Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reports of death ...

... prove premature: Back from the dead: One third of 'extinct' animals turn up again.

As promised ...

... Russell L. Goings delivers words of uplift in the cadence of a poet.

What a fine piece Dianna has written.

Here's a link to something Russ just sent me: Is That Black Music I Hear?

The end of the pier ...

... Beyond God and atheism: Why I am a 'possibilian'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Possibilianism emphasises the active exploration of new, unconsidered notions. A possibilian is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind and is not driven by the idea of fighting for a single, particular story. The key emphasis of possibilianism is to shine a flashlight around the possibility space. It is a plea not simply for open-mindedness, but for an active exploration of new ideas.

Favorite ...

... A Swedish award for a Swede? Ladbrokes has spoken…

There's also Torgny Lindgren.

Thought for the day ...

Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.
- Truman Capote, born on this date in 1924

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What happened to...

...Modernism? An answer here.

Now is the time ...

... for all good men to mark their calendars: Battle Day.

The party's over ...

... in the City of fear.

Happy 75th ...

... to Jerry Lee Lewis. Rock and roll as those of us present at its creation remember it.



Something more (hat tip, Rus Bowden).

Yesterday ...

There was little blogging here yesterday because, after a visit to my chiropractor and breakfast at my favorite luncheonette, I met with Mike Peich, the recently retired head of the West Chester University Poetry Center, and drove off to the Cambria Community Center in North Philly. The CCC is a detention center, part of the Philadelphia Prison System. Mike and I were going there to hear Russell Goings read and speak to some of the men incarcerated there.
It was an extraordinary experience (The Inquirer will be having an article about it soon). Russ established contact with the men practically instantaneously. They knew this guy was the genuine article. Russ was completely respectful toward them, but pulled no punches. As for the guys, the didn't just respect Russ. By the time the event was over -- it lasted a good couple of hours -- I think they had come to love him. One said that it had been the most important day of his life. Some of the men even came up to Mike and me and my friend Bill Chaney to thank us for bringing Russ to talk to them. (It was actually Bill who made all the arrangements with the the warden; Bill and I are both retired, but we still get together regularly to arrange shipments of books from The Inquirer to the prison system.)
The men themselves were very well-spoken and sharp. I couldn't help wondering what the hell people like this were doing in jail (yeah, I know; they broke the law and got caught, but that's not my point). I wish them all well.

Neat ...

... Nightingale's Playground. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

Sounds about right ...

... A Downside to Tai Chi? None That I See. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good luck ...

... Muti and Chicago Rekindle the Flame.

I was unimpressed by Muti during his Philadelphia tenure. Every now and again he would do something spectacular, but a lot of times it seemed to me to be more about hair-waving than music-making.

Femmes fatales ...

... The Women of Pulp.

Follow-up ...

... Good news in a hard world: “Borderland” exceeded fundraising goals (by a hair)!

Eath and air ...

... Stanley Fish on Antaeus and the Tea Party.

I found the comments interesting, for reasons I shall keep in petto.

Guide lines ...

... What's the best way to test a novel before you read it? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sic transit ...

... Has any author's reputation fallen further or faster than Dostoevsky's?

Thought for the day ...

Faith which does not doubt is dead faith.
- Miguel de Unamuno, born on this date in 1864

Monday, September 27, 2010

Following the trail ...

... Following the Detectives is in my hands!

More on ...

... Toleration. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I tend to agree that the arguments across the circle are fruitless, which is why we might try just comparing notes. I learn a lot about being a Catholic from what Rabbi David Wolpe has to say.

Adventures ...

... in the book trade: Singing The Praises: The WSJ Review. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

RIP ...

... Segway company owner dead, drove Segway off cliff.

I notice that Segway bills itself as "the leader in personal, green transportation." So much for walking.

The art of concision ...

... 2010 Heinz Prize winner, Tina May Hall, keeps it short and sweet. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Listen in ...

... The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Buzz ...

... Mosquito Operas by Philip Dacey.

Role models ...

... Bonding With History: Meet the Real James Bonds in The Secret History of MI6.

Life imitates art ...

... again: Kafka’s Last Trial. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Looking for the Zeit in Geist ...

... Impact Man.

Discrete packets ...

... Quanta.

The limits of difference ...

... Frost, Freud, Nietzsche, Mencken, and “Mending Wall”. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No laughing matter ...

... Comics for a Cause: “Borderland” warns kids about human trafficking.

Thought for the day ...

The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides. Accept life, and you must accept regret.
- Henri Frédéric Amiel, born on this date in 1821

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Exhausted ...

We're just back from the talk I gave on "Metaphor and Faith" at Lansdowne Friends Meeting. I think it went well. A lot of preparation went into -- which is why I have been mostly absent from here that past couple of days. That sort of thing takes a slot of out of one, and I and am going to rest a bit before resuming blogging.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... 'Exhale' sequel lacks chemistry.

... An unsettling view of 'war on terror'.

... Turning numbers into mumbo-jumbo lies.

Thought for the day ...

As things are, and as fundamentally they must always be, poetry is not a career, but a mug's game. No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written: He may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing.
- T.S. Eliot, born on this date in1888

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thought for the day ...

... though it is late in the day.

Facts and truth really don't have much to do with each other.
-William Faulkner, born on this date in 1897

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thought for the day ...

For awhile after you quit Keats all other poetry seems to be only whistling or humming.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, born on this date in 1896

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Light blogging ...

... because I am preparing a talk that I am giving this Sunday at Lansdowne Friends Meeting, and because I have a very long review to finish. I have also been helping with regard to a forthcoming story in The Inquirer. I expect I will drop in here from time before the day is out, however.

No heavy lifting, though ...

... Lisa reads: Under the Poppy by Kathe Koja.

William James again ...

... Variety.

Also, Dave Lull sends along this: Q&A: Marilynne Robinson.

An interruption ...

... blogging will resume later on for a most peculiar reason.
Last night, a fellow came to our door while I was watching the Phillies and handed me a civil action complaint ... regarding, I gather, an auto accident that took place a couple of years ago in Northeast Philadelphia.
I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, but rarely go there these days. Also, of course, as readers of this blog are likely to know, I don't drive and don't have a driver's license. Hence, it would have been impossible for me to rent a car from Enterprise or any other auto rental concern.
So I thought I would walk the complaint back to the lawyer from whose office it came and explain all this to him.
Stay tuned.
Update: As it happens, it was very amicably settled by a phone conversation.

On second thought ...

... Dominic Lawson: Pope Benedict... an apology. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.
- Euripides, born on this date in 480 B.C.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fists and The Man

An unlikely fellowship.

On the road ...

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

Unfortunate son ...

... Born This Day.

I feel the same ...

... Oh Kay!

Of course, Nige and I agree on many things.

The view ...

... at High Noon. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Better late ...

... Man Gets Poem Written By Mom 80 Years Ago. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Limits ...

... On Religious Pluralism and Religious Tolerance.

Also, in case you wondered: Why Philosophical Problems are Important.

(A tip of the hat to Dave Lull for both.)

The herd instinct ...

... René Girard, meet Terry Jones, Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens, and the gang.

Thought for the day ...

I recommend you to take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.
- Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, born on this date in 1694

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For your viewing pleasure ...

Alternate lit ...

... Plot Twist Fun.

Jamesian quintessence ...

... `Those Vibrating Chords'.

A list ...

... Top 10 Literary Travel Books: 2010. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Now online ...

... Issue 6 of The New Haven Review.

Blogging practice ...

... Embracing the limits. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ulysses ...

... here are links to Frank Delaney's Re:Joyce podcasts.

... Episodes one through three.

... Episodes four through seven.

... Episodes eight through 14.

You may have to skip a round a bit, but it's worth the effort.

(Hat tip, Mike Schaffer.)

Philly book scene ...

... including Jonathan Franzen and classic and original erotica: Local Area Events.

The game of life ...

... and The wisdom of Mary Midgley. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My latest column ...

... The placebo effect of prayer.

Thought for the day ...

Prayer is translation. A man translates himself into a child asking for all there is in a language he has barely mastered.
- Leonard Cohen, born on this date in 1934



Monday, September 20, 2010

Memory ...

... John Wayne: one last shot before the final farewell.

Update ...

... Tracy Kidder, Anne Fadiman, Joyce Carol Oates, and “the enemies of chaos”.

The joy of funniness ...

... The 1p Book Review: Penelope Fitzgerald – The Bookshop.

The debate continues ...

... Freedom’s just Franzen’s word for—

Pacing ...

... Haste and Perspective.

But perhaps these can help: Pens That Take Notes.

A sign of the good life ...

... `The Sight of a Living, Green Tree'.

Together at last ...

... Tracy Kidder, Anne Fadiman, Joyce Carol Oates, and thousands of screaming kids.

Taking heat ...

... Thick Skin.

Bizarre and fascinating ...

... Jews, legends of the, carefully indexed.

MIssing in action ...

... Bruce Bawer wonders: What Ever Happened to Camille Paglia? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lust and death ...

... The British Culture of Assassination in WWI: Communists Were Lured With the Promise of Sex, But Were Met By Assassins.

Lust and death ...

... The British Culture of Assassination in WWI: Communists Were Lured With the Promise of Sex, But Were Met By Assassins.

Reminder ...

... Belluomini and Devaney in Fox Chase September 25th.

Thought for the day ...

If God is One, and if there can be no other God, there can be no idea of God.
-Leo Strauss, born on this date in 1899

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blogging will resume ....

... sometime after we return home.

More haiku down the shore ...



Half-moon laced with clouds
Backlit by firework flashes
Summer shore's last gasp.
- Debbie

Very interesting ...

... Vague attempt to answer eight questions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unforgiveable ...

... “Dude, you have no Quran!” — Terry Jones, book reviewing, and the sin of sins.

Sorry, Ana Marie, you don't review a book you haven't completely read. And sorry WaPo, you don't publish such a review. And why have Ana Marie Cox review the book in question anyway?

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... A candid Blair, with no ghost.

... Save the bonobos from reality TV.

... Indulging a Ripper fantasy. (A fine review of a fine book.)

... 'The Promise': A clear-eyed analysis of Obama's first year.

Thought for the day ...

My yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are gray faces that peer over my shoulder.
- William Golding, born on this date in 1911


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mostly ....

... VIDEO: Ross Douthat: Journalists Ignorant Of Religion.

And not just Christianity.

Absence and transcendence ...

... Hitchens on Mother Teresa's Dark Night of the Soul. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Remembering Psmith ...

... Life before Jeeves.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: Hugh Trevor-Roper, Chechnya, Greene’s affairs, and more!

Interview ...

... with Kerry Clare -- critic, lit-blogger.

In case you wondered ...

... Ten Reasons You Won't Write That Novel.

The forgetful majority ...

... The Plot Escapes Me. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I rather doubt this is true of most people.

Haiku down the shore ...


A lemon-slice moon
Hovers over grassy dunes.
Music from the sea.
- Debbie


Blackness on the beach
Faint light where the moon should be
Sea jazzed up for storm.
- Debbie

What must it be like
To glide above these houses
As that gull just did?
- Frank


Ghosts ...

... Alberto Manguel on Fame by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Carol Brown Janeway. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

But of course ...

... Crusade against the Pope: and Inquisition-in-Reverse.

See also: Reporting the Pope.

For the record, I am a fan of the Pope. But I would be, wouldn't I?

Thought for the day ...

A man ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good.
- Samuel Johnson, born on this date in 1709

Friday, September 17, 2010

Considering ...

... Ronald Firbank.

Anyone who could invent Pope Tertius II can't be all bad.

Ouch ...

... When Two Heads Are Lesser Than One.

I think Terry is right about Albee.

Naturalists and others ...

... `This Singular Honor'.

Why crime doesn't pay ...

... Luke, I am the World's Dumbest Criminal.

In short ...

... Haiku Contest Highlights National Punctuation Day.

Amen, brother ...

... “Na na na na na na, make my mind up for me…” (Hat tips to Cynthia Haven and Dave Lull.)


See also: More on Molly Norris: Writer, medievalist speaks out. Becoming Charlemagne, by the way, is a terrific book.

Thought for the day ...

Every man, even the most blessed, needs a little more than average luck to survive this world.
- Vance Bourjaily, born on this date in 1922

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Delusion expert ...

... The Night Woody Allen and Billy Graham Argued The Meaning of Life.

Woody seems bizarrely confident in the correctness of his viewpoint. In fact, given his viewpoint, if he is right, he will never know that. If, however, he is wrong, he will know that.

In case you wondered ...

... Why awful writing is tolerated.

Indeed ...

... An Opportune Synchronicity.

Beyond psychobabble ....

... Rescuing Evil. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I notice when someone does something the bien-pensant class seriously disapproves of -- like killing an abortion doctor -- not only are there usually no exculpatory theories advanced, but all those who oppose abortion are somehow made out to be somehow implicated. This, in contrast to anything a violent Muslim might do, which can never be thought to reflect upon the tenets of his faith.

Classics ...

... John Donne, by Richard Aldington in 1925.

Honors ...

... Author and Journalist Tom Wolfe to Receive National Book Foundation Medal.

RIP ...

... Edwin Newman, Journalist, Dies at 91. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Free speech, anyone?

... Talented artist goes into hiding.


At some point, to have any kind of character at all, one has to decide not to be a coward.

I'll second that, Cynthia.

Homeboy ...

... Jack Kerouac’s Childhood Homes in West Centralville–66 West St. Turns into Rt. 66 West.

Sound and sense ...

... Abstraction.

Isolation ...

... Lisa reads: The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai.

Thought for the day ...

Underneath all the texts, all the sacred psalms and canticles, these watery varieties of sounds and silences, terrifying, mysterious, whirling and sometimes gestating and gentle must somehow be felt in the pulse, ebb, and flow of the music that sings in me. My new song must float like a feather on the breath of God.
- Hildegard von Bingen, born on this date in 1098

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Her Majesty ...

... The Queen of Crime Writing - Agatha Christie.

In short ...

... Tamamushi-Iro: Issa Bug Haiku.

Very sad ...

... David Thompson, 1971-2010.

See also David Thompson, of Houston's Murder By The Book, dies suddenly. (Maggie Galehouse, who wrote this obit, is a dear friend of mine,)

Seeing the light ...

... `The Iridescence of His Last Perception'.

I quite understand ...

... A Bit Wobbly.

Non-partisan ...

... Politics and literature.

Of chains and maggots ...

... Juggling and Digging. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Variorum ...

... A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition--Ernest Hemingway.

Something I missed ...

... principally because this past Sunday was an especially lazy day for me: Lazy Sunday Afternoon – Exquisite Miniatures.

Cover story ...

... and more: Right to left.

Pops is a very good book. If you haven't read it, here's your chance.

A strange book ...

... The Fingers of M. Stambuloff.

Monument to insignificance ...

... Smaller Than Life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Program fiction indeed ...

... Ron Slate on All is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost, a novel by Lan Samantha Chang.

Here we go again ...

... New Auction Ordered for Philadelphia Papers.

Thought for the day ...

Great literature must spring from an upheaval in the author's soul. If that upheaval is not present then it must come from the works of any other author which happens to be handy and easily adapted.
- Robert Benchley, born on this date in 1889



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Begging to differ ...

... And Then Again - Guy Walters Disputes John le Carre's Claims In TV Interview.

Vintage fun ..

... The ‘I, Libertine’ Hoax (1956).

I find it depressing to realize I turned 14 that year. Ah, me.

This is great ...

... Louis MacNeice on the net.

A reminder ...

... tonight: Lippard Society planning meeting.

Nothing left to say ...

... John le Carre's Last TV Interview.

Medium rare ...

... or, why shouldn't an old codger like me post stuff about Lady GaGa? It’s meat curtains for Lady GaGa; or, Lady GaGa commits authorial trespass against her own dress.

Scary stories ...

... E.F. Benson.

Program fiction ...

... Get a Real Degree. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Assayer's report ...

... Pure Gold. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Conversations ...

... Writer beyond borders: An interview with "Zulu" author Caryl Férey.

Primary sources ...

... World War I Diary.

Addiction ...

... Chess Stories.

Difficulty ...

... Grace Lake a.k.a. Anna Mendelssohn (part 1?).

Take a look ...

... at The Nobel Prize in Literature from an Alternative Universe (2008).

"Behaving dangerously" ....

... `Let Us Seek Them There in the Shadows'.

How Stephen Hawking ...

... proved the existence of God. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI ...

... What the Earth Knows.

Teller of tales ...

... 1p Book Review: Somerset Maugham’s autobiographical novels.

In memoriam ...

... Montaigne's Solitarium. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

But of course ...

... A wisdom of owls: “not a magazine and not a blog in the traditional sense”. (Hat tip, Dave Lull -- the OWL himself!)

Listen up ...

... Audio Books in Review.

Mark your calendar ....

... international literature festival berlin.

Interesting ...

... The Second Coming (for the last time).

Together at last ...

... "Stationary Clouds": John Ruskin And Homer.

Something else ...

... to think about: What A Wonderful World 9-11-10.

Thought for the day ...

Ours is the age of substitutes: instead of language, we have jargon: instead of principles, slogans: and, instead of genuine ideas, bright ideas.
- Eric Bentley, born on this date in 1916

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nige is on a roll ...

... encountering butterflies, warning us against a grotesque spokesman for The Yarts, introducing us to a neglected author. Go to Nigeness and just keep scrolling.

Exhilaration ...

... War and Peace and fathers.

Life imitatespoetry ...

... `Fatten, Hide Slugs, Infestate'.

Sage observations ...

... Writing was ‘only career' for Barzun. (Dave Lull.)

Papa in Paris ...

... Hemingway On Paris: Ernest Hemingway's Paris Dispatches From The Toronto Star.

This wekk ...

... at Five Chapters: Come And See The Legend.

Ghosts ...

... Klavan on Ellroy: Haunted And Confused.(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A fresh look ...

... Reconsiderations and Revivals: Ethan Frome.

For what it's worth I remember that a friend and I, when we read Ethan Frome in high school, thought it was hilarious -- after all, his romance and the accident leave him, in effect, with two shrews rather than just one. Teenage boys can be so sick.

Banville on Yeats ...

... Splendid, subtle and stimulating. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hope and more ....

... Ah Dope.

Now voyager ...

.... 6 Clicks…For the Endless Voyage: Patrick Kurp. (Just saw that Dave sent me a link to this.)

Matching ...

... reader to writer: Obama and Franzen sittin’ in a tree.

Emerald lyrics ...

... Guest Review: Smith on a new Irish anthology from Harvard.

Catching up ...

... Life Explained, Part Six: "He Beholds The Sordid Assemblage Just As It Is".

Sandscapes ....

... Back into the desert.

Literary chivalry ...

... A “military campaign against nothingness”.

Alert ...

... Franzen’s afoot: Guard the Gaddis.

Deciphering ...

...The Fear of a Failure to Communicate. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Turf wars ...

... Josipovici and the Story of Modernism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

In the beginning when the world was young there were a great many thoughts but no such thing as a truth. Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts.
It was the truths that made the people grotesques. The moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.
- Sherwood Anderson, born on this date in 1876

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Slaughterhouse

Kurt Vonnegut: now here's an author whose reputation I can't quite grasp. On the one hand, his work has been incorporated into high school and university curricula across the country; and yet, on the other hand, he has a lot to say about, well, about aliens. Where does this man fit into the literary canon? Does he fit at all?

Hmm ...

... The Future Of Reading. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Greenery ...

... Graham and all the Greenes.

This week's batch ...

.. of TLS Letters: Hugh Trevor-Roper, 'Don Juan', Poplars and limes, and more!

Pretending to be normal ...

... Peter Stothard on Tony Blair's Journey.

See also Urinating on Blair's wall.

Maxine wonders ...

... What kind of a (mystery) reader are you?

See also Maxine's review of All the Colours of the Town by Liam McIlvanney.

Postmodern moral reasoning ...

... To kill a fly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I am one of the contributors to a symposium on postmodernism in the current issue of Boulevard, on sale now in bookstores.

American writer ...

... BOOK REVIEW: 'Wolf: The Lives of Jack London'. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes ....

... Hilary Mantel on winning the 2009 Man Booker prize. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

We have arrived ...

Debbie and I are down the shore (as they say in these parts), spending a week with friends in Stone Harbor.

Online now ...

... The Critical Flame : Issue 9.

Gnat meet sledgehammer ...

... Lady Gaga and the death of sex.

I wonder how many Times readers are Lady Gaga fans, and how many Lady Gaga fans are Times readers. Anyway, this inspired me to check out Gaga on YouTube.
If that really is her singing - and I have no reason to think it isn't - she ain't bad. The Madonna connection is pretty evident, but I don't see that Gaga falls short by the comparison. But then I never discerned any depths hidden beneath Madonna's shallows. Made me think of a distaff Gary Numan and the Tube way Army. Why wouldn't kids get a kick out of it?

Today's In quirer book feature ...

... Fall forecast.

Thought for the day ...

Criticism is prejudice made plausible.
- H. L. Mencken, born on this date in 1880

Friday, September 10, 2010

Look, Ma, no books ...

... UTSA opens nation's first bookless library on a university campus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good for her ...

... Woman's persistence pays off in regenerated fingertip.

I have a kind of personal interest in this story. I had my own left thumb tip reattached more than 20 years ago. I remember the young surgeon in the ER telling me that he wasn't sure he could do it. But he did. I also remember the nurses at work oohing and ahhing over it when they took out the sutures. They said was the best suturing job they had ever seen. It's still attached.

Getting my groove back ...

... blogging here is starting to pick up again and will continue to so, even when head to the shore tomorrow. But things must be done in the meantime. Back a little later.

Hey, good lookin' ...

... Hello, Beautiful: What We Talk About When We Talk About Beauty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

He's getting around ...

... Don Colacho, that is: “Literature does not die because nobody writes, but when everybody writes”.

... `First Out of Pride, Then Out of Humility'.

Sound-bite physics ...

... Order of creation.

It is hard to evaluate their case against recent philosophy, because the only subsequent mention of it, after the announcement of its death, is, rather oddly, an approving reference to a philosopher’s analysis of the concept of a law of nature, which, they say, “is a more subtle question than one may at first think.” There are actually rather a lot of questions that are more subtle than the authors think. It soon becomes evident that Professor Hawking and Mr Mlodinow regard a philosophical problem as something you knock off over a quick cup of tea after you have run out of Sudoku puzzles.

Well, well ...

... Wall Street Journal To Launch A Book Review Section. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

If other papers had kept theirs and eliminated much of the other crap they think people want to read they would probably be flourishing. Of course, you have to know that people want to read about more than politics and sports.

Thought for the day ...

... if you do not even understand what words say,
how can you expect to pass judgement
on what words conceal?
- H. D., born on this date 1886


Reading H.D.'s "Pear Tree" in the Holmesburg library when I was about 16 is what made me want to write poetry. It was a true epiphany.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

We can only hope ...

... Bloggers May Not be Charged $300 For Their Thoughts. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

One-man band of pain ...

That was how Alphonse Daudet described himself The Land of Pain. My plight today was nowhere near as desperate as Daudet's, but his comment did come to mind.
I have been accumulating change and putting it in jars in my home office. When I restored order to the office this past weekend I decided to start getting rid of the change, which was taking up too much space. So this morning I putting what turned out to be $400 worth of quarters into my flimsiest backpack and haul it 23 blocks to a credit union that would exchange the coins for cash.
That many quarters doesn't actually weigh all that much -- something on the order of 12 pounds, and I've certainly carried more than 12 pounds in that backpack. But it is an unusually concentrated 12 pounds, and when I was free of the weight I noticed that I was aching quite a bit. By the time I left the Inquirer this afternoon I could hardly walk. My back, my knees, and my legs all ached. When I got home, I popped a couple of extra-strength aspiring and lay down for a couple of hours . I feel better now, but still not all that great. So I am going to take a hot bath and go to bed early.

Birdwatching ...

.. from Christopher Guerin: STARLINGS.

I wrote a poem about starlings myself some years ago. In fact, it got published in Boulevard. So here it is:

Starlings

Something like a flock of sixteenth notes

Takes flight from telephonic staves

Into the tarnished silver sky

And carries me back to the factories

That seemed even bigger when I was six

Near the vacant lots by the railroad tracks

Thick with blackberries and thorns.

Literary Satire

An interesting piece from the Wall Street Journal...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Uneasy relationship ...

... “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”: Lyrics That Tell Us What We’re Not.

Can't comment on this. Richard Thompson is one those people everybody was always telling was a genius, but I never got around to listening -- and I remember when he was performing with then-wife Linda. Probably had something to do with my associating him the the folk-music scene to which I am unusually averse. All that peace, love and understanding causes me to break out in hives.

Philly book scene ...

... Local Area Events.

Tonight: Terry McMillan.

Tech problems ...

Over the weekend, my desktop became infected by a virus called Security Suite. The computer was effectively paralyzed, since I could do nothing -- no program would start -- without allowing the virus to have its way. My tech guy Kevin just spent a good part of the afternoon cleaning things, which is why I have done little blogging. I also have assignments to finidh, so I don't expect to be up to be blogging speed for a few days.

Along the Susquehanna ...

Facts, details, and thrills ...

... On crime & thrillers: Frederick Forsyth offers a fact-based story of an all out war on the drug lords.

For someone many insist ...

... doesn't exist, God sure remains a topic of heated discussion:

... It's Not God Who Needs Saving - It's Us.

... A Farewell to the Philosophy of Religion? Why not a Farewell to Philosophy? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have been reading Peter Stothard's extraordinary Spartacus Road. I can't say much about it, since I have to write a review of it tomorrow, but one lesson to be drawn from it is that latter-day secularists ought to be boning up on their classics. Horace, for instance, was typical of the educated class of his time in subscribing to Epicureanism, which held that gods may exist, but that they pay us no mind, and we ought to pay them none. It isn't exactly atheism, but it comes to much the same thing. It gives one a nice idea of what a purely secular society might be like: plenty of people still believed in and honored the gods, but they were mostly unsophisticated types, I gather (that alone sounds very contemporary). But there is a bleakness to the "sophisticated" outlook of the day that leads me to think that is one reason Christianity spread so quickly throughout the Roman world. I say this as someone for whom that Epicurean viewpoint has always held some appeal.

This week ...

... at Five Chapters: Double Take.

Thought for the day ...

We soon believe the things we would believe.
- Ludovico Ariosto, born on this date in 1474

And the nominess are ...

... The Man Booker prize 2010 shortlist.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Vicar ...

... otherwise known as The Pope. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

First, let me link to this post from some years back, in which I take the Church to task rather sternly.
This a characteristically fine Bryan Appleyard piece. My only quibble would be to the use of the term conservative. I am often thought to be conservative, but my socio-political thinking is very much the product of that Catholic social teaching Bryan refers to. The foundations of that teaching are the principle of subsidiarity and what Chesterton and Belloc called Distributism. Together these address two main problems of society: the concentration of wealth and the concentration of power by suggestion that both wealth and power should be as widely dispersed as possible -- and not by a top-down redistribution of wealth (which would merely amount to the sole concentration of wealth and power in the state.
I would also demur regarding the references to liturgy. The English vernacular Mass has been a disgrace from the start: willfully mistranslated, hopelessly tin-eared, and doctrinally obtuse. The Tridentine Mass represents the culmination of a liviing tradition; the Novus Ordo is a jerry-built monstrosity. And Pope Benedict knows this: He studied with Romano Guardini, a pioneer in liturgical reform, a clear thinker and fine writer as well as a good priest. You want a religious service that makes you sense that you are part of a vital 2,000-year-old tradition? Attend the sung traditional Mass at my parish some Sunday at noon.

Odd coupling ...

... The curious and complicated history of Lenin’s brain and The mixed luck of Mary Webb.

I link ...

... you decide: Serious or satire?

The envelopes, please ...

... 2010 Hugo Award Winners.

Thought for the day ...

The secret is to write just anything, to dare to write just anything, because when you write just anything, you begin to say what is important.
- Julien Green, born on this date in 1900

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Always thoughtful ...

... that would be Richard Rodriguez: The 'Great Wall of America' and the threat from within.

In the 16 years since we moved here, a lot of Mexicans have moved here as well. I like them. They work hard. And they make visits to Taco Bell completely unnecessary. (You want authentic Mexican food? Come here.)
Also, this country has always been a nation of immigrants. Not that we've always accepted them at first or made things easy for them. But most previous immigrants came from overseas and were legally processed on arrival.
There are laws in place. Those who are charged with enforcing those laws should enforce them. Those who break such laws should pay the penalty. After all, the Mexican who comes here legally deserves to be distinguished from Mexicans who didn't.
And laws can be changed. We can start with identifying what the problem is:
First, a lot of people evidently can't have a good life in Mexico and want to come here for a fresh start. We ought to be able to accommodate them.
Second, there are a lot of people in this country who want illegal drugs. Now I have never understood why an individual does not have the right to put into his body whatever he wants. Somebody wants to shoot heroin, let him. As for any unsocial behavior that might result, well we already have drunk and disorderly laws. You kill somebody while drunk, you get charged with murder. Remember, too, that these drugs attract criminals precisely because, by being illegal, they command high prices. Those prices would drop once the legal proscription was lifted, and they would drop a lot. Unless there is a reasonable profit to be made, nobody is going to make the stuff.
Third, if so many Mexicans want to be Americans, why doesn't Mexico apply for statehood?

Shadowland ...

... John le Carre’s spook world.

Holiday blogging ...

It's a holiday weekend, Debbie's in Brooklyn visiting her grandkids, and I am trying to restore order to my home office. So blogging will be spotty for a while.

Worth a look ...

... Video: Rare Color Film of Japanese WWII Surrender Discovered.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Hawking and Mlodinow return with a unifying 'Grand Design'.

... Three characters abroad in Budapest.

... 'A Hidden Affair' by Pam Jenoff.

Thought for the day ...

The world is a living image of God.
- Tommaso Campanella, born on this date in 1568

Saturday, September 04, 2010