Friday, November 30, 2012

Wonderful book …

… ‘Always Looking,’ by John Updike - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
It's one I chose for The Inquirer's holiday book roundup.

Good idea …

 Paul Davis On Crime: 27 Mark Twain Quotes To Celebrate His Birthday.

And the winners are …

 National Endowment for the Arts Awards 832 Art Works Grants Totaling $23.3 million.

Also, apply now: Literary Fellowships.

Sounds good …

… A Common Reader: Random thoughts on BBC’s adaptation of Parade’s End.

The sound of Nabokov …

… Vladimir Nabokov's Passionate Reading of 'An Evening of Russian Poetry,' 1958 - WNYC. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sharing …

… zmkc: The Book What I Wrote.

Sounds intriguing to me so far.

The spoken language …

… Heroes of Slang 19: Henry Mayhew — The Dabbler.

Ethical narrowing …

… A Commonplace Blog: “Doctors don’t do hope”. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tyranny …

… Robes in a Bunch Sends Poet to Jail for Life | Fox Chase Review.

Not folksy …

Sacred Language for Sacred Acts | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


In the post-Vatican II period, Polish translators followed the classic understanding of liturgical Latin and deliberately adopted a high, literary Polish for rendering the Missal of 1970 into their native language. English translators did exactly the opposite, stripping the Latin of its distinctive sacral vocabulary and images, and flattening out the rhythms of liturgical Latin. The results were not happy: collects that informed God of what God presumably already knew (about God’s doings or our needs), and then made anodyne requisites of the Most High; eucharistic prayers that eliminated sacral words and biblical images; post-Communion prayers that, like the nonsense cited above, sounded like requests made to a therapist or dentist.
Indeed.

The humor of it …

 Peter Cotton’s ‘Nassim Taleb on Anti-Fragility’ | The Black Swan Report. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

English as Scandinavian …

… Welcome to my world.

Visiting a gem …

… The Book Haven goes to Lagrasse, home of “Banquet des Livres” | The Book Haven.

The Queen's tongue...

Not so fast …





The linguist Sarah Ogilvie, a former director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre who herself worked as an editor for the O.E.D., has gained considerable attention for her new book, “Words of the World: The Global History of the Oxford English Dictionary.” An article about the book in the Guardian—excerpted on Gawker and many other places, and widely retweeted—highlighted the claim that Robert Burchfield, the editor of the four-volume “Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary” published from 1972 to 1986, “covertly deleted thousands of words because of their foreign origins.” 

This claim is completely bogus.

Living with...

...The politics of reading

This, my second reading cycle, was coterminous with an ideological shift. Big government, the ambivalent climate change debate, and terrorism all focused my mind on the need to relook at my beliefs. The transformation was slow but definitive. It was also more full-bodied in that it encouraged me to hold disparate views culled from different ideologies without bracketing myself within a framework. I realised that I was left-leaning on certain issues (gay marriage) but right-leaning on others (big government). I started calling myself a libertarian.

Hollywood and freedom …

… A Free-Market Fix for the Copyright Racket - Bloomberg. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hollywood likes freedom and tax breaks for itself, but not others: Sunday Reflection: Repeal the Hollywood tax cuts!

Population explosion …

… Boston Review — Mike Chasar and Jed Rasula: Glut Reactions. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Look and listen …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A 1927 Film Clip With Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Discussing Sherlock Holmes and Psychics.

Live art...

Digestive tract …

 Anecdotal Evidence: `His Stomach Was a Strong One'.

Inside Frank's country...

For the joy of it …

… Henry Miller’s Reflections on Writing | Brain Pickings. ((Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bookish artwork …

… The American Scholar: Poe and Baudelaire - Michael Dirda. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day …


Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred.
— Jacques Barzun, born on this date in 1907

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Flourishing through stress æ

… Nassim Taleb's Cure for Fragility — Larry Prusak — Harvard Business Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dan Brown with brains …

… Books With Friends | The End Of The Pier Show.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Counsel from Mr.Maugham …

… W. Somerset Maugham Contemplates the Future of American Writers - WNYC. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

While it is true that Maugham never practiced medicine, it is also true that he never relinquished his license to practice.

Interweaving cultures and faiths …

 Crossing Borders | Jewish Museum People in the Books | Columbia University Rare Books | Words Like Sapphires | Library of Congress | Reading Resilience | By Diane Cole - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It starts tomorrow …

… Twitter Blog: Twitter Fiction Festival selections.

Oops …

… Runner-up Ann Patchett over-promoted as 'winner' of Orange prize 2012 | Books | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cubist caress …

Switchback - Lipchitz Lyric - Paul Siegell.

A mellower Euripides

… The Bacchae — So Many Books.

Neutral or not?

The Guild Review: Ernst Jünger on Technology (2).

Sounds bad to me …

… Leveson urges new independent regulator for UK press — CNN.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Free means free. A regulated press is not a free press.

Quick, cocky, and goofy …

 Ivebeenreadinglately: Perhaps there's a reason Wolfe stays in his brownstone after all.

Meet and listen …

… Saul Broudy – A Profile | Fox Chase Review.

Great work, poor conclusion...

Getting used to what we don't understand …

… namely, the world and life: He'd have us embrace change and uncertainty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Vintage phrase …

… BBC News - Who, What, Why: Who first called it a 'fiscal cliff'? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… it wasn't until Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, used it in a speech to a congressional committee in February of this year, in reference to the events of 1 January 2013, that the phrase leapt into the mainstream.

The report everyone waited for...

...Fleet Street’s grim reaper
Mr Cameron does not want a press law, and would prefer the industry to come up with a tough alternative. He fears a slippery slope to state meddling. Ofcom is a powerful regulatory body, he pointed out—and “we should be trying to reduce concentrations of power.” Ed Miliband, Labour’s leader, is keen on tougher regulation, and would embrace a law imposing it. Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, also takes a harder line than his coalition partner. Mr Cameron’s own party is split. Some senior ministers and many old hands fervently oppose parliamentary meddling in principle. But a significant number of Tory MPs, many of them newly-arrived, are more amenable. There could be a parliamentary majority for Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals.

Relevant as ever...

Tricksy spy story …

… The Dabbler Book Club Review: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan — The Dabbler.

Digital immortality …

 Locus Online Perspectives — Cory Doctorow: The Internet of the Dead. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ugly but lucky …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Not What We Are, But What We Have Never Been'.

Unconventional heroism …

… Tolstoy And The Tao | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)




… the prudent man — which is to say the virtuous man — is one who senses the currents of events, and adjusts himself to “surf” atop them (to use Noah’s metaphor). Taoism, as I understand it, is not a moral code but a method. Taoism is consonant with a philosophical conservatism in that it recognizes the possibility that things we actively do to deal with an evil may lead to worse evils. Hence prudence, caution, patience. Taoism can deal with the tragic sense.

Apocalypses, dictators, and lunch meat …

… When Falls the Coliseum —Lisa reads Exponential Apocalypse – Dead Presidents by Eirik Gumeny.

Thought for the day …

Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.
— C.S. Lewis, born on this date in 1898

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thou shalt not …

… The Seven Deadly Sins of Screenwriting - Speakeasy - WSJ.

There would surely be mo' better movies if these rules were adhered to more.

Fresh and playful

… Nigeness: Kenneth Koch: Thank You.

Who knew?

… A Commonplace Blog: Hitler was an optimist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fleming times two …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Lunch With James Bond Creator Ian Fleming And A Look Back At His Time As A Journalist For Reuters.

I took my Godsons to see Skyfall last Friday. We all loved it.

Evolving economics …

… Brainpicker's Affiliate Marketing Experiments — Everything is ablaze!

Missing passages …

… A Call for Lost Paragraphs — BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

No mere aesthete …

… This Strange and Contradictory Poet | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Keats is my favorite poet, and the favorite of many poets.

As above, so below …

… Stoic week, and a challenge to Christianity - Philosophy and Life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lingering concerns …





‘Why don’t we share some appetizers to start?’ one of us suggested.
‘Redundant,’ I muttered to myself. Appetizers are starters; either cut ‘to start’ or change ‘appetizers’ to ‘plates’. Then again, in some cases, people order only appetizers, and don’t go on to have a main course. So was it actually essential to say ‘to start’, to clarify that, in this instance, everyone should feel free to order more food after the first sharing course? I wasn’t sure.

Q & A …

… “Change The Sky” – A Memoir By Joseph T. O’Donnell | Irish American Mom.

Professional dissident …

… Derrida: A Biography by Benoît Peeters - review | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Deconstruction holds that nothing is ever entirely itself. There is a certain otherness lurking within every assured identity. It seizes on the out-of-place element in a system, and uses it to show how the system is never quite as stable as it imagines. There is something within any structure that is part of it but also escapes its logic. It comes as no surprise that the author of these ideas was a Sephardic Jew from colonial Algeria, half in and half out of French society. If his language was French, he could also speak the patois of working-class Arabs. He would later return to his home country as a conscript in the French army, a classic instance of divided identity.

For today …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: Rehn Kovacic and Slomovits/Burds: Wednesday Haiku, #92.

Extraordinary complexity …

… Book review: ‘Maidenhair,’ by Mikhail Shishkin | Dallas-Fort Worth Book Reviews and News  — The Dallas Morning News.

Not what you might think …

On the "Art of Jesuitism.

Joining the lists …

… Fiction, Poetry and Nonfiction Selected by The New York Times Book Review - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Perennial favorite …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `To Make the Eye of Childhood Glisten'.

A visit to the Rosenbach …

… Rosenbach Museum and Library | Philadelphia Bibliophilia | By Willard Spiegelman - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Er, yeah …

… Do Orchestras Really Need Conductors? : Deceptive Cadence : NPR.

Indeed …

… The Millions : Thank God for Uncle Joe: On Joseph Epstein’s Essays in Biography.

In case you wondered …

… RealClearScience - Why Strict Atheism Is Unscientific.

 Best to be leery of belief and opt instead for faith.

Thought for the day …

It is a myth, not a mandate, a fable not a logic, and symbol rather than a reason by which men are moved.
— Irwin Edman, born on this date in 1896

There will be blood...

...The Victims of the Penguin & Random House Merger: Literary Agents
One forecast seems safe to make; the merger will not be the last of its kind. According to Wylie, the future structure of the publishing industry will comprise of very big buyers and small independent players, with fewer houses in the middle.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happiness and heaven

… Is God Happy? by Leszek Kołakowski | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winners are …

… National Endowment for the Arts Awards 832 Art Works Grants Totaling $23.3 million.

It's not too late …

… Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder" at Parkway Central Library in Philadelphia, PA - Philadelphia Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Characters' conversations …

… George V. Higgins: An Appreciation of Boston’s Balzac | Mulholland Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Many of my critics seem to feel that they have to say, or strongly imply, that my gift for dialog is all I have; or that writing dialog is not the most important attribute a novelist can have . . .  A man or woman who does not write good dialog is not a first-rate writer. I do not believe that a writer who neglects or has not learned to write good dialog can be depended on for accuracy in his understanding of character and in his creation of characters. Therefore to dismiss good dialog so lightly is evidence of a critic’s incomplete understanding of what constitutes a good novel.
Indeed.

Art and power …

 TT: Lookback.

And the winners are …

… This Essay Does Hot Yoga — BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Tender beauty …

… Nigeness: Lorenz Hart.

Humility …

… Maverick Philosopher: The Insolubility of Philosophical Problems: The Augustine Story Adapted.

Listen in …

… BBC iPlayer - Night Waves: Nassim Taleb, The Old Regime and the Revolution, The Hunt. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Labor of love …

 Ovid: Middlebrook’s last passion comes to light | The Book Haven.

In search of …

… Have you got an early Beryl Bainbridge on your walls? | UK news | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Choosing life and joy …

… Beauty in an Ugly Time | Books and Culture.

The frontier of search …

Google’s Searches for UnGoogleable Information to Make Mobile Search Smarter | MIT Technology Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Judging words …

… Former OED editor covertly deleted thousand of words, book claims | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip,  Dave Lull.)

Recommendations …

 Eighteen Poets Recommend New and Recent Collections | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD).

The residue of intensity …

… on Robert Duncan, The Ambassador From Venus, a biography by Lisa Jarnot (University of California Press) | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD).

Knowledge and progress …

Book Review: Antifragile - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something that is fragile, like a glass, can survive small shocks but not big ones. Something that is robust, like a rock, can survive both. But robust is only half way along the spectrum. There are things that are anti-fragile, meaning they actually improve when shocked, they feed on volatility. The restaurant sector is such a beast. So is the economy as a whole: It is precisely because of Joseph Schumpeter's "creative destruction" that it innovates, progresses and becomes resilient. The policy implications are clear: Bailouts risk making the economy more fragile.

The wages of existence...

...Maggi

Amis and Elmore …

… Paul Davis On Crime: As American As Jazz: Martin Amis On Elmore Leonard And Elmore Leonard On Elmore Leonard.

An African in China...

The first day of the rest of your life...

A Leiter shade of ignorance …

as well as A Leiter Case for the Superfluousness of Religious Liberty | Online Library of Law and Liberty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

[Leiter] spends three paragraphs, for example, dismissing Thomistic thought, betraying a stunningly shallow understanding of it and summarily concluding that there are no “lines of thought that converge on the conclusion that one should affirm a transcendent cause.” Never mind Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Pascal, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, and Newman, much less leading contemporary heirs to their project.

Multiple inspirations...

Desolation …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `To the World's End I Thought I'd Go'.

Thought for the day …

You must be in tune with the times and prepared to break with tradition.
— James Agee, born on this date in 1909

Monday, November 26, 2012

Looking for an audience …

… David Simon on Treme, the CIA and Why TV Isn't Journalism | Underwire | Wired.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The benefit of mishandling …

… Renowned thinker Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Let's cherish the unpredictable | Metro.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dead white guys and TV …

… Book Review: The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Betrayal …

… Shackleton's Decision by Faith Shearin | The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Tough question …

… The Kill Zone: Will Immersive Reading Save Publishing and Kill the Traditional Novel? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Advice to Myself by Louise Erdrich | The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A sense of engagement …

… One shade of grey: how Nicola Beauman made an unlikely success of Persephone Books | Books | The Observer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Missing in action …

… “Killing Them Softly,” “Rust and Bone” Reviews : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


If you want to grade postwar novelists on the strength of their ears alone—how fast they prick up at the crackle and blare of American speech—then [George V.] Higgins and Elmore Leonard, you could argue, lead the pack, ahead of more distinguished names. … One film paid suitable tribute: “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” (1973), directed by Peter Yates, and starring Robert Mitchum. The novel, of the same name, was Higgins’s first, and its opening sentence delivered the kind of measured slap that older readers would associate with their earliest hit of Hemingway: “Jackie Brown at twenty-six, with no expression on his face, said that he could get some guns.” 


Remembering …

… Two poems by Jack Gilbert | New Writing | Granta Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A day late …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: Tea in the Sahara: Issa's Sunday Service, #145.

Reputations …

… Ranking the Writers | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It's not a bad list at all. And the inclusion of James Truslow Adams is especially interesting. He was the guy who coined the phrase "the American Dream." The term is widely misunderstood, I guess because not many people read Adams anymore. But here is something I wrote about a while back:

… the phrase “American Dream” not only had a precise time and place of origin, it also had a specific originator: historian James Truslow Adams coined it in his 1931 book The American Epic. According to Adams, it is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” Small wonder the dream that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so famously had was, as he put it himself, “deeply in rooted in the American dream.”

Tyrannic treadmill …

… zmkc: A Girl after my Own Heart.

I am myself obsessive about cleaning up as I cook. It was drilled into me by my mother and grandmother. Actually, I think it's one of the pleasures of cooking. The orderliness enhances the meal, at least for me.

More Manso …

 A Common Reader: Our Friend Manso: the education of Manso.

Reading habits …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `A Map of Busy Life'.

Roth, Zweig, and...

...the lost world of pre-war Europe.

In case you wondered …

… Why Did Peter Doig Finish The Pink Hat? - Review - ArtLyst. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Be not afraid...

...Books and faith are good mix for Lynchburg professor
“Dr. Prior’s work is groundbreaking for several reasons, among them that it may be the first time a scholar of evangelical background and belief has affirmed the incomparable value of all forms of literature —virtuous and vile. From her own experience, the author makes the argument that even books with vulgar content can form a “backwoods path back to God, bramble-filled and broken, yes, but full of truth and wonder.’"

Form and content …

… The Non Now, Aussie Style — BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

In case you wondered...

When in Paris...

Q & A …

 The Associated Press: AP Interview: Trethewey a 'cheerleader' for poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.,)

History lessons …

… PJ Media — Twilight Struggles, Then and Now: A Review of The Party Line.

Although The Party Line deals with ideas, it’s not the kind of “drama of ideas” in which the characters are the authors’ mouthpieces or nuance-free symbols of good or evil. The men and women who populate this play are living, breathing individuals whose various reactions to totalitarian ideas are recognizable to anyone who has observed such things in real life. Jihadist Islam may not be exactly the same thing as Soviet Communism, but it brings out the same range of responses in free people who are confronted with it. Now, as then, there are media figures who are breathtakingly willing to hide the monstrous truth about despotism in order to keep the despot happy. Now, as then, there are those who see the enemy plain, and are breathtakingly willing to put their lives on the line for liberty.

Tenderness throughout …

… Writing Without a Mattress: On Louise Glück | The Nation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Listen in …

 Satchmo At The Waldorf: The Man Behind The Legend | WRTI. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day …

No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa.
— Eugène Ionesco, born on this date in 1909

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Anniversary …

… BBC News - Solzhenitsyn's One Day: The book that shook the USSR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Helpful hints

… From fat tails to Fat Tony. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Enter here …

… Writing Home-Introduction.

FYI …

… Tucker Max: Attention, Authors: I Tripled My Royalties, and You Can Too. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cheerful thoughts …

 Bryan Appleyard — I, Extinct; You, Robot. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I suspect, as is more often the case than not, that the experts will be proved wrong in the event. But that could simply be because I think the universe is governed by God.

More Paul Desmond …

… Paul Desmond, Take 88. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Atheism at a price …

… Atheists and Islam: No God, not even Allah | The Economist.

The appeal of the second-rate …

… Ooh, you are awful…but I like you. — The Dabbler.

Gobble, gobble …

… Dictionary of American Regional Turkey-Words - Harvard University Press Blog.

And a third from me …

… Two Cheers for Anarchism | James Russell Ament.

Vanishing species …

 Lincoln Hunter Web Log: God Give Us Men.

Nagging anxiety …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Him Who Interests Himself in Everything'.

"Simple and pleasant story" …

 A Common Reader: Our Friend Manso: the education novel.

… see also: Our Friend Manso: female characters and the education of women.

Fascinating …

 seachange — Elberry's Ghost.

I fear I am coming to share Elberry's cultural pessimism.

Separated by a common language …

 zmkc: Arse.

Reason or sentiment?

… The Taste for Being Moral by Thomas Nagel | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lingua franca...

Well-mannered contentedness …

… Happy the Man | The Weekly Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Inquirer reviews …

… Juvenile court as cash cow.

… A warrior's tale of the war in Iraq.





Also born on this date …

… in 1924, Paul Desmond.


Thought for the day …

Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.
— Ludwig Wittgenstein

Saturday, November 24, 2012

FYI …

… The hows and whys of writing poetry | TLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sign of the times …

 The Curse Of Warholism | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

WHAT STRIKES ME as rather extraordinary, in Steinberg’s retreat into psychological self-analysis and in Danto’s dependence on philosophical categories, is an unwillingness to trust the experience of the eye. Now we all know that aesthetic experience is complex, ambiguous, subject to revision; and it goes without saying that there is no such thing as direct experience unmediated by ideas, theories, and earlier experiences. But behind both Steinberg’s and Danto’s thoughts I see a deep worry, a fear of the direct experiences that they believe so often misled those who first encountered the work of an earlier generation’s avant-garde masters. Steinberg cites Leo Stein, who bought Matisse’s work at the beginning of his career, as a man who was willing to take the risks needed to access “a novel and positive experience.” But when I turned from Steinberg’s essay to Leo Stein’s various recollections of his early encounters with the work of Cézanne and Matisse—you can find them in his book Appreciation and in a collection of letters called Journey Into the Self—I was struck by how different Stein’s experience was from Steinberg’s. Whatever elements of discomfort, whatever desire to embrace some fresh theory, were involved in Leo Stein’s encounters with modern art, the first and last thing was always the visual power of the work of art—not a problematized power, but power plain and simple.

A hero's notes …

… The Diary Review: The Schindler of China.

Better the real …

… Lamentation for Tom Wolfe | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have to agree.

Ignorance and confidence …

… Articles | New Atheists and the Dunning-Kruger Effect | Phillip Jensen. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More Taleb …

… Randomness by Fool | FT Alphaville. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Unknown Sea …

… The TLS blog: Perambulatory Christmas Books, part 6.

François Mauriac is, in fact, a wonderful writer.

By the sweat of one's brow …

… Book Review: The Nights of Labor | Working | Rivethead | Down and Out in Paris and London | Extreme Measures - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not such a bad guy …

… once you get to know him: Nassim Taleb: my rules for life | Books | The Observer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Jazzy lingo …

… Short stories of dazzle, wit, gravitas.

Remembering …

… William F. Buckley Against the World. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Illumination …

… Let there be light - FT.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mutual shelter …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Rue De Paris, Rainy Day (Gustave Caillebotte).

Also eke-names and to-names …

… Mr Slang’s Complete Guide to Nicknames — The Dabbler.

Long list …

… Books of the year 2012: authors choose their favourites | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Star-struck …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `We Can Literally See the Ending Coming'.

Thought for the day …

We feel and know that we are eternal.
— Baruch Spinoza, born on this date in 1631

Friday, November 23, 2012

Realism and fantasy …

… Book Review: Where on Earth | Outer Space, Inner Lands - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

… Why Americans Don't Think God Talk is Weird | Christianity Today. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When the days dwindle down …

… The American Scholar: “I’m Done” - Michael Dirda. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Should older writers keep at it until they breathe their last? It’s a hard call. Sophocles supposedly brought out Oedipus at Colonus when he was in his 80s. The elderly Tolstoy turned himself into an Old Testament prophet, producing cranky attacks on Shakespeare and numerous political and religious tracts. Yet he also wrote Hadji Murad, one of his greatest works (and a particular favorite of Harold Bloom).

More Guy Davenport …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Like Words You Had Never Heard Before'.

A difficult man …

… Book Review: The Fractalist - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Q & A …

… Who's the Toughest Guy Around? - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… “How Education Makes Us More Stupider” — Suitable For Mixed Company.

Being a pro …

 Elmore Leonard on what it means to write — The Story's Story.

Speaking of fear …

… The Existential Horror of Betaness – Whatever.

Apparently, I'm a beta male, and I never knew it.

News and links …

… Monday Hangovers (Some Links and Big News Redux) - Gwenda Bond.

Fear and imitation

… Experimental Theology: Anxiety vs. Mimesis.

Listen in …

Nassim Taleb – The Leonard Lopate Show WNYC | The Black Swan Report. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Meeting yourself …

… Wagoner's After the Point of No Return | In a Dark Time ... The Eye Begins to See.


… See also Wagoner’s “The Name”.

A jumble of links …

… Quid plura? | “I bit off more than I can chew, only so much you can do…”

Posthumously prolific …

… Roberto Bolano's 'Woes of the True Policeman' a sketchy work: Book review - latimes.com.

Good choice...

Still going strong …

… Munro at 81: Keenest of observers.

The priest as writer...

New frontiers...

Graphic matter...

Love story …

Admirable Things: Rebecca West's Travels Through America | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

America is a continent with which one can have innumerable love-affairs. I am not monogamous myself in my passion for the Mississippi. There are times when I think with as insistent a longing for a place named Bingham, which is in the state of Utah. It is a mining-camp. One drives in one’s automobile on noble roads planted with poplars over a green and fertile plain (it was desert till the Mormons irrigated it) to a canyon that drives a wedge into the foothills of the snow-peaked mountains. There is one long winding street of wooden houses, paintless, dilapidated; some with verandas on which men in broad hats sit in rocking chairs, spitting slowly and with an infinity of sagacity; some with plate glass windows, on which the washed-off word “saloon” still shows as a pathetic shadow, which are eating-houses of incredible bareness and dinginess, some others with plate-glass windows that show you men on high chairs with white sheets round them being shaved, and tin cans everywhere. Then at the end of the street one comes on a mountain of copper.

Also born today …

… in 1876, Manuel de Falla.


Thought for the day …

Wittgenstein, huddled in silence on his chair, stammered quietly from time to time. He was committed to absolute honesty. Nothing --- nothing at all --- was to escape analysis. He had nothing up his sleeve; he had nothing to teach. The world was an absolute puzzle, a great lump of opaque pig iron. Can we think about the lump? What is thought? What is the meaning of can, can we, of can we think? What is the meaning of we? If we answer these questions on Monday, are the answers valid on Tuesday? If I answer them at all, do I think the answer, believe the answer, know the answer, or imagine the answer?
— Guy Davenport, born on this date in 1927

Thursday, November 22, 2012

For Thanksgiving …

… some genuine rock 'n' roll.

A Proustian Thanksgiving …

… Happy Thanksgiving! Celebrate with a bag of marrons glacés. | The Book Haven.

In case you wondered …

… NonfictioNow 2012 in Melbourne: Is Writing Better Than Sex? — BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

For the occasion …

… John Henry Newman on Christian Thanksgiving. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We are not our own, any more than what we possess is our own. . . .We are God’s property by creation, by redemption, by regeneration. He has a triple claim upon us. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter? Is it any happiness, or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous. These may think it a great thing to have everything, as they suppose, their own way, — to depend on no one, — to have to think of nothing out of sight, — to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgment, continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another. But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man — that it is an unnatural state — may do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end. No, we are creatures; and, as being such, we have two duties, to be resigned and to be thankful.

Awkward, but not bad …

 When Falls the Coliseum — Lisa reads The Code by G.B. Joyce.

The scholar Pope …

… Music to Our Ears: a Review of the Pope’s New Book. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Language skills …

… The Hilarious Pessimist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Actually, Peter Cook perfected this long before Entwistle.


No 98-pound weakling …

… Book Trailer for The World’s Strongest Librarian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If the embed doesn't work, click on the title within the frame.


More on that prize …

… Bad sex in good books | The Book Haven.

 I reviewed last year's winner, David Guterson's Ed King. As I said in the review, the bad sex was the least of its problems.

Problematically religious …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `There Always Seems So Much to Guard Against'.

Of course, I suspect religion is problematic for everyone who is genuinely religious.

The original …

… American Thanksgiving Holiday…11.21.12 — The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian's Weblog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Together at last …

… Art and Sex and Very Small Birds | The New Psalmanazar. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


The goldcrests that Nige mentions here are kinglets.

Review …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Winston Churchill: The Last Lion, Defender Of The Realm.

Degrees of separation …

… Transmissions from a Lone Star: Texas Independence Now! | Columnists | RIA Novosti.

Personally, I don’t doubt that Texas would be very successful if it became a country. The state has the 14th largest economy in the world: bigger than Australia’s. But the vast majority of Texans believe that they are better off inside the USA and so the secession movement is extremely weak. I know this because last year I attended a meeting of the Texas Nationalists on the 175th anniversary of Texas independence. Although they claimed to have 250,000 members they could barely scrape together 30 folk to fill a room in a hotel built on the historical grounds of the Alamo itself. They were gentle, peaceful people: every now and then a speaker would look out the window at the old mission house and cry.

Read and listen…

… El Pollo Real: The Parable Of The Doorkeeper*.

Also born today …

Hoagy Carmichael, in 1899.



Thought for the day …

Man is more interesting than men. God made him and not them in his image. Each one is more precious than all.
— André Gide, born on this date 1869

Right stuff...

Life, interrupted...

...Decoding Alan Turing
In 1951, he had a few sexual encounters with a 19-year-old working class boy, Arnold Murray, and his house was burgled by one of Murray’s pals. During investigations, the police learnt about the gay activity. Turing had never made a secret of his orientation and he was hardly the only gay don. But he had got caught. He had to undergo a course of hormonal injections — a so-called experiment in “chemical castration”. He also came under relentless surveillance. Although he bore up with apparent good grace and continued with various lines of research, he was forced out of “sensitive” work. In June 1954, he ate a cyanide-laced apple.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Order, order...

Belated recognition...

...C S Lewis deserves his place in Poets’ Corner
It was not simply that Lewis had written children’s stories that captivated their readers. Lewis developed these stories as vehicles of theological exploration, allowing him to explore sophisticated ideas without compromising the pace of his narrative or losing the patience of his readers. Narnia, Lewis later explained, was about “supposals”. Suppose God did become incarnate in a world like Narnia. What would this look like? More importantly, what would it feel like to be part of this world?

Seriously non-erotic...

FYI …

… OUPblog — Ten things you didn’t know about Thanksgiving.

A taste of eternity …

… Nigeness: RST Enjoys a Mitcham Cabbage. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Back to beginnings …

… Skagboys – Irvine Welsh — Full Stop.

Something I missed …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: Alexandra Leaving: Issa's Sunday Service, #144.

Read and enjoy …

… Dragoncave: Poems Published November 2012.

A fan's note …

… Jewish Ideas Daily — An Open Letter to Philip Roth.

Autumn territory …

… First Known When Lost: "Misgiving".

Or get a sense of humor …

 Assume Joke Dead. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The fact is, political junkies tend to be humorless and parochial.

My brother, the painter …

… The Artist I Grew Up With by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

They were paintings of suburban London. It was a world John and I had shared in our teens: the terraced streets and windy intersections of Crouch End and Muswell Hill, Willesden and Brixton, places I supposed he despised. In paint, however, he had transformed them into landscapes of longing, spaces at once absolutely authentic in their clutter and decay, yet at the same time infinitely desirable—to the point of seeming unavailable. It was odd. On the one hand you had the impression of realism, but it was a realism lavished on such quiet and unassuming scenes—park benches and flower beds, trains rattling by sagging fences, pedestrians escaping from red buses—that you felt there was something absurd or even magical about it. The paintings were nostalgic and funny.

Enthusiasms …

 Los Angeles Review of Books - The Lure Of The Oeuthre: On Charles Portis And Flannery O'Connor. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the nominees are …

Britain's Most Dreaded Literary Prize. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Whiskey, Presbyterians, and fruit …

… Maverick Philosopher: At the Supermarket: I Think of Hegel's Logic.

Neat idea, messy book.

… Antifragile: How to Live in a World We Don't Understand by Nassim Nicholas Taleb – review | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Taleb seems to have decided not just to explain his idea but also to try to exemplify it. One of his bugbears is the fragility of most of what passes for "knowledge" – especially the kind produced by academics – which he thinks is so hung up on order and completeness that it falls apart at the first breath of disruption. So he has gone for deliberate disorder: Antifragile jumps around from aphorism to anecdote to technical analysis, interspersed with a certain amount of hectoring encouragement to the reader to keep up. The aim, apparently, is to show how much more interesting an argument can be if it resists being pinned down.

Riposte . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Gift suggestion …

… Welcome to the Holiday Bookshop for Signed Books on AbeBooks.

A poet's poet …

… A Natural Poet | The Weekly Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Circumnavigation …

… The Neglected Books Page — Around the World with Reader Recommendations.

From Paris …

 Chez moi – old neighborhood, eminent neighbors, and a long wait | The Book Haven.

Seasonal verse …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `I Hope That You Won't Think Me Plain Ungrateful'.

Not for laughs …

… The Cartoon Utopia | The Comics Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Senior writers …

… Roth retires but Wolfe, Wouk among authors past 80 - Yahoo! News. (Hat tip, Dave Lull and Paul Davis.)

Thought for the day …

No God without a world, and no world without God.
— Friedrich Schleiermacher, born on this date in 1768

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New horizons...

Solzhenitsyn's One Day

Originally published in 1962...

Our unexamined media …

 The subtlety of media myths: A ‘New Yorker’ brief and the napalm-attack myth — Media Myth Alert.

The real problem here us the credulousness of today's media and their reluctance or inability to verify things before they write about them. Another case of journalism school creating piss-poor journalists.

Exegetical exactitude …

… Annals of Biography: Angels and Ages : The New Yorker.

Even with the Gettysburg Address, despite our possession of what seem to be two drafts and what are certainly several later copies in Lincoln’s own hand, there are many arguments about exactly what Lincoln said. Gabor Boritt, in his book “The Gettysburg Gospel,” has a thirty-page appendix that compares what Lincoln (probably) read at the memorial with what people heard and reported. Most of the differences are small, and due to understandable confusions—“The world will little note nor long remember what we say here” became in some reports “The world will little heed what we say here”—or to impatience on the part of a reporter. (The Centralia Sentinel, of Lincoln’s home state, wanting nothing to do with fancy talk, had the speech begin, simply, “Ninety years ago . . .”)