Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hmm ...

... Does Evolution Favor Religion? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Might the selfish account of evolution itself be a misfiring of Darwin’s theory? And if so, could evolutionary theory lead not to opposition, but to a renewed interest in religion—perhaps even respect for it? It’s a possibility suggested by the work of David Sloan Wilson, the champion of a different account of morality. The selfish story, he says, is a product of the “age of individualism” in evolutionary theory, an age that is both aberrant and, he believes, will prove to be short-lived.


This sounds much like what Peter Kropotkin proposed in Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution.

FYI ...

... Muse flashes. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Praising Plum ...

... Writer's choice 252: Jenny Haddon.

Why not?

... Forsaking 'Authenticity'.

That "authenticity" can be elusive.

In case you wondered ...

... How Traditional Media Can Thrive Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Quite a tale

The first three people who ask for a copy of the book can have one, I am told by the publisher. Just send me your name and address at presterfrank@gmail.com.

Shameful but fascinating ...

... Lisa reads: Fromms: How Julius Fromm’s Condom Empire Fell to the Nazis.

And the winner is ...

... Alice Oswald wins inaugural Ted Hughes award. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What might have been ...

... Moments from famous films I would have ruined had I been the star.

Instead of sheep ...

... Counting the ‘Blessings’ of Insomnia. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, I had a bout of it last night that I could have done without.

Not that he cares ...

... Lady GaGaAARGGHH.

Thought for the day ...

Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone.
- Octavio Paz, born on this date in 1914

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Avast ...

... 20 Collectible Nautical Books - Fiction and Fact.

Anniversary ...

... Hannibal, Mo., Marks Centenary of Twain's Death. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Possible Golden General ...

... Robert Hass.

Take-off aborted ...

... Let the Sun Shine In. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Starman ...

... and more: Tales From Inner Space. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Deep vs. shallow ...

... Theodore Dalrymple on Self-Esteem vs. Self-Respect.

The small matter of cleaning one's shoes, for example, is not one of vanity alone, though of course it can be carried on to the point of vanity and even obsession and fetish. It is, rather, a discipline and a small sign that one is prepared to go to some trouble for the good opinion and satisfaction of others. It is a recognition that one lives in a social world. That is why total informality of dress is a sign of advancing egotism.


I wonder if the realization that one is a sinner is prophylactic against a preoccupation with self-esteem.

Definitely worth your time ...

... The Poet on the Poem: Ed Byrne.

A day late ...

... but still worth noting: Birthday Boy.

This week ...

... at Five Chapters: Born Again.

My latest column ...

... Political labels pose the danger of dehumanizing those you happen to disagree with.

Thought for the day ...

But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things.
- Vincent Van Gogh, born on this date in 1853

Monday, March 29, 2010

What are we to make of this?

Sounds good ...

... Poetry for the Mind's Joy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A poetic review ...

... wild life rifle fire by Paul Siegel.

Recommendations ...

... Twenty-One Poets Recommend New and Recent Books of Poetry.

Philly book scene ...

... Local Area Events.

Bryan is back ...

... Shove in 3D.

Oh, and I missed this: Aliens.

Influences ...

... Ten books which influenced my view of the world. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Record opening ...

... Uma Thurman film is mother of all flops.

Thought for the day ...

Every man and woman alive is gifted by God in some special way. People who have a self-image of worth are going to see value in what they do. This is the attitude that motivates them to be and to do their best. It's a drive that comes from within people.
- William Walton, born on this date in 1902

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bellow and Baumbach

Did you see Noah Baumbach's new movie, Greenberg? Given its preoccupation with the delivery of letters, I'm wondering whether the film pays homage (in some odd way) to Saul Bellow's Herzog, a work equally concerned with the written articulation of frustration and angst...

Not so fast ...

... The New Philistinism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dawkins assures us that Aquinas gives “absolutely no reason” to think that a First Cause of the universe would have to be all-powerful, all-good, all-knowing, etc.; in reality, Aquinas devoted hundreds of pages, across many works, to showing just this. Dawkins says that the fifth of Aquinas’s famous Five Ways is essentially the same as the “divine watchmaker” argument made famous by William Paley. In fact the arguments couldn’t be more different, and followers of Aquinas typically—and again, rather famously (at least for people who actually know something about these things)—reject Paley’s argument with as much scorn as evolutionists like Dawkins do.

Prognosis poor ...

... Slouching Towards Vichy: An Interview with Theodore Dalrymple. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Crying foul ...

... On the fools'-goad road . . . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The latest from beyond ...

... Canto 27: On living in integrity with the Gospel.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Poetry of cruelty and love.

... Cells' source finally gets her due.

... Hero or monster? A portrait of a general.

... Facing devastating illnesses.

Thought for the day ...

No matter how ephemeral it is, a novel is something, while despair is nothing.
- Mario Vargas Llosa, born on this date in 1936

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Maybe ...

... Ralph Nader, incorruptible. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It is perhaps worth mentioning that Robespierre's nickname was "the incorruptible." Persons to whom the term may be thought to apply are also often humorless, rigid and narrow.

And the winner is ...

... Francisco Ayala wins Templeton 2010. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sustainable ...

... Can Climate Change Be Funny? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Life after employment ...

... Losing It. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm ...

... Is the Supernatural Only Natural? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think confusion arises from this terms natural and supernatural. Strictly speaking, on God is supernatural. Nature consists of what he has created - all of it, including heaven and hell, is such there be. We may be able to access only a part of nature.

A vintage review ...

... Evelyn Waugh on Garry Wills's Chesterton: Man and Mask. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)


Humility is not a virtue propitious to the artist It is often pride, emulation, avarice, malice — all the odious qualities — which drive a man to complete, elaborate, refine, destroy, renew, his work until he has made something that gratifies his pride and envy and greed. And in doing so he enriches the world more than the generous and good, though he may lose his own soul in the process. That is the paradox of artistic achievement.

Thought for the day ...

I think, then, that man, after having satisfied his first longing for facts, wanted something fuller - some grouping, some adaptation to his capacity and experience, of the links of this vast chain of events which his sight could not take in.
- Alfred de Vigny, born on this date in 1797

Friday, March 26, 2010

Things visible and invisible ...

... John Polkinghorne's Unseen Realities. ((Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Buck up ...

... Don’t Fear the E-Reader.

RIP ...

... Lady Walton: widow of Sir William Walton.

Flash mobs (cont'd.) ....

This business of flash mobs in Philly, first mentioned here in this post, is evidently more serious than I thought. I walked to and from Center City Wednesday night and last night. Last night Debbie and I walked home together from Bainbridge Street (just below South), a good eight or nine blocks. Before that we had two others with us. I have walked all over the city throughout my life, both day and night, often - especially in my wilder years - in some of the dicier parts. Still, these incidents have occurred, and would be difficult to deal with. I am no longer as young as I once was, and one person wielding a walking stick is no match for a mob. I was not joking when I suggested I might take advantage of our conceal and carry law. If the municipal government is too busy interfering with the spice shop up the street (I am serious) to maintain public safety, one must think about doing it on one's own. I am the son of a policeman and am not sweetly disposed to violent crime. Nor am I impressed by the city's current mayor, who seems mostly talk. I'm not sure yet about the police commissioner. He seemed serious when I saw him recently at the local precinct, but that was before any of this started, and this stuff is happening on his watch.

Never too late ...

.. I guess: Lost Booker prize shortlist overlooks Iris Murdoch but plumps for Muriel Spark. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bryan alert ...

... His blog has moved. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I fears there is much ....

... in what Nige says: Not Reading the Papers.

Remembering ....

... the King of Cool: 30 Years Gone: Steve McQueen's Wheels and Watches.

Thought for the day ...

When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.
- Joseph Campbell, born on this date in 1904

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Accentuate the negative ...

... Barbara Ehrenreich's Critique of Positive Thinking.

Big and small ...

... Sylvia Beach, the midwife of Modernism.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: The Jewish ‘natio’, Rossetti’s letters, Cool, and more!

The Master ...

... Snapshot.

You're asking me?

... What is happening in Philadelphia and elsewhere?

Last night, I walked up to Center City to meet my friend and former colleague Pat Banks for dinner. She and I then went to the Union League to watch Nelson Shanks paint Michael Smerconish. On the way, I ran into a neighbor who warned me about these flash mobs. I'm in better shape and a good deal tougher than most, but as Muhammad Ali put it once, "I ain't no damn fool, either." Brought the matter up with Pat, and she was concerned, too. I figured my street smarts would make me alert enough to trouble to be able to dodge it and, as it happened, nothing happened. Guess I'll have to start packing heat.

The envelope, please ...

... Jamaica Kincaid Winner Of Center For Fiction's Clifton Fadiman Award. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Layers ...

... But what do you call the thing beneath it?

Sad indeed ...

... The Sad Spiral of Lisa Reardon.

Novel cuisine ...

... A scholar's Passover feast.

Language and literature ...

... Tarski's theory of truth as a reason to leave linguistics?

Warm reflections ...

... Ernest Farrés’s “Edward Hopper”.

Good news and more ...

... More Parker Novels Arriving Soon and An Interview with Charles Ardai. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winners are ...

... Announcing Results of the 3rd Annual Axiom Business Book Awards.

I did a lot of writing in my time that had nothing to do with "literature." It's just as hard to do well as any other writing.

Things to think about ...

... 10 Wild Oscarisms.

Always nourishing ...

... News gumbo.

A fan's notes ...

... Why Lionel Shriver doesn’t get the respect she deserves.(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless and brutal.
- Flannery O'Connor, born on this date in 1925

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good news, bad news ...

... Completed The Thing About Life is That One Day You'll Be Dead.

It all adds up ...

... I guess: Dodgson's math in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

So much good ...

... An Author in Complete Control of Her Work.

Ponderable ...

... Google or China: Who Has More to Lose?

FYI ...

... The Chimaera.

Melancholia and more ...

... "For some are so gently melancholy, that in all their carriage, and to the outward apprehension of others it can hardly be discerned."

For collectors ...

... Collectible Ray Bradbury.

The latest installment ...

... Dictator-lit: Gaddafi's surreal gibberish.

Hemingway, $600, and 'On the Blue Water'

An interesting link to a hard-headed Hemingway...

Odd mix ...

... David Shields' REQUIRED READING. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Recommended ...

... Check out a film on Lou McKee’s “Artist of the Beautiful”.

Epistemology continued ...

... Chapter 4. A Third Lesson in Epistemology from Fat Tony: The Error of Rationalism, or How to Out-Argue Socrates. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Rita and Shirley ...

... back on stage: Willy Russell interview.

A guest posting ...

Going Back to the Basics:
Three Universities and the Great Books Curriculum


At the center of recent nationwide student protests decrying state university budget cuts, is the question of what, exactly, should be cut from higher education curricula when faced with financial constraints. The trend among many institutions is to do away with humanities courses; these institutions have justified their cuts by explaining that humanities are simply no longer as relevant in a world that demands technological and scientific prowess. In fact, Michael Parker, the strategic planner of CSU Fullerton, where students “occupied” a humanities building in protest, called humanities and arts studies “socially irrelevant,” “non-essential,” and—get this—“esoteric.” That these words are coming from a university administration—the supposed guardians of learning—is absolutely baffling.

The biggest problem with Parker’s argument is that it completely dismisses the purpose of an education in the first place. Of course, nowadays it seems that the only reason one should receive an education is to acquire “relevant” job skills. What happened to the idea that learning promotes personal development that a comprehensive education asks bigger, more critically abiding questions than simply what we’ll be doing at the office during our first jobs?
Thankfully, this version of higher education hasn’t been completely eradicated. The following is a short list of universities that place a particular emphasis on timeless texts—in what the modern discourse of classical education calls the “Great Books” curriculum—which trace the intellectual development of our species.

1. St. John’s College. This four-year liberal arts college epitomizes learning for its own sake. Its curriculum is based wholly on classic books—no textbooks at this school—starting from Plato, Thomas Aquinas, and the Bible and progressing over four years to more contemporary works like Virginia Woolf’s To the Light House. The university’s “Who We Are” webpage posits, “Through sustained engagement with the works of great thinkers and through genuine discussion with peers, students at St. John’s College cultivate habits of mind that will last a lifetime: a deepened capacity for reflective thought, an appreciation of the persisting questions of human existence, an abiding love of serious conversation, and a lasting love of inquiry.”

2. Shimer College. Similar to St. John’s College, Shimer College, an institution once affiliated with the University of Chicago, focuses on the Great Books. Classes are capped at twelve students and are largely discussion-based. In recent years, Shimer has updated its curriculum to include more women and minority writers and thinkers.

3. Thomas Aquinas College . Following in the rich intellectual tradition of Catholicism, Thomas Aquinas College also bases its study on the “Great Books” but places a greater emphasis on theological works. Like students attending St. John’s and Shimer, Thomas Aquinas undergraduates don’t just read philosophy and literature. Instead of studying largely watered down textbooks on mathematics and science, students read the originals—Euclid’s Elements, Archimedes’ Quadrature of the Parabola, and Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and General Theory, among others.

In its defense of the Great Books curriculum, Thomas Aquinas’ website states, “Another reason why the Great Books are preferred to textbooks is that the latter, almost without exception, are "secondary sources"-that is, they are two steps removed from reality. They are, as it were, thoughts about thoughts. The Great Books, by contrast, are much closer to common experience in its fullness; they raise questions and pursue inquiries which arise directly from a wonder about things themselves. On this account, they are of the greatest importance to beginners, for they begin where thought itself must begin if it is to bear any fruit.”

Although these schools may not appeal to everyone, their dedication to exploring the roots of intellectual inquiry provides curious students with a rigorous curriculum. What’s more, graduates of Great Books schools don’t go on to become unemployed philosophers. An astounding percentage of Great Books students attend law schools and medical schools, become professors, and pursue other challenging, “relevant” careers.

For a comprehensive list of universities offering some form of the Great Books curriculum, see the Association of Core Texts and Courses’ College Program list.

For more information about the Great Books list and its development, read Interleaves’ Great Books list FAQ.

True crime ...

... Philly Mob Scene: Mob Boss Angelo Bruno Murdered This Month 30 Years Ago.

Good and gritty ...

... Lisa reads: The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo.

Congratulations all ...

... Best Poetry Blogs.

Thought for the day ...

Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.
- Malcolm Muggeridge, born on this date in 1903

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gender issue ...

... The Female Poem. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the winner is ...

... Alexie captures PEN/Faulkner prize for fiction. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Yo, Dave ...

... Top 10 Books Written by Librarians.

RIP ...

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

How interesting ...

... a poetic review.

After the sucker punch ...

... James Wood on DFW. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think this is a really well-crafted piece.

Books by Librarians

AbeBooks' latest list.

Mark your calendar ...

... WWG Live at Ken’s Kabaret.

This brings back memories ...

... `I Am Willing to Omit the Gun'.

One summer, when I was a kid, a flicker came by our house every day and pounded away on our H-shaped TV antenna, lopping off one leg at a time. Loud as hell, too.

Hmm ...

... Love music, hold the criticism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This may have more bearing on pop music than on classical music. Listening to music is indeed a collaborative endeavor, but so is reading. And reviewing anything should involve a good deal more than "scribbling witty insults in my reporter’s notebook."

Not so great, after all ...

... A Passage to Forster.

Forster acted the part of the guru all his life. No mention is made in Aspects of the Novel of the element of preaching in novels, but Forster preached relentlessly in his fiction.

I said some similar things about Forster last year: Only connect! But to what?

It takes a big man ...

... to admit he's wrong: Glenn Reynolds apologizes.

My latest column ...

... Political labels are invariably misleading.

Introductory ...

... Chapter 1. A First Lesson in the Epistemology of Fat Tony: the Grand Demarcation Between Sucker and NonSucker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Right ...

... Some Age, Others Mature: Sean Connery's Dewar's Ad.

Too clever by half ...

... Oh, the Irony. (Hat ti, Dave Lull.)


... McEwan told the man in the audience that if he didn’t think as a mathematician at all times then he couldn’t be a very good one (not a polite response, but then the mathematician had just, in so many words, told McEwan he wasn’t a very good novelist); that he, McEwan, always thought like a novelist, whatever he was doing.
It was an odd thing to say – as if being a good mathematician or a good novelist mainly depended on how much time you spent thinking like one – but many of McEwan’s novels seem to be underpinned by that sort of assumption.

It is odd also because it not only defines people by what they do, but confines then to what they do.

Thought for the day ...

Movie directors, or should I say people who create things, are very greedy and they can never be satisfied... That's why they can keep on working. I've been able to work for so long because I think next time, I'll make something good.
- Akira Kurasawa, born on this date in 1910

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oh well ...

... good luck: Times Online about to preview its paywall content.

Since I already subscribe to one Rupert Murdoch publication, I think I ought to be offered a deal.

Useful gathering ...

... Links on Fodor & evolution. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cautionary ...

... Sex, Blackmail and Bribery: Soviet Spies' Trade is Treachery, MI5's 1960s-Era Booklet Warns.

Influences ...

... 10 books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This week ...

... on Five Chapters: Twenty-one Sons — Part One.

Philly book scene ...

... Local Area Events.

From epigraphs ...

... to A few Aphorisms. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Theme setters ...

... or markers, or ... On Epigraphs. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not just quarterly ...

...The Constant Conversation.

Damaged lives ...

... and Dark Possibilities.

Follow-up ...

... Barbara Guest’s Musicalities. (Hat tip, Hedgie.)

Thought for the day ...

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour, born on this date in 1908

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Crime center ...

... Stieg Larsson and Swedish crime fiction.


See also An impression is worth 100 words.

For the sabbath ...

... Xanadu: Issa's Sunday Service, #47.

Dark beauty ...

... Review of COLD SKIN by Albert Sanchez Pinol.

Down the Beckett highway ...

... A Vermeer of Words. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Quirky and insightful ...

... Book Review: Marshall McLuhan, by Douglas Coupland. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Three poems ...

.. for World Poetry Day, courtesy of Rus Bowden:

Before The World Was Made ---by William Butler Yeats.

And The Moon And The Stars And The World ---by Charles Bukowski.

Song on the End of the World ---by Czeslaw Milosz.

RIP ...

... Alex Chilton.

A lively crowd ...

... Gödel, Platonov, Brautigan, Goldstein and more.

As if we needed more ...

... More Compelling Clichés.

I am sure I have committed a few in my time. In the race between deadline and originality, the former usually wins. One I definitely now avoid is "magisterial."

Triplets ...

... "Twenty More Poems with 3-Line Stanzas."

On track ...

... An e-model for journalism in Seattle. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Television rebels with a cause.

... A sense of place, real or fictional.

... and from Katie: A lively volume about librarians.

Also born on this date ...

... Johann Sebastian Bach and Arthur Grumiaux.

Thought for the day ...

God is an unutterable sigh, planted in the depths of the soul.
- Jean Paul, born on this date in 1763

Saturday, March 20, 2010

No one size ...

... may fit all: Fodor, friendship and The Philosophers' Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Comeback trail ...

I am feeling much better today. But it is a beautiful day and I plan on spending most of it in the garden. I also have a lot of catching up to do. Blogging will gradually return to normal (whatever that is).

Memories ...

... Fess Parker, RIP.

Interesting list ...

... Gallery of my Favorite Modern Literary Books -Nassim N Taleb. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Interesting that among them is Le grand Meaulnes.

Setting McEwan ...

... 'Atonement' Opera In The Works. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A world unto itself ...

... Ron Slate on A Reader on Reading, essays by Alberto Manguel.

Not so simple ...

... Why everything you've been told about evolution is wrong.

As the comments indicate, this sort of article is simply beyond the pale. I'm sure my linking it to it will be thought the same. I do think it would have been nice to have cited what Dennett's reasons are for thinking as he does about Fodor's book, presuming Dennett offered any.

Thought for the day ...

A flow of words is a sure sign of duplicity.
- Honoré de Balzac, born on this date in 1799

Friday, March 19, 2010

Not necessarily smart guys ...

... On crime & thrillers: Wiseguys, goodfellas and godfathers — the portrayal of gangsters in fact and fiction.

Tony Judt....

....bestrides the generations in his NYRB blog.

It's that day again ...

Not only do I still feel under par, but today is the day we meet with our tax accountant. So blogging will once again take a back seat. I also am behind in work I have to do, so it's going to be spotty for the next few days.

Going with the flow ...

... The Niagara River by Kay Ryan.

I reviewed this myself when it came out.

Freebee ...

... National Poetry Month Free Book Giveaway.

Practice, practice ...

... White Death: the Sniper Who Killed 700 Soviets in 100 Days.

Holy names ...

... Our Contemporary Sanctimony Puts the Victorians to Shame. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Noticing the weirdness ...

... The Strange Charms of John Cheever. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Those were the days ...

... Not Yours To Give.

(
Davy Crockett actor Fess Parker dies, aged 85.)

Thought for the day ...

Always think of what is useful and not what is beautiful. Beauty will come of its own accord.
- Nikolai Gogol, born on this date in 1809

Thursday, March 18, 2010

One more time ...

... White Egrets. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not your usual mix ...

... Lanterns, eggs and Spartacus.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: Latin Aristotelians, Vegetarianism, Missing Wharton, and more!

In short ...

... a haiku review.

Location, location, location ...

... Bookstore Sells Half of All Copies of WWII Book.

Starman ...

... 400 Years of Galileo Galilei.

Fiction co-opts life ...

... Nathanael and the Damsel.

Gee ...

... Book Review vs. Criticism. (Hat tip, Ed Champion.)

I always thought the difference between reviewing and criticism was that the critic can presume that his reader is familiar with the text or texts he is writing about, whereas the reviewer must presume the opposite. But why quibble? Carlin lives!

PS22

Have you all heard the kid-chorus of PS22 do renditions of songs by Bjork, the Cure, and Alicia Keys? You WILL tear up.

Staging verse ...

... The dramatic element. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

John Berger

I've posted several short pieces about John Berger on this blog before. But as I've recently finished another of his collections - this time, The Shape of a Pocket - I felt compelled to again sing his praises. Here is a writer - one of the last true intellectuals, I fear - who gets it. Plain and simple. With a style uniquely his own, Berger crafts insightful, engaging essays - essays which reveal a keen intellect, a powerful way of seeing. I can't say enough for the importance of Berger's reflections, and I leave the last word, therefore, to him:

"Silence, you know, is something that can't be censored. And there are circumstances in which silence becomes subversive. That's why they fill it with noise all the while." (The Shape of a Pocket, 258)

Standing tall ...

... The Dogwood Tree: March 18, 1932. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is excellent ...

... Bernadette and why I read crime fiction. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So, ultimately I gave up and now I read mainly crime fiction – which is ghettoised by many opinion-formers as “crime fiction” but I always experience, and see, it as “traditional story telling” which has its roots in Greek drama, other classical drama to and including Shakespeare and beyond, and the great Victorian and other period novels. The books I loved as a child and young woman were by Dickens, George Elliot, Arnold Bennett, the Brontes, Wilkie Collins, Emile Zola and so on, and before that Conan Doyle, Lancelyn Green, Stevenson, Rosemary Sutcliffe, C. S. Lewis et al. - to me, crime fiction is a natural extension of those.

Home for Papa ...

... Ernest Hemingway's Key West Home Designated a Literary Landmark.

Take a look ...

... SuperPower: Visualising the internet. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

The pure work implies the disappearance of the poet as speaker, who hands over to the words.
- Stéphane Mallarmé, born on this date in 1842

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

For St. Patrick's Day ...

... Turning Green With Literacy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No simple matter ...

... An Agenda for Critics: Judgment.

Hmm ...

... Queen invented phone, pupils say.

Boy, and people say American kids are ignorant. The competition's getting tough.

Online now ...

... TripleCanopy Issue 8.

Indeed ...

... This lunacy about Latin makes me want to weep with rage. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Maybe Ed Balls agrees with The Da Vinci Code's Lea Teabing that English is the European language with the fewest words of Latin origin.

Some poems ...

... courtesy of Rus Bowden:

Whale by Robert Pinsky.

Sex, Violence, and the Supernatural by Robert Pinsky.

A Question of Occupation by Nigel Holt.

For Akua Njeri (Deborah Johnson).

Also from Rus: News at Eleven: In a move bound to spark.

The latest issue ...

... of The Quarterly Conversation.

Cold has gotten worse ...

... so expect light blogging.

Suggestions, please ...

... Send in the clones.

Frontal attack ...

... Against Beauty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In hope ...

... Ecclesiastes 11 by Richard Wilbur. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Also born on this date ...

... the unforgettable Nat King Cole.

Thought for the day ...

All I know for certain is that reading is of the most intense importance to me; if I were not able to read, to revisit old favorites and experiment with names new to me, I would be starved - probably too starved to go on writing myself.
- Penelope Lively, born on this date in 1933

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Immortal ...

... Ain’t No Grave: Johnny Cash’s last transmission from Beyond.

Where freedom is appreciated ...

... Notes from the Underground: Indie Publishing in Putin’s Russia. (Hat tip, Daniel Kalder.)

Sick bay alert ..

... I'm feeling better than yesterday, but still not all that great, especially now at the end of the day. Blogging continues sporadically.

Good to know ...

... Mark Twain’s final years were not as sad as reported. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Name that tune ...

... Musicality in Poetry.

Pecking orders ...

... Are Vettriano, Lloyd Webber and Dan Brown really so naff? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't know where I would fit in all this. I've been hanging with painters and sculptors and composers and writers since my college days, and I once managed an art gallery, and I've worked for publishers. Lott says:
The people who are squeezed in this equation are not the elites or the plebs but the culturally aspirant. People like me, I suppose, who grew up without books or art or theatre, and do not find a middle-class lifestyle sufficient compensation for a inherited lack of cultural information. We live always in the knowledge that our choices may be the "wrong" ones.

The best way to develop your artistic taste is to go often to museums and galleries, see what you like, and then try to figure out why you like it (in terms of the work itself, that is). Once you're satisfied that you have sound reasons for feeling as you do, go your way in confidence. Eschew headphones: It is a visual art. At classical concerts, skip the program notes. Just listen to the music. And if you find a book boring and are not being paid to finish it, find something else to read. Life is short.

More than "troubling" ...

... Exaggeration nation: Indecorous.

I would suggest that Roberts was deliberately understating his case - hence the meandering sentence - and that "troubling" was meant euphemistically. That said, I completely agree with Neil's point: He should have said what he meant in no uncertain terms.

Equal time ...

... for the other side (via Maxine via Dave):

... Judith Curry and Michael Mann speak out. (This is very much worth reading, by the way. )

... We climate scientists are not ecofanatics.

In the first piece, Mann observes that "there’s the largest disconnect that has ever existed between the confidence that we have scientifically and where the public is, at least in the United States." Judging by the preponderance of comments appended to the second piece objecting to its point, the "disconnect" does not seem confined to the U.S.

Apart from the fact that I think talk of "a dangerous mood of scepticism" is itself worrisome, some perspective may be gleaned from a look at this 1995 interview Sir John gave to the Sunday Telegraph. (BTW, please note: We link, you decide.)

Huh?

... Recognize this Photo? Well, Some Professional Journalists Don't.

Holier than thou ...

... but not so nice: How going green may make you mean.

My latest column ...

... A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Church 2.0 ...

'Theology After Google' conference takes look at religion in Web era. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Adaptation No. 2 ...

... How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Digital Future. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Adaptation ...

... Elmore Leonard talks 'Justified,' 'Get Shorty' and a lot of bad adaptations. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Thought for the day ...

In my soul rages a battle without victor. Between faith without proof and reason without charm.
- René Sully-Prudhomme, born on this date in 1839 (the first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Take a walk ...

... Down Memory Lane with Nige.

Just last night, I was telling our friend David Tothero that, around the corner from where we lived in North Philly in the 1940s, there was a farrier. Not only was milk delivered door-to-door; it was delivered by horse and wagon. And there were still lamplighters then.

This week ...

... at Five Chapters: Yet Another Escapade — Part One.

Lest we forget ...

... Remembering Mailer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unlikely juxtaposition ...

... Philip Larkin and Happiness.

This old man ...

... has been brought down by a cold - thanks to traipsing around town in the rain all day Friday, I guess - and will blog only sparsely today.

The swamp effect ...

... Re-evaluating Updike a year after his death. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Link is fixed.

The swamp effect is the phrase a friend of mine, the late composer John Davison, said happened to most American artists after their deaths: They and their reputations sank into the swamp, only to rise up some time later. It has happened to Samuel Barber - the rising up, that is. So Updike may sink, but I am sure he will rise again, as I hope John will also. He wrote some wonderful music.

Thought for the day ...


Cowards die many times before their actual deaths.
- Julius Caesar, assassinated on this date in 44 B.C.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lots here ...

... Reading and reviewing update for mid-March.

See also Independent foreign fiction prize long-list.

Loosening up ...

... Selmanovic, radical evangelical. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Born in the former Yugoslavia, he was alert to the danger Muslims in Manhattan faced after 9/11. He organised public meetings to help defuse fears about the terrorist attacks.

One trusts he was alert to the danger posed by certain radical Muslims as well.

... conservative evangelicalism has made a mistake, he continues. Its desire to share and spread the good news has led it to treat non-Christians as objects: "We have it, they have to receive it" – "it" being the message of Christ. But what kind of good news is it, Selmanovic asks, when only an elect few have it? What kind of control freakery is inherent in the perception that you alone have a message from God and cannot receive any good news from others?

Well, I subscribe to Karl Rahner's latitudinarian interpretation of the doctrine of baptism of desire: Those who wish to be with God, and strive to be, will be.

Lovely ...

... Veronica.

Beautiful loser ...

... Barber's 1966 opera flop now 2010's hot ticket.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... John Timpane examines Minds intertwining in Oslo.

... Our girl Katie praises Lynn Levin's Poems of sparkling spontaneity.

... Eunice Wong on "The Surrendered" a tale of war and hope.

... Paula Marantz Cohen considers The state of the American university, frozen in time.

Speaking of Hell ...

... On Satan’s trail with Don Gabriele, the world’s most famous exorcist. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

For Lent ...

... Daily Dante.

Hell on a daily basis.

Nothing funny ...

... about this: Mark Twain's vendetta volume. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Thought for the day ...

What passes for optimism is most often the effect of an intellectual error.
- Raymond Aron, born on this date in 1905

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Unsurprising ...

... Climategate Was an Academic Disaster Waiting to Happen. (This is a link to the full article, via the intrepid Dave Lull.)

There are no easy fixes to this state of affairs. Worse, our universities don't recognize they have a problem. Instead, professors and university administrators are inclined to indignantly dismiss concerns about the curriculum, peer review, and hiring, promotion and tenure decisions as cynically calling into question their good character. But these concerns are actually rooted in the democratic conviction that professors and university administrators are not cut from finer cloth than their fellow citizens.

Interesting ...

... The Tale of Peter Rabbit Illustrated Story with Music.

On the human rights front ...

... Public service, personal smears. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hear ye, hear ye ...

... Call For Artists In Fox Chase.

Good-natured pessimism ...

... or, Humor in Hopelessness. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Svevo was at first stimulated by the ideas he found in reading Freud, and "Zeno's Conscience" is the way he put these ideas to the test. In the end, they all fail, for Freudianism is at least as useless in answering the riddle of life as any other philosophy or guide.

Sounds intriguing ...

... at the very least: Detectives between covers.

Wherever you are ...

... Happy Birthday, Jack! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winners

... National Book Critics Circle Announces Its Winners for the Publishing Year 2009.

It's that time again ...

... Memories of March Madness and the AWP, Basketball and Poetry.

Aha!

... Observations of a Bookman on his Initial Encounters with an Ebook Reader. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

For poetry there exists neither large countries nor small. Its domain is in the heart of all men.
- Giorgos Seferis, born on this date in 1900

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lenny the Complex ...

... Leonard Bernstein: ‘charismatic, pompous - and a great father'.

Generosity ...

... The Collector Who Gave It All Away.

Local Irish Poetry Reading

If you're in the neighborhood:
Father John McNamee Poetry reading
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
7:00 p.m.
Free

Rosemont College
Main Building
1400 Montgomery Ave.
Rosemont, PA

A man of Irish wit and humor with a gift of poetry, parish priest, Father McNamee will read selections from Donegal Suite and poems not yet published. Perhaps best known for his efforts on behalf of the poor, Father McNamee is a pastor emeritus of Saint Malachy Church (Philadelphia, PA) and the author of several books of prose and poetry which champion the cause of the poor. His best known book, Diary of a City Priest, was made into a movie and appeared at numerous film festivals with distribution rights on public television.

McNamee’s presentation is free and open to the public.

Cases of 'Elimination'

An interesting essay on Daniel Goldhagen's new book, Worse Than War...

Whereabouts ...

... I will be off this morning arranging a transfer of books from The Inquirer to the Family Court. I then have an appointment in town. So probably no more blogging until later in the afternoon.

FYI ...

... Woods on Shields.

Bon voyage ...

... Ultima Thule here i come.

Just remember ...

... Manuscripts don’t burn.

Worth a look ...

... Excerpts from At Close Quarters, by Eugenio Fuentes.

Get ready ...

... Mark Twain Anniversary Approaches. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Thought for the day ...

Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.
- Jack Kerouac, born on this date in 1922

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Encountering ...

... a creepy book: Upon the Occasion of Reading THE SHELTERING SKY.

Creeping managerialism ...

... and more: The King's College London cuts and related matters.

Insufficient attention is being paid to the dangers posed to art and education bureaucratization.

I think I am, too ...

... a member of the ho-hum school, that is: Shields on the Novel.

Cruelly honest ...

... Kenneth Dover de mortuis.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: Better on the Continent, The Jewish ‘natio’, Brecht in flight,and more!

Theme and variations ...

... To Sonnet, to Son-net, Tuscon Net. (Hat tip, Hedgie.)

A sentence to watch ...

... Little Things by Matt Sumell, Single Sentence Animation by Electric Literature.

For a change ...

... Alternative Russian Classics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)