Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pay attention, too …

… The American Scholar: List, List, O List! — Sandra M. Gilbert. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



This is very well-written and thought-out piece. And the list is impressive.

On the road …

… The Tao Of Dante | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the beginning of the Commedia, Dante finds himself in a dark wood of confusion and fear, his escape routes blocked; he has lost the “straight path” — that is, the tao. In Dante’s thought, as in Christianity, if we follow the tao of Christ, we will find our way out of our own dark wood, and move steadily toward enlightenment — which is to say, union with God — culminating in gaining heaven.

Haiku …


If the Cross be true
Something went gravely awry
In God's creation.

Cast your vote …

… Do You Like the Term “Nonfiction Novel”? | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

The mark of a man...

Modernist at heart …

… Waugh Revisited by Kenneth R. Craycraft, Jr. | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In Patey’s reading, the modernist crisis reflected in the early novels is at heart a crisis of the rootlessness, alienation, and disorientation of British youth coming of age in the 1920s, in the aftermath of World War I. The institutions and conventions that gave direction to the manners of Edwardian England had been discarded, leaving nothing to fill the void but the vertiginous excesses of Waugh’s Bright Young People. But even in these pre-conversion novels, Waugh sees the jettisoning of traditional Christianity as the immediate cause of the crisis. 

Labor of love …

… Translator's 25 years with St. Augustine.



In 1695, Louis Sebastian Le Nain de Tillemont, a French priest and historian, wrote what is considered the most comprehensive biography of Augustine. In his 16-volume history of the church, covering the period from after the apostles until the year 513, he devoted an entire volume to Augustine.

A bleak view of the future …

… Irresponsible gods — FT.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We’ve grown used to thinking of ourselves as the only species of humans. But for most of its history Homo sapiens shared the planet with several humanoid species – the Neanderthals being only the best known. “The earth of a hundred millennia ago was walked by at least six different species of man”, writes Harari. Suppose some or all of these species had survived alongside ourselves up to the present. What would become of the cherished sense that we are set apart from the rest of the natural world by having some peculiar transcendent value? Human uniqueness, Harari concludes, is a myth spawned by an accident of evolution.

Inquirer reviews …

… Stories of the unsettled and disoriented.

The perils of prophesying in Princeton.

… Adolescence is murder.

A thought for today …


The first idea the child must acquire is that of the difference between good and evil.
— Maria Montessori, born on this date in 1870

Maybe troll is not the right word there...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What a difference a year makes …

Instapundit — FACEBOOK FRIEND WHO’S TOO MODEST TO WANT CREDIT HERE POSTED THIS: Let’s accept, arguendo, that …

Not to worry …

… US Hurricane drought still in record territory - newsnet5.com Cleveland.



This is weather, not climate. Anyway, it's probably caused by global warming, which can usually be shown to cause anything climatically — extreme heat, extreme cold, drenching rains, scorching drought, you name it. That a single factor would cause all climatic phenomena seems peculiar.

Out of any depth …

The Book Haven | Cynthia Haven's blog for the written word.  

The idea that the human person has any kind of innate dignity, that we draw a veil over at least sex and death (as well as bowel movements), that any kind of human activity is private or intimate – increasingly strikes people as arbitrary and an anachronism, especially if sex, death, or a marriage proposal is click-bait. We are losing a language to even discuss such matters in a culture where the greatest fear is boredom and becoming fat. People are feeling increasingly uncomfortable at any kind of depth, any view of their roles as something other than a consumers of videos, electronics, sports, as “seekers” of the most shallow and transient kind of “happiness.” We’re a long, long way from Antigone, who sacrificed her life to honor and bury her slain brother – she disappeared in the rear-view mirror decades ago.
Sad, but true.

More on Hemingway

From the NYRB:

"...For the past fifty years, ever since his embittered older sister Marcelline reported that their mother had dressed the young Hemingway as a girl and had tried to raise the two of them as twins, and ever since his posthumous novel The Garden of Eden (1986) revealed his androgynous fantasies, the conventional reading of Hemingway explained him away as the product of sexual confusion and category-crossing. This turns out to be as simplifying and crude as the he-man image it supplanted. These letters make clear that both the he-man and the androgynous fantasist were surface expressions of a deeper wish that shaped Hemingway’s life and work, a driving impulse that ultimately had nothing to do with sex..."

A tyrant's life …

… BBC Radio 4 - Digitising Stalin.



Daniel emails: "Non-UK residents... I believe the BBC normally puts these things up on its website for a week after broadcast. If they do I shall emanate it."


Haiku …


In a moment's flash,
A life's panoramic shot:
The concept of dread.

End of summer …

… First Known When Lost: Other Worlds.

The eyes have it …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Portrait of Sonia (Henri Fantin-Latour), Sonnet #199.



The poem is as lovely as the painting, and I'm honored by the dedication. Years ago, when I worked in D.C., I always made a point of visiting whenever I went to the National Gallery, which was often.

Hmm …

… New Statesman | The new Luddites: why former digital prophets are turning against tech. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



A good many years ago, a friend of mine, who had headed a large manufacturing firm, told me that manufacturing would go the way of agriculture, that robots would end up doing most of the work. From the owners' standpoint, this would seem advantageous. Robots won't go on strike, don't need healthcare, etc. But then, there's the downside: if a lot of people are put out of work, who will you sell your products to? Of course, you could simply work out some sort of automatic system whereby everyone simply got what they needed to live, and were left to pursue whatever interests they found fulfilling. The devil, as usual, lies in the details, but I'm sure someone could work out a plausible theoretical model. Were such to happen, though, that probably would spell the end of humanity, because I suspect a lot of people, maybe most, would have a problem with too much time on their hands.

I wonder, too: Is this not just Almighty Evolution going about its undirected business?

Getting the hang of it...

'My life is poetry'...

A thought for today …


Of all created comforts, God is the lender; you are the borrower, not the owner.
— Ernest Rutherford, born on this date in 1871

It's come to this …

… I was taking pictures of my daughters. A stranger thought I was exploiting them. — The Washington Post.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Opus posthumous …

… The Millions : Last Words: On Michael Hastings’s The Last Magazine: A Novel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Around the time of his death, he had just published “Why the Democrats Love to Spy on Americans,” an aggressive indictment of the Obama administration. According to reports, he emailed colleagues that he was now “onto a big story” and needed to go “off radar” for a while. Some say he was being tailed by the FBI.

Squaring off …

… Review: 'Why Football Matters' versus 'Against Football' - LA Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Haiku …


August nearly done.
Autumn in the wings, waiting
Its turn to strut, fret.

Like nested dolls...

In case you wondered...

...Are we more narcissistic than ever before?

I find selfies just a fun pastime.

Maybe not what we thought …

… Deep Frieze Meaning — What is the Parthenon telling us?| The Weekly Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Q&A …

… Dennis Lehane Discusses His New Book and Film 'The Drop'.

I turned in my review of the book yesterday.

Moral dilemmas, tragic choices …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `The Depth of Unchecked Evil'.

A grand presence …

… R.I.P. Simin Behbahani, “lioness of Iran” and first recipient of Stanford’s Bita Prize for Literature and Freedom | The Book Haven.

Good for him — and us …

… Elmore Leonard shoots his way into the Library of America — The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It should serve as a reminder of both the depth and longevity of Leonard’s career that only seven authors have more volumes dedicated to their work by the Library — including Henry James, Mark Twain, Philip Roth, William Faulkner and Edith Wharton. The Library, a nonprofit organization founded in 1979, publishes its distinctive black-jacketed volumes to preserve the nation’s “best and most significant writing.”

A carefully blurred society …

… Piecing it together | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 A once-grand city in multicultural decay carries echoes of London, but a London in which even Dr Johnson would experience chronic fatigue. As for "Jewish", the word doesn't appear once; neither does "Jew". Yet it is probably Jacobson's most significantly Jewish book and quite possibly his masterpiece.

A thought for today …

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, born on this date in 1809

A writer's legacy...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A second opinion …

… Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love by James Booth | The Sunday Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



It seems to me that Philip Larkin was just the sort of person who would have written poems Philip Larkin wrote. (I wonder, by the way, what Dave makes of this: "It is an insuperable task to make interesting the details of Larkin’s librarian career.")

Haiku …


Six sparrows cluster
On a chain link fence, perching
Alongside meaning.

Acts of faith …

… The Millions : The Longest Silence: On Writing and Fishing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The connection between fishing and religion remains. Holly Morris notes in her wonderful essay, “Fumbling After Grace,” “both fishing and writing are largely acts of faith: you believe that there is indeed a rich run of ideas lurking below. The convoluted first drafts, the false casts and hooked branches are all a part of some cosmic ritual designed to seduce a shiny gem to the surface. You get a nibble and your mind sings as you play the idea and reel it in. Only sometimes is it a keeper.” Faith is what brings anglers back to shallow streams, and what brings writers back to imperfect drafts.

On the virtual road …

… Brevity’s Writing Process Blog Tour (with Bar Napkins) | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Go ahead …

… Weekly Poem: Ellen Bass wants you to eat that strawberry | PBS NewsHour. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

But why …

… is an assistant professor of chemistry teaching this course? Professor Bans College Students From Saying ‘Bless You’ In Class � CBS Atlanta



He also appears to be a horse's ass.

A thought for today …

I do not 'get' ideas; ideas get me.
— Robertson Davies, born on this date in 1913

Good idea …

… Myanmar’s Suu Kyi Calls on Writers, Artists to Spur Democracy. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Oh, my...

For the nostalgic …

… Tale of the dueling typewriter apps - LA Times.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Maybe someone will devise an app for letting you write by hand on a yellow legal pad.

The shape of things to come...

Well, that too …

… Mary Beard Takes On Her Sexist Detractors. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



The article covers a lot more than Mary Beard's dealings with boors, and is worth reading for that reason, since the boor business is really old news by now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Blogging note …

I am raking my godsons for a trip in an open-cockpit biplane. Blogging will resume this evening.

A giant among storytellers …

… The Adventures of Rafael Sabatini — The Barnes & Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In 1904 Sabatini’s first novel, The Tavern Knight, appeared as a serial in The Sphere Magazine. Shortly thereafter he got married and  boldly quit his day job. Thus, with the audacious confidence of one of his own heroes, he launched himself as a full-time professional writer. Over the next seventeen years he produced a dozen novels,  two biographies (of Cesare Borgia and the inquisitor Torquemada), and many magazine pieces. Some of these last dramatized thrilling moments from history, such as the betrayal of Sir Walter Raleigh or the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, and were later gathered in three volumes asThe Historical Nights’ Entertainment. Throughout this period Sabatini’s book sales were steady if relatively lackluster. And then in 1921 the now middle-aged writer brought out Scaramouche, and everything changed.

Squirrels to the rescue …

… Nabokov's Pnin: Book That Changed My Mind | New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A place too far...

...The Far Valley
Independence brought no respite. Bisram insisted that “life has been tough since the British left.” “We were paid in silver coins then,” he said. “You could buy a whole lot of grain for an anna. Today’s paper currency is useless. What can you buy with a hundred-rupee note? The Angrez rarely ate what they hunted. They would take the skin and leave the meat for us.” Then he added, in an unguarded moment, “Now they are more concerned with the survival of the tiger. Let the humans die.”

Drive, finesse, and astonishing beauty …

… The Moon Before Morning by WS Merwin review – beautiful | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The movement and music of these poems is so involving that it's easy to miss their underlying world view. Everything is connected, and everything is also always in motion. If Merwin were a philosopher, we would call him a pre-Socraticand place him alongside Heraclitus: "Even if I were to return it would not be / the place we came to one evening down a narrow lane / […] leading down to the edge of a small river" as his poem 'Still' says. If Merwin were a physicist he would belong with Robert Brown of Brownian motion.

Clearing the record …

… Atheists: The Origin of the Species by Nick Spencer, reviewed.

Spencer’s account too often trades depth for breadth, but one of his most trenchant themes is that it is more proper to speak of atheisms and of various species of atheist. (One wonders, therefore, why his subtitle adds a definite article to Darwin’s title.) Atheism in the sense of unbelief is probably as old as the gods—although you often had to keep your unbelief under your heretical hat if you wanted your head to remain under it as well. But there is a monster-crammed abyss between finding the notion of a creator implausible and the full-blast anti-Christianity of Nietzsche, who, as Terry Eagleton writes in Culture and the Death of God, “has a strong claim to being the first real atheist.” “The only really effective antidote to the dreariness of reading the New Atheists,” Hart has written, “is rereading Nietzsche.”

A thought for today …


The farther reason looks the greater is the haze in which it loses itself.
— Johann Georg Hamann, born n this date in 1730

In this corner …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Newspaper Vs. Newspaper: Philadelphia Daily News Reporter Wendy Ruderman Answers Her Philadelphia Inquirer Critics.

A delicate balance...

Ms Kakutani isn't impressed...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Not for idle reading …

… Poem Continuous – Reincarnated Expressions – By Bibhas Roy Chowdhury — Translated by Kiriti Sengupta | Fox Chase Review.

Passion and craft …

… The Americans by David Roderick | Fox Chase Review.

The literary Churchill …

… Podcast – The War Poet | Virtual Memories.

A volume of recommendations …

… An Academic Novel With a Twist — The Chronicle Review — The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A new novel, Dear Committee Members (Doubleday), by Julie Schumacher, a professor of creative writing at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, puts this dimension of professorial life in the foreground. Its twist on the genre is to tell the story entirely through a year’s worth of recommendation letters (67 in all) by Jason Fitger, a creative-writing professor at the fictional Payne University, a middling research university in the Midwest. He writes letters on behalf of students applying for scholarships, for law or other graduate programs, and especially for jobs, high and low, on and off the campus. He occasionally writes recommendations for faculty members or administrators looking for tenure or other jobs. He also writes to his literary agent on behalf of students and friends.

A shameless plug …

… for a friend and former colleague: Visions of Teaoga by Jim Remsen.

Haiku …


Children riding swings.
A squirrel climbing the fence.
Rejoice and be glad.

Complicated guy …

… Poe’s Paradoxes | The Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When the lives of artists are dramatized, the stories tend to focus on their personal triumphs and personal failings, and those things are kind of a distraction from the art.

The kinship of writers …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `The Golden Age Continues, Even Now'.

Oddly compelling …

… Bruce Charlton's Miscellany: The novels of Barbara Pym - an overview. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I could not honestly recommend Barbara Pym to many people, she must surely be a minority taste - and I realize how unappealing these novels sound in summary! Nonetheless I personally find them a sheer pleasure to read; and as soon as I have finished going through them, I look forward to the next re-reading.

Decide now …

… Haikus found in Supreme Court opinions — The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …


History: the category of human phenomena which tends to catastrophe.
— Jules Romains, born on this date in 1885

Monday, August 25, 2014

Haiku …


Leaves late summer green.
World looking to fall apart.
The dogs pay no mind.

And where they meet...

Character and destiny …

… Augustus — The Barnes & Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If all of Williams’s novels are in some way about the mutation of individual identity as it engages with unfolding event, Williams manages to convey in Augustus how that was conceived by people whose views were shaped by Greek philosophy and Roman pragmatism.  This is an understanding of life where the balance between individual will and action on one hand and “fortune,” or external exigency, on the other, is fundamental.  

In case you wondered …

… Detectives Beyond Borders: Off the Cuff and on the clock: What makes a noir image noir?

Still opaque after all these years …

… Book Review: 'Pericles of Athens' by Vincent Azoulay — WSJ.

Where sources contradict each other, Mr. Azoulay is often forced to admit that both have a certain claim on truth. His cautious, balanced weighing of the evidence will fascinate scholars but frustrate those who want to know who, in the end, Pericles was. At times Mr. Azoulay appears to shuttle between opposing views rather than endorsing one or the other. He claims at one point that "Pericles refused to engage in warfare unless it was absolutely necessary," at another that "Pericles unhesitatingly resorted to force." A careful reader can perhaps trace both statements to particular sources or historical moments, but others will, understandably, feel slightly baffled.

Pray and forgive …

… We Who Are Left Behind. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… let’s be clear, it’s the ones left behind who pay. The one who took his own life has departed this present misery. He is beyond our reach. Herein lies the grief and the fury, for those who remain.

Still with us …

40 maps that explain the Roman Empire — Vox. (Hat tip, David Tothero.)

Hmm …

… Marilynne Robinson and Our Calvinist (Puritanical) Counterculture | National Review Online.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Yeah, I guess the Puritans were the original butinskis.




Indeed …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Great Scot: Happy 84th Birthday To Sean Connery.

Sounds like one to me …

… beyond eastrod: does this qualify as a prayer? . . . something to ponder when you become too comfortable in your post-modern religious sensibility . . .

A thought for today …


Grief has limits, whereas apprehension has none. For we grieve only for what we know has happened, but we fear all that possibly may happen.
— Pliny the Elder, who died on this date in 79

The mind of a totalitarian...

...Darkness at Noon gave me a deep, life-long interest in politics
I remember experiencing the end of the book as a chilling void. The story is told in the third person, but it feels like a first-person account of dying. Koestler had once been sentenced to execution and reprieved, so he had some insight into the abyss. But it isn’t the eradication of life that shocks. It is the moral oblivion of a conscience repressed by mechanical reasoning. It is the realisation that every aspiration to contain human experience in a unified theory, every urge to order mankind in neat rows, every codified system of belief that despises dissent, involves some inward violence. (The outward violence is better documented.) It means shutting down parts of the self that can bear to live with contradiction, which is the beginning of the end of compassion.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Take your pick and vote …

… AttackingtheDemi-Puppets: A Cat and a Ballerina?

Haiku …



Signifying details:
Late summer grass, fallen leaves,
Sparrows hopping by.

Really, really speaking truth to power …

… Egyptian Female Activist Poses Nude and Poops on ISIS Flag. Yes, Really. (Photo).



This is a far cry from the usual celebrity posturing. This could well mean risking your life.

Online now …

… Harvard’s Loeb Classical Library goes digital | Harvard Magazine Sep-Oct 2014. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Inquirer reviews …

… Fast-paced crime fiction of Prohibition Philly.

… Novel takes on Pennsylvania politics and fracking.

I review Three new books of poems: A world of gadgets, and something greater.

… Novel navigates through thickets of human nature. (I suspect this will run in the paper next Sunday. Philly.com for some reason is jumping the gun on the print version, as it did a couple of weeks ago.)

A thought for today …

To say that a man is vain means merely that he is pleased with the effect he produces on other people.
— Max Beerbohm, born on this date in 1872

In case you wondered...

Who would've thought?

Expectedly...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A disposable past …

… Against the Anthology | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



It is one thing to seek and find the best the past has to offer and to make oneself worthy of it, and quite another to adapt the past to the whims of ideology and fashion.

Haiku .


Tiresome winter
Gave way to lackluster spring.
Now this tepid summer.

Words and asanas …

… Yoga on the Roof | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Centenary of disaster …

… Book Haven remembers World War I – send us some un-famous poems, letters, reminiscences | The Book Haven.

Costume drama …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Three Witches from Macbeth (Daniel Gardner), Sonnet #198.

Digital notation …

… ‘Wait, Your Footnotes Are in Cyberspace?’ | Vitae. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

See also: Reagan Book Sets Off Debate.


Violence in style …

… ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Review | Washington Free Beacon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Twilight time …

… Ronald Blythe...: Ronald Blythe takes in his late-summer garden, leaning on a new stick. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In church we remember 4 August 1914, first silently, with Vaughan Williams's The Lark Ascending, and then with touches of compline. I read Rupert Brooke's "Safety" and "The Soldier". His safety lies in the indestructible heart of things. Very soon, in the same fleet as bore my teenage father to Gallipoli, a mosquito would take his life. He was 27. And here am I, old in the old garden, eating raspberries, telling tales to the white cat, thinking of what to say on Sunday.
I have an ash-plant stick myself, as did Joyce. I got it in Ireland.

A thought for today …


Essayists, like poets, are born and not made, and for one worth remembering, the world is confronted with a hundred not worth reading. Your true essayist is, in a literary sense, the friend of everybody.
— William Ernest Henley, born on this date in 1849

Together at last...

That's a start...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Q&A …

… Allen Barra: A Conversation With Garry Wills - Interview - Truthdig. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Remembering …

… Paris Review – How Best to Celebrate Dorothy Parker’s Birthday, Sadie Stein. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No apologies necessary …

… The biography that makes Philip Larkin human again � The Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Booth’s psychology is subtler than Motion’s and more convincing. His achievement is to paint a satisfying and believably complex picture. Larkin the nihilist also wrote: ‘ The ultimate joy is to be alive in the flesh.’ Larkin the xenophobe loved Paris and translated Verlaine. Larkin the racist wrote the wonderful lyric ‘For Sidney Bechet’ and dreamt of being a negro. The Larkin who wrote ‘They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad’ loved his own parents.

Q&A…

… 10 Questions for Kristina Moriconi | Fox Chase Review.

Pleasure and enlightenment …

… Why Do We Read? | The Weekly Standard.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Intellectuals are more likely than others to come under the spell of dicta because of their “belief in beliefs, and their still stronger belief in those who believe in beliefs—that is, in themselves.” Intellectuals may pride themselves on their lack of wealth and their putative resistance to the powers that be, but they find it hard to resist doctrines that offer an adherent “gratifying confidence in one’s own clear-sighted and worldly sophistication.” An intellectual who believes, with Freud, that he “discovered the scientific method by which the unconscious could be studied,” or, with Marx and Engels, that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” is entitled to look down on all those unable or unwilling to grasp such all-important truths. 
Just because you think you are an intellectual, or maybe even because you think you are, it doesn't follow that you're actually intelligent.

Living insofar as...

Haiku …


An old man content
Watching the world saunter past:
Friday afternoon.

Religion without God …

… The Age of Atheists | Books and Culture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We meet so many people … in this lengthy book because there was no central figure, no single mode of life apart from God found to be compelling. The only thing that unites these figures is that they were trying to find the good life. Indeed, that is Watson's conclusion, as he puts it in the title of his final chapter, borrowed from Alasdair MacIntyre (who is of course not an atheist): the "good life is the life spent seeking the good life."

Mark thy calendar …

… For Wednesday, august 27| MOONSTONE ARTS CENTER.

Focus on life …

… How to Talk to the Dying. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The job of a patient’s friends is to remind her that not even waiting for an unknown end need entail the suspension of time, the detachment from life. It can, instead, be what Nemerov calls “the razor of a moment,” the satisfaction of a life lived “between anticipation and regret.”

A thought for today …


Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.
— Ray Bradbury, born on this date in 1920

Most tragic...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Posthumous Marginalia

Reading David Foster Wallace's reading...

Sick bay report …

… Paul Davis On Crime: It's A Cruel, Cruel Summer: Once Again In The Hospital.



Let's all say a prayer for Paul tonight.

For mature readers …

… About Last Night | Truth without bullets. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If you’ve never heard of Guard of Honor, you’re not alone. Though it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1949, it is as poorly remembered as the rest of Cozzens’ novels, and I doubt that it is ripe for revival. Set in a stateside Army Air Force base nine months before D-Day, most of its main characters are desk jockeys who almost certainly never made it to Europe or the South Pacific. Not surprisingly, nobody ever thought to turn the exploits of these indispensable yet invisible warriors into a movie; probably, nobody ever will. Yet Guard of Honor is a great novel all the same, the only English-language novel of World War II that can withstand comparison with Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour.

And more still …

… beyond eastrod: and here is a caution, in the form of an impromptu pair of haiku, for the unfortunate freshmen in my English composition classes (poor souls). . .

More haiku …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: Patrick Sweeney & Daryl Nielsen: Wednesday Haiku, #188.

The importance of tempo …

… On the Slow, Deliberate Making of a Story | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.
… Quantum Gravity Expert Says “Philosophical Superficiality” Has Harmed Physics | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 If the question is whether I think that there is a person who has created Heavens and Earth, and responds to our prayers, then definitely my answer is no, with much certainty.
Be interesting to know what his grounds for certainty are.

Secular faith …

… Bryan Appleyard — The Pursuit of Goodness. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Logically, evolution can account for goodness only sometimes, when goodness contributes to survival. Otherwise, not. Except, of course, that in the ethics of evolution, survival by whatever means is the highest good.

Yes, I'd think...

...Are videos of Islamic violence propaganda?

Personally, I don't think the video itself need be seen. One knows what has happened. What is the point in seeing it and marinating in these butchers' gruesomeness?

Haiku …


The city sirens
Entice no one, but do prompt
Longing for ear plugs.

Blogging note …

I have a full day of appointments, for which I am about to take off. No more blogging by me until this evening.

A thought for today …


While I am busy with little things, I am not required to do greater things.
— St. Francis de Sales, born on this date in 1567

It should go on tour …

… zmkc: That Ineluctable Binary.

The man who died …

… “Mom, Mom, it’s me, Jim.” Remembering James Wright Foley, 1973-2014 | The Book Haven.

Please be seated …

… beyond eastrod: Channeling Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" - the scourge of the classroom comes out of retirement and returns to campus as a professor of English composition.

A Booksinq notable film...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

RIP …

… Licia Albanese, opera singer, dies aged 105 | Music | The Guardian.

Begging to differ …

… more than 95 theses — It is not a journalist’s job to protect us from...



I don't know. I think you should report whatever you find out.

Ah, the business of writing …

… The Millions : Practical Art: On Teaching the Business of Creative Writing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Haiku …


Dark clouds gathering.
May they pour torrents on us.
We need some cleansing.

A roundup of characters …

… When Falls the Coliseum � Lisa reads FaceOff, edited by David Baldacci.

Submissions wanted …

… Bluestem Seeks Nonfiction Submissions | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

An evolving life …

… The Last Cowboys at the End of the World By Nick Reding | Fox Chase Review.

Indeed …

… Report the truth — the whole truth — on Robin Williams' death — LA Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull. )

… that's the journalist's job: the story. His only job: to tell the whole story straight.

Outside the comfort zone …

… Hands Turning the Earth by Bill Wunder | Fox Chase Review.

By one who was there …

… Attending James Joyce's Birthday Party | New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

…  so when he speaks of his aversion to aggressiveness, turbulence, violence of any kind, his words are impressive. "Birth and death are sufficiently violent for me," he says. The state for which he has the highest esteem was the old Hapsburg Empire. "They called it a ramshackle empire,” he says, "I wish there were more such ramshackle empires in the world." What he liked about old Austria was not only the mellowness of life there, but the fact that the state tried to impose so little upon its own or upon other people. It was not warlike, it was not efficient, and its bureaucracy was not strict; it was the country for a peaceful man. 
There is much in what he says.

A thought for today …


Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.
— Paul Tillich, born on this date in 1886

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The original tweeters …

… Revealing the Hidden Beauty of Birdsong — Sound and vision blog. (Hat tip, David Tothero.)

Haiku …


When he was fifteen
He planted the maple tree
Someone has cut down.

Mystery and mastery …

… “Logarithms” | TLS. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

That is a very good poem. I had never heard of Pudney.

FYI...

Interior voices …

… Samuel Beckett's articulation of unceasing inner speech | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Charismatic and ruthless …

… Who Was Cleopatra? | History | Smithsonian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



What kind of pharaoh was Cleopatra? The few remaining contemporary Egyptian sources suggest that she was very popular among her own people. Egypt's Alexandria-based rulers, including Cleopatra, were ethnically Greek, descended from Alexander the Great's general Ptolemy I Soter. They would have spoken Greek and observed Greek customs, separating themselves from the ethnically Egyptian majority. But unlike her forebears, Cleopatra actually bothered to learn the Egyptian language. For Egyptian audiences, she commissioned portraits of herself in the traditional Egyptian style. In one papyrus dated to 35 B.C. Cleopatra is called Philopatris, "she who loves her country." By identifying herself as a truly Egyptian pharaoh, Cleopatra used patriotism to cement her position.


Good Lord, it's me …

… Podcast: Critical Mass — Frank Wilson | Virtual Memories.

A thought for today …

Real rebels are rarely anything but second rate outside their rebellion; the drain of time and temper is ruinous to any other accomplishment.
— James Gould Cozzens, born on this date in 1903

Someone had to say it...

...Against Editors
This is not to say that editing is not a legitimate job. It is. It is also a necessary step in the writing process. But it is not the most important role in the writing process. That would be writing, which any honest editor will tell you is much harder than editing. (An editor who will not admit this is not worth listening to.) Reporting is a difficult chore. Writing is a psychologically agonizing struggle. Editing is not easy, but not as onerous as either of the two tasks that precede it. You would never know that, though, by looking at the relative salaries of the people who do the work.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Spiritual, not religious …

… Catholicism After Catholicism in Irish Poetry — University of Notre Dame.



It seems there are better ways to engage Catholicism than how most of these poets did.

Dark Lady …

… Book Review: 'Susan Sontag: A Biography' by Daniel Schreiber - WSJ.

Something I happened upon …

Frank Wilson | gists.



I link to this because of the poem, which I think is quite good.

Scientist or mystic?

..Seeds of doubt
When Shiva writes that “Golden Rice will make the malnutrition crisis worse” and that it will kill people, she reinforces the worst fears of her largely Western audience. Much of what she says resonates with the many people who feel that profit-seeking corporations hold too much power over the food they eat. Theirs is an argument well worth making. But her statements are rarely supported by data, and her positions often seem more like those of an end-of-days mystic than like those of a scientist.

If not a novelist...

Haiku …



You believe you can
See, right there — oops, gone again —
Your elusive self.

Distasteful...

...THE ECONOMIST’S NUMBER-CRUNCHING OF SEX TRADE
This is but one subset of the broader commodification of sex the piece so insouciantly plumbs. I don’t mean to lecture, but surely, there is something to be said for the sanctity of intimate space shared by two people? In our faithless times, where science provides those neat arrows that lead one argument to the next based on reasoning alone, we must ask ourselves if we are willing to retain something of what it means to be human. Forget the stigma, prostitution, by making sex only a stepping stone to pleasure, deadens the soul. It has to. Aren’t we wired like that?

The irrecoverable …

… First Known When Lost: "Yon Far Country".



The quote from Carr's brought to mind the time when I actually held Housman's notebooks in my hand and browsed through them. That was a magical afternoon.


Master of the scary …

… From Out of the Depths: The Weird Tales of William Hope Hodgson — The Barnes & Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



"The Voice in the Night" really is a great story. I seem to recall to find out about Hodgson decades ago, but getting nowhere.

Trio …

… Civilisation in peril — three online recommendations — Philosophy and Life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It’s a very modern tragedy that religion has become ideas in the mind. That’s why western religion is so feeble.
It is the confusion of theology with faith.

Form and platform …

… tl;dr | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

A thought for today …

The more one judges, the less one loves.
-Honoré de Balzac, who died on this date in 1850

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Happy birthday …

… Alexander Theroux | HiLobrow. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

William Vollman's

Most recent stories...involve ghosts.

Reading …

… Conversations with the Dead by Alberto Manguel | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Those who set up oppositions between the electronic technology and that of the printing press perpetuate Frollo’s fallacy. They want us to believe that the book—an instrument as perfect as the wheel or the knife, capable of holding memory and experience, an instrument that is truly interactive, allowing us to begin and end a text wherever we choose, to annotate in the margins, to give its reading a rhythm at will—should be discarded in favor of a newer tool. Such intransigent choices result in technocratic extremism. In an intelligent world, electronic devices and printed books share the space of our work desks and offer each of us different qualities and reading possibilities. Context, whether intellectual or material, matters, as most readers know.

Worth noting …

… Maverick Philosopher: The Wise Live by Probabilities, not by Possibilities.

The opposite of confessional …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `An Incomparable Way of Living Life'.

Against nihilism …

… Fight the moral madness: read Charles Dickens to your kids | Blogs | LifeSite. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No sane person before the day before yesterday believed what we are supposed to believe now, about men and women, marriage, the education of children, the role of the State, the insignificance of the church, and the cramped little corner left for faith. Call us crazy, but there are plenty of madmen in our asylum, and they have names like Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Johnson, Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Augustine, Pascal, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky. 

Something new …

… An analysis of Miles Davis's Kind of Blue | OUPblog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tiny details, a sad end …

… History review: ‘The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra,’ by Helen Rappaport | Dallas Morning News.

Hmm …

… beyond eastrod: Thought for the day (week, month, year, and beyond) . . .



I do think you could more than get by reading only Shakespeare, though I suspect Shakespeare himself would discourage you from restricting yourself so. It is definitely true that learning to read Shakespeare is probably the best way to learn to read, period.

Haiku …


Trumpet-vine flowers.
Loud car tooling up the street.
Some kids having fun.

Inquirer reviews …

Essay collection is sharp, smart.

… Novel navigates through thickets of human nature.

… 'Picture That Remains' marries images of '70s Philly with poetry. (For some reason. this ran online last Sunday, and I linked to out then. It is in today's paper, though, so I link to it again.)

A thought for today …


I have always moved by intuition alone. I have no system, literary or political. I have no guiding political idea.
— V. S. Naipaul, born on this date in 1932

In case you wondered...

In cinemas now...

Not what it seems...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Haiku


Nothing poetic
Here: Cuttings near a trash can.
How we all end up.

Seeing the light...

The will to write...

Dangerous sweetness …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Sirens and Ulysses (William Etty), Sonnet #197.

For your consideration …

… A Great Crime Novel Recommendation | Petrona Remembered. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I’d like to think Maxine would have enjoyed this novel. She particularly liked novels where larger issues are brought to the ‘human’ level and we see that in this story. For example, without preaching about social class and the role it plays in our lives, Richardson shows how class has affected the Freeman family and their local reputation. Richardson also shows, at a very human level, what it’s like to live under a government that spies on its own citizens and uses scare tactics and secret police to control people. And there’s the issue of immigration, which is also addressed at the human level.

Remembering Satchmo …

… Dr. John and friends pay tribute to Louis Armstrong | Beaucoup | The New Orleans Advocate — New Orleans, Louisiana. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it — basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.
— Charles Bukowski, born on this date in 1920

Worrisome...

Canadian by birth only...

Pitch perfect...

Friday, August 15, 2014

The pulls and incentives...

Suicide...

The greatest of them all …

… Bleak House taught me about the good and evil in man | Colin Dexter | Commentisfree | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have since religiously read the novel from beginning to end three times, and with ever-increasing delight and understanding. It was, and is, the greatest novel of the lot. Why? First, the quality of the writing; second, the complexity of the plot; third, the extraordinary insight and honesty of the characterisation.

Haiku …


August clouds, sun, wind.
Sweet young thing walking her pooch.
Your cool indifference.

Being a real Catholic …

… Mortal Affirmations — Rereading the Fiction of Andre Dubus
| Commonweal Magazine
.
(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… she is a devout Mass-goer, albeit one who finds peace in the ritual of celebration and experiences God as a comforting yet distant presence, longing for those “forty minutes” when “her mind was suspended.” In rising to sing with the others, to listen “to her voice among theirs, read the Confiteor aloud with them” she feels forgiven for her sins. Yet this provides only a temporary peace. This is a refrain in Dubus’s fiction: There are no clean finishes. Violence never heals.

Tonight at the Cathedral …

… 2014 Mass of the Assumption — Mater Ecclesiae Roman Catholic Church.

Post bumped.

A thought for today …

What is a diary as a rule? A document useful to the person who keeps it. Dull to the contemporary who reads it and invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it.
— Sir Walter Scott, born on this date in 1771

Overlooked …

… We need more focus on the women poets of World War I. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The metaphor effect …

… Smelling Something Fishy Makes People More Suspicious - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wonderful …

… especially the second: New Statesman | Two new poems by Clive James. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In case you care …

… Why we love to hate Martin Amis | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More on those Cliffies …

… Dan Bloom's Hollywood ''Cli Fi'' Blogsite For THE CLIFFIES (set to launch in March 2015).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How legends grow …

… On Essaying: The Beauty of Elusiveness | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Art and life …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Real To Reel Crime: Whitey Movie Eerie Experience For "Black Mass" CoAuthor.

Haiku …


The cross against clouds,
Crowning the old parish school
Spiffed up for condos.

In case you need any …

… Italo Calvino Offers 14 Reasons We Should Read the Classics | Open Culture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tracking the decline …

… Will Steacy: Chronicling Difficult Times at the Inquirer and Daily News | News | Philadelphia Magazine. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Not easy …

… Tolstoy translated — FT.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Enter the Cliffies …

Here is an email I just received that think will interest a lot of people (posted with permission):

There will be the world's first CLI FI MOVIE
AWARDS event in March 2015, which I am setting up now at a small
liberal arts college in the MidWest of the USA, on the sidelines of

its annual film festival, with the annual awards to be hosted and
presented by this college, with students running the awards ceremony in
conjunction with professors running the film festival. It will be
called...THE CLIFFIES. Prepare! Nominations are already being
accepted for the 2015 event for movies released in 2014. Send
nominations to DanBloom@gmail.com — I just received word today from the college, and it's official.

Q&A …

… Wendy Ortiz and Narrative Excavation | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Facing God …

beyond eastrod: Something special from Frank Wilson . . . and a thought of my own . . .



The "you" in my haiku, of  course, was indefinite, and would certainly include me. In fact, when I wrote it, I was addressing myself.

Zombies deserve something better than deadly prose …

… When Falls the Coliseum � Lisa reads “We’re All Infected: Essays on AMC’s the Walking Dead and the Fate of the Human”.

Second, I propose that a multidisciplinary perspective informed by biopolitical, posthumanist, and critical race theories can offer a way to resist this representational problematic at the levels of both consumption and production – can offer, in fact, a political and ethical critique that takes into account the role of the social constructions of humanity and race in maintaining sovereignty.
Beyond parody.

Rich history...

The classics, dealing with dirtbags, and careful phrasing …

… A Visit with Mary Beard | The Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“You do the ancient world much greater service if you keep arguing with them,” she says, gesticulating without bothering to put down her latte, which dipped dangerously. “In all sorts of ways they were wrong. But the fact that they were wrong is not as important as the fact that they provided us with a way of thinking. We don’t want to go back to the ancient world. Women do not want to go back the ancient world. Jews do not want to go back to the ancient world. Christians do not want to go back to the ancient world. Absolutely ghastly.” (At this I edge away from the table, fearing burns).

Creating conditions …

… on Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful, edited by Matthew S. Witkovsky (Yale University Press) | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the problem.
— John Galsworthy, born on this date in 1867

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Haiku …


Presumably, if
You came face to face with God,
You would feel ashamed.

The weight of words …

… Alan Wall on Geoffrey Hill's lexical poetry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Geoffrey Hill’s poetic career has been mediated through his engagement with the dictionary. And that dictionary is first and foremost the OED. There is no greater dictionary in the world, and its making constitutes one of the great intellectual events of the twentieth century, though it started life in the nineteenth. There had never been anything like this before. Now the language itself has become the documented labyrinth of its own manifold meanings. Now history can be traced uttering itself thus and thus in one mutating word after another. The thought of a poet writing in English who would not grow excited turning the pages of the OED, or clicking on the electronic version, is so dismal that one wishes such a personage an even smaller readership than modern poets normally manage to acquire.

Similar in ways …

… Updike and O'Hara — Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fiction and reality …

… Confessions of a Science Librarian — Musings on Science & Librarianship. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



If I were writing cli-fi, I would model my story after what happened in Europe in the 14th century. You can read Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror for the history and E. Kirsten Peters's The Whole Story of Climate for the science. 

FYI …

… Why the Public Library Beats Amazon—for Now - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The triumph of falling …

… Failing and Flying by Jack Gilbert | The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Slough of despond...

A haiku for August …

beyond eastrod: when night gives way to twilight . . .

Hmm …

… Book review of Sam Harris' Waking Up | Open Letters Monthly - an Arts and Literature Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The feeling we call ‘I’ is an illusion. There is no discrete self or ego living like a minotaur in the labyrinth of the brain. And the feeling that there is—the sense of being perched somewhere behind your eyes, looking out at a world that is separate from yourself—can be altered or entirely extinguished.
So says Sam Harris. But if this be so, why bother with the self at all? What is the point of "spirituality" if not to provide some sort of benefit for the "self"? But if there is no self, this is surely a fool's errand. I suppose the point of being conscious is just to watch the organism that we are take place, do its stuff. I can't at the moment think of any grounds for passing judgment on what it does, regarding one thing as good and another not. And what good what do anyway. I presume there isn't any free will, either.  And what is this "reason" business all about? Just another illusion, I suspect (except, of course, "I" don't).

A thought for today …

Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit.
— Jeremy Taylor, who died on this date in 1667

Truth on canvas...

Q&A...