Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bill Peschel doesn't apologize ...

... Ch-ch-ch-changes.

All right, Louie ...

... drop the galley: Reading Is My Business: A Short Story. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When "truth" is fiction ...

... Guest Post: Robin Hemley on the Faux Memoir.

A sad tale ...

... a A Pair of Miracles. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Small gems ...

... Fitzgerald: The twinkle in the gimlet eye.

RIP ...

... Albert Hofmann. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Has it been a month?

. . . And Across.

Premiere news ...

... The envelope, please.

Who would have thought ...

... that Richard Dawkins need to express himself more - at least his other self? How to reconcile Richard Dawkins?

Bulking up ...

... Quercus to increase its publishing programme.

No love fest ...

... Wood vs. Franzen. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More swipes ...

... The myths of Simon Blackburn. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hey kids.....

.........need extra cash for school?

Bryan channels ...

... Carlos Casteneda: Metamorphosis and the Power of the Prayer.

Alison Moyet ...

... on Jacques Brel: France, Brel et moi.

Attention modernists ...

... The Modernist Journals Project. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What of soul is left ...

... when the kissing has to stop: Hook-Up or Shut Up.

Another from Gwen ...


Anini Beach

Like the guy said ...

... it ain't over till it's over: The Man Behind the Malaprop. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Behold ...

... the Earth at night. (Hat tip, Judith Fitzgerald.)

The wages of hate ...

... Saruman’s hatred.

Check out ...

... Perte de Temps. (Hat tip, Judith Fitgerald.)

Follow the hand, then click the teardrop in the upper right hand corner.

I guess so ...

... Scanning world's every book means turning many, many pages. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bravo ...

... Twice Bittern.

Who are the bloggers ...

... well, you might be surprised. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Richard Price talks ...

... about cops and The Wire. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Can't say I'm impressed by his attitude toward cops, but then my father was a cop, and so is my nephew, so I guess I'm biased.

Attention Marilynne Robinson fans ...

... a Two-Week Discussion of Housekeeping.

What happened ...

... vs. what people think happened: History is driven by what?

Let's start the day ...

... in a bitchy way: Raymond Chandler vs. Edmund Wilson.

I'm with Chandler and Pinky. Wilson's OK, but he's nowhere near as great it is claimed he is.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Exit time ...

... Simic stepping aside as U.S. poet laureate. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I can attest ...

... that Sloane is a perfectly delightful person: The Most Popular Publicist in New York.

Almost missed ...

... and anniversary and a birthday: Roget... And Who?

The best-selling poet, of course, is Rod McKuen, born on this date in 1933.

Challenging those myths ...

... Blackburn at the THE. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Meet ...

... Frances Wilson.

No thanks ...

... Join The Web Content Conservation Movement.

... I'm with Ed on this: On the Exchange of Moments.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

You can't read all the books in the world, or see all the shows, or every bird, or ... People figure out what they can manage - and what they want to manage. Geez.

I have to head out ...

... blogging will resume later.

Check out ...

... Posthumous. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Islamic Jesus ...

... An Iranian's vision of Jesus' life stirs debate. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dialogue would be an improvement over debate.

A sad cliche ...

... and no less true for that: Fears of a Clown. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

But so does everyone ...

... Sandra Scofield likes Louise Erdrich's latest: Tale emerges as history and families evolve.

Others: Old Media Monday: Reviewing the Reviewers.

Good for them ...

... Authors take on Tesco. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

It's a good thing ...

... words don't necessarily mean anything, else we might think Simon Blackburn is misusing the word myth: Simon Blackburn proffers his top ten modern myths. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Congratulations, Gary Snyder!

Who says there's no dough in poetry?

Or, as Thoreau put it ...

... the sun is but a morning star: Morning thought.

In the meantime, check out: Poem by the heroic Jeannie Vanasco.

Authors in distress ...

... not: Hoaxes hit bookstores. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Invitation to a Distillation

I meant to post this yesterday on the fate of Vladimir Nabokov's last, and unfinished, novel.

Underwhelmed ...

... The Next Level by David Gregory.

In the stretch ...

Provisional Conclusions ...

... A conversation with poet Stephen Dunn.

A very interesting piece.

"Start with the sun ...

... and the rest will slowly, slowly happen." That, if memory serves, is the final sentence in D.H. Lawrence's final book, Apocalypse, in which Lawrence argues that those who preach apocalypse do so because they crave destruction. I am reminded of this by this link that Dave Lull has sent: Sorry to ruin the fun, but an ice age cometh.
One of these climate predictions is bound to prove right some day. But visit Climate Debate Daily before you place any bets.

It certainly saves time ...

... His Love Affair with Plagiarism.

A.E. Stallings on ...

... George Seferis: Fugitive Train. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

George Seferis figures prominently in Henry Miller's The Colossus of Maroussi, possibly Miller's best book.

Why go to a bar?

... Shh! In British Library Reading Rooms, Flirting and Even Giggling. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Move 'em out ...

... The Book And Word ‘Herder’. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Another centenary ...

... Anne of Green Gables at 100.

Gwen in Paradise ...


... a shot of my stepdaughter on the Na Pali Coast.

And the winners are ...

... 2007 Nebula Award Winners. (Hat tip, Dave Lull - who sent to me on time: yesterday.)

Literary spy ...

... Bond, James T.L.S. Bond.

Nige looks about ...

... Bombinating.

At least we can sure that Bryan, where he is, will seldom hear a discouraging word. Though he might want to look into Amanda's recent doings.

A great memoir ...

... The Life of Henry Brulard By STENDHAL. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Oops ...

... Hoax diary snares Bloomsbury. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Take that ...

... Charkin slams 'absurd' claims. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

I think it's fear ...

... more than multiculturalism, though: An Anatomy of Surrender. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If there were no extreme Islamists, they would be as subject to mockery as any other faith. Blasphemous acts against Chrostianity aren't transgressive. They're as safe and predictable as cliches.

Gettin to know ...

... Liza Cody. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Worth a second look ...

... How not to pose for author photos. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

I linked to Jessica's post a while back, but it definitely deserves an encore.

Exactly where ...

... was the Omnipresent Wisconsin Librarian that night? The Librarians Call It an Anomaly (It Wasn’t Rattling Chains). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Some useful clarification ...

... Catholicism and The New Atheism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As Michael Buckley, S.J., pointed out in his classic study of atheism (At the Origins of Modern Atheism), all forms of modern atheism are parasitic upon a particular form of theism. The proponents of the new atheism presuppose a naïve form of theism that perceives God, as Karl Rahner put it, as an individual being, albeit the Supreme Being, who is simply another “member of the larger household of reality” (Foundations of Christian Faith). Yet the god of this naïve theism more closely resembles a benevolent Zeus than the god of the Judeo-Christian tradition. One imagines a god standing on the sidelines of human history but occasionally intervening in the course of human events.

Precisely.

Freebie ...

... but you have to act soon: Harry Crews in The Georgia Review giveaway.

In this corner ...

... Jenny. And in that corner, Sven Birkerts and the Frightening Fitzroya. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ed calls it a stalemate, but I think I would have given it to Jenny on points.

The place of poets ...

... Eavan Boland ponders: Islands Apart: A Notebook. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Questions put to ...

... and answered by Paul Siegell.

Much in what she says ...

...`Language a Ploughman Can Understand'.

I agree with what Marilynne Robinson says about "doctrines that constrict the sense of God with definitions and conditions," but I have a problem with the connection between personal holiness one the one hand and politics and economics on the other - though I suppose she's right that they have everything to do with liberal Protestantism. The problem I have is that I don't think caritas is best expressed through a political program. I certainly think one's faith should have a bearing on one's political choices, but I don't think much holiness accrues from how one votes in an election.

(Thanks to Dave Lull, who sent me a copy of Marilynne Robinson's essay "Onward Christian Liberals" even as I was writing the foregoing words, I see that Robinson wasn't exactly doing what I have a problem with. Instead, she shows how Protestantism, which began by rejecting the Catholic doctrine of salvation by faith and good works in favor of a doctrine of salvation by faith alone, came to accept the importance of good works after all. In some cases, it often seems to me to have jettisoned the faith aspect altogether in favor of good works and to have seen government as the the principal agent for achieving those works. My own view is the same as that of Saint James - that the works grow out of the faith, are a manifestation of it, not a substitute for it. I do not think religion can be reduced to social work or a political platform.)

For Lovecraft fans ...

... HPL in NER.

Check out ...

... New World Literature Today.

... also the James Tait Black Memorial Prize shortlists.

History's old man ...

... Herodotus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A find ...

... by way of a Northward glance. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The only thing I know about Hugh MacLennon is that he replaced Robertson Davies when Davies gave up his syndicated newspaper column (which ran in the old Philadelphia Evening Bulletin on Sundays when I was a kid).

Don't you just love 'em ...

... Those Fun-Lovin’ Atheists. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I've always thought it worth remembering that Jesus asked his disciples to teach all nations. He didn't insist that they convert anybody.

And the nominess are ...

... Gumshoe Awards 2008.

Happy birthday, Karl ...

... The Question of Karl Kraus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Entertaining but bizarre ...

... Book 49 of 52: Up Until Now by William Shatner.

All in the family ...

... Julia Blackburn: an infernal triangle.

Put your moniker here ...

... On signing books.

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

... New FAS-FAX: Steep Decline at 'NYT' While 'WSJ' Gains.

Getting to know ...

... Sir Peter Stothard.

This is certainly true: "...the good journalist will have an eye for the interesting, and will find a way of bringing the reader or viewer into the story."

Just say no, Joe ...

... Lady Macbeth vs. Billy Budd. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something I missed ...

... but shouldn't have: Herring Song.

Green Berets, Cops and Crooks ...

... Robin Moore's World of Conflict and Crime.

Here's your chance ...

... to Meet Rex Parker...

In case you wondered ...

... The heroic journey of George Lucas.

A gifted proto-blogger

... `The Value of a Ray of Sun'.

I soent some time with Geoffery Hill a few years ago, but I don't know Aldo Buzzi at all. I'll have to look into him.

Opening gambits ...

... The Murderer Vine.

An anniversary ...

... Guest Post: Ferlinghetti's "Coney Island" at 50.


I confess I never liked it much. Except the title, which he got from Henry Miller.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chronicles of Superannuation (2)

Susan B writes in a comment appended to this post: “Tell me the secret of your routine, Frank. I had six months at home to finish my novel and I spent about six days on it. The rest of time I was distracted by all kinds of things I preferred to do: read, garden, cook, hang out with family and friends. Only deadlines make me write. As far as self-starting goes, I'm a wet match.”

The secret, to the extent there is one, involves pretty much what Lee Lowe intimates in another comment on the same post: “When I stopped working at the university in order to write, it only worked out because I told myself it must be exactly like a job, with regular working hours (and a word count) to which I then held myself with strict self-discipline.”

To begin with, I was helped by the fact that there was no abrupt change, actually. There was plenty to do in effecting the transition into retirement — pension matters, severance pay, vacation pay, health benefits, flipping my 401K into an IRA. That sort of thing. I also had things I had agreed to write.

In addition, though, this blog served to anchor me. It became something to do every day throughout the day. These more discursive posts have developed out of that. And anything is interesting if you pay close attention to it, including retirement.

Friday afternoon, for example, I decided I needed another panama hat for the summer. So I went out to buy one — ran into Debbie at the hat store, oddly enough. The first thing that struck me, though, as I strolled about was precisely that — that I was strolling about on a Friday afternoon, because I no longer needed to be at an office, or anyplace in particular. I was — sort of — free, at the start of the far end of the long journey of life. And I began to notice the sunlight and the houses and the passers-by (and also wondered why those guys in the playground, who certainly looked old enough to be holding down a job, were ... in the playground, tossing frisbees, playing softball).

Which reminds me that one of the first things that took me aback when I no longer had to go to work was that I would be getting money deposited into my bank account without having to earn it (oh, I earned it, I know, but getting a pension isn’t the same as getting a paycheck).

Anyway, to return to Susan’s question, I actually haven’t hit upon a precise routine yet, but I notice that one is emerging. I’ve written four short poems since I retired — one that just popped into my head when I awoke one morning, two to my wife, and another that is a kind of private joke between Debbie and me. I still have assignments to meet.

What I need to do now is figure out how to find time for the things I have wanted to write but never had the time to while I was working — and also time for reading books purely for my pleasure.

Shhh ...

... Silent Poe.

Babies ...

... are busting out all over: Poetry Friday: A Springtime Original.

Worth knowing ...

... Poetry in the Classroom - Counting Books and Poetry.

Here, by the way ...

... is a list of Sunday Salon Participants.

Over at Dragoncave ...

... Ode to Federico Garcia Lorca.

... Returning to the Unnamed.

This is weird ...

... and funny: But the 'System' Never Makes Mistakes!

Sententiae ...

... continuing, ongoing, etc.

What are people writing?

... Stephen Corey on Genre Numbers.

Always interesting ...

... With Borges review.

Faith and class ...

In an interview published recently in Narrative Magazine (which Dave Lull sent me a copy of), Richard Rodriguez makes a most interesting point:

I think the Catholic Church is brilliant as a Church of the poor and the rich, but
it’s not a middle-class Church. It’s a Church that understands a high tradition of
intellectual and musical life but also has a common ritual and pietistic life that is
almost completely connected to the lives of the poor. The middle class in America
seems to me to be much more logically Protestant.

This leaped out at me the moment I read it. I hail from a quite poor level of the working class in this country. My brother and I were raised by our mother and grandmother, both of whom worked in factories. And it always seemed to me that a lot of people raised Catholic abandon their faith for socio-economic reasons - to indicate to the more sophisticated circles they find themselves moving in that they have shaken off the superstitions of the people they grew up with.
This is hardly surprising. I have noticed that a lot of the ideas people subscribe to are not arrived at through any process of ratiocination, but are mere fashion statements. That is why, in certain social settings, you are likely to hear everybody echoing everybody else.
I am not, by the way, suggesting that my own ideas are all the product of profound and subtle reasoning (though I am definitely averse to adopting ideas because they are fashionable). There are, of course, a number of things I have thought long and hard about, but a good many of the notions I live by are grounded in attitudes I absorbed, as it were, growing up. For some reason I have never felt any urge to abandon them and in fact have always felt a distinct loyalty to them.
I have to confess as well that, when I encounter people of my background expressing contempt for things I was taught to believe in when I was growing up, I can't help feeling - rather disdainfully - that they are simply aping former "betters" who are now their "equals." As for academics bloviating about the working class, spare me, please.
It must be the Old Tory in me. But behind it lies the reason why Chesterton was right when he suggested that the only two reasonable political positions for a Catholic were monarchism and anarchism.


This can't be easy ...

... Dealing with frayed family ties in Kim Jong-il's North Korea.


And the nominees are ...

... Locus Awards Finalists. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Much to applaud here ...

... Thoughts on reading and education.

Glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks "said H Bloom" is a pompous ass.

Dave Lull has made my day by sending along this by Joseph Epstein: Bloomin’ Genius.

On Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human:
Choice selections of the characteristically impenetrable Bloomian prose are the raisins in this indigestible pudding of a book: “Shakespeare’s uniqueness, his greatest originality, can be described either as a charismatic cognition, which comes from an individual before it enters group thinking, or as a cognitive charisma, which cannot be routinized.”

This about sums it up:
A critic for whom Bloom hasn’t much regard, T. S. Eliot, once said that the best method for being a critic is to be very intelligent. Harold Bloom isn’t very intelligent—he is merely learned, though in a wildly idiosyncratic way. He has staked out his claim for being a great critic through portentousness, pomposity, and extravagant pretension, and, from all appearances, seems to have achieved it.

But really, read the whole thing.

Bumped up.

Picture this ...

... SF Visual Aids.

Once again we're on time ...

... Sunday Salon: heat and cold.

... Sunday Salon: The Amazon Kindle Electronic Reader. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

... Sunday Salon: Used Book Sale-ing Prep work.

In the know ...

... Wambaugh on crime and police work. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Priceless ...

... simply priceless: The Richard Dawkins Rap.

Well, it took him long enough ...

... but that's sort of evolution's way, isn't it? Charles Darwin joins the blogosphere. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cool cat ...

... Max Black the Foreclosure Cat.

Long may he thrive.

My kind of guys ...

... Lone Wolves.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Fake but funny: You'll never look at a travel book the same again.

... Yours truly celebrates Frank O'Hara: Poet of Pepsis and burgers.

... Desmond Ryan likes Hollywood Crows: Wambaugh returns to the beat.

... A jockey's story: Barbaro, straight.

Nor am I ...

... a driver, that is. Neither, it turns out, is Nige: Miscellaneous.

We trust he's safe ...

... but he's not at home: A Puzzle Picture.

Perhaps he's in Texas, investigating those polygamists. But I'm no good at puzzles.

... A Further Clue.

... The Solution.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Thank you, Mary ...

... Ten excellent blogs. (And thanks to Maxine, for alerting me to it this morning.)

Ernest, the movie critic ...

... Hemingway's Rage at Hollywood. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

An affirmative No ...

... Brad Leithauser on Elizabeth Bishop: The Poet as Survivor. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Never forget ...

... Essential books for Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 2. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good idea ...

... Fridays: The Books You Have To Read.

Me, too ...

... Doubting Hume was the greatest.

It seems to me that Hume's argument against is more of an argument against relying on testimony. Since I presume he wouldn't have doubted them if he had experienced one or witnessed one.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fame finds Maxine ...

... Petrona (and Theakston's) in the Guardian.

We always knew it would happen.

Get ready to disagree ...

... The Times of London treats us to a list of the Top 100 Films. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

I guess this is the film school's list. Strikes me as largely risible.

A place for anarchy ...

... is also A Spot Fit for Hermits.

Always useful ...

... A touch of common sense.

Yummy ...

... Worms on toast.

Not really knowing ...

... how to use the past: “What was the question? I was looking at the big sky.”

Vote now ...

... for the Best of the Bookers.

An honest face ...

... Glenn's new friend.

This is excellent ...

... the aesthetics of religion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Just as I think imagination is the integrating faculty of human consciousness, so I think that the aesthetic component is the decisive factor in any idea.

Holding back nothing ...

... Terry Teachout on Edward Elgar. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bryan, are you there?

The joy of writing ...

... PORTRAIT OF A WRITER NAMED KARL. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mind your manners ...

... Preparing to meet the prairie chicken. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Some years ago, I spent some time visiting the Garfield Farm and Inn Museum and learned a good bit about the tallgrass prairie. They really were wetlands. What the farm settlers did was insert field tiles to drain off the water into nearby creeks and rivers. What they found at Garfield Farm was that, if you removed the field tiles, the water came back, and so, surprisingly enough, did the prairie. Seeds over a century old germinated.

Freebie ...

... TEV GIVEAWAY: TINTIN AND THE SECRET OF LITERATURE.

A pair of raves ...

... Just add Waters.

Hard reading ...

... An unearthly whiteness.

Doesn't sound like my cup of tea, but we link: You decide!

The more of less ...

... Lighght Verse. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fair trade...

... Post a poem to win a poem. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Penny for your words ...

... Edward D. Hoch, one of the last of the penny-a-word pulp fiction writers, has died. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Just what is ...

... The matter with materialism.

A mixed bag indeed ...

... 50 Best cult books.

A backward glance ...

... at Causing a commotion.

Intellectual star ...

... The phenomenal Slavoj Zizek.

Artists' books ...

... Page turners. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, are there?

... Are there elephants in your room?

Footloose in Seattle ...

... Part I.

... Part II.

“Simenon, too, is constantly and attractively reminding one that history should be walked, seen, smelt, eavesdropped, as well as read; he seems to say that the historian must go into the streets, into the crowded restaurant, to the central criminal courts, to the correctionnelles (the French equivalent of magistrates’ courts), to the market, to the café beside the canal Saint-Martin, a favourite hunting ground, to the jumble of marshalling yards beyond the Batignolles, to the back-yards of the semi-derelict workshops of the rue Saint-Charles, to the river ports of Bercy and Charenton, as well as to the library.”

Indeed.

About time ...

... I guess: Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, pronounced.

Which way's Goshen?

... Top down--bottoms up? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In "The Black Swan" ( Random House, 2007,) Nicholas Taleb pitches a hard-core endorsement of the bottom-up approach. What he says is largely about finance (the world he is most familiar with,) but it might as well be about Gurdjieff's approach to metaphysics.

On page 268, we find the following:

"While many study psychology, mathematics, or evolutionary theory and look for ways to take it to the bank by applying their ideas to business, I suggest the exact opposite: study the intense, uncharted, humbling uncertainty in the markets as a means to get insights about the nature of randomness that is applicable to psychology, probability, mathematics, decision theory, and even statistical physics."

The only way to get to the top of the mountain is to climb there. The problem with top-down cosmologies is that they are abstract paradigms into which people try to fit experience, in contrast to epiphanies arrived at by way of experience. (By the way, I'll be interested to know who gets the lead-in reference about Goshen.)

Author, author ...

... Putting faces to fiction. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Bard and The Atlantic ...

... The Singularity of Shakespeare. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

From Ralph Waldo Emerson to Harold Bloom, writers and literary critics from throughout Atlantic history analyze and pay tribute to the Bard.

Five poems ...

... by David Solway. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Two other views ...

... of Lisa Tucker's The Cure for Modern Life, which I reviewed a while back - and liked a lot.

No easy answers: A true-to-life look at tricky ethical dilemmas.

A puppet master meets his match.

More, more ...

... and Yet More NaPoing.

Wild things ...

... Sarah Anderson's Top 10 books about wilderness. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winners are ...

... PEN literary awards.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters.

Wuthering Dove ...

... Poor Dorothy Wordsworth.

Weep not for books ...

... Their future looks good. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tell that to newspaper owners and editors.

Will this do?

... The mad worlds of Thomas Middleton. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Check out this ...

... Translated Fiction-site. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Belinda Subraman presents ...

... Peter Krok: poet, editor and director of Manayunk Art Center.

In the stretch ...

... for A pair of hats. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And more ...

... Clive James Wins.

Good news ...

... Health Update.

Born to blog ...

... Editors Are Humans Too. (Hat tip, Maxine Clark, who adds: Bravo to Henry!)

This is wonderful:

Whenever I turn up to do my ‘Confessions of a Nature editor’ spiel, the
venue is always packed with a sea of gawping faces that look like New Guinea highlanders who’ve seen their first white man (and probably have the pot simmering, backstage). It really is the case that until you turn up, in the flesh and twice as handsome, people don’t click that Nature editors aren’t anonymous droids, but people. Just like them. Well, almost.

Look out ...

... it's Linkzilla!

Tell it to the squirrels ...

... Maintaining the dignity of plants. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Come one, come all ...

... Celebrate World Book Day with The Literacy Project. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

I would say so ...

... The title says it all.

With all due respect ...

... Between Deference and Insolence. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Chronicles of Superannuation (1)

The Grumpy Old Bookman once said that bloggers could be divided into linkers and thinkers. I remember this because he cited me as an example of a blogger who was both. Lately, though, I’ve been doing much more linking than thinking. I am now aiming to remedy this. I hope to post from time to time — maybe not every day, but often enough — some thoughts of my own.

In particular, I’ve been wanting to write about what it’s like to make the change from a very busy professional life to a presumably more leisurely retirement. After all, this blog now purports to demonstrate that there is life for a book-review editor after retirement. Whether this will prove of interest to anyone but me I have no way of knowing – though I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.

The actual transition from employment to retirement wasn’t at leisurely. There’s a lot of paperwork involved. It is tedious and I have no intention of discussing it. I’m just glad that’s over.

The first really interesting thing I noticed once I didn’t have to get up and make my way to the office every morning was how tightly wound I was. Working for a daily newspaper involves being able to cope with the pressure of deadline and much else. I was apparently good enough at that to not even feel pressured. But once the pressure was off, I kept acting as if it were still there. I had to remind myself that I had time now to enjoy the doing of what I was doing. I didn’t simply have to get it done and start on whatever came next.

The paradoxical effect of this was that, while I had more time at my disposal, I was getting less done, largely because I was like a kid on Christmas morning: There was so much I wanted to do and had time to do that I couldn’t decide exactly which thing it was I wanted to do most and if I started something, I soon found myself easily distracted by something else that also seemed interesting. In other words, I was having a hard time prioritizing, as they say, because now I was pretty much altogether free to set my own. Having a job, of course, takes care of a lot of that for you.

Happily, I am starting to notice a routine emerging. More about that, though, in a subsequent post.

Well, bravo anyway ...

... Self-promotion that’s completely worthless, plus a picture of my kids. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Mark your calendar ...

... for a Week of Writing.

The rising tide ...

... of drivel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Beats "American Idol" ...

... the PBS Newshour Poetry Series. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Scriptural difficulties ...

... Bogus eco-quotes.

Of course, what difference would it make even if the Biblical references were authentic. That wouldn't persuade Richard Dawkins, would it?

Twice for a lifetime ...

... Author Cynthia Ozick wins 2 lifetime achievement awards. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Recommendations ...

... things to read and listen to.

Mean poetry ...

... Bullies, Addicts and Losers: A Poet Loves Them All. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More wonders ...

... Butterflies Again.

and this from yesterday: One good thing...

Blurring the genres ...

... Literary kink.

A fortuitous companion ...

... Patrick Kurp on Adam Kirsch: `Ignorance is Responsibility'.

This is my own ...

... my native land: Jeffrey Frank on Zbigniew Herbert.

One would think Martha Nussbaum could differentiate between mere jingoism and a love of patria.

You can't always agree ...

... Nassim Taleb does Evolutionary Fitness or Regularity is for Morons. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My weight is optimum, I have no paunch, and I don't go to the gym. I do walk a lot - the walk to see Dan Hoffman read last week was seven miles round trip. I did just over three and a half miles in just under an hour. Not great, but not bad. I'm not training for anything and I'm not trying to look the way I did when I was in my 30s.

Second chance offered ...

... PRESS RELEASE: Back2Press Books Launched—New Imprint Seeks Unhappy Authors Whose Books Failed After Selling 100,000+ Copies.

Whatever happened ...

... to old-fashioned, careful reporting: Food Alarmism Underscores American Reality: "There will never be a shortage of bullshit."

"Customers limited to 200 POUNDS of rice at a time." Sounds like quite a shortage.

In this corner ...

... Is religion a threat to rationality and science? Prof Daniel Dennett and Lord Winston square off. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Whew ...

... I was beginning to worry: Poetry vs the demise of poetry.

Art patron ...


... a couple of weeks ago, Katie Haegele stopped by and we went to see an exhibition at the Fleisher Art Memorial. Katie ended up buying a watercolor that she liked and that turned out to be by my wife. She just framed and hung it and here it is.

Good stuff ...

... Epiphanies.

Civilized poets ...

...David Yezzi and Adam Zagajewski: Songs of Innocence and Experience. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What say you?

... Ken Bruen's "Priest": Best crime novel of its year and any year?

One of them meant a lot to me ...

... Library Factoid: Andrew Carnegie.

The Holmesburg Library in Northeast Philadelphia, where I spent many a pleasant afternoon when I was kid, was built by Carnegie.

Maxine does much ...

... of my work for me: A stagger through the Internet.

More on WebShare ...

... Britannica joins the blogosphere.

Don't tell Lee Goldberg ...

... Self-published memoir shortlisted for PEN/Ackerley prize. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As the comment indicates, Lee linked to it himself and sends along this: 'Who is it that can tell me who I am?'

Bumped up.

Well, as Dave Lull points out in an email, Lee's comment is gone, and so is mine thanking hime for the link. Worse, the post won't take comments. Thank you, Blogger.

Let's start the day ...

... with Two "Small Songs" Published.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This sounds about right ...

... Web 2.0; Da Vinci 1.5; readers 0.

Hard to see ...

... Pinch besting Rupert: Murdoch, Ink. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

You learn something new ...

... ever day: Exactly what is "blog" short for? (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Get your kicks ...

... on Route 66.

The show's run, I see, coincided with my years in college.

In case you wondered ...

... How Daphne du Maurier wrote Rebecca.

He's got the look ...

... Flaubert the terrorist.

A new cloud of unknowing ...

... Reconsidering Reality: The Sokal Hoax. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Another take ...

... on Certain Girls: When Both Mother and Daughter Know Best. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Jane Smiley gets a mention.

Come one, come all ...

... Shakespeare for Everyone. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Bard, of course, turns a lucky 444 today.

The other America ...

... the one outside the faculty lounge: 24 Hours on the 'Big Stick'. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Sounds like mine ...

...

Biography as Screaming Farce: Audio Interview with Irene Gammel on Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Just in time ...

... Afternoon coffee.

Who knew?

...

" 'CHARLIE ROSE' BY SAMUEL BECKETT "


I never understood Charlie Rose before now.

For National Poetry Month ...

... Peter Cook as William Wordsworth:

Dancing with the Daffodils


Shakespeare, too.

Bravo ...

... to Mark Sarvas: Harry, Rent. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tontine anyone?

... Mariella and Will.

This seems genuinely important ...

... Stuart Kauffman's Breaking the Galilean Spell. (Dave Lull sent me a link to this as I was reading it - talk about grat minds.)

This needs to be pondered long and long, not commented upon glibly. Reading it, several things came to mind: Rudolf Otto's The Idea of the Holy, nicely summarized in this:

'... best known for his analysis of the experience that, in his view, underlies all religion. He calls this experience "numinous," and says it has three components. These are often designated with a Latin phrase: mysterium tremendum et fascinans. As mysterium, the numinous is "wholly other"--entirely different from anything we experience in ordinary life. It evokes a reaction of silence. But the numinous is also a mysterium tremendum. It provokes terror because it presents itself as overwhelming power. Finally, the numinous presents itself as fascinans, as merciful and gracious.'

Then there is Alfred North Whitehead and his notion of "nature alive" - which you can get
some idea of here.

And of course a passage such as this - "
My claim is not simply that we lack sufficient knowledge or wisdom to predict the future evolution of the biosphere, economy, or human culture. It is that these things are inherently beyond prediction" - brings to mind Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan.

The concepts of the tao, the logos, Teilhard's purposeful evolution are also stirred up. I hope Mark Vernon weighs in on this. Also Taleb. Come to think of it, Bryan - if he ever emerges again - might have much of interest to say about it as well.

This also is worth a look:
The Philosopher’s Poet: Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago, and Whitehead’s Cosmological Vision.

I don't know ...

... Broyard's objections seem sound to me: Joy Williams’s 30-Year-Old Comeback Novel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Life on the steppes ...

... The pull of antithetical forces.

This brings to mind Kurosawa's magnificent Dersu Uzala.

I quite understand, actually ...

... The Life of a Literary Journal Editor.

A poet worth getting to know ...

... Raymond Souster.

Here's a brief sampler:

Raymond Souster’s Poetry

Don't forget ...

... to pack your Kindle: Why the Amazon Kindle is a tourist's best friend. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Resistance may be futile ...

... AuthorHouse Bows to Amazon Pressure Over Booksurge. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sounds good ...

... Writers Make a Case for Neutrality.

... but maybe not.

So come on, folks, weigh in on this. That's one of the things blogging is for.

Good tip ...

... How not to write.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Poe doings ...

... tomorrow night.

From beyond the grave ...

... Nabokov clears the way: Nabokov's last work will not be burned. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Don't get your hopes up ...

... In search of the world's favourite book. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

The top 50 listed so far on the site aren't that impressive - and the list of favorite films is even lamer.

Bring back ...

... Renaissance Humanism: GCSE in humanism.

Pico della Mirandola, we will never forget you!

Let's hear it ...

... for Theodulf: “Keeping versed and on my feet…”

Help needed ...

... Calling All Aspies (And Family Members).

What's it like ...

... to win a Pulitzer? Daniel Walker Howe just won it for history: A Pulitzer Winner Reflects.