Monday, August 31, 2009

One whole week ...

... of Poe Mania at the Harry Ransom Center.

A look at ...

... Required Reading Worldwide.

Music in the marketplace ...

... Playing for tips, practice, fans, or themselves.

Check out the video to the right.

Plumbing the shalllows ...

... of the human soul: Killer strippers and Sarah Palin.

Little is left to tell ...

... Such a Sad, Sad Story.

I'm certainly not alone among Americans of a certain age in remembering exactly where I was on the day of her death. In the late afternoon of Aug. 5, 1962, I was leaving the Polo Grounds after watching the New York Mets split a doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds when I saw, at the entrance to the 155th St. subway station, newsboys hawking tabloid extras with the news announced in big, black type. I was stunned, as obviously were all the others who crowded around to buy copies. After all she was only 36 years old -- a mere 13 years older than I was -- and recent photographs had suggested that she was at the height of her beauty. That she was dead was unbelievable and insupportable.

I had never thought of this before, but, as it happens, I do remember where I was that day. I was 20 and at home in the house I grew up in. I was in the kitchen when the news came over the radio. I do not remember thinking it was either unbelievable or insupportable. In fact, I am certain I did not think it was either.

This might work ...

... Pittsburgh paper to launch 'members-only' website. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

I suppose if what they have to offer is interesting enough, people might well subscribe. Who knows? If it were really interesting, they might draw a national audience.

Timely, too ...

... Emerson delivers useful advice (1837).

Mark your calendar ..

... The New York Art Book Fair.

Together at last ...

... Greek love and museum labels.

RIP ...

... James Lord, Biographer and Memoirist, Is Dead at 86. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What seeing is ...

... Not the dots but the distance between them that creates the line; not the lines which turn into…

All aboard ...

... Nashville's Mark Twain celebration starts today. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

The indulged self (again) ....

... `In This He is Profoundly Mistaken'.

And the winner ...

... Christopher Alexander Wins Vincent Scully Prize. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Philly book scene ....

... Local Area Events.

Good luck ..

... Wikipedia Looks Hard at Its Culture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Time ...

... again: Revisiting the Farm: Cass County, Indiana.

... still images

where everything and everyone always stay

the way they once appeared ...

Very nice.

Aging gracefully ...

... To Mikhail Baryshnikov, time is a great teacher. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This seems odd: "He is small for a dancer, just 5-foot-7 ..." About the same height as Erik Bruhn, and only an inch shorter than Nureyev. Here are Erik Bruhn and Carla Fracci.


Recommended ...

... by Nige: William Maxwell: Gasping Again.

Thought for the day ...

It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent.
- Vincent Van Gogh

Thought for today ...

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
— Henry Miller

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Yeah ....

... Let's not mention any of the embarrassing details: People who should be killed this week.
Please bear in mind this is not crime fiction. It is crime fact.

Uh-oh ...

... E-books could spell the end for hardbacks, warns Hachette chief. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Could it be?

... The best book loan in literary history?

I am tired ...

.... of blogging - and much else. Back later.

Good heavens ...

... I never heard of such a thing: Google Books: A Metadata Train Wreck. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Check out ...

... The Philly Junot for No 67 | September 2009.

A world of doubt ....

... How to be a religious agnostic.

Huck Hemingway ...

... Terry Mort's 'The Hemingway Patrols' looks at author's hunt for Nazi. (Hat tip. Paul Davis.)

Bryan fills us in ...

... Ben Hur Live coming to London's O2 Arena.

“Why Ben Hur?” I ask him.

“It is a combination of race and religion.” Race? Oh, no, not race. “And it is appealing to me because I was a racing driver.” Ah, he means the chariot race.

Moving on ...

... Ian Rankin: Dark and dangerous? It's time to tell a new story. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Uncertainty (cont'd.) ...

... A Declaration of Inconclusiveness. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dolts ...

... The Poetry Wars.

Now, I'm not too keen on "explication," which too often ends up merely translating a poem into a dubious prose equivalent, and I certainly don't think "we have to try to interpret what their poems meant to the authors at the precise moment they were writing them." One simply needs to read what the poem says and allow that to work upon one's self - one's entire self, not just one's emotions. Above all, we have to determine what the words - poems, as Mallarmé pointed out, are made of words, not ideas - mean maximally, not just by themselves but in relation to each other. Of course, the problem with these students seems to be that they have swallowed hook, line and sinker a lot of ideological bullshit and have never really learned to think their way from point A to point B.

That would include me ...

... 57% Would Like to Replace Entire Congress.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Scenes redeem subplot excess: Complicated crime novel, spanning decades in Dublin, features virtuoso hard-boiled prose.

... Blues' early days, recorded on location.

... Magic envelopes a Uruguayan girl.

... A woman brilliant and beautiful.

... Travel Bookshelf: New guidebooks for travel dreaming.

Thought for the day ...

Why do I do this every Sunday? Even the book reviews seem to be the same as last week's. Different books same reviews.
- John Osborne

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Presuming it's real ...

... and, if it is, is also bad: Technology Can Fight Global Warming. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

All of this, of course, involves interfering in a complex system on the basis of limited and dubious information.

Who knew?

... Stone age memes: RIP Wikipedia.

Writers, writers ...

... everywhere: Clive Thompson on the New Literacy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The first thing she found is that young people today write far more than any generation before them. That's because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text. Of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning 38 percent of it took place out of the classroom—life writing, as Lunsford calls it. Those Twitter updates and lists of 25 things about yourself add up.
It's almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn't a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they'd leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.

The story's the thing ...

... Old Tales That Still Seduce. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Congratulations!

... In which Daniel gets engaged... (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Phenomenology ...

... Randall Jarrell Describes Modern Poetry.

The magic of words ...

Check out The Meaning of Tingo and THE WONDER OF WHIFFLING.

Freud, William James, and America

An interesting piece...

Thought for today ...

Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred.
- Jacques Barzun

Friday, August 28, 2009

Those things again ...

Monty Python on words. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

How sweet ...

... Love Letter to Philadelphia. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

While the plaster dries ...

... Against the Virtual Life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Perennial ...

... Ten ancient Greek tips for coping with our high-tech world. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

True crime ...

... Philly Mob Files: Mobsters, Molls and Murder, Part II.

On the road ...

... Returning from Elsewhere: Theories.

Going someplace I've never been always makes me feel alive, alert, aware, and undulled. Even on a long day of driving, if I'm on a highway I've never seen before, surrounded by lands, lakes, mountains, fields I've never seen before, I feel particularly alive. It is my goal, in the next few years, to visit all of the US National Parks, and every state in the Union. At some point I want to drive along the Canadian passage to Alaska. I love the north country, and I don't want to just fly over it to get a notch in my belt for visiting Denali, and making photographs there. Photography is the goal, but in a way it's also the excuse. Just going, being able to go, being able to travel, is equally important.

Well, I hope remembers to get in touch when he makes it to Pennsylvania.

Follow-up ...

... Twentieth Century American Poets: Readers Reply.

Clarification ...

... Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Climate experts and bank risk managers have both failed us. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My position on the climate is to avoid releasing pollutants into the atmosphere, regardless of current expert opinion. Climate experts, like banking risk managers, have failed us in the past in foreseeing long-term damage. This is an extension of my general belief: "Do not disturb a complex system." We do not know the consequences of our actions (this idea also makes me anti-war), and I have explicitly stated the need to leave the planet the way we got it.

As I have said here a number of times, I don't need doomsday prophecies to encourage me not to behave in a slovenly manner toward the natural world - or toward anything or anyone. It takes only good manners and common sense. It is good to see Taleb drawing the connection between the climate models and the financial models. They both purport to do much the same thing in much the same way.
Is anyone pro-war? I hope not. But if you break into my house, I'm likely to blow you away. Saying one is anti-war is a lot like saying one is anti-typhoon. Wars tend to be more on the order of natural disasters. Only a lunatic would say that one must never fight one. (Bear in mind, for an individual to adopt non-violence as a counsel of perfection is not the same thing as being "anti-war".) Does Taleb think WWII should not have been fought? One could argue that different policies might have prevented it, but to do so would be pure counterfactual-conditional speculation. War does disturb a complex system, though, no doubt about that. So do hurricanes and floods and earthquakes.
As for leaving "the planet the way we got it," the planet is already not the way we "got it" and will continue to not be. That is because the planet, like reality, is continuously undergoing change. We are constituents in a complex system and ought to behave in a responsible manner within that system. But we are not in control of that system. Given humanity's historical track record, let is pray we never are.
See also: Sunspots Do Really Affect Weather Patterns, Say Scientists.

Take a look ...

... at Romanian light. (Hat tip, Hedgie.)

Perhaps ...

... Finally! The end of Federico García Lorca's horrifying saga. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.
- Friedrich August von Hayek

Interesting thought...

"He who possesses science and art also has religion; but he who possesses neither of those two, let him have religion." -Goethe

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Now you see it ...

... now you don't: The Invisible Library. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ripness is all ...

... The late mastery of Alice Munro.

Happy birthday ...

... Bryan Magee's Tribute to Brand Blanshard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

See also On Philosophical Style.

A wonderful post ...

... Keats and Chekhov - Menschen.

They are also two authors one feels one knows - as people.

Thought for Today II

"Rational foundations of modernity are cunningly accepted by man as the launching platform of ever wilder irrationalities." --Saul Bellow (Mosby's Memoirs, 1968)

Highly recommended ...

... Lester Young and Billie Holiday.

Do read the poem, which is lovely.

Professional candor ...

... Abandoned book review: Viking: Odinn's Child, by Tim Severin.

Fall preview ...

... A Look Ahead: September.

Talk about ...

... politically incorrect: Jack London, seal-skinner (1893).

A look at ...

... Dominick Dunne's literary legacy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

See also Dominick Dunne: 1925-2009. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

An invitation ...

... to weigh in: Twentieth Century American Poetry Reading List: 100 Plus.

I have no comment on the ones who are still living, but I think that Kenneth Patchen ought be included among the others.

Good luck, folks ...

... Philly newspapers wage local-ownership campaign. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

"Our members are not interested in Brian Tierney's geography lesson, they want to hear him commit that the local ownership will not try to slash our wages and benefits, or put our pensions in jeopardy," local Guild administrator Bill Ross said Tuesday.

He called the local ownership campaign "laughable," noting the newspapers won more than 20 Pulitzer Prizes under corporate ownership of Knight Ridder, which was based in San Jose, Calif., before it was bought in 2006.

The Teamsters Union - with more than 2,000 full- and part-time employees working as drivers, press operators, mailers and in other jobs - strongly backs Tierney.

"We believe whatever pain we're going to suffer will be kept to a minimum under local ownership, in contrast to the banks," said John Dagle, a local Teamsters vice president.

Used to be that the Teamsters were the decisive factor when it came time to negotiate. I don't know if that still holds. But is the Guild thinking that its members will be better off if the creditors take control? Sounds iffy to me. Whatever the outcome, the Inquirer would be better of with newsroom management more oriented toward the 21st century, and not lost in nostalgia for what were, for them, the glory days of the paper and their careers.

Lots of interesting stuff ...

... including an odd creature on the roof, over at Quid plura.

From Peter Rozovsky ...

... a reason to go to Indianapolis: I'm moderating a panel at Bouchercon 2009.

Grave markers ...

... At a glance: Layoffs and buyouts at U.S. newspapers in 2009. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not good ...

... Glenn Reynolds draws attention to this: NEA conference call directs artists to push the Administration’s agenda on health care and the environment.
Artists shouldn’t be used as tools of the state to help create a climate amenable to their positions, which is what appears to be happening in this instance. If the art community wants to tackle those issues on its own then fine. But tackling them shouldn’t come as an encouragement from the NEA to those they potentially fund at this coincidental time.
And if you think that my fear regarding the arts becoming a tool of the state is still unfounded, I leave you with a few statements made by the NEA to the art community participants on the conference call. “This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?…bare with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely… "
Glenn also links to these: Pushing Artists to be Political and The National Endowment for the Art of Persuasion?

Thought for today ...

Nothing is more painful to me than the disdain with which people treat second-rate authors, as if there were room only for the first-raters.
— Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sounds plausible ...

... Autism as Academic Paradigm. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Autism is often described as a disease or a plague, but when it comes to the American college or university, autism is often a competitive advantage rather than a problem to be solved. One reason American academe is so strong is because it mobilizes the strengths and talents of people on the autistic spectrum so effectively. In spite of some of the harmful rhetoric, the on-the-ground reality is that autistics have been very good for colleges, and colleges have been very good for autistics.

A Maxine roundup ...

... My reviews of Creed, Fitzgerald and Edwardson at Euro Crime.

The talented Mt. Naipaul ...

... Brilliance couched in criminal self-obsession.

In case you wondered ...

... To Oppose Relativism is not to Embrace Dogmatism.

Columns of words ...

... Ben Macintyre's lightly buried treasure.

Augusten Burroughs on John Updike

It's odd reading this essay now...

Haul me up, Scottie ...

... a hooting winch.

The spirit of place ...

... The Writer and His Refuge. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mr. Chairman ...

... Rocco Landesman Goes All In for Arts in America.

One terrific piece ...

... Remembering Truman Capote.

Uncomplacent critic ...

... Richard Poirier: A Man of Good Reading. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The principal hero of this struggle was Emerson, whose reputation Mr. Poirier did much to redefine, challenging the familiar view of him as a facile optimist, a woozy metaphysician or an enabler of laissez-faire capitalism. Nor would Emerson have embraced the modern notion of “the self as something put together by a person who is then required to express it and to ask others to confirm it as an identity.” Rather, he saw the self as something very much like what Frost called a poem: “a momentary stay against confusion.”

Judith answers some mail ...

... Po-Epistolarians (or, We get email). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

F.I.R.E watch ...

... Free-Speech Organization Launches National Advertising Campaign Warning Colleges That Violate Students' Rights.

Thought for the day ...

Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.
- Viktor Frankl

FYI ...

... Philly Poe Guy in print.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beautiful ...

... The House by Richard Wilbur. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Have it your way, kid ...

... The Plain Sense of Things. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Throughout every year I read Stevens's Collected Poems. I find this piece dessicated, like chewing on cardboard. "Stevens’s poetry oscillates, throughout his life, between verbal ebullience and New England spareness ..." Stevens was a Pennsylvanian. He didn't have to go to New England to learn spareness. Holly Stevens notwithstanding, I believe the story of Stevens's conversion. He was known to spend long periods of time in St. Patrick's Cathedral whenever he visited New York. The priest claimed to have simply gone along with Stevens's own wish for confidentiality - that reticence Vendler mentions. And the Collected Poems reads, to me at least, as an account of a journey toward faith. The picture is interesting. Didn't realize Frost was so small - or Stevens so big.

I agree ...

... mostly: Touristic Bias: Why Americans Overrate Europe, and Europeans Underrate America.

While we were on vacation, Debbie and I stopped at a classic country bar in a town called Meshoppen. Any foreign journalist wanting to get a handle on the U.S. should make the place a mandatory stop. Meshoppen isn't far from Tunkhannock, where I met Hermann Cruse a few years ago (along with some people from the Getty Museum). They sure had a chance to see the real America, and not some crap fabricated by Hollywood and the media.

Nice piece ...



Wordworth was, I believe, a descendant of the poet's brother. British composers in particular - Vaughan Williams, Walton, Britten, Rubbra, Arnold, and of course Wordsworth and others - throughout the 20th century music that adhered to perennial values. Eventually temporizers like Harrison Birtwistle came along. But Britain should be proud that it produced a good many first-rate composers in the last century, and should not forget to program their works as much as possible.

Touché ...

... My cat is an alarm clock.

What Bill says of Mencken I fear is true: "By denying himself the possibility of growth through an increased knowledge of the world, by locking himself into the attitudes of youth, no matter what, Mencken shows himself to be as much a part of the booboisies and knuckleheads that he raged against."

History alive ...

... Terry Teachout on an Entry from an unkept diary.

I found myself tearing up as I watched this. Yes, I remember where I was at the time I first learned of it, but that is of no importance. It was a terrible day, no matter where you were or what you were doing or what your party affiliation. You owe it to yourself to watch.
It is extraordinary to see how primitive technology was at the time. And how primitive the ads were on As the World Turns (though the actress playing the wife was quite good, actually). Interesting, too, that Walter is far less blow-dried than today's anchors. Also Walter did a fine job. He is obviously exerting great control over his emotions when the president's death is confirmed.

Answers sought ...

... More from Southern Voices.

I beg to differ ...

... Broadway's Country Mouse. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hammerstein was born and bred as an affluent New Yorker, but his spiritual home base was the rural and the sentimental.
Maybe because his actual home base was his farm outside Doylestown, PA.
Hammerstein's default mode was sentimental. There's a place for Hallmark, of course—I enjoy "If I Loved You" from Carousel as much as anyone else.
Taken in context there is nothing sentimental about "If I Loved You." It is a heartfelt and heartbreaking realization by Billy Bigelow that he blew the only really good thing that had happened to him in life - Julie's love. "You'll Never Walk Alone" is another story, in my view the only flaw in an otherwise great musical.
Moreover, take away birds and flowers and you just jettisoned a heck of a lot of poetry in English.

A quest for "normal" ...

... Lisa reads: God Says No by James Hannaham.

RIP ...

... Jay Bennett, 96; wrote crime novels, scripts. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Happened a while back, but I think I missed it.

I am inclined to agree ...

... the ghost of elberry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I certainly agree that God is not an object in the world and thatthe imagination is the faculty by which we mostly richly experience the world and being.

Working people ...

... The Grapes of Mild Outrage. (Via Ed Champion.)

I thought that Lisa Tucker's The Song Reader portrayed ordinary working people both accurately and sympathetically, without any condescension. Which is to say it showed you how interesting they are, underscoring the fact that you that you do not have to go to college to be interesting. Actually, many people who do go to college are not very interesting at all; in fact, where or whether you go to college has nothing to do with whether or not you are interesting. I would myself venture a guess that one is at least as likely to find interesting people at the car repair shop around the corner from here as in any of the law offices in Center City.

A perilous sovereignty ...

... `The Hardest and Rarest of Jobs'.

My Jesuit mentor, Father Edward Gannon, used to say that the indulged self is never satisfied.

I'm not so sure ...

... You Are What You Listen To. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No mention of country music, but then it is Cambridge University doing the study.

Happy bithday ...

... to Sean Connery, born on this date in 1930. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Yesterday Bryan, today Sean Connery. Who says there's no truth to astrology?

Golden oldie ...

... Kliban and the Ontological Proof. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I seem to recall reading, quite a few years ago, an article about how the ontological argument always met with the approval of the computers it was fed into and that this had sparked a renewed interest in the argument. Here, by the way, is more on Gödel's ontological proof. It is interesting how raising the subject of God sets certain people off. I do not myself believe that God's existence can be proved. I do not even believe the term exist can be properly applied to God.

At long last...

... word again from Judith: Looking Forward. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Eminently wise words ...

... from Nige: Under Threat From Nature.

Attention sci-fiers ...

... The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Matthew Cheney Interviews Samuel R. Delany.

Thought for the day ...

I perceive I have not really understood any thing, not a single
object, and that no man ever can,
Nature here in sight of the sea taking advantage of me to dart upon
me and sting me,
Because I have dared to open my mouth to sing at all.
- Walt Whitman, "As I Ebb'd With the Ocean of Life"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not such a bad guy ...

... once you get to know him: Richard Dawkins interview.

The idea that Dawkins is capable of doing very much more than deeply offending people is probably inconceivable to those who accuse him not only of a virulent disrespect for religion but of being an apologist for Hitler and Stalin who, it is rather irrelevantly pointed out, were atheists too (except that Hitler was raised a Roman Catholic and Stalin studied at a Georgian Orthodox seminary).

Yes, Stephanie. And Richard Dawkins was raised an Anglican. I do feel for him over the loss of his dog though. I think he's actually a hopeless romantic, like Shelley.

Shadowland ...

... Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler's Imagined. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Peculiarly perhaps, I have always enjoyed myself while traveling and having to stay in generic hotel rooms. The anonymity - or whatever - has always given a me bizarre frisson, as if I were the stranger come to town in a western. It played into the lone wolf quality that I confess is a part of my personality (and which readers of this blog have probably noticed). I just like to go the other way and am suspicious of any way everybody else is going. As often as not that urge has proved sound. And is there any greater thrill than walking the streets of a strange city late at night?

Excuuuuuse him ...

... Sebastian Faulks apologises if his comments about the Koran have offended Muslims. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, as Lord Chesterfield told his son, one should never insult anyone unintentionally. But what to do about people who reflexively see insult where'er they look? For true believers of the Koran, the only thing non-believers can say about their holy book is that it is simply wonderful - or else say nothing at all. And I certainly do not approve of gratuitously insulting anyone else's faith, or lack thereof - though I've had to put up with plenty of cheap shots taken at mine. Well, there. I've just written something about the Koran. I sure hope it doesn't offend anyone.

See also Learning to live with radical Islam.

Check out ...

... The CPR Interview: Rachel Hadas.

I had a very pleasant time talking to Rachel at the WCU Poetry Conference a couple of years ago.

Attention ...

... Scenesters, Tour Vets, Newbies and Spunions. I don't know what any of those are, but apparently all of them will like Paul Siegell's jambandbootleg: Read the Book!
See also this review.

Magic carpet ride ...

... Michael Holroyd wins James Tait Black prize 42 years after his wife. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nice to see that Sebastian Barry won the fiction award for his wonderful Secret Scripture.

Fatal attraction ...

... "It Was Death That Jostled Me".

Looks to me as if O'Hara is starting to get the appreciation he deserves.

All you need ...

... Mark Vernon on Plato's Dialogues, part 4: What do you love? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Interesting ...

... Michael Yon emails.

As Glenn says, read Bad Medicine. Seen any war reporting of this caliber in the MSM lately? An remember, Michael depends on donations.

It was bound to happen ...

... Sarvas, Revealed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sad news ...

... Western novelist Elmer Kelton dies.

Jeff McDonald writes that "he was, in all respects, a good ol' boy of the highest caliber." Sounds like my kind of guy.

The thin rope ...

... of nostalgia: Terry Teachout on The New-Media Crisis of 1949. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The guy who used to own the Inquirer, Walter Annenberg, became a billionaire in large measure because of something else he owned, TV Guide, which came about after Annenberg's Triangle Publications bought a bunch od regional TV listings publications. If newspapers paid the kind of attention to the internet that they still do to network TV they could become indispensable in helping people navigate the web. Of course, they'd first have to learn to navigate the web, and a mindset that still pays so much attention to network TV is unlikely to be able to do that well.

Update: See also The Chasm Between the Value of Print and Web Readers. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Well, yes: Technology makes things cheaper. Printed books cost a lot less than illuminated manuscripts. TV got a boost because it was free. Both TV and newspapers - and magazines - have been dependent on ad revenue. The real story is that advertisers may have found, in the internet, a better and above all chapter way to do their thing. After all, they were never paying all that money to networks and publishers out of the kindness of their hearts.

Post bumped.

Thanks to all ...

... who sent me encouraging words yesterday. I am on the mend. The most interesting thing about whatever it was that hit me was that I woke up in the middle of the night and, it seemed, every joint in my body hurt. To wit: Opening and closing my hands was difficult and every knuckle joint hurt as I did so. Luckily, when I woke up again later on that had passed. As usual, the canine cure seems to have worked. You've not heard of the canine cure? That's what dogs do when they're sick: They sleep. And that's what I did most of yesterday.

Fifteeen stories ...

... in 15 days: Infinite FiveChapters.

Let's all wish ...

... a happy birthday to Bryan Appleyard, who marks the day with a brilliant post: Science and the Guardian.

Madeleine Bunting says [a number of developments in neuroscience and psychology] point to a new view of human nature as humans now no longer seem to possess reason, autonomy or freedom. This is a tricky argument as, once you have said it in its strong form, you can't say anything else because you are human and, therefore, anything else you might say is compromised by your lack of reason, autonomy etc.

Read the whole thing.

Thought for the day ...

It is impossible to trap modern physics into predicting anything with perfect determinism because it deals with probabilities from the outset.
- Arthur Eddington

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A lesson ...

... from Glenn Reynolds: HISTORICAL UNDERPINNINGS.

Leading opinion-makers, newspaper editorialists, and academics were firmly on board.

They would be, wouldn't they?

Maxine demurs ...

... both politely and correctly: Complaints about The Complaints.

I must have been in an uncharacteristically cranky mood when I wrote that post. Rankin can do as he pleases - and so can his readers. I think the latter will, as Maxine suggests, prove loyal. In any event, he didn't deserve to be the object of truculence.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... A lovely, if gushing, Southern tale.

... Undoing Penn's design.

... yours truly looks at The beak-it list: One woman and 8,000 birds.

... Peter Rozovsky reviews Fred Vargas: Odd messages spur a mystery.

... Fidel and Che, reconsidered.

Sick bay alert ...

... I seem to have caught something singularly unpleasant. Blogging will resume when I feel up to it.

Thought for the day ...

What is this true meditation? It is to make everything: coughing, swallowing, waving the arms, motion, stillness, words, action, the evil and the good, prosperity and shame, gain and loss, right and wrong, into one single koan.

- Hakuin

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Just a thought ...

... it's too bad Jacques Brel never had the chance to drive around the U.S. and get to know country music. I think he would have loved it and done something with it.

Don't mess ...

... with your readers: Killing characters is the real crime for fans. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Somebody should remind Rankin that the only reason why anybody gives a rat's ass why he says or does anything is because of Rebus, not him. It isn't about you at all, Ian.

For Saturday night ...

... a taste of America (I am proud of having once shook Jerry Jeff's hand.

Good advice ...

... Not So Fast. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not so sure about this, though:
... only two things grow indefinitely or have indefinite growth firmly ensconced at the heart of their being: cancer and the cor­poration. For everything else, especially in nature, the consum­ing fires eventually come and force a starting over.
What about government? That sure metastasizes enough. And corporations do die. Mycelia do pretty well also.
Whatever, I'm taking a break today. It's Saturday. I need a day off. Probably you do, too.
But see also Terence Blacker: Why does a philosopher need to join the clamour for speed? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fact and fiction (cont'd.) ...

... Saints and Savages and The power of wanting. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Manner of thinking ...

... Anaximander of Miletus, who probably lived from 610 to 540 B.C.E. ... described the ultimate material principle as apeiron, "the Infinite" or indeterminate; "something without bound, form, or quality."

This is a quote from Naming Infinity: A Crisis in Mathematics (Harvard) by Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor. I just started reading it last night and expect I may finish it by tomorrow. Briefly put, it tells the story of how a group of Russian intellectuals who were adherents to a mystical form of Russian Orthodoxy (having to do with the Philokalia and the Jesus prayer) were able, by virtue of their mystical take on things, to make one of the great mathematical breakthroughs (having to do with infinity).
The description of the Infinite in the passage I have quoted bears a striking resemblance to the Tao. Anaximander and Lao Tzu were roughly contemporary. What I am interested in is the light the book may shed on how the way we think affects the outcome of our thought. Specifically, if the Russians' mystical approach was in fact more effective in arriving at a breakthrough necessary to advance mathematics, then maybe that approach is sounder than a purely rational one.

Thought for the day ...

To love someone means to see him as God intended him.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky

Friday, August 21, 2009

Be careful, Richard ...

... Professor Richard Dawkins wants to convert Islamic world to evolution.

I think Dawkins is a fool, but I certainly wouldn't want him to be harmed in any way by crazed Islamists. He provides me with too much amusement. After all, where are you going to find a "scientist" who has actually done little or no research into anything in his entire career presuming to speak for science?
By the way, I will presume that the author of the article, described as the "Science Editor" of the Times, knows his science, but he doesn't seem to know jack shit about religion. "[T]he Islamic world, where creationist beliefs are strong" - no Mark, they believe in a Creator, just like everybody else who believes in God. "Creationism" is something different. "While most non-fundamentalist Christian traditions have largely accepted evolution" - so have most fundamentalist Christians, actually, though they may quibble over the details. Henderson's problem is that he thinks all fundamentalist Christians take the Bible literally and believe that the world was created about 5,000 years ago in six 24-hour periods. As it happens, most do not.
Oh, and I immensely admire Dawkins's courage in taking his views to Islam, just as I respect his views while not sharing them - which is more than could expect of him, I gather (a friend of mine is a friend of his).

Great minds ...

... I love Charles Burchfield's work: `Some Rare Gladness'.

True crime ...

... Philly Mob Files: Mobsters, Molls and Murder, Part I.

Another bunch ...

... People who should be killed this week.

See also Debating PWSBKTW. (Hat tip Dave Lull.)

Remembering

... Count Basie, born on this date in 1904. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

See also 2009 Count Basie and Yusef Komunyakaa.

A poem

Wayfaring

The jewelweed reminded him:
Being may only be encountered
In particulars — this orange flower-cup
Here, or that yellow one there.
The sky is pale this morning,
As never before, nor ever again.
Outside of now being is memory
Or prophecy, echoes or guesses,
Ancient bones dolled up
In make-believe flesh, fashion’s
Fears and wishes assigned
Their odds and post positions.
Long-dead priests and potentates,
Their postulants and subjects,
Alike are make-believe,
Their passions and intentions
Dust and ashes impossible
To reassemble into bone and sinew.
“So who am I?” he wonders,
And a slant of light between two trees
Prompts him to think of wind slipping
Softly through a cleft in rock.
“I am being created,” he tells himself,
“In the image of a presence invisible
As light and air. I slip into time softly,
Like a breath of wind through a cleft
In rock, or a narrow slant of light
Between a pair of trees. Like priest
And potentate, this flower-cup or that,
I will slip out as well, and be impossible
To reassemble outside of now,
Invisible as the presence I am made of.”


http://landscaping.about.com/od/weedsdiseases/ig/weed-plants/Orange-Jewelweed-Photo.htm

You can hear me read this poem in the podcast at right.

Laughing on the way ...

... The key to Dan Brown’s success.

I first wrote about Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code because the features editor of the Inquirer had been at a dinner party attended, she told me, mostly by Ph.D.s (husbands and wives), most of whom had read the book and praised it for the revelatory nature of its historical accuracy. I hadn't even assigned it for review, having been unimpressed when I gave it a look while it was still in galley. Anyway, I started reading and realized immediately that my boss's Ph.D. dinner companions obviously had their degrees in something other than literature and history.
By the way, Brown wasn't always so reclusive. He stopped talking when people started asking questions he couldn't answer, like "why do you portray the Council of Nicaea as having decided by vote whether Jesus was the son of God when all the participants already believed that and were tryng to decide how he, as son, related precisely to the father?"
The fact is there is nothing so dumb that you can't find some self-styled intellectual to buy into it.

Too male ...

... too Eurocentric. But cool anyway: Who’d have thought it. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I guess you could say the same about science, though, right?

Light blogging today ...

... because in an hour I will be working with Laura to learn more than I know now.

Thought for the day ...

There are two methods, or means, and only two, whereby man's needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth; this is the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others; this is the political means.
- Albert Jay Nock

Thursday, August 20, 2009

RIP ...

... Hildegard Behrens: operatic soprano.

Attention, class ...

... Exams in literature. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Updike - Reviewed

Did you have a chance to read Julian Barnes's recent essay on Updike? I loved it. (And this from a guy who's fairly ambivalent when it comes to Updike...)

"Updike's world often appears a superficially stable place, of mainly white, mainly middle-class suburbia, of houses and families and children and golf and drinking and, of course, adultery—that most conventional way to rise above the conventional, in Nabokov's phrase. But just as Hemingway, the supposed hymner of masculine courage, writes best about cowardice, so Updike, delineator of conventional, continuing America, is incessantly writing about flight."

The future of education?

... Study Finds That Online Education Beats the Classroom. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Makes sense. No distractions, no peer pressure, no bullying.

Godspeed ...

... Not So Good News?

From a footnote ...

... a world: Living poetry: Shannon by Campbell McGrath.

Lucky work ...

... Blood, Sweat, and Words.

Where grit must always be hidden, though, is in art. Art is by nature about hiding the struggle: the wrestle with words for the writer, with time and sound for the composer and performer, with the stubborn materials in the hands of the visual artist. Art is about emerging from that struggle victorious and showing not the least sign of strain, which is to say grit, for having done so. The artist in effect says, Look, Ma — you, too, World, look! — No hands! Art is about making things seem effortless, or so at the least is the art I most enjoy.

In other words, sprezzatura.

Weigh in ...

... Opinions?

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: The Corvo collector in Canterbury, Chandos portrait, Prokofiev, and more.

The first letter is a must-read.

Lots to read ...

... over at Petrona.

Hmm ...

... A Library’s Approach to Books That Offend. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It seems to me that the best way of dealing with a book one finds offensive is not to read it. Making that decision for others by keeping the book from them is tyrannous.

Prophet honored ...

... Why Nassim Taleb is the True Predictor of this Crisis. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...


America is another name for opportunity.
- Ralph WaldoEmerson

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Maginot Line redux ...

... Google breaks into French National Library. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fact vs. anecdote ...

... Two little words. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Check out ...

... Crying for deconstruction.

I lived for 20 years in what was largely a black neighborhood. I have long thought it was time for someone to write a novel about people like my neighbors, hard-working middle-class people who just happened to be black.

Jared Diamond

Diamond speaks with the Financial Times.

"Diamond’s celebrated book – which added to the reputation he earned through Guns, Germs and Steel, a Pulitzer prize-winner about why some societies triumph over others – sought to discover what makes civilisations, many at their apparent zenith, crumble overnight. The Maya of Central America, the stone-carving civilisation of Easter Island, and the Soviet Union – all suddenly shattered."

Good news ....

... Things won’t change THAT much when ebooks roam the earth.

Evidence of things unseen ...

... `The Unseen Design of Things'.

Patrick has lots of stuff up that I'm only getting around to. Prolong your stay. You won't regret it.

Remembering

... John Thompson, 1977. (Hat tip, Hedgie.)

Turnabout ...

... A Tory Transition.

RIP ...

... CBS News pioneer Don Hewitt dies at 86.

If they keep this up ...

... they'll be just like today's newspapers: UPDATE: Salon Lays Off Six In Pursuit of Becoming a 'True Web Publication'.

Newspaper of record ...

... EXCLUSIVE: NYT's Brad Stone Camouflages Backgrounds And Connections Of Anecdotal Sources In Today's Page-One Trend Story. (Hat tip, Ed Champion.)

Mixed metaphor alert ...

... Seeking: How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that's dangerous. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This piece draws to an end by telling us that "if humans are seeking machines, we've now created the perfect machines to allow us to seek endlessly." So: Humans are machines, one part of which - the brain - hardwires the machine. Have you ever heard of a machine that hardwired itself? And in this case is the part that does the hardwiring itself hardwired? I'm so confused.

Thought for the day ...

The newest books are those that never grow old.
- Logan Pearsall Smith

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quite a figure ...

... Father Columba Ryan: priest, teacher and university chaplain.

A fan's notes ...

... Book review: Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk.

Sounds good ...

... Sculptor Jacob Epstein: Time for a Reappraisal?

Elberry again ...

... service.

RIP ...

... Richard Poirier, a Scholar of Literature, Dies at 83. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Elberry at WFTC ...

... On hating and not hating art.

Stories to live by ...

... Why Mythology is So Important to Health: Self-Experimentation Venture Capital.
(Hat tip, Dave Lull, who makes welcome guest appearance.)

A brilliant idea ...

... Smile, You're On Candid Camera. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


... government ministers should themselves be under twenty-four hour video surveillance. The tapes should be broadcast daily so that we, their constituents and paymasters, can see and hear what they are up to.

I think a movement should be immediately started to promote this. Plenty of people currently in government would quit their jobs, of course. Good riddance. The proposal solves the problem of who will watch the guardians - we all will. I would also include top media figures and bloviating academics.

Philly book scene ...

... Local Area Events.

Yep, indeed ...

... Beautiful Libraries 3.

Thought for the Day II

"Of all the tears one may have to choke back, the most precious are those that one has shed for oneself." --Joseph Roth (1927)

Who knew?

... William Wordsworth, Romanticon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My latest column ...

... is up: A lacerating sense of sin.

Thought for the day ...

It seems that an essential condition for crises is to be found in the existence of a highly developed system of communications and the spreading of a homogenous mentality over vast areas.
- Jakob Burckhardt

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reading, rape and ...

... The Grease of Crumpets.

Risky business ...

... Plato's Dialogues, part 3: Philosophy as a way of life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
It is a way of doing philosophy that seeks not to impose a truth that comes from without, but to bring it forth from within.

Cheetah was on to something ...

... A Banana a Day.

Second look ...

... Black Hawk Down Revisited.

And another ...

... Welcome to the New themillions.com.

Upgrade ...

... L. Lee Lowe: Online Fiction.

See also: Corvus: With Smashing Welsh Accent.

Domestic dispute ...

... Harem revolt.

Recantation ...

... The View From the Inside. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Triple ...

... Ron Slate on Three New Titles on Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, and Thom Gunn.

Short on irony ...

... but a pretty nice guy: A very special business angel.

Thought for today ...


To die for a religion is easier than to live it absolutely.
- Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Silver Sword ...

... might have made it: Poetry in Motion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Colloquy ...

... A Conversation with Author and McSweeney’s Editor Paul Collins. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

How to read a poem ...

... Walter de la Mare reading "The Listeners," which is one of the poems that made me want to write poetry.

Agere sequitur esse ...

... Intransitive Verbs - How Ian Fleming Uses Them in His Novel Doctor No. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Odd fellow ...

... Steve Jobs: The man who polished Apple.

See also Protecting Steve Jobs. Makes me glad I'm immune to cults of personality.

Together at last ...

... Thomas Lynch on Sex, Death, and Poetry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A big hand ...

... Formulas built in myth.

Bryan, in this post, quotes this passage from Midgley's article:
The mythology of how markets work, of how money can do things on its own, is as remote from solid physical reality as these other things. And of course whatever the mythology of the time is, those inside it don't recognise it as such; they think they're just noticing facts.
But to think of markets in terms of money doing anything on its own is to think of markets incorrectly. Markets are places where people choose to do things with their money, not where money does anything on its own. I am not suggesting that Midgley thinks this, only that anyone who does is wrong, and is dealing, not in myth, but in error. So-called market forces are large numbers of people making decisions for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps Adam Smith's "invisible hand" also guides what Darwin called the "economy of nature."

Fact and fiction (cont'd.) ...

... MY FAVORITE HISTORICAL NOVEL. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Russo visits the Cape.

... Well-told stories that transcend their location.

... Along the route to recorded music.

... Accessible, comforting tips.

Thought for the day ...

The pure work implies the disappearance of the poet as speaker, who hands over to the words.
- Stephane Mallarmé

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More about Muriel ...

... Muriel Spark: the Biography.

Sarah, Ed, and Brooklyn ...

This time last week, Debbie and I were strolling through Brooklyn's Prospect Park in the company of Ed Champion and Sarah Weinman, both of whom had reviewed for me, but whom I had never met. Prior to the stroll through the park we had had brunch at a place called Dizzy's (very nice).
"I would love to have had him in class!" Debbie said of Ed during brunch. And indeed Ed is just the sort of over-the-top ideaphoric type one would infer him to be from his writing. Had we met in high school we would have made a wonderful pair of enfants terribles. (I think that God, in His infinite wisdom, decided to spare the world that by assigning us to different generations). Oh, and he can be very funny.
I had not known that Sarah hails from Canada, but I was pleased to discover our mutual admiration for Elizabeth Smart's By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. We both think it is not a novella, but a genuine prose poem. Sarah, by the way, is one of those quietly brilliant and lovely young women it is nice to know do exist outside novels.
I may have more to say about all this later on, but right now I have to get ready to head to South Jersey. One thing Ed said that struck a spark in my mind was that he leaves the computer entirely alone when the weekend arrives. I may well start doing the same. Everybody deserves a day. Anyway, they may be a few posts scheduled after this, but I won't be back to the computer until tomorrow.

More about Muriel ...

... Muriel Spark: the Biography.

Critical mass

... Wikipedia approaches its limits. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More on fiction and fact ...

... Truth or consequences. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A brace of poetry links ...

... by way of Hedgie: Christopher Dewdney and 12 or 20 questions: with Rae Armantrout.

Science's debt ...

... to the Church: God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science by James Hannam.

Science really got going, ­Hannam argues, when Aristotle was challenged by theologians at the great universities (all founded in the medieval era, naturally). Orthodoxy would not accept that Aristotle’s “natural laws” could limit God’s powers, so thinkers were encouraged to investigate the “consistent and not capricious” workings of God’s universe for themselves. Experience, as ­Chaucer might have put it, started to chase after authority.
I don't quite get the reference to Abelard in this review. He was castrated, true, but not in any official way. Fulbert, Heloise's guardian, had some thugs do it.

Strolling minstrel ...

... N.J. Cops Called on Bob Dylan for Wandering Around Town.

Of cough, of cough ...

... Anxiety in the Time of Influenza: a Flu Literary Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I've never had a flu shot - turned one down last year, in fact. But I've never had the flu, either. I figure I have to doie of something some day and pneumonia brought on by flu is as good a way to go as any.

Bryan and Dave ...

... Dave Lull's Death Worm.

As to the questions Bryan poses regarding Dave's essence, my lips are sealed. Brit's theory warrants consideration, however.

Thought for the day ...

Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity, it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.
- John Keats

Friday, August 14, 2009

Check out ...

... The Hugo Awards: Winner Ann VanderMeer on the Pomp, the Circumstance, the Ceremony.

Something beautiful ...

... Lou Harrison's Duite fot Violin, Piano and Small Orchestra. I interviewed Lou once. I had turned 50 a few months earlier. He had just turned 75. He told me the 50s were the best decade of one's life: "You know what you want to do, you know how to do it, and you still have the energy. After 65, you start to fall apart." A sweet man.



If you read nothing else today ...

... read this: In the Theater of Isak Dinesen.

The Cardinal is taking it upon himself to explain, rather grandly, the impact of his story, an intricate one about a docile young princess who gradually learns the pleasures--and dangers--of independence. Though insisting on the reality of his account, the Cardinal is drawing his listener's attention to the exaggerations. A story, he suggests, is a vital form of expression: it offers not just a record of experience but also a vision of potential. And its truth is inextricably connected to its theatricality.

Quotidian art ...

... Alexander Pope's "Epistle" and the art of making poetry from normal, banal, petty life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Interesting choice ...

... of reviewer: Alexander Waugh reviews a book about Evelyn Waugh: GENIUS LOCI. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Poetry on the radio

This week on A Prairie Home Companion: A poetry compilation show with a remembrance of Hayden Carruth, a poem by, and song for, Kenneth Rexroth and more Poets Laureate past and present than you can shake a stick at, including: Billy Collins (U.S.), Robert Bly (Minnesota) and Maxine Kumin (U.S./ New Hampshire).
I don't think August Kleinzahler will be doing a reading, however.

Naming things ...

...