Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Good Samaritan lesson --- still valid 2000 years later


Members of a Mormon congregation in a Salt Lake City suburb encountered someone they thought was a homeless man at church on Sunday. What they did not know was the man was a bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  At least five people asked David Musselman to leave the church property in Taylorsville, some gave him money and most were indifferent.

What if she keeps digging?

Archaeologist digs deep to reveal Easter Island torsos

Andmany happy returns …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Birthday To Mark Twain.

Mystical magician …

… "Balthus: Cats and Girls" at the Met: Review | New Republic.

Software upgrade …

… Computer Scientist David Gelernter: Making Computers More Intuitive - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

His own approach to technology, he says, is a long way from that of his father, who was one of the inventors of artificial intelligence and loved to solve difficult computing problems. The younger Gelernter just wanted technology to work. At Yale, he got a bachelor's degree and a master's in classical Hebrew.

A new ugliness …

… Bryan Appleyard — A Trivial Post About Ryan Giggs. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Photoshopped hyper-realism looks anything but realistic because that is not how our eyes see things, but I suppose people think it is how they should see things.

Grace and snow …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Snow Falling on a Town (Utagawa Kuniyoshi).

Remembering …



… Gavin Parfit: Jacques Barzun 1907-2012. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

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

Friday, November 29, 2013

More than that …

… lets more lists besides: Top 10 film noir | Film | theguardian.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP …

… She never sniveled: Natalia Gorbanevskaya (1936-2013) | The Book Haven.

Elementary …

… A Former Apple Executive's Obsessive Search For Sherlock Holmes - Forbes. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Predictable …

… ‘100 Poems - Old and New,’ by Rudyard Kipling - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The trouble with Kipling is deeper than politics. The sympathetic eye and rough grace of his stories cannot distract from the vulgarity of the poems or his now mortifying views of empire.
Poor Kipling. He couldn't help being alive decades before he could share William Logan's enlightened view of everything.

Touching …

… Beyond the Mon Valley: Hospitals are mysterious places . . .

In praise of gluttony

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Long May They Delve and Slaughter'.

Gypsy Scholar: You Tube: Bottomless Bottle of Beer Video Online

… Gypsy Scholar: You Tube: Bottomless Bottle of Beer — Video Online.

Thanksgiving roundup …

… Quid plura? | “Silken mist outside the window, frogs and newts slip in the dark…”

Another poetic vegetable …

… First Known When Lost: Mangels.

Expressing the inexpressible …

… Unapologetic • Thoughts for 'Writing Faith' seminar with Marilynne Robinson, King's College London 28/11/13. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hard-boiled woman …

… The Dangerous Housewife: Santa Barbara's Margaret Millar. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …


Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
— C. S. Lewis, born on this date in 1898

Thursday, November 28, 2013

How something else got started …

… The Birth of the Cool: Leo Braudy's Memoir of the 1950s |. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

How it started …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Meet The Mother Of Thanksgiving.

On behalf of McKeesport …

… Beyond the Mon Valley.

… if you have heard of it, I would be astonished.


As far as I can tell, no one of note every came from McKeesport. Well, perhaps someone will step up to correct that statement.

Not only have I heard of it, but I heard of it because I know someone from there: the great concert pianist Byron Janis, who was born there in 1928.


An intellectual stumbles...

A thought for today …

Many of our newly smart would rather be found murdering their children than being kind to their parents. They would prefer to be damned for rudeness than to be snickered at for courtesy.
— Irwin Edman, born on this date in 1896

Jewish and gay...

Journeyman work …

… Three unpublished J.D. Salinger stories leaked? - latimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI …

… 100 Notable Books of 2013 - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Active and alive...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bringing out the truth...

Bruno Schulz


The work of Bruno Schulz reminded me of several authors - all of them Jewish: for its distinctly 'European' qualities, I thought of Joseph Roth; for its command of language, I thought of Stefan Zweig; and for its mysticism, I actually thought of Kafka. 

The Street of Crocodiles - the collection of Schulz's stories which I've recently finished - is a complicated thing: for every paragraph that mirrors the realities of provincial Poland, there's another that breaks free of that reality, following a path toward two extremes: solitude and fantasy. 

That, it seems, is where Schulz made his mark: between the loneliness of intellectualism, and the fantastic, frenetic qualities of a father come undone, a society on the verge of catastrophe wrapped up as military conflict. 

Schulz perished amidst that catastrophe, executed in 1942 by SS troops stationed in his native Galicia. His life, like his literary remains, ranks among the most opaque of modern authors. He's a ghost: a ghost enmeshed in tragedy. 

That tragedy is a part of The Street of Crocodiles, a book that contains moments of sheer artistic wonder. But it's also an unfinished work: one that hints - cruelly - at that which Schulz was capable, both in terms of style and voice.

Reading Schulz made me appreciate all the more Cynthia Ozick, whose Messiah of Stockholm attempts to uncover what was lost when Schulz met his end. Her book, like The Street of Crocodiles, assigns meaning to those dark days.


A way of writing …

… The American Scholar: The Art of Obsession — Paula Marantz Cohen.

Mary Renault’s chariot of ire | TLSlayers of attraction …

… Mary Renault’s chariot of ire | TLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This all seems far more complicated than any relationship I've ever been in.

Writers' picks …

… Books of the Year | TLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Night walks …

… London by Night: In the Footsteps of Dickens | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Worth pondering …

… zmkc: Even Commoner II.

How things are shaped …

… Finding His Religion — Sactown Magazine  — October-November 2013. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Beethoven test …

… Inimitable Agee — The Barnes and Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Pope Speaks! And Dreams ...

Dreams can be powerful things, especially when articulated by leaders with the realistic capacity to translate them into action. That was the case 50 years ago with Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, and it also seems to be the ambition of Pope Francis' bold new apostolic exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel."
In effect, the 224-page document, titled in Latin Evangelii Gaudium and released by the Vatican Tuesday, is a vision statement about the kind of community Francis wants Catholicism to be: more missionary, more merciful, and with the courage to change.
Francis opens with a dream.
...
At another point, Francis insists that "the church is not a tollhouse." Instead, he says, "it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone." At another point, he quips that "the confessional must not be a torture chamber," but rather "an encounter with the Lord's mercy which spurs us to on to do our best."

Who knew?

… Want to get rich? Read fiction — MarketWatch. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

About time …

… Schools should replace Catcher in the Rye with Black Swan Green.

How about Alain-Fournier's Le grand Meaulnes?

RIP …

… Araucaria's last puzzle: crossword master dies | Crosswords | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

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

Cosmic Habituation and the Decline Effect …

… Most scientists believe in man-made global warming. Here's a new reason why they may be wrong – Telegraph Blogs. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… In all manner of disciplines – from  zoology to psychology – scientific truths are losing their truthfulness: the more tests are done to prove the validity of accepted theories, the less impressive the results. Sometimes, as with the evolutionary advantage of physiological symmetry, the accepted scientific truth almost vanishes into nothing.

For Our American Shoppers ...

When shoppers head out in search of Black Friday bargains this week, they won't just be going to the mall, they'll be witnessing retail theater. Stores will be pulling out the stops on deep discounts aimed at drawing customers into stores. But retail-industry veterans acknowledge that, in many cases, those bargains will be a carefully engineered illusion

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Newspaper Editors: Getting it right for over 150 years ...

The author of the thumbs-down review was Oramel Barrett, editor of what was then called the Daily Patriot and Union. He was my great-great-grandfather.
The “few appropriate remarks” President Abraham Lincoln was invited to deliver at the dedication of a national cemetery in Gettysburg are remembered today as a masterpiece of political oratory. But that’s not how Oramel viewed them back in 1863.
“We pass over the silly remarks of the President,” he wrote in his newspaper. “For the credit of the nation, we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of.”

Is Hell Empty?

In his book Dare We Hope “That all Men be Saved”? Balthasar draws attention to two series of passages in the New Testament that pertain to judgment and damnation. The first series speaks of individuals being condemned to eternal torment. Those who have rejected Christ are accountable for their actions and they will be cast into “the outer darkness,” or “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:30ff.; see also Mt 5:22,29; 8:12; 10:28; 2 Pet 2:4-10; 3:7; Rev 19:20f.). The second series of texts speaks of God’s desire, and ability, to save all mankind. “God our Savior...desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). Anticipating his suffering and death, Jesus proclaims, “Now is the judgment of this world,...when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:31). “God has consigned all men to disobedience that he may have mercy upon all” (Rom 11:32; see also 2 Pet 3:9; Titus 2:11; Rom 5:14-21; Eph 1:10; Col 1:20).

What you can get away with …

 … Art as Investigation In Which Facts Are Created, Changed.

Echinoidea …

… Sea Urchins | The Nation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Quite a list …

… Joseph Brodsky’s reading list “to have a basic conversation” – plus the shorter one he gave to me | The Book Haven.

Auster on Beckett …

… 'You Begin to Breathe Again': Samuel Beckett's Humor as a Coping Mechanism - Joe Fassler - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unsentimental …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `My Delineations of the Heart'.

Innovation and artistry …

… A Quiet Life Restored - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Enter winter …

… First Known When Lost: "For 'Tis November".

Terrific...

Listen in …

Podcast: You Can’t Get There From Here | Virtual Memories.

Making sense of what happened …

Betrayal in the Balkans: Adam Kirsch Reviews Slavko Goldstein's '1941' – Tablet Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the winners are …

… Poem of the Year: May 2012-Apr 2013 : IBPC.

Good news …

Ink Desk | St. Austin Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The originals …

… Emily Dickinson's handwritten poems as art — latimes.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Lovely

… The Revelation: Poetry for Heritage Month — ICTMN.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Committee, meet camel …

… How To Meddle In a Meddle-Proof Newsroom | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog.

A thought for today …


What most experimenters take for granted before they begin their experiments is infinitely more interesting than any results to which their experiments lead.
— Norbert Wiener, born on this date in 1894

Wonderful...

From the headlines...

FYI...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our honorable media …

… PressTV - West media ignore massacre of Christians in Syria.

Kevin Barry, 2013 IMPAC Winner

I think fiction is superior. You can’t lie in fiction. Your soul is there, pinned and wriggling on the page. You can lie much easier in nonfiction. Every single sentence in a short story is bearing weight, and for that reason most go wrong on me.

Get out the bank book ...

THE first English-language book printed in the New World is scheduled to be auctioned on Tuesday by Sotheby’s of New York. It’s expected to command between $15 million and $30 million — more than anyone, anywhere, has ever paid for a printed book.

Oh, the mystery of it …

… Joho the Blog � How to write. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Remembering …

… Paul Desmond: Take Eighty-Nine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Emotional punctuation …

… The Period, Our Simplest Punctuation Mark, Has Become a Sign of Anger | New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I had not noticed this.

Hmm …

… Dana Gioia and 'The Catholic Writer' | America Magazine. (Hat tip, Cynthia Haven.)

The tweet challenge …

… Tweeting the Truth | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

In case you wondered …

… How we made the Dickens Papers – Night Walks app | Culture professionals network | Guardian Professional. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Philosophy vs. propaganda …

… Aldous Huxley’s Doorway to Orthodoxy.

I wouldn't hold my breath …

… The Art of Science - The Barnes and Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pamphlet awards …

… The TLS blog: The wee malt.

And he may be right …

… This Is the Man Bill Gates Thinks You Absolutely Should Be Reading — Wired Science. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Artful marginalia …

… Nose to nose with Laurence Sterne and Tristram Shandy | OUPblog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The limits of science …

… language goes on holiday. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The philosopher as artist …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `To Recreate It in the Eternal'.

Hindsight …

… Time Crystals.

This essay of mine was listed in The Best American Essays of 2013 as a notable essay of 2012. It was published in Boulevard and is now on the website. Click on the link to read other selections. Lots of good stuff there.

Hmm …

… Seeing and Believing | Issue 99 | Philosophy Now. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Triple play …

… Everything That Rises — Love X 3�. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …


Few people have ever seriously wished to be exclusively rational. The good life which most desire is a life warmed by passions and touched with that ceremonial grace which is impossible without some affectionate loyalty to traditional form and ceremonies.
— Joseph Wood Krutch, born on this date in 1893

Modern Literature

50 books that "define" the past 5 years of literature...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mischievous …

… Uncensored John Simon: MEMORY. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Professional picks …

… Writers and critics on the best books of 2013 | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Regrets, I've had a few ...


Marimow Reinstated ...

Judge reinstates fired Philly Inquirer editor

Very interesting …

… Bruce Charlton's Miscellany: God of the philosophers versus God of revelation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Q & A …

… The Story of 'S': Talking with J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

To solve the book’s central mystery—who is V. M. Straka, really, and what does he have to do with Eric’s sinister dissertation advisor?—you have to read not just “Ship of Theseus,” but all of Jen and Eric’s handwritten notes. The book is so perfectly realized that it’s easy to fall under its spell. The other morning, I was so engrossed in a letter from Jen that I missed my subway stop. (The letter, handwritten on Pollard State University Library stationery, marked a turning point in Eric and Jen’s flirty, romantic relationship.)

What say you?

… Reading American History: Historical Novels - Fact or Fiction?



See also: A Challenge for Armchair Detectives (Readers) - History or Fiction?

The ineluctable …

… All The Selves We Have Been by Lynne Segal - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

As we age, changing year on year, we also retain, in one manifestation or another, traces of all the selves we have been, creating a type of temporal vertigo and rendering us psychically, in one sense, all ages and no age. “All ages and no age” is an expression once used by the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott to describe the wayward temporality of psychic life, writing of his sense of the multiple ages he could detect in those patients once arriving to lie on the couch at his clinic in Hampstead in London. Thus the older we are the more we encounter the world through complex layerings of identity, attempting to negotiate the shifting present while grappling with the disconcerting images of the old thrust so intrusively upon us. “Live in the layers, / not on the litter,” the North American poet, Stanley Kunitz, wrote in one of his beautiful poems penned in his seventies.
I also some thoughts on aging recently: Watching the passing scene 

Her own woman …

… Doris Lessing & the Left | RealClearPolitics.


In 2001, speaking at the Edinburgh Book festival, Lessing caused shock waves with a blistering indictment of the “rubbishing of men which is now so part of our culture that it is hardly even noticed,” including boy-bashing in schools. (She recounted sitting in on a class in which the teacher blamed all wars on male violence while “the little boys sat there crumpled, apologising for their existence.”) Pulling no punches, Lessing declared, “The most stupid, ill-educated and nasty woman can rubbish the nicest, kindest and most intelligent man and no one protests. Men seem to be so cowed that they can't fight back, and it is time they did.”

A thought for today …


We feel and know that we are eternal.
— Baruch Spinoza, born on this date in 1632

Inquirer reviews …

… Jeeves carries on in new Wodehouse romp.

… Tales of life's twists, good and bad.

… 27 writers who knit, or watch those who do.



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Land of Milk and Honey and Wine ...

Archaeologists say they have discovered a 3,700-year-old wine cellar in Israel, a finding that offers insights into the early roots of winemaking....
The oldest known wine cellar held about 700 jars and was uncovered in the tomb of Pharaoh Scorpion I in Egypt, which dates to about 3,000 B.C. But there were no wild grapes in Egypt, so where did the Egyptians get their wine? Scientists say they probably imported it from the Canaanites, a claim bolstered by the recent find.

You too can be a peer (like in "peer-review" not "...of the realm")

20 Tips for Analyzing Claims of a Scientific Study

Anti-careerist …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `I Have No Life'.

The winter look …

… First Known When Lost: "That Ringed-in Hour Of Pines, Stars, And Dark Eminence".

Wonderful...

Watch and listen …

… Barry B. Powell on his new translation of Homer's The Iliad | OUPblog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Only a few more days …

… PrintedMatter.org.

Ouch …

… Captain Bly | The Weekly Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Literary mystery …

… A Tale of Two Lolitas -- Vulture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Still publishing …

… RealClearReligion - C.S. Lewis, Hot Off the Presses. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No problem for readers…

… Book Discoverability | Whose Problem Is It Anyway? TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you're interested …

… Best Books On The News Media | The Jewish Press. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The limit of the sky …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Sky Above Clouds IV (O'Keefe).

Encountering poetry …

… Points of Entry - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The first thing to note about the wrangling over accessibility is that it encompasses an array of anxieties, some of them self-contradictory and most of them unimportant. Often it’s just a proxy for a centuries-old squabble between people who like their poems plain-looking and people who like them a little more rococo. Because both styles can be immediately appealing to readers, it’s not clear what access has to do with any of this. Further, arguments over accessibility typically fail to reckon with the fact that almost everyone in the American poetry world works in the university system, which is essentially a multibillion-dollar access-­granting machine. If you spend your life talking about “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction” in front of bored 19-year-olds, then you are poorly positioned to argue that the experience of poetry is, or should be, beyond the reach of general readers. If poems were cookies, you’d be a Keebler elf.

FYI …

… 50 Years, 50 Books: The Assassination of JFK in Fiction, by Ben Segedin | Booklist Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

Reality is the most effective mask of reality. Our fondest wish, attained, ceases to be our fondest wish. Success is the greatest of disappointments. The spirit is most alive when it is lost. 
— Guy Davenport, born on this date in 1927

Marked man...

Writing, reading...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spared presuppositions …

… The Uses of Ignorance | Books and Culture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Quite interesting …

… 50 Life Hacks That Will Make Your Life Easier.

Sometimes I forget ...

Listen and Wonder ...

Experimental director and playwright, Robert Wilson, caught a hauntingly beautiful piece of music one night, a recording of crickets.
That part is common enough, but then he stretched out the sound as much as one would have to stretch the life of a cricket to equal that of a human, and the result is truly wonderful.

More Mr. Dylan …

… Bob Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone' Now an Interactive Video - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Uncritical reverence …

… Malcolm Gladwells David and Goliath Fairy Tales | New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Perhaps this deference to academic authority reveals an underlying lack of intellectual self-confidence in the famously breezy writer. More likely it reflects his unthinking adherence to the idea that science can enable us somehow to transcend the dilemmas of morality and history. For it is not simply that Gladwell appeals to psychology and sociology as sources of intellectual authority. Along with many of those who promote them today, he believes that these disciplines can provide practical guidance—not just policy proposals, but wisdom for living. Psychology and sociology can turn the sayings and parables of less enlightened times into an expanding body of knowledge. Quantitative reason can take over from the fumbling human imagination.

Working man …

… The Lonesome Deaths of Bob Dylan . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The light at the bottom of the stairs …

… If the reader will suspend his disbelief and... - more than 95 theses. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Poetry as a spiritual guide …

… The Spiritual Autobiography of Christian Wiman - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What I love in Wiman is the way he reads poems as urgent messages in a bottle, weaving their texts into his evolving consciousness, his sad personal story, linking his language with theirs, showing us clearly and definitively what Dr. Johnson, the great English critic, meant when he said: "The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it."

Rich doesn't necessarily mean smart …

… What Bill Gates Is Blind To - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Enigmatic genius …

… nilsson: the life of a singer-songwriter by alyn shipton - bookforum.com / daily review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …


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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Modernism's downbeat …

… ‘1913: The Year Before the Storm,’ by Florian Illies - The Washington Post.

I remember this guy …

… Wolfe 585, Senior � The Dabbler.

Whosoever will save his life shall lose it …

… Woody Allen, P.D. James, and Bernard Williams walk into a philosophy book… | OUPblog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In memoriam …

R.I.P. Daniel Weissbort, champion of translation everywhere | The Book Haven.

Some haiku …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: Hubert Hix & Eric Burke: Wednesday Haiku, #142.

Poetry and identity …

… The Body of the Poem: On Transgender Poetry |.(hat tip Dave Lull.)

I hunk they key question is does the poem work as a poem.

Clear until it blurs …

… Review of Karine Nahon and Jeff Hemsley "Going Viral" and Limor Shifman, "Memes in Digital Culture" | Inside Higher Ed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In search of the wise …

… Transmissions from a Lone Star: Where Are Today’s Wise Men and Women? | Columnists | RIA Novosti.

A genuinely wise person would settle for peace and anonymity.

High culture airs …

… Art Spiegelman Retrospective at Jewish Museum | New Republic. (Hat to, Dave Lull.)

Mystery man …

… Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World - The Barnes & Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winners are …

… The Millions : 2013 National Book Award Winners Announced. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Life and letters …

… THE LETTERS OF ROBERT FROST, VOLUME 1 by Robert Frost, Donald Sheehy, Mark Richardson, Robert Faggen | Kirkus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

E pluribus unum

… Enlightened blogging? Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne | OUPblog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The use of bite-sized pieces of information and opinion in White’s Natural History of Selborne reminds us that many of our prejudices concerning the development of mental habits derive from nineteenth-century views about individual endeavour and originality. But sustained solitary study and hard work were not valued as signs of good character until the Victorian period. In the eighteenth century, sociability was considered the most important attribute. 

A thought for today …

Belief must be something different from a mixture of opinions about God and the world, and of precepts for one life or for two. Piety cannot be an instinct craving for a mess of metaphysical and ethical crumbs.
— Friedrich Schleiermacher, born on this date in 1768

Answers in the back …

… Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 by Geoffrey Hill – review | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ok, a FOURTH one? This is getting silly ...

The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting at the Royal Society in London. They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia.

It's not like we could use it or anything ...

WASHINGTON—In a 45-minute video posted on Tibetan websites Thursday, Tsuglag Rinpoche, leader of the Buddhist extremist group Kammaṭṭhāna, threatened to soon inflict a wave of peace and tranquility on the West.

Not so new after all...

...Here's looking at me

Non-wearer of identity...

...The literary renegade

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Modern before its time...

...A writer's dilemmas

More punk …


The drummer is Gwen's daughter Sophie.

Exclusive company …

 CS Lewis joins Poets' Corner - Telegraph. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

You tell 'em, kid …



(Hat tip, Debbie McCaffrey Wilson.)

Songs and scandal …

… Bryan Appleyard — Profumo: Never the End of the Affair. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Boy, I remember that one. It was big news over here, too.

To be precise, TNR …

… Ugly, Hateful Bias from the Mainstream Press | The Weiler Psi. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Predictably, the New Republic got creamed in the comment section of the article.  Most readers recognized what the editors hadn’t: that this was just a hit piece.  It was the sort of drivel that should have stayed on Coyne’s blog, where he preaches to the skeptical choir.

I would call it credulous choir. These people are more sure about everything than the rest of are about anything.

FYI...

Hurry...

TDOR ...

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance...For all my "normal" friends, this is a day when trans people mourn the losses from this horrendous "condition"... we are fearfully and wonderfully made indeed, but sometimes I wonder...My God My God why have you foresaken me?

The saying of trees …

… Nigeness: 'It is hard to hear the north wind again...'

More poetic roots …

… First Known When Lost: "How It Rained! . . . How It Snowed! . . . How It Shone!"

Uplifting celebration …

… Adventures in a Silver Cloud by Graham Robb | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Proof and faith …

… Only God Knows . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If God could be found at the end of a logical proof, then finding God would be like finding a solution to a math problem or surmising a previously unknown planet by the laws of physics. It is only in the failure of the religious proofs to function in the way other proofs do that we learn something about the meaning of the word “God.”

The pleasures of the pillory …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `He Would Not Mouth and Strut As He Used To'.

It's pretty strong …

… Everything That Rises — The Case for Malcolm Cowley. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I didn't know he had …

… How David Hockney Became the World's Foremost iPad Painter | Wired Design | Wired.com. (Hat tip, Dave lull.)

A bargain indeed …

… Two Gioias for the price of one: on family, religion, the arts … and Stanford, too | The Book Haven.

Q & A …

… Writing Fueled by Silence: Julie Riddle | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Things falling apart …

… Surroundings: A Few Thoughts on 'Beyond the Alps' by Robert Lowell. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Carl Jung, of course, considered the dogma of the Assumption the most important religious proclamation of the 20th century.

A thought for today …


That this individual life of all of us is not something limited in its temporal expression to the life that now we experience, follows from the very fact that here nothing final or individual is found expressed.
— Josiah Royce, born on this date in 1855

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A matter of time...

I really mostly try to keep political stuff out ...

because it is absurd and often tedious.  But then again to have these two stories, and their simultaneous timing:

DHS Still Hasn't Fired Black Supremacist Who Called for Mass Murder of Whites ... The black-nationalist Department of Homeland Security employee who was placed on leave almost four months ago for running a website that espouses the mass murder of whites has still not been fired, an agency spokesperson told National Journal.
Ohio court upholds firing in school Bible case ... Ohio's highest court says a school district was legally justified in firing a science teacher who refused orders to remove classroom displays of religious materials.

CS Lewis in Memoriam

In New York.  Tickets here.

Love ... And the Pope

And the runner-up is...

Word of the year …

… Scholarly reflections on the ‘selfie’ | OUPblog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I hadn't heard it before, but it like it.

What more could you ask for?

… Podcast: Sex, Crime, and Other Arbitrary Genre Labels | Virtual Memories.

When philosophy had religion …

… Carlos Fraenkel's "Philosophical Religions" Reviewed by Peter Gordon | New Republic.

In case you wondered …

… Jay B Sauceda photographs cowboy poets and their fans in his series, “All-Around Cowboys.” (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Some years ago I did a piece on cowboy poetry:

There's poetry in them thar cowboys - a lot of it And a national gathering proves they take it seriously.

Crossroad …

… Poets, meet translators | Harvard Gazette. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Not a shell game …

… Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Witnessing a moment …

… zmkc: Spinechilling.

Postmortem …

… BBC News - 'No poison found' in Chile poet Pablo Neruda's remains. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A thought for today …

We know nothing of the ultimate realities of our existence, nor shall we ever know anything.
—Lev Shestov, who died on this date in 1938

Thoughtful roundup …

… Philosophy, lit, etc.: Extraordinary philosophy links.

Cavalcade of words …

… The evolving role of the Oxford English Dictionary - FT.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

William S. Burroughs


Wow, that was one bad book. 

I'm not sure whether I missed something here, but Naked Lunch struck me as almost entirely incoherent: here's a book that lacks even most the most basic narrative structure, even the most cursory attempt at character development.   

And I think what I disliked most about Burroughs's work is that is draws immediate comparisons (I guess) with Henry Miller's Tropics. But of course, those works are so much better, and far more transcendent. 

Don't get me wrong, there were moments when Burroughs constructs some hulking sentences - full of muscle and life: "An elderly gourmet with the insane bloodshot eyes of a mandrill is fashioning a hangman's knot with a red velvet curtain cord." That's good.

...But the rest was a daze. Nothing compared with Tropics, and nothing, I don't think, compared with Kerouac's Subterraneans, which is actually a pretty good book. Certainly my favorite among the Beat authors.

Burroughs does explain himself a bit toward the end of Naked Lunch when he argues that the writer can only express "what is in front of his senses"; he functions, in effect, as a "recording" instrument for what's around him. Burroughs has no particular concern for "story, plot, or continuity." Instead, he's a sponge for experience: but again, with no obligation to give that experience shape or definition. 

That is where I think Burroughs is wrong: authors can be as experimental as they like. But to endow their work with meaning, it must adhere to some semblance of form. And more: to some internal dialectic that builds on itself to the point of coherence. 

Burroughs's work does neither, and the result is a book with an interesting premise that fails to deliver on its lofty ambitions. It's a book that shows, in the end, how devastating, and complex, and bewildering, addiction must be. 


Monday, November 18, 2013

Silliman's Blog

… Silliman's Blog — Doris Lessing on writing.

RIP …

… Syd Field, 1935-2013 | Balder and Dash | Roger Ebert. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Conventional, but unfamiliar …

… “In the courts of heaven”: Rebecca West, The Fountain Overflows � Novel Readings - Notes on Literature and Criticism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Do you know the way to San Jose?


The Forgotten Giant Arrows that Guide you Across America

Atheists Get Sweaty ...

When you get anxious or emotionally aroused, you sweat. Not a lot, but enough to be detected using electrodes on the finger tips.
And it turns out that if you take a bunch of atheists, and get them to dare god to do horrible things, they get sweaty.

Uh-oh …

… The Decline of Wikipedia: Even As More People Than Ever Rely on It, Fewer People Create It | MIT Technology Review.

The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage.

Mark thy calendar …

… November 24th- Robert Hambling Davis and Russell Reece in Fox Chase | Fox Chase Review.

At home or homesick …

… Review: The Cave and the Light - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And another …

… Reading American History.

Introducing …

… Descendants of Poe.

Not a niche product …

… Out of the press box and onto the field � Pressthink. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

Have a look …

… Flickr: Bryan Appleyard's Photostream. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Noir in miniature …

… The ShortList Crime Challenge - Books - ShortList Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Professional …

… I'm a Hack Writer Who Writes 5000 Words/Day for $20/Hour | The Billfold. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Somerset Maugham said that one cannot write well unless one writes much.

A thought for today …

The poet knows himself only on the condition that things resound in him, and that in him, at a single awakening, they and he come forth together out of sleep.

— Jacques Maritain, born on this date in 1882

Time to welcome...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

FYI …

… Defending the Humanities: Practical Value | Talking Philosophy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The principal value of the humanities is that they enrich one's life.

London Town …

… London: Into the Past. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And many happy returns …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Birthday To Martin Scorsese.

Nice work …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: L. A. Davidson: these few blocks - Small Press Saturday.

Roots …

… First Known When Lost: Swedes.

Books and life …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Reading in Wartime'.

Unlikely shape of things to come …

… The University Bookman: Better Average Than Unequal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In concert …

Weekend Extra: The Diana Krall Phenomenon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Instapundit � Blog Archive � DORIS LESSING HAS DIED. Let me again call attention to this column of hers on political correctness…

… Instapundit — DORIS LESSING HAS DIED. Let me again call attention to this column of hers on political correctness…

The stars and us …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Ultra-Deep Field (Hubble Telescope).

That question again...

FYI …

… Listening Tip: The BBC’s Bill Evans Series. (hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Extremely sad...

And he could draw …

The painter of poetry � The Spectator. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.

Inquirer reviews …

… 50th-anniversary looks at JFK and that day in Dallas.

 Teddy and Taft - a friendship gone sour.

… A narrative from one summer's events.


… Stone novel poses life's tough choices.

A thought for today …


I think that everything you do helps you to write if you're a writer. Adversity and success both contribute largely to making you what you are. If you don't experience either one of those, you're being deprived of something.
— Shelby Foote, born on this date in 1916

RIP …

… Louis D. Rubin, Jr., Southern Author, Dies at 89 - ABC News. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, Are You?

Are you more likely to click headlines that are phrased as a question?

Testing for the Afterlife ...

I should confess that, unlike Stevenson, who made no secret of his lifelong belief in the supernatural, I’m a sceptic. In fact that’s probably putting it too mildly.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

RIP …

… William Weaver — the Literary Saloon at the complete review - 11 - 16 November 2013 Archive. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One even pre-dates him …

… 10 Books That Wouldn't Exist Without Flann O'Brien (hat tip, Dave Lull.)

From extreme to erotic...

Pre-emptive submission …

Prayer and creativity …

… Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Prayer Journal’ - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

… What Makes William Wordsworth's Poem 'Tintern Abbey' a Masterpiece - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Blood sport …

Inky Ownership Fight Tarnishing Brand | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog.

A thought for today …

Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.
— Alan Watts, who died on this date in 1973

Underwhelming. ..

...Tipping point

Good to know...

...Code writing is very reassuring: Vikram Chandra