Thursday, August 17, 2017

Listen in …

… Brevity Podcast Episode #5 Dinty W. Moore | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Anniversary …

 Informal Inquiries: "Davy, Davy Crocket, King of the Wild Frontier".

Three cheers for me …

One of my therapists, Chris Masiello, just walked around the block with me and determined that my vital signs were all quite good afterward. This is the longest walk I have taken since before my recent medical adventure.

On your mark, poets …

… Siris: Like Some Grave Mighty Thought Threading a Dream. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

As poetry is the highest speech of man, it can not only accept and contain, but in the end express best everything in the world, or in himself, that he discovers. It will absorb and transmute, as it always has done, and glorify, all that we can know. This has always been, and always will be, poetry's office.
— Conrad Aiken, who died on this date in 1973

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Comedy crisis …

… Dave Barry on Humor, Writing, and Life as a Florida Man. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


… now, it’s more likely to be a political target, and whichever side it is, I’m inclined to view that kind of humor as lazier. It’s more like, “I know you’re on my team, so if I mock that person, we’ll both get a good laugh, and it also will prove we’re smarter than them.”
That’s kind of the format, the template, for a lot of humor now. And for the most part, it’s not really based on anything real. It’s kind of silly to pretend that all Republicans are stupider than all Democrats, in my opinion, or the other way around. Either way, it’s kind of a dumb template to start with, and yet that is the template now for both sides.
I assume there's a crisis, because it used to be said that the one sure way to kill humor is to analyze it. But this is a very engaging interview.

Anniversary …

 Informal Inquiries: Charles Bukowski's birthday and "all that".

Q & A …

 IMAGE: A Journal of the Arts & Religion -- Back Issue #12 A Conversation with Richard Wilbur. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think I belong at the Hopkins end of that arc because I'm the sort of Christian animal for whom celebration is the most important thing of all. I know that, as you say, there is terror in my poems, not so much presented as a tangible scariness but as a feeling that the order of things is in peril or in doubt, that there are holes in things through which one might drop for a long distance. The terror is there and it's countered continually by trust and by hope, by an impulse to praise. When I go to church, what doesn't particularly interest me is the Creed, although I find that I can say it. The Creed strikes me as very much like a political platform of some sort, and I believe that's what it was. What I respond to is, "Lift up your hearts!" It's lines like that in the Mass that belong to me, belong to my kind of religious experience.
I feel much the same way.

Something to think on …

It's when you begin to lie to yourself in a poem in order to simply make a poem, that you fail.
— Charles Bukowski, born on this date in 1920

Who knew?

 No, Brian Williams, Your Job Isn't to Scare People | American Council on Science and Health.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fallen idol …

 Sigmund Fraud? - The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The only time I read very much of Freud was when I was in high school. I didn't read much. I just didn't find it persuasive.

The final expression …

Out From Behind This Mask | The Public Domain Review.

Return …

 Informal Inquiries: A reader's resolution and readers' choices.

August Poetry at North of Oxford …

… 2 Poems by Annie Blake.

 Late, Almost Morning by Lucas Carpenter.

 Unrequited forester contrite with sunrise by James Walton.

… Granny’s Guide to the Galaxy by Barbra Nightingale.

Listen in …

 Episode 231 – Sven Birkerts | Virtual Memories.

“There are thresholds or shelves where we go from having incremental change to systemic moments of transformation.”

The value of undesigned coincidences …

Our latest supercarrier …

… Paul Davis On Crime: The Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford: ‘A 100,000-Ton Message To The world.

Light, but not slight …

 Book Reviews | Light. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

There is a vulgar incredulity, which in historical matters, as well as in those of religion, finds it easier to doubt than to examine.
— Sir Walter Scott, born on this date 1771

Monday, August 14, 2017

Much in what he says …

Brendan O'Neill - It's becoming so clear now why the war... | Facebook.

Q & A …

… Wiseblood Books publishes “literature that possesses a sacramental vision of reality” – Catholic World Report. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ongoing …

… Anthony Madrid's H.D. Notebook (Part 2). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unsuccessfully …

… Sanitizing Robert Lowell. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

According to Jamison, Lowell’s life consisted of “sane” periods interrupted by a series of awkward, and sometimes violent, episodes, all excused by his mental illness. Most readers will be sympathetic to her efforts to “normalize” bipolar disease, but will also bewildered by her insistence that Lowell demonstrated character and courage. In fact, Jamison undercuts her own case by supplying overwhelming detail about periods of highly manic behavior and providing almost no detail about periods of less manic behavior.
Lowell's violence seems to have always been directed toward women. Too bad he never picked on the wrong guy and got the shit beat out of him. Might have done him a world of good.

Cartesian composition …

 I Am, Therefore I Write | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

RIP …

 Paul Davis On Crime: Joseph Bologna, 'My Favorite Year' Actor And Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter, Dies At 82.

Love birds …

… Forgotten Poems #26: Christina Rossetti, "A Bird Song".

Something to think on …

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

And on the other side of life...

...this is so cute

Mom asks for eclipse to be rescheduled because of school schedule.


A friend sent me this.

Caught in the brutal loneliness of the night 
Memories weigh heavy
Silence everywhere
A dark future with no light 
Just age and weakness
All alone

And so many years
So much effort
Into the happy of others 
But they left all of them
And there aren't new ones coming

Just fear and the dark

Unbelievable …

Our daily star …

 First Known When Lost: The Sun.



 The Sun: A Brief Addendum.

Very interesting …

… He Lives: Pathways to God. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Gingerich's book is indeed very worth reading.

Anniversary …

… Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History Film Director Alfred Hitchcock Was Born.

The family business …

… Another Waugh Writer | The Evelyn Waugh Society. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Reading Nathaniel Waugh's piece, I was struck how French seem to be. I am life-long walker, but I tend to saunter.The piece also reminded me of when, at De Gaulle Airport on our way to Dublin so I could cover the centenary of Bloomsday, a security escorted us to where we had tom go. As he was leaving, I turned and said to him merci. He stopped, turned, and gave me one of the friendliest smiles I have ever seen Then he waved and walked on.

Listen in …

 Art Tatum & Lionel Hampton & Buddy Rich - 03 - Makin' Whoopee - YouTube. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Spot on …

 Instant info is making us less informed and less thoughtful.

Technology has made getting bits of information so easy that the big picture is lost. A case in point: Most of us now rely on GPS devices in our smartphones for simple navigation. We fail to learn even the most rudimentary knowledge of neighborhoods, much less understand where main thoroughfares are in relation to a street two blocks away. We count on our phones to navigate passageways on the road and in our lives.

Inquirer reviews …

Knausgaard's 'Autumn': A sweet surprise for the end of summer.
This link now works.

'The Unwomanly Face of War': Remembering a million Soviet women who fought in World War II.

Ruth Ware ups the suspense in 'The Lying Game'.

I haven't checked the other links, but first only takes you the art. But so does the link on philly.com.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sad news …

… Informal Inquiries: Why this blog is being consigned to the wasteland.

Me, too …

Eyesight and vision …

 Seeing Is Believing | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

O’Connor’s aim in rehabilitating the word vision was twofold. First, she wanted to restore the earlier concept of inner vision—sight with the mind’s eye—to Catholic writers and readers alike, since “the Lord doesn’t speak to the novelist as he did to his servant, Moses, mouth to mouth. He speaks to him as he did those two complainers, Aaron and Aaron’s sister, Mary: through dreams and visions, in fits and starts, and by all the lesser and limited ways of the imagination” (Mystery and Manners). Second, she tried to push back against the ways in which technology—whether in the form of film, photography, television, or even microscopes—threatens to further narrow and distort our understanding of vision, by stripping it not only of an imaginative component, but of embodiment, coherence, and any sense of reciprocity between viewer and viewed. “The human eye is not the camera eye,” one manuscript reads. “Vision takes place in the depths of the mind, with the assistance of emotion, knowledge, and belief.”

Electric night …

 Zealotry of Guerin: my human disguise.

Something to think on …

Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.
— Edith Hamilton, born on this date in 1867

Friday, August 11, 2017

Who knew?

 "Cli-Fi" : ''JG Ballard's novel 'Drought' irrigated our vision of the future'' - headline in a French newspaper features great reporting by Le Monde journalist Julie Clarini.

For the one comng up …

… Annie Dillard's Classic Essay 'Total Eclipse' - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

Sick bay report …

Started the day feeling pretty energetic, but soon ran out of gas. Physical therapist told me take it, that I need to let my body do its healing. So I'm chilling out mostly.

Hear, hear …

… In Defense of the Dandelion- Make Fun Of Life! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bad guys …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review Of 'Three Minutes To Doomsday: An Agent, A Traitor, And The Worst Espionage Breach In History'.

In case you wondered...

Something to think on …

I have lost faith in universal panaceas - work is the one thing in which I really believe.
— Louise Bogan, born on this date in 1897

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hannah Arendt on solitude...

American onslaught...

FYI …

What I was treated for last week is cholangitis. And yes, it is life-threatening and nasty. Apparently, being in pretty good health to begin with has aided in my recovery, but so also, I think, has been the wonderful wishes directed my way.

Something to think on …

Kneading memory makes the dough of fiction; which we know, sometimes never stops rising.
— Barry Unsworth, born on this date in 1930

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

When it sits around the museum,

it sits AROUND the museum.

New largest dinosaur discovered?

I am released …

I have just come home from the hospital. I am, however, still very weak. The pace of blogging will pick up slowly.

How stupid people think …

 Internet Outraged Over Capture of Mammoth Croc in Australia | Lifestyle.

The Pope! And the Catholics! And the Future!

The latest example of the pope’s blueprint for the future is contained in an article penned by two of his closest confidantes. They believe that conservative Catholics in the United States have formed a coalition with Evangelical Protestants to push Donald Trump’s agenda, which the authors call a “Manichean vision.” The article, in the Jesuit publication La Civiltà Cattolica, could not have been printed without Francis’s knowledge and approval.The pope left little doubt about his feelings toward Trump when the president and first lady visited the Vatican earlier this year. In their joint photo, Francis frowns as if he smelled something bad in the room.In addition to rejecting Trump’s worldview, the article’s authors single out White House strategist Stephen Bannon as a “supporter of apocalyptic geopolitics.” “The pope is expressing his displeasure at the election of Donald Trump as president and with the Catholics who voted for him,” says Deal Hudson, former Catholic Outreach director for the Republican National Committee. “It came as a huge surprise to the establishment of the church, who were pulling for Hillary Clinton.”

"How American Went Haywire"

in which the author reviews history and reality based communication.  From the Atlantic.

I am always surprised that people put so much effort into articles that start from a faulty premise -- before now life was reality based. No it wasn't; first, people have always believed in non "real" things, from the earliest recorded history, and second, reality is always being discovered and rediscovered -- how many times have the "experts" been wrong throughout history? Too many to count

Trump and...

...Negative piety
Last fall, I signed a letter in support of Trump for president. Some of my friends were appalled; others thought such a public endorsement unwise. These were not unreasonable reactions. Today’s populism has a revolutionary character, and revolutions are perilous. But I was and remain convinced that we cannot live in metaphysical poverty. We need to be empowered by loyalties and devotions that stir our hearts. Populism may be dangerous, but it reflects the correct intuition that my country and my citizenship cannot be bought and sold, nor can it be subordinated to institutions and agencies devoted solely to the protection and promotion of individual rights.

LSD and Silicon Valley...

Meanwhile...

Something to think on …

Scientific thought, then, is not momentary; it is not a static instance; it is a process.
—  Jean Piaget, born on this date in 1896

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Facebook and Google are MONSTERS!

Facebook and Google get their revenue from advertising, the effectiveness of which depends on gaining and maintaining consumer attention. Borrowing techniques from the gambling industry, Facebook, Google and others exploit human nature, creating addictive behaviors that compel consumers to check for new messages, respond to notifications, and seek validation from technologies whose only goal is to generate profits for their owners.
The people at Facebook and Google believe that giving consumers more of what they want and like is worthy of praise, not criticism. What they fail to recognize is that their products are not making consumers happier or more successful.

Hitler was a WOLF!

 Germany’s lycanthropic predilections rose to new popularity under Hitler’s Nazi regime, with Third Reich officials recalling images of the Germanic wolf in propaganda and commonly associating the term with their leading para-military groups, including the famed Organisation Werewolf. Hitler’s name is itself a derivation of the animal, meaning “father wolf” – a mammalian title he wore proudly, citing himself as a wolf on many public occasions throughout the war.
From The National Post: A review of Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, by Eric Kurlande

A day in the life …

… Informal Inquiries: John Keats on this day in 1818.

Sad …

… On Being a Lapsed Catholic | Anthony Burgess | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the state of being a lapsed Catholic is so painful that it sometimes seems to generate a positive charge, as though it had in itself a certain religious validity. 
Well, that is certainly true. He should have tried prayer.


Monday, August 07, 2017

My, my …

… A.N. Wilson: It’s time Charles Darwin was exposed for the fraud he was | London Evening Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.))

Talk about pulling no punches.

Picasso...

...War, tragedy, and art

Brouhaha …

… Something is Broken in the UK Intellectual Sphere. – INCERTO – Medium. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

(Sort-Of-Contra) News Item...

Everything from our heating systems to our toothbrushes are plugged in and connected to internet, and smartphones are glued to the palms of our hands. Yet, Americans are using less electricity than we did 10 years ago.
Overall residential electricity sales have declined 3 percent from 2010 to 2016, and 7 percent on a per capita basis, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Something to think on …

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
— Rabindranath Tagore, who died on this date in 1941

Sunday, August 06, 2017

How do people get new ideas?

A rediscovered essay by Isaac Asimov from the MIT Technology Review.

Sick bay alert …

Blogging by me, I regret to say — really — has been suspended, because I am sitting in the ICU at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. My condition, I am happy to report, is no longer critical, and I will be moved to a regular hospital room sometime tomorrow. I feel obligated to add that the care I have been given has been extraordinary. 

Friday, August 04, 2017

The lasting legacy...

...Of Jane Austen

Great Question!

If The Universe Is Expanding, Then Why Aren't We?
I remember an old science fiction story which I can't look up right now when the conceit was that everything is expanding -- away from us on Earth...

For those who need touching...

Professional cuddling is one of the latest iterations of self-care and wellness, focusing on touch therapy. Since the early 2000s, the field of professional cuddling as a therapeutic tool has transitioned from stigmatized field with pay-for-sex undertones to a legitimate service for healing with proven health benefit.

Science is so hard!


WASHINGTON, DC—Top physicists from several major American universities appeared before a Congressional committee Monday to request $50 billion for a science thing that would further U.S. advancement science-wise and broaden human knowing...
The highlight of the scientists' testimony was a series of several colorful diagrams of how the big machine would work. One consisted of colored dots resembling Skittles banging into one another. Noting the motion lines behind the circle-ball things, committee members surmised that they were slamming together in a "fast, forceful manner." Yet some expressed doubts as to whether they justified the $50 billion price tag.
"These scientists could trim $10 million if they would just cut out some of the purple and blue spheres," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), explaining that he understood the need for an abundance of reds and greens. "With all of those molecules and atoms going in every direction, the whole thing looks a bit unorganized, especially for science." 
It's Onion Friday

Thursday, August 03, 2017

And while Frank's away...


Those damn kids

That was then... 
"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers." -attributed to Socrates by Plato
Now...

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

Blogging note …

Once again, not feeling well. No blogging until I feel better.

RIP …

"Work harder, My Son."

Which is generally more often to blame if a person is poor: lack of effort on their own part, or difficult circumstances beyond their control?
The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation asked 1,686 American adults to answer that question — and found that religion is a significant predictor of how Americans perceive poverty.
Christians are much more likely than non-Christians to view poverty as the result of individual failings, especially white evangelical Christians.

Blogging note …

Must be out and about. Blogging will resume later.

Something to think on …

I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.
— P. D. James, born on this date in 1920

Worth savoring …

… Dangerous Pavements – Irish Haiku | Brief Poems. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



These really are worth your time.

RIP …

… Geoffrey Godbert obituary | Books | The Guardian.  (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Salvador Dali meets Lewis Carroll …

Another great poem …

Informal Inquiries: Poetry is my transcendental bridge to the sublime

Hmm …

 Cli-Fi.Net -- (the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi, a subgenre of sci-fi): Cli-fi, no lie!

Climate change is real, no lie, and the rise of a new literary genre that's been dubbed ''cli-fi'' is no lie, too. 
Well, climate is real and it is continuously changing, being a chaotic system governed by a non-linear dynamic. As for the precise direction it is taking at the moment, I'm with Niels Bohr: "Predicting is difficult, especially the future."

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Why people can't move anymore

US Population Mobility is lowest in over 50 years 

Coping …

Informal Inquiries: Things fall apart: a short-attention-span blogging plan.

An excellent book …

… Informal Inquiries: Mr. Hire's Engagement by Georges Simenon.

Who knew?

The limits of critique...

...Literary desire
There is an admirable humility here, one that takes seriously the experiences of the person sometimes condescendingly called the “common reader”: someone like yourself, when you read for no other reason than because you like to. These readers find themselves drawn into the works of Tolkien, or Austen, or David Foster Wallace, or Anne Tyler, or Eugene Vodolazkin, or whomever not because they want to diagnose something that is wrong with these books, but because they offer an experience of . . . well, something that seems inchoately but truly worthwhile and pleasurable.

Not what you think …

… Cli-Fi.Net -- (the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi, a subgenre of sci-fi): ''Cli-Fi or Die!''.
I still think the Cli-Fi novel everyone shoukd read is Michael Crichton's State of Fear. Here is my review of it. Here is an excerpt from the review:
If you've had the misfortune of reading The Da Vinci Code, you owe it to yourself to read State of Fear and see how a real pro writes a thriller. Compared with Dan Brown's pedestrian prose, stick-figure characters, and threadbare plot, Crichton's book is downright Shakespearean.
It's long, too, and transparently didactic. There are charts and graphs, footnotes, a couple of appendices, and a 21-page bibliography. Kenner takes up a lot of pages rebutting environmentalist propaganda. Fortunately, Crichton - a graduate of Harvard Medical School who was once a fellow at the Salk Institute - is very good at explaining science, so this proves a pleasant way of learning a lot worth knowing. He certainly puts his cards on the table and points you to where you can check out his claims.
My thanks to Dave Lull for helping with getting that link back.


Listen in …

 Stream Randy Newman's New Album, 'Dark Matter' : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Digging deeper …

… Essayism is ultimately about how literature can make a difference. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What truly comes across in this book is that the essay may well be a sally against the subject, but what is tried, in the final reckoning, are the authors themselves. And, of course, found wanting, in both senses of the word. 

The assault on cats …

… After 35 years, philosophy journal corrects article...by a cat - Retraction Watch at Retraction Watch. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Gets off with a warning …

… Police called after cat lurking in tree appears to be holding assault rifle.

They're explaining it this way because they don't want people to know that the cats are arming themselves.

Journals then and now …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `When They Are Trying to Be Unusual'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.
— James Baldwin, born on this date in 1924

Blogging note …

I fell ill yesterday afternoon, and by last night was as sick as I have ever been — pain, nausea, chills, the whole works. By midnight I was coming out of it and I seem OK today, though I am going to mostly rest up. So blogging will be spotty.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Catherine the Great...

...And the rule of law

Take the tour …

 A Brief Guide to Essays | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

In case you wondered .…

 PBS to Unveil America's Favorite Books in New TV Series. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Birthday …

… Informal Inquiries: Herman Melville, the whale, a sailor, and more.

Appreciation …

 Remembering Robert Conquest: A Symposium | The Hopkins Review | Johns Hopkins University. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Essays by Cynthia Haven, Dick Davis, and John Whitworth

Something to think on …

God's one and only voice is silence.
— Herman Melville, born on this date in 1819

Blogging note …

Off to a doctor's appointment. Blogging will resume later.

Tales of the underclass …

… Theodore Dalrymple -- Short Stories Review | National Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… As readers of [Dalrymple's] essays know, he has never been impressed by the excuses his patients make to absolve themselves of responsibility for their actions (many of which are criminal, some murderous), and he is equally uninterested in sociological narratives of systemic oppression, according to which abusers and rapists and murderers become abusers and rapists and murderers because of insufficient access to housing. “Agency . . . is the experience of us all,” he writes. “We know our will’s free, and there’s an end on’t.”

FYI …

… Cli-Fi.Net -- (the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi, a subgenre of sci-fi): Cli-Fi and How Others See Us: some notes from the ''Cli-Fi Dept.'' at David Langford's "Ansible" sci-fi newsletter website.

August reviews at North of Oxford …

… Stain by Nathalie Anderson.

 Girl Behind the Door by Stephanie Dickinson.

… Versos de un Doctor Criollo (A Ranch Vet’s Verse) by Fernando M. Terrizzano.

Missing the point...

...The Zuckerberg-Musk tiff on AI

Whether advanced AI will finish us is a question only time can answer, but we are faced with a more pertinent question in the present. Maslow, the originator of the world’s most quoted hierarchy, would have likely placed the threat to humanity from AI a couple of rungs higher, and therefore not worth losing sleep over, compared to the bread-and-butter disruption that everyday technology is wreaking.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Dubious distinction …

… Informal Inquiries: Who was the first sinner in the Bible?

RIP …

… The frontier in his eyes: Sam Shepard, 1943-2017 | MZS | Roger Ebert. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More here.

One of the wise among us …

… An Interview with Richard Rodriguez. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

From boyhood, particularly my lower-middle-class childhood in Sacramento, I was transported by religion into the realm of mystery. Consider this: The Irish nun excused me from arithmetic class so that I could serve as an altar boy at a funeral mass. Along with the priest and the other altar boy, I would welcome Death at the doors of the church. We escorted Death up the main aisle. I later went with the cortege to the cemetery. There was a fresh pile of soil piled high at the edge of the grave site, discreetly, if unsuccessfully, covered by an AstroTurf rug that was as unconvincing a denial of the hardness of time as a cheap toupee. I wondered at the mourners’ faces—the melting grief, the hard stoicism. Thirty minutes from the grave, I was back within the soft green walls of Sacred Heart Parish School. It was almost lunchtime. I resumed my impersonation of an American kid.
Today is Richard's 73rd birthday. May he have many years ahead of him.

The lighter touch we need …

 Comic Relief | The Weekly Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More than pills and prayer are needed …

 Speaking of the devil – Mark Vernon.

When it comes to mental ill-health, medical science has dramatically failed to uncover agreed explanations for conditions from depression to anxiety, schizophrenia to psychosis. It can be shocking to learn quite how little is known. Research has revealed the causal pathways for only a handful of conditions, such as dementia, when the grey matter demonstrably decays. But stick a melancholic brain in a scanner and compare it with another that leaps out of bed in the morning, and the scan will tell you nothing. It’s a guilty secret for the science that grabs so much public attention, but it simply can’t tell the difference. When it comes to mental ill-health, the hard science can be little better than phrenology.

A summing up …

 The literary life of Michiko Kakutani: the book critic's best feuds and reviews | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, G.E. Reutter.)

One of the great poems …

… Informal Inquiries: God's Grandeur by Hopkins.



This is a good reading of it:



Not for everyone (except the songs) …

… Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic – review round-up. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

On the Touchy Subject of Class in America. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)
One of his fundamental points is how rigid, though invisible, America’s caste system is. “We’re pretty well stuck for life,” he writes, “in the class we’re raised in.”
Well, I was raised by and among factory workers. But in grade school I was taught by the Religious of the Sacred Heart and I ended up speaking in such a way that once, in Illinois, I was asked where I was from. When I said Philadelphia, my interlocutor was surprised. He thought my wife, who was born in New Jersey, sounded like she was from Philadelphia, but he said I had no trace of the Philadelphia accent. I guess that is so. But I also don't think I am usually thought to hail from the lower orders. I probably owe that to the nuns as well, since they also encouraged us to go to the Art Museum, listen to classical music, etc. Nevertheless, I have ended up living in a working class neighborhood, where I feel quite comfortable.

Life-changing experience…

Perhaps the most interesting thing I’ve read this year is a mere 20 pages long and takes less than half an hour to read. It is “Everything Came to Me at Once,” Cynthia Haven’s account of a conversion experience undergone by René Girard, the historian, critic, and philosopher who died in 2015 at age 91. Cynthia Haven’s name will be familiar to readers of this blog, since I frequently link to posts on her blog.
In 1958, Girard was at work on his first book, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel. He was also commuting regularly on the Pennsylvania Railroad from Baltimore to Bryn Mawr College outside Philadelphia. Among Girard’s fundamental notions was that our desires are mimetic, that we learn them, just as we do language and manners.
According to Girard himself, as he was working on the final chapter of his book, “I was thinking about the analogies between religious experience and the experience of a novelist who discovers that he’s been consistently lying ….” Girard came to realize that this existential downfall of the novelist causes him “to realize that he has been the puppet of his own devil.” It is this that enables him “to describe the wickedness of the other from within himself.”
How this led to Girard himself to be, as he put it, “kicked into a change of religion” is what Haven’s booklet is about, and it is an intriguing story indeed. So I will say nothing more, except to recommend getting a copy. Here is what Cynthia had to say on her blog.

In case you wondered …

… The Most Anthologized Essays of the Last 25 Years | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

A civilization is a heritage of beliefs, customs, and knowledge slowly accumulated in the course of centuries, elements difficult at times to justify by logic, but justifying themselves as paths when they lead somewhere, since they open up for man his inner distance.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who dies on this date in 1944

Sunday, July 30, 2017

On the state of...

...Academic writing

The need for the right story …



This is from the article Tim links to:

As one Christian blogger writes from Germany:
In a post-Christian society, the Biblical story that once shaped culture is no longer the narrative that gives meaning to life. The gospel is long gone. Jesus has become part of an outdated argument or distant figure haunting the past. The church has become a shadow of a once-flourishing community drawn together by the gospel. The story of God’s grace through the cross has become an echo of the past, and the remnant of the church has drifted back to the margins of culture.
The link is now the correct one. 

Ongoing controversy …

… On the Distinction between Verse and Poetry, a Classical Solution. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The essay follows some very fine poems.

…if poetry and verse are categorically different things, those who like their poetry to be verse and those who do not might just as well go their separate ways.
Some of us just like poetry, whether its verse is free or formal. For surely, we cannot excommunicate H.D. and Whitman.

Inquirer reviews …

… Nick Bilton's 'American Kingpin': The first great Internet manhunt.

… Daniel Silva's eerily prescient 'House of Spies': Quest for ISIS leader.


Why blog?

 Informal Inquiries: Blogging Notes and Queries.



Well, this blog was started when I the boo review editor of The iNquirer, and I just kept doing it after I retired. It keeps me out of trouble.

Photo choice …

… Cli-Fi.Net -- (the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi, a subgenre of sci-fi): Was New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani ''photo-bombed'' in some of the farewell articles about her? Or not at all?

Something to think on …

If I could I would always work in silence and obscurity, and let my efforts be known by their results.
— Emily Brontë, born on this date in 1818

Saturday, July 29, 2017

I like this idea …

 Instapundit —  IT’S ALL ABOUT POWER — A SIGNAL THAT THEY CAN FORCE YOU TO WASTE YOUR TIME ON B.S. 

Blogging note …

Not feeling well. Blogging will resume tomorrow.

Sex, Religion and Society...

I recently finished an excellent book, Sex and the Constitution, by Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago.  Professor Stone reviews Western societies' treatment of sex, under the law, beginning with the Greeks, up to present day times here.  As you may know, conflicts still exist in those areas...

Poetry and faith …

… Tate Unmodern by James Matthew Wilson | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Only in the few poems written in the years before and just after his conversion does Tate’s voice take a new turn. Rather than rue the incapacity for belief, these poems plead for mercy. “Seasons of the Soul” is Tate’s most ambitious poem and depicts the cyclical, endless necessity of material history before proposing an escape made possible only through the intercession of a Dantesque (and Eliotic) “mother of silences,” into the life of Christian humility and faith.

This is utterly fascinating

McCain walks onto the Senate Floor, no one knows how he will vote but they do know his vote will decide the fate of ObamaCare.  The article breaks down the live video.

Don't forget Trump dissed McCain's heroism, and this is the only major achievement of Trump's first six months...on the other hand McCain is a conservative Republican...


Giving oneself a break …

… Informal Inquiries: My Own Heart by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

A "Scoop" for our times …

… Waugh’s Beast is back, still satirising those who make England so febrile | Ian Jack | Opinion | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A forthcoming novel, The Beast, has reminded me of those times. As the title suggests, the book makes no bones about its literary heritage and unashamedly tips its hat to the work of Michael Frayn as well as Waugh. Its comedy is darker than either, but arguably (Scoop, after all, was published in 1938) that bleakness reflects our darker age. Certainly, its subject more urgently demands our attention.
Our age is dark, for sure, but in 1938 it was on the verge of a world war. That sounds maybe even darker.

Stealthy dawn …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Anguished Morning (de Chirico), Sonnet #361.

Something to think on …

For all that has been, Thanks. To all that shall be, Yes.
— Dag Hammarskjöld, born on this date in 1905

Friday, July 28, 2017

Novel andmodel …

… Paul Davis On Crime: The Spectacular Rise And Fall Of The Real-Life 'Last Tycoon'.

Thank you for your service


The meaning of the ordinary …

 Intelligent Design: On the Poetry of Catherine Chandler – Catholic World Report. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There is a fundamental identity between the order of geese, the patterns of the created world, and those of the poet.

A bit of wisdom …

… Informal Inquiries: John Ashberry on some words worth pondering.

Ashbery is precisely right. Poems are to be experienced, not deciphered.

Anniversary …

… 90 Lines For John Ashbery's 90th Birthday | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In search of herself …

… The Rise and Fall of Liz Smith, Celebrity Accomplice - The New York Times.

“I am in search of Liz Smith,” she said softly, musing at the thought. “After a lifetime of fun and excitement and money and feeling important and being in the thick of it, I am just shocked every day that I’m not the same person. I think that happens to all old people. They’re searching for a glimmer of what they call their real self. They’re boring, mostly

Something to think on …

The growth of knowledge depends entirely upon disagreement.
— Karl Popper, born on this date in 1902

FYI …

 Hack Your Essay | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Back to the beginnng …

 Informal Inquiries: Ralph Waldo Emerson and a yellow-brick road to Puritans.

My take...

A poet dying young …

 Nigeness: Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets.

A fabulous figure …

 Music in the Margins: The Funeral of Reynard the Fox (13th century) | The Public Domain Review.

Sounds about right …

… Poet R.S. Gwynn on Ted Hughes: “Mysticism and hormones are a deadly combination.” | The Book Haven.

FYI …

… Basic story editing | Bill Peschel.

Work habits …

 The Writing-from-Home Conundrum | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

What it means to be human …

… This poet’s obsession with death led her to write about how to live | PBS NewsHour. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In case you wondered …

… The Little-Known Reason Pencils Are Yellow. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

God's mysterious ways …

… My uncle Siegfried: Sister Jessica Gatty on her life-changing friendship with the great war poet | Music | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In her view, Sassoon’s entire output was a quest towards God. “His poetry turned into prayer,” she says. “The attention that was there as he wrote poetry became the attention that turned to the source of poetry.”

Old New York …

… The Graveyard Humor of Up in the Old Hotel | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It doesn’t take an Aristotle to explain how a book full of people and places and customs that no longer exist could make a reader as happy as Up in the Old Hotel does. Mr. Mitchell always mediates the sadness such subjects bring—the loss of time, the life slipping by, the way the old manners fail to hang on—and he lets the reader feel only the pleasure that comes from his own very personal discoveries. 

Hmm …

… Literary Studies 1920 – 1970 – An Aspirational Reading List | Time's Flow Stemmed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I confess to having read very few of them — though I did have a class given by Morse Peckham and did read his Man's Rage for Chaos.

One way of being old …

 Informal Inquiries: A poem for a summer morning in the late autumn of life.



I am still sometimes surprised to realize I am old. I guess because, in my head, I am still who I have long thought of myself as being, like an appliance that has been around so long and used so routinely one doesn't notice the scuffs and dents.

The music and form of experience …

… The Poetry of Anne Stevenson. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I suspect that she is more self-revelatory in her work than she perhaps realizes. In ‘The Marriage’ she revisits her parents, long dead, recalling a time when her mother was diagnosed with the cancer, of which she died. “The house is still there,” she tells us, “the elms and the people, not.”

Something to think on …

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Not for the curmudgeonly

How to smile



Guerrillas and spies …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review Of 'MacArthur's Spies'.

Our betters …

 Informal Inquiries: Review Redux: American Bloomsbury — by Susan Cheever.



I have the book on my Kindle, but have got around to reading it. Cheever's biography of E E. Cummings was outstanding.

Speaking of photos …

… check these out: 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year | National Geographic. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Pictures and poems …

America Today, In Vision And Verse. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Back to the future …

 Informal Inquiries: Brave new world and radical surgery.



Time is right: Brave New World is sounding more and more contemporary and less and less futuristic.

Climatespeak …

… The Role of Language in the Climate Change Debate (Hardback) - Routledge.

Pissing contest …

… People Are Sh**ting All Over A Famous Author For The Way He Thinks Women Pee. | Someecards Women. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Is it the way the author thinks, or the way the character at just that moment happens to be thinking? It is a novel, not a treatise on urology.






Something to think on …

Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.
— Carl Gustav Jung, born on this date in 1875

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

FYI …

… Procopio Seeks Preliminary Injunction in Effort to Save Snopes.com.

Blogging post …

I am off to have the stitches taken out of my mouth, and I have other things to do as well. So blogging will resume sometime later on.

Maybe …

Can Poetry Change Your Life? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
But how are poems and pop songs “equipment for life”? Here the balance pole begins to wobble. “There is no limit to what a poem can’t do,” Robbins writes on one page; “poetry makes all sorts of things happen,” he says on the next. Which is it? He doesn’t want to give in to the fantasy that poems taught to and songs bought by millions of people are also subversive of the established order. But his own politics are Occupy-era politics, and he naturally wants to put his views together with his tastes. The teen-ager’s enthusiasm for Def Leppard must in some way belong with the mature man’s concerns about income inequality.
From time to time, I will listen to a favorite pop song from long ago, much the way I will look at an old photograph. It's a bittersweet experience. But I am not inclined to exaggerate the importance of pop songs. Poems, though,  have had a powerful effect on me I can still remember reading Eliot's "Preludes" on a rainy fall afternoon on the El many years ago. I saw the poetry of the city as I never had before.

Minority report …

… Dunkirk Considered at Length - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I was thinking of seeing it. Now I'm not so sure. I don't especially like war movies.

Something to think on …

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.
— Eric Hoffer, born on this date in 1902

Monday, July 24, 2017

New and noteworthy …

… The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literature: Daniel Kalder: 9781627793421: Amazon.com: Books.

Hmmm...

A Wisconsin company is about to become the first in the U.S. to offer microchip implants to its employees.

In case you wondered …

… The Most Anthologized Poems of the Last 25 Years | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unsettling science …

… How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology - The Atlantic.


Questions of endgame …

 Informal Inquiries: Parable of the afterlife for here and now.

Mind and heart …

… Tom Stoppard’s heartfelt high jinks | Prospect Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It is sometimes said of Stoppard’s work that it is all head and no heart; that his fascination with verbal high jinks and conceptual fireworks doesn’t mine the deepest truths about human existence. Yet few writers have engaged so passionately with the big issues of our time—faith, politics, revolution—or pushed the boundaries of theatre so far. And in a period of nervy global uncertainty, perhaps a few high jinks are what we need.

Hard times …

 ‘Cultural Climate Change’ | The American Conservative.

… The Rav addresses not atheists, but modern religious believers who construe religion in self-serving terms — the kind of people I would call the Moralistic Therapeutic Deists. In the final two chapters of his book, the Rav says that all Adam the Second can do is to present the truth to Adam the First. But — and this is crucial — Adam the First has become so alienated from his religious self that he only wants to hear about God in terms of a religion that suits his interests and need to control. He thinks of religion as something man-made, something that can be changed to suit perceived needs, not as something given to man by God. If this faith is cut loose from its “absolute moorings,” says Soloveitchik, then it will lose all of its redemptive power.

Thoreau the scientist …

… Nature’s design | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What “The Dispersion of Seeds” establishes is that Thoreau was inventing the study we now call ecology—how nature keeps house. In France at the same time that Thoreau was plotting how individual trees have their seeds distributed by squirrels, birds, wind, snow, rain, and a free ride on human trousers and skirts, Louis Pasteur was disproving the age-old belief in spontaneous generation.

Something to think on …

To be a poet is a condition rather than a profession.
— Robert Graves, born on this date in 1895

Sunday, July 23, 2017

RIP …

… Beloved Snooty, oldest known manatee in world, dies.

The cost of war …

… The Second World Waugh - some thoughts on 'Put Out More Flags' and 'The 'Sword of Honour' trilogy - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



They’re all connected, linked partly by the war and partly by Waugh’s melancholy version of Roman Catholicism.  I’m not in a position to know, but I believe more conventional RCs often find Waugh’s approach to the faith eccentric. Personally, I find it interesting and illuminating.
I don't find Waugh's version of Catholicism at all eccentric, probably because my own version, like his, is melancholy.





The cottage life …

… First Known When Lost: A Dream. Or Not.

Is the cottage dream nothing more than a "fond dream," "a lie, . . . a kindly meant lie"?  Modern ironists would think so, and would add what they consider to be the killing epithet:  "a sentimental dream."  However, the poets think otherwise, from the epigrammatists of The Greek Anthology to T'ao Ch'ien and Wang Wei, from the Japanese haiku poets to William Wordsworth and John Clare, from Horace to Norman MacCaig and George Mackay Brown.  I attend to the poets.
Me, too.