Friday, April 30, 2010
The Republicans, especially, are always worried that someone in the arts is undermining the religious and family values of our country. They suspect poets of being subversives, free-thinkers, sex-fiends, and drug addicts. Their fears are not entirely without foundation. There have not been many American poets, living or dead, you’d want to bring home to meet your grandmother or have speak to your Bible study group.
See also: Sorry about that, folks.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
... Speaking Jazz: Poetry gets physical as Pinsky jams with musicians.
(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
Also this, from Peter Stothard: One lesson of the Figes affair.
The issue is only that scholars, more than all others, should think long and hard before hiring lawyers to stop publication of material about themselves that they dislike - however much they may dislike it.
So, many religious and atheistic ideologies of the past were equally dangerous because their trust, loyalty or ultimate concern resided in a concrete, contemporary figure in the government or church instead of in a never wholly manifested ideal (secular reason or an infinite God) that stands forever in judgment of our historical, fallible efforts.
Lawrence is at his best in short stories and poems. His plays also seem to be getting more respect lately. J.B. Priestley had this to say of him:
Lawrence was fiercely anti-intellectual; but ... he could not escape from being an intellectual himself, could not use thought and self-consciousness to rid himself of thought and self-consciousness; and this dilemma, together with a disease that found some relief in explosions of rage, goes far to explain the anger and bitter intolerance of a man who was at heart friendly and often an enchanting companion.
Dave also sends along "Hub Fans" Redux: John Updike, Ted Williams, and the Great American Essay.
I am only now catching up on things, and I just came upon this also at Nigel's blog: Time to reconsider John Masefield.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I have a hard time taking Cameron seriously, principally because Titanic was the only movie I ever sat through while silently praying, "Please God, may the words 'The End' appear on the screen."
Monday, April 26, 2010
... Martel allows the second Henry to do what the first Henry could not: to try to convince us that fable and fiction are legitimate ways to remember the Holocaust. Our response to Beatrice and Virgil is inevitably bound up with our response to this allegory—which ends up, deliberately or otherwise, refuting its own premise.
There would appear to be a typo in this article. Flaubert's story is titled "The Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaller," not "Hospitator."
Sunday, April 25, 2010
See also Alan Sillitoe dies aged 82.
More: Alan Sillitoe: novelist, playwright, poet and children’s author.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
The two women lived together for four decades. Some scholars have speculated that there was more going on than a super-intense friendship. But since the two women are both dead, I don’t believe it’s germane for us to contemplate if they were Sapphic exemplars or friends with really nice benefits. What Cather and Lewis did was their business. And if they wished to take it to the grave, this was their choice.
... it is an illuminating volume, since what we have on display in it is the bien-pensant mind at its most unguarded and self-revealing. In his own view, if not that of the reader, Grayling is leading humankind on the path of progress. Aware of the almost-impossible obstacles that had to be overcome in order to produce anyone as rational as himself, he does not suppose that progress is inevitable. Yet it seems a source of some puzzlement to him that others do not follow eagerly in his footsteps, and he is quick to accuse those who decline to join him on his pilgrimage of lacking in optimism. It does not occur to him that they might regard the narrow and frowsty world to which he aspires as scarcely worth living in.
Dear Mr. Tierney:
- Cut the Business Section during the week. Run it only on Saturday and Sunday. The age of listing stock-quotes that are a day old has passed. In fact, it passed ten years ago. Offer business analysis, but only on the weekends.
- Cut the Local News Section during the week. Run it only once, on Sundays. Those with an interest in Local News are far more likely to read The Daily News than they are The Inquirer.
- During the week, run only the Sports Page and the Front Page. Expand the Front Page to include more international news. Keep the Sports Page as it is. This is the one thing that The Inquirer does better than The New York Times. And yes, you’re hearing me right: Monday through Friday, run only two sections.
- Add more book reviews, but do so in an expanded Arts Section, which runs on both Saturday and Sunday. During the week, do not run an Arts Section – or a Science Section for that matter.
- Cut all music reviews: the paper must be kidding itself in this day and age to think that this section of the paper, in particular, is of any value.
- Either commit to a Currents Section, or cut it all together by folding it into Arts. As it currently stands, Currents has no identity, no clear purpose.
- Have your editors develop better captions. The writing that appears below Inquirer images is awful.
- In this Age of Technology, The Inquirer’s website is remarkably difficult to navigate. It is also unattractive and uninviting. Don’t you see: to modernize the website (with the assistance of a younger generation raised on The Internet) is to save the paper itself.
Mr. Tierney: If my tone is direct, it is because these matters are urgent. You need honest advice – because honesty is the only thing that will save this paper from the mediocrity to which it has recently descended.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
... treating religion as a simple propositional affair seems to miss a great deal of what’s going on when people disagree about religion. Grasping what the world is like for those who see and feel it quite differently is surely a requirement for communicating, and here’s where the art of fiction can be helpful. It trains one’s mind that way in general.
Quite right. Because religion isn't even primarily a propositional affair, even if many believers seem to think it is.
Proof of something I've longed thought was true, that poetry's house has many mansions.
See also: Parking Lot Poetry: A Review of “jambandbootleg” by Paul Siegell.
In all fairness, Martel comes off in this as a pretty level-headed dude.
And, for a bit a perspective on Ed, here's his review of Donald Westlake's Memory: A pulp mystery story - and so much more.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I'm not sure about that. Genuine faith, I think, makes one cautious, at the very least, regarding articles of faith.To subscribe to a creed of any kind, political or religious, would have been to have faith, of which Beckett never had a shred, at least not in the conventional sense ...
... it was in those ordinary decencies–drink, food, conversation–that Beckett believed, and in Art, and in little else.Again, I think it is genuine faith that is likely to inspire reverence for such "ordinary decencies."
As Henry Fielding remarked long ago, those who lay the foundation of their own ruin find that others are apt to build upon it. By constructing, and then relying on, vulnerable systems that are now entwined with almost every aspect of American life, we have laid just such a foundation. The time has come to fix it or at least to refine the systems to avoid catastrophic failure.
Baudelaire's put-down of Voltaire reminds of something De Maistre said of Voltaire: "Voltaire, who touched upon every subject without ever penetrating the surface of any ..."
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Here’s what really blows my mind. The newspapers are following the lead of the bloggers in presenting this story. In other words professional journalists are getting their news from blogs that may or may not be reliable. Don’t they care that this survey was a tongue in cheek attempt at humor? Does this worry you about the news industry and journalists in general?
Monday, April 19, 2010
"Yes," Stoppard admits, "there's a lot of editorialising. The pedantry is me. I'm vaguely embarrassed by myself sometimes. I'm offended by things and take pathetic little stands against them. When I was coming to meet you just now, I walked past French Connection, which still has that supposedly brilliant piece of advertising – FCUK – in the window. I used to like French Connection. But, from the moment those adverts began, I never set foot in one of the shops again. I refused to support anyone who thought this was clever rather than childish. I'm a sad case, really."
The worst thing about the passage that I have quoted is its apparent endorsement, or uncritical acceptance, of Freud’s characterization of the Nazis as “right-wing.” This seems to me simplistic to the point of dishonesty, or at least symptomatic of a desire that complex social and political realities should be located on an analogue scale from right to left or left to right. If such a scale must be used, it seems to me that there is as much, if not more, reason to place Nazism on the left of it rather than on the right.
Friendly by Carl Dennis.
Against War Movies by Jehanne Dubrow.
Generic by Rachel Hadas.
'Indescretion of the American Wife,' 1954 by Suzanne Frischkorn.
The Wind didn’t come from the Orchard—today by Emily Dickinson.
Two poems by Kim Addonizio.
To see the world by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming.
Religion, society, nature; these are the three struggles of man. These three conflicts are, at the same time, his three needs; it is necessary for him to believe, hence the temple; it is necessary for him to create, hence the city; it is necessary for him to live, hence the plow and ship,- Victor Hugo, The Toilers of the Sea
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I'm bumping this post because Dave Lull has sent along a piece that bears on it: Healthcare Con.
Also from Dave, this may help those who reflexively equate libertarianism with the right: Alliance of the Libertarian Left.
See also this.
... Spirited New York in World War II.
... Maureen Corrigan looks at 4 generations of Palestinian refugee family.
... Out friend Susan Balée discovers how Love, mundane life lie under the Wall.
... Obama's journey to personal, political self.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
He isn't for me, though I enjoy him enough.
My own impression is that newspaper people today, however valiantly they struggle to adapt to the new order, at heart want to keep doing things the same old way. Almost certainly that's not going to work, so an exploration of the life of a man who went off in his own direction is very much in order.
That impression is correct. The people in today's newsrooms may inveigh against "conservatives," but they themselves are almost all conservative in the worst sense of the word, pathetically enamored of their glory days.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I am no fideist and I certainly believe some important truths are approachable by dialectical and argumentative means. But I doubt if reason is the decisive factor in arriving at the truth, and I do not "favor reason over experience and tradition, the universal over the particular, the global over the local, the impersonal over the personal."
Thursday, April 15, 2010
The wipers need replacing. I pull out into traffic, hear the angry bleat of a horn behind us, take a deep breath and focus on the road. Light from oncoming headlamps shatters in the tracks left by the wiper blades, a bedazzlement like sunlight on ice. After a moment I risk a sidelong glance. Patrick has settled back and closed his eyes, as though waiting for a thaw. Droplets on his hair, his face—the miracle of rain. I look back to the road. He doesn’t speak till we reach the river.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Pen of Iron makes a convincing case that it is impossible to fully appreciate American literature without knowing the King James Bible—indeed, without knowing it almost instinctively, the way generations of Americans used to know it.
What can I say? I loved this, Blue Meanie that I am.
While it is well enough to leave footprints on the sands of time, it is even more important to make sure they point in a commendable direction.- James Branch Cabell, born on this date in 1879