Friday, December 31, 2010

It does, right?

... Up Front: Why Criticism Matters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull, who also sent along the links below.)

(Of course, if you have to explain why something matters, there's a real possibility that it no longer does.)

Six accomplished critics explain the importance of their work.

Stephen Burn | Katie Roiphe
Pankaj Mishra | Adam Kirsch
Sam Anderson | Elif Batuman

Editors’ Introduction

More Critics on Criticism

A year-end poem ...

... Song For An Old Tree.

For the year's end ...

... if the place I want to get to could only be reached by way of a ladder, I would give up trying to get there. For the place I really have to get is a place I must already be at now.
- Wittgenstein

In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
- Eliot

A good reason ...

... TT: Just because.

Sounds bad ...

... Bye, bye, literature.

Encounters ...

... Discovering illustrator Lynd Ward.

Aha!

... Kringleism: Dissemination and maintenance of a pervasive, complex cultural myth structure.

Congratulations ...

... Boston Globe Best of the New 2010: U35 Poetry!

From Maxine ...

... Fishing in Utopia by Andrew Brown.

Gorgeous minimalism ...

... John Martone: scrittura povera.

Phrasing ...

... Days of Auld Lang What?

Listen in ...

... The Bat Segundo Show: Mike Leigh II.

Contraction debate ...

... True Grit isn't true and Norwood.

Rogues gallery ...

... The World's Worst Invasive Mammals.

And yes, in the comments, some suggest that humans should head the list. It is true, of course, that humans have done their share of violence to nature. But it is also true that humans are the only species that includes conservationists.

Psst ...

... HaïkuleaksHaiku Finder.

Thought for the day ...

Cure yourself of the affliction of caring how you appear to others. Concern yourself only with how you appear before God, concern yourself only with the idea that God may have of you.
- Miguel de Unamuno, who died on this date in 1936

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm with Gaw on this ...

... Last Christmas forever.

I like George Michael. I hope he gets his act more together than he seems to have. But how do you pass up that dark-haired chick he's with in that video? The video you can't see from the link. So here it is.

In case you're wondering ...

... What it is to be a Christian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


... a nameless spirituality denies that we are people with names - formed by particular cultures, times, traditions. You've just got to engage with those cultures, times and traditions, for good or ill, to become more of a person. (Hence the Dalai Lama also tells westerners not to become Buddhists.)

Cracking the code ...

... The crucial role of parody.

And this guy ...

... is supposed to be smart: CREDENTIALED, NOT EDUCATED.

Guess he can't understand Emerson, either. Or Poe. Or Melville. Or ...

Calling all WikiLeaks enthusiasts ...

... WikiRebels: Swedish TV Doc on WikiLeaks.

Luvvy absurdity ...

... The Thespian's Art.

Listen in ...

... Conversation with WS Merwin.

Addressing ...

... The Video Question.

Sounds very interesting ...

... Hemingway on Pound.

Good news ...

... regarding The Great American Songbook.

Spare, but with humor ...

... Book Review—High Water.

Homages to creation ...

... `Consent to Be Dazzled'.

Mutability ...

... Cosmos Vs. Chaos: Entropic Thoughts For A New Year. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Reading ...

... Ted Berrigan.

Well worth reading ...

... The Sweet Despair of End-Culture Snark.

... those for whom heated argument is not their default mode of communication often go unheard in public discourse nowadays, precisely because heated argument is not their default mode.

Sad, but true. And the problem with heated arguments is that they tend to shed neither light nor warmth.

Well, I wouldn't ...

... Would You Pay $40,000 For An Antique Typewriter? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

These little piggies ...

... ain't small at all: A Plague of Pigs in Texas.

Dalrymple on Dutton ...

... A Man of Letters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Royal anniversary ...

... King James Bible's 400-year reign. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Thought for the day ...

"Security is a false God. Begin to make sacrifices to it and you are lost.
- Paul Bowles, born on this date in 1910

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yes, but ...

... so sad that this happened at a time of celebration: A Man of Letters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, I have to agree ...

... with Ann Althouse on this (of course, I liked the song when it came out): "[T]he worst pop song designed to reflect a profound moral conscience. I.e. the smuggest, most pretentious pop song in history."

I have to say -- and I don't like saying it -- but Andrew Sullivan does seem to have taken leave of his senses lately. The obsession with Sarah Palen and her family just strikes me as -- and this is putting it as politely as I can -- bizarre.

Those good old days ...

... Click clack, the typewrter is back, for an afterno n. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If the Inquirer website's annoyingly intrusive ads is an example of how they're repsonding to the new media model, well, I can understand why Newsweek sold for a dollar. (That's an in joke, I admit.)

Indeed ...

... God Works Even With the Foolish.

I'm pretty good proof of that.

Well, it happens ...

... Mistakes Were Made.

Also in conclusion ...

... Klipp’s Last Line.

Chesterton and Father Brown ...

... and Alec Guinness: TT: Snapshot.

In conclusion ...

... Take This Waltz: Leonard Cohen’s Tour Comes to an End.

Unusual travelogue ...

... A Journey Through the Afterlife.

Words, words, words ...

... Monthly Gleanings: December 2010.

What great good luck ...

... of course, I am not a vegetarian: A pig for a present.

Continuing ...

...

Q&A ...

... 10 Questions for A.D. Winans.

Faded eminence ...

... Underrated: Charles Taylor. (Hat tip, Dave Lull -- who also notes the swipe at Massim Nicholas Taleb, about which I may have more to say later on.)

Crosscurrents ...

... Bundle Up, It’s Global Warming.

On the other hand, there's this, from a while back: The Super La Nina and the Coming Winter.

And this:
Global Warming Skeptic Predicts Brutal Winter, Warns “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”

Clearing some things up ...

... The scientist pope who lit up the Dark Ages. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not your usual roundup ...

... Diary briefs.

A useful interruption ...

... really! Procrastination: Jonathan Franzen’s superglue solution, and Victor Hugo buck nekkid.

Women and hapless men ...

... Barbara Pym. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Better television ...

... How to Read a Book with Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren.

Thought for the day ...

What is it they want from the man that they didn't get from the work? What do they expect? What is there left when he's done with his work, what's any artist but the dregs of his work, the human shambles that follows it around?
- William Gaddis, born on this date in 1922

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

These puzzling poems ...

... Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nice idea ...

... but: An NEA initiative debauches the educational value of verse: Rhyme Scheme. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Poetry Out Loud fails in practice, however, to emphasize sufficiently those qualities of poetry essential to its educative power. It is not simply that the program has been avowedly influenced by hip-hop, with its typically monotonous rhythms, and by “slam poetry,” a form of expression more akin to political propaganda than to art. A deeper problem is that the Poetry Out Loud anthology, on which participants must draw in choosing the poems they recite, favors modern poets, many of whom lack the rhythmical sophistication of the acknowledged masters of versification—the major poets in the literary canon. Of some 360 poets featured in the online anthology, more than 200 were born after 1910. With poetry so recent, it is difficult to distinguish poems with a permanent value from those that reflect transient fashions. Much of the poetry chosen for the anthology is, moreover, metrically irregular; whatever the other merits of this verse, it cannot match the intricacy and musical complexity of poetry composed in fidelity to the traditional rubrics of metrical order.


Underlying this, of course, is the usual crap about relevance.

Si le grain ne meurt ...

... Gods Must Die to Live. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In memoriam ...

... Denis Dutton, 1944–2010. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Here's a thought ...

... At heart each of us is singular ...

Good ...

... College Censors, Get Ready to Open Your Wallets.

Interesting television ...

... The Way We Live Now: 2001 TV series.

Really about books ...

... Bound to Last Sean Manning (ed.).

See also: Another Review of Bound to Last.

A most paradoxical figure ...

... The Strange Personality of Christ by Vincent Buckley.

"Oh, dear" is right ...

... The Sounds of Christmas.

Let us pray for those poor people -- and their children.

Very thoughtful ...

... and well worth pondering: Life and Meaning and Life and Meaning Again.

I certainly agree that intelligence is intrinsic to life.

Beats me ...

... or vice versa: Fuse Movie Review: Swanday Bloody Swanday.

Literary conversation ...

... Interview with Eric Metaxas, Author of Tome on Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Not so clear ...

... The Idea of the Book.

From Maxine ...

... The News Where You Are by Catherine O’Flynn.

Looking forward ...

... New books in 2011.

Together forever ...

... Conrad and Chandler, Marlow and Marlowe.

This is neat ...

... Timelapse Snowstorm.

FYI ...

... Five E-book Trends.

Very sad news ...

... Denis Dutton dies; author, philosopher, brother to L.A. booksellers.

And, of course, the founder and editor of Arts & Letters Daily.

Check this out ...

... Living Gratefully.

Thought for the day ...

In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but how many can get through to you.
- Mortimer Adler, born on this date in 1902

Monday, December 27, 2010

Most interesting ...

... especially to me: Poem of the Week--Grevel Lindop.

I have an ring with an opal in it -- made by Gwen, who makes jewelry -- on my right hand. But I am an October child. It is my birthstone. It is said that we are the only ones who can wear opals without incurring bad luck

I'm tired ...

... and will not blog much longer tonight. BUT: My Christmas present from Debbie was Leonard Bernstein: The Symphony Edition, which I wanted because I thought it included his 1958 recording of Tchaikovsky's fourth symphony -- a great recording. It doesn't. But it does have his 1970 recording. So far, it is little different. Bernstein bonds with this symphony (as I do myself, though, obviously, in a different way). I grew up with Ormandy conducting this piece, which means I was spared any bathos and treated to glorious sound. But Bernstein gets to the heart of it.
(Actually, the first and second movements of the later recording are very similar to the earlier recording; the third movement in the later recording, however, is just a tad more deft, and the final movement of the later recording is even better than the earlier one: Bernstein, a great conductor-- aa well as a pretty good composer -- understood this music.)

Yes!

... Honor.

Please read the caption before you comment.

More on gratitude ...

... “Life itself is the gift…” — Forrest Church on gratitude, with a few words from Joseph Brodsky, too.

Once again, I feel obliged to recall John Hall Wheelock's insight that “to have lived / Even if once only, once and no more, / Will have been – oh, how truly — worth it.”

I think being alive is a grace from God. But even if you think it's just happenstance, it still seems grounds for gratitude.

Worth a look ...

... Dappled Things.

Hey, if Richard John Neuhaus spoke well of it, that's enough for me. It's also always good to pay attention to what enthusiastic young people are doing.

Well here's a different take ...

... on WikiLeaks: The Blast Shack. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The more I think about this, the more I am convinced the outcome will be a black swan. This piece, like all the others I have looked at, interprets the matter in terms of what we know now, projecting that into the future. I suspect something unsuspected will happen. I also think that in the long run Julian Assange and Bradley Manning will become footnotes. Manning seems to me a confused young man. Give him a slap on the wrist, and let him go on with his life.

More critics' picks ...

... Year in Reviews: Books Our Critics Loved.

The next step ...

... Auden's "Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree ..." - From "For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio." (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I thought I linked to this ...

... but I guess not: Rhyming Triplets. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Time for some chuckles ...

A backward glance ..

... from the Fox Chase Review: 2010 in Review.

Sic transit ...

... TT: Night thoughts on Jack Benny.

Seasonal ...

... Joseph Wambaugh's The Christmas Troll.

The envelope, please ...

... November's IBPC Winners.

... The Judge's Page.

Ready ,set ...

... Action Poetry 2010.

Dynamic duo ...

... gratitude: `Life Itself is the Gift'.

... frivolity: `This Frivolous and Charming World'.

Noir and me ...

... A stroll on Philadelphia's dark side. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A couple of typos therein, but you should be able to figure it out.

Thought for the day ...

Intuition is given only to him who has undergone long preparation to receive it.
- Louis Pasteur, born on this date in 1822

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Imagine that ...

... Ideas for modern living: gratitude. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pondering the modern ...

... An Advent Conversation with James V. Schall, S.J. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Listen in ...

... The Bat Segundo Show: Paul Murray, Part Two.

You mean ...

... it wasn't Dickens? Did the Germans invent Christmas?

Neat ...

... Nowell!

Continuing ...

... The Dabbler’s 2010 Christmas Compendium – Part II.

See also: A Tale from Key’s Christmas Cupboard.

The answer ...

... the other I posted A poll.

As of today Kierkegaard is the winner with 42 percent of the votes cast. John Henry Newman ame in second with 33 percent. Wittgenstein, William James, and John Polkinghorne were tied with 8 percent each.

The correct answer was Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Poetry ...

... by Aeronwy Thomas.

RIP ...

... Janine Pommy Vega.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... New biography a reminder of Joe Louis' clout.

... Changing nature of race in U.S.

... Hip-hop: The 40-year money trail.

... Deceptions, humor, and heartbreak.

... Vivid stories without words.

Thought for the day ...

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.
- Henry Miller, born on this date in 1891

Saturday, December 25, 2010

In the nick of time ...

... Dedalus Saved by Fairy Godmothers: How the UK’s Esoteric Literary Publisher Survives Trying Times.

Lovely ...

... The Nativity & Twas The Night Before Christmas With The Beaton Marionettes.

From back when TV was a vast wasteland -- not like now.

Take your pick ...

... What's the real meaning of Christmas?

More favorites ...

... Editors' Picks: Best Books of 2010. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Boo!

... Advent Ghost Stories.

FYI ...

... How to Write a Sentence.

Savory grand ...

... `Authenticate the Cheerful Mystery'.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Lists of bests ...

... including some of my own: Books we liked in 2010.

Psst ...

... Sneak Preview.

I had the privilege of seeing this beforehand and I think it's great.

A poll ...

... if I am to be REALLY saved, - what I need is certainty - not wisdom, dreams or speculation - and this certainty is faith. And faith is faith in what is needed by my heart, my soul, not my speculative intelligence. For it is my soul with its passions, as it were with its flesh and blood, that has to be saved, not my abstract mind.

(So far SK and Newman are tied at 38 percent each, and Wittgenstein and Polkingnorne are also tied at 13 percent each. No votes yet for William James.)

Who said this?
Søren Kierkegaard
John Henry Newman
Ludwig Wittgenstein
William James
John Polkinghorne
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Good career move ...

... Classic review: The Man Who Invented Christmas.

Greetings and a poem ...

... from Australia: Happy Christmas.

Hear, hear ...

... Twelve theses on libraries and librarians.

Librarians often contrive for themselves this Luddite image. But they are in truth the most progressive and visionary figures ... like bloodhounds, always hot on the trail of the future.

Sounds like Dave Lull to me!

Seasonal memories ...

... including Nige's and Patrick Kurp's (and my own): The Dabbler’s 2010 Christmas Compendium – Part I.

Not so merry and bright ...

... Have a Simeon Christmas.

Waiting ...

... Rebecca West called for “a new and abusive school of criticism.” It’s still needed.

Indeed ...

... TT: 'Tis the season (IV).

Out of the North ...

... Hey Ho, Nesbo.

Out of the hurricane ...

... Judith Fitzgerald on MotoMan David Morris. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Use your gifts faithfully, and they shall be enlarged; practice what you know, and you shall attain to higher knowledge.
- Matthew Arnold, born on this date in 1822

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Counterlife


Journal entry from Mexico City:

Score one for Irony.

I mean, really, what are the odds that I should become consumed by Philip Roth's Counterlife in a place whose foundations are firmly, unshakably, Catholic? Truly, reading Roth's novel this week has been surreal: after all, here I am, surrounded at almost every turn by visual representations of Christ, and yet, in my lap, I'm holding a sort of Jewish jeremiad.

I could go on and on about this irony, and about the triumph that is The Counterlife, but I won't - if only because the irony, much like the novel, speaks - absolutely, insistently - for itself.

I will say, though, that the final seventy-five pages of this masterpiece are as good as it gets.

And so, come on, let's leave behind (or at least revisit) those tired characterizations of Roth. After all, this novel is about so much more than tribalism, or tribal affiliation, or paranoia, or the modern construction of "we."

It's a book, in the end, about one hopelessly, endlessly complicated thing: history. And it's the sad (at moments in this novel, devastating) revelation that "conflict is never rooted in the here and now but...originates so far back that all that remains of the grandparents' values are the newlyweds' ugly words" which endows The Counterlife with such a ferocious, such a spirited punch.

I couldn't put this book down.

Once again ...

... Bellow's letters: They don’t say that about Idi Amin. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Don’t ask the wives. (Except the last one, Janis, who was a force behind this volume, mother of his last child, and staunch keeper of the flame.) They lived with the man who wrote these letters. They also lived with the man who wrote the novels, and the distance between these two men, you imagine, must be part of the story of the wives’ fiery sense of right and wrong. Bellow’s striving with life’s problems, when the reviewers’ backs were turned, most often involved the complications of the heart, to put it nicely. One might instead speak of matrimonial torture, faithlessness, cheating, divorce, alimony, parental access and the courts. Bellow had a big heart for struggling male souls, and the letters are at their most tender when he’s dealing with people like Berryman or John Cheever – ‘you were engaged, as a writer should be, in transforming yourself … I loved you for this’ – but the wives, sadly, emerge with snakes for hair. In fact he gives them the same sort of critical dermabrasion he gives to the critics, searing their faces: you never understood me; you’re not qualified to judge me; why don’t you just climb into the centre of your smallness and fuck off and die.

"[Y]ou were engaged, as a writer should be, in transforming yourself ..." There is a widespread notion that the creation of art is so important that it gives artists license to behave however they wish. Well, it isn't and they shouldn't.

Light blogging ...

... I had to be out and about this afternoon, getting things for a Vigilia supper we're having tomorrow night (on Christmas we're going out with friends to ... a Chinese restaurant). So blogging is going to be light in the meantime. And who the hell is bothering to read blogs now anyway?

And the nominee is ...

... Year’s best American novel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Literary conversation ...

... The Bat Segundo Show: Paul Murray, Part One.

Debut review ...

... True Grit: Opening Today (which now is yesterday).

From Maxine ...

... Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope.

Poetic legacy ...

... A Treasure Hoard Revealed.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: Vichy as a buffer state, Them cornfields, Shelley at Eton, and more!

Blessed are the cheesemakers ...

... Hugh Plat, alchemist, courtier and all-round inventor.

Sans Updike ...

... Rabbit Run: Issa's Sunday Service, #82.

Of time and photography ...

... Abbey Road.

Calling all journalists ...

... name your picks: Holiday Reading List.

Q&A ...

... Dr. Francis Collins. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Radical innocence ...

... David Lang’s postmodern passion: “It is not a pretty story”.

Thought for the day ...

If we want everything to remain as it is, it will be necessary for everything to change.
- Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, born on this date in 1896

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Well, now ...

... here's a list: Notable Books of 2010. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm ...

... Book Munch Book of the Year.

Inhaling God ...

... Marginalia, no.166. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For the recent solstice ...

... “…and eyes full of tinsel and fire.”

Where the hell was Jeff Sypeck when I wanted to study the Middle Ages? Probably not born. Oh, well.

Indeed ...

... Poets do say it better.

What a useful site ...

... at least for a Catholic Taoist like myself: Tao Te Ching.

We all have one ...

... Our Musical Soul.

I remember the first time I heard Daphnis et Chloe. I thought I had never heard anything so beautiful.

Taking off ...

... The Wind-Up.

Drab soap opera ...

... Chelsea Girl: Andrew Butterfield Reviews Steve Martin's An Object Of Beauty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Distillations ...

... All of A Twitter – 10 mini reviews.

Measurement and forecasting ...

... A Scientist, His Work and a Climate Reckoning. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The presumption throughout this article is that an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide necessarily results in an increase in temperature. This has been called global warming. All of which is fine, except that the global average temperature has been stable for the past several years while -- according to the article -- the atmospheric CO2 level has continued to increase. Also, if CO2 causes the temperature to rise, I don't see how it can be made to account for current chilly temperatures. Remember, I am agnostic on this issue. I do not see that a conclusive case has been made either way. But I do think there are sound reasons to doubt some of the logic employed by the AGW advocates (don't identify weather with climate -- except when the weather seems to support AGW, for instance). Anyway, I've posted plenty of stuff questioning AGW. Seems only fair to post this as well.

I link. You decide for yourself. In the meantime, here's something I posted a link to a while back: The Super La Nina and the Coming Winter.

Time for ...

... Pursewarden's Christmas Book Quiz.

Advent is nearly over ...

... but music is forever: Advent Music.

And the answer is ...

... Round Blogworld Quiz #5: The Solution.

Closed circuit ...

... Winter Solstice: 2010.

Remembrance ...

... Souls of journalists dead and gone. . . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dream on ...

... Transmissions from a Lone Star: Finding magic in everyday places.

An excellent post ...

... Some Religion for Christmas.

Why, of course ...

... Mnot Your Mother's Narnia.

Perhaps Palin could do us a favor, and read Tom Friedman and Malcolm Gladwell. That would finish them off.

From those dark '50s ...

... 1958 Interview with Robert Hutchins.

Off beat ...

... Christmas in Jail.

Also born today ...

... in 1858: Giacomo Puccini: Renata Tebaldi Jussi Bjoerling sing La Boheme.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another bravo ...

... for Sarah Ruden: `That Odd Journey'.

Wait till you reach my age, Terry ...

... Entry from an unkept diary.

Minority report ...

... Overrated: Nassim Nicholas Taleb. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I reviewed The Black Swan, and what I thought about it then is what I still think: that its epistemological implications, especially for historiography, are considerable, since in the latter case it would involve reconstructing the ignorance prevailing at any given time. This review, in my opinion, rather oversimplifies what Taleb had to say. And the aphorism is a literary form that can be taken up by anyone at any time of life.

Ongoing ...

... Against “net neutrality”.

Of course, if you think this will weaken the effect of those you disagree with, you won't be opposed. But if so, you are not in favor of free expression.

Well, why not ...

... Dancing With The Scientists.

David Foster Wallace

A novelist, it's true, but a gifted philosopher as well...

Lie back ...

... relax: Digested Read: The Bed of Procrustes by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sowing ...

... meet reaping: Wikileaks Founder Victim of Leak?

More favorites ...

... Favorite Books of 2010.

Hope and memory ...

... Joseph Bottum on Seamus Heaney: Human Chain.

Sounds wonderful ...

... and what a lovely photo: A Cotswold Village at Christmas I.

Strange Muse ...

... a day late with this, but no matter: Happy Birthday, Maud Gonne: “It Is To Be A Bond Of The Spirit Only.”

Figure it out ...

.. or guess away: The Dabbler’s Round Blogworld Quiz #5.

Guiding fiction ...

... Bing Crosby’s “The Happy Prince”.

From Maxine ...

... Carte Blanche by Carlo Lucarelli, tr. Michael Reynolds.

If you read nothing else today ...

... read this: Vanishing Act. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Overcoming ...

... The joy, terror and ennui of new experiences.

I got over my fear of standing in front of audience thanks to a required course in college: Rhetoric and Public Speaking.

From the comments

... a point well made:

Shelley said...

Apologies for visiting twice in one week, but it might be a good time for us to do some Paul Revere-ing on the Internet–today the FCC is passing down the first of the Net Neutrality rulings. Al Franken on HuffPo (scroll down middle column there) says we should be outraged, and he doesn’t usually exaggerate. The Internet should not be headed toward corporate blogs buying the fast lane and the rest of us stuck in slow.

Not sure where to make our voice heard, by emailing the White House or maybe the FCC page with How To Make ECFS Express Comments? It might be good if non-corporate websites had a community way for us to alert each other when something important like this comes up. Please consider passing it on.

I don't know about Al Franken not being given to exaggeration, but I'm glad to hear he objects, and glad to know that he and I finally agree on something. I don't know if the FCC or the White House would heed any comments, however many and however negative, because both think they know better. I would suggest getting in touch with one's Congressman (though mine is a buffoon) or senators. See also Hands off tomorrow's Internet.

Looking ahead ...

... Windsor Book fest and the Canadian poets of the future. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Place your bids ...

... FUNDRAISING AUCTION NOW.

Good news ...

... Philosophy Lives. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It seems to me that M-theory is simply a conditional proposition: If there are multiple universes, then there need be no creator. But there is no evidence for the postulated multiple universes. So all they are saying is that it is theoretically possible that God does not exist. Not exactly evidence-based reasoning, however.

In praise of ...

... Hazlitt the neglected. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So there ...

... Philadelphia to New York: Drop Dead.

Collectible, too ..

... I guess: Qur’an Written in Saddam Hussein’s Blood: Valuable, Controversial and Gross.

Precipitation ...

... Two Chinese Snow Poems.

Back in October ...

... the story was: WINTER TO BE MILD PREDICTS MET OFFICE.

... using data generated by a £33million supercomputer...
Happily, this is only weather.

Here's something related: The man who repeatedly beats the Met Office at its own game.

Poetry choices ...

... What I Read in 2010.

Silent fiction ...

... my review of Lynd Ward's woodcut novels: Vivid stories without words.

Discoveries ...

... New-to-me authors in 2010.

Thought for the day ...

People think that because a novel's invented, it isn't true. Exactly the reverse is the case. Biography and memoirs can never be wholly true, since they cannot include every conceivable circumstance of what happened. The novel can do that.
- Anthony Powell, born on this date in 1905

Monday, December 20, 2010

Subterranean Poetry...

...No longer.

For the solstice ...

... which is the darkest evening of year: Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.

For the season also ...

... Letters from Cell 92: Part 6, "The Man for Others".

Literary conversation ...

... WBBT Stop: Ted Chiang.

Great shot ...

... Tracks!

It is indeed ...

... 'Tis the season (I).

Bottoms up ..

... Hic Bibitur.

Good cheer and carrion ...

... Compassion is a very untenable ground: Thoreau’s Dead Horse.

Words, words, words ...

... Some slang, like skeezing, goes way back — an example from Ulysses.

Efficient cause ...

... or the lack thereof: The Means.

Reading and life ...

... `Our Books Choose Us'.

A backward glance ..

... at The Literary Year 2010.

Lest we forget ...

... Culture Haven.

A very umble man ...

... Words and Phrases and the Continuing Threat to Dental Health.

Continuing ...

... A Year in Reading.

Woe is he ...

... December: Difficulties.

I sympathize. Years ago, when I had a large and drafty house in Germantown, something almost always went wrong the heating system in ... December.

Big Brother stirs ...

... The FCC's Threat to Internet Freedom.

More here from Washington Post: Monitoring America.

(Post bumped.)

Personal matters ...

... Autobiographical crime fiction.

Heartwarming blast of the day ...

... Ed Champion on Edward Docx: A Slug Defending His Gated Community.

On the one hand ...

... Probable carcinogen hexavalent chromium found in drinking water of 31 U.S. cities.

... on the other: "Erin Brockovich" Town Shows No Cancer Cluster.

We link. You decide.

Check this out ...

... the digital version of The Children of Children Keep Coming.

I never miss an opportunity ...

... to highlight sprezzatura: Virginia Postrel on Glamour.

It is a word I first came upon in Burckhardt's The Civilization of the Renaisssance in Italy, which is a great book.

Freakish mastery ...

... National treasures – Van Eyck: The Arnolfini Portrait.

Oh, my ...

... "Like A Bad Lobster in a Dark Cellar".

More helpful hints ...

... A Professor to HIs Students: On Creative Writing.

Sales tips ...

... Book Promotion Advice for the Digital Age.

Really speaking truth ...

... to power: Remembering Bella Akhmadulina: “purity, conscience, and independence”.

Favorites ...

... My Favorite Crime Novels of 2010, and Other Books I Loved.

Watch where you go ...

... for books: Book Review: Of Thee I Sing by B. H. Obama.

Glad to see Daniel detested Julie & Julia as much as I did.

Differentiae ...

... Allegory and Why Narnia Is Not One.

Thought for the day ...

A tragedy need not have blood and death; it's enough that it all be filled with that majestic sadness that is the pleasure of tragedy.
-Jean Racine, born on this date in 1639


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hmm ...

... Astronomer Sues the University of Kentucky, Claiming His Faith Cost Him a Job.

With his faith, Dr. Gaskell, who now works at the University of Texas but has accepted a job in Chile, does embrace views that most of his peers find indefensible. In a 1998 survey, 7.5 percent of physicists and astronomers in the National Academy of Sciences said they believed in God — and many of the believers would still concede that science explains the universe better than a reading of Genesis.

"...views that most of his peers find indefensible." What might those views be? That Big Bang theory sounds an awful lot like "Let there be light"? It's not as if he were arguing on behalf of the world being created in six 24-hour periods. I believe in a creator. That does not make me a "creationist," which I am not. Maybe some of the people at the University of Kentucky need to make plain to themselves what or whom they are talking about.

An observation ...

... the first of what I hope will be a regular feature.

Recently, there have been -- in Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Greece -- riots protesting government policies. In the U.S. -- that troglodytic region -- there were some gatherings in D.C. But they all fell under the rubric of the Constitutionally acknowledged right of the freedom of citizens to peaceably assemble, and nothing remotely violent occurred.
Instead, we had an election. Americans still think they -- the citizens -- are where the power comes from. If anyone disapproves of how the vote went -- well, that's their problem. Maybe they should move to Europe and join a riot.

Case in point: THOUSANDS Of Protesters Storm Government Building After Rigged Elections in Belarus – Opposition Candidate Beaten to a Pulp.


An atheist explains

... Why religion is good for us. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good news ...

... this didn't happen: Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.

A great film ...

... All heart and no napkins. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think Fred MacMurray is the one to watch in The Apartment. He is wondrously callous. By the way, I think Mark Steyn is every bit as good on politics as he is on films, but I can see why those who are unsympathetic to his politics would think otherwise.

Lives in brief ..

... Lazy Sunday Afternoon: They left early.

I think Mendelssohn is generally thought to be the musical prodigy of all time, because some his early works -- like the octet, but also the overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream -- were not only written when he was very young, but are masterpieces.

Moby gives ...

... In the margins with Sam Anderson + Melville House book giveaway contest. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

From Maxine ...

... Indridason, Arnaldur - 'Hypothermia' (translated by Victoria Cribb).

The envelope, please ...

... The IBPC's Poem of the Decade: May 2000-Apr 2010.

See also The Judge's Page.

Who knew?

... The Benefits of Being Conformist.

Most impressive ...

... Sarah Ruden, a joyful iconoclast. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In my circles, we're supposed to deride the flag-waver who asserts that God loves our nation more than others, but I'm bored with that, and more inclined to get annoyed with the typical clerical politician of the left--just because no one around me challenges him, however strange his statements: for example, that "poverty elimination" and Christianity are functionally the same thing.

Aside from the obvious Scriptural and theological objections you could make to that, there are horrors of the twentieth century to look back on: the massive poverty elimination projects in the Soviet Union, North Korea, Cambodia, China, and Tanzania. The result was always elimination of the poor, those irritating barriers between human ideology and agency, and the paradise leaders insisted that these can create on their own






Weather report ...

... more snow.