Friday, August 31, 2012

Indeed …

… The Brilliance of Clint’s Empty Chair | The Ocean State Current.

If you don't think it was brilliant, then ask yourself, "Why is there so much commentary on it?" The answer is that Clint knows how to manipulate an audience, as any good actor/director must know. The fact that it bothered the over-rated Roger Ebert proves that. It also seems to have bothered President Obama. Small wonder. The nearest to an empty suit is an empty chair.
Please note: This is a purely technical commentary on my part. I'm a registered libertarian myself. So I'm just sayin'.

More here.
Eastwood apparently so annoyed the egomaniacal president that the leader of the Free World felt compelled to hit back via Twitter (“this seat is taken”) at the movie star. Talk about losing your presidential aura. Empty chair = Obama is now a powerful association. Will the chair be in ads?

Mark my words.: The impact of this going be quite large.

Further evidence.

Still standing …

 Zealotry of Guerin: Tasso's Oak (Peter Blume).

Wry and rueful …

… Why Comedy Is Truer to Life Than Tragedy | Sightings by Terry Teachout - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Actually, I think tragedy only works when there is a glimmer of hope at the end. It is Oedipus at Colonnus that find the sense in Oedipus Rex.

Spell-binding...

In case you wondered …

… How to Read Like a Writer | Brain Pickings. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

That niceness question...

Realizing aloneness …

 W.H. Auden's "Tradition And Value" | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So many critics with a social conscience seem to suffer from an uneasy suspicion that, perhaps, Art is wicked. Any criticism, therefore, of Mr. Daiches’ position—and it is one that I used to hold but now believe to be unsound—can be directed, not at what he knows about the novel but what he assumes about the Modern World; I would trust Mr. Daiches anywhere with a book but not very far with a ballot.

Thought for the day …

Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.
— William Saroyan, born on this date in 1908

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Squirmer in the spotlight...

Technical error

Frank and I, sitting in opposite ends of the earth, have waited all night (all day, for Frank) for Blogger to start working so we could do our thing, that is,  post, comment, link to. Sorry about any inconvenience. And welcome back!

B is for back-pedal …

… Self-published authors react with anger to 'laziness' charge | Books | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day …

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Master of the roads …

… “Hermes” | TLS.

How about that …

… The Dead Authors Podcast: H.G. Wells Comically Revives Literary Greats with His Time Machine | Open Culture.

Crown jewels …

… Quid plura? | “Diamond rings, and all those things…”


Kirkpatrick tells this story well, painting a dense, believable picture of postwar chaos. As the occupying army compromises with conquered locals, Walter Horn sees his birth nation in ruins, wonders about the fate of his family and friends, and hunts for treasure even when questions of cultural patrimony pale against the enormity of the entire war. Despite its lurid cover, Hitler’s Holy Relics is sensitive to the stories of individuals, not armies, from a Nazi museum curator who survives by hiding his homosexuality to the personal interest Patton himself takes in the Crown Jewels.

Speaking of classics …

… Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School by Jane Kenyon | The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

It all depends …

… When Authors Disown Their Work, Should Readers Care? - Maria Konnikova - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

By the Auden changed his mind about it, his poem was already a classic. So his change of mind is only a gloss on the poem.

The main event …

… A Critic's Manifesto: The Intersection of Expertise and Taste : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It wasn’t that these people were Ph.D.s, that the expertise and authority evident on every page of their writing derived from a diploma hanging on an office wall. I never knew, while reading Kael, whether she had a degree in Film Studies (even if I’d known such a thing existed back then), nor did I care; it never occurred to me that Whitney Balliett ought to have some kind of academic credential in order to pass judgments on Bobby Short singing “Just One of Those Things” at the Café Carlyle. If anything, you felt that their immense knowledge derived above all from their great love for the subject. I was raised by a scientist and a schoolteacher, and it was salutary for me to be reminded that authority could derive from passion, not pieces of paper.

Enterprising obliviousness …

… Paid Book Reviewer Goes Down Honest Path — PWxyz.

Assessments …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Otto Penzler's 5 Underrated Crime Writers.

Thought for the day …

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, born on this date in 1809

The taste of freedom...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Disclaimers and a useless habit …

 on Madness, Rack, and Honey, lectures by Mary Ruefle (Wave Books) | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Jonathan Lethem

...on literary ghosts

Psst, again …

 Paul Davis On Crime: Authors Behaving Badly: The Amoral Ways of Rumpole's Creator John Mortimer, Graham Greene and Other Beloved Writers.

Psst …

… Ivebeenreadinglately: Things I've learned in just the first 200 pages of the new edition of Juliet Barker's The Brontes.

Good Christ …

… MSU Student Knocked Unconscious, Mouth Stapled Shut In Alleged Hate Crime — CBS Detroit.

Tweaking …

… When Falls the Coliseum — Enduring works.

A smart thriller …

… Brian Platzer Reviews Victor LaValle's "The Devil In Silver" | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

LaValle uses the thrills of horror to draw attention to timely matters. And he does so without sucking the joy out of the genre.

Humor in a foreign language …

… zmkc: Too Punny.

The progress of gibberish …

 PJ Media — Bad Writing, Universities, and Zionism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The book reminds one of the S. J. Perelman satire in which a graduate student submits his thesis to the sociology department, which rejects it as impenetrable. Then he submits it as a novel to the English department, which awards him a PhD for it.

In case you wondered …

… Ignorance: How It Drives Science, Part 3 | Books and Culture.

Joad times two …

 Philosophy, lit, etc.: Joad of Joad Hall.

… Joad and the law.

RIP …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `The Never Forgotten and the Undeceased'.


Voyages …

 First Known When Lost: Life Explained, Part Twenty-Nine: "Where Lies The Land To Which The Ship Would Go?"

Success story …

… Laughter in the dark.

Sound advice...

Eulogy …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Christopher Hitchens Was An Impossible Act To Follow.

The deepest pain...

...Winnie Johnson
Sometimes she went up on the moors with psychics, people with crystals and whatnot, to see if they could sense anything. They were no use at all. In any case, she didn’t believe in it. But she did feel Keith round about her, and once—very soon after, when she was still breastfeeding Joey—she heard his cheeky voice, saying “Mam, I’m at the back of you.” She liked going up on Saddleworth because she felt near him there, though never near enough.

Thought for the day …

Do not suppose, however, that I intend to urge a diet of classics on anybody. I have seen such diets at work. I have known people who have actually read all, or almost all, the guaranteed Hundred Best Books. God save us from reading nothing but the best.
— Robertson Davies, born on this date in 1913

Reimagining Father...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hmm …

… Inside’ and ‘Signs and Wonders,’ by Alix Ohlin - NYTimes.com.

I finally got around to reading this and I have to say I found the truculence both off-putting and distracting. I also found this somewhat peculiar: "Ohlin’s second story collection arrives with the title “Signs and Wonders” — a shopworn phrase whose popular origins can be found in Pentecostalism …" It may well be that the phrase is a favorite among Pentecostals, but when I hear it, I immediately think of its Biblical origin: "Unless ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe." And of course the follow-through, which is that no sign shall be given except the sign of Jonah.
Giraldi may also well be right about Ohlin's novel  —  I haven't read it and his review provides enough evidence to make me think I wouldn't enjoy it anymore than he did — but I think a cooler review would have been a better review.
An afterthought: One of the problems with all of the snark in this review is that one never really gets a sense of what Ohlin's novel is about — the story, that is — and that's the least an author can expect from a reviewer.
Another afterthought: The first sentence — "There are two species of novelist: one writes as if the world is a known locale that requires dutiful reporting, the other as if the world has yet to be made." — reminded me of Robert Benchley's observation that "there are two kinds of people: Those who think there are two kinds of people and those who don't."

(Bumped.)

A nothing-in-particular post …

I'm not a big Neil Young fan, but for some reason today my favorite Neil Young video popped into my mind. Here it is:


\ He also wrote this:

Obituarists …

… Five Best: England in Decline - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Simply superb …

 Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage | Books and Culture.

No, the trouble with humans …

… and institutions: BBC News - A Point Of View: The trouble with freedom. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

An older generation of thinkers recognised that freedom and democracy don't always go hand in hand. The 19th Century liberal John Stuart Mill was a life-long campaigner for greater democracy, but he also worried that personal liberty would shrink once governments could claim to express the will of the majority.
Better a good monarchy than a bad republic.

A voice of his own …

… Memoir: The Mountains and the Fathers — BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Measuring smarts …

… Bryan Appleyard — Flynn’s IQ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The abstract, scientific imagination can simply seem foolish when ­confronted with more concrete ways of thought. Flynn includes one hilarious conversation between a western researcher and some isolated rural ­people in Russia to demonstrate the abyss that lies between the concrete and the abstract. The researcher tells them there are no camels in Germany so how many camels do they think there are in B, a specific German city? “I don’t know,” is the answer. “I have never seen German villages. If B is a large city, there should be camels there.” These people aren’t any less intelligent than the researcher — their minds just work differently. They focus on the practicalities they know rather than hypothetical possibilities.

I don't know what my IQ is and I don't care. Why should I, at my age?  But I did once have an interesting experience with the test. Back in the '60s, a friend of mine who was on track to get his Ph.D. in psychology asked me if he could administer an IQ test to me. It had something to do with his dissertation work. It was the Wechsler-Bellevue test, which I am told is harder than the old Stanford-Binet test (another psychologist friend once quipped that it was designed to prove that no one was as smart as Wechsler).
Anyway, one Saturday night my friend came by and administered the test. Since I didn't care what the results might be, I staved off the boredom by enjoying a bottle of scotch during the proceedings. By the time we got to the end, I was pretty soused and I could sense that my sharpness was slipping. If memory serves, toward the end there were these sequences of numbers that were read off and you had to repeat in reverse.
When it was done, my score, adjusted for the Stanford-Binet, came to 150. Now that's pretty good. But think for a minute: Is that really my IQ, or is that only my IQ when I'm plastered on a bottle of scotch?

Scheming bureaucrat …

… Books in the Law: Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat.

Hard-won experience …

… Dreiser's Dawn - The Barnes and Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day …

I formed a resolution to never write a word I did not want to write; to think only of my own tastes and ideals, without a thought of those of editors or publishers.
— C. S. Forester, born on this date in 1899

Sunday, August 26, 2012

On Paul Auster

...and his new book. Not, I'm afraid, a favorable review.

RIP …

 Herbert Vogel - Telegraph.

My, my …

… all too timely — Elberry's Ghost. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The most enduring artefacts are those which eschew explanation, context, easy clarity. Wallace Stevens: poetry must resist the intelligence almost successfully. This is one reason i loathe CS Lewis – he takes matters of spiritual value, and falsifies them into a Christianity for Dummies kindergarten theology. He was a don, through and through. The really valid and lasting works of art go deep; thus the epic of Gilgamesh could be lost for a few thousand years, re-emerge, and no harm done. Likewise very few today would read Homer or Milton as intended; but this is precisely their worth. CS Lewis, by contrast, is a propagandist, the Noam Chomsky of Christianity.

What one loves about elberry is his romantic passion. In this, he a blood brother of Ed Champion. One feels as the other does. When I was in grade school, in one of my classes we read The Screwtape Letters — and afterwards we would pray that C.S. Lewis would come over to Rome. He never did. Years ago, I read all of the Narnia Chronicles to my stepchildren. At the point in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where Aslan is killed, I had to stop, because I was crying. But then, I am a cradle Catholic. I was programmed early and well.

Kind of neat …


 (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A good review …

… for  very good book: A gentle scepticism with sympathy for theological yearnings - Philosophy and Life.

I haven't quite finished it yet, but I have enjoyed all of it so far.

Alert …

… The new Thomas Nagel book. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think it's a good book and important book.

Have a look …

… Teresa Pereira at Clerkenwell Design Week. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI …

… Translating Spanish has suddenly become profitable … very profitable | The Book Haven.

Katie's review …

… prove you're human. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The review ran in The Inquirer last Sunday, but only the jump was linked to.

Appreciation …

… Julian Barnes: a tribute to Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Belated …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Birthday To Sean Connery.

Grim news...

...After Gay Son’s Suicide, Mother Finds Blame in Herself and in Her Church

I have followed this case, and have discussed it at length with Frank. This is a new development. Tyler's mother had trouble initially with his gayness. The church is against homosexuality and she as a worshipper faced trouble accepting her son's gayness. That Tyler died is tragic, and we will never know the reasons for his suicide. But the larger point about the church, and about religion in general, is that it brings succour to millions. Religion, as is commonly bandied about, is not about blind acceptance but an active dissension and considered acceptance. Even on typically conservative matters, the church is moving forward. I can see how such a story can become the perfect pivot for church-bashing but in my view, religious sentiment is more nuanced than that. Even here, it is brought out in Tyler's mother's acceptance.

Inquirer books …

… Catholic lapses, moral and fiscal.

… Digging into the roots of Mormonism.

… 'Dead Stars': A wacky look at Hollywood wannabes.

Thought for the day …

Only in dreams, in poetry, in play do we sometimes arrive at what we were before we were this thing that, who knows, we are.
— Julio Cortázar, born on tho date in 1914

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Offbeat POVs

...Howard Jacobson attacks the dearth of 'good readers'
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Jacobson said that the reader needed a "strong stomach" and ought to be able to withstand the "expression of an ugly point of view" in a book. There was, he added, great danger in the "politically correct" pressure that urged "you can't write about women like that, you can't write about men like that, you've got to be careful what you say about gays, you've got to be careful what you say about Jews… But you have to be able to say of the novel that it has free rein – it can go anywhere."

Are still worthless...

Extraordinary masterpiece …

… Joseph and His Brothers | Thomas Mann | Putting Literary Flesh on Biblical Bones | Masterpiece by Joseph Epstein - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The book is studded with exquisite touches. Laban, Jacob's exploiting father-in-law, possesses "the hands of a having man." Of Jacob's love for Rachel, Mann writes: "Such is love, when it is complete: feeling and lust together, tenderness and desire." Apropos of Jacob's agedness, he writes of "the touching if unattractive misshapenness of old age." Potiphar's wife, distraught over her passion for Joseph, is barely able to eat "a bird's liver and a little vegetable." Rachel's labor in giving birth to Joseph is so well described as to leave the reader exhausted.

Look again …

… The God of Independent Minds - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… as an Orthodox Jew, I often find the whole discussion quite frustrating. I will let Christians speak for their own sacred texts, but in the Hebrew Bible (or "Old Testament") and the classical rabbinical sources that are the basis for my religion, one of the abiding themes is precisely the ever-urgent need for human beings, if they are to find what is true and just, to maintain their capacity for independent thought and action.

Bizarre …

… Flavorwire — An English-to-English Translation of Emily Dickinson’s Poetry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And he was good at it …

… Obit Magazine | "My Business is to Create".

Rendezvous …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Knight, Death, and the Devil (Durer).

Thought for the day …

Those that embrace the entire universe with love, for the most part love nothing, but their narrow selves.
— Johann Gottfried Herder, born on this date in 1744

Any other Sunday...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Unintended consequences …

… How The Smokey Bear Effect Led To Raging Wildfires : NPR.

I believe it was also the Forest Service that, back in the '20s, got the wolves out of Yellowstone in order to provide ore elk for gentlemen hunters. The Indians had always hunted the elk to just this side of extinction. Turns out the Indians were on to something. Sans wolves — and Indians — the elk population exploded and the resulting food shortage prompted the elks tp eat everything in sight. The result, I gather, was a complete change in the ecology of Yellowstone, so that the park you visit today is actually quite different from what it was before it was a park.

Literary manners …

… Giraldi, Ohlin, and the Controversy over “Mean” Reviews — Commentary Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I like to think — I may, of course, as we are wont to do from time to time, be flattering myself — I have never been gratuitously mean in a review. I have certainly written unpleasant things about books and their authors, but I have always thought that the insult was precise and accurate about the perceived fault, and proportionate to that fault. I remember calling Peter Handke's The Left-Handed Woman the longest 89-page book I had ever read, and finding its melodrama unintentionally comic in effect.
As for plain versus baroque style, I can't see this as an either/or business. The style should match the spirit of the tale (or, as the late Aristotle would have it, "the soul of the drama").

And the winners are …

… IBPC: Winning Poems for July 2012.

The Judge's Page.

(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

FYI …

… A Different Stripe — Stefan Zweig in The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought over gags …

… A Critic and a Poet - Clive James - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Her range of appreciation, however, shows up in its full generosity when she heaps praise on a movie that had less-­prominent initial billing and might have been lost in the shuffle. There are scores of examples. She knew straightaway that The Battle of Algiers was a cinematic masterpiece about which you had to argue the aesthetics as well as the politics, which would have dominated the discussion if she had not stepped in. A movie could go all wrong in most departments and she could still see through to its creative center if it had one: of Lady Sings the Blues, she said, “Factually it’s a fraud, but emotionally it delivers.”

Thought for the day …

To give and then not feel that one has given is the very best of all ways of giving.
— Max Beerbohm, born on this date 1872

In safe hands...

...The future of fiction
Another Canadian at the festival was Madeleine Thien, who was born in Vancouver in 1974, the year her Chinese-Malaysian family moved to Canada. Like Thúy, she now lives in Montreal. Her fourth book – Dogs at the Perimeter – tells the story of the Cambodian genocide, as seen through the eyes of a traumatised emigrée scientist. In an article for the Guardian, she explained that one of the terrible tactics of the Khmer Rouge was to demand "an existence that combined a Buddhist renunciation of desire with the communist dictum that only violent revolution could cleanse a people".

A worthy debate...

...Are literary mashups the next big thing?

I side with China, if only because he sounds like he doesn't take himself too seriously.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Q & A …

… A Conversation With Whit Stillman About The Script Of ‘Metropolitan’ | The Awl. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Grumble, grumble …

… The vexations and pleasures of old age – Telegraph Blogs. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Retaining an interest in what happens next is important. It’s a good idea to spend time with young people. There’s always the danger that you may bore them, but not half as much as your coevals may bore you. There are certainly pleasures to be had from reminiscence and from nostalgia, but it’s better to look forward to the future than to dwell in the past. You should resist the shrinking of your world. You have entered a prison of old age when you no longer care about, say, the next Ashes series, or when, if you are a gardener, you have lost interest in next year’s crops or flowering.

Well, Massie's only three years older than I am. I'm still finding my way around the experience.

Place your bets …

… Nobel Prize in Literature Betting Odds | Bet Online at Ladbrokes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


I only bet the ponies myself (but then I used to do the racing charts for The Inquirer).

Make-believe chemistry …

… Chemical Free Dirt (for the Fairytale Garden) | Wired Science | Wired.com.

Order now …

… Field Guide to Flash NF Launches Soon — BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Some reviews …

… book reviews | Fox Chase Review.

Meadows of insight …

… A New NYRB Classics Edition of Thomas Browne's Writing : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Facing the end …

… Christopher Hitchens’ Mortality: The “unpublished jottings” of the late, great writer and thinker. - Slate Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Probably not …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Is A Remake Of The Classic TV Western 'Have Gun - Will Travel' A Good Idea?

Interesting that Ken Tucker doesn't mention Maverick. And I think he's a bit unfair to Gunsmoke. In its early days, Gunsmoke was among the more serious drama series on TV. But there was one episode where it was strongly implied that Matt and a woman of the night may have got a bit too friendly, and the series drew a lot of criticism. After that, is when it became more what Ken recalls. As for Have Gun, Will Travel, I just have a hard time imagining it without Richard Boone. 

Thought for the day …

To put meaning in one's life may end in madness, But life without meaning is the tortureOf restlessness and vague desire —It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.
Edgar Lee Masters, born on this date in 1868

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In case you wondered ...

... Why the Nook is failing: One chart, four reasons.

Clown prince …

… Joseph Epstein: The Comic Stylings of Joe Biden - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… being a fun guy is not the top of everyone's list of qualifications for being vice president of the United States. A touch more gravitas would seem to be required for the job, but one can't ask for everything, comic relief and gravitas, too. Someone with a deeper knowledge of American history than mine might be able to make a convincing list of the nation's great vice presidents, though my guess is that the list would not be a lengthy one.
I have written about my favorite Vice-President here.

More make-believe …

…  only not fiction: Of Thee I Sigh: Baby Boomers Bust | World Affairs Journal.

Not that the baby boom didn’t produce as many geniuses as any generation. But grandeur seemed to slip away from genius, or genius slipped away from grandeur. Hard science was . . . hard. Brilliant minds were drawn to the social sciences. Psychology, sociology, and anthropology were funky and fun. You can’t talk your way out of an algebra problem.
Just for the record: I was going on 5 when the first baby-boomers came on the scene. God, when I was born, the U.S. hadn't yet entered World War II.

They may achieve just that …

… When Essayists Do Less — BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Still offering it, too …

… MWR : The Catholic Worker's hospitality.

Rather nice …

Josh Keiter's Blog: Whose Light.

Make-believe

… An Apology for Fiction — Commentary Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As [Kendall] Walton observes, there is a huge difference between make-believe and private fantasies or daydreams, even when they are deliberate. Make-believe has three special advantages: objectivity, control, and joint participation.

Nobel cricketer …

… Samuel Beckett the sportsman – from cricket to Krapp's Last Tape | Stage | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Behind the scenes …

 How Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey Wrote Her Father's 'Elegy' - Alex Hoyt - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Thought for the day ...

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Couldn't resist linking to this ...

... Instapundit - IT’S PRETTY MUCH INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM JOE BIDEN’S: Amazingly Preserved Brain Discovered in 2,600.

Testing, testing ...

Just posting nothing in particular to see if any problem arises.

What's really odd …

… is that there are posts that are correct, but that I didn't post. Anybody out there?

Anybody have any idea …

… where the lead-ins for this blog are coming from? Because I sure don't. And that's the reason I haven't been posting much today, and won't be until I figure out what the hell is going on.

Searching for frameworks …

… Thomas Kuhn: the man who changed the way the world looked at science | Science | The Observer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

... China Miéville: the future of the novel | Books | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

A charmed life …

… VERSIONS OF STOPPARD | More Intelligent Life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Apparently not …

… Was Sylvia Plath’s daddy “pro-Nazi”? | The Book Haven.

Something is wrong …

Don't know what's going on here today. Lead-ins are changing at will it seems. The thought for the day is changing from moment to moment, I gather. Any ideas anybody?

Problematic indeed …

… Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?: PAULINE FISK ON CYBER-BULLYING: A Personal Tale.

Hear, hear …

… Danny Lanzetta: In Defense of Jack Kerouac and Other Flawed Literature. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day …

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


Mayday, Mayday

Something appears to be wrong with my blogger account. Things I scheduled are not posting and the lead-ins are changing. Any ideas, anybody?

Gourmand's life...

Hmm...

Oh dear...

...Social media sectarianism threatens to stifle literary endeavour, author warns

I read the whole thing and I would still say it's a lot of gas.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A niche blog post …

… and interesting to boot: A Don's Life: A nice new fragment of Augustus' Res Gestae -- so there!

Unsorted thoughts …

… concerning Lloyd Alexander: Quid plura? | “But nothing hides the color of the lights that shine…”

On stage …

… Clueless in Verona.

Gregarious recluse …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Its Own Symbol and Its Own Meaning'.

Grim reaper...

On your mark …

… The TLS blog: Sprint for Shakespeare - or beware Bohemian bears. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fictional virtue …

… Bryan Appleyard — Blog Archive — Pat Barker: We Write in Blood. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“Sometimes,” she says, “as a novelist you have to surprise yourself.” She is emphatically not a modernist or postmodernist author. She writes as simply and directly as she can, avoiding anything resembling experimentation. “I don’t experiment because I think I have something to say, and I want to write it in a way that can be understood. Experimental novels often feed the writer’s ego and lose the reader.”

Patterns of thought …

… New Statesman - Reader, reader: The singular mind of Marilynne Robinson.

Happy birthday …

… What Tim Berners-Lee told us on this date on 1991: WorldWideWeb wide-area hypertext app available - Google Groups. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day …

Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.
— Paul Tillich, born on this date in 1886

Sunday, August 19, 2012

FYI …

… What makes a modern classic? | TLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The community of the individual …

 Modern medicine: Microbes maketh man | The Economist.

The importance of fantasy …

… Reclaiming the sacred gift: A postscript on humanities and science | Literally Psyched, Scientific American Blog Network. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Take that …

… Letters of Note: I am in a state of shock. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The meaning of a story should go on expanding for the reader the more he thinks about it, but meaning cannot be captured in an interpretation. If teachers are in the habit of approaching a story as if it were a research problem for which any answer is believable so long as it is not obvious, then I think students will never learn to enjoy fiction.

From Maxine …

… Book review: Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End by Leif G W Persson | Petrona.

As always, it's a good idea to go the home page for more reviews.

Nice batch …

Issa's Untidy Hut: Patrick Sweeney: Ten Haiku.

Freebie …

Grumpy Old Bookman: Topp Family Secrets FREE. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

… John is not himself. - John is not himself. - How to write a good bad review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A review is meant to be an account of one's experience reading the book up for review. There's no need to be gratuitously nasty, but there's no reason to pull any punches. As Huey Lewis once sang. "Sometimes bad id bad."

Not this one, apparently …

… The Camel Saloon: The Library: Defender of Freedom of Speech and Expression? (Hat tip, G.E. Reutter.)

Inquirer reviews …

… Saying so long, y'all, to the South.

… Nuts and bolts of the Internet. (The link, unfortunately, is to the jump. Philly.com strikes again.)

… A hacktivist of the Arab Spring.

Thought for the day …

I think remorse ought to stop biting the consciences that feed it.
— Ogden Nash, born on this date in 1902

Truth in history...

...Book Review | The Asian voices of modernity

I have mixed views on this. Certainly history is written by the victors but is that so bad? One's grievance at this stems more, in my view, with one's disdain for power than with setting a morally right example. Power is an exceptionally complex phenomenon and while it can and often does corrupt, at its simplest, it is also the driver of all human activity. Whether the revisionists of today would not have abused their positions as historians had they been victors is a matter that requires some introspection. That said, different histriographies can enlighten the past. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Whips and lashes...

...Fifty Shades of Fear
Now a troubling new element has been introduced into our fragile sexual eco-system. Our incredible between one-and-three-times-a-week average is no longer an astonishing tribute to our raging libidos, it is "vanilla".

Words and music and visuals …

… the complete consort dancing together:

A masterpiece.

Speechifying …

… I mentioned the other day that I had been invited to a talk at the Ardmore Rotary Club about libertarianism. Some people have expressed interest in what I had to say. One thing I want to say now is what a gratifying experience it was for me. As long as this country continues to be inhabited by persons of the caliber I was privileged to meet the other day, we're in safe and capable hands.

Anyway, here is what I had to say: The Highest Political End - Google Docs.

Come to light …

… Paul Davis On Crime: The Dark Secrets Of Noel Coward's Play 'Volcano'.

In case you wondered …

… The secret to success in the arts | Felix Salmon | The Black Swan Report. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hunting and gathering …

… Confessions of a Runaway Collector on AbeBooks.

What matters …

 Science in all its mystery - latimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Vintage review …

 Edmund Wilson Reviews "Lady Chatterly's Lover" | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Proud winner …

… Cathy Bryant: How I Wrote The Worst Sentence Of The Year (And The Sentence That Follows It).

Tyranny …

…  Garry Kasparov: When Putin's Thugs Came for Me - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



… in a country where you can be imprisoned for two years for singing a song, laughter does not come easily. My bruises will heal long before the members of Pussy Riot are free to see their young children again. In the past, Mr. Putin's critics and enemies have been jailed on a wide variety of spurious criminal charges, from fraud to terrorism.

But now the masks are off. Unlikely as it may be, the three members of Pussy Riot have become our first true political prisoners.

DIY …

… How the great writers published themselves - Features - Books - The Independent. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Angles and dimensions …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Relativity (Escher).

Thought for the day …

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

Friday, August 17, 2012

I wonder …

… “It will change our idea of her”: Is this the grown-up Emily Dickinson? | The Book Haven.

I always the 16-year-old Emily was cute.

In case you wondered …

… PJ Lifestyle — Why Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, and Truman Capote All Failed to Write the Great American Novel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't think any one of them was qualified.

Observations …

… Munich notes — Elberry's Ghost.

Closely watched trains …

… Nigeness: Mr Joad's 'buzzing bluebottle'.

That settles that …

… Software reveals the most influential Victorian novelists - tech - 16 August 2012 - New Scientist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Read two poems …

… and call me in the morning: Anxious? Depressed? Literate? Try Bibliotherapy | Think Tank | Big Think. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winner is …

… Grammar: The award for nerdiest preposition goes to... | The Economist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Punching back …

… Apple blasts the DOJ's proposed e-book price settlement - CSMonitor.com.

Wrong but right …

 'Beam Us Up, Mr. Scott!': Why Misquotations Catch On - Maria Konnikova - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Anniversary …

… The American Spectator : A Book That Changed Reality. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 Novak's [Spirit of Democratic Capitalism] continues to provide inspiration today -- something that hasn't been limited to Americans. Its samizdat translation and publication by dissidents in Communist Poland in 1986 reflected the fact that those who actually experienced real socialism in all its deadening grayness not only knew that collectivism had failed; they also understood there was no "third way." At the same time, Central-East Europeans weren't impressed with merely utilitarian or efficiency arguments for markets. They wanted to root free economies in a wider and richer vision of the human person. Many of them found what they were looking for in the Spirit.

Thought for the day …

I want prose fiction to be recognized as that, and I'm not interested in writing as it becomes more personal.
— John Hawkes, born on this date in 1925

Memorabilia...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In case you wondered...

Finalists …

… The Great American Novelist tournament: the final 32 | Books | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Right off the top of my head I can think of three living American novelists who easily as good as some of these — John Nichols, Larry Watson, and Oliver Lange. Of earlier writers, I would have included John P. Marquand and Conrad Richter. And William S. Burroughs, but not Jack Kerouac or Henry Miller? And yes, Raymond Chandler belongs there, too.

Minority report …

… Melville House Books — "The Fable of the Weasel," by Alexander Cockburn. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Methinks Cockburn's devotional leftism gets the better of him here. It is the sort of thing undue sectarianism does to its victims.

It's the only mind worth having …

… Can you be a Catholic and have a questioning mind? | Religion and Other Curiosities. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Farrell’s question is misleading: The issue is not what one thinks in private, but what one says publicly that is contrary to the magisterium. Roman canon law contains a very important proposition: De occultis non iudicat Ecclesia—“The Church does not judge secret matters”—such as the private ruminations of a questioning mind.

Exactly. My mind harbors all kinds of questions.

Apply now …

… NEA Literature Fellowships: Translation Projects.

Good picks …

… Five Great Motets | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dana Gioia introduced me to the music of Morten Lauridsen, for which I will be forever grateful.

What's in a name?

… Thompson on Thompson — New English Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI …

… Registration for Reading Groups is now open!

Flagrante delicto...

Dreams of a bygone time...

And the nominees are …

… Best of the Net Nominations by The Fox Chase Review | Fox Chase Review.

Review …

… Poetica Critique: Harriet Tarlo, Editor, "The Ground Aslant".

Recommended …

… Recovery, by Helen DeWitt. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

Old-time Judaism …

… Demons and Evil Spirits Bedevil the Rabbis: Week 2 of Our Literary Critic’s Daf Yomi Talmud Study – Tablet Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Origins …

… The Philosophical Roots of Science Fiction. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good for them …

 Instapundit — Blog Archive — STUDENT EDITORS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA’S NEWSPAPER have walked off the job and started a blog.

In a world of crises...

..here's another: Leadership Industry Crisis

Thought for the day …

An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.
— Charles Bukowski, born on this date in 1920

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

FYI …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Joseph Wambaugh On The Death Of The 'Onion Field' Killer.

Digital lit …

… About ‘Kafka’s Wound’ | Kafka’s Wound. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP …

… R.I.P. Harry Harrison, creator of the Stainless Steel Rat, Bill the Galactic Hero, and Soylent Green. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On reading and more …

… Nick Hornby on Your Cultural Snobbery | Brain Pickings. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In this corner …

… Fareed Zakaria Didn’t Plagiarize! - The Daily Beast. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… and in this corner, the Washington Post: More questions raised about Fareed Zakaria’s work.

Poe's only novel …

… OUPblog — Blog Archive — Edgar Allan Poe and terror at sea. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bizarre inversion …

… Inside the ‘Warmist’ Faith | FrontPage Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Solway quotes a series of chilling statements by respected environmentalists who claim to believe the extinction of humanity would be a dandy way of saving the planet. He observes that the Warming faithful seem, paradoxically, to aspire both to some kind of angel-like existence beyond the physical and to the raw physicality of prehistoric primates. He quotes several contemporary poets who have poured out reams of banal, insipid, anti-humanistic balderdash in which they credit nature and the body with a “wisdom” denied to man.

Who knew …

… How pots of jam saved the Bolshevik revolution | The Book Haven.

Lucid lyricism …

… Poem of the Week: “Remembering My Father” | TLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Together at last …

… The Claremont Institute - Left, Right, and Dickens.

FYI …

… Journal: Merry-Go-Round Premiere — l. lee lowe.
Solitude, though it may be silent as light, is like light, the mightiest of agencies; for solitude is essential to man. All men come into this world alone and leave it alone.
— Thomas de Quincey, born on this date in 1785

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Development …

… Edward Feser: The road from libertarianism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'm giving a talk on Thursday about what it means to be a libertarian, which I consider myself to be, though not in the doctrinaire sense Feser mentions.

FYI …

… The Top 10 Most Difficult Books. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Regarding one these, Heidegger's Sein und Zeit, I remember when I was a copy editor looking up a passage in the German edition and making my way through it. I then looked up and said to someone, "My God, I actually know what he's saying."What I had realized was that in many cases Heidegger had simply devised his own personal terminology for otherwise standard concepts. In this case, it was contingency.

Take some time, and …

… Get to Know New State Poet Laureate. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Surprise, surprise …

F-BOMB MAKES IT INTO MAINSTREAM DICTIONARY. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It is the syncophants who will inherit the earth.

Fundamental question …

… Does Copyright Matter? by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winners are …

… 2012 Contest Winners —The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

They all seem deserving to me.

Ethical maze...

Time is running out …

… and you cn't beat the price: Grumpy Old Bookman: FREE till 17 August. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I just downloaded a copy.

Invisible hand at work …

… Women On The Rise Among The World's Top-Earning Authors - Forbes. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Overcoming repression...

In case you wondered …

… Flavorwire — 10 of the Funniest American Essayists of Our Time. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For the defense …

… Paulo Coelho's attack on Ulysses insults readers | Books | guardian.co.uk.

Thought for the day …

Religion was nearly dead because there was no longer real belief in future life; but something was struggling to take its place — service — social service — the ants creed, the bees creed.
— John Galsworthy, born on this date in 1867

Monday, August 13, 2012

Off the rack …

… Roz Chast’s Memoir Spectrum — BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Mind-blasting …

… Los Angeles Review of Books - On Dorothy B. Hughes. (Hat tip, dave Lull.)

… In a Lonely Place, which had then been re-released by The Feminist Press, blasted my mind open to new ways of reading. I wasn't only enjoying the story and getting creeped out by the wholly unreliable narrator, Dix Steele, but marveling at the way Hughes let readers in on what was really happening while keeping Dix in the dark about his own nefarious motivations. She was describing the psyche and actions of a serial killer years before the term existed. She depicted the crushing disappointment a war hero feels after coming home to a chorus of crickets, as well as the expectation to pick up where he’d left off — when there’s nothing to pick up. Most marvelously, Hughes turned the whole story on its head by creating strong female characters — from Dix's neighbor and purported love interest, Laurel Gray, to Sylvia, the wife of his best friend (and investigating police detective) Brub Nicolai — and putting moral victory in their hands, through their own actions. This was a feminist book (even if Hughes reportedly poo-poohed the term), written 65 years ago, but the effect was so subtle as to fool people into thinking it was just another crime novel, even an exemplary one.

Glimpsed moments …

… A Timeless Visionary - Edward Hopper - Obit Magazine.

A new level …

… Finnegan awakes - FT.com.

Self is 50 now; the days of drugging and boozing are over. He has never been a dull writer, but a more fulfilling one is emerging as he traverses middle age. Umbrella is his boldest novel yet. It doesn’t so much flatten the cultic contours of his previous writing – the flights into science fiction and fantasy, the influence of JG Ballard and William Burroughs – as elevate them to a new level of seriousness.

Hmm …

… Language Log — Approximate quotations. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is something of an eye-opener. It is true, of course, that transcribing a recorded interview is time-consuming and tedious. My own method is to listen and transcribe only those parts that I want to use (you can also note where other parts are that you may want to use). The only changes I make are to ignore the pauses, hesitations, grammatical fluffs, stuff like that.

And the winner is …

… Poem of the Year: May 2011-Apr 2012 : IBPC.

The Judge's Page.

(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Thought for the day …

A religion without mystery must be a religion without God.
— Jeremy Taylor, who died on this date in 1667

Grand pursuit...

Subsidising art...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tempo moderato …

… Bryan Appleyard — Blog Archive _— Robert Wilson’s Slow Time. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Interrupted blogging …

Today is the last day that we can see the Uffizi show at the Michener Museum in Doylestown. We'll be taking off in about half an hour (it's a little before 10 as I write this). Blogging will resume sometime after we get back.

Career moves …

… From Technologist to Philosopher - Manage Your Career - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Inquirer reviews …

… A hacktivist of the Arab Spring.

… Female free spirits, all 3 now forgotten.

 Impact of the '60s in twists and turns.

… Bush Institute experts present their views on growing the economy.

Thought for the day …

What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space.
— Erwin Schrödinger, born on this date in 1887

Saturday, August 11, 2012

FYI …

… Announcing Y3 of Dorothy, a publishing project.

Improbable encounters …

… Book Review: Hello Goodbye Hello - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What makes the book work so well is Mr. Brown's eye for the eccentric or telling detail. He observes humanity with a sly and droll sense of the absurd. When H.G. Wells has an interview in the Kremlin with Stalin, the dictator never looks him in the eye. Wells puts it down to shyness. Soon after the writer comments: "I have never met a man more candid, fair and honest."

Making ends meet …

… 6 Authors Who Never Quit Their Day Jobs —  PWxyz.