commonly range from a discussion of Emerson's "The American Scholar" to a digression on Gounod's Faust followed by some commentary on Bette Davis and Leslie Howard's performances in Of Human Bondage.
Great teachers are an immense force for good. I have been blessed to have had several. Thinking about it now, I realize that John Burke's influence on me has proved both indelible and immeasurable. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.
Here is the PeterLeeson piece referred to: Anarchy Unbound.
I suppose it's only fair to mention that, by some odd fluke, the book I review in my column on Sunday is from NYRB: Georges Simenon's The Engagement.
The Robert Montgomery Bird book sounds like one Ed Pettit would want to review.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
And here is the unfortunately titled My Lady Carey's Dompe.
I read everything if I'm reviewing the book. But I've actually read War and Peace twice (once, though, in an abridged version - minus the essays). As for Proust, I haven't even skimmed him -started Swann's Way several decades ago and drifted off sometime after he dipped the madeleine.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
... Randall Hoven begs to differ, however.
... Cameron Wybrow raises some interesting questions regarding controversial microbiologist Michael Behe's latest take on Darwinism: Pa. scientist again attacks evolution.
... Deen Kogan sings the praises of Richard Sand: Tough-guy private eye coping with personal issues.
... Sarah Weinman thinks Charlotte Mendelson's When We Were Bad is pretty good: Sharp tale of hip Jewish family imploding.
... Katie Haegele likes both Aprils - author Lurie and heroine Lundquisr: Young Adult Reader | Teen heroine's good deed entangles her with the Mafia.
During the past week:
... Joanne NcNeil liked William Gibson's Spook Country: Cyber-noir thriller goes spy-tech.
... Bernard Jacobson had very high praise indeed for Howard Jacobson's Kalooki Nights: He has dealt us simply a great book.
... an Inquirer religion reporter David O'Reilly took a look at very different view of God: A jealous God, one in need of coaching.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
There's also this, from Dave Lull: Major New Theory Proposed to Explain Global Warming.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
You can see it here.
I have to say I've suspected as much.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Your Score: Demotic
You are Demotic, the degenerate wild child of Hieroglyphics. At least, that's what Hieroglyphics used to say. Quicker, nimbler but a definite trouble-maker in the family.
|Link: The Which Ancient Language Are You Test written by imipak on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test|
... by and large there has been a massive shift in the technological foundation of our writing, literary and otherwise; in the particular realm of literature and literary scholarship, this means that a writer working today will not and cannot be studied in the future in the same way as writers of the past, since the basic material evidence of their authorial activity — manuscripts and drafts, working notes, correspondence, journals — is, like all textual production, increasingly migrating to the electronic realm.
... from A Reader's Guide to Hilaire Belloc. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Monday, August 13, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
As someone well past 50, I suppose I should find this depressing: "The truth is that the young (meaning anybody under 50), however well-meaning, are impatient of or disgusted by the old. And they are confirmed in their prejudice by the unfortunate fact that even the most expensive modern medicine, though it may keep you alive, does not, as yet, rejuvenate. Once you're old, you stay old. Most damagingly, cognitive ability declines and nothing more effectively encourages impatience in the young than elderly forgetfulness or mental incompetence."
Only I haven't found my cognitive ability declining yet - not that it was ever at Einsteinian levels - and I have sometimes been appalled to encounter ignorance, credulity, and lack of curiosity on the part of the young.
And I still would like to know why this never gets any attention. More here.
... I finally get around to writing about Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan: A lively, sassy study of what's not known. This turns out to be even shorter than the one I wrote - though whoever did the trimming did a fine job. (It seems a couple of ads took pride of place on the main book page this week. Well, they do help pay the bills. Missing is a review of Howard Jacobson's Kalooki Nights, which must be cursed: This is about the third time it's been held.)
Update: Dave Lull reminds me that in Fooled by Randomness Taleb traces the term Black Swan to J.S. Mill: "In his Treatise on Human Nature, the Scots philosopher David Hume posed the issue in the following way (as rephrased in the now famous black swan problem by John Stuart Mill): No amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion." I don't recall that Taleb brings this up in The Black Swan and I mentioned Popper because I was familiar with the essay I quoted from. Taleb does mention that C.S Peirce came up with a version of the Black Swan solution long before Popper.
... John Freeman finds Rachel Seiffert's latest intriguingly ambiguous: Looking at how the burdens of the past affect us .
... Sandy Bauers listens to Harry and praises Jim Dale: Dale's many voices bring world of Harry Potter to life.
... Kristin Granero finds the mystery's not the most important thing in Tasmina Perry's debut: 4 glam sisters suspect in kin's death.
... And Carlin Romano looks at time travel: Pastward travel and theories of time.
This past week ...
... Ed Sozanski enjoyed Andrew Ferguson on Lincoln: Adoring Abe: How and why we love Lincoln.
Check the book page for more.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
It is easy to look at "For Once, Then, Something" or "Design" and imagine that Frost scorned religious faith; but even those poems are cannily made to keep the "wrong" people from understanding exactly what he thought and felt about some things (as he suggests in "Directive"). Doubt is an integral part of genuine faith, and Frost explored the theology of doubt with astounding honesty and passion. But his many doubts never added up to a denial of basic things of the spirit, since spirit was a vital part of his dualism, along with matter. As he wrote to Louis Untermeyer early in their friendship, "I discovered that do or say my damdest [sic] I can't be other than orthodox in politics, love, and religion: I can't escape salvation."
This is terrific - presumably Jody's own:
picks up the rice in a church
where a wedding has been.
Lives in a dream . . .
All the lonely doubters,
where do they all come from?
All the lonely doubters,
where do they all belong?
Friday, August 10, 2007
"As neighbours in St James's, poet and publisher exchanged notes and letters by hand or by messenger, sometimes two or three times a day." Sounds like they would have loved email - and will email in the right hands give us something comparable?
Thursday, August 09, 2007
"These graphs were created by NASA's Reto Ruedy and James Hansen (who shot to fame when he accused the administration of trying to censor his views on climate change). Hansen refused to provide McKintyre with the algorithm used to generate graph data, so McKintyre reverse-engineered it. The result appeared to be a Y2K bug in the handling of the raw data."
Says a lot about Hansen.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
By the way, for what it's worth, the record high temperature in Philadelphia for yesterday's date was 103 in 1918; the record low was 53 in 1957. I realize, of course, that weather and climate are not the same - unless, of course, you work for the UN.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Sunday, August 05, 2007
I was away when the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, encouraging wider celebration of the Tridentine Mass, was issued. But I was amused when my colleague David O'Reilly reported that the Philadelphia archdiocese was "studying the three-page document." What exactly don't you understand, your Eminence?
I have just been reading this two-volume set of Wilson's work. I was struck by how wrong he was about poetry - unimpressed by Wallace Stevens, dismissive of Robert Frost, confused - it seems to me - about e.e. cummings. I also found the tone of his early work pompous - he lightens up a bit as he grows older. And I might add that To the Finland Station may be one of the first histories of the Russian Revolution, but it also one of the worst. None of which is to suggest that Wilson's work isn't still worth reading, if only out of curiosity. The overall impression I've had so far is how ephemeral criticism can be even when done with high seriousness.
Now, Bob Hoover's a friend and a great guy, but I have to demur on a couple of points. One is that the objectivity on the Fox News Channel seems no thinner than that of CNN, MSNBC (check out the loathesome Keith Olbermann, Bob), the networks, and PBS. The other is that what he and Sven Birkerts think is so important about print has nothing to do with print itself. No reason why you can't have a fully edited, in the old-fashoned sense, Web site (and I believe you will have just that sooner or later).
... Rita Giordano is surprised by Tony Romano's debut: Italian immigrants' tale of death and family secrets.
... Leonard Boasberg recommends Kenneth Pyle's Japan Rising: Explaining Japan for Westerners The key: Trends, not principles, are a guide.
... Katie Haegele is impressed by a graphic novel for young adults: Young Adult Reader | Inventive graphic novel for girls explores fear of the future.
... Carlin Romano is unimpressed by a philosophy professor's view of Ingmar Bergman: Failed attempt at explaining Bergman's genius.
During the past week, Jen Miller considered a book about medical serendipity: How luck leads to medical breakthroughs.
Sometime soon they will figure out how to get my review of Per Petterson's award-winning novel Out Stealing Horses online.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Shelley, Walter Pater, and Knut Hamsun were also born on this date.
Here is Pater's fasmous Conclusion to The Renaissance, with its suggestion that "To burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life."
Most important of all, though: The great Raoul Wallenberg was born on this date in 1912.
I get edited and I edit. I have been unusually fortunate in editors. The excellent Jeff Weinstein was succeeded by the equally excellent John Timpane. Thanks to them I am always more or less presentable in print.
But what I especially like about Kamiya's piece is his well-reasoned position regardiung the internet and blogging:
In the brave new world of self-publishing, editors are an endangered species. This isn't all bad. It's good that anyone who wants to publish and has access to a computer now faces no barriers. And some bloggers don't really need editors: Their prose is fluent and conversational, and readers have no expectation that the work is going to be elegant or beautifully shaped. Its main function is to communicate clearly. It isn't intended to last.
Still, editors and editing will be more important than ever as the Internet age rockets forward. The online world is not just about millions of newborn writers exulting in their powers. It's also about millions of readers who need to sort through this endless universe and figure out which writers are worth reading. Who is going to sort out the exceptional ones? Editors, of some type. Some smart group of people is going to have to separate the wheat from the chaff. And the more refined that separation process is, the more talent -- and perhaps more training -- will be required.
Evidence that the phenomenon is not confined to these shores is provioded by Michael Holroyd in With thanks to my cat. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)