Monday, January 31, 2011

We link ...

... you decide: Upgrade blues: The screenager vs. the teacher of argument.

What a story ...

... From greengrocer to Bosnia to journalist. (Hat tip, Michael Phillips.)

Anniversary ...

... "When I Have Fears…" (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not the same thing ...

... Superstition and the Supernatural.

Online labyrinths ...

... 6 Clicks…for the Endless Voyage: Daniel Kalder. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Congratulations, Patrick ...

... 50 Best Blogs for Humanities Scholars. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Peering in the mirror ...

... Influence: A Practice in Three Wanders.

Divine art ...

... The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Person. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

... as a fan of Thomas Aquinas, I was glad to note that the greatest moral philosopher of all time seems to have intuited an increasingly plausible line:

'It is clear that nature is a certain kind of divine art impressed upon things, by which these things are moved to a determinate end. It is as if a shipbuilder were able to give to timbers that by which they would move themselves to take the form of a ship.'

Handmade books ...

... Paravion Press.

Local hero ...

... Man Versus the State. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Williams also grew up with my late friend and former colleague, the Rev. Al Smith.

On discourse ...

... Orwell Watch #5: Before we shoot off our mouths again…

This got me thinking ...

... 20 Questions to Ask of Novels.

The reason it got me thinking, of course, is that I've been reviewing for ... about half a century, actually; I had a review column in my college newspaper back in 1961. A lot of the books I have reviewed, perhaps even most, were fiction. The questions posed here may lurk somewhere in the back of my mind when I read a novel, but certainly not consciously. I just pick up the book and start reading. If I come upon a passage I think I may want to refer to, I make a note of it. But I try to read just for the fun of it. This is quite simply because what I want to have, first and foremost, is the reading experience, not the reviewing experience. And yes, emotional response is important, and the trick of reviewing is discerning what it is exactly in the book that causes that response.

Hmm ...

... Is Mubarak Egypt's 'black swan'? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Still puzzling ...

... Herman Melville, The Last Great Enigma Of American Literature.

Criminal royalty ...

... A Queen of Mystery.

RIP ...

... The Dean Of Movie Music, James Bond Composer John Barry Dies Age 77.

Listen in ...

... The Bat Segundo Show: Misha Angrist.

Reposting ...

.,.. because of new material ( the audios of Freud and C.S. Lewis): To believe, or not to believe?

Thought for the day ...

Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how.
- Thomas Merton, born on this date in 1915

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sounds good to me ...

... Peer review: Trial by Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


To many researchers, such rapid response is all to the good, because it weeds out sloppy work faster. "When some of these things sit around in the scientific literature for a long time, they can do damage: they can influence what people work on, they can influence whole fields," says Goldstein. This was avoided in the case of the longevity-gene paper, he says. One week after its publication, the authors released a statement saying, in part, "We have been made aware that there is a technical error in the lab test used … [and] are now closely re-examining the analysis." Then in November, Science issued an 'Expression of Concern' about the paper3, in essence questioning the validity of its results.

Corrective ...

... He Said, She Said.

Time for a poem ...

... French Toast. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Debatable ..

... `If One Has Something to Say'.

As someone who practices the plain style -- I could not write ornate prose even I wanted to -- I still would not be without my Robert Burton and my Sir Thomas Browne. And what of John Donne? I admire Winters, but I find him often dogmatic, and I think poetry and prose should be spared dogma. Like many people, Winters thought everybody should do things the way he did. Always a bad idea.

From Maxine ...

... Winterkill by C J Box.

Good question ...

... Nabokov was right - so was Stephen Jay Gould wrong? (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

Boxing and writing ...

... The Word Made Flesh.

Q & A ...

... What's happening in Cairo (a Mum asks!).

... Cairo riots: eye witness account.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nige ...

... on Libraries. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Rambling, vague, and peculiar ...

... Forgotten Author: No 62 - Thomas Love Peacock. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

His tales have no structure, thin characters, little human interest, and usually consist of people sitting around tables discussing the intellectual topics of the day. Yet there's something here that can keep you reading. Peacock's books are a window to the past, and we feel we are eavesdropping on the kind of drunken, heady conversations that English intellectuals have had in pubs for centuries.

His way ...

... A Hollywood Icon Lays Down the Law.

"As for Josey Wales, I saw the parallels to the modern day at that time. Everybody gets tired of it, but it never ends. A war is a horrible thing, but it's also a unifier of countries. . . . Man becomes his most creative during war. Look at the amount of weaponry that was made in four short years of World War II—the amount of ships and guns and tanks and inventions and planes and P-38s and P-51s, and just the urgency and the camaraderie, and the unifying. But that's kind of a sad statement on mankind, if that's what it takes."

Another one ...

... bites the dust: The End is Nigh - for way-out wacky Philly bookstore Germ.

And, for those who travel: Travel Bookshelf: The ecological, the elusive, the eternal.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... well, there's really only one: my review of pianist Byron Janis's memoir: 'Chopin and Beyond': A piano virtuoso's memoir offers a bit of the eerie.

I spoke with Janis about his book, and you can listen to the podcast below.

Thought for the day ...

Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.
- Barbara Tuchman, born on this date in 1912

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What comes next ...

... Carl Jung on Death.

For those who missed out ...

... getting in touch with Western Civilization.

If memory serves, western civilization is what education was about when I was in school.

A beautiful talent ...

... that was Scott Fitzgerald's appraisal of himself: Babylon Revisited: A Look Back At F. Scott Fitzgerald And One Of His Greatest Short Stories.

A little scorn ...

... in a slack age: “This is Egypt, Joseph, the old school of the soul.”

Lighting a spark ...

... The Seduction.

Could this be ...

... the best paper ever? THE UNSUCCESSFUL SELF-TREATMENT OF
A CASE OF "WRITER'S BLOCK"
. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The inevitable ...

... Nobody Gets Out of Here Alive. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"There is about as much proof of the wisdom of old age as there is of the medical efficacy of holy water from Lourdes," Ms. Jacoby writes. And: "The old-age wisdom canon is essentially a defense against the knowledge of the terrible fates that lies ahead for many of us before we actually die." At this point, in the margin of my copy of "Never Say Die," I scribbled, "Keep the laughs coming, kid."

I spent the greater part of last year coming to terms with the fact that I am no longer young. When you're a kid, you can't wait to grow up, but you take heart from knowing that, barring some misfortune, you will. When you get old, you have to adjust to the realization that a lot of things are no longer in the realm of possibility. Case in point: That pretty young woman over there is never going to be smitten with you.
But I find I have somehow grown comfortable with life's diminuendo. I'm not looking to die anytime soon, but I am still interested in seeing what happens next, even though I am perfectly aware that there are, as it were, fewer and fewer pages left in the book. But I have, I think, gotten over the shock that John Hall Wheelock describes in his poem "The Part Called Age":

... imperceptibly
Almost as if in the winking of an eye,
The thing happened: waking from the long turmoil
And trance of youth, suddenly you found it there --
Not knowing what had become of the years in between,
You found yourself, as now he found himself,
An aged man pacing his father's acres,
Remembering how his father had said, "Someday,
When you are older, perhaps you will understand."
Was it not all exactly as foretold
Long since? Had it not happened all over again?
He had come to the passage in the old legend so many
Before him had listened to through the centuries --
But, oh, the difference, for now it was told to him,
And it wasn't believable!

The invisible by which we see ..

... Light.

The emotional supply chain...

... Direct Is The Only Way.

Attention, Oregonians ...

... Author Bill Carter will speak at Astoria's annual Fisher Poets Gathering.

Thought for the day ...

One makes mistakes; that is life. But it is never a mistake to have loved.
- Romain Rolland, born on this date in 1866

Friday, January 28, 2011

The real thing ...

... Julian Barnes's Pulse.

Seeking manuscripts ...

... the Journal of Universal Rejection. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

After submitting your work, the decision process varies. Often the Editor-in-Chief will reject your work out-of-hand, without even reading it! However, he might read it. Probably he'll skim. At other times your manuscript may be sent to anonymous referees. Unless they are the Editor-in-Chief's wife or graduate school buddies, it is unlikely that the referees will even understand what is going on. Rejection will follow as swiftly as a bird dropping from a great height after being struck by a stone. At other times, rejection may languish like your email buried in the Editor-in-Chief's inbox. But it will come, swift or slow, as surely as death. Rejection.

Prepare your questions ...

... Q&A with WikiLeaks to follow 60 Minutes interview with Julian Assange.

Something to think about ...

... Two Scholars (A Parable).

A singing horse ...

... “So I cut some cord, and I shouldn’t have done it…”

Inaginary meeting ...

... To Believe, or Not to Believe? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Such plays often lack dramatic momentum, but this one is tautened by its shrewdly calculated setting. The date is Sept. 3, 1939. Not long after Lewis arrives, Freud switches on the radio to hear Neville Chamberlain announcing that a state of war exists between England and Germany—and the air-raid sirens start to wail.

Together at last ...

... Casanova and Don Juan.

Royal diary ...

... The crown hurt me.

Any which way and back ...

... Data interpreted both ways.

"It will be more hot, more cold, more wet and more dry..."

Looked at strictly from the angle of discourse, the parallels are striking.

Ed to the rescue ...

... Jane McGonigal’s Mind is Broken.

This is certainly true ...

... You Gotta Get Up If You Want to Get Off.

Massive but informative ...

... Dealing With Assange and the Secrets He Spilled. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

Something of a preview here: NYT Editor Unloads on 'Arrogant,' 'Manipulative' Julian Assange. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)


Lee also sends along this: WikiLeaks Diplomatic Cables. (See the comments for Lee's comment of Bill Keller, for which there is much justification. If not for Lee, by the way, I would also almost certainly not have linked to much, if any of this.)

Oh, and Keller has another critic.

Classics ...

... It's ear candy, I know, but...

The Armstrong and the Mercer alone are worth your time.

"I like her" ...

... `In a Borgesian Series'.

Thought for the day ...

Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
- Colette, born on this date in 1873

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What think you?

... Thoughts on libraries and a cultivated sense of curiosity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I was never myself much into any sort of programmed learning. I understood I had to learn grammar and usage, study Latin and German (when the time came), read what was assigned, etc. But beyond that, I preferred to investigate things on my own ... and then consult with a teacher I trusted -- Miss Parkinson in the fourth grade, Mother Holmes in the sixth, Mr. De Christopher or Father Travers or Father Wagner in high school, to name just a few -- about what I had come up with. Effective education, it seems to me, is a strange mix of the formal and the spontaneous, and the problem with all of the recent lamentations is that it seems they want to formalize the whole process. (As for the teaching to take tests, well that just isn't education, period, and any teacher who does that isn't really a teacher. But there are a lot of people in the teaching business who don't belong there.)

Places to avoid ...

... The 12 Worst Colleges For Free Speech.

Sounds great ...

... Orson Welles's unseen masterpiece set for release. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On sort of a related note, Debbie and I last night watched The Life of Emile Zola starring Paul Muni, which won the academy award for best picture in 1937. It is further proof that movies are not better than ever. Muni, an actor of genius, made only 25 films, but was nominated for best actor in six of them (including Zola). He won for The Story of Louis Pasteur, which was released the year before Zola. In one of his essays, Henry Miller tells of being in a movie theater in Paris when Juarez, also starring Muni, opened. Miller says that when the movie was over, the entire audience, as if on cue, stood and gave it a standing ovation.

Blogging at its best ...

... Updated and corrected: Nuggets of nonsense from Norway. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Translation: Rose is idealistic about freedom of expression, and believes in the civilizing effect of free debate, in which no person has a right to any special protection in open democracies, and appeals to the example of the USA, which only places restrictions on incitements to violence. In the book he pays little attention to the fact that almost no American media have republished the Jyllands-Posten's cartoons, something which amounts, for all practical purposes, to precisely the same self-censorship he started out to challenge.


I know of two papers that published one or more of the cartoons -- The Inquirer and the Trenton Times. That no other papers did is merely testimony to the selective pusillanimity of contemporary American official journalism, the sanctimony of which is matched only by its hypocrisy. No problem printing or defending slurs on Christians -- especially by "artists." Unlike some Muslims (please note the "some"), Christians are unlikely to respond to such slurs in a homicidal manner.

My, my ...

... Amazon sales pop as Kindle books overtake paperbacks. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cri de coeur ...

... Sorry.

The battle between self-identified conservatives and progressives in the 1980s seems increasingly like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. While humanists were busy arguing amongst themselves, American college students and their families were turning in ever-increasing numbers away from the humanities and toward seemingly more pragmatic, more vocational concerns.

And who can really blame them? If humanists themselves could not even agree on the basic value, structure, and content of a liberal arts education — if some saw the tradition of Western civilization as one of oppression and tyranny, while others defended and validated it; if some argued that a humanistic education ought to be devoted to the voices of those previously excluded from "civilized" discussion, such as people of color and women, while others argued that such changes constituted a betrayal of the liberal arts — is it any wonder that students and their families began turning away from the humanities?

Latest anonymous identified ...

... maybe: O, Mark Salter!! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"Confirmed by sources" doesn't entirely work for me.

In case you haven't heard ...

... the Colm Toibin event at the library tonight has been canceled.

Creative ecology ...

... Federico Uribe: Once Upon A Time.

Where the Presence is ...

... Thin Places.

In case you wondered ...

... How to Pick a Book Prize. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hear ye, hear ye ...

... Oldest Galaxy Discovered.

Can we be sure it's still there?

Exhilaratingly demented ...

... Alejandro Jodorowsky's dance on the edge of meaning.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: 'Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets’, The Cairo Geniza, Lord Mansfield, and more!

Homages ...

... TLS - as another sees us.

Better late ...

... After 60 Years, a Promise Kept to Sinclair Lewis. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Openness ...

... Dissent or Discovery.

Moving on ...

... Green’s Dictionary of Slang: Death. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cover boys ...

... Orwell Watch #4: Jared Loughner – madman, terrorist, or both?

"Quite a marvel" ...

... Nonfiction: Nabokov Theory on Butterfly Evolution Is Vindicated. (Hat tips, Lee Lowe and Dave Lull.)

An interesting blog ...

... Thomas O'Rourke An Actor's Life.

Not many around these days ...

... A Civilized Man. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Always speak the truth, think before you speak, and write it down afterwards.
- Lewis Carroll, born on this date in 1832

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

RIP ...

... Vincent Cronin.

He's still at it ...

... Seduced yet again by Casanova.

Truly immortal ...

... 3 New Books About Arthur Conan Doyle's Iconic Character Sherlock Holmes.

For your calendar ...

... if you're out that way: Fisher Poets Gathering.

I can't take a position on this myself, because I just don't know the details, but I'm inclined to think the fishermen know whereof they speak.

Who knew?

... Herman Melville Has 25 Words for Beard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Treasures ...

... National treasures – Van Gogh: Wheatfield, with Cypresses.

... Scottish National treasures – Raeburn: The Skating Minister.

See also Young Blade. (Hat tip, Rob Mackenzie.)


A 14-day rendezvous ...

... eBookFling.

Signatures needed ...

... Petition To Honor Boston Poet Jack Powers- please sign.

I did.

Never too late ...

... Japanese woman is bestselling poet – aged 99. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

RIP ...

... Daniel Bell, Ardent Appraiser of Politics, Economics and Culture, Dies at 91.

I, too, am a fan ...

... Review—Slouching Toward Nirvana: New Poems.

Yeah, the anti-canon.

Congratulations, Cynthia ...

... Pw's Top 10: Literary Essays & Criticism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A fine story ...

... by my friend Lee Lowe: Watershed. I've read this a couple of times. Liked it even better the second time.


The first time he understood about water, he was five years old. When the bath began to overflow, he’d panicked and run downstairs, crying out for help. By the time Sal remembered about the mains, the water had reached the landing and the carpeting was squishy underfoot and he was hiding at the back of the wardrobe. But without a door to a snowy wood he got a good taste of her hand.

Using Twitter ...

... Tweeting Fragile.

“The experience Tweeting Fragile has been great- I have reached people in far-flung parts of the world that I never would have connected with any other way. I don't think Twitter is the ideal way to read Fragile, or any other book, but it is a way to get a taste of it and experience a bit of the book each day."

Art and laughter ...

... A Lesson in Art Criticism, among Other Things.

I feel the same way about the solemnity of classical music concerts. More people might attend them if they could tap their toes and sway. But no, they have to sit as though listening to a sermon.

Time for a poem ...

... “Idol” by Daniel E. Pritchard.

Tomorrow night ...

... Colm Tóibín | The Empty Family: Stories.

When to throw the fastball ...

... The Return of Virtue Ethics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Strong words ...

... Corruption of education and academia by 'liberal' regimes - Seraphim Rose.

Thought for the day ...

When the soul drifts uncertainly between life and the dream, between the mind's disorder and the return to cool reflection, it is in religious thought that we should seek consolation.
- Gerard de Nerval, who died on this date in 1855

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The instability of fashion ...

... Zero History: William Gibson's anatomy of cool.

One of the problems of "cool" in the fashion world today is that, with the proliferation of cool-hunters, market research, and commoditized rebellion (think Urban Outfitters, H&M, or other "counterculture" retailers), the cycle from trendsetter to mass consumption is ever shorter and the high-low cultural divide ever narrower. Cool is more quickly copied and mainstreamed these days, which makes the task of being cutting-edge and truly exclusive ever more arduous.

The coolest guy I know is Elmore Leonard, and I doubt if he has ever spent a nanosecond of his life thinking about it.

More for the occasion ...

... Dabbler Soup – Burns Night Supper.

Around town with 007 ...

... A Tour Of James Bond's London.

For the occasion ...

... Burns nicht and Kenneth McKellar.

Don't go to extremes ...

... “Fact” vs. “fancy”: Still an issue in the real world.

These little potential artists see art as something that comes out of talent, strictly. They believe that art just happens. If not provided with balanced guidance, they will grow up to not be “real people.” Everything is a dream to them. Worse, they don’t really think the arts are important, though they claim to have veins full of inspiration and a heart driven by thespian passion. They see the arts more as shortcut toward a Romanticized detachment that they can openly and theatrically bear like a personal cross


One of Ken Russell's less felicitous films is Savage Messiah, about the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. The film is almost entirely devoted to his bohemian style of living, with glimpses of him occasionally at work. Gaudier-Brzeska was killed in World War I. He was only 23. The film concludes with a memorial exhibition of his work mounted by his friends. The camera pans across one striking piece after another, and you suddenly realize that this guy couldn't been partying anywhere near as much as the film suggests. He must have spent most of his waking hours working, which is what real artists do. Real artists know that Noël Coward was right: "Work is so much more fun than fun."

Calling his bluff ...

... Glenn Reynolds on Richard Dawkins.

This appears to be one more example of Dawkins' tendency to weigh in on something he knows nothing about and hasn't bothered to learn anything about. Also, as Glenn points out, he edits the evidence to strengthen his argument. Dawkins seems to know mostly what he believes to be the case.

Words and self ...

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

Is it an exaggeration to say that a second language can provide us with a new self?
I would think so, given that the self is rather elusive to begin with.

Rites and quirks ...

... Strange Things My Authors Do.

Art and life (cont'd.)

Last night I read Patricia Highsmith's story "Woodrow Wilson's Necktie." I think it does a better job of explaining Jared Loughner than anything else I've seen. (At the link, the story starts on the previous page.)

The professor and the movie star ...

... an unexpected encounter…

But time for an aphorist ...

... No Time for Wisdom. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good stuff ...

... Links: Revolutionary Roads.

Congratulations ...

... BR-born poet Kelly Cherry named Virginia laureate. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Art and life ...

... Brideshead Revisited: The Chapel.

And the winner is ...

... White Egrets takes 2010 T.S.Eliot Prize for Poetry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Richard Evans - Following Up

Readers of this blog may remember a few months ago when I posted a piece on Richard Evans and his (the word I used was 'scathing') review of Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands. I was pleased that bits of my commentary were later picked up on The Book Haven. Even more pleasing, though, was reading the exchange which ensued in the opening pages of the LRB. If you didn't have a chance to peruse the give-and-take, here's a link. Enjoy!

My latest column ...

... Unsettled science — knowledge and certainty.

Thought for the day ...


The love that lasts longest is the love that is never returned.
- W. Somerset Maugham, born on this date in 1874

Monday, January 24, 2011

The virtue of simplicity ...

... Twelve superior actors.

Reginald Rose's popular jury-room drama ... was originally written for a CBS telecast in 1954 ....
Yes, that was back when television was "a vast wasteland."

Worth remembering ,,,

... Battered Penguins I.

See also The Press: A Victory for Honor.

And this as well: Books: Farce of the Year.

For tomorrow ...

... Dabbler Soup – What would Rabbie drink?

I could actually get some haggis tomorrow. My butcher, Sonny D'Angelo, makes it for the local Robert Burns Society.

Grim ...

... Report on Daniel Pearl tells how his killers got off scot free.

This may be pertinent: Human Rights Watch for iPad.

Contra Dennett ...

... Intentionality in Locks and Keys?

"This lock-and-key variety of crude aboutness," Dennett says, "is the basic design element out of which nature has fashioned the fancier sorts of subsystems..." Design element? Fashioned? Do tell, Professor. It all sounds very purposeful to me.

Afterthought: The difficulty people have in discussing evolution without employing terms that imply intentionality strongly suggests that a sense of intentionality may be -- to use a favorite term of theirs -- hard-wired in us.

Post bumped.

Interesting take ...

... and an interesting debate: Is it fair to pay bankers big bonuses? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't that banks that were bailed out should be paying large bonuses to anyone until the bailout money has been paid back, unless the bankers in question had nothing to do with the operations that required bailing out. If a given division did well, and did not need to be bailed out, those in charge of said division deserve to be rewarded accordingly.

A for effort ...

... Philosophy Weekend: Philosophy at the Book Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Guess away ...

... A Riddle for Monday.

I got it immediately, which is unusual for me, since I'm not very good at that sort of thing.

When less is less ...

... Our superficial scholars.

... high-achieving students seem less able to grapple with issues that require them to think across disciplines or reflect on difficult questions about what matters and why.
This is because they have been merely trained, and not really educated at all. See The Theory of Education in the United States.

Thr limits of "default" realsim ...

... How To Write a (Good) Sentence. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There is also a limit to how consciously you should craft your sentences, for there is such a thing as labored, precious prose. Also, the flip side to omitting needless words is making sure you include all the ones you do need.

A backward glance ..

... LoA Surveys the Year.

Just so you know ...

... Top 10 Signs You Are Reading Too Much Paranormal Romance.

Resurrection ...

... Reviving Languages in the Classroom.

The consolation of imagination ...

... The New Athe­ists' Nar­row Worldview. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

"... a ra­tional God of nat­u­ral laws..." That could be the problem right there. Catholicism has always has a certain animistic, pagan dimension to it. That's why it remains vital.

Thought for the day ...

I have never known a novel that was good enough to be good in spite of its being adapted to the author's political views.
- Edith Wharton, born on this date in 1862

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Finally ...

... Oliver Twist's workhouse discovered.

He was a Catholic ...

... he probably preferred -- as I do -- the Douay-Rheims (the major influence on the King James): William Byrd and the King James Bible: He was agin’ it.

For the sabbath ...

... Dover Beach, Issa's Sunday Service, #87.

From the first time I read it in college, what has always struck me about "Dover Beach" is how prescient it proved, not so much regarding the ebb of faith as regarding the coming of war.

There's always time ...

... for a list: Favourite books reviewed in 2010.

Online now ...

... Autumn Sky Poetry No. 20.

Best friends ...

... `The Things I Want to Know Is in Books'.

Tersely stylish ...

... Ron Slate on Crime, stories by Ferdinand von Schirach, tr. by Carol Brown Janeway.

Speaking the same language ...

... as radical Islam: Rousas John Rushdoony: Christian Reconstructionism.

See also Christian Theocratic Views?

Guess these people don't feel the love.

No surpise here ...

... Franzen, Patti Smith nominees for critics awards. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think he's on to something ...

... Pascal Bruckner: 'Happiness is a moment of grace'. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)


Bruckner suggests that with nothing standing between ourselves and happiness, other than our willingness to grasp it, there is a moral compulsion weighing on us to be happy – and it's precisely this social pressure that makes so many people unhappy. "We should wonder why depression has become a disease. It is a disease of a society that is looking desperately for happiness, which we cannot catch. And so people collapse into themselves."


There's a Zen story about a Roshi who, in discussing satori, points out to his students that if you place your hands together gently, you can raise water to your lips to drink. But if you clutch the water, it simply spills onto the ground.

An old mistake ...

... Blurring the liberal arts.

Posthumous crank ...

... J.D. Salinger's miserly legal legacy.

Powerful and scary ...

... Gravitational anarchy.

I feel the same way ...

... Is it Just Me?

I don't like being preached at, and I despise sanctimony, especially from a commercial enterprise.

Peggy Lee and Thomas Mann ...

... yes, there is a connection: Is That All There Is?

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... 'My Thoughts Be Bloody' links disputes between the Booth brothers to Lincoln's assassination.

... Annie Proulx, on birds and her nest.

... Scientific, cultural power of the sun.

... From Colm Toibin, dark portraits of estrangement.

Thought for the day ...

The closer men came to perfecting for themselves a paradise, the more impatient they became with it, and with themselves as well. They made a garden of pleasure, and became progressively more miserable with it as it grew in richness and power and beauty; for then, perhaps, it was easier to see something was missing in the garden, some tree or shrub that would not grow. When the world was in darkness and wretchedness, it could believe in perfection and yearn for it. But when the world became bright with reason and riches, it began to sense the narrowness of the needle's eye, and that rankled for a world no longer willing to believe or yearn.
- Walter M. Miller, Jr., born on this date in 1923

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Congratulations ...

... Expiration at the 2011 Edgars.

Something to think about ...

... How Like Kingdoms Without Justice are to Robberies. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Now online ...

... The Winter 2011 issue of ONandOnScreen.

Down to the sea ...

... Pentwater.

Yes, it must ...

... PLOT: The Center Must Hold. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I agree with Maxine, however, regarding The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Serendipity ...

... The Here and Now. (Hat tip, Dave Lull, who reminds me that I mention Parks's book here).

Dave also sends along this: How to meditate: An introduction and also this.

Haunted by his egoism ...

... A Phony Who Reformed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This makes me wonder if we were ever really supposed to like Holden Caulfield.

Good thing someone is on the case ...

... Important News on the Mailbox front.

Helping hands ...

... A History of Famous Literary Mentorships. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cruel and unsual ...

... The Most Emailed 'New York Times' Article Ever.

What amazed me about this what how it brought home how canned Times articles tend to be. I used to grouse, when I worked for the The Inquirer, that what had ruined journalism was journalism school, which produced scads of people who wrote the same article the same way over and over again. I didn't realize how right I was.

A must read ...

... Christian charity in Haiti is the Jewish thing to do.

I think David is a saint. I have learned a good deal more about being a Christian from him than I have from some priests.

I like this ...

... DEAD KING’S BRIDGE.

Nowhere still ...

... Real Men Find Real Utopias.

The book is startling and depressing evidence of what has happened to American academic Marxism, at least its sociological variant, over the last thirty years. It has become turgid, vapid, and self-referential. Wright lives in a bubble of like-minded sociologists and political theorists. On page 322, he thanks Marcia Kahn Wright, his wife, for suggesting to him “the term ‘interstitial’” as a way of expressing something about “strategic logic,” whatever that is. Apart from Mrs. Wright, Erik Wright’s favorite source is Erik Wright. He has read all of his works and finds them remarkable. He moves fluidly between Wright of 1985 and Wright of 2010, as if history has not changed. Actually, for Wright, history has not changed. The issues that rivet Wright unfold in an eternal graduate sociology seminar where the clock has stopped. In a memoir elsewhere, Wright comments that every September since kindergarten in 1952 he has been in school. It might be time for him to take a break.


The Marxist notion of "capitalism" is itself a false idea. Commerce brings with it all sorts of problems, most of which derive from the problems of human nature -- greed and dishonesty, for example. To think that you can come up with a "system" of commerce that will necessarily cancel these human tendencies is pure fantasy. Forget about "real" utopias. Take a look at real people doing real things. Notice how some will cheat. Then figure out what might be done about that. Oh, and it just could be that government is not the best agent for addressing these problems. You see, the aforementioned problems of human nature -- greed, dishonesty, as well as a thirst for power and the potential to use force -- also apply to government. The real problems facing real people in the real world simply cannot ever be solved just by sitting on your ass and thinking about them.

Thought for the day ...

Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends.
- Isabel Paterson, born on this date in 1886

Friday, January 21, 2011

End of day ...

... time for Rubbish poem.

How odd ...

... Keith Olbermann leaving MSNBC, ends `Countdown'.

I think that Olbermann is a pretentious idiot, but he pulls in the network's highest ratings. So there are plenty of people who think he's worth watching. I think Fox should hire him.

Twain and Huck once more ....

... Would Mark Twain have removed n***** from Huck Finn? Hell, yes.

I don't know. Figuring out that the dead would do differently something they did when they were alive, if they were alive today, is a lot like predicting, which, as Niels Bohr said, is difficult, especially if you're talking about the future. I wonder: Has anybody interviewed any of the kids in danger of being exposed to this controversial work about this?

This is indeed hilarious ...

... and all you left-wingers out there didn't think I watched Jon Stewart, right? Hah!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Word Warcraft
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

A nice man ...

... and not at all a bad poet: The Books: Favorite Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Gaming to a golden tomorrow

... Upgrading the World: Could real life be made better by making it more like a videogame? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ms. McGonigal's notions about how to enliven what gamers call "RL" ("real life") run the gamut from shallow to, well, that's it, really. It's not that she has nothing interesting to say about the role of videogames in shaping reality; it's that she has little if anything to say about reality itself. She writes like someone who has never seen a Shakespeare play or volunteered at a soup kitchen or fallen in love or raised a child or said a prayer.

Three from Maxine ...

... The Facility by Simon Lelic.

... Trick of the Dark by Val McDermid.

... A Not So Perfect Crime by Teresa Solana.

Cross-blogging ...

... First, Nige: Days of Vinyl and Poses.

... Next, Patrick Kurp: `We Were Intently Listening'.

... and Nige again: Looking Back...

Remembrance ...

... Wilfrid Sheed, 1930–2011.

Hmm ...

... How a Marxist might see the creed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"Man lives on nature," Marx concluded. No kidding. So does everything else on the planet. Nature is what is going on on the planet. This hardly seems grounds for satori. Also, Marxism is an invented thought-system. Capitalism is simply a word designating a mode of commerce that has evolved beyond barter and makes use of a medium of exchange called money. All sorts of problems are connected to the conduct of commerce, some of which have profound moral implications, not the least of which is that, as Jesus said, "the poor you have always with you." I presume that Eagleton understands that the economic system that prevailed in the former Soviet Union was state capitalism. He can hardly fail to understand that such prevails today in China. In any event, if he wants to subscribe to Marx's philosophy and remain a Catholic, more power to him. But his attempt to have Marx and Jesus seem to speak the same language is not much different from others' attempts to have science and theology seem to do the same thing.

Worrisome ...

... Many Students Learn Little to Nothing in College. Surprise?

How very interesting ...

... Tracking down my online haters. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

I remember being flamed one day by people at Daily Kos for something I had written. I answered all of them, often more than once. By day's end one of them posted that, while he didn't agree with me, he had to admire that I had patiently responded to everyone without ire. The it stopped. I was fine with it. Part of the job as I saw it.
The anonymous trolls, however, are something different. Just pseudo-tough guys, I suspect.

Memorable, though ...

... The Meal that Ended My Career as a Restaurant Critic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As for the poor lobster — it was a long, long way from its home in the chilly Atlantic. The creature had been boiled so mercilessly that the pale chunks of its flesh resembled disemboweled mattress stuffing: straw-like, fibrous, and impossible to cut even with a knife.

Always interesting ...

... Charles Williams: Inklings.

Caricatures and stereotypes ...

... Schott Op-Chart: Vive La Différence. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP ...

... Reynolds Price, a Literary Voice of the South, Dies at 77.

Pusillanimous boobs ...

... Afraid of the dark. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Only the mysticism of the human center, which makes man accessible to grace and nourishes his core, corrects the personality and allows it to grow from measure to measure.
- the great Pavel Florensky, born on this date in 1882 (martyred in 1937)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

They keep proliferating ...

... and the world seems much the same: Books That Changed The World.

When the public found its voice ...

... Viral Avant la Lettre. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On this very day ...

... Oscar Wilde visits Walt Whitman in Camden, New Jersey. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Noise and games ...

... At Play in the Fields of Poetry.

Poe fellow ...

... Edgar More Poe Than Allan. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Gimlet-eyed view

... Robert Cottrell on Journalism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sheedisms ...

... Six Degrees (And Twenty-Three Shades) of Sheed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Continuing ...

... Teaching Huck Finn: Novices need not apply.

Here's an idea: Start the class by playing some rap tunes in which the word the dreaded appears. Then ask if anybody found the use of the word in those songs offensive. Then read a passage from Huck in which the word also appears. Then ask the same question.

Eminently portable ...

... The unknown Jorge Luis Borges.

Blissfully indifferent ...

... Ron Slate on New Hope for the Dead: Uncollected William Matthews.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: The Great Leap Forward, Vichy, Tolkien’s cavern, and more!

The hard-to-please Mr. Stuever ...

... The Problem With Civility. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And they're off ...

... The Magnificent Ambersons (Modern Library #100).

Specific locations ...

.. Sacred Places. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'm sure he was there ...

... in spirit: Tell-tale letdown: Poe visitor again a no-show.

Thought for the day ...

All great and beautiful work has come of first gazing without shrinking into the darkness.
- John Ruskin, who died on this date in 1900

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The bleakness ...

... "No Possum, No Sop, No Taters".

I love the crow.

He deserves a commission ...

... `Collected, Respected, Read and Loved'.

I just ordered the Gilson book.

This should attract readers ...


Where newspapers get the idea that people whose primary interest is pop music are just waiting to hear newspapers weigh in on that subject is beyond me. Newspapers might try attracting readers by focusing on people whose primary interest is reading. The problem is that many people who work at newspapers desperately want to be hip, or to have others think that they are. Of course, wanting to be hip is a sure sign that you aren't. You're either hip or you're not. And if you really are hip, and work for a newspaper, trust me, watch out.

RIP ...

... Wilfrid Sheed, Writer of Gentle Wit, Dies at 80. (Hat tip, John Brumfield.)

OI feel chilly and grown old. I never met him, but we both grew up in Torresdale, and nuns who taught me knew his family.

Nice to hear ...

... Stars Shine on Christian Researcher.

Writ divine ...

... King James Bible: How it changed the way we speak. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

More on D. F. W.

Infinite jest - even, sadly, in death...

FYI ...

... Detectives Beyond Borders in a book, Part II.

Hmm ...

... Birds Of A Feather, Flock Together: 60 Owls Descend on Hungary Town. (Hat tip, Dave Lull, who claims to know nothing further about it.)

Nige sends along this:
Long-eared Owls in Túrkeve.

Post bumped.

Impressive indeed ...

... courtesy of Lee Lowe.

The Pushkin House ...

... Parallel Lives. Russian literature at home and abroad.

Very wonderful indeed ...

... Kenneth Patchen in 1960.




Ancient studies ...

... Eight Bad Archeologists.

... Catching Up in the Peloponnese.

Thought for the day ...

My imagination functions much better when I don't have to speak to people.
- Patricia Highsmith, born on this date in 1921

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quiz time ...

... The Dabbler’s Round Blogworld Quiz #7.

So what ...

... if Christmas is over: Transmissions from a Lone Star: For instant Christmas spirit, blow here.

No dialogue possible ...

... Fit and natural speech.

This should be interesting ...

... Internet Freedom and American Power. (Hat tip, Daniel E. Pritchard.)

Wonderful indeed ...

... A stroll with Albert Jay Nock. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nock has influenced me more than any other writer I can think of.

RIP ...

... Romulus Linney, Wide-Ranging Playwright, Dies at 80. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Resolving discord ...

... New harmonies for kids and parents?

Further thoughts ...

... on Censoring a Classic.

A useful blog indeed ...

... Quote Investigator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Following up ...

... On the Trail of John Steinbeck: 5 Questions for Traveler and Writer Bill Barich. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As for the usual lament re "the Limbaughs," I suggest he follow my approach: Change the dial. I don't listen to any talk radio, including NPR. I don't watch TV news. I simply have what I regard as better things to do with my time. On the other hand, for those who like that sort of thing, well, that's the sort of thing they like. And it's a free country -- still, more or less -- and they can listen to and watch what they like.

Hmm ...

... Memo to Corbett: Bring back state poet. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I am a firm believer in the separation of poetry and state.

Bryan surfaces ...

... The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate the World. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The Net Delusion is a polemic and should be read as such. It is an angry and often overwritten tumult of evidence. There are arguments against some of what Morozov says, but none, I think, that can justify the full-blooded cyber-utopian position.

I think a problem arises simply from the fact that, as Bryan notes, Morozov is an apostate. His anti-utopianism is his former utopianism turned inside out and therefore retains much of the shape of the original mould.

Understanding to oppose ...

... The Medium Is McLuhan.

“Many people seem to think that if you talk about something recent, you're in favor of it,” McLuhan explained during an uncharacteristically candid interview in 1966. “The exact opposite is true in my case. Anything I talk about is almost certain to be something I'm resolutely against, and it seems to me the best way of opposing it is to understand it, and then you know where to turn off the button.” Though the founders of Wired magazine would posthumously appoint McLuhan as the “patron saint” of the digital revolution, the real McLuhan was more a Luddite than a technophile. He would have found the collective banality of Facebook and other social networks abhorrent, if also fascinating.

Color me skeptical ...

... Mark Vernon on The Self-Help Summit. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't know. It all strikes me as another example of the contemporary epidemic of narcissism. I'm with Henry Miller: Happiness consists in finding a more or less pleasant way of passing the time.

A joy to watch ...

... and a Clamour in the Air.

Thought for the day ...

Countries are well cultivated, not as they are fertile, but as they are free.
- Charles de Montesquieu, born on this date in 1689

Monday, January 17, 2011

Good idea ...

... Stop Defending the Liberal Arts.

Here's my suggestion: Just start offering the old Jesuit ratio studiorum. Cut out the trendiness altogether.

Remembering ...

... So where, exactly, is Martin Luther King’s stuff?

Impossibly real ...

... Franz Kafka's other trial. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Much in what he says ...

... Responding to Another. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'm pretty much in agreement with this assessment. To be honest, I couldn't slog my way through that symposium. First, reviewing and criticism are not the same thing. A review is a literary consumer's report. You read the book, give the prospective reader of it some idea of what it's about, and offer reasons why you think the book works or doesn't. I really don't think people read book reviews in order to arrive at an understanding of society. They read them in order to find out if the book being reviewed is worth their time and money.

Empirical and collaborative ...

... Adventures of a peripatetic librettist.

Birthday boy ...

... Happy Birthday To Ben Franklin.

Here is D.H. Lawrence on Benjamin.

Guess it isn't settled ...

... after all: Science and uncertainty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the beginning ...