Monday, September 30, 2013

Sounds authentically ecumenical to me …

… Sacred Mysteries: Mass, with words by Thomas Cranmer - Telegraph. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And not such good news for us …

… IRS scandal means bad news for Obama: Column.

A Newly Found Bond Interview from 1969

Bond and I shook hands. I could sense him taking me in, noting the indifferent cut of my off-the-peg, charcoal-grey suit, the tie I had chosen. He glanced at my shoes – black lace-ups (French, as it happens). Bond, I noticed, was wearing American-style penny loafers. He was friendly but guarded – he was not used to giving interviews, that much was immediately clear. He suggested we have a pre-lunch drink and then "Grab a bite to eat" up the road. "Sounds good to me," I said.

Melting Pot....

America's Ethnic Groups, mapped by county.  The three largest: German, African American and Irish, in that order.

Books On A Cell Phone ...

Light blogging …

I have to be at The Inquirer all day today, so blogging will not resume on my part until tonight.

Taking the proper stand …

… Opera's New Villain: Vladimir Putin - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My problem with this sort of thing is that it lets the protesters feel good, but has no effect whatever on the problem. It's good to make clear to Putin and his cohorts that his policies are odious, but there's not much else to be done beyond that.

We link, you decide...

And finding them wonderful …

… The University Bookman: Reconsidering Orwell’s Essays. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today

Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.
— Truman Capote, who was born on this date in 1924


Tearing Down The Pope, The Campaign Starts ...

From First Things:
The Danger of Good Popes 


Here I thought Francis' most recent interview was exactly what Christ said:  Woe to them who lay burdens on the people and lift not a finger to help them -- the rule keepers, the dogmatists. 

Hotting up...

Transmedia influence...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Not for softies …

… 'Strings Attached' Co-Author Offers Solutions for Education - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In sure of the truly pure …

… Video: Jhumpa Lahiri at Work : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, I haven't read any of them …

… The 20 Best Books in Translation You've Never Read. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Enthusiasm …

 … Bryan Appleyard — Bob Dylan in America. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


The poetic vision of observed reality …

… Émile Zola and the integrity of representation | OUPblog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The interest of looking …

… on Roof Life by Svetlana Alpers (Yale University Press) | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD).

Tres bien …

… Congratulations, Robert Harrison, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la R�publique Fran�aise! | The Book Haven.

Idiosyncratic …

… Uncensored John Simon: MUSIC I LOVE. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I like most of the composers he cites, but to think that Bach or Mozart are all about technique would suggest he has not listened to Mozart's late string quintets or the Agnus Dei of Bach's B-minor Mass.

Inquirer reviews …

… Recanting 'reform agenda'.

… A thrilling 50-year romp from Cold War spies to today's Special Forces.

Secret History ...

What this tells us is that really, there is no magical transformation. It isn’t that books can’t change you. Of course they can, if you let them. With time and effort, they allow you to understand yourself and the world more deeply and better. But your self is not remade with a bang. There is no thunderbolt. Whether you like it or not, you are who you are. And it is the reality of this youthful illusion’s dissolution that gives The Secret History its tragic appeal.

The poor you will always have with you


A thought for today …

Cure yourself of the affliction of caring how you appear to others. Concern yourself only with how you appear before God, concern yourself only with the idea that God may have of you.
— Miguel de Unamuno, born on this date in 1864

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pondering the eventual …

… The Death of American Exceptionalism—and of Me | Mother Jones. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't want to go just yet, but there does to seem to be a sense of cadence as one grows older.

Brothers in art …

… Bryan Appleyard — The Coen Brothers: Artists for Art’s Sake. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Getting started …

… The 100 best novels: an introduction | Books | The Observer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It strikes me as a somewhat peculiar list.

Flipper. Flipper! FLIPPER!

Their social lives are complex, and they can congregate in large groups. Their heart rates increase when they notice a family member suffering. They sound the alarm when they discover food or a potential threat. And experiments have shown they even anticipate future events.
Biologist Justin Gregg is talking about chickens. Chickens, says Gregg, "are not as dim-witted as popular opinion would have us believe." He adds, "Some of these complex behaviors have also been observed in dolphins."
Really? Are chickens as smart as dolphins? Or, to put it differently: "Are dolphins really smart?" This is the question Gregg, a zoologist with the US-based Dolphin Communication Project, asks in his new book of the same name. And he isn't the only one finding fault with Flipper's brainpower.

Rejecting the Pope


Priceless …

… A Serbian Sokal? Authors spoof pub with Ron Jeremy and Michael Jackson references | Retraction Watch.

Good idea …

… PC reschedules gay-marriage lecturer | Breaking News | providencejournal.com | The Providence Journal - The Providence Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lest we forget …

… Banned Books Week.

Travel plans …

… On the eve of embarkation.

Infernal sprawl …

… Hell’s future is bright (and hot), thanks to a new circle | The Book Haven.

In case you wondered …

… The Value of Negative Reviews | Whatever. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Oh, good …

… Record Label Picks Copyright Fight — With The Wrong Guy : All Tech Considered : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Art and economics …

… Philadelphia's culture boom strains under the costs of upkeep - Philly.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The uniqueness of baseball …

Undernews: Word. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Measured …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Ruler Tree (Julia Guerin).

A thought for today …

The creation of a world view is the work of a generation rather than of an individual, but we each of us, for better or for worse, add our brick to the edifice.
— John Dos Passos, who died on this date in 1970

My kind of man...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Digital Anxiety

I have noticed, for example, that I think and feel differently depending on whether my cell phone is switched on or off.

Unlikely samurai …

Woody Allen on Blue Jasmine: 'You see tantrums in adults all the time' | Film | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tale of a tree …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `We Could Not Pull It Away or Cut It'.

Shine on …

… First Known When Lost: Autumn Moon.

Recalled to service …

… Solo, by William Boyd - FT.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hey, in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. — which was a kind of Bond spoof —the eponymous hero was named Napoleon Solo.

Reclusive master of PR …

Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge trailer: sign of a media-savvy recluse? | Books | theguardian.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Portraits of an artist …

… Eudora Welty: 27 Portraits — The gallery @ wiljax. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Getting her due …

The American Spectator : The Heart of the Heartland. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

WILLA CATHER’S TASTES in literature, music, food, travel were all impressively refined. She favored Balzac, Tolstoy, and Henry James, and claimed the last two as influences on her own writing. She preferred French over English novelists, because they dispensed with congeniality and their range of interests was much wider. Her love of music ran strong, and she later befriended the Menuhin family, whose son Yehudi was the great violin prodigy of his day. Food was important to her, in and for itself and for what it conveyed about civilized culture. In a scene in Death Comes for the Archbishop, the novel’s main character, Bishop Latour, is served an onion soup by his assistant Father Vaillant, about which the bishop remarks: “I am not deprecating your individual talent, Joseph, but, when one thinks of it, a soup like this is not the work of one man. It is the result of a constantly refined tradition. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this soup.” 

Once Again, Brits Prove There is No God ...

If you are into this sort of thing...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

More Old Language Components ...

Openness and Sex by David Gilmour (not the Pink Floyd guy)

I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I tried to teach Virginia Woolf, she’s too sophisticated, even for a third-year class. Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.
I teach Tropic of Cancer to the first-year class. They’re shocked out of their pants. No one teaches it except for me. Sometimes their parents actually question me about it, they say, Listen, this is really outrageous. I say, well, it’s a piece of literature that’s been around for 60 years. It’s got something going for it.

There’s an even dirtier one that I teach, by Philip Roth, called The Dying Animal. I save it ’til the very end of the year because by that point they’ve got fairly strong stomachs, and they’re far more sophisticated than they are in the beginning. So they can understand the differences between pornography and great literature. There are men eating menstrual pads, and by the time my students get to that they’re ready. Roth has the best understanding of middle-aged sexuality I’ve ever come across. Now where’s my copy? I took it home to read it again, and I think I might have packed it up and stuck it away in storage. That’s going to be a problem, because all my favourite parts are underlined.

A Modern Rendering...

...of Romeo and Juliet 

Together at last …

… Philosophy, lit, etc.: Popper, Middlemarch, and Phrenology.

The latest Bond …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Bond Is Back, In William Boyd's New Novel 'Solo'.

The limits of intelligence …

 Anecdotal Evidence: `Intelligence and the Grace of Blessed Temperament'.

Three thoughts: I certainly think IQ is overrated, and mine is perfectly respectable. Genuine intelligence involves more than just skill at reasoning. And facility with speech is often confused with intelligence.

Not holding back …

… The War of Words | Liberty Unbound. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Multitudes of people have died, in Africa and other places, because environmentalists succeeded in restricting the use of DDT, thus allowing insect-borne diseases to thrive, with devastating effects. Christians, gay people, and members of other minority groups are martyred daily in both “friendly” and “unfriendly” Islamic countries. Uncounted thousands of people have died in Syria, butchered by the government and its foes. Fifteen hundred of those people are thought to have died of a gas attack. Why is the conscience of the world aroused by the latest event and not by the earlier ones?

Please note …

A Personal Plea. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Strange dude …

… America’s Best Unknown Writer by Jonathan Raban | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them.
— T. S. Eliot, born on this date in 1888

In pictures...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A little late with this …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Birthday To F. Scott Fitzgerald

A thorough critique …

… On the Poetry of William Logan — PoemShape. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mark thy calendar …

… Uptown Lit | Word Up Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Deal me out …

… Bryan Appleyard — Gaming the Future. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Shandy time …

… The TLS blog: Sterne season. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One master appraises another …

… Ivebeenreadinglately: Westlake on Hammett and The Thin Man. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Linkage …

Bad links: ‘The modern Supreme Court opinion is increasingly built on sand’.

They need this: Perma.cc.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Image of God and the echoes of Paradise …

… Is Bach The Voice Of God In Music? | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Yet Bach's humanity is inseparable from his faith in God's mercy. Blind, crippled by a stroke and dying, he dictated his "deathbed" chorale BWV 668a, Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein ("When we are in desperate straits"), which directly addresses God: "Turn not Thy gracious countenance / From me, a poor sinner." Nothing, it is safe to say, could be less congenial to the "Olympian" mentality of modern man. "It is Bach," Gardiner defiantly declares, "making music in the Castle of Heaven, who gives us the voice of God — in human form." For that reason Bach must remain a closed book to those for whom the category of divinity is meaningless, and hence deny that it is possible "to make divine things human and human things divine". Music — even Bach's music — cannot be "divine" unless God is a presence, unseen and perhaps unconscious, in our lives. We instinctively reach for theological metaphors when we experience the numinous quality of sacred art and music. But for these words to mean anything, we must have at least some confidence that the universe itself has meaning. Bach puts us back in touch with that numinous, on occasion even visceral, presence of the divine. And this involuntary response tells us that there is something transcendental within us, at the very core of our being, that recognises itself in this music. We are made in the image of God, the Bible tells us; in the same way, our music is a distant echo of Paradise. 

Watch and listen …

Cicadas!

More Predictions!

You Darn People! You Can't Ignore the Experts!

You Can't Sow Doubt About Experts!  Why We'll Show You!
Popular Science: Why We're Shutting Off Our Comments
...
A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.

That's right!  Because a scientific theory like Evolution Can Predict...okay that one doesn't matter!  After all, Climate Change is Settled!  Okay, okay that one's an anomoly.

Just remember The Experts Have Spoken!  so no comments from you little people!

The necromancy of research …

… Review of Arlette Farge, 'The Allure of the Archives' | Inside Higher Ed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nota bene …

… Maverick Philosopher: Annoying Habits of Some Philosophers.

Poet as prophet …

… An Awkward Sod for God | An Assessment of R.S. Thomas on the 13th Anniversary of His Death | Doubt & Belief. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

He speaks as a poet-prophet between two groups eager to be rid of him as a turbulent poet-priest. On the one side are unbelievers who refuse to hear him because he believes in God; on the other are believers who refuse to hear him because he often expresses doubts about God.
I think many people fail to realize that the life of faith is not without its lovers' quarrels.

Gin and Elia …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Innocent Vanities, and Jests, and Irony Itself'.

A thought for today …

The greatest weakness of all weaknesses is to fear too much to appear weak.
— Jacques Bossuet, born on this date in 1627

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Well worth noting …

… and watching: The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare’s History Plays ~ About the Series | Great Performances | PBS.

Also worth noting is that Philly's public TV station, WHYY,  didn't broadcast Part I. They were doing another of their endless and tedious fund raisers.

Most unfortunate …

… Response to the Cancellation of my Providence College Lecture - John Corvino - The Gay Moralist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't have any problem with a Catholic college inviting someone to lay out views that are not in accord with Church so long as — and that would seem to be what was intended here — someone also lays out what the Church's teachings are and the reasons underpinning those teachings. That's the best way for students to really understand things. Just to provide a forum to present a contrary  viewpoint would be something else altogether. 

Class TV …

… The American Scholar: Talking Television - Paula Marantz Cohen.

The appearance of realism that TV generates can make the melodramatic scenario seem like the everyday one, creating unwarranted skepticism about institutions and social systems. I wonder how the representation of politics and government in shows like House of Cards, Boss, and Homelandmay affect some viewers.
In my view, the more doubt they sow across party lines the better. But then, about the only thing I watch on TV is the ball game.

The unattainable flower …

… First Known When Lost: The Sky Of Autumn.

Sui generis …

…  “Knight, Poet, Anarchist,” by Eliot Weinberger | Harper's Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ford Madox Ford had told Read, in 1920, to get out of cultural journalism and become a novelist: “You may not like novel writing but it would be a good thing to stick to it as to avoid turning your soul into a squirrel in a revolving cage.” Though he had often imagined himself as a novelist in the manner of Henry James or his friend Edith Wharton, it was not until the summer of 1934 that he spent six weeks in a tiny, six-by- four-foot wooden hut he had built in his garden, writing his one, short novel.
It was queer how the book wrote itself; I had nothing much to invent — only the local color. The details of the myth were waiting in my mind. And it was only afterwards that I began to see their significance.
It was originally called Inland Far, from Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality” (“Though inland far we be, / Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea / Which brought us hither.”) Luckily this was quickly changed to The Green Child. (The abstraction Read favored in the visual arts often had a way of undermining his own writing, particularly in the poetry.) The surviving manuscript has a mysterious and completely misleading epigraph from Kierkegaard: “Reminiscence” — “Self” is crossed out, then “The power of reflection” is crossed out — “is the condition of all productivity.”

One individual's conscience and conflicts …

… The Anti-Alinsky | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


The question of Chapman’s sanity is complicated. Throughout his life, he was weighed down by mental afflictions of one kind or another. A nervous breakdown in 1899, when he was 37, confined him to a dark room for 18 months. A few years later, he suffered another collapse, and after half a year of bed rest in which he was spoonfed by a nurse he hobbled about on crutches for six months more. He contemplated suicide “but somehow thought it wasn’t of much importance.”

Listen in …

… Podcast: Slipping the Noose of the Topical | Virtual Memories.

A thought for today …


Either you think, or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, born on this date in 1896

Electric Literature's Recommended Reading ...

Godzilla Versus the Smog Monster
Godzilla Versus the Smog Monster

Arendt and Augustine and Evil ...

The appearance of an art house film on the philosopher Hannah Arendt has sparked renewed interest in an old controversy ...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Or not …

… Getting Naked in the Public Square | Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… is it possible that the Church has succeeded in making it abundantly clear what the moral consequences of the encounter with the Risen Christ are, while failing miserably in leading the faithful to that encounter? And that, in doing so, the Church—especially in the United States—has unwittingly helped create a counter-religion, based on Her own moral teachings? 
It is the difference between faith that is lived and faith that it merely an intellectual position.

Getting his due …

… Georges Braque: 'He changed Western painting for ever' - Telegraph.

The latest edition …

… of Beginner's Mind.

Hemingway and Dietrich via Paul Davis

'Dearest Kraut': Ernest Hemingway's Bizarre And Intense Sex Letter To Marlene Dietrich Up For Auction For $55, 000

Anthologies of Science ...

It is otiose to quibble with individual items in a 500-page anthology.
Otiose - "serving no practical purpose or result."  (just throwing it out there -- not that our readers aren't  acquainted with the word.)

Presto

… AbeBooks: Spellbinding: Collectible Magic Books.

Living with the classics …

Mary Beard Comes to Argue with Plato, Not Only Praise Him — Alexander Nazaryan —The Atlantic Wire - Linkis.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The beginning …

… Joel Weishaus-Beginner's Mind: Toward an Ecohumanities-Blog.

About Last Night:

… About Last Night: Artless. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Problems, problems …

… Author Harper Lee, Hometown Museum At Odds. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Back story…

… On “Afternoon Affair” | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Q & A …

 Bruce Schneier Discusses the NSA Documents | MIT Technology Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The NSA’s actions are making us all less safe. They’re not just spying on the bad guys, they’re deliberately weakening Internet security for everyone—including the good guys. It’s sheer folly to believe that only the NSA can exploit the vulnerabilities they create. Additionally, by eavesdropping on all Americans, they’re building the technical infrastructure for a police state.

RIP …

… Writer, Fraud Fighter Ann Crispin Died | Bill Peschel.

What happened when …

… When Harriet Beecher Stowe Dropped Calvinism.

Maybe …

 A Commonplace Blog: Magical thinking about death. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One of the characteristics of humans from the start seems to have been reverence for the dead grounded in the belief (or hope) that death was not the end. I have watched one person die — over a period of some hours. That would have been my first wife. My stepdaughter Jen and I held her hand for the duration. Not much actually happened. She was comatose and, eventually, had a coronary episode that proved fatal. We were there to make sure she was not revived. I like to think that at some level she knew we were there.

RIP …

 The face of a massacre: eminent poet, diplomat Kofi Awoonor is killed | The Book Haven.

The media hasn't exactly been all over this story.

Appalling …

 Invisible Man banned from school libraries in Randolph County, NC — Drexel Publishing Group.

A thought for today …

If an ordinary person is silent, it may be a tactical maneuver. If a writer is silent, he is lying.
— Jaroslav Seifert, born on this date in 1901

Reveling in vulgarity...

The global in the local...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hmm …

… Why It’s Good To Be Wrong - Issue 2: Uncertainty - Nautilus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ascribing a sphere of infallibility to a parent or expert has the same logic as the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine about the pope: It likewise considers him infallible only under certain narrowly-defined circumstances, called ex cathedra (metaphorically “from the throne”). So, consider this thought experiment: You seriously believe in papal infallibility. One day, an atheist friend gleefully tells you that the pope has said something which, after due consideration, you decide must be false: “There is no force of gravity.” Immediately, it becomes vital for you to know whether the pope declared this ex cathedra. For if he did, you would have to accept that you are mistaken about gravity, and act accordingly, even if you never managed to understand the mechanics of how that might be so. Because for you, ideas are about something—important precisely because they have consequences for how you think, feel, and act. And so you would have to drop some assumptions that you hitherto considered true incontrovertibly—or even infallibly.  
Not exactly. The Pope is infallible only as regards faith and morals. In other words, he is the final arbiter when it comes to the rules and traditions of the faith. He has no authority whatever by virtue his office to announce on matters of physics.

I like this guy …

… Listening to the Pope | America Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pope Francis is comfortable with gray.  In the interview, he speaks out against what he calls a “doctrinal security” and offers a gentle critique of those who “stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists.” Pope Francis asks Catholics to move away from a church that “locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.”  Instead he invites Catholics, and invites the church, into the world of uncertainty, which is where most of us live anyway. 

The old riddles …

… Homage to a Great Writer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Poetry on the rails …

… Trains in the Night � The Dabbler.

For the sabbath …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: Walking on Hell's Roof: Issa's Sunday Service, #177.

Messy or not …

… It’s easier to think outside the box when you can’t find the box. | The Book Haven.

Outtakes …

… AttackingtheDemi-Puppets: Edited From My Ebook.

Books to travel with …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Be Sure of Finding Something Interesting'.

Termina ad quem …

… End of the World Literature – Post-Apocalyptic Fiction on AbeBooks

RIP...

...Ann Wordsworth obituary
Respected in the faculty, she felt a particular affiliation with her academic peers at Yale, the most notable being Harold Bloom, professor of English at Yale University, who visited Ann after reading an article she had written on his work. On hearing of her death, he wrote of her "extraordinary appreciation for the entire Romantic tradition in British and American poetry" and the "very high quality" of her essays and reviews. He continued: "I always felt that she understood my work better than I did." 

Bottoms up …

… *Vodka Politics*. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Why read what …

… Winning the Distraction War, Losing the Distraction Peace � Helen Rittelmeyer | A First Things Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think there are plenty of blogs that are more worth reading just about any newspaper.

Inquirer reviews …

… Character we can all root for.

… 'Republic of Outsiders': The self makes known its power.

… Salinger's sadness, chronicled by an obsessed fan.

… New and noteworthy in romance novels.

Science confirms ...


Politics wrecks your ability to do math

A thought for today …

There is only one trait that marks the writer. He is always watching. It's a kind of trick of the mind and he is born with it. 
— Morley Callaghan, born on this date in 1903

Maybe …

The ten best jazz guitarists of all time. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Seems some ought to have been made of Eddie Lang. And Pat Martino.

Flamboyant nerdery...

The roots of Jewry...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A classic turns 60 …

… Shane, a one-man cavalry in the lawless West. - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI …

… CHAUTAUQUA Editors Prize 2014 | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

This is interesting …



 This was sent me by my godson, Ben Knox, who is 12. Warning: As the title should make plain, the language can be pretty strong. I think what is missing is romance.

Post bumped. I didn't notice that the embed had dropped off.

Centenary …

… Celebrating 100 years of the Lincoln Highway – CNN Photos - CNN.com Blogs.

Eric was the photographer for The Inquirer's Bloomsday centenary special report. It was his idea, actually. I just went along to do some reporting.

Writing Lessons!

From George R.R. Martin

TxtngHiku

Mashing up two totally contradictory things...one a timeless art form;the other a transient method of communicating:

 I C U B & I B

U 2; 4 U &

I = 1; not W

In compressed form:

ICUB&IB
U2; 4U&
I=1;notW

or 

ICUB&U2IB4U&I=1notW

Come to think of it, ancient Geek had no punctuation...and ancient Hebrew lacked punctuation and vowels...compressed writing there too...and I am not sure that all the witting since has approached the glory of the best of their works.

.I m sur u can do beter -- comnts r opn... ;)

Look and listen …

… Richard Rodriguez at "In the Logos of Love", University of Dayton 9/20 on Vimeo. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Once upon a time, I was a teaching assistant at the University of Dayton.

Balm and flower …

… First Known When Lost: Heartsease.

Heartsease is also the name of the wild pansy.

The fragrance of books …

… Why does my library … whiff? (Part Deux) | The Book Haven.

Life's lessons …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `To Pay Homage to the Late Sublime'.

In case you wondered …

… Go To Hellman: Booksmash's Lust-O-Meter Shows How Innovation Happens. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Where it all went wrong …

… Twitter / BananaKarenina: Now that is what I call a ... (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Man without qualities?

… The Inner Life of James Bond - James Parker - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Was James Bond—neck-snapper, escape artist, serial shagger—the last repudiation of his creator’s cultural pedigree? Take that, fancy books; take that, whiskered shrinks. I, Ian Fleming, give you a hero almost without psychology: a bleak circuit of appetites, sensations, and prejudices, driven by a mechanical imperative called “duty.” In Jungian-alchemical terms, 007 is like lead, the metal associated with the dark god Saturn, lying coldly at the bottom of the crucible and refusing transformation. Boil him, slash him, poison him, flog him with a carpet beater and shoot his woman—Bond will not be altered.

Good heavens …

… The detective is a shamanic figure – Jason Webster – Aeon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One only needs to look at the names of famous sleuths to see how deeply they draw on the authority of religion. The most obvious example is John Rhode’s forensic scientist Dr Priestley in the 1920s, followed in the 1950s by John Creasey’s Commander George Gideon (think hotel Bibles). Even among contemporary characters, names with religious connotations are common: Adrian Monk and John Luther have both been recent hits on television, while Michael Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen, James Patterson’s Alex Cross and Leslie Charteris’s Simon Templar, alias ‘The Saint’, are hugely popular literary creations.
Religion sneaking in the back door once again.

The real and the perceived …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Plagiarism (Magritte).

Hmm …

… The American Spectator : Darwinism and Materialism: They Sink or Swim Together.

… Science Beyond Materialism.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I was interested to see that Rupert Sheldrake objects to Intelligent Design theory for the same reason I do, "because it assumes a mechanistic view of nature." It is, at least, consistent. If you assume the world is a machine, it's hard to see how you can get by without a mechanic. A.S. Byatt, in review of works by the Icelandic author Sjón, which I linked to here, quotes a character in Sjón's The Blue Fox: “I have seen the universe! It is made of poems!” That's more my view.

A thought for today …

It is wonderful what strength of purpose and boldness and energy of will are roused by the assurance that we are doing our duty.
— Sir Walter Scott, who died on this date in 1832

More the latter...

Friday, September 20, 2013

The perils of Franzen …

… Jennifer Weiner Responds to Jonathan Franzen | New Republic.

Perhaps Franzen should just be shunned.

RIP …

… Carolyn Cassady, 1923 - 2013. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Preview …

… Jack Kerouac's 'Big Sur' is coming to movie screens: See the trailer — latimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

… Where Essayists Find Ideas | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Woodrow Wilson...

...The man and politician

FYI …

… Teaching Sucks — But We Love It Anyway! a Little Insight Into the Profession You Think You Know: Frank Stepnowski: 9781432799717: Amazon.com: Books.

I wrote a piece about Frank a couple a years ago, so I'm glad to plug his new book.

Question mark?

We sing only the first stanza of Key's song, but the Star-Spangled Banner actually has four verses. Only the first stanza ends with a question mark. You can read the other four stanzas, which include plenty of exclamation marks but no question marks.
Today some people choose to interpret Key's words—and the question mark—more broadly, not just as a question of whether the flag is still flying, but as a moment to reflect on whether we are upholding the ideals embodied in the vision of America as the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Failure?

Gradually, as Munk becomes more attuned to this feature of Sachs’s thinking, and more confident in her judgments, it becomes clear that she has no interest in burnishing the Great Professor’s ample legend. On the contrary: Her book is a devastating portrait of hubris and its consequences.

Accurate?

With Google’s new tool Ngram Viewer, you can visualise the rise and fall of particular keywords across 5 million books and 500 years!

Mutability …

… First Known When Lost: "Green Now, Grey Now, Gone Anon".

Wayward and immune …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Vex Not the Poet's Mind'.

Hear, hear …

… Alexander McCall Smith on why W H Auden still matters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI …

… Advice to Writers — People Read Fiction for Emotion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Prayer, not advertising …

… What Is Worship For? | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tyranny alert …

… New York librarian fired after defending child who dominated reading contest | Fox News.


Casey told the Post Star that she couldn't believe she was fired and asked a library board member why she was fired, and was told the board would not give a reason.
Nobody should be fired without good cause, and that cause should be stated.


A new modern …

… A Magus of the North by A.S. Byatt | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


We are bedeviled in our time by a muddle about the words “modern” and “modernism.” Modernism is by now not modern at all—we are told a story about it that says if we have understood Sterne and James Joyce all sorts of writing become impossible. We have had postmodernism and its game-playing, which are also no longer modern. We need a word for modern which is not the same as “contemporary,” something to do with the nature of literary forms. I feel that Sjón’s use of very many interwoven stories, old and new, is a new modern phenomenon. In an interview with The Coffin Factory he declared that he is “almost immune to the realist novel. I have a hard time reading a realist novel,…and I’m, of course, always very happy when I discover somewhere in the realist novel that the novelist has given in to some sort of folkish element.”

A thought for today …


God is therefore unknowable. This is the fundamental premise of the Bible.
— Leo Strauss, born on this date in 1899

Bibliotherapy...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Does it matter?

Domestic surrealism …

… Brass Tacks : Parnassus Poetry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Willing to take it all lying down …

… Transmissions from a Lone Star: Will Somebody Please Pay Me to Lie in Bed All Day? | Columnists | RIA Novosti.

The perils of retro …

… The Internet Hates Me. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Transvaluation of values …

… Humiliate the Respectable, Cherish the Criminal — New English Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Just say it …

… I Don't Know : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Butterflies for words …

… BOOKTRYST: The Butterfly Art of Vladimir Nabokov: A Love Story. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.(

The Pope Rocks!

“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all... The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. …

I mention to Pope Francis that there are Christians who live in situations that are irregular for the church or in complex situations that represent open wounds. I mention the divorced and remarried, same-sex couples and other difficult situations. What kind of pastoral work can we do in these cases? What kinds of tools can we use?

“We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.
A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.

Since Frank's Away ...

A man races into a bar, sweating and visibly shaken. He turns to all the patrons and starts yelling, "Does anyone own a six-foot penguin? Does anyone own a six-foot penguin?"

All the patrons shake their head.

The guy says, "Damn, I hit a nun."

 

"How to Write Less Badly"

Fortunately, the standards of writing in most disciplines are so low that you don't need to write well. What I have tried to produce below are 10 tips on scholarly nonfiction writing that might help people write less badly.
From the Comments:
Professor Munger [author] should purchase a grammar textbook, diagram his sentences, and rewrite the article. And like you know, man, like this is pretty much a lot of emblematic stuff of political science gettin close to the hood!!! My elementary English teacher would be apoplectic and fail me for violation of the basic rules.
Randolph M. Ferlic
Regent, University of Nebraska

Both the title and the first sentence are examples of poor writing. Was that intentional? I'm not good at subtleties. They certainly made me doubt that the rest of the article could have much to offer in the way of good advice!

Online now …

… Welcome - Fox Chase Review.

Blogging note …

I have a day of appointments ahead of me and have got off to a late start. So blogging won't even begin until I get home sometime this afternoon. You are, however, in excellent hands with my partners.

A thought for today …


My yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are gray faces that peer over my shoulder.

— William Golding, born on this date in 1911

Experts!!! Are So ... Expert!!!

Malthus, Jevons, Beal, Hubbert, the authors of Limits to Growth, Hirsch and the modern peak-oilers all failed to see how technology was already changing the world even as they wrote, and would alter it beyond recognition within just a few years.
We are likely to hear much less about food and fuel running out, at least for a little while. But if the past is anything to go by, sometime in the 2020s or 2030s, as memories fade, fears about resource scarcity will be resurrected, in another subtle variation on an old theme.
When they do, commentators would do well to remember predictions about food and fuel scarcities have come and gone in waves for almost 250 years – and been proved wrong repeatedl

Malthusianism ...

Sir David Attenborough has said that he is not optimistic about the future and that people should be persuaded against having large families.
The broadcaster and naturalist, who earlier this year described humans as "a plague on Earth", also said he believed humans have stopped evolving physically and genetically because of birth control and abortion, but that cultural evolution is proceeding "with extraordinary swiftness".

Heartwarming generosity...

...Samantha Geimer on Roman Polanski: 'We email a little bit'
Over the decades, she has seen public response to her own story change with the times. "You'll notice the culture has shifted so that everything has swung the other way and now it's Roman the Monster. And then it was my mum and I the monsters." They were called liars and gold-diggers. Gore Vidal called her a hooker. "It was terrible and unwarranted, but not shocking. Well, some of it was shocking." It was also a long time ago. Polanski should be allowed to resolve his legal issues and come back to the US, she says. "Because that's what would be fair. Because it's the right thing." And her? She smiles. "I'm fine."

A door ajar...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Come one, come all …

… Man Booker Prize confirms inclusion of American authors - Telegraph.

Anti-Semitism in Europe

Has it changed over time?

Listen in …

… Podcast: The Importance of Being Out | Virtual Memories.

This is a chat with Ed Hermance of Giovanni's Room.

Footwork …

… A Walker in the City : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There's no better way to get to know a place than on foot.

Enter now …

… PROSE Awards: Welcome.

Books and clothes …

… Missing Memoirs | Georgy Riecke.

Sight and vision …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Pierce Each Scene with Philosophic Eye'.

Good choices …

… Christianity in Three Books? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The key to these works is that they portray faith from the angle of encounter, not in terms of a process of ratiocination, something lived, not merely thought about.

And the nominees are …

… 2013 National Book Award Longlist for Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Review of Ronald Dworkin, 'Religion Without God' | Inside Higher Ed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


“Numinous” is the term Rudolf Otto coined in The Idea of the Holy (1917) to name an overwhelming experience of the grandeur, power, order, significance, and strangeness (“otherness”) of the universe, or of being itself. It can be blissful, and it can be terrifying.
But the numinous as understood by Otto and those he visited to arrive at the term includes a component of personality. It is, fundamentally, the experience of reality, not as a thing or a process, but as imbued with the presence of an Other through it and with it and in it.

Pet Words

At the end of the day, when darkness falls, a concordance turns out to be a sort of sky chart to the assembling night. It shows how the poet’s mind constellates.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Marc A. Hermann, historian of the New York Press Photographers Association, has juxtaposed then and now photos of New York City, bringing back to life people and stories of the Big Apple’s past.
ny street overlay crime graphic header

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bogus investigation of reality …

… Bryan Appleyard — The Milgram Experiment: Eichmanns in the Lab. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Season of in-between …

… First Known When Lost: September: "Lovely With Dream And Faint, Faint, Faint".

Stickler encounter …

… Maverick Philosopher: A Misattribution Corrected.

Autonomous language …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Things That Sweetness Cannot Be Without'.

Not mere statistics …

… Women of the Gulag: when life meets history | The Book Haven.

Hmm …

… Pope not Catholic reports The Independent. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart.
Sounds pretty orthodox to me. Of course, the Pope is a Jesuit, and I was taught by Jesuits.

No latecomer …


… The Novella’s Long Life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No mention in here of E.K. Bennett's The History of the German Novelle, which demarcates the form from other kinds of prose fiction, showing that its essential note is that it focuses on a single striking and fateful event.

Not Just Old Structures! The Oldest!

... so far ...
THE world's oldest temple, Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey, may have been built to worship the dog star, Sirius.
The 11,000-year-old site consists of a series of at least 20 circular enclosures, although only a few have been uncovered since excavations began in the mid-1990s. Each one is surrounded by a ring of huge, T-shaped stone pillars, some of which are decorated with carvings of fierce animals. Two more megaliths stand parallel to each other at the centre of each ring (see illustration).
Göbekli Tepe put a dent in the idea of the Neolithic revolution, which said that the invention of agriculture spurred humans to build settlements and develop civilisation, art and religion. There is no evidence of agriculture near the temple, hinting that religion came first in this instance.
As Chesterton noted:
The substance of all such paganism may be summarized thus. It is an attempt to reach the divine reality through the imagination alone; in its own field reason does not restrain it at all. It is vital to view of all history that reason is something separate from religion even in the most rational of these civilizations. It is only as an afterthought, when such cults are decadent or on the defensive, that a few Neo-Platonists or a few Brahmins are found trying to rationalize them, and even then only by trying to allegorize them. But in reality the rivers of mythology and philosophy run parallel and do not mingle till they meet in the sea of Christendom. Simple secularists still talk as if the Church had introduced a sort of schism between reason and religion.
The truth is that the Church was actually the first thing that ever tried to combine reason and religion. There had never before been any such union of the priests and the philosophers. Mythology, then, sought god through the imagination; or sought truth by means of beauty, in the sense in which beauty includes much of the most grotesque ugliness.

And the nominees are …

… 2013 National Book Award Longlist for Poetry and Young People’s Literature. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wow!

Bestselling author James Patterson wants to support independent bookstores, and he's putting his money where his heart is. On Monday he pledged to give $1 million to independent bookstores in the next year.
...
People interested in learning more can fill out a form on Patterson's website.

The future of publishing?

...From Mars
Goldberg’s vision—with its triumph of mathematical certainties over editorial art—reminded me of the infinite-monkey theorem: if you were to have monkeys randomly strike typewriters for an infinite amount of time, the proposition goes, they would eventually type the complete works of Shakespeare. If you assemble a sufficiently large and diverse group of young, female writers, they will eventually produce a Web site that is popular with young women.
I think that's a very poor analogy.

A thought for today …


It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.
— Samuel Johnson, born on this date in 1709

A thought for today …


Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.
— Marquis de Condorcet, born on this date in 1743

Feedback …

… The Bizarre Evolution of the Word "Cyber".

Uh-oh..

More than a whistle...

Violence we cheer...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hoist with his own petard …

… 7 Smuggest Lines from Jonathan Franzen's Rant Against Smugness | New Republic.

Tuesday night …

… Eric Mencher — With a Leica or iPhone: The Art of Mobile Imaging | Facebook.

Q&A …

… Bookslut | An Interview with Stephen Burt. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Kindred spirits …

… John O'Hara and F. Scott Fitzgerald | Anne Margaret Daniel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Can Faith Ever Be Rational? : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The question as to whether God is or isn't cannot be conclusively answered by reason alone. Richard Dawkins's atheism is as much a matter of faith my theism is.

Mark thy calendar …

… E-Verse Equinox Reading Series Presents Daisy Fried, Kim Bridgford, Laynie Brown, and Paul Siegell in Philadelphia - E-Verse Radio.

Oops …

… Rejection Letters: The Publishers Who Got It Embarrassingly Wrong. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Jack and whacks …

… Article asks whether concussions hastened Kerouac's demise - Lowell Sun Online. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Shakespeare meets Crate and Barrel …

… On the Edge of Slander by Stephen Greenblatt | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.).

Contemporary rhetoric?

I am curious. Am I the only person who foundit peculiar that the President would segue from comments about the terrible shooting at the DC Navy Yard into what seemed a stump speech about the economy? I can't remember seeing anything quite like that in my life.

Undeservedly so …

… Forgotten Duluthian Lauran Paine - Zenith City Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mixed takedown …

… Jonathan Franzen sounds off pompously about the internet. Prepare for a really, really bad book – Telegraph Blogs. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

True, "trying to do a Malcolm Gladwell" is enough to have a person marked down an ass. But the business about "privacy paranoics" grievously undercuts the rant. I suggest Mr. Wright read this:

Four Principles for a Libertarian National Security State. I am not at all hostile to technology or the Internet or Amazon, but I don't see how it follows from that that I must live in a surveillance state. If Wright really thinks the state is over-ridingly interested in protecting the innocent, he is as naïve as Franzen is pompous.


Backstory …

… What Family Trouble Taught Me | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

'Barbarians Win, They Always Do'

I love the remark made by one Oxford don about another: ‘On the surface, he’s profound, but deep down, he’s superficial.’ That sentence has more than once come to mind when reading the new atheists.

Literary typos …

… The Surprising History of Poetical Misprints � The Dabbler. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

Life is composed of exquisite moments and the rest is shadows of them.
— T. E. Hulme, born on this date in 1883