Thursday, July 31, 2008

God 2.0 ...

... Sacred Science: Using Faith to Explain Anomalies in Physics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have been reading Reinventing the Sacred. I was going to review, but soon realized I am simply not qualified to pass judgment on the biology. But I do get the impression that if one can separate God 1.0 - I Am Who Am, the Logos, the Tao - from the often primitive, sometimes simple-minded, occasionally perverse explications of God 1.0 (there are of course perfectly sound and imaginative explications as well), there really isn;t that large a gap between version 1.0 and version 2.0.

Curiouser and curiouser ...

... How the brain works: mystery deepens as knowledge grows. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

" ... how brain structures and functions correlate with mental phenomena ..." There lies the problem and the correlation is by no means as clear as it is often made out to be.

Happy birthday ...

... to Richard Rodriguez, born on this date in 1944. Here is an interview and a talk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A chat with ...

... George Pelecanos.

In my final days as a book-review editor, I exchanged some emails with George Pelecanos, hoping to sign him up as a "name" reviewer the powers that be at the paper so coveted. He was too busy to take an assignment but said he might somewhere down the road. Seemed like a nice, unassuming guy.

I think not ...

... A class apart? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

These guys could start by looking at the word itself: philo-sophia - love of wisdom. Wisdom may depend on knowledge and reasoning, but is not the same as knowledge and reasoning, just as a wise man is not the same as a wise guy. A professor of philosophy may not be much of a philosopher at all. What ordinary men and women of good will and common sense want from philosophy is the same thing the ancients wanted: equanimity - peace of soul. Instead, what they get is goofy neologisms and turgid logic-chopping. A few minutes spent with Marcus Aurelius or Epictetus or Seneca or Montaigne is so much better than any time spent with Heidegger or Bradley or Sartre.

Pursuing the American Dream ...

... This Was Maxwell Street.

Philadelphia's Italian Market, next to which I live, is also legendary.

Hear, hear ...

... A song of praise for the poet in peril. (Hat tip, Judith Fitzgerald.)

A roundup ...

... of Print v. blogs discussion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Check out ...

... 5 x 5 Books For The Swim-Obsessed by Jenny Davidson. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I am not myself swim-obsessed.

Someone new to me ...

... Poet finds a sensual new voice. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Rus also sends along David Brooks: Six Poems.

Noontime feature ...

... The Future of Newspapers and Litblogs: A Thought Experiment. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

... if one hopes to find a facsimile of book review sections online, probably not. But it would take an exceptionally rigid and incurious mind to settle merely on a clone. If one wishes to discover forms of literary commentary that serve the same function as a book review section, it is extremely difficult not to find online exemplars in alternative forms.


This is precisely the point. The assumption that books are best covered by the kinds of reviews that appear in print media is false. Print reviews are generally too short these days. And as Ed notes, when more space is provided, it is often used injudiciously. The more ways a new book can be discussed and the greater the angles of approach the better. The nature of the internet is changing the nature of reviewing. Moreover, newspapers are increasingly reflective of the intellectual parochialism of those who run them.

Highly recommended ...

... Debbie and I went to see Tell No One yesterday. We both it was great. Here is my former colleague Steven Rea's review: A terrific mystery in any language.

Check out ...

... Ray Bradbury on Literature and Love. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is very touching ...

... Sorry...

Follow the link, please.

A closer look ...

... at Olds' worlds. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A bizarre anniversary ...

... “Elizabeth is leaving me for Ted Turner” (2007).

Common sense from Nige ...

... Learning From the Past?

It is more than passing strange that Jesus, having reduced the prescriptions and proscriptions of the law to a three-fold command to love God, your neighbor, and yourself, should be resolutely ignored on this point (once the lip service has been paid), so believers can go back to poring over - and fighting over ... the prescriptions and proscriptions of the law. The strange emphasis placed by certain professed believers upon the mechanics of sex is sadly wondrous. Perhaps it has something to with our tendency, especially in this shallow, celebrity-laden era, to think of human love as something passive, something we "fall into." Whereas love is really something one does. It is, strictly speaking, benevolentia, the willing of another's good. This may sometimes mean placing another's good before one's own. That's when it starts to get hard.

Two more from Maxine ...

... 3: The Mystery Writer.

... 4: The Overlook.

FYI ...

... Kay Ryan: Online Resources. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Poem ...

... ‘Videlicet’ . (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Odd ...

... Vectorpark. (Hat tip, Jim Carmin.)

Life after celebrity ...

... All the Answers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So the shows were rigged. I don't remember being terribly surprised at the time to learn that. I was a cynical high school kid. But you know, for a while there these shows gave people who had read things and knew things and spoke well a respectability usually reserved for sports figures. And there's something to be said for that.

Something I missed ...

... an interview with poet Paul Siegell.

Secret sharers ...

... Against the Day: David Lebedoff on Orwell and Waugh. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Waugh, who had written Orwell an admiring note, visited him as Orwell lay dying. It was an act of disinterested kindness on the part of a man known more for his rudeness than for his charity.

The crime scene ...

... John Darnton's 'Black, White, and Dead All Over'. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Two poems ...

... by John Ashbery. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Puzzling ...

... more Literary Tattoos. (Hat tip, Jim Carmin.)

I gather than Jim doesn't get these, and neither do I. Why do middle-class kids decide to decorate their skin like Queequeg? In Queequeg's culture tattoos weren't just a fashion statement. In our society more and more is becoming little else.

A strange piece ...

... Brideshead Revisited Revisited.

I suppose it would be a flaw in Waugh's novel if you had to be Catholic to "get" it. But I really don't think that's case. I do think you have to avoid being obtuse. I don't know how old Troy Patterson is, but consider this passage that he quotes:

The languor of Youth—how unique and quintessential it is! How quickly, how irrevocably, lost! .... [L]anguor—the relaxation of yet unwearied sinews, the mind sequestered and self-regarding, the sun standing still in the heavens and the earth throbbing to our own pulse—that belongs to Youth alone and dies with it. Perhaps in the mansions of Limbo the heroes enjoy some such compensation for their loss of the Beatific Vision; perhaps the Beatific Vision itself has some remote kinship with this lowly experience; I, at any rate, believed myself very near heaven, during those languid days at Brideshead.


The sad fact is that, around age 39, that is how one actually tends to feel about one's lost youth, especially if it was a rather footloose and carefree one. The melancholy sentimentality, the self-pity are all authentic. Of course, life goes on, one moves on, and one is embarrassed to have felt that way, however briefly. But that is how one did feel, and Waugh has captured it perfectly in all its self-indulgent grandiloquence. I might add that I read the book when I was in college and found it unsettling precisely because I felt sure I would face just such a moment sometime in my own future. As indeed I did.
I have just ordered a copy of the book. I am so tired of reading stuff about it that I think misses its point that I have decided to re-read it after all these years and see what I think and feel now.

Best-selling classics ...

... at B&N Tagged.

Another review ...

... of Thrumpton Hall: House Proud.

I rather think this review gives too much away that would be best for the reader to discover on his own, but ... There is a link on the left to the book's first chapter.

Here's my review: Restrained memoir tells of father's reign.

Trumpets and drums, please ...

... ‘The Ten best Canadian Books’.

How curious ...

... while putting together the preceding post, I was thinking if anyone remembered that young Martin Amis was in the film version of Richard Hughes's A High Wind in Jamaica. A few minutes later, I paid a visit to Nigel Beale's Nota Bene Books, a lo and behold: When Martin Amis’s Voice Changed…

More on the Amises ...

... Amis and Son: Two Literary Generations. (Hat tip, Judith Fitzgerald.)

Academics to the rescue ...

... I can help you change your life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Boy, am I glad I'm pretty satisfied with mine.

Let's segue into ...

... the magnificently warped world of Tom Waits. (Hat tip, Judith Fitzgerald.)

Let's start ...

... with good news from the news biz: 10 That Do It Right: E&P's Annual Salute to Innovators . (Hat tip, Roger Miller, former book editor of The Milwaukee Journal.)

No surprise that The Inquirer didn't make the list. Hard to innovate when you can't distinguish an idea from a headache.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Beats seeing dead people ...

... Lorna Byrne: 'To me, seeing angels is natural'. (Hat tip, Judith Fitzgerald.)

Oh, nooo ...

... not these guys again: The Templars: unravelling the myths. (Hat tip, Judith Fitzgerald.)

But see also: Templar Baloney Every Bit. (This site intrigues me. I like the idea of a return to chivalry.)

Martin Manning returns ...

... because you can't keep a mean man down: Little Tyrants Everywhere.

Well, here it is ....

... Booker longlist boost for first-time novelists.

See also: The Booker longlist - let the arguments commence. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Miss Emily ...

... Her Own Society. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I think this review - and probably Wineapple's book - misunderstands Dickinson's religious outlook, which I think has, at times, something in common with R.S. Thomas's.

Ongoing ...

... to say the least: The Great Debate. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

But this was not [Antony] Flew's final word. Two years later, There Is a God (written with Roy Abraham Varghese, a longtime interlocutor) was released. This helps clarify Flew's positions and why he holds them. He begins with his intellectual autobiography and does not commence to defend his new views until page 88. But it is worth the wait, because Flew is willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads. He no longer takes the idea of God as a disembodied agent to be problematic, and he presents four reasons why he now embraces theism: the consistent and rational laws of nature, the fine-tuning of the universe, the origin of the universe at the Big Bang, and the organized, information-rich nature of life. Flew rejects the multiverse theory he toyed with in the new introduction to God and Philosophy as extravagant and desperate. He rejects atheistic accounts of the Big Bang as less rational than the theistic explanation that God was the creator. Flew argues that naturalism faces an insuperable philosophical problem in trying to coax life from non-life without a designing mind.

Dynamic duo ...

... Billy Collins & Seamus Heaney.

Let me not ...

... to the marriage of two hemispheres admit impediments: Interview with Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. — "Stroke of Insight". (Hat tip Dave Lull.)

Here is the link to the video that is mentioned.

The 90 second rule and then it's gone. It's predictable circuitry, so by paying attention to what circuits you are triggering and what that feels like inside of your body, you can recognize when it has happened. We all know what it feels like when we suddenly move into fear. Something happens in the external world and all of a sudden we experience a physiological response by our body that our mind would define as fear. So in my brain some circuit is saying something isn't safe and I need to go on full alert, those chemicals flush through my body to put my body on full alert, and for that to totally flush out of my body, it takes less than 90 seconds.

So, whether it's my fear circuitry or my anger circuitry or even my joy circuitry - it's really hard to hold a good belly laugh for more than 90 seconds naturally. The 90 second rule is totally empowering. That means for 90 seconds, I can watch this happen, I can feel this happen and I can watch it go away. After that, if I continue to feel that fear or feel that anger, I need to look at the thoughts I'm thinking that are re-stimulating that circuitry that is resulting in me having this physiology over and over again.

When you stay stuck in an emotional response,you're choosing it by choosing to continue thinking the same thoughts that retrigger it. We have this incredible ability in our minds to replay but as soon as you replay, you're not here, you're not in the present moment. You're still back in something else and if you continue to replay the exact same line and loop, then you have a predictable result. You can continue to make yourself mad all day and the more you obsess over whatever it is, the more you run that loop, then the more that loop gets energy of it's own to manifest itself with minimal amounts of thought, so it will then start on automatic. And it keeps reminding you, "Oh yeah, I was mad, I have to rethink that thought."

In case you wondered ...

... When DID Orwell start a diary?

This is quite fascinating.

Relax ...

... 10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List. (Hat tip, Christine Klocek-Lim.)

See, it isn't just me. Even the hallowed New York Times is telling you not to worry about the arctic ice.

In praise of ...

... Belatedly, Beatrix.

On the other hand, this is worrisome: Panting, Lying.

I am fond of frogs and toads. In college, a group of us formed an unofficial fraternity called ΤΏΔ.

Try this on for size ...

... Four Levels of Teleology. (Hat tip, Joseph Chovanes.)

Ever wonder

whether it's harder to write a book with someone else than on your own, or easier? I do, sometimes, especially when I'm reading a book with two authors that works well. I just read a graphic novel called Bluesman for a review, and I thought it was successful and really beautiful. The words are by one person and the pictures by another. Maybe I should try collaborating with an artist on a story of some kind to see what it's like.

Shakespeare in the rough ...

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

Evolution vs. Naturalism ...

... Why they are like oil and water. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Suppose the adaptive neurophysiology produces true beliefs: fine; it also produces adaptive behavior, and that's what counts for survival and reproduction. Suppose on the other hand that neurophysiology produces false beliefs: again fine: it produces false beliefs but adaptive behavior. It really doesn't matter what kind of beliefs the neurophysiology produces; what matters is that it cause adaptive behavior; and this it clearly does, no matter what sort of beliefs it also produces. Therefore there is no reason to think that if their behavior is adaptive, then it is likely that their cognitive faculties are reliable.


Then there's this: Darwin to the Rescue.

But, as Platinga notes:

... what evolution tells us (supposing it tells us the truth) is that our behavior, (perhaps more exactly the behavior of our ancestors) is adaptive; since the members of our species have survived and reproduced, the behavior of our ancestors was conducive, in their environment, to survival and reproduction
.

Then literary Darwinism can only demonstrate this over and over again.

Tudor terror ...

... Forgery, forgotten evidence and mouse-droppings. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wonderful ...

... How to be a Travel Writer.

He claims, however, that he was not kidnapped by Albanian brigands: Staring at Albania.

The mighty fallen ...

... soaked in yolk.

Disinterested ...

... Meet the art lovers who are defying the critics - and proud of it. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, it is certainly true that you should never buy a work of art unless you actually like it. When Debbie was included in a show last year, I bought one of her pieces, not because she's my wife, but because I really like it. And I cut no deal to get. I paid what the gallery was asking.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A dubious list ...

... Blue sky thinking: 10 ideas that changed the course of history. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I suppose changing the world isn't same as being sound. And gravity isn't just an idea; it was the discovery of a fact, wasn't it?

An excerpt worth reading ...

... A little remembrance of the Forgotten War.

In his own write ...

... An Old Friend.

Something I missed ...

... I think. At least I can't find any evidence that I linked to and it's very interesting: HaEnglisc.
Guys: Megabus. How great is this? I think I might be able to use it to plan a tour to promote my poetry collection, DIY-style. You can get from Philly to New York for as low as $1 and, as far as I can tell, no higher than $12.

Not exactly happy ...

... 2: The Coffin Trail.

Preferring interesting prejudice ...

... to bland open-mindedness: `The Humbug of Being Unbiased'.

One cannot be objective, either; though one can strive to be impartial.

This just in ...

... More ice than expected in parts of the Arctic.

Guess what?

... We knew the web was big... (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The online legacy ...

... of Professor Pausch. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

History for laughs ...

... A PHARAOH, A GREEK AND A CHICKEN WALK INTO A BAR ... (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

The value of blogging ...

Reading the comments appended to this post of mine On Anger, I realize that blogging can offer something on the order of peer review: You put your thoughts out there, others comment, and you find yourself with grounds for reconsideration.
I think I should have made it clearer that I understand perfectly well that anger happens and that sometimes it is justified. I once saw a woman seriously whipping her child on the sidewalk and I got instantaneously pissed and told her so in so many quite blunt words. She then got pissed at me - but she stopped hitting the kid. (I think this is the sort of thing Ed is referring to.)
But spontaneous anger over something obviously and immediately outrageous is one thing. So is the little outburst when your computer glitches on you. But the phenomenon one encounters in the blogosphere of "righteous" outbursts over all sorts of things from politics to religion to literary criticism is a blight on discourse. If the people who so routinely express themselves in that manner really do get angry that much over so much then they need to get help. If it is just a rhetorical pose, then they need to get some manners. They may also need to take a couple of remedial courses in logic and rhetoric, if only to learn that the latter is not a substitute for the former. There are certainly times when one has cause to be indignant and ought to express that indignation openly and bluntly. But it isn't all the time.
I agree with Bill that anger can be a form displacement, but I think Art is also right in adding that it can be born of frustration and is often a "guy" thing. I'm not sure about the connection with fear, but that may be because I have a fairly high fear threshold and tend to feel scared after being in danger, not while. Cogito's reminder of the connection between anger and depression is quite useful, though again it is something I can't say much about, since I am little inclined to depression. (Nige's remark about reasoning my way out of anger is worth a gloss: I do that sort of thing all the time - must be my Jesuit training. I see no reason for continuing to do something that seems unreasonable to me. The hardest one for me to walk away from was drinking to excess, which I loved. And I resisted reason's blandishments in that regard far longer than was, well, reasonable. It took a grim moment - a waking blackout - to alert me that the law of diminishing returns was starting to go to work.)

Thanks to Nige, Bill, the Incomparable Cogito, Art and Ed for their contributions. What you said prompted me to clarify things a bit - at least I hope I clarified them.

Not many of these around ...

... anymore: A Scholar.

My Jesuit mentor, Father Edward Gannon - the wisest man I've known - once told me that at one point in his life - when he was at Louvain, I believe - he would start the day by reading the Greek tragedies - in Greek, of course.

The ambiguity of history ...

... 1434, and the end of the Renaissance?

Hmm ...

... Evaluative Criticism: The 1001 Books you Must Read Before you Die Cop-out.

Me and some raptors ...

... I said I'd have something to say about J.A. Baker's The Peregrine: Two books go far beyond just looking at birds.

Se also this earlier post: An indelible book ...

Note: I bumped this up, and plan to again tomorrow - because I think the books mentioned (especially Baker's) deserve the attention.

Blithe spirit ...

... Shelley Takes Off (1814).

Gerard Manley Hopkins was born on this date in 1844. Here is

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spáre, strange;
Whatever is fickle, frecklèd (who knows how?)
With swíft, slów; sweet, sóur; adázzle, dím;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is pást change:

Práise hím.

They do?

... Fiction readers have better social skills?

A good way ...

... to start the day: "From William Temple to George Herbert" - Anglican Origins: Prayer and Holiness. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The comments on R.S. Thomas toward the end are especially worth reading.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reading habits (cont'd)

... Newbie Kindle reactions (cont). (Hat tip, Jack Ayer.)

An interview with ...

... Judy Kronenfeld: Professor, Scholar, Author, Poet. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Tomorrow ...

... is John Ashbery's 81st birthday: John Ashbery and Fairfield Porter.

There's always time ...

... to Play Ball!. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Very worth seeing ...

... Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture." (Hat tip, Judith Fitzgerald.)

I didn't know this ...

... or if I did, I forgot: The Big List of Culture Blogs. (Hat tip, Judith Fitzgerald.)

Precisely ...

... Blowing Smoke: Nicholson Baker’s Pacifist Solution.

This is not good ...

... Worst killing spree for birds of prey. (Hat tip, Judith Fitzgerald.)


Nice ...

... Encounters with Patrick White. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Just now ...

Thunder growls, then roars
While lightning jumps and flashes
Now rain, in torrents

Maxine's been busy ...

... and I'm just catching up.

... A matter of taste.

...Waterstones offer on the Sony Reader.

... A strange geography.

This baby names are appalling. As for the Sony Reader, I tested one. But I have a Kindle. I think the Kindle is better, unless the Reader has much improved its navigational capacity.

Reading habits ...

... first the debate at the Britannica Blog.

... then a piece in today's NYT: Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? (Hat tip, Dave Lull, Lee Lowe, and Judith Fitzgerald.)

... and this, which inject some facts - as opposed to anecdotes - into the debate: It's the screens, not the internet, that are making us stupid. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

I don't for a moment buy the idea that reading electronically in any way diminishes the capacity to read print. I read lots of both and notice know difference (I know, that's anecdotal; but it's also what I've experienced - ooh, I just used a semicolon).

On Anger ...

I have been thinking a lot lately about anger. Quite a few people have noticed how common expressions of anger are in the blogosphere. And I have been wondering why some people feel the need so often to express their views splenetically. Politics excites a lot of people to anger, even though their participation in the political process probably consists of just going to a polling place in November and casting one of more than 100 million votes. (Hey, if you're so hot and bothered over it, get involved. Run for office. Work in a campaign. I did once. That was enough.) Then there are the angry exchanges over literary criticism or schools of poetry or types of fiction. What is that all about?

I used to get angry a lot, but I realized something about anger one day that pretty much cured me of it in a snap. What I realized was that I got angry because (a) I was hurt and (b) couldn’t really do anything about it. The anger was an expression of impotence. The one thing I could do about what had hurt me was rant about it. No sooner had I realized that than I asked myself, “Why bother?” It didn’t do any good. And it felt awful. There is nothing pleasant about feeling angry. Of course, there’s nothing pleasant about feeling hurt, either, but if you face up to the discomfort, it fades after a while. Anger just prolongs it, like picking at a scab.

Now, of course, I am talking of actual causes of anger in one’s real life. Why people should feel angry because someone voices an opinion they don’t agree with, or why they would think that expressing their disagreement in a truculent manner would in any way strengthen their position — well, that is beyond me. I can’t imagine feeling hurt over an opinion I disagreed with, so that can’t be a factor. No, I think the rationale — if one may call it such — is to suggest that the opinion being objected to is not merely intellectually incorrect, but morally wrong. By extension, the person holding said opinion is not merely mistaken, but culpably so.

One problem with this is that it is rude. No one has the right to presume that another is acting or speaking in bad faith. That someone else’s view of something makes you mad may tell us a lot about you, but does not by any means constitute an argument.

Self-consuming ...

... Reason special: Reason eats itself. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Reason is one means of arriving at truth. It is not the only means. Sometimes, it isn't the best means. Usually, it best used in conjunction with imagination.

No, Carole ...

... thank you: THANKS, AND ONWARD: CAROLE GOLDBERG.

Hiatus continues ...

... Bryan News.

Well, he hasn't shown up in my neighborhood.

A way with words ...

... Harding’s Abnormal Normalcy.

And to think it is still used by some. How about normality?

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... there probably aren't enough of these: A murder mystery in the newsroom.

Desmond Ryan looks at the
Holocaust, from the ground up.

David Cohen considers
Producing plays while performing a service.

And here's one from the LA Times: Deadly race riot no mere act of rage.

The Bard and more ...

... Wicked Laughter.

See also So you want to see a show?

The blog as lotus blossom ...

... Four and a Half Years Into It: Why Blog? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Moral grace and social incompetence ...

... Julian Barnes on Penelope Fitzgerald: How did she do it? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

See also: Pooterish-Boho Dash: Barnes on Fitzgerald.

Post bumped.

A benediction ...

... Morning, Garden...

My kind of guy ...

... Peter Carey and The Magic Pudding.

Some links ...

... from OUP: Link Love.

Nige won't like this ...

... but then, who in his right mind would? La Cité, C’est Moi. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Remembering ...

... MacDonald's ‘tattered knight on a spavined steed’.

A neglected topic ...

... at least in these parts: Speaking of CanLit ... (Hat tip, Judith Fitzgerald.)

Start being scared ...

... Haunted Poe.

Sounds good to me ...

... Thigh-high black-leather high-heeled boots our specialty.

You'll probably also want to take a look at Around the world with Raymond Chandler.

Bad idea ...

... Recipes as Sacred Texts?

Only bad cooks adhere rigidly to the texts of recipes.

Weekend tips ...

... “Two-one-zero, der Alarm ist rod…”

Choice morsels ...

... Hamlet Gets Pirated and Faulkner Goes to Hollywood.

Sad to say ...

... but true: A Debt of Honor — Skipped Out On. (Hat tip, Dave Lull and Jack Ayer.)

An indelible book ...

... `The Hill of Summer'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I expect to have something to say myself at The Peregrine quite soon.

Learning to be creative ...

... Novel thinking.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Oh, not, not again ...

... The Death of the Novel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sad news ...

... Joseph McCrindle, 85, Connoisseur of Art, Is Dead.

Quite a review ...

... What We Talk About When We Talk About JonBenet.

Sad news ...

... ‘Last Lecture’ Professor Randy Pausch, 47, Dies.

Submitted for your approval ...

... Car Radio Dog.

Good luck ...

... America's Busiest Poet. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Yes ....

... To The Harbourmaster.

The debate continues ...

... Fate of the Book. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I must be out and about ...

... so blogging will resume sometime later.

I'm not so sure ...

... Talking to the Plumber.

Derbyshire is a smart fellow, as I'm sure he'd be the first to admit, but I am often unimpressed by his ability to think clearly, which involves - among other things - making distinctions. IQ tests measure a certain kind of intelligence. Surely, we have all met Mensa members whose IQ might not be in doubt, but whose practical intelligence failed to impress. A talent for doing well in school - which usually means a talent for passing tests - is not necessarily a sign of high overall intelligence. No amount of schooling will make you more intelligent than you already are, but a certain amount can help give the impression that you are more intelligent than you are. Which is why many people think that someone who speaks well must be smart. There are, however, plenty of glib airheads. Walter Cronkite was once the most trusted man in America for no discernible reason other than that he had a resonant baritone and an avuncular manner. I am not suggesting Uncle Walter was dumb, but I have never seen any evidence that he was particularly brilliant, either.

Breaking down a faultline ...

... What's Really Real? Literary Critic James Wood Responds to Mischaracterizations. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I am well aware ...

... that this is going to piss a lot of people off. But this is a book blog and Andrew Klavan is an author - of rather good books, in my view: What Bush and Batman Have in Common. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

I actually wondered for a moment if I wanted the bother that could result from linking to this, but was immediately disgusted by my own temerity. Not to post a link because it may annoy some people - even a lot of people? How dare I even consider that.

Update: And no, I don't regret having posted the link. Vent away, folks.

Point of departure ...

... Jack London Catches Gold Fever (1897).

Jack London is underrated. If you've never read To Build A Fire, here's your chance.

Wonderful ...

... The Just.

This, too: Homecoming.

Let's start ...

... with something heartwarming: Giles Coren's letter to Times subs. (Hat tip, Ed Champion.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters, including Kipling, Cy Twombly - and Cy Young.

The now is not number ...

... The Mind and Its Now. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


There can be no active mind without its sensing its existence in the moment called now. The realization of this is the driving force of modern philosophy from Descartes' cogito on. Without suspecting that the cogito, a personal reflective act, cannot be a starting point of knowledge, he took it for such. He failed to realize that it is not possible to know without knowing something. One tries in vain to cogitate without cogitating about something. And that something has to be a thing before one is cogitating though never in separation from a thing.

Getting it right ...

... New Naturalists: from mumps to badgers.

More from Google ...

... Google Launches Knol, The Monetizable Wikipedia. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More on the emperor ...

... Notes from a Hadrian exhibition.

Literary search engine ...

... A Google map for your library. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

You may want to check ...

... the latest diary news.

Father and son ...

... Amis & Amis. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Let there be confusion ...

... The creation of Creationism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Creationism is much more specific and much less plausible. Its central claim is that the precise mode of creation has been revealed in the Bible, and follows the pattern set out in the first chapter of Genesis ... thus identifying God’s action with a particular series of events and a particular timetable, rather than as the ultimate mystery underlying all reality ...


In other words, it would sacrifice science on the altar of Bibliolotry. On the other hand, in the phrase "current scientific orthodoxy," the operative word would have to be current. Scientific integrity, mentioned later, would seem to me more important than a rigid adherence to any orthodoxy.

Problematic ...

... Problems of Perception.

I'm pretty indiscriminate. Janet Evanovich wouldn't be my cup of tea, but I also think Ian McEwan is a tad overrated. I continue to think it's best to steer clear of categories and just take it one book at a time. This, however, is a very good observation: "It would be a mistake, however, to consider buffs open-minded; if you’ve ever audited an undergrad film class, you understand that such people are often insufferably critical." This is how coterie literature develops.

Ah, yes ...

... Remembering the Avanti.

See also this earlier Loewy-designed Studebaker.

Big question of the day ...

... Must the Purpose of Human Existence Be Subjectively Appropriable by All?

A chat with ...

... Joan Silber.

A look at ...

... O. Henry’s Twist Ending (1901) and more.

Restored ...

... Nota Bene Books is back up.

Bad guys ...

... When the war on crime brought Dillinger down.

I wouldn't be happy, either ...

... Thrown to the ground, paralysed.

The quangocrat at the centre of the testing fiasco is one of Britain’s highest-paid civil servants. Ken Boston, lured from Australia six years ago to sort out an earlier exam debacle, receives £328,000 in salary and perks. The package, greater than that paid to Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, jumped 15% from 2006-7 to 2007-8.


Wonder what he got the raise for?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bottoms up ...

... Noir at the Bar III with Dave White Aug. 3.

Wanna bet ...

... the Russians won't pay heed to the environmentalists? Bears besiege Russian mine after killing guards.

Let's get ready ...

... to rumble: Homer vs P. G. Wodehouse.

Come one, come all ...

... Freebies Bonanza. (Hat tip, Jim Carmin.)

Can't miss this ...

... On this date in 1888 Raymond Chandler was born. Listen to him chat with, yes, Ian Fleming: His Master's Voice. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It isn't strange ...

... that so few people seem seriously bothered by Vladimir Putin? In the burning house.

Bob Hoover on

... Kay Ryan: Poet laureate 'outsider' followed traditional path.

I think Bob's point is sound. Kay's an offbeat choice, but if she were truly an outsider she wouldn't have been chosen. Charles Bukowski would have been a real outsider choice. But the essential point is that Kay is a very good poet and deserves the honor.

See also "I thought I might take it upon my self" and Ryan's metaphor, are deceptive "bows."

Lost soul ...

... Low Truths.

A word ...

... quite a few, actually, from the Poet Laureate (Britain's, that is): Andrew Motion: Noises Off. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Nota Bene ...

... I haven;t been able to access Nigel Beale's site for a couple of days. Thought you should Nigel expected to be up and running again this afternoon. But so far, no go.

Local, local, local ...

... but outsource the copydesk: From Rim Editor to Ram the Editor. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I need copy editors to know that Eva Longoria is not the wife of Tampa Bay Rays baseball phenom Evan Longoria. I need them to know that a Florida cracker is not something you eat, and that it may or may not be offensive to some readers. I need a Rhode Island copy editor to know that you don't dig for clams; you dig for quahogs, a word of Indian origin -- American Indian. I need copy editors who know that Jim Morrison of The Doors went to St. Pete Junior College, that beat writer Jack Kerouac died in St. Petersburg, Fla., but is buried in Lowell, Mass. I want them to know that Lakewood High School is different from Lakewood Ranch High School. I want them to know that 54th Avenue North in St. Petersburg is 108 blocks north of 54th Avenue South.


Precisely.

A day late ...

... but not be missed: Spooner.

Demon rum ...

... `Are You All Ready to Feel Bad?'

What distinguishes drunks from other people - and I was one for a good 30 years - is the confidence they feel in relation to alcohol. They really do believe they can handle it. That's why many (I was not one of those myself) eschew other drugs they feel might actually cause them to lose the control they are certain they have even when sloshed. Oddly, Berryman's Love & Fame was one of the books that got me seriously thinking about drying out. Another was Donald Newlove's Those Drinking Days.

Fascinating ...

... Happy weekend from all the women pastors.

New dimensions ...

... Quantum poetics. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Novelists' critic ...

... The Wood Workshop: How Critic Became A One-Man School. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The problem with a practicing novelist writing about how fiction works is that it tends - naturally enough - to be about how the fiction that writer likes to write and read works. I haven't read Wood's book - though I have no doubt it is worth reading - but I am preemptively skeptical of any prescriptive aesthetic. As Blake put it, "I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's; I will not reason and compare; my business is to create."

Doing Anonymous one better ...

... The Poet Who Never Was (1943).

Pay a visit ...

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

See also from east to west: bicoastal verse - summer '08.

Faith in action ...

... Mapping malaria nets. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Tony Blair, has been suggesting that religions can help the fight too. ... Blair says that the newly created Tony Blair Faith Foundation will seek to bring together "the six great religions, and incite them to resolve together problems instead of creating them." Fighting malaria should be one, he says: "Attacking the scourge of malaria, which kills one million people a year, would be a great example of working together. Can you imagine the effectiveness of a chain made up of mosques, temples, and churches scattered throughout the farthest reaches of Africa, distributing prophylactic mosquito nets which save so many lives? This would be faith in action."

A favorite painter ...

... Hammershoi: the Poetry of Silence. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I saw a show of Hammershøi's work a few years ago, though I can't remember where - the Walters maybe? If I could paint, I would probably specialize in still lifes and interiors.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On their own ...

... Reversing the Tide: Professor Gives Due
 to Self-Taught Poets. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Floating with espresso ...

... Doctor Who's assistants. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Please, welcome ...

... Georgy Riecke.

On the range ...

... Blue flowers. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

A Browning version ...

... Portrait of a lady. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Amor vincit omnia ...

... A Messy Conversation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Check out ...

... this Roundup from Ed.

Sounds scary ...

... A grammarian in Wonderland.

Sure does ...

... Sin Happens. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More bad news ...

... WILL THE LAST BOOK REVIEW EDITOR TURN OUT THE LIGHTS? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

That's really too bad. Carole was very good. What kind of a contract do they have at the Courant?

In case you've wondered ...

... Why we like reading novels.

The more I read and hear people trying to shoehorn "crime fiction" into various psychological and sociological analyses, the more irrelevant the genre-definition game seems to be. Good books are good books, and don't need to be discussed in a certain context, which could end up turning into a straightjacket.

Precisely.

We're late with this ...

... but we're behind schedule today anyway: Introducing "Open Book". (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Writer of action ...

... Malraux Flies For Spain (1936).

Sounds good ...

... Neither crunchy nor thumpy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

I try to avoid politics ...

... if only because I don't think it's as important as the people in the glass offices at newspapers think it is, but I link to this for two reasons: First, I think that Instapundit - full disclosure: Glenn Reynolds reviewed for me when I was a book review editor - is the best way of assessing the flow of politics in America; and second, because I think this is going to prove a watershed moment in the forthcoming election: McCain Rejection.
I should add that Glenn is a really cool guy, and I'll bet he's a really good teacher.

Excellent ...

... Religion As Poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Anything that differentiates religion from a mere belief system is to be applauded. Belief is so feeble in comparison with faith.

On blogging ...

I happened to have had some free time today. And I used a part of it to just take an overview of this blog. What possible value can it have to anyone, myself included?
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm about to launch into some sort of what's-it-all-about-Alfie lamentation and announce my retirement from blogging. Well, think again.My impression of this blog and blogging is rather upbeat.
I have never actually met Maxine or Dave Lull or Judith Fitzgerald or Patrick Kurp or Rus Bowden or Frank McCormick or Lee Lowe or Beau Blue - I could go on naming names, but you get the idea, I'm sure. Nevertheless, I regard all of the aforementioned - and so many others not mentioned (I apologize to those) - as friends of mine (Nige, of course, is mon sembable, mon frere) . We may not share geographical proximity, but we do share what, for want for a better term, I shall call spiritual proximity. And I have corresponded with most of those I have mentioned. Maxine and I could have known each other in a previous life - and maybe did - we are so simpatico. Judith Fitzgerald is the poet I should have got to know years ago.
None of this would be so but for blogging. The internet is in fact cutting the red tape when it comes to human encounter. Who knows what the long-term consequence of this will be.
One other thing: Looking over this blog, I got the impression that it was a better and more accurate expression who I actually happen to be than anything else I have done in my life. What ya sees it what ya gets.
I guess that's why I keep doing it (with a lot of help from people like Dave and Rus) and probably will keep doing it. Because I'm glad I got to know all those people. After all, I wouldn't have otherwise.
Postscript: I should have mentioned Mark Sarvas and Scott Esposito and Ed Champion and Sarah Weinman, all of whom reviewed for me and who I wouldn't have got to know but for blogging. And who kept me abreast of what was going on. Thanks to them all. I love these people.
PPS.
I also forgot to mention Paul Davis. But I've actually met Paul. I can only hope to meet Bryan.

A flourish of trumpets ...

... and a roll of the drums: Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year - Winner. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Well, why not?

... Freeman Dyson: Let's look for life in the outer solar system. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So glad I wasn't there ...

... I don't think my blood sugar could have taken it: Is there life after the newsroom? The Philadelphia Inquirer Reunion.

Nothing like living in the past.

Check out ...

... My Cousin the Saint. (Hat tip, Jen Miller.)

Major novelist ...

... mixed filmography: Waugh stories. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Here we go again ...

... LA Times to Fold Standalone Book Review. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Doesn't it tell you something about the people who run newspapers that just about the first thing they think of eliminating when they want to save money is book coverage? Then they'll run a scare piece about the decline of reading - as if they actually care.

To post ...

... or not to post: The ethics of hate mail: Should bloggers post email correspondence without permission? (Hat tip, Peter Gross.)

I don't publish anybody's email - let alone the address - without first getting permission. I also don't go out of my way to insult people, as Myers apparently prides himself on doing. Somehow I expect more civility from someone claiming to be scientist.

There once was a man ...

... from Superior: The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Read and listen ...

... On Not Seeing Inside the Sistine Chapel.

Collaborative art piece.

My friend Olivia, an artist who lives in Chicago, recently published a collaborative piece in which she drew a picture and sent it out to a number of contributors, asking them to embellish it in some way. I'm not a visual artist so I "drew" a story on my copy. The other contributions are by turns pretty, inventive, and funny. You can download and view the Feather Girl book as a pdf here.

That's for sure ...

... Good Scholarship Is Worth Honoring. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Too bad so many faculty members of the University of Chicago don't agree (but don't question their belief in academic freedom!).

Hear, hear ...

... Small Can of Worms Reopened.

I think it's becoming increasingly clear that the world would be better off if governed by a triumvirate consisting of Nige, Patrick and me. The only problem is that we three would not take on the job.

Patrick weighs in with this link.

Post bumped.

A chat with ...

... Thomas Kuhn. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Maybe this helps explain ...

... why newspapers are in trouble: How the public sees the media.

A useful gathering ...

... Brit Lit Blogs. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

On this date ...

... last year Pottermania Reaches Its Peak (2007).

But also on this date, in 1911, Marshall McLuhan was born.

Thoughtful lines ...

... Review of Peter Stanlis's Robert Frost: The Poet as Philosopher. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Watch out for ...

... LIBRARY FINES. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Just found this ...

... "You Belong to Me" as sung by Jo Stafford.

A nice guy ...

... THE UNIMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Boy, is this guy ...

... going to get hollered at: No smoking hot spot.

... since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

Listen to Granny ...

... and J.S. Mill: Wellbeing - pause for thought.

... we might actually do better to stop asking about our happiness altogether. Paradoxical as it seems to say, it might make us a lot happier.


Amen, brother.

Kindred spirits ...

... Patrick, Nige, and me: `Eloquent, Cunning, Unremitting Words'.

See also On Fantasy. I, too, am not much of a fan of fantasy literature or science fiction, for that matter. I have nothing against them, mind you. They just don't grab me to the extent they seem to grab others. I read The Lord of the Rings and liked it well enough, but wasn't bowled over by it. I liked The Hobbit better. And my favorite Tolkien is a story called "Leaf by Niggle." On the other hand, I do like supernatural thrillers.

Dreamscape ...

... Et in Arcadia Shakespeare.

Good question ...

... Where are all the women?

Thanks, Nige ...

... Dawkins Alert.

I just finished reading a little book by Barry Morgan, Archbishop of the Church of Wales, called Strangely Orthodox, about the view of religion reflected in the poetry of R.S. Thomas, at whose funeral Archbishop Morgan presided. Anyone who thinks that genuinely religious people go through life with a smug assurance that they have the answer to all things and are spared doubt and anguish should definitely read this book.

Anthony Burgess ...

... on Geoffrey Hill.

Doing good ...

... vs. telling the truth: The great Greek race odyssey.

Consider the language of racial hatred to which Lefkowitz was herself exposed, when her opponents suggested that since she is a Jew, she said what she said because she was a Jew; and thus that this was merely the manifestation of some ancient hatred of the Jews for black people. This is what it is to stereotype; and it harms not only by virtue of the particular stereotypes on offer, but also by virtue of the thought they import – that stereotypes do indeed explain. This does untold harm in race and gender relations; care with how we speak, “political correctness”, is part of how we can avoid that harm. But that care needs to be even-handed, to be taken without regard to the injustices of history by both sides to a debate. It was a failure to do so that caused such trouble and distress at Wellesley in the 1990s. It is to the College’s discredit that it let it happen.

The fact is that, usually, in campus disputes, the side that is more threatening tends to be treated with greater deference, because campus authorities tend to be, shall we say, timorous.

Too much to choose from ...

... over at Nota Bene. So just keep scrolling and pick your own.

Uh-oh ...

... "religion of peace" strikes again: Iran to Stone Adulterers.

But it's evangelical Christians we need to worry about.

Bryan sees the future ...

... and is horrified: Stoooopid .... why the Google generation isn’t as smart as it thinks.

Well, as I've said, I heard much the same thing when I was a kid, and look how well I turned out.

Update: The longer I think about this, the more I suspect the technology angle is something of a red herring, and that what we're really talking about is mankind's age-old inability or refusal set and abide by limits. I watch almost no television. I rarely listen to the radio, and I never listen to talk radio. I go to movies only as frequently as I ever did, which is to say occasionally. I don't have a cell phone or a blackberry or an iPod (though that may change). I don't feel any need to keep up with the latest trend in pop music or, come to think of it, the latest trend in anything else. I do have a Kindle. And I think the computer is a vast improvement over the typewriter. And I think the internet is a much better means for keeping yourself reasonably well-informed than any newspaper, magazine or TV show that I've heard tell of. When I was in my teens I could spend an hour or more on the phone talking to friends. I can't imagine doing that now. And I'll bet that all the kids interacting on MySpace will some day look back and think much the same thing. I suppose, of course, it wouldn't be the 21st century if we weren't poking around looking for something else to feel dread about. Time has solved that problem for me. Sometime within the next 20-odd years or so I will probably die.

Post bumped.

Bardic web ...

... Yeats Meets the Digital Age, Full of Passionate Intensity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

See also Vendler on Yeats and the wasted life…

Hmmm ....

... Au Revoir, New York ‘Literary’ Scene!

Time for ...

... The Innocents Abroad and more.

Toponymy ...

... A Long Way From Dullsville. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Floyd Skloot on an unusual but happy couple: A happy merger of two from very different worlds.

... I take a look at Miranda Seymour's father: Restrained memoir tells of father's reign.

... David Cohen looks back at the 1960 Olympics: Great moments and grim portents.

... And Rich Di Dio ponders a bad deal:
Art forger fooled even Goering.

Also
Global view shows a small world after all.

Bryan also wonders ...

... Is Man on Wire the most poignant 9/11 film?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Boring Bowles ...

... Days.

And here's something about Michel Houellebecq: More possibility.

I was told a story yesterday by a newspaper editor in which Michel Houellebecq's name figured. For those not in the business, let me explain that the letters cq are editorial code indicating that something thus identified is correct. So you might, if you were quoting an English writer, follow the word colour with the letters cq in notes mode in order to indicate that the British spelling is correct. Apparently a copy editor at my friend's paper thought the cq at the end of M. Houellebecq's name was meant to be in notes mode. So he took them out and the French author's name appeared in print as Houellebe. Chalk this up to further adventures in copyediting.

A look at ...

... ARC 1: "The Fate of Africa".

Hear, hear ...

... Hating the New. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I am almost entirely in agreement with this (the only exception is that I think Stravinsky was a great composer only sometimes - The Symphony of Psalms is especially great). But right now I am listening to Martinu's fourth symphony. Surely Joe Queenan could not object to that. It is lovely to listen to and deeply affecting. I think the problem is that good modern composers tend to be ignored in favor of the "edgy" ones who tinker with notes because they couldn't write a tune of their lives depended on it - this means you, Elliott Carter (and if you don't believe me, listen to his earlier, utterly banal tonal music).

I agree ...

... as indicated in my comment: Yes, the Internet Will Change Us (But We Can Handle It).

See also: Britannica Forum: This Is Your Brain; This is Your Brain on the Internet. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Out of this world ...

... Movie shows alien's-eye view of Earth and Moon. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

A chat with ...

... David Biespiel: Poet, Writer-In-Residence, Editor of Poetry Northwest. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Oh, no ...

... not another urban legend: So Much for the 'Looted Sites'.

Quirky ...

... with a touch of genius: A.S. Byatt discusses her former teaching colleague Penelope Fitzgerald. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'm not convinced ...

... Waugh's 'Brideshead' Adapted for the Big Screen. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Waugh wrote "Brideshead" to illustrate the grace of God set against the complexities of human relationships and the hold Catholicism can still exert on those whose faith has lapsed. But Mr. Davies said he envisaged making a tragic film that shows the unfavorable impact of religion on many people's lives — "as much as the period when the book was written, although perhaps in different ways."


In other words, the theme of the film has nothing to do with the theme of Waugh's novel. Screw that.

Together at last ...

... Edgar Degas and Philip Levine.

Many years ago - I may still have been in college - I went to an exhibition of Degas's work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I seem to recall it was an exhibition of his pastels. At any rate, what I most remember from it is a portrait of a woman sitting in one of those overstuffed 19-century chairs. Another woman is leaning over whispering something to the woman who is seated. What held my attention was the sense of implied drama the look on the seated woman's face conveyed. What had she just been told? It seemed to me that Degas had captured perfectly the face of psychological distress, a wrenching mix of anger and heartbreak.

Turning things around ...

... The Success of Failure. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Much more ...

... on Jo Stafford: Sweetness and greatness.