Sunday, September 30, 2007
It would appear that they have established that mental illness and creativity both correlate to low levels of latent inhibition. They have not, however, established that mental illness and creativity correlate to each other. They assume that. Notice also this quote: "The normal person classifies an object, and then forgets about it, even though that object is much more complex and interesting than he or she thinks. The creative person, by contrast, is always open to new possibilities." Again, creativity is assumed to be abnormal, and normal people are assumed to lack creativity.
Why publishing book reviews makes sense
There, in the mirror - a book banner!
His last tome is a big one.
Local writers repay their mentor: David Halberstam.
Memoir of family tragedy.
... Bryan Appleyard looks at The Spiritual Brain: A response to atheists, materialists. Bryan links to this here and comments have started to arrive.
... David Hiltbrand is underwhelmed by the new Ron Liebman: Oh, for characters with character!
... Katie Haegele doe multimedia: Multimedia: The more the merrier.
... Elizabeth Fox has mixed feeling about C.S. Richardson's latest: A flawed run through the alphabet.
... Katie Haegele likes Zane' Trace: Young Adult Reader | Teen boy has a compulsion to write, and a death wish.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
But I have heard that Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens are on their way there to lead some more demonstrations. I have heard that, haven't I?
"It's a balancing act," said Carlin Romano, the longtime book critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer. "And in this case, I think the Times Book Review knows exactly what it's doing, to tilt the balance in order to attract more advertising. But they're also giving a lot more authors the right to claim now that they're bestsellers. This will give them very good exposure, but philosophically, the more bestsellers you have, the less the term means."
I believe Carlin has questioned the accuracy - or something - about this quote, but I can';t seem to find what his objection was. As it stands, though, I tend to agree.
Friday, September 28, 2007
It's a fair question. To what extent are the details of an author's life pertinent to that author's fiction? Usually not to any very great extent, even when the fiction is evidently "autobiographical." Henry Miller the person was apparently not all that much like the Val Miller of the Tropics. The real Jack Kerouac wasn't that much like Sal Paradise or Ray Smith. But Carlin's point in the case of Roth is, I think, that Roth's fictions are not really very fictitious and are in fact self-justifications - apologiae pro vitae suae. Can they therefore be judged as one might an autobiography? Well, as I said, it's a fair question.
Since there are more people than ever before, I think it's safe to assume there are more readers than ever. There certainly seem to be more books being published, in one way, shape, form or another than ever before. The literary landscape is different from what it was, not necessarily worse, and not, of course, necessarily better. The only constant is change.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Here's something from "Gerontion":
|After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now|
|History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors|
|And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,||35|
|Guides us by vanities. Think now|
|She gives when our attention is distracted|
|And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions|
|That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late|
|What’s not believed in, or if still believed,||40|
|In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon|
|Into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with|
|Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think|
|Neither fear nor courage saves us.|
"Nice thought if you can abide it. Unfortunately, it’s false to all human experience to find “growth” in tragedy. In fact, the dull truth is that pain is tautological. The only thing suffering teaches us is that we are capable of suffering. "
Maugham makes a quite similar point. Read to the end of this.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
"... his greatest legacy was that he embodied the true meaning of education - not something you pick up at school and university and are done with, but a lifelong exploration, as natural as breathing, and ending only with the breath."
(Of course, it is a stretch to imagine Nige "at loggerheads with all other teachers," don't you think?)
Monday, September 24, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
"The concerns were raised over the levels of emissions of nitrous oxide, which is 296 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Scientists found that the use of biofuels released twice as much as nitrous oxide as previously realised."
Nitrous oxide is laughing gas. Maybe if enough of it gets into the atmosphere, we'll all start having a brighter outlook.
"Freud said we all seek [authoritative father] figures, in both political and personal life." Now I'm only one person, but that is still enough to call into question a universal proposition, and actually, I know perfectly well that I am not the only person who not only has never sought such, but has always been antipathetic to same.
... Glenn Altschuler looks back at when pop music was, well, musical: Composers who set America humming.
... Roger Miller praises one of our best - and lesser known - novelists: Bold fictions aimed at getting to the facts.
... Michelle Reale is moved by Pia Erhardt's debut collection of stories: The pursuit of love, searingly depicted.
... David Montgomery likes Wiliam Lashner's hero and his latest tale: Thriller's hero is an everyday guy.
... Sandy Bauers listens to Barry Eisler: A voice that makes a mundane spy caper escapist fun.
This past week:
... Allen Barra liked the book accompanying Ken Burns's latest documentary: 'War' springs from the page.
... and Carlin Romano looked at the virtual Halberstam tour: Halberstam friends band for book blitz.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
And so, dear readers, light blogging today.
As Dave Lull points out, we've linked to this before: Uh-oh ... It's just when I see that word sprezzatura ....
Of course, sprezzatura has its perils: If you don't look like you're working at something, some people may think you're not working at it.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Carlin and I have no trouble getting along.
Many years ago, after reviewing both the collected poems and collected essays of J.V. Cunningham, I got a thank-you note from Cunningham, who said, "Tt is nice to be praised for the things one would want to be praised for." I now really know what he meant.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Of course, evidence-based science is always a good idea: More Than Half of Analyzed Weather Stations Don’t Meet Federal Guidelines.
To wit: "In the vicinity of Noisysur-École, M. Louis Delillieau, 70, dropped dead of sunstroke. Quickly his dog Fido ate his head."
I must say, Fénéon does have a certain sociopathic look to him.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
- Bryan Appleyard's - John Gray's apocalypse.
- John Banville's - Rocky Road to utopia.
- A.C. Grayling's - Through the looking glass.
I think Grayling is right when he criticizes Gray for a too broad application of the term religion. but I think Grayling is wrong when he fails to see that it is not religion itself that causes the evils he deplores. It is is when religion is joined with political power. This usually happens because the state finds religion useful as a social adhesive. Moreover, the connection between political power and religious belief seems to have been operative in human affairs from the beginning. Jesus appears to have first formulated a doctrine of separation of the church from the state when he declared, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Which his professed followers probably honored until they had the chance to share in Caesar's power. Lord Acton remains correct: "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Here is some further comment, also courtesy of Dave: Are we making progress?
Monday, September 17, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
What is being overlooked in all this is that the Internet is not simply a repository for traditional content, but is developing new forms of content as well. This is what nobody is quite sure about — though it is fair to say that, whatever impact the Internet may have had so far on literature, it is likely a good deal less than the impact it is going to have.
So far its impact has simply been its challenge to print. But already there is developing online what is called distributed narrative, which involves telling a story by means of networks. A good example would be email narratives. Michael Betcherman and David Diamond, for instance, put together something called The Daughters of Freya. This was an email mystery. If you subscribed, you received a number of emails every day, each of which would deepen the mystery and advance the progress toward a solution. (Figure out a way to integrate hyperlinks into narrative — perhaps someone already has — and a whole new kind of story-telling will become possible.)
At Blue’s Cruzio Café, poetry is combined with animation and jazz: You click on a picture and the portrait starts to recite the poem to a jazz accompaniment. Poetry has exploded online, as I discovered when I wrote about it last year for The Inquirer. I announced my intention on my blog — yes, I blog — and invited comments, suggestions, information, links. I ended up with a story that was reported entirely via Internet.
The Internet has revived literary activities that had been on the wane. Not many people correspond by letter anymore, but everybody does email and it seems altogether possible that email will develop into an art much as letter-writing did. Who knows what literary potential blogging may have? But consider this: The essay began as Montaigne’s method of exploring the contents of his consciousness, but quickly morphed into a vehicle for displaying literary style. Blogging may bring it back to what Montaigne was originally aiming at.
John Alec Baker
(English writer, 1926-)
Also known as: J. Alec Baker, John Russell Baker, J. A. Baker
Source: Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2002.
Entry Updated : 07/16/2001
Christopher Wordsworth says of The Peregrine: "This rapt and remarkable
book is the record of a 10 year obsession and a paean to the winter
landscape of East Anglia." Ralph C. Baxter feels that "the genre may be
confusing to define. . . . It probably has to be called the winter
diary of a naturalist--though it is both more and less." Baxter
describes the language as "brutal, hard, Saxon in quality. Yet it is
sharp, crisp, buright, like the fire that Baker perceives glowing in
the breasts of the peregrine falcons (females) and tiercels (males). .
. . The language is perhaps the most poetic prose I have recently read.
. . . It is perhaps Baker's complete readiness to accept the truth of
nature--its uncompromising quality--that makes The Peregrine such a
"The Hill of Summer," writes Neil Millar, "is not just another nature
book. It is unique, poetic, feeling as well as seeing, built out of a
naturalist's observation and a prose like adolescence: sensitive,
romantic, clear-eyed, gawky, beautiful." Richard Kenneggy notes that
"To read a few pages of The Hill of Summer is like finding there is
still peace on earth."
Family: Born August 6, 1926, in Chelmsford, Essex, England; son of
Wilfred Samuel (a draftsman) and Pansy (Collis) Baker; married Doreen
Grace Coe, October 6, 1956. c/o William Colins Sons & Co., 14 St. James
Pl., London S.W.1, England. Education: Attended schools in Chelmsford
until seventeen. Politics: None. Religion: Protestant.
Arts Council of Great Britain prose bursary, 1967; Duff Cooper Memorial
Prize, 1968, for The Peregrine.
Worked at fourteen "miscellaneous" jobs, 1943-65, including clerk,
schoolteacher, attendant at British Museum Library, and laborer.
WRITINGS BY THE AUTHOR:
The Peregrine, Harper, 1967.
The Hill of Summer, Collins, 1969, Harper, 1970.
FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Observer, March 19, 1967;
Times Literary Supplement, June 15, 1967;
Best Sellers, October 1, 1967;
New Yorker, October 28, 1967;
Books and Bookmen, September, 1969;
Christian Science Monitor, February 26, 1970;
Washington Post, March 27, 1970.
Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2007. Reproduced in Biography
Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007.
Document Number: H1000004475
... and The Nonbelievers. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
Of course, the real test is staying power. Religion has definitely demonstrated - and continues to demonstrate - that it has what it takes when it comes to longevity. Of course, atheism has been around a long time, too. ("The fool saith in his heart, 'There is no God.' ") I think it will continue, but as a distinctly minority viewpoint, one of its main problems being a disinclination on the part of its adherents to breed (not very Darwinian of them, I must say).
... Sandy Bauers tells a fish story that is sadly true: The grim history of disappearing fish.
... Thomas Devaney is much taken with Charles North's poetry: Patter up: Verse that covers all the bases.
... Richard DiDio is impressed by a real Indiana Jones: On the trail of objects taken from Second Temple.
... Martha Woodall finds Elise Juska's latest novel enchanting: A Phila. family seen fresh from Ireland.
... Katie Haegele follows Walter Dean Myers back to 145th Street: Young Adult Reader | A return to '145th Street' to look at young people in love.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
In an altogether different connection, though, I particularly liked this:
Justin Barrett, an evolutionary psychologist now at Oxford, is also a practicing Christian. He believes that an all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly good God crafted human beings to be in loving relationship with him and with one another. “Why wouldn’t God,” he asks, “design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?” Even if these mental phenomena can be explained scientifically, the psychological explanation does not mean that we should stop believing. “Suppose that science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me,” he writes. “Should I then stop believing that she does?”
Of course, this will surely be dismissed by the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens. You can never accommodate true believers.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Roger Simon, however, links us to a reminder that some things never change: In Praise of Victor Davis Hanson. (By the way, take a look at some of the comments attached to Hanson's article. They go far to prove his point.)
Well, we know he does fiction. Wonder if Oprah will have him on again.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Sunday, September 09, 2007
... Roger Miller likes Hanna Rosin's book about Patrick Henry College: Schooling a generation to 'take back the nation'.
... Katie Haegele listens to some poetry podcasts: Podcast options aplenty for poetry.
... Susan Balee rather likes Stef Penney's debut thriller: A whodunit that tracks craftily through the wilderness.
Here are Carlin's fall book recommendations:
Fall Arts Preview: Nonfiction recommendations
Fall Arts Preview: Fiction recommendations
Saturday, September 08, 2007
I think this is Richard Dawkins's problem. Dawkins can explain science well enough, but when he start extrapolating into other areas, his incompetence is soon manifest.
The comments are quite good, and don't miss the link to Moonrise.
This is linked to in the Comments, and should not be missed: Daniel Dennett Hunts the Snark.
I could quote plenty from this, but I'll confine myself to this:
Pastor is certainly right when he says this about Taleb's book: "You literally cannot afford not to know what it says. You will not look at the world the same ever again.
It has numerous implications for your personal, professional and spiritual life."
Friday, September 07, 2007
I'm neutral on the question of literary innovation. Fine if necessary and if it works, but I don't really believe in progress in art. That said, a work has to be judged on its own terms, and there is much in this piece that I agree with.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
"Yet the democracy of the web is in danger of becoming a cacophonous nightmare. For every carefully crafted, thoughtful expression of opinion, there are a score of half-baked rants: ignorant, bilious, semi-literate and depressing."
You would think that everything that ever appeared in print was thoughtful and perfectly phrased. Truth be told. huge amounts of garbage continue to be printed, gobbled up by those with a taste for it and ignored by those with more refined palates.
According to Rorty: "The professionalization of philosophy, its transformation into an academic discipline, was a necessary evil. But it has encouraged attempts to make philosophy into an autonomous quasiscience. These attempts should be resisted. The more philosophy interacts with other human activities—not just natural science, but art, literature, religion and politics as well—the more relevant to cultural politics it becomes, and thus the more useful. The more it strives for autonomy, the less attention it deserves."
I don't know if the professionalization was necessary or not, but it has proved a bad idea - though
it has happened over and over again throughout history. Socrates was not a professional philosopher. He was a guy trying to get people to think, preferably accurately and precisely. I don't think he aimed at devising a system of thought or was interested in constructing theries for their own sake.But the point was to live an enhanced life, not be "relevant to cultural polticis," whatever the hell that means.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
I have experienced something of this myself: "I have never received such hate mail as when I suggested that religious people were better than non-religious in their conduct. It seemed that many of the people who responded to me were not content merely not to believe, but had to hate."
Some strong evidence as to why "intelligence" is very often not.
This covers more bases than may well exist, but there are some key points. That "the argument that it is book sections’ lack of advertising revenue from publishers that constrains book coverage is bogus" almost goes without saying, though not for any reason adduced herein. It's bogus because it is a syandard applied to no other section of the paper. Sports sections get less ad revenue from teams than book sections do from publishers. No, as is made plain, "the real problem was never the inability of book-review sections to turn a profit, but rather the anti-intellectual ethos in the nation’s newsrooms." It is an assumption that is made about who reads the paper, the assumption that readers are principally interested in TV and sports and pop music. There is also the assumption that all newspapers readers are policy wonks. Surveys indicating otherwise notwithstanding, the sales figures for books indicate that lot of people buy them and presumably read them. Ignore a segment of the population that large at your peril.
That said, by the way, A couple of weeks ago, The Inquirer's main book page featured a review of the Collected Poems of Cesar Vallejo and a novel by Simenon first published in 1933. Nobody complained.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Sunday, September 02, 2007
I feel such a slacker.
... Ed Champion thumps the tub for Warren Ellis's Crooked Little Vein: Comic-book master brings forth a novel.
... David Walton considers what's in a name: Importance of being Amerigo.
... Scott Esposito has mixed feelings about some early Ryszard Kapuscinski: Young reporter travels with ancient Greek as guide.
... Elizabeth Fox enjoys Laurie Viera Rigler's Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict - up to a point: L.A. girl lives a fantasy life: Austen's.
Imagine: Two bloggers reviewing on the same printed page. What will people say?
Saturday, September 01, 2007
I'm not there ever were any. Only dirty minds. Which is not to say there are not books that take a distasteful view of things. Why there's ... no, I'm going to exercise a bit of self-control.