Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lovely ....

... Dana Gioia recently sent me some recordings of Lauridsen's music. So I thought I would post something so that others could share in my pleasure.

My latest column ...

... The full impact of life’s unimaginable beauty and wonder.

Busy, busy, busy ...

I won't be blogging again until later today. I have an article to finish and some appointments to keep.

Thought for the day ...

A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, born on this date in 1900

(I posted this yesterday incorrectly. For some reason I thought yesterday was the 29th.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Thought for the day ...

When the characters are really alive before their author, the latter does nothing but follow them in their action, in their words, in the situations which they suggest to him.
- Luigi Pirandello, born on this date in 1867

Conversion story ...

... The kitten killers and how a dog guy came to adopt a feral kitten.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Seasoned authors ...

... You're never too old to start writing. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

I'm beginning to hope you're never too old to stop.

No holds barred ...

... The Feuding Fathers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wise words ...

... A dangerous seduction. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

... the mistake is to collapse the diversity which springs from that desire into one undifferentiated whole. And there's at least two reasons for that. One is that human experiences are inevitably particular. My experiences are conditioned by my context. Yours by yours. The differences should not be minimised – consumed, say, by some high expression of benevolence. Rather, they should be maximised – sorted and sifted. This is because our growth as individuals lies in discerning our experiences, and that means keeping them sharp, not dissolving them in some soggy universal.

All faiths may have something in common -- in fact, I'm sure they -- but that does not mean they are a common faith.

Not such a bad guy ...

... once you get to know him: In search of the real Philip Larkin. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

The charges of misogyny ... are about to start looking a whole lot more flimsy. In the autumn, Faber will publish Larkin's correspondence to Monica Jones, a selection of the surviving 7,500 pages of letters and cards he wrote to her between 1946, when they first met, and 1985, the year of his death. (Monica lived in Leicester, where she taught English at the university; she only began sharing Larkin's home shortly before he died.) These letters, discovered after her death, are highly personal and, being so great in number, they chronicle Larkin's feelings more intimately than anything we have read before. Like the Selected Letters, they catch his wit, and his abiding sadness. But they also reveal Larkin's deep love and admiration for a woman who was clever, eccentric, loud, unusual, flamboyant, opinionated and strong. In my experience, misogynists tend not to go a bundle for women with minds of their own.

FYI ...

... 5 Ridiculous Gun Myths Everyone Believes (Thanks to Movies).

Well, I once watched someone empty a mere .22 automatic with silencer attached into a woodpile in a living room (I will say no more). Trust me: Silent it ain't.

My, my ...

... quite a discussion attached to this post: Time to stop pretending ...

Feel free to join in.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Paul Davis reviews Janet Evanovich: Plum's on trail again, and cows run in Trenton.

... 'Contested Will' proves Shakespeare wrote it all.

... Dying and recalling a wartime girlhood.

... A murky critique of Darwin.

... and Katie reviews Justin Cronin: In 'The Passage,' a military killing machine pursues humankind.

Thought for the day ...

Anarchism is the great liberator of man from the phantoms that have held him captive; it is the arbiter and pacifier of the two forces for individual and social harmony.
- Emma Goldman, born on this date in 1869

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Something for everyone ...

... BOOK REVIEW: 'Mad World'. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Hermetic exercises ...

... Too Complicated for Words. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I once spent three weeks listening again and again to Elliott Carter's complete string quartets (he has since, I think, written some more). I wanted to give a fair and thorough hearing. I will never bother listening to them again. I think they are utterly sterile. On the other hand, I love Bartok's quartets, some of which on first hearing sound difficult, but in a relatively short time become quite clear.

Chamber art ...

... Earliest known images of apostles discovered under Rome streets.

Thought for the day ...

I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.
- Pearl Buck, born on this date in 1892

Friday, June 25, 2010

Behind-the-scenes ...

... Conversation: Archive Offers Revealing Look at John Updike. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Iron Curtain noir ...

... and really noir it is: For When: The reds want you dead.

Time to stop pretending ...

... What 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Isn't. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Judging by the comments, Allen's is minority view. I have no dog in this fight. Never read the book. Never saw the movie.

Comparison shopping ...

... If You Love Newspapers, Let Them Go. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

The trouble with experts (cont'd.) ...

... The Openness Elixir.

As Robert Boyle, one of the founding fathers of modern science, recognized, experimental error is part of the slow advance toward any scientific truth; you can't have trial without error.

Tell that to those scientists who insist that "the science is settled."

Also born on this date ...

... Gustave Charpentier.

Thought for the day ...

There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.
- George Orwell, born on this date in 1903

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A fool for Christ ....

... Manute Bol's Radical Christianity.

Bol reportedly gave most of his fortune, estimated at $6 million, to aid Sudanese refugees. As one twitter feed aptly put it: "Most NBA cats go broke on cars, jewelry & groupies. Manute Bol went broke building hospitals."

Lincoln the poet ...

... Firmness in the Write. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Game of choice ...

... On crime & thrillers: Dead Man’s Hand, Crime Fiction at the Poker Table.

Ouch ...

... Self-satisfied science. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Very strange ...

... The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is (Part 4). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Trying to make sense ...

... of the chaos of life: Conan Doyle and the creeping man. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On the other hand ...

... The Naked Novelist and the Dead Reputation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Until he is forgotten, Mailer should be remembered not only in a fool’s cap and bells but also in a scoundrel’s midnight black. For in an age crawling with intellectual folly, he was one of the reigning dunces, even his best works were shot through with adolescent fatuities, while the worst of his words and deeds were stupid and vicious without bottom. One is torn between wishing that his memory would disappear immediately and wanting his remains to hang at the crossroads as a lasting reminder to others.

Hmm ...

... Jim Thompson was no genius. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

He may not have been a genius, but he does seem to have been pretty good.

At Elective Affinities ...

... Paul Siegell.

Thought for the day ...

A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in the students.
- John Ciardi, born on this date in 1916

Thought for the day ...

A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in the students.
- John Ciardi, born on this date in 1916

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Correspondences ...

... Kindling Faulkner: The Fiction of Scott Turow. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Filling in the gaps ...

... Lisa reads: Angel and Apostle by Deborah Noyes.

Hawthorne is another those writers whose stories, I think, are better than his novels. Lisa should take another look at "Young GoodmanBrown," "The Great Stone Face," or "The Maypole of Merrymount." She may find herself less of a Hawthorne-hater.

Scolding the scolds ...

... Nestle Barge to Ply the Amazon, Bringing Ice Cream and Rage.

If there are people out there so backwards to still be subsisting on food found in nature, Big Food will find them, by land or by sea, and set them straight.
Yeah, which reminds me of Mencken's definition of puritanism: "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time." As McArdle notes, " 'subsisting' in they key word in that quote. People want more than subsistence--they want variety, and pleasure, and novelty."

Thought for the day ...

To say yes, you have to sweat and roll up your sleeves and plunge both hands into life up to the elbows. It is easy to say no, even if saying no means death.
- Jean Anouilh, born on this date in 1910

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

RIP ...

... Lord Quinton. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Epiphany ...

... Thrilled To Death: Feeling 'The Power And The Glory'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Some cool videos ...

... Albert Huffstickler: "Holy Secrets" and "Having Dinner with Henry Miller".

Feel free to join in ...

... Updike at Work: A Conversation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dave also sends:

John Updike’s Archive: A Great Writer at Work.

Literary Ore of Updike, Do-It-Yourself Man of Letters.

The Roommates: Updike and Christopher Lasch
.

And this: Writing is Rewriting.

For collectors ...

... Luxurious Leather-bound Books from the Franklin Library.

For Gwen ...

... who will need no explanation.

A reminder ...

... June 26th- Rutkowski and Quatroche in Fox Chase.

Thought for the day ...

Truly the universe is full of ghosts, not sheeted churchyard spectres, but the inextinguishable elements of individual life, which having once been, can never die, though they blend and change, and change again for ever.
- H. Rider Haggard, born on this date in 1856

Monday, June 21, 2010

And here he is ...

... himself, singing one of the great songs.

More Ray Davies ...

... have I mentioned that I think the Kinks are the great rock band? Also Muswell Hillbillies is one of the best albums.

Light blogging continues ...

Blogging was light and spotty for the past week because I had quite a few odds and ends to deal with, such as arranging a shipment of books from The Inquirer to the Philadelphia Prison system. This week the books go Family Court.
Today blogging will be light because Debbie just took off to visit her sister down the shore, as we say in these parts, and I am feeling indolent. So I plan to mostly lie about, listen to music, maybe watch a flick. There's also a little something I want to write that is, for me, rather off the beaten track

Philly book scene ...

... Local Area Events.

A fresh look ...

... Casino Royale Revisited: The Film that Offered a New Beginning for Ian Fleming and the James Bond Phenomenon.

In Praise of Older Women


Penguin's recent reissuing of Stephen Vizinczey's classic In Praise of Older Women (1965) has generated a number of interesting - and largely positive - reviews. I've just finished the book and found it, well, I found it fun. Vizinczey writes in a clear, refreshing style, addressing sexuality via short, insightful sketches. And while the novel is not in the same league as Tropic, for instance, or Durrell's Black Book, it does offer a distinct vision of the erotic, casting it as the product of lust, deception, and, at last, regret. For more on this wonderful (and wonderfully short) novel, check out a piece in The Globe and Mail.

In this corner ...

... Walking the tightrope between translation and interpretation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Happy birthday ...

... to Ray Davies, born on this date in 1944.

Thought for the day ...

After Proust, there are certain things that simply cannot be done again. He marks off for you the boundaries of your talent.
- Françoise Sagan, born on this date in 1935

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Prose form a poet of praise ...

... Ron Slate on First Loves and Other Adventures, essays by Grace Schulman.

Very sad news ...

... Allen Hoey Passes On.

Secret harmonies ...

... Music of the sun recorded by scientists.

Hear, hear ...

... Back Channels: Boldly confronting the problems of Islam.

Turns of phrase ...

... Studying tlhIngan Hol and other odd tongues.

Not so up-to-date ...

... 21st century enlightenment? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

... I don't buy the notion that contemporary science is throwing up all kinds of new insights into what it is to be human. Some say, it's that we now realise that our capacity for reason also depends upon our emotions. Have they never read Plato or Aristotle, for whom that was taken as read? Others say, we now know that we're not very good at choosing what makes us happy. Now know? Isn't that the assumption of pretty much any and every pre-Enlightenment thinker of note, to saying nothing of many since, like Freud?

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... yours truly reviews Marisa Silver's latest: Skillful stories would be better if they let a little sunshine in.

Also:

Confession of an Eagles addict.

School-reform lessons from Phila.

Looking at the senators for full look at the Senate.



Thought for the day ...

Life inspires more dread than death - it is life which is the great unknown.
- E. M. Cioran, who died on this date in 1995

Saturday, June 19, 2010

On Tolstoy, Napoleon, and 19th Century History

From the New York Times...

Forget the clock ...

... look at the clouds: Breaking Things Down to Particles Blinds Scientists to Big Picture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Time and time again, an experimental gadget gets introduced — it doesn’t matter if it’s a supercollider or a gene chip or an fMRI machine — and we’re told it will allow us to glimpse the underlying logic of everything. But the tool always disappoints, doesn’t it? We soon realize that those pretty pictures are incomplete and that we can’t reduce our complex subject to a few colorful spots. So here’s a pitch: Scientists should learn to expect this cycle — to anticipate that the universe is always more networked and complicated than reductionist approaches can reveal.

And the winner is ...

... Geoffrey Hill triumphs as Professor of Poetry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.
- Blaise Pascal, born on this date in 1623

RIP ...

... Nobel-winning Portuguese novelist Saramago dies. (Hat tip, Hedgie.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Coffin concertina ...

... Anne Carson's Nox by the river.

The latest batch ...

... of TLS Letters: The Rule of Law, Sporty Churchill, Mithraism, and more!

Quartet ...

... Ron Slate on Four New Poetry Anthologies.

Online now ...

... the latest Poetica.

More goofy notions ...

... Feeling the Heat: The Brain Holds Clues for Journalism.

Our ancestors became our ancestors by being able to spot danger and the opportunity to mate. So it was inevitable that as competition for attention exploded with the revolutionary information technologies of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, message senders raised the emotional volume.

I think the relation between these two sentences is logically tenuous at best.
And let's not unnecessarily complicate matters, Jack. Those "revolutionary information technologies" simply made the range and number of choices vastly larger. Check out those bloody Jacobean dramas sometime. That was a pretty low-tech period. People were still writing with quills. Sophocles, Middleton, and "Monk" Lewis all knew what we all know: sex and violence sell. So what?
The fact is, given the wider range of choices, many are finding better sources of accurate information than what newspapers provide. For example.

"The challenge is to induce people to want what they need." I'll make up my own mind as to what I need.

Bizarre ...

... Children believe that what they see on the screen has actually happened — to them?

I'm not in favor of letting kids see porn, either, but Dr. Cooper's assertion flies in the face of experience. Can anyone ever remember confusing what they saw in a movie with reality?

Something to look forward to ...

... I hope: HBO Plans to Make a Film about Ernest Hemingway and his Wife Martha Gelhorn, Starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman.

Good idea ..

... NH professor pushes for return to slow reading. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I am a lifelong slow reader.

Upping the ante ...

... Psychobabble and the Real Perps. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The psychology of the real me is surprisingly similar to belief in possession by evil spirits.

It also has a good deal in common with Rousseau's "noble savage."

Thought for the day ...

Originality consists in trying to be like everybody else and failing.
- Raymond Radiguet, born on this date in 1903

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reading and geography ...

... Literary Towns.

You can start worrying less ...

... Evaluating risk and the Maytag dishwasher recall.

I would be willing to bet that if all 1.7 million owners turned off the circuit breakers as instructed by the recall, since a very large number of those people (some elderly) would have to go up and down stairs in order to do that (in some cases multiple times, since many do not have properly labeled circuit breakers), there would be a much greater chance of someone being injured from falling on the stairs than there would be from a dishwasher fire that could result if no one shut off the circuit breaker.

My latest column ...

... Patterns and forms are real.

Not so curious, really ...

... Exile in Dogpatch. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament.
- Evelyn Underhill, who died on this date in 1941

Monday, June 14, 2010

Evidently not ...

... A new solution to the problem of evil? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mark is too kind. To call this paper bird-brained would be an insult to birds.

Philly book scene ...

... Local Area Events.

This week ...

... at Five Chapters: Theory On The Origins Of Time.

Thought for the day ...

The truth is that we live out our lives putting off all that can be put off; perhaps we all know deep down that we are immortal and that sooner or later all men will do and know all things.
- Jorge Luis Borges, who died on this date in 1986

A Conversation with Natalie Merchant



The panel recording is broken into four parts. Continuations can be found at the following links:

Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gjJpJ42rdc
Part Three: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P3CiTL7khA
Part Four: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zlo4mtgmlws

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Worth remembering ....

... The Children Shall Enter.

An Encounter with Russell Goings




There are four parts to the interview; in the interest of blog real estate, I have not embedded each, but you'll find the continuations here:

Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_ZiWGSnDhg
Part Three: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn3T795AVkQ
Part Four: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGYZrpm81F4

WCU ....

The 16th annual West Chester University Poetry Conference concluded last night with a roast of retiring director Mike Peich (who knew David Mason had such skills as a rapper or that David Yezzi could easily get work in a comedy club?).
The more serious conclusion took place between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., when Natalie Merchant turned in a very fine concert of songs from her new album Leave Your Sleep. Laura has video of the conservation Mike and Dana Gioia had with Natalie yesterday afternoon, and also video of an encounter -- there is no beter word -- with Russell Goings about Russ's epic griotsong, The Children of Children Keep Coming.
It will all be posted in good time.

Online now ...

.... The Quarterly Conversation: Issue 20 Summer 2010.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... The Phils in photos, a winner for fans.

... At center of 20th century's storms.

... Journey to, and from, the past.

... A memoir of real estate ambitions.

... Turgid tale of a roly-poly Romeo.

... A look at society through the lens of the music biz.

Thought for the day ...

Paradoxical as it may seem, to believe in youth is to look backward; to look forward we must believe in age.
- Dorothy L Sayers, born on this date in 1893

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Wendy Cope, OBE ...

... not long after yesterday's interview, I learned -- and I think Wendy did around the same time -- that she had been named an OBE: MBEs for Hampshire's Geoff Holt and Fred Dinenage.

Update: Wendy told me later on that she had actually known about for a month but was not permitted to say anything until it was formally announced.

On target ....

... Darts, 1965 by Daniel Hoffman, who is here at the conference.

Thought for the day ...

Time is a great conference planning our end, and youth is only the past putting a leg forward.
- Djuna Barnes, born on this date in 1892

Idiot proves ....

... incapable of distinguishing between means and ends, prefers procedure for its own sake: Raft guide arrested after helping stranded rafter on Clear Creek.

Friday, June 11, 2010

More from the Poetry Conference ...




This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: Disintegrating Shakespeare, A cold coming, Lesley Blanch, and more!

A poem

Visitors

Near his bed at dawn ghosts
Gathered to point and stare,
Never to speak, vanishing
Upon the flare of sunlight.
He did not seek to understand
Their pantomime, though wondered
At their silence, their reliance
On glance and gesture. They signaled
No menace, only wistfulness,
As though unclear who was
Present, who absent.

© 2010 F. Wilson

Still a mystery ...

... if not just anybody's guess: How the Greeks met their gods.

Oh, no ...

... The hyperlink war. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hyperlinks are an electronic version of footnotes. As such they should be used sparingly -- mostly to let the reader look for himself at a source the writer has cited.

Party time ...

... Mary Beard throws a fig.

Cautionary tale ...

... June Cleaving. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Because you cannot see him, God is everywhere.
- Yasunari Kawabata, born on this date in 1899

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The student becomes the teacher...

...at a WCU Poetry Conference first: former conference attendee, now accomplished poet Rhina Espaillat delivers the keynote reading on Wednesday, June 10.


Part One: Dana Gioia introduces Rhina Espaillat




Part Two: Rhina Espaillat considers the "Yenta"




Part Three: Rhina Espaillat reads selected poems





For the complete and higher quality audio recording of readings, check out http://www.wcupa.edu/poetry in a few weeks, when an audio podcast will be posted. Last year's readings are currently available.

He should know ...

... On crime & thrillers: a tale of crime fighting in three cities by America’s top cop, John Timoney.

Kicking off...

... the 16th Annual West Chester University Poetry Conference:




Stay tuned for readings and interviews.

Who cares?

... How Old Can a ‘Young Writer’ Be? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As the article itself demonstrates, some get out the gate, others not so soon. I did seem to me years ago that John Updike remained fixed as a "young" author longer than was reasonable.

Odd coupling ...

... Philosophy and soccer: Postulates Of the Pitch.

Camus played soccer, and was pretty good. ""Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men," he wrote, "I owe it to football." Camus also wrote one of the best boxing essays I have ever read. But he was more of an ordinary guy than most philosophers.

The art of autobiography ...

... Speak Again, Memory. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Learn'd astronomer ...

... to the rescue: Forensic astronomer solves Walt Whitman mystery.

... we've got one of America's greatest landscape artists, Frederic Church, watching the meteor from Catskill, and we've got one of America's greatest poets, Walt Whitman, watching the meteor from New York City.

No maniac she ...

... Lullabies from Natalie Merchant.

She will be performing songs from Leave Your Sleep on Saturday at the West Chester Poetry Conference (for registered attendees only), and returns to Philadelphia on July 20 for a full-band concert at the Merriam Theater.

Also at the conference:
4:30-5:30 pm

PANEL 14: Conversation with Natalie Merchant

Michael Peich

Dana Gioia

Free tuition ...

... His Writers' Workshop? A Prison Cell. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Include her out ...

... Oxford poetry professor candidate withdraws as controversy erupts again. (Hat tips to Dave Lull and Rus Bowden.)

My thanks ...

... to Laura Mikowychok, who did the video of the WCU Poetry Conference. Like everything Laura does, it is excellent.

Thought for the day ...

I have studied the art of the masters and the art of the moderns, avoiding any preconceived system and without prejudice.
- Gustave Courbet, born on this date in 1819

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

RIP ...

... Peter Orlovsky.

Sick bay alert ...

Blogging has been and will remain light because I have somehow screwed up my back, and sitting or standing or lying down are all singularly uncomfortable. Even thinking is difficult, and I am resisting taking something to relieve the pain, probably because I'm a macho idiot.

There is something ...

... in what he says: Awards only go to boring books, says Martin Amis.

Certainly there are boring books that somehow manage to win awards, but the fact remains that something like -- or are somehow persuaded that they like -- those books. On the other hand, some very good books win awards. John Banville's The Sea, for example. The fact, Martin, is that there is no necessary between awards and literary quality.

We link ...

... you decide: Book Trailers: Do I Really Have To?

Thought for the day ...

A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.
- Charles Dickens, who died on this date in 1870

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Poking about ...

... Searching Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles.

Underwhelmed ...

... Lisa reads: Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen.

Hmm ...

... COPYEDIT FAIL.

Online now ...

... Issue 12 of Avatar Review.

Hear, hear ...

... On Experts and Truth. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I am a Catholic, but one of the things I am most grateful for is that I do not live in a time when I could be arrested, tortured, and eventually barbecued alive for thinking deviant theological thoughts. Dogma is fine up to a point, but experience and imagination figure also in the practice of any faith, including faith in science.

Speaking of Ed ...

... here is his review of Tom Bissell's Extra Lives.

Something I missed ...

... BEA 2010: An Impromptu Conversation with Gary Shteyngart.

Ed's got a lot of good stuff posted. You should take a look around.

My latest column ...

... Realizing the grand adventure.

Thought for the day ...

Not a day passes over the earth, but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words and suffer noble sorrows.
- Charles Reade, born on this date in 1814

Monday, June 07, 2010

Guess I'm wrong ...

... it must be true. After all, it's in the New York Times: Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price.

For comparison, check out this: Deeper than we think ...

Can't beat the price ...

... ElectricLit FREE.

Something I just came upon ..

... Mezzo Cammin.

Vintage thoughts ...

... David Mamet: The Humble Genre Novel, Sometimes Full of Genius. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The purpose of literature is to Delight. To create or endorse the Scholastic is a craven desire. It may yield a low-level self-satisfaction, but how can this compare with our joy at great, generous writing? With our joy of discovery of worth in the simple and straightforward? Is this Jingoism? The use of the term's a wish to side with the powerful, the Curator, the Editor. The schoolmaster's bad enough in the schoolroom; I prefer to keep him out of my bookshelf.

Words and music ...

... Childhood, through poetic eyes.

Natalie Merchant will appear in concert this Saturday, June 12, as part of the West Chester University Poetry Conference.

Oldies but goodies ...

... Ward Six List of Ten Over 80. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A poem ...

... Godspeed by Thomas Devaney.

This week ...

... at Five Chapters: Camp.

Daring to trade ...

... Ron Slate on Dear Money, a novel by Martha McPhee.

Deeper than we think ...

... The Shallows. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I can't say I do much multitasking. I like to work at something for a bit, then switch over to something else for a bit, then either come back to the first thing or move on to something else altogether. But I this was interesting:
This was tested in a communication studies class where students were generally encouraged to use their laptops during lectures, in order to explore lecture topics in greater detail on the Internet and in library databases. Half of the students were allowed to keep their laptops open, while the other half (randomly assigned) had to close their laptops. Students in the closed laptop condition recalled significantly more material in a surprise quiz after class than did students in the open laptop condition. Although these results may be obvious, many universities appear to be unaware of the learning decrement produced by multitasking when they wire classrooms with the intention of improving learning.
In college, I could almost always just listen to a lecture and pass with flying colors any quiz based on it. My technique was quite simple: I just sat back and listened. Every now and then I might make a very brief note -- never more than a phrase. On the other hand, I knew students who took copious notes who always complained that they had trouble passing tests based on lectures. Their cure for this was always to take even more copious notes. It never seemed to occur to them how much the note-taking distracted them from hearing what was being said.

Thought for the day ...

Art requires philosophy, just as philosophy requires art. Otherwise, what would become of beauty?
- Paul Gauguin, born on this date in 1848

Sad news ...

... from Ed Champion: RIP David Markson.

Sarah Weinman also takes note: David Markson, R.I.P.

I don't see any media reports. Nor has Ed.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A terrific review ...

... from the past: Constant Lambert; Horoscope Suite.

I am listening to this music right now, conducted by Lambert himself -- thanks to Terry Teachout who alerted me to the recording a while back. It is wonderful.

Audacity and humility ...

... charmingly mingled: Patrick Kurp on True Friendship: Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Hecht, and Robert Lowell Under the Sign of Eliot and Pound by Christopher Ricks. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

You have been warned ...

... Glenn Reynolds: Higher education's bubble is about to burst.

Post-bubble, perhaps students -- and employers, not to mention parents and lenders -- will focus instead on education that fosters economic value. And that is likely to press colleges to focus more on providing useful majors. (That doesn't necessarily rule out traditional liberal-arts majors, so long as they are rigorous and require a real general education, rather than trendy and easy subjects, but the key word here is "rigorous.")

Don't get too cheerful ...

... Roger Scruton: A pessimist's guide to life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"All of us have social instincts which prompt us. When we see somebody in trouble, we help. And the great question is, when the state steps in, do they still go on doing this? And actually, they don't – and you find when you look to eastern Europe" – Scruton taught in the underground university in the former Czechoslovakia in the 80s – "when the state took over everything, you find this great vacuum of charitable feeling, which is a huge loss of social capital."

This the major point of Prince Kropotkin's Mutual Aid.

Bryan fills us in ...

... How pleasure works. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

[Bloom's] most important point is that humans are “born essentialists”. We see everything as possessing “an underlying reality or true nature that one cannot observe directly, and it this hidden nature that really matters”. This is obviously true of people. If I disguise myself, you will not think I have become another person. And in Capgras Syndrome — in which sufferers become convinced that their closest friends and loved ones have been replaced by imposters — it is clear that the mere sight of a person is not enough. Some awareness of an inner essence is also needed.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Farming bounty in the ghetto.

... Historian looks at the concept of "white" people.

... Discovering an early U.S., a la Tocqueville.

... Big-league legends touch base with game's past.

... A former Phil's views on playing baseball for a living.

... Another collection of essays from prolific New Yorker writer.

Last words ...

... Stieg Larsson: the man who created the girl.

I thought of posting this last night, but decided Sunday was a better day. We all love Lisbeth, don't we?

In beautiful downtown West Chester ....

... Conference draws poets not for reading, but for crafting.

Thought for the day ...

For the myth is the foundation of life; it is the timeless schema, the pious formula into which life flows when it reproduces its traits out of the unconscious.
- Thomas Mann, born on this date in 1875

Saturday, June 05, 2010

For my dear friend ...

... Judith.

I don't buy this ...

... 'The Shallows': This Is Your Brain Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Try reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle, and that, says author Nicholas Carr, is what you're doing every time you use the Internet.

What a ridiculous analogy, if only because no one would try to do a crossword puzzle while reading a book, since it would involve, not interrupting what you are doing, but doing something else. I do not interrupt my reading to go online -- except if something I read prompts a question that I would answered before proceeding. But then I might put down a book for a couple of minutes in order to look up a word I wasn't sure about. One of the reasons my blogging has been spotty lately -- and also why I'm behind in my email -- is because I have been reading a lot, and doing some writing as well. Carr's is another Gladwell-style book -- i.e., one in which a gimmick is presented as an idea by surrounding it with all kinds of supporting factoids. That sort of thing is a bigger waste of your mental powers than surfing the net.

Music for Saturday ...

Learning to write ...

... From Terry's Almanac.

Ahem ...

... The Age of Faith and Reason. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

... the Middle Ages were steeped in reason, logic, and natural philosophy. These subjects comprised virtually the entire curriculum of the universities. The first medical autopsies were done in medieval Europe. And no medieval philosopher was ever prosecuted for a conclusion in natural philosophy. In his twelfth-century Dragmaticon, William of Conches wrote, “[They say] ‘We do not know how this is, but we know that God can do it.’ You poor fools! God can make a cow out of a tree, but has He ever done so? Therefore show some reason why a thing is so, or cease to hold that it is so.” Not even the “Age of Reason” could have said it better.

The cure for inertia ...

... `He Did It Out of Pure Curiosity'.

Art lover ...

... Rob Gonsalves and a Personal Dream.

Many years ago I worked for a small art gallery. I always told people to buy the piece that meant something to them. It is a rule I always observe myself. The most interesting thing out our tiny South Philly house is the art collection. I was not familiar with Rob Gonsalves, so thanks to Bill for making him known to me (and to you).

Thought for the day ...

The true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and greet unknown fate.
- O. Henry, who dies on this date in 1910

Could be ...

... Does the Internet Make You Smarter? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What the 16th-century foes of print didn't imagine—couldn't imagine—was what followed: We built new norms around newly abundant and contemporary literature. Novels, newspapers, scientific journals, the separation of fiction and non-fiction, all of these innovations were created during the collapse of the scribal system, and all had the effect of increasing, rather than decreasing, the intellectual range and output of society.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Amen, brother ...

... The Death and Life of the Book Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The book beat has been gutted primarily by cultural forces, not economic ones, and the most implacable of those forces lies within rather than outside the newsroom. It is not iPads or the Internet but the anti-intellectual ethos of newspapers themselves.


My former colleague, Desmond Ryan, and I had lunch yesterday. Afterward, Des drove us to The Inquirer. Something was playing on the car radio. At first I thought it was Schubert, but then realized it was Schumann. Des immediately added that it was the second symphony. You won't find many journalists who could have come close, probably none holding an executive position.

Drawing a distinction ...

... between the anxiety of daily existence and the anxiety of existence: Hive of Nerves. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not to worry ...

... So Many Links, So Little Time. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Luckily for me, I started out and remain shallow.

Thought for the day ...

The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.
- William James (1842-1910)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

What poetry is about ...

... In That Great River: A Notebook. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Reprise ...

... How climate scientists can repair their reputation.

I named this post "Reprise" because of this post of mine from last year: It isn't just us ... , from which I extract this:
... in many matters the mere appearance of impropriety can prove devastating. If there's really nothing there, it ought to very easy to clear up. As it is, the information is getting around, in whole and in part, leaving it open to all sorts of interpretation. If you act like you have something to hide, people are going to think you have something to hide. What I'm trying to get across is something a large segment of the scientific community doesn't seem to grasp - that it has a major public relations problem on its hands.
Looks to me as if I was right.

Vulnerable acceptance ...

... Ron Slate on One More Theory About Happiness, a memoir by Paul Guest.

Some odd choices here ...

... but a lot of good ones: The Arts & Faith Top 100 Films. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I've always been partial to Bergman's Winter Light, probably because of how faith and doubt are portrayed as so inextricably bound up with one another.

Something to look forward to ...

... growing old: Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says.

“It’s a very encouraging fact that we can expect to be happier in our early 80s than we were in our 20s ... And it’s not being driven predominantly by things that happen in life. It’s something very deep and quite human that seems to be driving this.”

Can't say it's kicked in with me yet.

Congratulations ...

... to Sam Bowden, Rus Bowden's son, who just successfully defended his thesis, and will graduate from Dartmouth with a Ph.D. in Materials Science on June 13. He was also awarded both of the post-doc fellowships he applied for, and has decided to with the one from the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. He works with magnetic rings to see how to use these super tiny loops to compute, since they are either magnetized one way or the other. He's also been looking at the nature of different sets of these rings, and how to apply them when you put them next to each other in certain combinations. One strength or benefit is that when there is a power outage, magnetism is not lost. For more about this sort of thing, check out this video:


Indeed ...

... Jeff Jarvis on How not to save news.

The government should favor neither incumbents nor newcomers, but rather create a level playing field by helping every American get open, high-speed access to the Internet. That is the gateway to the real future of news and media.

I believe that future is entrepreneurial, not institutional. The industry's institutions have had 15 years since the start of the commercial Web and we've seen how far they can come. What we need now are innovators -- like my entrepreneurial journalism students -- to invent new forms, structures, efficiencies and business models for news.


Thought for the day ...

Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It's that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that's what the poet does.
- Allen Ginsberg, born on this date in 1926

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Experts ...

... Hay Festival video: On the power of cab drivers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Look it up ...

... The Joy of (Outdated) Facts. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Philly book scene ...

... Local Area Events.

Mark your calendar ...

... June 26th- Rutkowski and Quatroche in Fox Chase.

Paper wars ...

... Dear reviewer, write me off at your peril. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My, my ...

... Rebel scientists force Royal Society to accept climate change scepticism.

The society appears to have conceded that it needs to correct previous statements. It said: “Any public perception that science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect — there is always room for new observations, theories, measurements.” This contradicts a comment by the society’s previous president, Lord May, who was once quoted as saying: “The debate on climate change is over.”

Thought for the day ...

Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.
- Thomas Hardy, born on this date in 1840

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Jane Austen

A wonderful online resource for those interested in her manuscripts...

RIP

Andrei Voznesensky.

Risk management ...

... Coping in extremistan. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lots of laughs ...

... Lisa reads: The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell.

The spirit of place ...

... `When Our Portion Isn't Generous'.

Also check out ...

... Sarah's Memorial Day Weekend Smatterings.

Check out this ...

... Book Review (Courtesy of BookLoons).

See also this and this.

In case you wondered ...

... How writers become published authors: An evening with Ellen Baker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Some poems ...

... courtesy of Rus Bowden:

... What About God by Alison Luterman.

...
The Bus by Pascale Petit.

...
Spider Woman by Tony Barnstone.

This week ...

... at Five Chapters: Getting Rid Of Richard.

Spies ...

... Cambridge spy Anthony Blunt admitted "I should have been Shot".

... The Mystery of James Bond's Enduring Appeal.