Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Worth a look ...

... Nature With a German Accent.

I think much German painting has been underrated -- and much French painting overrated. One of the best mid-19th-century was the Austrian writer Adalbert Stifter (his Novellen are exquisite). Here is his Moonrise.



Sounds well worth missing ...

... National Book Awards proved much ado about not much at all. (Hat tip. Dave Lull.)

Calling all Menschen ...

... From Menschen to Mezuzahs.

My latest column ...

... On the God instinct.

Sophisticated and naive ...

... John Banville finds a great American novelist's letters surprisingly calm. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fair use ...

... Lightning strikes back: Book wars and Bloodlands. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

See also this, from Patrick Kurp: `To Follow an Ancient Trace'.

Strange dude ...

... When William S. Burroughs Wanted To Be Richard Briers.

Definitely worth a listen ...

... JACQUES BARZUN On Berlioz's Damnation of Faust. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Picks ...

... Nineteen Poets Recommend New and Recent Titles.

Parsing Jane ...

... Rachel Brownstein on Austen's Style.

You're invited ...

... to participate in the 2011 Global Reading Challenge.

Winners ...

... Crime-fiction firsts in New Zealand and South Africa this week.

And more ...

... Scary Ghost Stories and Tales of the Glories of Christmases Long Time Ago.

Seasonal fare ...

... Christmas Past: Ghost Tale for Christmas Time (Magic Tree House #44) by Mary Pope Osborne.

Very nice ...

... Teresa’s wedding quilt.

Terrifying intensity ....

... James Longenbach Interview on Stevens. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When Stevens uses words like “things,” “ideas,” or “sense,” you feel that he must use those words in precisely the way he uses them; that is, he is not relying on what you already know about those words—he is making you think hard about what those words might mean in particular contexts. In this way, he is making huge areas of apparently unpoetic language available to poetry, and only a few poets have done this because only a few poets employ generalized diction with such unerring precision.

Also born on this date ...

... in 1835: William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

Happy birthday ...

... At 103, Jacques Barzun is a wealth of knowledge. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

The test and the use of man's education is that he finds pleasure in the exercise of his mind.
- Jacques Barzun, born on this date in 1907

Monday, November 29, 2010

In search of ...

... Leonora Carrington - Britain's Lost Surrealist.

Pondering ...

... The Shape of Things.

The courage to be ...

... TT: Almanac.

FYI ...

... Perpetual Folly Pushcart Prize Rankings.

On second thought ...

... Poetry Retractions.

You are invited ...

... to Visit New Dork Review of Books.

Ordinary people ...

... who would be most of us: `The Sincerely Insincere'.

Henry and Barnum ...

... Thoreau's late November.

Mutability ...

... Every Captain's Dream.

Enter now ...

... The Dabbler’s Round Blogworld Quiz #2.

Beauty is not enough ...

... Beware the Trap of 'Bore-geous' Writing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For the last month or so, I'd been spending my days crafting lush and richly imagined bits of narrative—long, lovely descriptions of characters and scenery, page after page of elegant prose in which nothing whatsoever was going on. No wonder I was bored.

Her side ...

... Setting It Straight.

In this corner

... Cynthia Ozick vs. Harold Bloom: Foreign Bodies.

Bloom’s most famous critical idea is his literary adaptation of Freud’s Oedipus complex: according to Bloom, every writer seeks to liberate himself from a powerful literary influence by the “revisionary act” of “emptying” and “undoing” the great precursor, then taking his place.

My view of Freud was expressed best by Max Beerbohm: "A tense and peculiar family, the Oedipuses, were they not?"

In their end ...

... is their beginning: Student Poetry Reading and Teaching Creative Writing.

James and Newman ...

... and more: William James, part 7: Agnosticism and the will to believe.

Newman makes a crucial distinction between "notional assent" and "real assent." To determine a belief using your philosophical head alone is to give notional assent. But when it comes to religious questions, that's an inadequate way to proceed because it engages only the rational part. Real assent requires more, Newman argues. It's a convergence of the full assortment of evidences and experiences we have – rational, emotional, observational, cultural. Each, in themselves, may not be wholly compelling. But added together, they support a belief that powerfully rings true. Newman likens it to a cable: a single strand is easily broken. But wound together, strands form a cable that is strong. So, real assent implies that God is not a hypothesis.
Mark calls himself an agnostic, but his agnosticism -- which seems to me more the practice of apophasis -- is but one strand in his "cable of belief." What would he call himself in terms of the entire cable and not just that one strand, I wonder?

Lots of insight here ...

... The discoverer of the double-helix says the disease can be cured in his lifetime. He's 82.

Another impediment to innovation today is funding. Dr. Watson thinks money is being spread around too much and not enough is going to the best brains. "Great wealth could make an enormous difference over the next decade if they sensibly support the scientific elite. Just the elite. Because the elite makes most of the progress," he says. "You should worry about people who produce really novel inventions, not pedantic hacks."

A nice roundup ...

... though I'm a bit late with it: Today’s literary links: 11/25/2010.

See also: Bill speaks and other publicity for Writers Gone Wild.

Hmm, indeed ...

... Paradoxical Truth. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Paradoxes are apparently good arguments that lead to conclusions that are beyond belief (Greek: “para” = beyond, “doxa” = belief).
It is probably just a quibble, but the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology has it as "contrary to received opinion." Doxa, which means "opinion," in fact derives from dokein, which means "to seem, appear, think." The word dogma also derives from doxa. A dogma is a settled opinion. Interesting implications at work here, I would guess.

Thought for the day ...

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
- C.S. Lewis, born on this date in 1898

Hmm ...

... some thoughts from Nassim Nicholas Taleb. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good, of course, should be done for its own sake. We should eschew thoughts of heaven. One life at a time.

On the other hand, C. S. Lewis points out that "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this."
More here (courtesy Dave Lull).

(Bumped.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Correspondence ...

... Saul Bellow: “The name of the game is Give All.”

Life's tenses ...

... `The Past is All We Are'.

Birthday boys ...

... Happy Birthday: James Stotts & William Blake.

Freebies ...

... Free Audio Books.

From Maxine ...

... Book Review: The Screaming of the Innocent by Unity Dow.

A book of wonders ...

... The Buried Book--David Damrosch.

In connection with this I would recommend Bohuslav Martinu's oratorio The Epic of Gilgamesh.

Please take note ...

... Ninth Edition of The Fox Chase Review Coming Jan 2011.

Ongoing ...

... Flannery O'Connor fans may just want skip over to Novels, Stories, and More and scroll away.

In brief ...

... 1p Book Review: Alice Thomas Ellis – The Inn at the End of the World.

Trumpets and drums, please ...

... Welcome to Judith Fitzgerald Presents.

Hmm ...

... Note to Hugh Prather. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There are worse ways to go than in your hot tub.

For the season ...

... Advent.

For Advent ...

... Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Coming of Jesus into Our Midst.

Showing what you see ..

... in what you read: The Rest Is Criticism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered ...

... How To Write Like a Victorian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Everlasting plant ...

... Euphorbia (The Marriage Plant).

The Master ...

... A talent to amuse is celebrated. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Different ...

... from what went before: Gail sees a movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

Check this out ...

... tenbook2.com.

Announcing ...

... October's IBPC winners: The poems and the judge.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... 'Lord of Misrule': Portrait of a lowdown world, painted with bizarre language.

... 'The Bodies Beneath the Table': A poet's portraits, colored by Vietnam.

... Checkered history of cancer.

...
Can confession beat the executioner?

... The story of the great chocolatiers.
It is a myth, not a mandate, a fable not a logic, and symbol rather than a reason by which men are moved.
- Irwin Edman, born on this date in 1896

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gold standard ...

... Riddled with Gilt.

The gilt is beautiful and eye-catching, but also serves a practical purpose - applied in conjunction with glue, it helps to protect the page edges from browning, moisture and dust. They should be treated with care, however, as they are susceptible to physical damage and easy to scratch.

In case you wondered ...

... Raymond Tallis: How Can I Possibly Be Free?

Thought for the day ...

God doesn't believe in the easy way.
- James Agee, born on this date in 1909

Friday, November 26, 2010

Champions ...

... John Updike, and the Curious Business of Sustaining Literary Reputations. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Don't forget ...

... “…irgendwo in der Tiefe gibt es ein Licht.”

Exciting sadness ...

... Philip Larkin and the City.

A reminder of greatness ...

... Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn revisited: “I welcome your snowballs”.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: The Turin Shroud, Kyd and Marlowe, Harry Mulisch, and more.

Dear, but worth it ...

... Hibiscus night.

Life among fragments ...

... `The More Everything Matters'.

Vision and method ...

... Risk the Game: On William James. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

At the Library ...

... Upcoming author events.

Available again ...

... The Cowardly Lion Waits for Godot. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

To him that waits all things reveal themselves, provided that he has the courage not to deny, in the darkness, what he has seen in the light.
- Coventry Patmore, who died on this date in 1896

Thursday, November 25, 2010

And the winner is ...

... Daniel Hobbins: Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Indeed ...

... Stephen Sondheim is wrong about Noël Coward.

I also think he's wrong about Hart, Hammerstein, and Berlin, to say nothing of G&S.

Worth remembering ...

... Stephen Vincent Benet Western Star.

Appropriate for today ..

... re: "The Turkey" by Flannery O'Connor (1947).

Good as ever ...

... Lisa reads: Storm Prey by John Sanford.

Last stop: If only ...

... The Master of Passionate Excesses.

For the holiday ...

... Thanksgiving Poems. (Hat tip, Christopher Guerin.)

Humanity as a project ...

... "under construction": Science: The Art of Living (an interview with Steve Fuller about his latest book). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One more reason ...

... to give thanks: Levi Stahl writes to say that the University of Chicago Press will be "publishing e-book editions of all twelve of the novels that make up Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time--and for the month of December we'll be giving away the first book, A Question of Upbringing, for free." Here is where to go.

I think I have mentioned before that the first review I ever wrote for The Inquirer was of the final volume of Dance, which necessitated reading the preceding 11 first. I loved the novels, but haven't read them since. I don't mind e-books at all, so you can be sure I'll be getting my freebie and buying the rest. Hard to beat the price. And Powell's masterpiece deserves to be better known than it seems to be these days.



Happy Thanksgiving ...


Also born onthis date ...

... in 1896: Virgil Thomson.

Thought for the day ...

Only those within whose own consciousness the sun rises and sets, the leaves burgeon and wither, can be said to be aware of what living is.
- Joseph Wood Krutch, born on this date in 1893

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A query ...

... Broadway Fred: Too gay?

Shopping and cooking ...

... will likely trump blogging throughout most of today.

Correspondence ...

... The Last Pen Pal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The neverending debate ...

... The God Instinct. Some notes... (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

... as [William James] wittily noted: ‘Scientific theories are organically conditioned just as much as religious emotions are; and if we only knew the facts intimately enough, we should doubtless see “the liver” determining the dicta of the sturdy atheist as decisively as it does those of the Methodist under conviction anxious about his soul.’ Only atheists don’t usually consider dismissing their own convictions on evolutionary grounds. Funny that.

Now there would be an interesting piece: using evolutionary psychology to explain away evolutionists' convictions.

Listen in ...

... The Bat Segundo Show: Tom McCarthy II.

An unhappy anniversary ...

... Anniversary of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

And yes, I do remember where I was and what I was doing when I first heard the news.

An Honest Review

Readers of the LRB got a significant dose of honesty earlier this month when Richard J. Evans, Regius Professor of History at Cambridge, offered a scathing review of Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin.

The height of the thrashing came about three-quarters of the way through the essay: "What he [Snyder] really wants to do is tell us about the sufferings of the people who lived in the area he knows most about. Assuming we know nothing about any of this, he bludgeons us with facts and figures until we're reeling from it all...[It's] as if Snyder doesn't want us to think critically about what he's telling us, just to feel the pain he's describing."

I have to say, I respect Evans for his review - not only because his arguments are well grounded, but because he fights the tendency among (a fair number of) reviewers to praise pretty much everything they are handed.

Actually, Evans's essay got me thinking about a book that I started several months ago, but which I have been unable to finish. That book is Miranda Carter's abundently-praised George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I.

Let me cut to it: I am perplexed by the acclaim this tome has garnered. Not only is Carter a very (very!) difficult writer to read, her sense for history, and for historical causation, is entirely lacking.

Rarely (in the first 250 pages, at least) does Carter move beyond the realm of personal politics. Put differently: the royal figures to whom she dedicates so much of her time operate in an odd vacuum, one which lacks any semblance of social, political, or economic context. As a result, there were parts of this book which read so impressionistically that they begged the question whether those not trained as professional historians should be crafting these sorts of analyses.

Here are a few examples of Carter's writing:

"In reality, Holstein was an able, acerbic, workaholic bureaucrat, committed to his work in the Foreign Office, with a dry sense of humour and an omnivorous appetite for gossip and foreign affairs, fueled by an obsessive letter-writting habit." (139)

Wait, what?

Or, there's this:

"And around him Wilhelm was able to be both masterful and in charge, but also to shrug off the exhausting hyper-macho persona he felt obliged to adopt so much of the time...Inevitably, he had become enmeshed in the incessant intriguing endemic in the German government..." (141)

I want to close by saying that while Carter does make several smart points (especially about Wilhelm), and while I respect the amount of time and energy that goes into a book of this size, critics need to be far more honest in their assessment of this sort of writing, this type of study.

I can only imagine what Evans might have said...


Thought for the day ...

Throughout the centuries, man has considered himself beautiful. I rather suppose that man only believes in his own beauty out of pride; that he is not really beautiful and he suspects this himself; for why does he look on the face of his fellow-man with such scorn?
- Isidore Ducasse (Comte de Lautréamont), who died on this date in 1874

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Unappreciative ...

... Saul Bellow on Hannah Arendt: The upshot? He didn’t like her much.

Not so fast, Chris ...

... Why I am thankful for artistic failure.

I don't think this is an account of artistic failure. It is an account of not committing oneself obsessively to self-promotion. The latter can actually get in the way of artistic creation -- and usually does.

Haphazard blogging ...

... until later on. Thursday's holiday has me running around a bit. I also have to stop at The Inquirer and have my tai chi lesson. Later.

Check out ...

... The Dylan Thomas Prize for Young Writers.

I'll be monitoring this closely. One of those shortlisted is from Philly. And I hear it's a tight race this year.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam ...

... A life in writing: Les Murray. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Take a look ...

... at this (hat tip, Rus Bowden).


Also born on this date ...

... in 1876: Manuel de Falla.


Governance ...

... Anarcho-Monarchism.

Monarchy, I fear, can only work in a society fundamentally grounded in ritual properly understood. My heart belongs to anarchy.

Thought for the day ...

When Heraclitus said that everything passes steadily along, he was not inciting us to make the best of the moment, an idea unseemly to his placid mind, but to pay attention to the pace of things. Each has its own rhythm: the nap of a dog, the procession of the equinoxes, the dances of Lydia, the majestically slow beat of the drums at Dodona, the swift runners at Olympia.
- Guy Davenport, born on this date in 1927

Monday, November 22, 2010

Listen ...

... Keats's Plaint.

Medieval murder ...

... Review: The Waxman Murders.

First snowfall ...

... `On the Hunt Restlessly Among the Words'.

Enter now...

... COMPETITION: Win a Christmas Fox.

Check this out ...

... Living With Music: A Playlist by Bill Peschel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

By the way, I've been reading Bill's book on my Kindle. So far, it is simply addicting.

This is terrific ...

... Elmore Leonard On John Steinbeck's Influence.

Ongoing ...

... Afterlife Again. (Hat tip, Dave Lull,)

Nautae, nautae ...

... Making It New: How the Greek and Latin classics have been imitated, adulated and misunderstood over the centuries. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fierce and lonely ...

... Gwen John: Art and Faith in the Shadows.

"... though perhaps a minor one, she must nonetheless be acclaimed as an enduring master."


I don't think she's minor at all.

Delivering sonnets ...

... Pakistani poetry truck, making the rounds…

Everything but ...

... Time, Tense & Physics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This week ...

... at Five Chapters: Lastward, Deputy James.

Giving new meaning ...

... to Daily Bread. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ongoing ...

... William James, part 6: Mystical states. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

... there is, for James, such a thing as genuine mystical experience, providing a pointer to a reality that is more likely true not false. The monism and optimism that is their product have such a demonstrably positive impact upon those who have them. And, James concludes, "that which produces effects within another reality must be termed a reality itself".
James's logic is faulty on this point. Robert Segal, of Lancaster University, has called it the "functional fallacy": delusions can lead an individual to act in positive ways, too.

But delusions themselves really happen. So they are not entirely unreal. The water of the mirage is not real, but the mirage is actually happening.

Surrendering into fulfillment ...

... Ron Slate on The Iron Key (Norton) and The Art of the Poetic Line (Graywolf), poems and essays by James Longenbach.

Collecting ...

... Audio Interview with Toby Faber on: the history, and collecting, of Faber & Faber.

Also born today ...

... in 1899: Hoagy Carmichael.

Thought for the day ...

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.
- André Gide, born on this date in 1869

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My favorite Virginia Woolf ...

... Virginia Woolf the essayist. (Though I do like Mrs. Dalloway.)

Bryan ... a wincing aesthete?

... Noseybonk 7: The Stunt Atheists.

Remembering Chekhov ...

... `We Discussed Immortality'.

Interesting discussion ...

... Conservatism: what is it?

A review ...

... of Stanley Diamond, Totems.

Still a bestseller ...

... Mark Twain's Autobiography Flying Off the Shelves.

Odds and ends ...

... In the Ether.

Ekphrasis ...

... Patrick Hunt: Virgil’s Aeneid — the Harry Potter of Pompeii.

Ho, ho, ho ...

... Crime fiction to give for Christmas.

Also check out this: Book Review: The Siege by Stephen White.

Recommended ...

... A radio must-listen.

Preview ...

... Watch the Brighton Rock trailer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Looks pretty good.

The real deal ...

... Stevens.

Bravo, Professsor Petsko ...

... Ouch! A scientist’s sharp letter about the Albany massacre.

“That single chapter in a much longer book is one of the great works of modern literature. You would find a lot in it to think about. I’m sure your Russian faculty would love to talk with you about it – if only you had a Russian department, which now, of course, you don’t."

Unawarded prizes ...

... The non-award of the Wendy Wasserstein Prize … and the non-award of the Nobel to Liu Xiaobo.

A full life ...

... Colonel Roosevelt: Edmund Morris' Third and Final Volume of his Biography of Theodore Roosevelt.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... one of mine: Daphne Kalotay's 'Russian Winter' is about jewels, and Stalin, and how one becomes who one is. (Though it was cut for space - a good cut, by the way, since it the point was really ancillary - I also noted that the book was very good at conveying the terrifying claustrophobia of life under Stalin. In this it was better than Martin Amis's House of Meetings, also set in the Stalin era, and which I also reviewed. Amis has his story narrated by a character whose addiction to irony undercuts the emotional impact of the story.)

... 'The Whites of Their Eyes': Tea party's fundamentalist streak.

... and one by Judith: Panthea Reid penetrates riddles of the troubled yet creative Tillie Olsen.

... Oliver Sacks' new book seeks meaning in perception.

Thought for the day ...

Everything else you grow out of, but you never recover from childhood.
- Beryl Bainbridge, born on this date in 1934

Saturday, November 20, 2010

FYI ...

... “Refudiate” Didn’t Start with Sarah Palin. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So the people who down Palin for using the word must have know this, right? Because, after all, they're real smart and well-educated.

Begging to differ ...

... `Like a Philosopher and Friend'.

I'm with Patrick on this.

Funny strange maybe ...

... `The Heart of Every Human Being'.

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"
Sounds a bit like the parable of the cockle and the wheat.

Tips ...

... and more: So You Want To Be A Professional Writer.

Thought for the day ...

Listen to any musical phrase or rhythm, and grasp it as a whole, and you thereupon have present in you the image, so to speak, of the divine knowledge of the temporal order.
- Josiah Royce, born on this date in 1855

Friday, November 19, 2010

A mystical cure ...

... Authors, Social Media and the Allure of Magical Thinking.

Characteristically terrific.

Ringing true ...

... Le Patriotisme de Clocher.

Power vs. genius ...

... Evening In the Palace of Reason, by James R. Gaines.

Roundup ...

... Today’s literary links: 11/19/2010.

More Eliot ...

... The Critic as Radical. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Security silliness ...

... Review: Sweet Valley Confidential.

Heads up ...

... The cardinal's hat. (Hat tip, Dave Lull, whoc also sends along Mary's Guardian piece: Mary Beard's photograph of the decade.)

In this corner ...

... Eliot versus Hardy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sent by a friend ...

... Remembering Joyce.

Thought for the day ...

We do not know what God is. God himself doesn't know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being.
- John Scotus Eriugena

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Patti Smith

Levels of Reality...

Best-loved and least-known ...

... Mr Smith Goes to Arcadia by Richard Platt.

The riches of self ...

... Consciousness.

Aural comedians ...

... `That Peculiarly Metallic, Clangorous Sound'.

Patrick's allusion to the saxophone brings to mind something Debussy -- who wrote a fine rhapsody for the instrument -- said in a letter about it. He called it "that aquatic instrument."

Choosing wisely ...

... Biographer Peter Stansky on George Orwell and writing.

Now they tell us ...

... Misreading Gulliver's Travels. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Everyday horror ...

... Time, change, and the King. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bear hands ...

... and baron lands: Lisa reads: Concrete Operational by Richard Galbraith.

Well, sure ....

... What Bloggers Owe Montaigne. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

OK, folks ...

.. get with it: Stop and think: it's World Philosophy Day. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Marking the spot ...

... XXXXX for Evolving English at The British Library.

Here's another from Peter that I missed: James Ellroy's partner writes - and other surprise responses.

Also born on this date ...

... Eugene Ormandy.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: Gulliver and the Yahoos, Hop-pickers, Grimpen Mire, and more!

And the winners are ...

... National Book Awards - 2010. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I was pulling for Lionel, because I know her and like her, but she did win the Orange Prize. I do, however, think that Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy is a more important book than Patti Smith's. But that's just me.

Thought for the day ...

The marriage of reason and nightmare which has dominated the 20th century has given birth to an ever more ambiguous world. Across the communications landscape move the specters of sinister technologies and the dreams that money can buy.
- J. G. Ballard, born on this date in 1930

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One of the great stories ...

... Jack London Considered.

Steven is right: Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" is also a great story.

Then there's isolation ...

... “At this unique distance from isolation…”: additional notes on Philip Larkin.

That lonely feeling ...

... Book Clubs.

And it's sound advice ...

... Botsford's advice to young writers.

I don't think it's bad if they blog.

Another birthday boy ...

... Happy Birthday to Martin Scorsese, Director of Goodfellas, Casino and Raging Bull.

Salvation without sacrifice...

... Secret Sequel: New Age “Mind Cure” Misses the Point. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ch-ch-Changes ...

... Announcing Triple Canopy’s Redesign.

Ar the Library ...

... Upcoming Author Events.

In this corner ...

... Paul Krugman vs. George Orwell. (Hint: Orwell wins.)

Of course, it was a mismatch from the start.

These guys ...

... are suddenly everywhere: Snapshot (in honor of moving day).

Rhyme and reason ...

... `Write What You Like'.

As Kay Ryan's poem demonstrates, though, rhyme need can be employed more imaginatively than is often the case. You can even scatter it in fragments throughout the poem, giving the poem a kind of subliminal unity (I do this all the time and have come to calling it chromatic rhyme, but you can call it what you like, or call it nothing at all).

Loner ...

... Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I forgot one ...

... the other day: Birthday Girls.

And, while we're at it, here's a handsome fellow: Wagtail.

Lovely ...

... Silent Flowers: R. H. Blyth Translations.

And the winner is ...

... Francine Prose to receive Washington University International Humanities Medal Nov. 30.

Hmm ...

... healing & therapy are largely subtractive. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think most people would be better off not worrying about their health so much.

Not the greatest ...

... mob story, but pretty good: Mob Stories: Hit Man John Veasey's Life After the South Philly Mob.

For fans ...

... of Daniel Kalder, among whom I count myself: Selected articles from his archive.

Wow ...

... don't miss this: Olympus BioScapes 2010 Winners Gallery.

FYI: Enter the Competition.

Thought for the day ...

If you want to study writing, read Dickens. That's how to study writing, or Faulkner, or D.H. Lawrence, or John Keats. They can teach you everything you need to know about writing.
- Shelby Foote, born on this dare in 1916

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

God knows ...

... Do non-religious people have more brand loyalty?

Love and locusts ...

... Aleksandr Etkind: Memory, exile, and a four-line revenge.

Mark thy calendar ...

... Fox Chase Christmas Tree Lighting December 4, 2010.

Laurel, Hardy, and Beckett ...

... `Made Merry With the Hardy Laurel'.

For my money, no one is funnier than Laurel and Hardy, especially when they dance.
For my money, too. Here they dance, and Ollie sings:

Ongoing ...

... 6 Clicks…For the Endless Voyage: Susan Muncey.

Sounds very interesting ...

... Ólafsson's Icelandic Saga.

Older than we thought ...

... the complaint, that is: "It belongs to to a time when people read books. Nobody does that now," Or, Edith Wharton on publishing's long death watch.

Writer and adventurer ...

... who also took pictures. Ron Slate on Jack London, Photographer.

In Praise of the Academy

An interesting piece from Stanley Fish...

I'm not so sure ...

... Taste Will Not Make You Superior.

From Grief's article:
"The things you prefer — tastes that you like to think of as personal, unique, justified only by sensibility — correspond tightly to defining measures of social class: your profession, your highest degree and your father’s profession."

Maybe -- if you're preoccupied with defining yourself socially. I come from a pretty poor working-class background. Nobody in my family went to the orchestra or the opera or listened to either on the radio. But when I was in high school I fell in love with classical music. Why? I thought it sounded great. Same thing with painting. Sometimes a painting is just so beautiful you want to climb inside it. Works of art have an intrinsic value altogether apart from any value we may place upon them.

Literary conversation ...

... Paul Auster on His Latest Book and Book Tours.

Good luck ...

... CEO: Inquirer to host startup incubator next year. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Former Newsweek CEO, eh? Wasn't Newsweek just sold for $1?

Danger ...

... Energy Drinks.

Hmm ...

... Yawn: It’s one of the best things you can do for your brain.(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Do I suppose the best thing you can do to keep your brain healthy is to go to boring parties and interact with dullards.

My latest column ...

... Why religious discussions usually lead nowhere.

Literary conversation ...

... Lawrence Ferlinghetti interview. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

The famous saying 'God is love', it is generally assumed, means that God is like our immediate emotional indulgence, not that the meaning of love ought to have something of the 'otherness' and terror of God.
- Charles Williams

Monday, November 15, 2010

Literary conversation ...

... Bernard Cornwell Discusses His Latest Historical Novel The Fort.

From Maxine ...

... Book Review: December Heat by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza.

Ongoing ...

... the Not Literature Debate.

Academic mercenary ...

... The man who writes your students' papers tells his story.

At one point in my checkered career I edited dissertations. Not the same thing as writing them, of course -- which I would never have agreed to do, old-fashioned sort that I am -- but I was surprised to find how far along the track to a Ph.D people could get without becoming very skillful in organizing material or developing anything resembling an engaging style.

Sing along with Handel ...

... thanks to Christopher Guerin for the link.

Out of the Stone Age ...

... The 1p Book Review – Pascal Khoo Thwe’s The Land of Green Ghosts.

Charmed ...

... `A Little Space of Order'.

Supplemental ...

... John Manifold.

Ahead of their time ...

... and courtesy of Dave Lull:

Listen in ...

... as Richard Rodriguez talks about his latest book, which will examine Islam in America. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the running ..

... 'Lord of Misrule' beautifully captures language of the racetrack. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The rest of him ...

... The Other Robert Frost. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sounds good ...

... The Re-enchantment of Place.

Birthday girl ...

... Georgia O’Keeffe: An Artist in Full Bloom (Picture Essay of the Day).

Classics ...

... Our Man in Havana (12 Great Spy Movies).

One more time ...

... for those who don't quite get it: Peace Train? The Atlantic revisits Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam, Salman Rushdie.

Peace is more than dreaming and singing songs. Sometimes it requires courage. In fact, it doesn’t mean much unless it does. Otherwise, it’s just the easy pacifism of the non-combatant.

Indeed.

Not so simple ...

... William James, part 5: Saintliness. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Poetry evokes out of words the resonance of the primordial world.
- Gerhart Hauptmann, born on this date in 1862

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Art and life ...

... completely intertwined: Romain Gary: au revoir et merci.

... he fled in a two-seater plane...

That would be a tw0-place aircraft.

Happy No. 103 ...

... The house of intellect. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

FYI ...

... Treesaver is Fabulous.

I think I agree ...

... if only because I can't remember ever using the word: Words and Phrases that Make Me Grind My Teeth.

Honoring ...

... Remembrance Sunday poems.

A day late with this ...

... but I did choose Higgins for my quote of the day: Happy Birthday to Crime Writer George V. Higgins.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Polio infects young Newark man's life in Philip Roth's 'Nemesis'.

... Detective couple on the case.

... Forgotten Nashville trio gets its due.

... When Sinatra rose, fell, and rose again.

Thought for the day ...

What makes old age so sad is not that our joys but our hopes cease.
- Jean Paul, who died on this date in 1825

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yes ...

... Happy Birthday to Crime Writer George V. Higgins.

Bloggers meet ...

... `Go Talking and Have Easy Hours'.

For the season ...

... "The Leaf" And "The Last Leaf": Andrew Young.

New release ...

... “Suicide Porn” at Interior Noise Press.

Missed this ...

... Book Review: Raid and the Blackest Sheep by Harri Nykanen.

Together at last ...

... Charles Bukowski Meets Simone Weil.

Trumpets and drums, please ...

... ENFIN.

Limousine radicals ...

... The Zealotry Of Free Thinkers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mr. Blom focuses on the rival salons of Paris and the often fraught personal relations of his subjects. The salons were organized by aristocratic men and women, affording the philosophes opportunities to try out their literary wares and show off their quick-wittedness. Some of these convivial occasions involved gargantuan quantities of food and wine, if Mr. Blom's sample menu offering 30 dishes is any guide. No wonder so many philosophes seem to have ended up gouty and spherical, despite the moral austerities they often enjoined on others.

Sounds good ...

... Bringing Back The Mysterious Press.

Dimensions of evil ...

... Naimark, Snyder and Applebaum: We need to rethink “genocide”.

Of course, as Kenneth Patchen put it, "There are no proportions in death."