Thursday, July 31, 2014

The fight for equality...

FYI …

… Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects | Coursera.

Q&A …

… The Malleable Genre | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Posthumous diagnosis …

… [Perspective] | On Joyce and Syphilis, by Kevin Birmingham | Harper's Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the most telling fact is that Galyl was the only injectable compound of “arsenic and phosphorus” around. Various pharmacopoeias, national formularies, and pharmaceutical dispensaries of the 1910s and ’20s all indicate the same thing — no other medication fits Joyce’s description, nor could he have received separate injections of arsenic and phosphorus because both elements are highly toxic — probably lethal — even in relatively small doses. The unavoidable conclusion is that Joyce’s doctors gave their sickly patient Galyl in 1928. James Joyce was treated for syphilis.

Maybe .

… How E-Reading Threatens Learning in the Humanities - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



My own experience has been that reading is reading, usually. Some electronic versions of poetry don't work because they don't really duplicate the poem. But I have a Kindle, and I have the Kindle app on my iPad. I have written about ebooks. But I've been reading since I was a child. It is second nature to me.

Resisting assault …

… The Destruction of a Man. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Slice of history...

Who would've thought?

A thought for today …

Human unhappiness is evidence of our immortality.
— Richard Rodriguez, born on this date in 1944

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Haiku …


Sparrows in the dust.
Oak trees clinging to the earth.
Yes. Ashes to ashes.

Hmm …

… IASC: The Hedgehog Review  — Volume 16, No. 2 (Summer 2014) - Pay Attention!  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Attention is something that must be paid. Paying attention is not unrelated to discharging a debt, to offering tribute, to giving the entity that demands the attention something akin to cash. When you tell someone to pay attention, you are trying to take something from him, something that, one might assume, he does not wish to give: his focus, his presence of mind, his full being. Is it possible that paying attention is akin to paying tribute? When someone asks you to pay attention, he is imposing authority on you. Perhaps it is not that we can’t get ourselves to focus on this or that matter, but simply that offering attention is felt as a challenge, a burden. “I made myself pay attention, even though what he was saying was boring.” “It wasn’t easy to pay attention to him, but I did.” There’s a tribute involved. There’s a tax. There’s a debt. Do you understand? Are you paying attention to me? We can take satisfaction in paying a bill, or getting rid of a debt, but it is never exactly a joy. 
But when something is truly interesting, one naturally pays attention.

Not getting it …

… Ira Glass Says Shakespeare Sucks. He's Wrong. | New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 The horror of life that Lear communicates is something deeper and more constant than the particular actions of its dramatis personae. The same is true of Oedipus’s self-blinding, or for that matter Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac: We can only appreciate these stories if we imagine our way into them, rather than demanding that they come obediently to us. 

All points bulletin …

… beyond eastrod: Calling upon the muse . . . come out, come out, wherever you are!

In any case, even though I am no longer young but still a bit foolish, I am now intrigued by those forty-year old lines, and I invite you to become a catalyst for the revived creative effort. You tell me what lines ought to follow the opening. Let us collaborate on getting the story written. Be the muse! 

Expectedly...

An empty office …

… The North Carolina Poet Laureate Question (1) | Capital Commentary. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The post dates to when monarchs needed the praise of scribes. It is a souvenir from the past. Let's keep the government out of poetry — or at least keep the remuneration to a butt of sack. (I did once, however, try my hand at the British laureate's official duties.)

Stalking fugitive lines …

… The Mysterious Case of the Park Poet — The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



Funny, the lines struck me immediately as admonitory.

Committing truth …

… Seven-year jail term for Saudi photographer - Reporters Without Borders. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Birth of a band …

… When Falls the Coliseum � Lisa reads Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975) by Ken Sharp.

Getting away with treason …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Joseph C. Goulden's Review Of "A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy And Cold Warrior.

A thought for today …

Stopping illegal immigration would mean that wages would have to rise to a level where Americans would want the jobs currently taken by illegal aliens.
— Thomas Sowell, born on this date in 1930

Congratulations …

… Happy birthday to us! Five years for the Book Haven! | The Book Haven.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

An agnostic and design …

… Fred On Everything — Me, Derbyshire, and Darwin. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

These all sound like good questions to me, with the possible exception of tho one:

(1) In evolutionary principle, traits that lead to more surviving children proliferate. In practice, when people learn how to have fewer or no children, they do. Whole industries exist to provide condoms, diaphragms, IUDs, vasectomies, and abortions, attesting to great enthusiasm for non-reproduction. Many advanced countries are declining in population.   How does having fewer surviving children lead to having more surviving children? Less cutely, what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?
Perhaps what we see as advancement, by making life easy, takes away the drive to maintain it.

Certainly one of them …

Flannery O’Connor was ‘possibly the most theologically alert writer of the 20th century’.

A tendency she perceived in Catholicism of demanding instant answers exasperated her. To her, faith was a “walking in darkness” rather than a theological explanation of mystery. As a result of her long battle with sickness she knew about suffering and sorrow, and an awareness of possible early death gave urgency to her tone.

Haiku …


Grass green, clover white.
Gray clouds gather overhead.
Birds chirping away.

Listen in …

… Podcast: Re-Explaining Hitler | Virtual Memories.



This is certainly timely, given that Der Führer's spirit seems to be manifesting itself in all sorts of ways and places these days.

Submissions invited …

… History, Politics, & Global Studies — Symposium on Karl Popper & the Open Society. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mapping personal experience …

… Allison K Williams | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Humpty Dumpty …

… Who Gets to Name the Snow? - Taki's Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

A thought for today …

I am the vessel. The draft is God's. And God is the thirsty one.
— Dag Hammarskjöld, born on this date in 1905

All is one...

...How did our legends really begin?
In typical Laurasian mythology, the act of initial creation is followed by the first gender-based beings, usually Father Heaven and Mother Earth, who give rise to subsequent deities. Once heaven and Earth are separated from a primordial "darkness" or "chaos", Earth can be prepared for the arrival of the first humans, often by the slaying of a dragon or serpent – a recurring theme in northern Laurasian mythology, whether it is the Nordic stories of Beowulf, the Navajo folklore of the American south-west, the Egyptian god Seth who fights the reptilian Apophis, the Mesopotamian Marduk triumphing over Apsu, the Indian Lord of Thunder Indra killing the serpent Ahi, or the Japanese Shinto god of the sea, Susanowo, who rids men of the eight-headed serpent Yamata no Orochi – not forgetting the Chinese goddess Nuwa and the black dragon, and of course our own dragon slayer, St. George.

I disagree...

...Why "Seinfeld" Is The Most Villainous Sitcom In Human History

The author adopts a disapproving tone throughout and then ends the article by saying it's a compliment because Seinfeld has made America a "meaner, funnier place". Besides being two-faced, the author's point rather jumps the gun. I don't think any artistic property can make or unmake anything in America. Leave that aside too, the argument itself is facile. The insanity spoken about the character in The Raincoats is a matter of humour not because the show shows a meaner side of America but because it wants to stress how uncommon random kindness has become. So uncommon that it gets laughs. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hmm …

… Maverick Philosopher: The Seductive Sophistry of Alan Watts. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Not long before he died, Watts confessed to a friend that he didn't much like himself when he was sober. That's never a good sign. But he was indeed entertaining. Bernard Iddings Bell wrote to Watts when Watts left the Episcopal priesthood, warning him that he would regret the move. I suspect he did.j

Look again. …

… 53 Colorized Black & White Photos From History Will Blow You Away.

Helpful hints …

… Strap on Your Running Shoes | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Anglophile prince …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `He Took a Cold Bath Each Morning'.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes …

… New Statesman | The Great English Novel is dead. Long live the unruly, upstart fiction that’s flourishing online.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

David Mitchell is not the first writer to use Twitter to produce innovative fiction. The Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole has become an internet phenomenon after his seeding of fractured stories on the social networking site. Mitchell’s story, “The Right Sort”, does something new again. The experience of a boy with a Valium addiction going to visit a mysterious benefactor is told in 140-character nuggets, because being on Valium “breaks down the world into bite-sized sentences. Like this one. All lined up. Munch-munch.”

An invitation …

… AttackingtheDemi-Puppets: Needed: Artists and Writers.

The art of espionage …

… beyond eastrod: "You are either good or bad, and both are dangerous."




Q&A …

… Women in Form: AE Stallings | Tupelo Quarterly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Looking ahead …

… William Gibson and Neuromancer: the man who saw tomorrow | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

I write with experiences in mind, but I don't write about them, I write out of them.
— John Ashbery, born on this date in 1927

Hark...

That should settle it...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Certainly...

The man behind the titles …

… Hail Augustus! But Who Was He? by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No resemblance to his former self: it is here that the hidden kinship between Augustus and its two predecessors lies. A strong theme in Williams’s work is the way that our sense of who we are can be irrevocably altered by circumstance and accident. In his Augustus novel, Williams took great pains to see past the glittering historical pageant and focus on the elusive man himself—one who, more than most, had to evolve new selves in order to prevail. The surprise of his final novel is that its famous protagonist turns out to be no different in the end from this author’s other disappointed heroes; which is to say, neither better nor worse than most of us. The concerns of this spectacular historical saga are intimate and deeply humane.

Q&A again …

… interview: aaron belz | antler. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Q&A …

… Recording the American Catholic Experience: Questions for Paul Elie | America Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Novels with tendencies...

Reading Through Someone Else’s Eyes

...from The New Yorker

Inquirer reviews …

… Rick Reilly's wit and humanity on display in 'Tiger, Meet My Sister'.

… Smothered by detail, stories give up the ghost.

… Stressed for success.

A thought for today …

Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method, and the quantitative method is the victory of sterility and death.
— Hilaire Belloc, born on this date in 1870

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tomorrow night …

… Whirlwind Press Magazine-release party Sunday, July 27th.

Appreciation …

… Kreeft Talks About 'Till We Have Faces'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Of two minds …

… The Millions : Americans Love Poetry, But Not Poetry Books. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The chasm betwen words and deeds...

...Writers or Missionaries?
Mughniyeh was, for Hezbollah, a heroic figure in what they call “the resistance.” No word is more sacred for Hezbollah, which has sought to portray itself as a “national resistance” rather than another sectarian militia. When I started out in journalism, I was more willing to use this word without quotation marks; it seemed preferable, after all, to the alternative, “terrorism.” Today, I am more skeptical of terms like “resistance,” “armed struggle” and “solidarity.” When I read these words, I want to ask: What do they actually mean, and what do they conceal? What do the people who use these words actually do? What does the word “resistance” mean if it can describe a Sunni-based insurgency against Bashar al-Assad and the Shiite-based insurgency in Lebanon that is fighting to crush that uprising? What ambitions, what goals, lie behind floating signifiers like “resistance”? What do those who hold up its banner hope to achieve? Mouloud Feraoun, an Algerian novelist who kept an extraordinary diary of the Algerian war before he was murdered by the OAS in 1962, put it well when he stated: “Sometimes you start asking yourself about the value of words, words that no longer make any sense. What is liberty, or dignity, or independence? Where is the truth, where is the lie, where is the solution?”

In case you wondered...

Good to know...

Q&A …

… Jog Our Memories and Spirits, James � MFA Creative Writing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Though my Latin is every bit as poor as one would expect of someone who studied it one night a week with an ex-Jesuit after working all day in Boston, I’ve been deeply influenced by the classical poets, not to mention Dante.  One of the great satisfactions of trying to write poetry is the experience it gives of toiling in the same, long tradition that Homer, Virgil, and Dante worked and developed before me.  So, as I think of it, here are three particular joys of poetry: first, that sense of drawing the whole of truth, goodness, and beauty together in the unity of the art work; second, of being informed by it; and, third, the filial communion with the dead that participating in a tradition affords to us, that keeping of faith.
I believe that a review of mine of three books of poetry, including one by James Matthew Wilson, will run in The Inquirer on August 3.

Gods and monsters …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Water Wars, Sonnets #192 and #193.

The world within us …

… The Heart of the Matter | The New Psalmanazar. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I can’t help feeling that our true predicament is one of metaphor rather than medicine, that all sickness is somehow spiritual. 
There is much truth in that.

A thought for today …

The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.
— Aldous Huxley, born on this dat in 1894

Q&A with...

...Luc Sante
The city we have now is the one we deserve, the coagulation of money. I’m very pissed off because I love cities and yearn for them, and I can’t live in them now—and not just because I can’t afford to. My ideal city is more like the city (New York and Paris come to mind, but it sort of applies to all) that existed up to and including the 1930s, when different classes lived all together in the same neighborhoods, and most businesses of any sort were mom-and-pop, and people and things had a local identity. The sort of city where—I’ve just been reading Richard Cobb on 1930s Paris—a burglar, a banker, a taxi-driver, an academician, a modiste, and a pushcart vendor might all fetch up together in a corner banquette at the end of the night. That won’t happen again unless we have some major, catastrophic shakeup, like war (at home) or depression, and do we want either of those?

A full life...

...You could impress Nadine Gordimer, disgust her, but not fool her
No one was therefore surprised when, on being released from prison in 1990, Mandela asked to see Gordimer. And it was no ‘for courtesy’s sake’ meeting. In an amazing piece on Mandela written for The New Yorker, six months before Mandela’s death, Gordimer says: “I suppose I thought, with a writer’s vanity, that the great man wanted to talk about Burger’s Daughter. We were alone in Johannesburg, some few days later. It was not about my book that he spoke but about his discovering, on the first day of his freedom, that Winnie Mandela had a lover. This devastation was not made public until their divorce, six years later.”

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hmm …

… Native Sons in Philadelphia: Why We Need More Novelists Like Jean Love Cush | Reluctant Habits.



This book sounds interesting and provocative enough to deserve serious attention. But so much that  I hear about race seems grounded in theory and statistics rather than experience. My first wife and I and her four kids spent 20 years in a neighborhood that was maybe slightly more black than white. Looking back, it could have have been Anyneighborhood, USA. Our next-door neighbors were black and about the nicest neighbors you could hope to have. One day, though, the lady of the house talked to me about a gang that had started congregating across the street from us. It was getting bigger and louder and more unruly. She told me they were afraid to do anything because of possible reprisals. I was something of a wild man in those days, so I did something about it. End of problem. Funny thing, though. When I lived there, as often as not we didn't even lock the front door. Not too long ago I drove by the old manse and noticed how so many houses now had ADT signs. My point, I guess, is that peaceful neighborhoods have less to do with race than with just common humanity.

American master …

… An Unknown America of the Mind by Pico Iyer | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Darling begins by asserting that it will address the world in the wake of September 11 and try to bring the writer’s Catholicism into a better relation with its desert brother Islam. Happily, it soon abandons that somewhat rote mission for a much more ungovernable and unassimilable wander across everything from the decline of the American newspaper to the debate over gay marriage, from Cesar Chavez to the world of camp. Five of the ten essays have appeared already in magazines, such as Harper’sand The Wilson Quarterly. But as in all his books, Rodriguez throws off a constant fireworks display of suggestions and reveals more in an aside than others do in self-important volumes. As you read, you notice how often Don Quixote keeps recurring, and death notices, and meditations on the “tyranny of American optimism,” each one gaining new power with every recurrence, and reminding us of how the pursuit of happiness leaves us sad. The overall mosaic is far more glittering than any of its parts.

Help for the humor-challenged …

… ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Explains His Secret Formula for Going Viral and Hitting No. 1 - Speakeasy - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The role of the critic …

… An interview with Rohan Maitzen | Truce. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Recognition at last...

Blogging note …

I have an unexpected dental appointment. If I can blog from the dentist's office, I will. If not, sometime later on,

A thought for today …

Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.
— Eric Hoffer, born on this date in 1902

More to come …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Unpublished Elmore Leonard Stories Coming In 2015.

Finding the right thing to say...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Something very much worth noticing …

… Instapundit — JUST READ DAVID DRAKE’S The Sea Without A Shore. Pretty good, but I didn’t think it was quite as go…



Glenn's comment, and the comments engendered by it, represent a visualization of that legendary trope, "word of mouth," the book review most likely to float or sink your book.

The passion of collection …

… The Human Value of Cultural Preservation | Reluctant Habits.

Why do some people become full and rejuvenated when basking in the meticulous details? Is there something about the visceral lawlessness of old time blues that makes them feel music differently? Does collecting or wallowing in the obscure fulfill a human need to master the world, whether as an action of an expression of expertise? Or is it a trap, comparable to Borges’s “The Library of Babel,” where obsessive collection results in inevitable despair or destruction? Petrusich levels, by her own admission, some shaky Asperger’s charges near the end of her book, but her vivacious reporting is better at answering these questions more than any armchair psychoanalysis.

Toward a higher pedantry …

… Weird Al Just Committed the Greatest Word Crime of All | Kevin Gallagher | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Higher or lower, pedantry is pedantry. This piece reminds me of the letters of complaint about the Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson used to get from the humor-challenged. I don't think anyone is looking to Weird Al for philological insight. Lighten up, fella.

A thought for today …

All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope.
— Alexandre Dumas, born on this date in 1802

Beyond parody …

… Weird Al Yankovic Scores With ‘Mandatory Fun’ — NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)






Mr. Yankovic’s late-career success marries the satirical approach to music he’s been plying since the late 1970swith the most up-to-date thinking in online marketing — a content bombardment, financial backing by popular websites and a catchy hashtag, #8videos8days.

The fickle finger of fame …

… Bliss Carnochan names the worst poet evah. | The Book Haven.

Who would've thought?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Attention, Texans …

… Texas Book Festival.



This gives you plenty of time to get ready.

Fleeting time …

… First Known When Lost: A Lantern.

Q&A …

… Women in Form: AE Stallings | Tupelo Quarterly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Haiku …

A father and son
Playing with a soccer ball.
Weekday afternoon.

Travel advice …

… Move East, Young Nonfiction Author | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Compelling listening …

… When Falls the Coliseum � Lisa reads Live By Night by Dennis Lehane.

Hmm …

… The Millions : Here Come the Americans: The 2014 Booker Prize Longlist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I'm surprised Sebastian Barry's The Temporary Gentleman didn't make the list.

Sic transit …

… Farewell to the Golden Age | Books and Culture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… we face a revolution in reading not unlike the one Gutenberg introduced almost 700 years ago. Nowadays authors are coached on "building your brand" more than on improving their writing. Publishers care more about website stats and Twitter followers than the quality of an author's work.

Good advice …

… Stop Using 'Poet Voice' | City Arts. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I try to read my poems as if they were dramatic monologues, which they often. It seems to work. E. E. Cummings, though, had a very stylized manner, which also worked. Some poets just don't have good reading voices. Wallace Stevens tends to sound as though he's proofing legal brief. And best not go the Dylan Thomas route unless you have the voice.

A thought for today …

The more wild and incredible your desire, the more willing and prompt God is in fulfilling it, if you will have it so.
— Coventry Patmore, born on this date in 1823

Secret sauce...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bertrand Russell

On war and pacifism...

No thanks …

… Stand Up Naked and Turn Around Slowly | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog



Any sensible human learns early in life that living is a performing art and that one creates, as an actor might,  a role for oneself. One's truth is the truth from that perspective. Authenticity and exhibitionism are not the same thing.

Assent and affirmation …

… A Commonplace Blog: Choosing life in the face of death. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The thing to remember is what Naomi and I have learned from this six-and-a-half-year journey: life is not a matter of peak experiences, of amazing sights and even more amazing thrills, but of small pleasures—a good meal, a good book, good company, good conversation. Right there is where life needs to take hold of the gravely ill again.

Calling out …

… On the Cowardice of Literary Omphaloskepsis | Reluctant Habits



Ed links to the object of his vituperation in his first sentence. I found the piece interminably digressive and largely pointless.

Appalling …

… Jewish students extracted from Boston anti-Israel ‘die-in’ | The Times of Israel.



Posturing 15-watters. Admittedly, I am a gentile of the never-again generation.

You don't say …

… Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere. | New Republic.

I taught many wonderful young people during my years in the Ivy Leaguebright, thoughtful, creative kids whom it was a pleasure to talk with and learn from. But most of them seemed content to color within the lines that their education had marked out for them. Very few were passionate about ideas. Very few saw college as part of a larger project of intellectual discovery and development. Everyone dressed as if they were ready to be interviewed at a moment’s notice.

I went to Penn's graduate school for one semester. Except for the guy who taught research methods, whose name I forget, it was a complete waste of time and money.

Moderation or abstention …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Discontent Seeks for Comfort'.



Don Newlove used to review for me, and Debbie and I spent some pleasant times with him and his wife, Nancy, at their Greenwich Village apartment.

Not what you imagined...

RIP …

… Thomas Berger, ‘Little Big Man’ Author, Is Dead at 89 — NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Enter now …

… Remember In November Nonfiction Contest | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Putting things in perspective …

… Physicist George Ellis Knocks Physicists for Knocking Philosophy, Falsification, Free Will | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Actually philosophical speculations have led to a great deal of good science. Einstein’s musings on Mach’s principle played a key role in developing general relativity. Einstein’s debate with Bohr and the EPR paper have led to a great of deal of good physics testing the foundations of quantum physics. My own examination of the Copernican principle in cosmology has led to exploration of some great observational tests of spatial homogeneity that have turned an untested philosophical assumption into a testable – and indeed tested – scientific hypothesis. That’ s good science.

Listen in …

… Podcast — Ron Slate: Buddy Rich’s Teeth and the Corruption of Reality | Virtual Memories.

A thought for today …

Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business.
— Tom Robbins, born on this date in 1936

Monday, July 21, 2014

Appreciation …

… James Garner RIP — The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A tip for us locals …

… The Best Cheesteak in Philly- Joe’s Steaks and Soda Shop | Fox Chase Review.



Well, it wouldn't surprise me. There were some pretty good steak joints in the Northeast when I was growing up.

Doing it wrong, but getting it right …

… Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Review: “American Smoke,” Iain Sinclair’s History of the Beat Generation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ah, yes …

… Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene: A Walk Through The City: My changing landscape By Doug Holder. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I have had much the same experience myself lately.

Conversation …

… Does Poetry Matter? — Room for Debate —  NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Poetry is a vocation. Those called to it, do it. Poets, like the poor, will be with us always.

I see...

I fear so …

… Old-Fashioned Jew Hatred Is Back | RealClearReligion.

Anyone with an Internet connection and some spare time can anonymously post vitriolic Jew hatred on message board after message board without fear of reprisal for what they really thing about the Jews. Vile hashtags such as #HitlerWasRight and #HitlerDidNothingWrong recently trended on Twitter.

Sobering thoughts …

… First Known When Lost: "For Ever Gone".


I have lately begun to think that the world is in the greatest danger since the 1930s, but that no one in authority today has anywhere near the stature of anyone back then.

Anchors aweigh …

… beyond eastrod: Blogging Note: Going, going, and gone . . the Navy gets its wings . . . I search for needles . . . and Beyond Eastrod goes into mothballs . . .



We await the sailor's return.

A certain kind of person …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `My Efforts at Their Best Are Negative'.

Pushback …

… Outbreak of Political Correctness in Science Media | RealClearScience.

In case you wondered …

… Why literature written out of the First World War is some of the last century’s finest writing - The Globe and Mail. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Writers about the Great War had to grapple with … loss of innocence in their work, a painful business that enriched their art. By contrast, writers who took the Second World War as their subject were not so shocked by the inhumanity of war, the incompetence of generals, or the cynicism of politicians. They came to their war harder, colder, less susceptible to ideals. Plus, they had a cause that needed no justification, whereas many British writers about the Great War ended up ambivalent or downright negative about their participation – another dilemma that deepened their work.

Those who can, do …

… those who can't, theorize: Book Review: 'Literary Criticism From Plato to Postmodernism' by James Seaton - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Plato actually expressed two contradictory views of imaginative writing, as Mr. Seaton explains. The Plato of "The Republic" distrusted poets because, of course, they lied. Homer said things happened that didn't happen. The Plato of the "Symposium," by contrast, allowed that poets can be and often are inspired by the gods. 
It has long seemed to me that Plato's "Republic" is a vast exercise in irony, reducing to absurdity the notion of a purely rational society by showing how imprisoning such would be.

Love and death …

… If Christianity is a romance, helping those we love to die is an abandonment | Giles Fraser | Commentisfree | The Guardian.

In contrast, the logic of the romantic is that the centre of gravity in human life has to be outside of oneself to be meaningful. If it's all about my choices, then human life has withered to the dimensions of my paltry imagination. 
I have had an uncommon acquaintance, starting — but not ending — from the time, around age 11, I discovered the body of someone who had killed himself near our house. I think Father Fraser is quite right.

It's a date...

A thought for today …

An administrator in a bureaucratic world is a man who can feel big by merging his non-entity in an abstraction. A real person in touch with real things inspires terror in him.
— Marshall McLuhan, born on this date in 1911

In the world vs. on the phone …

… Robert Pogue Harrison socks it to Silicon Valley | The Book Haven.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

From the realm of small minds …

… Leader asks poets to preserve cultural identity — Tehran Times. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The course of poetry …

… What the Forward Prize Doesn’t Recognize About Poets — The Daily Beast. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Poetry is an organism, and a dynamic one. It has existed, over its long history, in both expanded and contracted states in terms of its readership. There are moments in its history when it is cherished even by those who can’t read; other times it is perceived as such an elite form that no one without what he imagines to be the correct training so much as approaches it. This historical moment is a contracted one—few people read poetry who aren’t writing it themselves—but poetry is a tough and plucky organism: Expanded times will come again, perhaps very soon. I don’t worry about poetry a bit. It always survives. It expands when it is needed, and the right reader will always be able to find it. There will always be someone who needs what it contains. It will always be the suited salve for someone.

In memoriam …

… Still America First | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

After Pearl Harbor, America First disbanded. Bob Stuart reported to Fort Sill for artillery school, while many of the interventionist polemicists who had baited America Firsters as dreamy peaceniks found that wartime journalism better suited their talents.

Encomium …

… A Commonplace Blog: Again, he is very old. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



When I learned that David had cancer, I reacted the same way I’ve always reacted to bad news: with denial. That’s why I’m writing this the same way I wrote all of my term papers for David’s classes—at the last minute, trying not to cry, while my roommate smokes marijuana and listens to Sublime. (OK, not the last part.) If I get too sincere, too sentimental, David will literally board a plane to Texas right now and start throwing books at my head, so I’ll keep this short: He didn’t just teach me how to be a good person, and he didn’t just teach me to love literature, he also, quite literally, saved my life. I really do love him like a father, and that’s not just because he is very old (which he is), but because he taught me how to be brave. I’m not there yet, obviously. But when I do get there, It will be because of him.

Favorites …

… Throwback Thursday: Best Essays of the Past 50 Years | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Stalking literature …

… On the Trail of ‘True Grit’: A Tale Comes to Life — NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP …

… James Garner, Witty, Handsome Leading Man, Dies at 86 - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

Love is the crowning grace of humanity, the holiest right of the soul, the golden link which binds us to duty and truth, the redeeming principle that chiefly reconciles the heart to life, and is prophetic of eternal good.
— Petrarch, born on this date in 1304

Inquirer reviews …

Help's at hand...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

That boring fugitive prose …

… Johns Hopkins University Press publishes little-seen T.S. Eliot prose | | Gazette | Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



The first two volumes of this massive online undertaking come out this month. The first, subtitled Apprentice Years, 1905–1918 (co-edited with Jewel Spears Brooker), collects Eliot's earliest known writings, from his student papers at the Smith Academy in St. Louis, where he was born; to those of his Harvard University career, including his undergraduate papers and notes, 26 unpublished graduate essays, and his doctoral dissertation; to two years of various reviews following his move to London in 1916. The second volume,The Perfect Critic, 1919–1926 (co-edited with Anthony Cuda), finds Eliot maturing into a formidable thinker and writer. This volume contains reviews he wrote for the Athenaeum literary magazine on a variety of topics, as well as the early years of the Criterion, the journal he founded in 1922 and which included his landmark "The Waste Land" poem in its debut issue.

The way it was once …

… Politics in the Modest Age - WSJ.



I remember, as a kid in the early days of TV, watching the news and seeing reporters trying to keep with President Truman as he took his constitutional around Lafayette Park.

Haiku …




Men pushing strollers.
Women attending their dogs.
The times and customs.

Aspirations and values...

...Robert Crawford: 'The only major English novel set in Scotland is To the Lighthouse'
He married the academic Alice Crawford in 1988 and they have two children, but, he says, for a time they didn't think they'd be able to have children "and I found that difficult as I wanted very much to become a father". He addresses the subject in his 1996 collection, Masculinity, "at a time when there was much talk of damaged masculinity in Scottish writing in books such as Trainspotting. I wanted to do something different and I was glad to get those poems out. Poetry has to talk about love, although, as quite a repressed person in some ways, I initially found it easier to write erotic poetry in Scots, partly because I thought it would be safer if people didn't understand exactly what was going on."

FYI …

Oct 4th11-2:00Adult Poetry Workshop: Diane Sahms-Guarnieri, Ryerss’ Poet-in-Residence is conducting this workshop. Space is limited. Contact Diane at diane.sahms.guarnieri@gmail.com. Fee: $20

Magma opus …

… "Geologic Time from Now On!": Lorine Niedecker's Lake Superior | The Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… The Present Breath — This and That Continued. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I actually don't think there is much chance that any significant majority of the citizenry will take up mindfulness. Not being baby-boomer, I came to all of this by a different route — Emerson, Kerouac, st. Francis de Sales (The Introduction to the Devout Life). These days, for me, it comes down to saying the rosary. But it is true that the state will seize upon anything to keep the people distracted from its failings. 

In whatever form …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Disquieting Muses (de Chirico), Sonnet #191.

A thought for today …

A human life is a schooling for eternity.
— Gottfried Keller, born on this date in 1819

Friday, July 18, 2014

Complications …

… A Reporter Crosses The Line | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog.

Sharing shock and grief …

… Review of Adriana Páramo’s My Mother’s Funeral | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Odd knowingness …

… on Wonderland, a novel by Stacey D’Erasmo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Being in a rock band having become just another in the repertoire of clichés currently afflicting the young, a novel like this seems perfectly suited to the times. A great one might be built around someone who discovers he isn't the artist he took himself to be, which has got in the way of his knowing who he is. He would arrive at this realization by abandoning his artistic pretensions, realizing that art actually is not about the artist, that the artist is simply an amanuensis, great only in the quality of his transcription.

Impressive …

… Wanna know what a cow looks like washed and blow dried? - Imgur.

Baseless...

Back later …

More things to do elsewhere today. It's been that kind of week. Blogging will resume tonight.

Change …

… Traditional publishing is 'no longer fair or sustainable', says Society of Authors | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

According to the Hawking Index …

… The Summer's Most Unread Book Is… - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Hardly a surprise, really.

Heaven forfend …

… The TLS blog: Joyce scholarship: a male preserve? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

… The Future of Opera — WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

The reader has to be creative when he's reading. He has to try to make the thing alive. A good reader has to do a certain amount of work when he is reading.
— Nathalie Sarraute, born on this date in 1900

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Who knew?

… Darkness Laughable: The Comic Genius of Cormac McCarthy - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I see now where I went wrong with The Road — I didn't get the jokes.

Ambiguity and imprecision …

… The Journalist and the Murderer (Modern Library Nonfiction #97) | Reluctant Habits.

The important conundrum that Malcolm imparts in her short and magnificently complicated volume is why we bother to read or write journalism at all if we know the game is rigged. The thorny morality can extend to biography (Malcolm’s The Silent Woman is another excellent book which sets forth the inherent and surprisingly cyclical bias in writing about Sylvia Plath). And even when the seasoned journalist is aware of ethical discrepancies, the judgmental pangs will still crop up. In “A Girl of the Zeitgeist” (contained in the marvelous collection, Forty-One False Starts), Malcolm confessed her own disappointment in how Ingrid Sischy failed to live up to her preconceptions as a bold and modern woman. Malcolm’s tendentiousness may very well be as incorrigible as McGinnis’s, but is it more forgivable because she’s open about it?
I have a strangely dispassionate regard for details, which prompts me to simply chronicle the purported facts of a matter. I also do not like to insert myself into anything I write (hence, the fondness for the third-person in the poetry I write). Like this piece, I prefer to leave the conclusions up to the reader.

A godly journal …

… Dionysos Home Page. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Dave worked as an editorial assistant for Dionysos, which existed between 1989 and 1994.

Well, why not...

This day in letters...

Virtual libraries...

A thought for today …

The real trouble with the writing game is that no general rule can be worked out for uniform guidance, and this applies to sales as well as to writing.
— Erle Stanley Gardner, born on this date in 1889

Racial war …

… Hitler, Continued: Afterword from the Updated Edition of "Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil" | The Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



… In other words, what the late Lucy Dawidowicz called “the war against the Jews” (in her book of that title) was of greater importance to Hitler than the war against the Allies. That was “what the war was really about.” And that, according to Evans, more than anything was why Germany lost the war.

No laughing matter …

… What's So Funny? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education. ( hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought control …

… Scientific American's 'PC Police' Fires Blogger | RealClearScience.



Pathetic.

One man 's list …

 and it's a good one: The American Scholar: One Hundred Best American Novels, 1770 to 1985 (a Draft) - David Handlin.

Nicely done …

… Sketches From The Porch – F Omar Telan | Fox Chase Review.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A history of atheism...

...Know Nothing
If someone is really interested in whether or not God exists, I’d say the best way is to have a little humility and experiment, with an open mind and heart, with the paths that Christians have claimed take you directly to him, in the ways that have worked. If someone isn’t willing to do such a thing, and insists that a discussion about painting be one about mathematics, then the conversation isn’t going to go anywhere.

There's this, too …

… ‘Scientist’: the evolving story of a word | Climate Etc.

But I do have time …

… to post this link: Turning College Into a No-Thought Zone - Bloomberg View.

No time for blogging …

I must be out and about today starting in just a few minutes. I still arrange the donation of books from The Inquirer to the Philadelphia Prison System and the Family Court. I am arranging one of those this afternoon and have an appointment beforehand elsewhere. So I'll do my next blogging this evening. I am a busier old man than I had intended to be.

In the name of the father...

A thought for today …


We start our lives as if they were momentous stories, with a beginning, a middle and an appropriate end, only to find that they are mostly middles.
— Anatole Broyard, born on this date in 1920

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wonderful …

… “Word crimes,” by Weird Al Yankovic - The Washington Post.

"Hitler Studies"

...Getting at the root of evil.

RIP …

… Nadine Gordimer, 90, acclaimed South African novelist.

Evidence, perhaps, for morphic resonance?

… Genome-wide analysis reveals genetic similarities among friends. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Underwhelmed…

… An Essayist of the Old School | The Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Speaking of jazz …

… Benny Goodman I Got Rhythm. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Listen in …

… Podcast: David Baerwald talks songwriting, storytelling,and learning to Fail Better.

Coterie music …

… Three Little Bops | Books and Culture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Civil war …

… The Inky Vs. The Daily News | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog.

A thought for today …

Happiness is a matter of one's most ordinary and everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self.
— Iris Murdoch, born on this date in 1919

RIP...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Favorites …

… A Commonplace Blog: The 10 best novels of the 1940s. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something very worth reading …

… Scientific Heretic Rupert Sheldrake on Morphic Fields, Psychic Dogs and Other Mysteries | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Haiku …

Where is she, the one
Who should be here beside him,
Wife next to husband?

My wife and I have lately taken up afternoon strolls together, and usually end up sitting for awhile on a bench in a nearby park — yes, two old people on a park bench; it's come to that. Anyway, this afternoon, I was there, but she had business in town.

Furthermore …

… T.A. Noonan, Author of “An Open Letter to Triquarterly” Speaks | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

I guess …

… The American Scholar: Seven Things Writers Can Learn from Stand-up Comedians - Ben Yagoda. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Better than its reputation …

… The Man With the Golden Gun: Ian Fleming's glittering end | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When I reread The Man With the Golden Gun, before I wrote my own James Bond continuation novel, Solo, I did so very conscious of its diminished reputation; but, as I read, I found my opinion steadily changing. 

Straight talk …

… The Case For Moving On by John H. McWhorter, City Journal 11 July 2014. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I fail to see in the conversation about conversation anything resembling what our greatest civil rights leaders tried so hard to inculcate: black pride. I am deeply committed to forging change for black people, especially poor ones. I salute the crumbling of the War on Drugs; I cheer Senators Corey Booker and Ron Paul for their recent commitment to prisoner reentry policy; I will continue to argue for educational strategies that actually work for poor (black) kids. But I reject the idea that none of this change truly matters until America achieves an elevated degree of moral sophistication about black people’s past, present, and future—and that this enlightenment, once attained, would somehow create unprecedentedly rapid and effective policy changes. I further submit that the call for this all-encompassing awareness constitutes an unintended diminishment of black people. I cringe under the implication that we, and only we, need such exquisitely calibrated treatment in order to succeed under less than perfect conditions.

One moment please...

...The Tea Party’s New Front in the American Culture Wars: Literature
And it is this very anger that explains why a conservative literary revival, along the lines Bellow desires, is not going to happen. For anger is a not a conservative emotion. Genuine conservatism is something much broader and deeper than a political orientation; it is a temperament, one that looks to the past with reverence and the future with trepidation, and which believes that human nature is not easily changed or improved. Defined in this way, conservatism is in fact a major strain in contemporary American literature. David Foster Wallace, the leading novelist of his generation, was a champion of earnestness, reverence, self-discipline, and work—never more so than in his last, unfinished novel, The Pale King, whose heroes are hard-working accountants. Dave Eggers made his name with a memoir about raising his younger brother after his parents died, a hip but deeply earnest hymn to family values. Zadie Smith excels at the conservatism of comedy, which resolves differences in laughter and exposes human follies with an indulgent understanding.
The "watching the future with trepidation" bit does not gel. Let's take any example, say technology. Conservatives adopt it with as much relish as the next person.

Where I was yesterday …

… Report from Poets on the Porch 2014 | Fox Chase Review.



I had a great time, and some great stuff was read. No decline in poetry on display yesterday.

A thought for today …

Life is God's novel. Let him write it.
— Isaac Bashevis Singer, born on this date in 1904

Muddled history...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Novel affair …

… History review: ‘The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book,’ by `Peter Finn and Petra Couvée | Dallas Morning News.

Sextet …

… New Statesman | After God: how to fill the faith-shaped hole in modern life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I've only read the first, by Rowan Williams, but that is simply extraordinary.

Not so secret any more...

Going strong...

In case you wondered …

… Can books cross borders? - FT.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Blogging note …

I have to take off for a poetry reading in Fox Chase, so I won't be blogging again until get back tonight.

Quality journalism …

… The Snug: WWLTD? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Inquirer reviews …

… Writer Neil Gaiman: An imagination always at work.

Emily Gould again: A memoir turned into fiction, with little plot.

Paul Davis reviews 'Brothers Forever': Arlington's kindred spirits.

 Picking and choosing among sacred texts to make the Bible.

A thought for today …


As a rule, men worry more about what they can't see than about what they can.

— Julius Caesar, born on this date in 100 B. C.

Lists...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The order of gardens …

… — Archambeau. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Listen in …

… Podcast: Dogs of LA | Virtual Memories.

Falling behind …

… A Defense of TriQuarterly (Sort Of) | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Better late …

.… Summer Shorts in a Wide Range of Styles by Stefan Kanfer, City Journal 11 July 2014. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… one of [William Cullen Bryant's] greatest achievements has gone unrecognized by schools, universities, and even scholars of American literature. Bryant was the most inventive short-story writer between Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. Now, after decades of neglect, those fictions have become available in a trade paperback, scrupulously edited and annotated by Frank Gado, professor emeritus of Union College in upstate New York.

Hmm …

… Bloggers, Surveillance and Obama’s Orwellian State | TIME.

“The government really needs to get its message out to the American people, and it knows that the best way to do that is by using the American news media,” said Shanker. “The relationship between the government and the media is like a marriage; it is a dysfunctional marriage to be sure, but we stay together for the kids.”
The media take on the government should be adversarial across the board. Fair, no harsher than necessary, and no toadyism. 

Written chaos …

Literary Review — John Gray on Michael Oakeshott. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Trifecta …

… Zealotry of Guerin: T. S. Eliot, Shelley, and Balzac, Sonnets #188, #189, #190.

A reminder …

… Poets on the Porch – 2014 | Fox Chase Review.

A thought for today …


As a rule, men worry more about what they can't see than about what they can.
— Julius Caesar, born on this date in 100 B. C.

A thought for today …

Faith is much better than belief. Belief is when someone else does the thinking.
— R. Buckminster Fuller, born on this date in 1895

National Literatures...

...Can books cross borders?
Nostalgia can be a pleasure but is rarely helpful, while the recent enthusiasm for world anthologies encourages the crazy idea that we can all understand anything from anywhere with no need for context. Perhaps what a literature syllabus might usefully do would be to give students an idea of the shifting relations between writer, community and reader, and the role books can play in building our sense of ourselves and others. So, some fine reads from our own tradition – Gove’s choices seem no worse than others – and some examples of writers from other countries, or who seek to mediate between cultures, or create stories that float free from specific cultures altogether.

It takes all sorts...

For a number of reasons...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Plus ça change …

… Why the Culture Wars Are Nothing New - Aleteia. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… this book is not a panoramic view of that turbulent period; it’s the intimate story of a real historical figure. Margery Kempe was a controversial mystic whose tales of visions and refusal to follow the “script” for married women won her some admirers -- and many powerful enemies.

This is outstanding …

… Does Evolution Explain Religious Beliefs? - NYTimes.com.

Traditionally, God’s necessity is not logical necessity but some kind of metaphysical necessity, or aseity. Unlike Hume, I don’t think this is a silly or incoherent idea, any more than I think mathematical Platonism is silly or incoherent. As it happens, I am not a mathematical Platonist, and I do have conceptual difficulties with the idea of metaphysical necessity. So in the end, I am not sure that the Christian God idea flies, but I want to extend to Christians the courtesy of arguing against what they actually believe, rather than begin and end with the polemical parody of what Dawkins calls “the God delusion.”
The dialectical area Ruse sketches is precisely where genuinely fruitful dis cuss ion can take place.

Joseph Roth


If I'd been an academic, I'd have almost certainly focused on that period of European history between 1880-1914. In Paris, it was the Belle Epoque, but elsewhere, it was the beginning of the end: of empires, of civility, of custom. In Middle Europe, across that expansive land over which Franz Joseph cast an aging eye, the turn of the century brought with it a new sort of nationalism, one that would forge nations from the ruins of empire. 

...Which is where Joseph Roth enters the scene. Born in 1894, Roth witnessed the rise and fall of that most regal experiment, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and it's in The Radetzky March that he chronicles its collapse. I can't remember the last time I was so enthralled by a novel of this sort: part history, part literature, Roth's book is the story of gentility gone awry, of war lurking in the shadows, of civil war in the waiting. 

The Radetzky March isn't the only of Roth's novel to touch on these themes: Flight Without End, for instance, gets at the dislocation associated with both the Russian Revolution and First World War. But Radetzky is all the better because of its scope, its ambition: indeed, it takes the Austro-Hungarian Empire as its topic, and it stops at nothing to get at its nature, its character, its leadership, and fall. 

This is how a novel of this sort should be written: it reaches for a moment of unique historical value, and tells a complex story via intersecting narratives: some focused on families, others on the nobility and the kaiser himself. The result is an emotional tale of history in the making, of empires exposed: both for what they were, and for who they were. They were, after all, people: and the von Trotta clan - central to Roth's narrative - are emblematic of the struggles, the contradictions, that emerged at the start of the last century. These struggles were linked with war, it's true, but they had to do with something else, too: the arrival of modernity. 

The last word is for Roth, whose lamentation for the Old World is palpable:

"And so Herr von Trotta seemed like some character from a province that was historically rather than geographically remote, like a ghost from the Fatherland's past, the embodied pang of a patriotic conscience."