Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Now online ...

... Triple Canopy, Issue 9.

Back to school ...

... `A Will and a Facility for Learning'.

Ah, yes ...

... "Even in Kyoto ... I long for Kyoto:" Bashō by Hass.

Belated ...

... but pertinent anyway: Brand Blanshard on Wisdom -- on His Birthday. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Indeed ...

... Arise again, Sir Walter.

Superb commentary ...

... From The Professor's House by Willa Cather and Final Comments on THE PROFESSOR'S HOUSE.

Advance notice ...

... Muse Flashes from Points Elsewhere. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A favorite ...

... Robertson Davies: “I do not ‘get’ ideas; ideas get me.”

Thought for the day ...

Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart.
- William Saroyan, born on this date in 1908

Monday, August 30, 2010

The education bubble ...

... Camille Paglia on Revalorizing the Trades. It's already happening: More college-educated jump tracks to become skilled manual laborers.

An interesting response ...

... to my piece in yesterday's Inquirer about Philly's attempt to license bloggers: IRS: Words Versus Actions.

See also Lost Horizons.

At The Inquirer ...

... Newsrooms at Inquirer, Daily News to take 6% pay cut. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Guess that doesn't affect the people in the glass offices.

Another thought for the day ...

Chance is the pseudonym of God when he did not want to sign.
- Théophile Gautier, born on this date in 1811

Something I missed ...

... the IBPC Poem of the Year.

Anniversary ...

... Why William James Matters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The angle of truth ...

... Tell all the truth slant. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This week ...

... at Five Chapters: Monkey Mountain.

Self-satisfied immunity ...

... Last days of the academic ruling class.

Thought for the day ...

Every political good carried to the extreme must be productive of evil.
- Mary Shelley, born on this date in 1797

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Normal blogging ...

... will resume tomorrow. I have a lot of catching up to, but I also have to do some things at home before I can get started.

Thought for the day ...

Happiness is rarely absent; it is we that know not of its presence.
- Maurice Maerterlinck, born on this date in 1862

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Katie discovers some Stories sparkling with poetic vision. (Dave Lull also took note of this.)

... The ascent of English as king of languages.

... 'Backlash' looks at anti-Obama anger in America.

... Travel Bookshelf.

Licensing bloggers ...

... I wondered last week what The Inquirer's take on this would be. Well ... yours truly was asked to comment: A blog is no longer free speech.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Enigma behind the veil ..

... Am I a Redundant Human Being?

See also Matt's The Wild Jesus.

Good choice ...

... IBPC POTD judge Daniel Hoffman! (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Tomorrow ...

... on our way home, we will stopping to see this: A Vision of Rhythm- Recent Landscapes and Townscapes.

We own a couple of Brian Keeler's paintings.

First Climategate ...

... now Hausergate: Morality Check: When Fad Science Is Bad Science. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It's important to note that the Hauser affair also represents the best in science. When lowly graduate students suspected their famous boss was cooking his data, they risked their careers and reputations to blow the whistle on him. They are the scientists to celebrate.

As was suggested here.

Hmm ...

... Catholics and the Evolving Cosmos. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Just for the record: The Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity, not the second.

Thought for the day ...

Being, belief and reason are pure relations, which cannot be dealt with absolutely, and are not things but pure scholastic concepts, signs for understanding, not for worshipping, aids to awaken our attention, not to fetter it.
- Johann Georg Hamann, born on this date in 1730

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Always interesting ...

... Antonia, that is : AS Byatt: 'I don't believe in God. I believe in Wallace Stevens'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

But if you believe in Wallace Stevens, who believed in God, must you not, by extension, also believe in God?

Dave also sends along this: AS Byatt, who we are, and maps again.

It still seems to come down to what Julian Barnes says at the beginning of Nothing To Be Frightened Of: "I don't believe in God, but I miss him." I don't "believe" in God, either, because for me God isn't a proposition, but a presence.

Vosburg haiku ...


The sun scatters clouds.
A great blue heron descends.
The wild impatiens!

For your viewing pleasure ...

Evelyn Waugh

I've just finished another of Evelyn Waugh's novels - this time, Vile Bodies. Like Scoop, I found Vile Bodies unusually readable; but like Scoop, I also found it somewhat tiresome. Don't get me wrong, I love Waugh (heck, we share an Oxford College), but I've found myself longing - more and more recently - for the gravity of Brideshead. Which is to say that while I admire the satirical novels (especially Decline and Fall), there's something far more profound at the heart of Brideshead, a novel which is to be admired for a wealth of reasons...not least, I think, for its subtle connections with the life and work of Fitzgerald.

Light blogging ...

... at least until tonight, and maybe not then, either. We only have a couple of days of vacation left; so we plan to make the most of them

Thought for the day ..

And do you accept the idea that there is no explanation?
- Julio Cortázar, born on this date in 1914

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Writers speaking ...

.... In Their Own Words: British Novelists Collection. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

Before I forget ...

... Great Scot: Sean Connery Turns 80 Today.

RIP ...

... Robert Aitken dies at 93; American Zen master. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I actually learned of this a few days after buying the Kindle version of A Zen Wave.

My latest column ...

... You have to make the pilgrimage to truth yourself.

(Bumped. Thanks to Cynthia for alerting me that the original link went nowhere.)

Get ready ...

... The Slowest Film Ever Made: On The Road The Movie. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

SEAL of approval ...

... On crime & thrillers: Don Winslow’s Savages is a fast-paced, wild and funny crime story.

Love and Literature

SWF, Loves Sebald, Seeks...

Poetry and hockey ...

... and much more: World-Exclusive: George Bowering's poetic debut. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Some photos ...

... of what seems to have been a successful gathering of poets: A Beautiful Day on the Porch and Poets in the Park Brings A Crowd.

Speaking for those you disdain ...

... Critics' choice? (Hat tip, Ed Champion.)


As a Literary Novelist, Franzen is "painfully conscious," and so must bear the burden of those who are not. The insights he shares won't alienate the "beleaguered" modern reader — Grossman assures us we'll enjoy Freedom because it's not too difficult to read.

Thought for the day ...

When you're a writer you no longer see things with the freshness of the normal person. There are always two figures that work inside you.
- Brian Moore, born on this date in 1921

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nine decades and counting ...

... Ray Bradbury at 90. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Vosburg haiku ...

Raindrops striking leaves.
Sound of water in the stream.
Stillness at nightfall.

Who knew?

... Monday is the root of all evil. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A fine discovery ...

... Don’t look for him in Wikipedia.

That "Holy Thursday" poem is wonderful.

Vosburg haiku ...

Garter snake and frog,
One serving, the other served.
The crackle of leaves.

Unanswered question ...

... Modernity’s Uninvited Guest. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Revolutionaries themselves are the last people to realize when, through force of time and circumstance, they have gradually become conservatives. It is scarcely to be wondered at if the public is very nearly as slow in the uptake.
- Constant Lambert, born on this date in 1905



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Trying to sort things out ..

... FACT, OR BOLLOCKS? Eight possible purposes of the proposed Islamic doodah at Ground Zero.

Spy wars ...

... Spy writer vs. spy writer: John le Carre calls Ian Fleming’s iconic James Bond character a neo-fascist gangster.

Honor roll ...

... Shelf lives of bookstore cats. (Hat tip, Hedgie.)

We link ..

... you decide: Jonathan Franzen vs. Richard Stark: Which Writer Really “Knows” the World?

Fom Ed's reply to a comment:
In deciding which novelist “knows” more about the world, here are things to look for: how much can you picture the respective operations, which writer is more specific, which writer holds the reader’s hand more, which writer is more interested in the world that he is writing about?


Indeed.

Light fantastic ...

... A couple of erses.

Also born today ....

... Claude Debussy.

And here's my review ...

... of Martin Stannard's biography of Muriel Spark: A brilliant, difficult woman in sharp focus.

I note that my mention of pisseur de copie -- the sobriquet given to Hector Bartlett throughout A Far Cry From Kensington -- has been excised.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Franzen ponders our freedom.

... Lunacy, enlightenment in Beat letters.

... A story set driven by evanescent memory.

... A different sort of Emily Dickinson, epileptic too.

Thought for the day ...

Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things.
- Ray Bradbury, born on this date in 1920

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Vosburg haiku ...



Garter snake trying
To swallow a frog, alive
Still. The sound of grass.

Monkey see ...

... monkey do: Document Sheds Light on Investigation at Harvard.

Those research assistants deserve a round of applause -- at the very least.

RIP ...

... Edwin Morgan. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Apples and pears ...

... Still Life.

Damage asessment ...

... Critic in the Courtroom. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When the critic of a one-paper town decides that (in Mr. Rosenberg's words) "mediocrity takes up residence . . . when Welser-Möst is on the podium," and when his reviews of the orchestra's concerts consist in large part of variations on that grim theme, the editors of his paper have to ask themselves a tough question: At what point does so oft- repeated an opinion become predictable and redundant?


This is precisely right. And so is this:

Rather than replace Mr. Rosenberg with a younger critic, Ms. Goldberg could just as easily have ordered the two men to split the assignment of covering the orchestra's concerts right down the middle. Criticism is not an exact science, and the paper would have done its readers a service by regularly publishing contrasting points of view on the city's No. 1 cultural venture.

Immortally execrable ...

... Knight of the white elephant.

The realization that he was a great poet came to McGonagall in 1877 with the suddenness of a mystical experience or perhaps a neurological event like a stroke. (These days, he would be put at once into an MRI scanner.) From that time on, he ceased ever to work as a cotton-weaver, deriving an exiguous and precarious living from performances of his own compositions in places such as village halls, public meeting rooms, and pubs. His wife begged him to return to cotton-weaving, where the remuneration, while not munificent, was at least regular and more or less calculable in advance. But McGonagall was faithful to his muse to the last, dying in penury in 1902.

Thought for the day ...

Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.
- St. Francis de Sales, born on this date in 1567

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lighten up ...

... Literate Revelry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt.
- Paul Tillich, born on this date in 1886

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We've all been here ...

... and probably on both sides: When book recommendations go wrong. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winner is ...

... Geraldine Brooks.

A tough job ...

... but somebody has to do it: They're out to rid the world of typos. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Follow-up ...

... Mrs Sherwood: The Sequel.

RIP ...

... Bernard Knox, 95, Classics Scholar, Dies. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Letting nothing happen ...

... Ease, effervescence, and endless verse. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I plan on getting this when I return home.

Vosburg haiku ...



Black spider explores
White ceiling. She and I worlds
Apart together.

Thought for the day ...

Real rebels are rarely anything but second rate outside their rebellion; the drain of time and temper is ruinous to any other accomplishment.
- James Gould Cozzens, born on this date in 1903

On the one hand ...

... The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.

And on the other: What's Wrong With 'X Is Dead'.

(Hat tip to Dave Lull for both.)

In the meantime, for evidence of prescience, read this: The Blank is Dead. (Bumped.)

It seems appropriate ...

... to be late with this: Bad Poetry Day: Frisky Readers Share Their Worst Adolescent Poems.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Drumroll, please ...

... the IBPC's Winning Poems for July 2010.

... the Judge's Page.

(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Thought for the day ...

A new form will always seem more or less an absence of any form at all, since it is unconsciously judged by reference to the consecrated forms.
- Alain Robbe-Grillet, born on this date in 1922

RIP ...

... Celebrated critic Frank Kermode dies aged 90. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Poem of the Week ...

... from The Missouri Review: The Devil's Apron.

Literary infielder ...

... George Bowering, "Bullshit Artist": A poetics of attention. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Philly book scene ...

... Local Area Events, featuring THE SUMMER OF CREATIVITY FESTIVAL.

Still thinking for himself ...

... Ray Bradbury hates big government: 'Our country is in need of a revolution'.

Good intentions ...

... are never enough: `Serenity, Dignity, and Cool Radiance'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If poetry or any art is to be memorable and moving, it can be neither engagé nor an empty game. Herbert cites his conversations with young Americans in 1970-71 and says “those who dabble in film, art, or literature, loudly declare they are on the side of the `Left’.” If anything, that hegemony is even more absolute today. He continues:

“And I often wonder why the work that results from this essentially noble stance is intellectually immature, as if the proclamation of humanist ideals led the artist into the realm of banality. I’ve often asked myself if it isn’t too cruel a punishment that political kindheartedness should cancel out a work’s artistic value.”

Of course, is the intention really good if the aims are merely fashionable?

Valuation ...

... On Hitchens and Death. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If materialism is true, then I think Nietzsche is right: truth is not a value; life-enhancing illusions are to be preferred. If truth is out of all relation to human flourishing, why should we value it?

I think that somewhere Aquinas defines truth as the conformity of the mind to reality. Knowing how things are would seem to be better than not, even if that knowledge be grim. I also suspect that immortality of any sort is something we ought not to bother ourselves with.

Soft-spoken giant ...

... Robert Conquest: Still going strong.

... Stanford legend Robert Conquest: new books at 93 for the historian and poet.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

All the details of the life and the quirks and the friendships can be laid out for us, but the mystery of the writing will remain. No amount of documentation, however fascinating, can take us there.
- V.S. Naipaul, born on this date in 1932

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fatal ideas ...

... The State of Mind of Mrs Sherwood.

Strange travel ...

... Otherworldly Books.

Truly wise ...

... Honour and humanity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As he puts it, magnificently and movingly, in the essay “Towards a Fateful Serenity”, “the faith that inspires social duty is the honour of being a man, of being a man of honour”.

The Honor of Being a Man was the title of a book my mentor, Edward Gannon, S.J., wrote about about Andre Malaraux.

Conversations ...

... The Dangerous Life of a Thriller Writer: Two Interviews With Frederick Forsyth, Author of The Day of the Jackal and The Cobra.

Larkin times two ...

... Philip Larkin, Part I: the Sad Man and Philip Larkin, Part II: We Need the Toad.

A work in progress ...

... The Bed of Procrustes. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We have arrived ...

... at the cabin on Vosburgh Neck. Some blogging today, but plan mostly on taking things easy. Quite cool last night -- a pleasure after Philly's recent steam-bath weather -- and wondrously quiet.

Also born today ....

... in 1890: Jacques Ibert.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... yours truly reviews Edward Byrne's Seeded Light: Light, shadow and a hint of heartbreak.

... Black women's influence of faith.

... Ambition dissected, as the wheel turns.

... Ambition dissected, as the wheel turns.

... Reprise -- Paul Davis's James Lee Burke review from Tuesday: Cajun cop deals with a gusher of violence.

Thought for the day ...

A religion without mystery must be a religion without God.
- Jeremy Taylor, born on this date in 1613

Friday, August 13, 2010

We are busy ...

... we being Debbie and I, who are getting ready to head to the mountains tomorrow. So apologies to all those who have sent emails. I will get a round to reading and responding.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Famous still ...

... we hope: Is This Book Invisible?

This ignorance is part of a general myth, aided by programs like "Mad Men" and such twisted accounts as Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States. According to these shows and books, the 1950's was a decade of American rapacity, sexism, war-mongering, profiteering and mindlessness. In fact, that decade saw a flowering of literary talents that has not been equaled since. J.D. Salinger, Saul Bellow, Vladimir Nabokov, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Philip Roth, John Updike published important books in the 1950's, and in 1952 Ellison put himself on the map with his own Invisible Man, a powerful narrative delivered by a black man who calls himself invisible because he walks unnoticed through the white world.

Blogging will resume later ...

... I have to head off to The Inquirer and help with a shioment of books to the Philadelphia Prison System.

Thought for the day ...

The writing career is not a romantic one. The writer's life may be colorful, but his work itself is rather drab.
- Mary Roberts Rinehart, born on this date in 1876

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Memorable ...

... Art Deco Books - Unforgettable Design Treasures from 1910 - 1939.

Conversation ...

... The Books Interview: Christopher Ricks. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Less to worry about ...

... than you might think: Invasion of the Invasive Species!

... Davis argues that the good news from biology is that the “globalization of the Earth’s biota will not lead to a world composed of zebra mussels, kudzu, and starlings.” Instead, while in the future different regions of the world will be more similar in their floras and faunas, Davis concludes, “At the same time, they will become more diverse, in some cases much more diverse.”

Thought for the day ...

But childhood prolonged, cannot remain a fairyland. It becomes a hell.
- Louise Bogan, born on this date in 1897

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Weasel words ...

... Important monkey/flying squirrel insight news. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think this should become common practice with articles like this -- headline proclaiming great discovery, followed by hedging bets from first to last. Money phrase: "much remains unknown."

Lists ...

... On crime & thrillers: A critical look at 100 must-read thrillers.

Maybe we should elect this guy ...

... Co-pilot Putin helps put out Russia's wildfires. Can't say he's not hands-on.

Hmm ...

... The 15 Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers (PHOTOS). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I disagree about John Ashbery.

How interesting ...

... from Malaysia: ! A Growing Teenager Diary !

Amos Oz

On the suggestion of my brother, I recently took up - and completed - Amos Oz's collection of extended stories, The Hill of Evil Counsel. Set in Jerusalem in the waning days of the British Mandate, Oz's tales weave a complex tapestry, one which has a great deal to say about Israel's transition toward nationhood. As this was my first exposure to Oz's prose, I must say: I was impressed. Oz is a writer's writer, an artist in complete command of language and its nuances, its intricacies. The last word, therefore, is reserved for him:

"Dear Mina, I shall not use the word 'blame.' You are not to blame for what you do to me in my dreams. But perhaps you are responsible, up to a point." (1995 ed., 207)

Close reading ...

... On Myers on Baber.

Scientific training does not necessarily bestow a capacity for philosophical reasoning, as Richard Dawkins has repeatedly demonstrated.

Down on the bayou ...

... Cajun cop deals with a gusher of violence.
I find that a man is as old as his work. If his work keeps him from moving forward, he will look forward with the work.
- William Ernest Hocking, born on this date in 1873

Monday, August 09, 2010

I think this is wondetful ...

... My faith is an informed choice. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

People in any case overestimate the value of truth and underestimate the difficulty of arriving at it. There are a great many truths in which I have absolutely no interest – truths about the lifecycle of Ctenocephalides felis, (the common cat flea) or the extensive body of truths about the condition of my teeth that my dentist imposes on me. I see no reason why I should bother with these truths or make a point of believing them.
I think that first sentence is brilliant.

Period piece ...

... H. G. Wells, the futurity man.

". . . taking almost anything as a starting-point and letting my thoughts play about it, there would presently come out of the darkness, in a manner quite inexplicable, some absurd or vivid little incident more or less relevant to that initial nucleus. Little men in canoes upon sunlit oceans would come floating out of nothingness, incubating the eggs of prehistoric monsters unawares; violent conflicts would break out amidst the flower-beds of suburban gardens; I would discover I was peering into remote and mysterious worlds ruled by an order logical indeed but other than our common sanity."
This review takes no note of the despair -- genuine despair -- of his last work, Mind at the End of Its Tether.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Lettters: Arthur Koestler and women, Young MacNeice, Noises on the deck, and more!

Nice excerpt ...

... from The Magus.

Philly book scene ...

... Local Area Events.

Life after death ...

... 50 Famous Books That Were Posthumously Published. (My blogging partner, Jesse Freedman, just alerted me to this.)

Interesting ...

... Entry from an unkept diary.

I also found Mildred insufferable and Philip's obsession with her baffling when I read Of Human Bondage. But I have certainly known people in relationships like theirs. And I think that once you put aside Mildred's and Albert's commonness, what you are left with is the obsession, and that is what I think readers glom onto. Most of us, I think, have had at one time or another -- in my own case more than once -- what for want of a better phrase I shall call hopeless crushes. And Maugham is very good at depicting the irrationality and misery that invariably accompany them.

A splendid piece ...

... Bryan writes of Poetry and the English Imagination. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Here is Bryan's review of John Ashbery's A Worldly Country.

Memory ...

... Chris Knight fondly remembers his former teacher and Booker winner Stanley Middleton. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Check out ...

... Those Good Tomatoes.

Wishing Natasha well ...

... And now, one last poem from my refrigerator.

This week ...

... at Five Chapters: The Burglar.

Outstanding ...

... The Conversion of David Mamet.

The only unexpected thing about this conclusion is that it took the author of American Buffalo (1975), Glengarry Glen Ross (1984), and Speed-the-Plow (1988) so long to reach it. In these hard-headed plays, which established him as a major voice in American theater, Mamet respectively portrays small-time crooks, unethical real-estate agents, and ambitious Hollywood executives as engaged in identically savage battles for power over one another. His foul-mouthed characters behave like scorpions in a bottle, determined to sting or be stung. They have no past or future, only the unremittingly bleak present, though they somehow manage to entertain us—if that is the word—because of the manic energy with which they do their frenzied dances of death.

RIP ...

... Patricia Neal, an Oscar Winner Who Endured Tragedy, Dies at 84.

... also: Knoxville friends mourn loss of iconic actress Patricia Neal.

Thought for the day ...

Words are men's daughters, but God's sons are things.
- Izaak Walton, born on this date in 1593

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Who knew?

... Audrey Hepburn 'couldn't sing and couldn't act', says Emma Thompson.

Am I the only one who thinks Emma Thompson is a dimwit?

Sad news ...

... In Memoriam: Thomas Molnar (1921–2010). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I met Thomas Molnar a number of times years ago and had several wonderful conversations with him. He was brilliant man. And yes, we did talk about Teilhard, whom I understood differently -- though I also understood that there was much in what Molnar had to say about him.

From Maxine ...

... Country book reviews. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Labels ...

... The PICTURE: Midcult Revisited. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Van Wyck Brooks was one of the first to seriously discuss the terms "highbrow" and "lowbrow." But he deplored their use, rightly sensing the snobbery that underlies them. I remember when Macdonald's essay came out. I have never found it entirely persuasive. The Old Man and the Sea is hardly a bad a book, and Our Town is actually a pretty impressive play. When you consider how much of what Macdonald would have regarded as masscult -- films like Casablanca or Singin' in the Rain -- is now thought highly of as art, and that one of the novels he savagely denounced as midcult -- James Gould Cozzens's By Love Possessed -- is in fact much better than Macdonald realized, then one can only conclude that Macdonald himself was perhaps in the grip of his own brand of snobbery. A true artist can turn his hand to practically anything and make art out of it. Mozart would have had no problem writing film scores or, for that matter, tunes for advertising. And they would have been catchy tunes, I'll bet.

Not to worry ...

... Has it come to this? The future of books…

It's been a hot summer ...

... in these parts. But a cold winter elsewhere:

... Argentina Has Colder Winter Than Antartica, Spurring Record Power Imports.

...
1 Million Fish Dead in Bolivian Ecological Disaster.

Early warning ...

... from Glenn Reynolds: Further thoughts on the higher education bubble.

Back to poetry ...

... Dana Gioia: After the NEA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Lindbergh as intrepid pilot and aviation promoter.

... 'My Hollywood' - oh, my!

... Butte, 1919: Uniting the miners in song.

... Stories in which fate trumps hope.

And a reprise from Tuesday:
From Weiner: A straying pol, his stalwart half.

Thought for the day ...

I do not know how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.
- Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, born on this date in 1896

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Harrowing ...

... Roald Dahl's darkest hour. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Conversation ...

... Hitchens Talks to Goldblog About Cancer and God (with a special guest appearance by Martin Amis). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Making the visible possible ...

... `Maintained in Being'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More on Helen Pinkerton: After 50 Years' Cultivation, a Harvest of Poetry.

Post bumped.

Birthday greetings ...

... Celebrating Marcus Roberts.

Comparison shopping ...

... Nonsense Sells: Bad Spy Thriller, Good Spy Thriller.

Thought for the day ...

The hard part of writing at all is sitting your ass down in a chair and writing it. There's always something better to do, like I've got an interview, sharpening the pencils, trimming the roses. There's always something better to do. Going to a writer's club?
- Jerry Pournelle, born on this date in 1933
3

Friday, August 06, 2010

A censorious dynamic ...

... We’ll only listen to you if you’ve been peer-reviewed.

One of Pickett and Wilkinson’s severest critics – the non-peer-reviewed Christopher Snowdon, author of The Spirit Level Delusion – is taken aback. ‘This displays an eagerness to close down debate and hide behind the supposed gatekeepers of knowledge’, he tells spiked. ‘Some people who don’t understand what peer review is seem determined to present it as some arbiter of truth’, he continues. ‘But it just means a study is fit for publication or is not obviously fabricated.


Well, that's what happens if your aim is consensus ("group solidarity in sentiment and belief") rather than a sound understanding of a problem.

Let us consider

... The Evils of Evolution. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There is a part of me -- a part that seems to be exerting increasing influence on my thinking and feeling -- that causes me to wonder if we simply do not know -- indeed cannot know -- what is going on in life. Not that what is going on has no point, but that we can never figure it out, that no one ever has, nor ever will, and that we just have to live and see what, if anything, happens when it's over for us. More and more my prayers address this fundamental uncertainty. But I do pray -- mostly for forgiveness.

The trouble with ruminants ...

... Dance with the Bull, part I.

Bryan ...

... On Satire. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It seems to me that if Machiavelli was right and relations among nations are governed by the law of the jungle, then it becomes both easy to pass moral judgment on the behavior of government operatives in their dealings with other countries and also largely beside the point. The nature of the problem would seem to mandate a kind of immoralism. The satirist, I suspect -- and the journalist as well -- if charged with the duties of the government operatives would likely behave in much the same manner that they so worthy of ridicule.

Glenn poses a relevant question.

Something to think about ...

... The Regulator Franchise, or the Alan Blinder Problem. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tell me if you understand the problem in its full simplicity: former regulators and public officials who were employed by the citizens to represent their best interests can use the expertise and contacts acquired on the job to benefit from glitches in the system upon joining private employment -- law firms, etc.

Think about it a bit further: the more complex the regulation, the more bureaucratic the network, the more a regulator who knows the loops and glitches would benefit from it later, as his regulator edge would be a convex function of his differential knowledge. This is a franchise. (Note that this franchise is not limited to finance; the car company Toyota hired former U.S. regulators and used their "expertise" to handle investigations of its car defects).

Speaking of Judith ...

... here are Diaspora Dialogues II.

For all you hockey fans ...

... The Hockey Sweater – All Things Hockey.

I'm not terribly into hockey -- Philly didn't have a team when I was growing up -- but Judith is a passionate fan.

More than just Graham ...

... The heart of the matter. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Now this is scary ...

... at least for us Eagles fans: Kafka the quarterback.

It's also very funny.

Thought for the day ...

Do not fear lest you should meditate too much upon Him and speak of Him in an unworthy way, providing you are led by faith. Do not fear lest you should entertain false opinions of Him so long as they are in conformity with the notion of the infinitely perfect Being.
- Nicolas Malebranche, born on this date in 1638

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Silver-screen editor ...

... The return of a man called Perkins. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Perkins also appears in the 1983 film Cross Creek, where was played by Malcolm McDowell.

Maria Callas chats ...

... Snapshot.

The perils of age ...

... Night thoughts.

I still find, usually, when I can't bring something to mind as quickly as I would like, that telling myself "it will come to me" works. Though earlier this summer I could not for the life of me think of the name of a flower in my garden - alyssum, as it happened. The Greeks, of course, thought that forgetting was a blessing. I'm guessing my memory won't always be as sharp as it usually has been, but am hoping it will remain serviceable to the end. But who the hell knows? I will, eventually.

Neat ...

... `A Random Gathering of Things'.

Tonight ...

... Globe-trotting heroine from a local writer.

Catching up ...

... From Weiner: A straying pol, his stalwart half.

Ishiguro

I came upon the film adaptation last night of Ishiguro's Remains of the Day. I hadn't thought for quite some time about that novel, but wow, after watching Anthony Hopkins (for the second or third time), I was again singing Ishiguro's praises. Mesmerizing, masterful, Remains of the Day presents a powerful account of tradition, history, and that complex thing we call loyalty.

Some thoughts ...

... on The Ruling Class.

Let the mockery begin.

Twisty and exciting ...

... Lisa reads: The Rule of Nine by Steve Martini.

Thought for the day ...


All lovely things will have an ending,
All lovely things will fade and die,
And youth, that's now so bravely spending,
Will beg a penny by and by.
Conrad Aiken, born on this date 1889

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Perhaps ...

... Better Science Through God? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, an atheist may have unraveled the Big Bang, but a Benedictine monk discovered it.

Mystery author ...

... Unvarnished D. O. Dodd. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not as a god ...

... but as a god might be. (BTW, just because the sun appears to us to be an immense and distant sphere of exploding gases, there's always the possibility that such is what a supernatural person might look like to us. Just a thought.) I figure it's only fair to give the other side a hearing from time to time. And I find Pat Condell entertaining, even though I disagree with him on a lot of things.

Cri de coeur ...

... Changing Course.

Christopher Hitchens ...

... on the Topic of Cancer.

Myself, I love the imagery of struggle. I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient. Allow me to inform you, though, that when you sit in a room with a set of other finalists, and kindly people bring a huge transparent bag of poison and plug it into your arm, and you either read or don’t read a book while the venom sack gradually empties itself into your system, the image of the ardent soldier or revolutionary is the very last one that will occur to you. You feel swamped with passivity and impotence: dissolving in powerlessness like a sugar lump in water.

In case you wondered ...

... What are libraries for? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you forgot ...

... On Crime & Security: From Dillinger to Modern Stick-Up Men, Armed Robbers are Truly Public Enemies.

Bubble grows ...

... Ignorance By Degrees.

Thought for the day ...

In a sense it might even be said that our failure is to form habits: for, after all, habit is relative to a stereotyped world, and meantime it is only the roughness of the eye that makes two persons, things, situations, seem alike.
- Walter Pater, born on this date in 1839

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Cast your vote ...

... United World Poets.

Big bucks books ...

... AbeBooks’ Most Expensive Sales in July 2010.

Mark your calendar ...

... First Meeting of the Lippard Society.

Sorry I missed this ...

... especially since I'm usually there a couple of times a week (the Reading Terminal Market, not Brindisi): Brindisi. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Judith's picks ...

... Outstanding: Garry Thomas Morse, Ken Norris & Jack Spicer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Art and life ...

... The parent trap: art after children. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

She turns 90 today ...

... PD James: 'Some people find conventions liberating'. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

Boy, is she alive!

FYI ...

... "Insominy" Will Keep You Up at Night.

Join the fun ...

... Puzzler—Tom Swifties. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hooked ...

... "Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter / Sermons and soda water the day after." (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sermons and Soda-Water is a wonderful book. O'Hara excelled in the novella. The second one eapecially, "Imagine Kissing Pete," is extraordinary.

Profession of faith ...

... courtesy of Dave Lull:

Circular zigzags ...

... Ron Slate on 03, a novella by Jean-ChristopheValtat.

Daniel times two ...

... Isak Interview #1: Daniel E. Pritchard.

... Conversations With Literary Websites: The Critical Flame.

My latest column ...

... The political class thinks of itself as the ruling class.

In the meantime, take a look at your tax dollars at work. Note that this bill was supposed to stimulate the economy, which it obviously has not done. And small wonder. This is the usual pork-barrel crap that seems about the only thing our Congressional doofuses are able to manage.

Thought for the day ...

War makes strange giant creatures out of us little routine men who inhabit the earth.
- Ernie Pyle, born on this date in 1900

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Bit About E.M. Forster

From the New Republic...

Shades of gray ...

... Mark Vernon on Suspending Disbelief. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mark your calendar ...

... August 21st- Poets on the Ryerss Porch.

I'll be in the mountains by then, doing tai chi and and scribbling haiku.

Smoke ...

... meet fire. Glenn Reynolds on JournoList: Controversy proves collusion among liberal journalists.

In "The Appearance of Impropriety," my former University of Tennessee College of Law colleague Peter Morgan and I noted that sociologists like Erving Goffman think that every functioning society needs a "backstage" where people can let their hair down and speak without observing social proprieties. But journalists have been destroying that backstage for everyone else for decades. Why should they be permitted to keep one, when no one else is?

Dreaming ...

... or maybe not: Combinations scribbled down in Alchi.

Boundless ego ...

... raging artistic ambition and zero ability: Enter The Room ("prime contender for the title Worst Movie Ever Made").

Imagine ...

... being impugned by a peasant: Introducing Key's Cupboard.

Opening entry ...

... is pretty hard to beat: Boring Article Contest.

Welcome to ...

... The Book Depository Live. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Picaresque vibe ...

... Ron Slate on The Pages, a novel by Murray Bail.

Now available ...

... Electric Literature No. 4.

Twist and chow down ...

... Lisa reads: Rock & Roll Diner: Menus and Music by Sharon O’Connor.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... The U.S. is down, China is up, and life is a real ordeal.

... Twisting, turning marriage.

... 'Red Hook Road': Exploring a tragedy's effects on two families.

... How Facebook became a social-media behemoth.

... Predictable characters, worn words.

In this corner ...

... Experience vs. Pseudo-Idea. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Considering ...

... When Poetry Mattered.