Friday, February 29, 2008

Irresistible ...

... Richard and Judy meet the Classics.

Maxine discovers ...

... An optimal medium for book reviews.

What an ass ...

... Allez France!

Another fictitious memoir ...

... Author: My best-selling Holocaust book is a hoax. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

What can one say?

Panel report ...

... Dispatch from the NBCC Good Reads Event in Philadelphia. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Can there be nothing?

... Early Ideas on No-thing: An Excerpt From The Void. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Author, author ...

... Author vs. Work; Sainte-Beuve vs. Proust; Dorothy vs. Dan. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I enjoy literary biographies - and loved Richard Holmes on Coleridge - but I think the work reveals more about the writer than vice versa. I still think D.H. Lawrence was right when he said to trust the story, not the storyteller.

Light blogging ...

... for today. I must be out and about.

The moviegoer ...

... James, Emmett: Admit One. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

A little help ...

... for the paper of record from Jim Lindgren: The meaning of "natural born."

The Times piece mentions that the question was raised when George Romney, who was born in Mexico, ran in 1968. And it was dismissed, because his parents were citizens of the U.S. and the child of U.S. citizens is also a citizen, irrespective of where said child is born.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

More than just crime ...

... In Crime Fiction, the Crime is not always the point. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Check this out ...

... Baffin Island Resort and Spa. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Me, too ...

... Glenn Reynolds discovers the perfect Che poster.

Marshalled evidence ...

... Living in Marshall McLuhan's galaxy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

By beginning at the end, and throwing all sorts of ideas around in a "mosaic pattern of perception and observation" McLuhan is drawing attention to the fact that print is biased in favour of organised, logical, segmented thinking ... when really there's a whole lot more going on. Reason, he seeks to show, offers only incomplete understanding of the world.

The connection between McLuhan and Teilhard de Chardin is interesting: Marshall McLuhan, Teilhard de Chardin & Theology and A Globe, Clothing Itself with a Brain.

Wonder what Denyse O'Leary thinks of this.

Precious moments ...

... Joyce and Epiphany. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'll have an idea ...

... soon enough: Will the Kindle spark an eBook device surge? (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

My former colleagues, in an act of extreme generosity, ordered one for me as a retirement present. As soon as Amazon has them back in stock I shall one. And I intend to write about the experience. So stay tuned.

The decline of the West ...

... Spelling test. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

What kind of fool is he?

... The archbishop of Canterbury is a special kind of fool. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Two good questions ...

... What is science and why do we care? (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

I wonder if Sokal "believes" in global warming? He should have followed his own scientific principles and done a bit of research in order to determine what genuine faith consists in, rather than just parrot the cliches of militant atheists. He could start by reading Rudolf Otto's The Idea of the Holy, which he has probably never heard of. Of course, Henry Gee in his comment says all this better than I do.

Update: Dave Lull wonders if Sokal is in fact insufficiently skeptical and sends along Sokal and Bricmont: Back to the Frying Pan and Being an Absolute Skeptic.

That would be today ...

... and here I almost forgot: Remember those planets… however many there are - February 28, 2008. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Good choices ...

... Ten perfect poems and one little brown man. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Clauses and propositions ...

... Freedom For Religion.

Of course, Martha Nussbaum would never think of writing in a hostile and contemptuous manner about any religion - except Christianity.

What's in a name ...

... Pseudonyms. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Ouch ...

... Crary on Hitchens. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Added to my blogroll ...

... Judith Fitzgerald's WriteSite.

Hear, hear ...

... On Wishes and Organisations.

It is irrational to assume that what works in one culture would work in another. The irrationality is based on the notion of 'organising' a society. One can organise some things, but one can't organise the inclinations of an entire culture - the desire to do so indicates a failure to understand the meaning of 'culture'.

Which is why I am neither pro- nor anti-feminist. I just like women, but then I was raised by my mother and grandmother (with an assist from my rather older brother). Such details count.

Nige and I ...

... on the same page once again: Jane Says Every Mum Is Worth It.

Last week, while sitting in my eye doctor's waiting room, I had the opportunity to peruse a couple of copies of People magazine. You would think that, having worked in the features department of a major metropolitan daily for the last quarter-century, I would be thrice familiar with both the magazine and its featured players - but I had better things to do, mostly. True, I occasionally had to compile the gossip column and have some idea who the most notable celebrities of the day are. But looking at People's pages last week I was simply struck by how phony those in the photos looked. I kept thinking that our forebears were probably right to consign actors - along with tumblers and buffoons - to the status of servants.

Irreplaceable ...

... I should think: Who could replace Dawkins? (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

I wonder if atheism is a necessary qualification. If not, then I would suggest Francis Collins. Of course, he probably wouldn't want it, being too busy practicing science to want to spend all of his time explaining it. Wonder if Dawkins will decide to do any himself once he has some time on his hands.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I care ...

... but probably nobody cares that I care: Soft Skull Acquired, Nobody Cares.

I'm liking James Wood more and more.

Another local literary event ...

... at the Painted Bride.

The dangers of success ...

... Website: too popular to live - February 27, 2008. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Sad news ...

... Conservative Writer, Commentator William F. Buckley Jr. Dies at 82.

I first met Bill Buckley back in 1964. What impressed me most about him was what a perfect gentleman he was.

More here.

Here's the NYT obit (hat tip, Dave Lull) and a piece by Sam Tanenhaus: The Buckley Effect (hat tip, Paul Davis).

Another reminder ...

... NBCC Event in Philadelphia Tonight. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

That proves it official.

Black swans ...

... on the Thames. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A link with a reminder ...

... Book 33 of 52: Lee Miller: A Life by Carolyn Burke.

No fool he ...

... Robert Frost, Unplugged, Praised Rich Capitalist Fools, AP Says. (Hat tip, Dave Lull, from whom I stole the lead-in.)

Nice ...

... Chesco bookshop is a rare find itself.

News from Laputa ...

... Not to Complicate Matters, but ...

Focusing exclusively on the complexity of an issue enables one to avoid taking a moral position regarding it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Good question ...

... Murderous dictators: cool, huh?

Chill ...

... Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling.

A nice blog ...

... Still Point.

That didn't take long ...

... My First Day At the Office .....

Check out this ...

... Jennifer Weiner Reading from The Guy Not Taken.

I should try this ...

... Teaching Myself to Draw 2.

Come one, come all ...

... to an NBCC event Friends Select School tomorrow night at 7 to see Jen Miller, Daisy Fried, Ben Yagoda, Kermit Roosevelt, and me discuss who's reading what now, why reviews are important, and the finalists for this NBCC 2007 book prize. Can't beat the prize: It's free.

Come join ...

... SPOGG - I just did. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

All may be lost ...

... including honor: Hacks at work. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Freeconomics ....

... Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Considering ...

... Realism. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Family matters ...

... especially Fathers and Sons. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A worst list ...

... from Terry Teachout: The enemy of the best. Can't agree about Brahms's German Requiem, though.

Robert Pinsky bids farewell ...

... to Poet's Choice. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Careful differentiation ...

... `Difficult, Up to a Point". (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have no problem with difficulty if it derives from the nature of the subject and not just the manner - or mannerism - of the writer. Obscurity is something else. A text may be richly ambiguous, suggestive of many, even conflicting, meanings, but that's not obscurity, which I see as simply a lack of clarity (for one may be clearly ambiguous).

We wish him well ...

... Bryan Abducted, The Drugs Don't Work - But There Are Signs Of Hope.

I thought there was more to that than met the eye.

The best obituary ...

... for Robin Moore. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

I had forgotten that he wrote The French Connection.

A nice notice ...

... for Mark Sarvas's Harry, Revised in Publishers Weekly - you have to scroll down a bit.

Mark has A FEW THOUGHTS ON REVIEWS, PROMPTED BY PW & KIRKUS. (Hat tip to Dave Lull for both links.)

I wonder why ...

... The Times of London is more interested in covering this story than the American news media.

Monday, February 25, 2008

And while you're at it ...

... check out this, too: Poetry Workshop(s) #2, Professionalization.

Check out ...

... Belles-Lettres.

Hmm ...

... No, the Pope is not a Darwinist, but what sort of evolution does he support?

I'll have more to say about this later, but cursory look makes me wonder how familiar O'Leary is with Teilhard. Schönborn's point about Teilhard is that the Jesuit paleontologist clearly believed that evolution was purposeful. He was also something of a neo-Lamarckian.

Bring it on ...

... Scientific study into religious belief launched. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Her wish ...

... is my command: Army of Davids or Serial Killers?

In response to Maxine's request for my review of An Army of Davids, here it is (if I do say so myself, it holds up, especially the last paragraph):

An Army of Davids

How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and Other Goliaths

By Glenn Reynolds

Nelson Current. 289 pp. $24.99

Like the baby boomers who still account for much of its staff, Big Media is perpetually nostalgic. It yearns to revisit the glory days of its opposition to the Vietnam War and, of course, Watergate. So it often portrays the war in Iraq as another Vietnam. But the analogy is facile - as Mark Twain is said to have observed, "History does not repeat itself; it rhymes. "

In the meantime, something very similar to what happened in Vietnam is happening - to Big Media. As Glenn Reynolds puts it in An Army of Davids: "Where before journalists and pundits could bloviate at leisure, offering illogical analysis or citing 'facts' that were in fact false, now the Sunday morning op-eds have already been dissected on a Saturday night, within hours of their appearing on newspapers' websites. "

Dissected by whom? By bloggers. Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, knows as much about blogging as anyone: He's the man behind InstaPundit.com, which on some days racks up as many as a half-million page loads.

Reynolds' highly informative book - a must-read if you want to have some idea of the direction things are taking - is about a lot more than the effect of blogging on Big Media. Its theme is "the triumph of personal technology over mass technology," which is a trend Reynolds believes is only "going to strengthen over the coming decades. "

Recalling that John Kenneth Galbraith's 1966 book The New Industrial State argued that the very size of big corporations protected them from both failure and competition, Reynolds points out that now, a mere 40 years later, "a laptop, a cheap video camera, and the free iMovie or Windows Movie Maker software (plus an Internet connection) will let one person do things that the Big Three television networks could only dream of in Galbraith's day, and at a fraction of the cost. "

That and other changes have come about with remarkable rapidity. Reynolds, sitting with a laptop in "a pizza place with 27 kinds of beer on tap, a nice patio and . . . a free wireless Internet hookup," is able "in less time than it takes the barmaid to draw me a beer" to look up the Hephthalite Huns, Tsiolkovsky's rocket equation, and "how much money Joe Biden has gotten from the entertainment industry. "

As recently as 1993, he wouldn't have been able to, because the Web was just getting started, Wi-Fi was only a couple of years old, and Google didn't exist. Most remarkable, Reynolds says, is that "the Web, Wi-Fi and Google didn't develop and spread because somebody at the Bureau of Central Knowledge Planning planned them. They developed . . . from the uncoordinated activities of individuals. "

Reynolds covers a lot of territory in this little book, from being able to have a state-of-the-art recording studio in your home for about $1,000 to "electronic privateering" in the war on terror, to video games' potential as teaching devices (likely to discombobulate teachers the way blogs have journalists). Reynolds knows how to pack a lot of information into a relatively small space and provides clear and concise explanations of such things as "horizontal knowledge" - "communication among individuals who may not know each other, but who are loosely coordinated by their involvement in something, or someone, of mutual interest. "

As a professed "transhumanist," Reynolds waxes enthusiastic on nanotechnology, planetary colonization, and "Scientifically Engineered Negligible Senescence. " But, like Ray Kurzweil - author of The Singularity Is Near, last year's big futurist book - Reynolds is well aware of the dangers that technological change can pose and favors taking reasonable steps to prevent such things as a terrorist-generated plague from happening.

The changes Reynolds chronicles have proved unsettling to a number of settled institutions, including government, corporations and the media. Reynolds, who knows his away around the First Amendment, thinks that "the press establishment's general lack of enthusiasm for free speech for others (as evidenced by its support for campaign finance 'reform') suggests that it'll be happy to see alternative media muzzled. "

"You want to keep this media revolution going?" he asks. "Be ready to fight for it. "

I think it will prove to be not much of a contest. As Reynolds knows, "open communication, quick thinking, decentralization, and broad dispersal of skills - along with a sense of individual responsibility - have an enormous structural advantage. " If Big Media could figure out how to partner with alternative media - putting together, as Reynolds suggests, "a network of freelance journalists" or "knit[ting] together a network of bloggers" - the outcome would be good for all concerned.

But that's not going to happen as long as corporate journalism continues to insist on ever more bureaucratic protocols, on making articles conform to some goofy packaging concept, and on a top-to-bottom command structure. It's as though a World War II army were marching through a jungle infested by guerrillas. Just like in Vietnam.

Real horror ...

... The Rape of Nanking.

Happy 400th ...

... Peter Ackroyd examines the legacy of Milton. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A fresh look ...

... at James Dickey by A.E. Stallings: Night Rhythm. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'm not sure about this, though: "... the root of 'authentic' is violence--the Greek for murderer." True, authentic does mean perpetrator, the one who does something, and certainly applied to one who committed murder, but that doesn't seem to have been either its sole or principal meaning.

Sounds like ...

... a real piece of work: Alain Robbe-Grillet.

Robbe-Grillet's best friend and publisher, Jerome Lindon, was not delighted by the publication of the details of his liaisons with Mme Robbe-Grillet. Lindon was, the book explained, allowed to sleep with Catherine, but only Robbe-Grillet could beat her. Lindon seemed disappointed, according to Catherine Robbe-Grillet.

Luddites deserve better ...

... than to be lumped with greens: Environmentalists: don’t label them Luddites.

The Luddites were deeply concerned with unemployment; today some environmentalists openly call for a recession which will have the effect of people losing their jobs and becoming poorer. The Luddites expressed an embryonic revolutionary longing, for a decent life and for liberty; today a leading green writes: ‘Unlike almost all the public protests which have preceded it, [environmentalism] is a campaign not for abundance but for austerity. It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less. Strangest of all, it is a campaign not just against other people, but also against ourselves.’

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A retired drunk ...

... I may be, but I fully endorse this: To booze or not to booze . . .

A medieval thing ...

... “Dragging behind you the silent reproach…”

Sunday Salon...

... building loyal readers.

Oh, and don't miss Italian fashion crimes.

Beau Blue's Cruzio Cafe presents ...

... ANIMATED VERSE: PRESIDENTS DAY EDITION.

One more time ...

... I stumbled upon this today while looking something else, and I link to not because of what I wrote, but because of the comments, which I hadn't seen: It’s Real (If You Think It Is): The Quantum Enigma.

Stop and savor the crime ...

... 50 crime writers to read before you die. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A fresh take ...

... on The Writer and Hollywood.

I won't be watching the Academy Awards. I don't care who wins. I don't know if it's because I'm just not as interested in films as I used to be, or that I'm not as interested because they're not as interesting.

Be very afraid ...

... If you want to know what life would be like without subeditors. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

I like the term subeditor better than copy editor, which is what we call them over here.

And while we're at it ...

... let's hear it for Libraries and readers' groups. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Let's hear it ...

... The Semi-colon Ranger. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Blurb this ...

... Peeves aplenty in poets' corner. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bryan reviews ...

... The Rest is Noise.

I am just now listening to Carl Ruggles's Sun-Treader, a great example of authentic musical modernism, in a splendid recording by Michael Tilson Thomas and the BSO. If orchestras played works like this more often, audiences would be better prepared to judge contemporary music fairly. (Frankly, little that I have heard has struck me as anything but the palest imitation of the sort of thing Charles Ives did - when it is even that good.) As for Boulez, his best music - Complainte du lizard amoureux, for example - is just a few timid steps beyond Debussy. I do not agree that "music was required both to reflect with jagged forms and conceal with rabid propaganda the murderous ravages of modernity." The best piece of music I know of that comments directly on an episode in the "century of death" is Bohuslav Martinu's Memorial to Lidice, written only a year after the Nazis wiped out a Czech village in retaliation for the assassination of one of their goons. It displays neither jagged forms nor rabid propaganda. It simply moves the heart and soul.
I should add that there is also on the Tilson Thomas record what is probably the best version of Walter Piston's second symphony, a fine work by an unjustly neglected composer. Of course, there are plenty of those. Audiences need to made familiar with works like Piston's symphonies, and those of Roy Harris and Edmund Rubbra, as well as knottier works like those of Ives and Ruggles. As it is, when they hear the premiere of a contemporary work, it's like trying to read an academic imitation of Finnegans Wake without ever having read Ulysses, or Faulkner or Woolf or Eliot.

So you want to write for Nature ...

... well, learn how to write properly. It may help if English isn't your native tongue: Nature Network advice on writing style. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

The greener grass ...

... On Edward Thomas. British television coverage of politics must be truly awful if the appalling McLaughlin Group and Meet the Press seem lively by comparison. Perhaps it is because I am no longer young - and if so, it's one of the boons of growing old - but the current U.S. presidential campaign has struck me as paralyzingly dull. But Bryan is surely right about Edward Thomas's glorious poem. How can one finish reading that and give a tinker's dam about politics of any stripe?

By the way, take a look at the comment thread attached to that post.

Plus ça change …

... Coffee shops beat the office grind and Cafe Society. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Dryden would be quite at home: The English Coffee Houses.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Diane McKinney-Whetstone likes James McBride's latest: Haunting story of slavery.

... Carlin Romano objects to messing around with Will: Shakespeare with 'No Fear,' no flavor.

... I am impressed with Mary Beard's The Roman Triumph: A tradition not so well understood after all.

... Ed Pettit looks into metempsychosis: 19th-century tale of reincarnation had Poe's praise.

... and Rita Giordano is much taken with a new memoir: 'How could you . . . not be gay?'

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nonprofit books ...

... Shaman Drum looks to become nonprofit. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Together again ....

... Appleyard & Ashbery: Thinking, I Think, About Ashbery.

'I think I think but I don't think thinking is what it is thought to be.' I agree with Bryan. This is "a fine sentiment" (good word choice, too).

We interrupt ...

... our blogging because we are back at our old desk at The Inquirer clearing away email and passing along information needed by Mike Schaffer who has taken over the book beat.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A premiere ...

... "A Measuring Worm"

Nice shots ...

... Photo - Carraol - Images of Mexico City.

Extraordinary strangeness ...

... The short stories of V.S. Pritchett. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP ...

... Robin Moore, author of "The Green Berets," dies. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

An exclusive group indeed ...

... the Semicolon Appreciation Society. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Keats on retreat ...

... A Writer's Rout. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Henry and I obviously share a love of Keats. Keats at his best - and Henry is right that "in general, the quality of Keats’ poetry tends to vary in inverse proportion to its length" - is what poetry is all about.

Something I missed ...

... Some More Short Poems.

The flip side, I guess ...

... Not Reading An Iota in America. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I had quite different experience recently: The high point ...

They all sound like winners to me ...

... Shortlist announced for the year's oddest book titles.

The future of publishing (cont'd.) ...

... “A MATCH MADE IN PUBLISHING HEAVEN BORDERS AND LULU.COM LAUNCH PERSONAL PUBLISHING SERVICE” - Press release from Lulu.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Seems reasonable to me ...

... Duty Calls. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This looks like site definitely worth bookmarking.

Today's must read ...

... Don't Take This The Wrong Way, But ...

Yes, indeed ...

... A Nice Picture.

Rein in that metaphor ...

... The Invisible Iceberg.

More academics speaking before they think.

Something to watch ...

... on TV, of all places: A 'Raisin' for All Seasons. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Exorcising demons ...

... Fiction as a crutch to get one through life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nosing about ...

... in Cyrano's private affairs: The Paladin of Panache.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

That's it ...

... for blogging today. Debbie and I are heading out to the orchestra - Mozart's "Jupiter" and Strauss's Alpine Symphony.

Very nice ...

... At Any Given Moment.

The big question ...

... for writers, is New York still a city of dreams? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Keep your eye on this Artistic Nirvana.

we link ...

... you decide: Do poetry workshops do anyone any good? Iowa.... (Hat tip, Beau Blue.)

Cheer up ...

... Life Is Good, Stephen Hunter declares. (Hat tip, Paul Davis, who writes about Hunter in A Samurai Sword Story.)

A name from the past ...

... Eustace Tilley, a man who knew how to dress.

And sadly, as Dave's link in his comment indicates, Harold Ross, Who he?

Good vs. evil ...

... The Blogosphere Has Spoken .....

I scored the same as Jeff. Guess we're good guys.

What a nice tribute ...

... Remembering Jack Lyons.

I didn't know ...

... that Stephen Fry blogged: well worth hearing.

Nige descants ...

... upon Feeling British and Dressed For Dinner.

I'd go a step farther and opt for formal dinner dress. But then I look good in tails - as I'm sure Nige does as well. Not that I favor any Dinner Suit Diktat - or any other Diktat - from the Office of the Supreme Leader.

Maxine reviews ...

... Thirteenth Tale and Ice Trap.

I just knew Maxine would like The Thirteenth Tale. I reviewed it myself and liked it every bit as much.

An interesting blog ...

... at least some people will think so: The Painted Prayerbook. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered ...

... Why Flann O'Brien Is So Funny. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Missing author report ...

... London has lost all its Ivy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It struck me that was missing here is Compton-Burnett herself. Here is Ivy Compton-Burnett
on . . .

Shades of poetry ...

... On Color.

This is funny ...

... but do we want to go there? Mark Sarvas draws up a A Taxonomy of Lit.


Tips regarding ...

... Audiobooks.

I just happen ...

... to have spoken over the phone this afternoon with Byron Janis. When I was in high school, I saw him turn in an electrifying performance of Prokofiev's third piano concerto. Here he is playing the last movement of the Rach 3:

Part 1 and Part 2.

All together now ...

... let's Wish Jeff Luck.

In case you didn't know ...

... Book Standard Goes Off Air.

Intense indeed ...

... Intense Irony.

See also: Bulldog and Barrymore.

Who knew?

... The Bard as nosy neighbor.

A mystery solved ...

... Coleridge and Goethe, together at last.

Preview ...

... The Inquirer has been running excerpts from Lisa Scottoline's latest, Lady Killer.

Here's Chapter 1.

And here's Chapter 2, Part I and Chapter 2, Part 2.

Navigating judgment ...

... Robert Lecker on the Responsibilities of Criticism.

Poetry and the maximum leader ...

... Two Poets View Cuban Roots.

I was a senior in high school when Castro took over. I still remember the summary trials and executions that were televised at the time. Raul Castro played a leading role in them. The thought then was that he was the ideological hardliner and Fidel would eventually rein him in.

Apologies to Hedgie ...

... a different sort of compost heap: Recommendation: Mike McGrath's Book of Compost.

A closer look ...

... at Bryan's book.

Independence ...

... Down, but not out.

Today's must read ...

... Why the Iliad matters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Why then do men fight? For the same reasons that they always have: They like to and they have to. Sarpedon, a Lycian noble fighting on the Trojan side, goes into battle “like a hungry lion.” He has a visceral need for combat, to kill or be killed.

The master of almost ...

... or, Writing for Antiquity.

"Our audiences come to the theatre to be complimented on their goodness. They compare notes with the amiable characters in the play, and find a wonderful similarity of disposition between them. We have a common stock of dramatic morality out of which a writer may be supplied without the trouble of copying it from originals within his own breast.”

Sounds pretty up-t0-date to me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Superfluous man ...

... The Durable Mr. Nock. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Back in the summer of 1968, during my wandering scholar days, I lectured on Albert Jay Nock at Rockford College. Few people have influenced me more than Mr. Nock.

Debatable issues ...

... Rus Bowden sends along a couple of links:

So You Want to Be a Writer and South High official on leave over sexy poems.

I think the mechanics of writing can be taught. After that, you're on your own. As for the other piece, well you can cast your vote.

A frosty response ...

... to "a bunch of yahoos broke into Robert Frost’s cottage for a drunken party, doing considerable (and disgusting) damage": Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Very sad ...

... Dave Lull sends along word that Raymond Smith has died: Sad News.

More here: On Raymond Smith.

Tough assignment ...

... A Writer by Any Other Name. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

New to me ...

... The Engineer Trilogy.

Big Brother Google ...

... Journalist Who Exposes U.N. Corruption Disappears From Google.

Interesting to see if the media takes up his case.

Final acts ...

... Ten extraordinary literary suicides. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

My first direct experience with death took place one Sunday morning when I was 11 and discovered that a man had killed himself in his car in front of our house. Later a friend would commit suicide after having my family and me (thanks to Dave Lull for correcting my grammatical lapse!) over for Easter Sunday dinner. And my second oldest stepdaughter's husband committed suicide just a few years ago.

Problems and complications ...

... Defining the limits of exceptionalism. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Deep ...

... Jeff on Matisse. Though "Richard" surely has a point.

Quite a review ...

... by Nigel Beale. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have so far proved somewhat immune to the lure of James Wood - I'm not quite sure why - but this makes me feel the need to take another, closer look.

Another hackneyed phrase ...

... The Resistible Rise of 'If You Will'.

I think this is one Americans have adopted because they think it makes them sound British. For Americans, to sound British is the same as sounding intelligent. Like Bryan, I prefer "so to speak," but only in a humorous context - so to speak.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A stroll along ...

... The street as platform. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Founders online ...

... after all, everybody should have access: A tussle over the founding fathers' words. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Oops ...

... something I forgot: Sunday Salon: reading tour.

From Maxine ...

... a post about Digital facsimiles of rare books.

Bad way to go ...

... Abbey body identified as gay lover of Edward II.

An encouraging word ...

... Teaching Myself to Draw.

Maybe there's hope for me.

RIP ...

... Alain Robbe-Grillet has died.

More than his faults ...

... A. N. Wilson on the life and letters of John Cowper Powys. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

During one of the bleaker periods of my life I read Powys's great autobiography. For some reason I was immensely cheered knowing that he had frequently walked through Germantown, the section of Philadelphia I was living in at the time.

Worth a look ...

... Way out West in L’Amour Territory.

Literary jocks ...

... Violent Author Discussion Breaks out During Penn-Cornell Game. (Hat tip, John Timpane.)

Identity crisis ...

... Being British.

An unspoken and unwritten identity that just feels like something is what a real identity is. Anything else is either affectation or impersonation.

Unhappy days ...

... The Marriage of Reason and Nightmare. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dumbing down journalism ...

... Are Americans Stupid?

It's not much of an article, really; more like a rant you might find on a mediocre blog. The most unkindest cut of all.

Russian addressing ...

... Imagination ablaze. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A nice mix ...

... Cars, Culture, and Contemporary Poetry.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Unfairly neglected ...

... Judith Fitzgerald.

I had a pleasant email exchange with Judith. I think she's quite interesting and orginal.

Check this out ...

... an interview with Desmond Morris.

Crime fiction and layoffs ...

... How the Houghton/Harcourt Layoffs Affect the Mystery World.

Some poems ...

... by Poets from the U. K.

I notice the second is from Geoffrey Hill's The Orchards of Syon, which I reviewed - and which Hill read from when I introduced him at the 92d Street Y.

A discovery ...

... for me at least: re Russell Edson.

This is the first I've heard of Russell Edson, actually. Glad to have made his acquaintance.

Life beckons ...

... so blogging will resume later.

Seductive sirens ...

... Battle-axe and scalpel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ian Fleming turns 100 ...

... From Bletchley, With Love. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Taken seriously ...

... A Warning About Blog Comments. (Hat tip, Ed Champion.)

Working this weekend?

... then check out Weekend Wandering: Career and Corporate Cool.

Speaking of Scott ...

... this is quite interesting: Prodigious Writers.

I can't answer ...

...Scott's question: Why He Left.

Though it might be too much to ask for, I, for one, would be interested in hearing the reasons why these changes were deemed necessary.

I can only account for my own thinking, but it is perhaps worth noting that a book review section of some years ago would not boast a column on digital lit, but would feature genre roundups. Just a thought.

Be very afraid ...

... Google über alles. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There's nO stopping her ...

... Oprah kicks starts Digital. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Knowing when to stop ...

... When you don’t want to finish a story. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Broad horizons ...

... Reading the World. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Poetic succession ...

... A torch passed. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Here are a couple of Henri Cole poems:

Oil & Steel and Poppies.

I wonder ...

... what can be done to stop them: Prozzze Update. Perhaps Bryan should resume his attempts to fix up Jeff with Amanda - who gets linked to in this post: Kurzweil and Human Equivalence. (Actually, do we really know what intelligence is exactly?)

A fresh glance ...

... at James Joyce: The Dead. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Both Vikram and Dave ...

... send along this link: Rebirth of a dark genius.

When does this guy sleep?

... Stones, Gangs and Robots.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... yes, this will continue to be feature of this blog.

... Carlin Romano really doesn't like John Edgar Wideman's latest: Too little bio, and too much stale racial rage.

... but Mary Dixie Carter is impressed by a new biography of Ezra Pound: Irritating, captivating, quirky Pound. (Funny, I knew Pound had gone to Penn, but I hadn't realized he grew up in Wyndmoor, just outside Philly.)

... Vernon Clark likewise is impressed by Major Jackson's Hoops: Poetic nuances of Phila. (I regard this as one of my more inspired assignments: Vernon is a reporter who knows the city as well as anybody.

... Jesse Freedman is not altogether happy with Eric G.Wilson's Against Happiness: Celebrating melancholy, the essential artist's muse .

... but Katie Goldstein rather likes Arturo Pérez-Reverte's latest: Photographer becomes subject.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Better off dead ...

... than watching this flick, apparently: Just hurry up and die.

Fine distinctions ...

... On the Philosophical Discussion of Religious Topics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It would seem to me that the same would apply to non-believers concerning their lack of belief (which inevitably is itself a kind of belief).

Keep an eye out for ...

... Ten signs. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Very interesting indeed ...

... Of New Things (and Old) in Economic Philosophy.

Just to clear things up ...

... Topical Words: Unclarity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And second ...

... a friend sends along a link to this Web site.

But first ...

... this is too worthwhile to postpone linking to: Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.

It's Saturday ...

... and I've just provided three links to good advice. I have much to do today, so blogging must be light for the remainder of the day.

And still more ...

... good advice: How to Wreck a Career in One Easy Lesson. (Just as I am about to link to this, I get an email from Dave Lull - with a link to it. Great minds at work once again!)

More good advice ...

... Buy This Book. I read it and I liked it. It's how I came to know that I'm a deathist, which, when you're my age, takes a certain amount of courage.

Good advice ...

... and an affecting post: `Write as Simply as You Can'.

I wonder ...

... how many college reading lists these books are on: Five best satires of academic life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Friday, February 15, 2008

What's in a title ...

... a lot, actually: Ben Macintyre on the art of a good book title. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

I've always thought Henry Miller had a good ear for titles: The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Sunday After the War.

Best response ever ...

... to a copy editor: Ego sum rex Romanus, et supra grammaticam. (I am the Roman emperor, and above grammar).

Sigismund, at the Council of Constance (1414), to a prelate who had dared to point out a few errors; Sigismund was born on this day in 1368.

(Via Today in Literature.)

Hooray for Maxine ...

... Harnessing the web, Nature's way.

That darn market ...

... Why Bill Gates Hates My Book. (hat tip, Dave Lull.)

That's good ...

... John Grisham has no illusions about writing. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

Neither do I (have any illusions about writing). Unfortunately, I didn't make $9 million last year.

Book downloads ...

... Free Reading!

Interesting review format ...

... or do I mean formatted review? Colorful columnist takes on the Mafia. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Words, words, words ...

... Sticking up for [gasp] Jane Fonda. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

Mucho errands ...

... need to be dealt with. Regular blogging will resume later.

How blogging works ...

... see Jeff's Latest 2. Note the effect of Bryan's generous linking and posting.

RIP ...

... After 50 years, bookstore closes chapter of history. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ideas have consequences ...

... though not necessarily good ones: The midwife of miserabilism.

Deadwood ...

... Media Madness in the City of Brotherly Love. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, so much for hopes that Dexter might agree to become one of The Inquirer's "name" reviewers.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Let's go ...

... to Rio.

Scott McLemee raises ...

... an Objection! - and it's well worth reading. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Recommended reading ...

... Staff Picks: Winchester, Scrabble, Byron, Dumas, Irving, Christensen.

Submitted for your examination ...

... Socrates in the 21st Century. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On the other hand, given this other piece Dave sends along, we could be Strictly Platonic.

Heartbreaking ...

... Chekhov: Uncle Vanya.

Easing the chill ..

... Simply Haiku Winter 2007.

This really is a pleasure to read.

Light the fire ...

... or not: Vladimir Nabokov, his masterpiece and the burning question. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

And Dave Lull sends along More on Nabokov's The Original of Laura.

Context is everything ...

... maybe the archbishop is getting a bum rap: Plausible Unavoidability.

But if what we want socially is a pattern of relations in which a plurality of divers and overlapping affiliations work for a common good, and in which groups of serious and profound conviction are not systematically faced with the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty, it seems unavoidable.

An awful sentence, I would say, downright Orwellian in its vacuity.

A treasure trove ...

... Hudson Review back issues. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something I missed ...

... a nice roundup (and not just because I'm included): Sunday morning with a coffee and cigarette.

But, speaking of me, I don't remember if I linked to this or not: Frank and Duane and me. I link to it now because it brought to mind this line of Oscar Wilde's: "To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."

Atheist damns cleric ...

... To Hell With the Archbishop of Canterbury, Christopher Hitchens declares. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The archbishop, who seems like a nice enough guy, has come off in this as a bien-pensant parody.

Some years ago I attended a talk by the late Basil Pennington, a Benedictine abbot who had engaged in much dialogue with Buddhists (his monastery was near Hong Kong). He pointed out the commonest complaint he heard from them was that Christians brought nothing to the table. They wanted to get something from the Buddhists about Buddhist spiritual tradition and practice, but were insufficiently familiar with their own tradition and practice to have anything to offer in exchange. The good archbishop's readiness to concede ground to Islam makes one wonder how much he appreciates the ground on which he is supposed to stand firm.

Just for the hell of it, here's a view diametrically opposed to Archbishop Williams's: John Quincy Adams Knew Jihad.

A grand convergence ...

... Dave and Patrick and Bryan - and Marilynne and Emily.

Bryan addresses ...

... Jeff's latest - and wants you to do the same.

Bud Parr wonders ...

... 100 Million Blogs, Which Book About Them are You Going to Read?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Let's hear it ...

... for these guys: And in this corner ... (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And here, once again, is Climate Debate Daily.

Not meant for kids ...

... Aesop's translators have had varied agendas.

The Greek version referred to is, I suppose, Babrius. There are also Latin versions by Phaedrus.

Ah, yes ...

... CAAF: Loose notes.

Another reason ..

... for newspapers (and others) to worry: The Coming Ad Revolution. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I rather like this ...

... A Pause For A Poem.

Good question ...

... Breaking Aurelian News.

I find it increasingly difficult to focus my attention on politics, period.

Unholy trinty ...

... Andy, Art and Arnold.

My point is that a state initiative to produce artists is an absolute waste of time whereas one to produce audiences might just work.

Perhaps. But why does the state think it needs to do something about producing artists? Why not plumbers, who are at least as useful, and often enough more necessary?