Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bullshit alert ...

... Did early hunters cause climate change?

When hunters arrived in North America and drove mammoths and other large mammals to extinction, the methane balance of the atmosphere could have changed as a result, triggering the global cool spell that followed.
The operative word is could.

"It is conceivable that this drop in methane contributed to the Younger Dryas cooling episode," says Smith.

The operative word is conceivable. Is this the sort of crap that science has become? The reason it's called prehistory is because there was no one at the time around capable of recording what wass going on -- lack of writing, etc. Which of course leaves it open to all sorts of speculation, including this sort. Editorial standards need to be raised. I know, I sound petulant. But this kind of stuff is really becoming tiresome. Or maybe just ts being taken seriously is.

Naughty boy ...

... Hitch 22: A memoir by Christopher Hitchens. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Uh-oh ...

... e-books are different from traditional books: Further Thoughts of a Novice E-Reader. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Overloaded ...

... Mark Sarvas on Rachel Cusk's The Bradshaw Variations. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Imagine ...

... John Lennon Poetry Competition to be judged by Poet Laureate. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

From Clive James ...

... New Poems. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Table talk ...

... Nassim at Lunch. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

See also Hopper Lives. (The Iggy Pop bit reminds me of what Dock Elllis said when asked how he could have pitched a no-hitter on acid: "Wasn't easy." And, speaking of pitchers, congratulations to Roy Halladay.)

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Tracing the downfall of a mob icon.

... An artful look inside a newspaper.

... An unsung hero of Tiananmen Square.

... Travel Bookshelf: Exploring Asia in photos, in person.

Thought for the day ...

There is no secret to success except hard work and getting something indefinable which we call 'the breaks.' In order for a writer to succeed, I suggest three things - read and write - and wait.
- Countee Cullen, born on this date in 1903

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Eulogy ...

... Dennis Hopper: the hippest American bikes off.

Memorial Day Weekend ...

We will be in and out today - I just came from produce shopping, which followed a sung Mass at St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi Church, the oldest Italian church in the country. More about that later.
Amyway, blogging will reflect the holiday irregularities.

Take that ...

... Publishing’s Not Dead: The Industry Responds to Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Screwtape would understand ...

... Spirituality Without Spirits. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Debbie and I went to see Anthony Lawton's excellent stage adaptation of C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters at the Lantern Theater last night. Highly recommended. Lawton is superb, and so is Kim Carson as his infernal assistant.

Thought for the day ...

Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.
- G.K. Chesterton, born on this date in 1874

Friday, May 28, 2010

So is the present ...

... The past is a foreign country; they write poems differently there. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The question, I suppose, is who is facing reality more honestly, those who spurn or those who embrace sentiment?

At the table ...

... of space and time: The parascience delusion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hear, hear ...

... About Stefan Zweig & Michael Hofmann- a riposte. (Via Philosophy, lit, etc.)

I recently read Zweig's book about Verlaine. I thought it wonderful.

Wait just a second ...

... DON’T SHOOT THAT MOCKINGBIRD! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lots of good stuff ...

... Martin Gardner, a 'whys' man.

... More philosophy bits (including Nick Lowe).

... Morley Callaghan interview (1977)





Verse and flowers ...

... "Twelve Poems with Flowers."

Heavy ...

... "He lies under a world's weight of incubus and nightmare," or, Literary lassitude.

The place of health ...

... "Dear Clifford's Seat": A Lost World.

Very interesting ...

... Guardian Says It Needs to Become an Open Platform. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This certainly bears watching. I hope it works.

Birthday boy ...

... Happy Birthday to Ian Fleming.

Beacon thrill ...

... On Crime & Thrillers column: Boston Noir.

Thought for the day ...

The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.
- Walker Percy, born on this date in 1916

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In case you wondered ...

... via Dave Lull:



Buzz ...

... The Metaphysics of The Fly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'm not sure about whether or not dogs (or cats) can reason. When I found my late cat Pandora, she was a kitten and I was house-sitting for a friend who was a ballet director. In the living room of his house was a large ballet mirror. One day, soon after she moved in, Pandora noticed a cat image in the mirror. She scratched at the glass with her paw, then went into the next room (the door to which was right beside the mirror) to determine if the cat she saw was in the other room. Having determined that whatever it was she was seeing was no real cat, she never looked in the mirror again. Seemed pretty reasonable to me.

Classics ...

... 50 Iconic Book Covers.

Religion.....

...and "parascientists" as per Marilynne Robinson.

On the one hand ...

... and on the other: Vetting Tariq Ramadan.

As far as Ramadan's being "ambiguous" regarding the stoning of adulteresses, in the debate with Sarkozy, he refused to condemn the practice, but did call for a "moratorium" so that Muslims could debate the matter. Would have been nice -- and far less ambiguous -- if he had let on what his position in such a debate would be. According to Bruce Bawer's Surrender, Caroline Fourest's Frere Tariq, uses Ramadan's own words to demonstrate that he is "a habitual practitioner of the Islamic art of taqiyya - whoch essentially means saying one thing in Arabic and another thing in English or French."

A model of brevity ...

... Superstition and Evolutionary Psychology. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The comments are excellent also.

Of time and a timepiece ...

... 'Ava and Hemingway' exhibit extended six months. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

The writer in full ...

... Read More Than Respected. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Some people think that all the equipment you need to discuss religion is a mouth.
- Herman Wouk, born on this date in 1915

Chuckles ...

... Jay Leno on Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The candidates speak ...

... sort of: Oxford Professor of Poetry Candidate statements. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I could never be a candidate for this position, but if I were I would submit no statement. Read the poems.

Aidan Higgins


Published in 1972, but long out of print in the United States, Aidan Higgins's Balcony of Europe is a masterpiece - a long, complex, modernist masterpiece. Never mind the reviews or the complaints regarding its form, this novel is worth the price of admission. I've just finished it - and can't say enough for its rhythmic qualities, its thoughtful insights. Nearest literary neighbors: Banville, Durrell, Djuna Barnes, and, in its attention to the expatriate life in Spain, Hemingway.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: The future of the humanities, Unfashionable Toynbee, Missing Eliot, and more!

Pretty funny ...

Hmm ...

... Committing savage satire, respecting readers and finding the odd in sex: Colin Marshall talks to Alexander Theroux, author of Laura Warholic: Or, The Sexual Intellectual. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I find the world monstrous. Just in the news, that Israel won't let eight Palestinian Fulbrights and the way the United States has cravenly rolled over and let Israel dictate whether these eight scholars, high-minded people, can't even get out of that horrible place in Gaza to come to the United States to be Fulbrights that's the kind of thing I'm attacking. That's the kind of pain I'm inflicting. That's the kind of no-punch-pulling, unsparing, pitiless, even cruel attitude that I try to launch in the book.

Sounds a tad delusional to me, given how fashionable Israel-bashing has become in certain circles, mostly the circles Theroux moves in.

Digital shift ...

... Harvard’s paper cuts. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Books for big bucks ...

... Bookshelves of the Rich and Famous.

Worth knowing about ...

... Vocabula Editing & Writing Services.

e-lit for your eBook ...

... Electronic Literature Directory.

The thin man ...

... Lisa reads: The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson.

A too consummate artist ...

... Who Was Charles Dickens?

Thought for the day ...

The illusion which exalts us is dearer to us then ten-thousand truths.
- Alexander Pushkin, born on this date in 1799

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Too busy to blog just now ...

... but here's some very nice music (God I loved Harry James when I was a little kid).

Cast your vote ...

... Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

About time ...

... Twain on Twain After a Long Silence.

Never too late ...

... for Saturday Literature Links and something else besides.

Hmm ...

... Search for a New Poetics Yields This: 'Kitty Goes Postal/Wants Pizza'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"Flarf is a hip, digital reaction to the kind of boring, genteel poetry" popular with everyday readers, says Marjorie Perloff, a poetry critic and professor emeritus of English at Stanford University. "You used to find it only in alternative spaces, but it has now moved into the art mainstream."


Professors emeriti, however, are not usually the best judges of hip.

Like to travel?

... well, here's a site you might want to bookmark: Chris Around the World.

Chris is a former colleague. I just ran into her this morning in what turned out to be an impromptu reunion of liberated Inquirer employees. I hadn't known of her website, but it sure looks neat to me.

Well worth a lsten ...

... Rad Decision with James Aach.

Hear, hear ...

... Living in denial: Questioning science isn't blasphemy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As philosopher Edward Skidelsky of the University of Exeter, UK, has argued, crying denialism is a form of ad hominem argument: "the aim is not so much to refute your opponent as to discredit his motives". The expanding deployment of the concept, he argues, threatens to reverse one of the great achievements of the Enlightenment - "the liberation of historical and scientific inquiry from dogma".

My latest column ...

... and why there wasn't one last week: You can’t think your way to truth.

Thought for the day ...

The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself.
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, born on this date in 1803

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

For Pentecost ...

... the conclusion of the first movement of Mahler's eighth symphony, whoich is a setting of the Medieval hymn "Veni Creator Spiritus." Methinks you will find the conclusion quite impressive. Rattle takes it at a pretty fast clip, and it ain't Jascha Horenstein, but it works.

Filtering ...

... Merging internet personae, and the importance of relevance. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Eulogy ...

... Martin Gardner, 1914-2010 R.I.P.

Well woth a listen ...

... Richard Rodriguez on Catholic Church Embroiled in Scandal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

From Maxine ...

... International Dagger shortlist, announced and reviewed.

See also: Book Review: The First Rule by Robert Crais.

Nige wonders ...

... Lolita - What If?

Not new ...

... but worth reading anyway: Redactor Agonistes.

Hat tip goes to Lynne Scanlon, who singles out this paragraph:

By readers, I don't mean people who pick up a book, once in a while. By readers, I mean people who when they are at work during the day think that after dinner tonight and after the kids are in bed, I'm going to read for two hours. That's what I mean. No. 2, these people do it three or four nights a week for two and half, three hours, and while they do it they don't watch television or answer the phone.'

Lynne says that's the kind of reader she is and suspects I am. Well, that's me all right. Between 8 and 11 most nights, anyway.

Over at Bryan's ...

... much that is interesting:

Henrietta Lacks.

Venter’s Bugs (in which Bryan poses a very good question: Why is it that biology brings out this anti-religious mania in people?")

Emailing Steve. (You may want to as well.)

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... John Timpane on A satisfying final part of 'Girl' trilogy.

... Yours truly A riveting whodunit from Tolkien's grandson.

... A look at the Social costs of antiterror moves.

... And A dark look at Irish political history.

Thought for the day ...

Art can only be truly art by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact in the interior life.
- Margaret Fuller, born on this date in 1810

Saturday, May 22, 2010

We're off ...

... to Salem County, N.J.

Announcing ...

...the 2010 Triple Canopy Commissions.

Two fast years ...

... The Exit Interview: Poet Laureate Kay Ryan. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Here we go again ...

... Humans: Why They Triumphed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The answer lies in a new idea, borrowed from economics, known as collective intelligence: the notion that what determines the inventiveness and rate of cultural change of a population is the amount of interaction between individuals. Even as it explains very old patterns in prehistory, this idea holds out hope that the human race will prosper mightily in the years ahead—because ideas are having sex with each other as never before.


Is it really the answer, or just a proposed answer couched in terms of a popular frame of reference?

Some poems ...

... courtesy of Rus Bowden:

Society for the Dissolution of Learning, by Angela Ball.

Sentimental Education, by Tony Hoagland.

The Scar, by Susan Wheeler.

Democracy, by Carol Ann Duffy.

MIllers, by Dan Veach.

Late with this ...

... A Poem to Die For. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Rus also sent along this: Abducted Kurdish Writer Is Found Dead in Iraq.

All proudly "transgressive" artists "speaking truth to power" take note.

Thought for the day ...

When the soul drifts uncertainly between life and the dream, between the mind's disorder and the return to cool reflection, it is in religious thought that we should seek consolation.
- Gerard de Nerval, born on this date in 1808

Friday, May 21, 2010

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: The future of the humanities, Pushkin's last, Manhattan rents, and more!

Oops!

... Yugh! There's sauce all over our post.

Winners yet again ...

... TLS Poetry Competition 2010 Winners.

Pick of the litter ...

... Top 10 UK Literature Blogs. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Turning the Page ...

... Chapter 7.

More cause for applause ...

... Winners and Finalists of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Sounds about right ...

... 41% Say Random Selection From Phone Book Would Do A Better Job Than Current Congress.

Something different ...

... Desperate science fiction author offers cash for readers. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe, who correctly describes it as "a novel approach.")

Quite a debate ...

... sparked by this: Platonism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Luckily for Plato, he was not a Platonist. He says in one of his letters that no one will ever know what his views are.

Check out this ...

... NOISE trailer.

Where we will be tomorrow ...

...an Open House at:

Ironstone Sculpture Garden
This 4.5 acre sculpture garden, with its wild grasses, trees and shrubs features works by Daniel Gantenbein, Mitsuo Kikuchi, Casey Schwarz, and David Tothero.
218 Commissioners Pike, Woodstown, NJ 08098.

More here: In rural Alloway, sculpture blooms.


Trumpets and drums, please ...

... Winners of the Moby Awards for Best and Worst Book Trailers Announced.

Thought for the day ...

And what's fascinating in The Ten Thousand Things is that although there's time, an inexorable time of the three generations of lives, actively present, but place is the time, time doesn't really have to do with simply the human experience of it.
- Robert Creeley, born on this date in 1926

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wonderful ...

... Sigrid Undset. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The best Norwegian novelist alive today, the great Torgny Lindgren, is a Catholic. Come on, Lars. Come on over to Rome. (Just kidding.)

I'm not sure, but is Bennett a convert? That could explain why he didn't know who Undset was.

I almost forgot!

Almost forgot, what a silly expression. I DID forget! Eli Horowitz and Mac Barnett, the creators of that McSweeney's book, will be at the Philadelphia Free Library on Saturday. Giving more clues, one hopes. ...

Love should be a topic ...

... I suppose: Wimbledon appoints official poet. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Overdue appreciation ...

... The Reporter Who Time Forgot.

The art of reporting remains under-appreciated. Also, the writer of that CJR headline might want to take a look at this about pronouns: They Get to Me.

In case you wondered ...

... Paradoxes of Creativity. (Via Instapundit.)

A real-life literary mystery!

Hey all. It's been a while, how are you? I've been busy but I didn't mean to stay away for quite so long. Well right now I want to tell you about this nifty thing McSweeney's is doing with its new book, The Clock Without a Face. Have you heard about it? The book itself, which is a large colorful cardboard affair the way books for small children sometimes are, is a detective story: The grand Emerald Khroniker clock has been stolen. Detective Ray Dodge figures out who did it and where the bejeweled numbers are hidden, but he keeps it to himself. In real life, twelve numbers have been buried in the ground in secret locations across the U.S. The pieces were made by jewelry designer Anna Sheffield, and anyone who can crack the clues/visual codes/anagrams/rebus puzzles/etc. to find and dig up a jewel can keep them. Gamers jumped on it before the book was even out last week. Will you play along?

Who was that masked man ...

... Masked thief steals priceless masterpieces from Paris museum.

News from the interior ...

... On being moved in your bowels. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Today we don’t share the kiss of peace, but shake hands. It seems sensible, less challenging. But it’s less free too, and perhaps it risks one of the subtle perversions of Christianity that exercised Illich. For a handshake holds the other at a distance. We can see their eyes, and so assess them. It’s a calculated greeting – not acting freely towards another, but only insofar as is appropriate. It wasn’t the greeting of the good Samaritan.

There is a merchant on Ninth Street. His name is Sol. He is, I believe, from Sierra Leone. When we meet each other, we often embrace. I call him my friend, he calls me his brother. I feel honored to know him.

A little bird tells us ...

... actually, quite a few little birds: Wild Birds Opt for Conventional Food Over Organic, Study Shows.

It will be interesting to see how widely broadcast this is.

Pro and con ...

... Everybody Draws Mohammed Day:

Bored with death threats.

Why and why not.

Opposed.

As for you and me, as Brian of Nazareth explained, we're all individuals. We can think for ourselvs.

Weird and beautiful ...

... to say nothing of Ornate, pompous, beloved. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wish I'd heard this ...

... Talking to Catholics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Characters from the past never know what is coming next. That is one of the less acknowledged reasons we like to think about them.
- Peter Stothard, Spartacus Road

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

And the winner is ...

... Troubles wins Lost Man Booker Prize. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Great writers, great writing ...

... Lisa reads: The Dark End of the Street edited by Jonathan Santlofer and S.J. Rozan.

This may break some hearts ...

... Doomsayers Beware, a Bright Future Beckons. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Both grew older ...

... one grew up: The Brothers Grim. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Larkin times three ...

... "Here".

...
"Broadcast".

...
His Plain Far-Reaching Singleness.

Turning the Page ...

... Chapter 6.

Everyday life ...

... encapsulated: Norman Rockwell: America’s Illustrator.

And you thought ..

... the science was settled: Global Cooling Is Coming -- and Beware the Big Chill, Scientist Warns.

Of course, what do you expect? It's Fox News.

Palate cleanser ...

... Lovin’ it. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Perhaps ...

... Weapons drawn, 'codgers' quartered: race to be Oxford poetry professor gets serious. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Some of the statements recorded herein don't strike me as very serious at all.

Hook and release ...

... Ron Slate on Addiction and Art, ed. by Patricia Santora, Margaret Dowell & Jack Henningfield.

Word without end ...

... What Did Jesus Do? (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

This is an extraordinarily good piece. I especially liked this:

The literary critic Frank Kermode, in “The Genesis of Secrecy” (1979), a pioneering attempt to read Mark seriously as poetic literature, made a similar point, though his is less historical than interpretative. Kermode considers Mark to be, as the French would say, a text that reads itself: the secret it contains is that its central figure is keeping a secret that we can never really get. It is an intentionally open-ended story, prematurely closed, a mystery without a single solution.

Irishman talks crime fiction ...

... Portrait of a serial thriller. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Thought for the day ...

Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.
- Lorraine Hansberry, born on this date in 1930

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Who knew?

... So Defoe Was a Latecomer? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The joy of typos ...

... Why Cry Over Split Milk? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Limning the inscrutable ...

... Graham Greene and the Holy Spirit. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Supplemental ...

In yesterday's Inquirer there was a letter to the editor from Clayton Smith, Legislative Liaison for Branch 157 of the National Association of Letter Carriers. Mr. Smith was responding to this piece of mine: A man who put his stamp on postal bargains. Naturally, because of space constraints, his letter was trimmed. His letter, as it appeared in the paper, is as follows:

Frank Wilson is correct in that the U.S. Postal Service is nearing $15 billion in borrowing ("A man who put his stamp on postal bargains," May 9). However, the Postal Service has no unfunded pension obligation; in fact, the Postal Service has $38 million in its future retirees' health fund.
Wilson tries to suggest that private mail companies are the future. But in his article he points out that Lysander Spooner, who in the 1840s started his own private company, delivered mail only in certain areas. There was no universal service.Whom do you want delivering your mail: the most trusted organization of the government, or a private company based on profit, not service? It will deliver to Wall Street, and forget about Main Street.
USPS employees know of the economic problems . But we think we should expand on a network that touches every American, instead of having a doomsday outlook.

I wrote to Mr. Smith to point out that what my article said about the unfunded pension obligation was taken from the GAO report that I referenced. He then sent me his entire letter and I asked him if I could post it here, because I think people should read his full response. He gave me permission, and here it is:

In response to Frank Wilson's fine column about Lysander Spooner(Aman who put his stamp on postal

bargains)Mr Wilson is correct in that the postal service is nearing the 15 billion in borrowing . However the postal service has no unfunded pension obligation, in fact the postal service has 38 million in future retirees health fund.

Under the 2006 postal reform the USPS has to pre fund future retirees health benefits 5.6 billion annually. Last year a last minute bill (HR 22) reduced the payment by 4 billion, this annual payment requires prefunding 80 %

of a 75 year liabiliity in 10 years. No other organization or company has this obligation. Also postal servive pay 7% annually for future health care most companies pay 5%.

Due to unfair calculations of CSRS postal payment to Treasury Department dating back to July 1, 1971(postal

reorganizationact). A OIG report has stated the USPS overpaid the CSRS account by 75 billion.
A fix of either one of these issues and the postal service would be in the black. Mr Wilson quotes Mr. Spooner

that no man shall be taxed to carry civilization to him.

The postal service is off budget and all liabilities are paid by postage.

Mr Wilson seems to make a point that private mail companies are the future. But in the article he makes a reference that would be the reason this is not a good idea. Mr Spooner started his private company only delivery

in certain areas (no universal service).

Who do you want delivering your mail ?

Your USPS letter carrier the most trusted organization of the government or a private company who will work on profit not service, deliver Wall Street and forget about Main Street.

USPS employees know of the economic problems. But we think we should expand on a network that touches every American, instead of looking at a doomsday outlook, already the 238 billion 10 year short fall outlook has been flawed.

Bryan on a roll ...

... Andrew Sullivan and Death. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) (See also Montaigne, philosopher of life, part 2: Learning not to be afraid.)

And don't miss .

I think philosophy is looked to as a preparation for death by those who, like Cicero or Montaigne, have a fear of death. The few times I have found myself in a potentially life-threatening situation I have been too busy trying to deal with the situation to spend any time at all thinking about death. I suppose if I were lying in bed ill, knowing the end was near, I would feel differently. But fear tends to hit me after the fact. Yesterday, I was crossing a busy intersection -- against the light, I admit, but the only cars coming were quite distant. One car, though, I could tell was moving quite fast, fast enough to speed right by me just as walked out the lane it was in. The driver never slowed down a bit. I realized he may have been yammering on his cell phone - against the law, but still done - or otherwise engaged and driving more or less automatically. Or maybe he was madman or somehow enraged over something and didn't give a damn if he hit someone or not. Anyway, as I stepped onto the sidewalk a slight frisson of fear ran paid me a visit.

Coming up short ...

... on the renewal: Bricks and Mortals. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I would prefer a Renaissance ...

... Richard Sennett on the new reformation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Had there been no Reformation, there would have been no Counter-Reformation. I have often thought the Church and the world might be better for that. The Church would certainly have developed in a less reactive and defensive way.

Books that help you ...

... get out of bed, at least if, for you, it is given that there is no God (we all know nobody gets out of here alive): All Great Works of Literature Either Dissolve a Genre or Invent One: A Reading List.

I suppose no great books merely exemplify a genre. And just how many genres have been invented by now? To be honest, if I needed a book to get me out of bed in the morning ,I'd seriously wonder if it was worth ever getting out of bed again. The house finch singing outside my window this morning was enough for me today.

Something I managed to miss ...

... A multifaceted celebration of Mark Twain.

Check this out as well.

Local reminder ...

... May 22nd- Todd and Sahms-Guarnieri in Fox Chase.

Check them out ...

... It’s Official! We Have Finalists!

I'm rooting for Andrew Ervin in the first category. He's a friend and used to review for me. He always does good work. Here's the video:

In short ...

... Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Poetic & Philosophical Aphorisms. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

All seem interesting, many are obviously debatable, but no less interesting for that. A sample:

Hatred is much harder to fake than love. You hear of fake love; never of fake hate.
This is a kind of corollary to Jacques Brel's explanation of why he never wrote love songs - that love can be faked, but tenderness cannot.

The spirit of George Eliot ...

... D.G. Myers writes In Praise of Prose.

The topical subject matter and contemporary habitats of Prose’s later work have confused many critics, who continually stumble into the error of describing it as “satirical.” Michiko Kakutani started the habit of getting it wrong, remarking in the New York Times that Primitive People “veers sharply between sentiment and satire.” Little in Prose, though, is the stuff of satire, and there is even less sentiment.

Thought for the day ...

Writing isn't hard. It isn't any harder than ditch-digging.
- Patrick Dennis, born on this date in 1921

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Matriarch of Modernism

I don't often read collections of letters, but I did jump at the opportunity recently to purchase those of Sylvia Beach, which have been published by Columbia University Press. Here's a link to the book (which, so far, is great).

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Second in a new series from Walter Mosley.

... A wife makes her own life.

... Hill's gorgeous, stately, allusive verse.

Thought for the day ...

It behoves thee to love God wisely; and that may thou not do but if thou be wise.
- Richard Rolle (1290-1349)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Learning to be free ....

... Why Liberal Education Matters.

The true aim of the humanities is to prepare citizens for exercising their freedom responsibly.


The aim of such an education is to prepare one for leading a fully human life, and such a life is not possible unless one is free

Chronicles of neglect ...

.... “Good Books That Almost Nobody Has Read” and “More About Neglected Books,” from The New Republic magazine, 1934. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Checking it twice ...

... He's Got a Little List. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And yes, All My Sons is better than Death of a Salesman.

Thought for the day ...

Tolerance means excusing the mistakes others make.Tact means not noticing them.
- Arthur Schnitzler, born on this date in 1863

Friday, May 14, 2010

Neuroscience ...

... and Arts Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I should think the most obvious justification for arts education would be the glories of art. What Posner and Patoine provide seems less a justification of art than a justification of neuroscience by attaching it parasitically to art.

Turning the Page ...

... Chapter 5.

On the road ...

Debbie and I are about to head out to Brooklyn. Blogging will resume later in some fashion.

Trio ...

... Muses, Madmen, and Prophets - A Review.

Lovely ...

... Spring.

Impressive debut ...

... Major Pettigrew's Last Stand--Helen Simonson.

Securing sleep ...

... and more (or maybe less): No Escape, Part Five: "Some Unhaunted Desert".

And the winners are ...

... The Society of Midland Authors: 2010 Awards for Books Published in 2009. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tinctured ...

... `He Recorded It Beautifully'.

I like this: "Dahlberg’s refreshing refusal to demarcate a writer’s life and work will infuriate born-again New Critics, but so be it. Common readers have no such scruples."

I found Dahlberg off-putting when I read him in college. Will have to take another look.

Tangled web ...

... 6,300 Dupes Want to Know: Why'd You Lie? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm ...

... Is Wisdom Wired in Us? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

... wisdom may come from just the right balance between our more primitive brain regions and our more recently developed brain functions like the pre-frontal cortex.

Sounds pretty reductive to me, the sort of the thing a genuinely wise person might just be skeptical of.

Starting Monday ...

... Week of Writing 2010 Schedule.

Thought for the day ...

We get more dangerous as we accumulate knowledge, and that's both a sadness and something to control, try to learn to live with, make terms with.
- Lou Harrison, born on this date in 1917



Thursday, May 13, 2010

It couldn't have gone that wrong ...

... What went wrong for T. S. Eliot.

Always a pleasure ...

... A quiet night in with a book.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: The future of the humanities, Mistreating Locke, Copy-editors, and more!

A person on the verge ...

... of discovery regarding the bien-pensant mindset: Deep prejudice about the deep south.

Meet the author ...

... Interview with Lee Konstantinou.

Back to the drawing board ...

... Happiness: The Failure of a New Science. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Noir Classic Reissued

Nightmare Alley is back in print.

Worth watching ...

... inafj: the movement.

It will be interesting to see if this goes anywhere, and if it does how long it takes the official media to notice, and what form their notice takes.

A passing thought ...

Actio sequitur esse is a sound axiom: Action follows from being. But it is a purely quantitative indicator. It says nothing about the quality of being. That, presumably, would derive from the quality of the action. Routine, reflexive action necessarily diminishes the quality of being. It is what Eliot calls "distraction from distraction by distraction."

Thought for the day ...

Oh, this terrible second me, always seated whilst the other is on foot, acting, living, suffering, bestirring itself. This second me that I have never been able to intoxicate, to make shed tears, or put to sleep. And how it sees into things, and how it mocks!
- Alphonse Daudet, born on this date in 1840

Indeed ...

... HEADLINE OF THE DAY.

Friendship ...

... Roger Deakin remembered. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Graphic Bond ...

... On crime & thrillers: Ian Fleming and the James Bond Omnibus.

Happy first birthday ...

... to The Critical Flame.

Mark your calendar ...

... Updike Conference Keynote Speakers Announced. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Together at last ...

... Poetry and Medicine.

A pause to refresh ...

... and I don't mean Coke.

I was working this morning on my column for next week. I thought of writing something about Krishnamurti, who, as this indicated, was born on this date in 1895. But in thinking about some of the things Krishnamurti had to say, I realize that his key point, perhaps, is simply that we cannot arrive at the truth by thinking about it. In a lecture in Bombay in 1948, he said that "in the interval between two thoughts, is creative joy." In order to write this I must engage in thought and what I write is a record of that thought. That thought, however, though it may be "about" the world and life is not the same as the world in life. Indeed, there is no way of knowing for sure if that thought on the one hand and the world and life on the other have anything at all in common.
This is something I feel I have to work through - and not just think about. I am not even sure how one goes about doing that, though I may have had some sense of it lately when I have been absorbed in doing things - working in the garden or cooking. These have seemed to me simply more vital than anything I have thought or written - and most of what I have read.
Here is something else from Krishnamurti: "Truth cannot be invited. It must come to you. To search for truth is to deny truth. It comes into being when you are open, when you are completely without any barrier, when the mind is no longer creating. It comes into being when the mind is still."
The upshot is that posting here over the next few days will be sporadic at best. Surely someone who has reached my age ought to be concerned principally with being authentic - though those are only words expressing only thoughts, precisely what it seem one must get beyond.

Turning the Page ...

... Chapter 4.

But do think ...

... and get your facts straight: Believe It or Not. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


For Nietzsche, “scientism”—the belief that the modern scientific method is the only avenue of truth, one capable of providing moral truth or moral meaning—is the worst dogmatism yet, and the most pathetic of all metaphysical nostalgias. And it is, in his view, precisely men like the New Atheists, clinging as they do to those tenuous vestiges of Christian morality that they have absurdly denominated “humanism,” who shelter themselves in caves and venerate shadows. As they do not understand the past, or the nature of the spiritual revolution that has come and now gone for Western humanity, so they cannot begin to understand the peril of the future.

Gravity error ...

... For 99 Years, Oxford English Dictionary Got It Wrong. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Showdown ...

... Jung Confronts His Demons. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'm presuming this is the same show that was at the Rubin Museum in Manhattan that Debbie and I saw. Also I think there's a typo in this article: Septem Sermones ad Mortuos translates as Seven Sermons to the Dead. They're appended to one of the books of his that I read years ago (maybe Memories, Dreams, Reflections).
I am reading The Red Book. It is unquestionably fascinating.

Leave the horses out of it ...

... Wild horses vs. Mick Jagger.

Thought for the day ...

A consistent thinker is a thoughtless person, because he conforms to a pattern; he repeats phrases and thinks in a groove.
- J. Krishnamurti, born on this date in 1895

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Father of us all ...

... Robert Hass: On Whitman's 'Song Of Myself'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For your listening pleasure ...

... and I'm not kidding. The next time someone complains about contemporary classical music, send them this. I had the honor once of interviewing Lou Harrison. I learned a lot of lasting lessons from that chat, some of which I am only now coming to appreciate.

Slow revelation ...

... Lisa reads: Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

Updated list ...

... Literary Podcasts. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Noble catastrophe ...

... Another Kind of Atheism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The post links to this interview with Woody Allen, which I think is fascinating: Whatever Works.

I have recently had moments of the sort of terror Allen speaks of, which is somewhat odd, because the possibility that life may be meaningless has never especially bothered me. If I knew for sure that were so, I wouldn't be happy about it, but I coul live with it. But, as it happens, faith for me has always been just what felt right. And that is what has enabled me, as Newman put it, to bear doubt. But lately, at times, the doubt has been nearly unbearable. My reaction has been to stare as hard as I can at the darkness. So far, always, a sense of affirmation has arisen in me, feeble perhaps, but no less real for that.

RIP ...

... Frank Frazetta, Illustrator, Dies at 82; Helped Define Comic Book Heroes.

See also: A warrior's farewell.

Talking about ...

... Why Translation Matters.

From the sidelines ...

... Ron Slate on The Dragonfly, selected poems 1953-1981 by Amelia Rosselli, tr. by Giuseppe Leporace and Deborah Woodard.

Renting to learn ...

... Alain de Botton commissions holiday homes to promote modernist architecture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"You are more than just sleeping there – you are looking around and learning about modern architecture."
But why would one want spend one's vacation doing that?

... a tar-black house with a concrete and timber interior on the shingle beach of Dungeness in Kent, which will be near the home of the late film-maker Derek Jarman.
What does the location of Derek Jarman's house got to do with this?

... the award-winning Swiss minimalist Peter Zumthor, whose buildings are said to echo, in architectural terms, the writings of Martin Heidegger, the German philosopher.

Hard to imagine how a building could echo Sein und Zeit, though the thought brings to mind a somewhat notorious headline I once wrote: Dasein for living. (I also think it safe to presume that Emmanuel Faye won't be vacationing at this place.)

And the winner is ...

... 'Days' author Robison wins short story prize in NY. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My latest column ...

... The truly religious man and tragedy.

Thought for the day ...

Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
- Basho

Monday, May 10, 2010

Help wanted ...

... Can you help me with my Euro Crime and Petrona reading queues?

What more could you want?

... Limericks, Lear and Nonsense.

Follow-up ...

... More About "Man is the Murderer of God".

Mean Martin again ...

... Heidegger: Nazi Philosopher or Nazi Philosophy?

Heidegger undoubtedly inspires violent passions: he was a National Socialist, and what's worse, he never admitted he was wrong about his political alignment. But according to Michael Dummett, the great logician Gottlob Frege was an anti-Semite. (Dummett says this in either the preface or the introduction to Frege: The Philosophy of Language. ) Now will you ignore Frege's seminal teachings because of his alleged anti-Semitism? That would be senseless. And let's not forget that the later Jean-Paul Sartre was not just a Commie, but a Stalinist. Should Critique of Dialectical Reason be dismissed as hate speech? Should we deny Sartre the title 'philosopher' and re-classify him as a Commie ideologue? Of course not. And please no double standard. Why is being a Nazi worse than being a Stalinist? Why is murdering people because of their ethnic affiliation worse than murdering people because of their class affiliation?

Trust the story ...

... The Two Raymond Carvers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Remembering Lena ...

... Lena Horne Gave Her All To Her Songs.

Space ...

... Seeing Stars by Simon Armitage. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Some things to check out ...

... Recently Read.

Mark your calendar ...

... for Noise.

Also at the Library ...

... tomorrow night: John F. Timoney. A lot more here from Paul Davis: John Timoney's Beat Cop to Top Cop: A Tale of Three Cities.

Philly book scene ...

... Local Area Events.

Colonizing a mind ...

... Notes on Crane’s Style #2: “The Red Badge of Courage”. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Couplets and coupling ...

... Unceded.

Meet the litbloggers ...

... Conversations With Literary Websites: The Millions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More sad news ...

... Lena Horne, Singer and Actress, Dies at 92. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In brief ...

... A Haikette in Celebration of Whatever It Was that Happened Last Night.

In case you wondered ...

... Once a prince of the city: former NYPD detective and crime writer Robert Leuci on why good cops go bad.

For your listening pleasure ...

... Hate Mail Dramatic Reading Project #9.

Gauging the educable ...

... Albert Jay Nock: Who Can Be Educated? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"He was deeply anti-statist but by no means an anarchist." Actually, in his essay "A Little Conserva-tive," Nock says: "when occasion required that I should label myself with reference to particular social theories or doctrines ... decent respect for accuracy led me to describe myself as an anarchist, an individualist, and a single-taxer." I also suspect that Nock would have regarded those "aristoi" that Jefferson refers to as precisely those most inclined to govern least.

This week ...

... at FiveChapters: Claire In Africa.

Turning the Page ...

... Chapter 3.

Thought for the day ...

Whatever variety evolution brings forth ... Every new dimension of world-response ... means another modality for God's trying out his hidden essence and discovering himself through the surprises of world-adventure ....
- Hans Jonas , born on this date in 1903

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Back later ...

... today is Mother's Day and I am taking Debbie out to a concert brunch. Then we have out usual Sunday dinner party. Carpe diem!

Ole!

... More sketches of Spain: P.J. Brooke on Spanish crime fiction, Part II.

Sad news ...

... Nina King, editor of Washington Post's Book World, dies at 68. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Decline and fall ...

... Anthony Daniels opens his diary. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

... London is still the best city in the world for exhibitions. One of those that I went to was that of the work of Paul Sandby, at the Royal Academy. I was astonished at the picture of Nottingham Market Square in the 1740s: a grand, elegant and even magnificent urban space. How did they do it without town planners? Go to Nottingham now and it is like having your retinas scoured by wire wool.

Bryan times two ...

... Fiennes-Dome.

Indeed ...

... Bad science, bad theology, and blasphemy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

... to insert God into the causal chain is a category mistake and, in fact, technically a blasphemy. It implies that God is one more thing along with all the other things in the universe. You're not dealing with divinity there, but an idol.

Mark's conclusion echoes my own view that the problem with ID theory is its notion of God as some everlasting Edison puttering about in his celestial laboratory tinkering with the wombats.

Related thoughts here.

Yours truly ...

... offers some context: A man who put his stamp on postal bargains.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Dissecting the global meltdown.

... The rejected record-breaker.

... Pondering Christianity before Jesus and into the future.

Thought for the day ...

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.
- J.M. Barrie, born on this date in 1860

Happy Mother's Day!