Saturday, February 25, 2017

The master's voice …

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Conservation …

… The Monk Who Saves Manuscripts From ISIS - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Reniassance man …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Secret life Of The SS-GB Spymaster: How Author Len Deighton, Who Lived Next Door To A Nazi Spy In The War, Created A Nightmare Vision Of Britain Under The Jackboot.

Dismaying …

Last night, Debbie and I attended the Philadelphia Orchestra concert (we subscribe). The program was interesting — a selection from Brahms's 11 Choral Preludes, three orchestrated, four on the organ, followed by an early Bach cantata. After intermission, there was the Brahms Symphony No. 4.
I thought it the worst performance I have ever heard. It was certainly the loudest. If you like your Brahms full of bombast and devoid of nuance, this was the Brahms for you. In all fairness, the audience seemed pleased.

On second thought:

My friend and former Inquirer colleague David Stearns assures me that the problem lies with the acoustics of Verizon Hall. He reminds me that we had a similar discussion awhile back regarding a performance of the Rachmaninoff second symphony. As David put it in an email, "we aren't having a difference of taste. We heard very different mixtures of soundwaves."

Here's David's review: High-concept Philadelphia Orchestra concert renews Brahms.

Post bumped.

Hmm …

[Dennett] sets himself three main challenges here: to make sense of the idea of Design without a Designer that is so central to understanding evolution; to flesh out the concept of competence without comprehension, the key to much animal — and indeed human — thought and behaviour; to understand human consciousness as a natural, unmysterious, outcome of i) evolutionary design, ii) uncomprehending competence and, iii) a little something extra, shortly to be revealed. The overarching task is to enable us to understand ourselves, the intellectuals of creation, as the products of gradual, natural, processes, issuing out of dust yet eschewing the hand of God.
"… to make sense of the idea of Design without a Designer …  to understand human consciousness as a natural, unmysterious, outcome of i) evolutionary design …."  It seems to me we have more than a little begging of the question here. Aren't we assuming the truth of "design without a designer" in order to prove "evolutionary design," which would of course be "design without a designer," which itself is rather difficult to imagine, since the only demonstrable designs we know of are the work of designers.



… the effect of Dennett’s broad line of explanation for the way things are is to replace an ancient “mind-first” with a modern “mind-last” vision of creation." But mind just happens to be where it all did start. This still seems to me like trying to understand what someone is telling you over the phone in terms of the telephone's technology.  And what's this "creation" we are said to have a vision of?



Actually, the whole business of design seems to me to muddy the water. What the mind perceives in being is order. Order, one might say, is a necessary corollary of mind. From that, it does not seem a very large leap to conclude that mind is logically prior to order.

FYI …

… "Cli-Fi" : フィッシャーズ and a song from Japan by ハヤシユウ(Mr. Hayashi Yu, age 24)that has gone viral around the world -- "HOW_TO_PLAY".

Uniformity …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Parade (Peter Blume), Sonnet #338.

Something to think on …

Literature ceases to be literature when it commits itself to moral uplift; it becomes moral philosophy or some such dull thing.
— Anthony Burgess, born on this date in 1917

Friday, February 24, 2017

Amazing …

… It's a scary time for the world, says Martin Scorsese - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk.

Exactly why am I supposed to care what he thinks? He makes movies. That's his area of expertise. So I'm supposed to take anything he says seriousl? Sorry. I don't.

Nabokov and Wilson...

...On the art of translation

Mysterious ways …

… An Ash Wednesday I’ll never forget | CatholicHerald.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Complements …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Psalm 1 -- happiness and righteousness.

Something to think on …

Terrible is the day when each sees his soul naked, stripped of all veil; that dear soul which he cannot change or discard, and which is so irreparably his.
— George Moore, born on this date in 1852

Indeed …

… In praise of readability – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



One would think such a defense would be unnecessary (after all, the opposite of readable is unreadable), but apparently not.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Keeping the reaper at bay …

… Clive James announces new poetry collection – Injury Time | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On Critics...

...Their judgements, writing, and motivation

Tales …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Shorts.

Have a look …

… 20 Ideas From the Mind of David Gelernter - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Poet and poem …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Robert Frost and "The Oven Bird".

Hmm …

… 10 Ideas That Could Save American Poetry | The Huffington Post. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



I wasn't aware that American poetry needed saving, and I'm certainly sure about these ideas. We link, you decide.

Listen in …

… Episode 206 – Jessa Crispin | Virtual Memories.

“My advice of ‘Live a life that’s in alignment with your value system’ doesn’t go over super-great because that requires knowing what your value system is.”


Here's an interesting article Jessa had in the NYT last year: St. Teresa and the Single Ladies.

Q & A …

… If Nothing Escaped Us: An Interview with Poet and Philosopher Troy Jollimore - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hear, hear …

… The threat from within | Stanford News.

… I’m actually more worried about the threat from within. Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around ourselves.
He's got that right.

Two views …

… Evelyn Waugh – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 A renowned Waugh scholar, Slater examines the novels in turn. Her work sheds light on how Waugh’s Catholicism influenced his work; her chapter on Brideshead Revisited is particularly strong. She explains, for example, that “On Good Friday the doors of the tabernacle, where the Host – representing the body of Christ – is kept, are left open because there is no Host to be protected. Its void symbolizes Christ’s absence from the world between His death on Good Friday, and Resurrection on Easter Sunday”. Gems such as this – previously unknown to me, brought up Catholic – illuminate details of the text that otherwise could go unremarked upon. 
It's something of an achievement to be brought up Catholic and not have been taught this.

A plea...

A theology of the transgendered is not difficult...the Bible begins with God making us in His Image, male and female, not male or female and ends with Paul saying in heaven there is no male or female. Jesus said some eunuchs are born and some are made -- for His Glory. The Psalmist sang He has made us fearfully and wonderfully. None of us know the workings of the mind of God. That is the message of Job, and of Isaiah 55:8: “My thoughts are not your thoughts.” The persecutors of the transgendered are really the small minded, the doorkeepers, the ones of whom God said begone, you lay burdens on the people but lift not a finger to help them. And I don’t think, I know, as much as I know anything, Jesus would welcome me with open arms, as one of the persecuted and as one of his sisters, doing His Work in this world. None of us can judge, that is for God alone, and all we can do is act in Love -- the Greatest Commandment.

Seeking mutual respect …

… The University Bookman: When Science Opens to Faith. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Trasancos acknowledges that “science is provisional” and its “theories and models supply temporary explanations until better ones are discovered with more research, so science is never complete.” Science measures quantifiable data and therefore it is “limited to questions about the material realm.” Questions that “deal with meaning, purpose, and destiny” are “broader endeavors than physical or biological science” and they require “faith as well as reason” for answers.

A healing distance …

… Poetry, love and psychosis: can writing help us come to terms with mental illness? | Books | The Guardian. (Gat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Mark thy calendar …

Here's a note from my friend and former coleague Jim Remsen:


  • My book launch party is Sunday, MARCH 5. (I previously listed an incorrect date, oops.) So to clarify: The party is Sunday, March 5, at 1 p.m., at the Waverly Community House in Waverly, Pa. 18471. I'll talk, I'll sign books, and all are welcome.
  • The Library Express bookstore in Scranton has booked me for a reading & signing on Friday, March 17, at 7:30 p.m. If you can't make it to the March 5 launch, come on down to the bookstore, which is in the Steamtown Marketplace, Lackawanna and Wyoming Aves. in downtown Scranton. 

  • WVIA (89.9 FM), Northeastern Pa.'s public radio station, will have me on its ArtScene program next  Tuesday, February 28, at 11 a.m. The interview will also be posted as a podcast later that day on WVIA.org. 

Easy does it …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: "The Truth must dazzle gradually".

FYI …

… AFL hosting ‘Working Dogs: Changing Lives with Love’.



This, of course, is not Wynn's first appearance on this blog.

Something to think on …

When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading books. You will be reading meanings.
— W. E. B. Du Bois, born on this date in 1868

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

FYI …

… Nick Hakim – Tickets – MilkBoy – Philadelphia, PA – February 23rd, 2017 – MilkBoy Philly.



A friend told me about this( we were talking about punk in general, and Flux of Pink Indians in particular), and I promised I'd plug it. So there.

More on the lost...

...Walt Whitman novel (from NPR)

Blogging note …

I am at The Inquirer. So I won't be blogging again until later.

Something to think on …

It is never until one realizes that one means something to others that one feels there is any point or purpose in one's own existence.
— Stefan Zweig, who died on this date in 1942

Transcending void …

… The Rest Is Silence | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

At last …

… Marcel Proust: The Movie! | The Book Haven.

FYI …

… Going Bananas: The Real Story of Kepler, Copernicus and the Church.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Art show …

I think Felix is one of the most interesting painters around.

FYI …

 R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Reading Emily Dickinson.

In praise of discerning readers …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `What a Necrology of Notability!'

Success …

 About Last Night | A problem solved.

One bad dude …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review Of Gosnell: The Untold Story Of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer.
… the Kermit Gosnell murder trial in 2013 … was covered by the local Philadelphia media, but ignored largely by the national media.
Gee, I wonder why.

Dialogue …

… Maverick Philosopher: On Continental Philosophy: Response to a German Reader.



I wonder where Russians like Berdyaev and Shestov fit into this scheme. One of the texts for my college course in metaphysics was William Luijpen's Existential Phenomenology. Apart from Wittgenstein, I know nothing about analytic philosophy.

Sounds good …

… BooksForKidsBlog: The Way to Start the Day! Good Morning, Yoga by Mariam Gates.

Sweet sadness …

… In Shades Magazine › The Sunday Adventure of Howard Jones.

Hear, hear …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Celebrating W. H. Auden's birthday.



Here is one of my favorite Auden poems: Miranda. This is a villanelle from The Sea and the Mirror, a suite of monologues spoken by characters in Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Something to think on …

Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.
— W. H. Auden, born on this date in 1907

Monday, February 20, 2017

RIP …

… The art of entertainment: Richard Schickel, 1933-2017 | MZS | Roger Ebert. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

His "fellow Time critic Richard Corliss" was a college classmate of mine.

Cautionary tale...

Dr. Swift, gardener …

 Jonathan Swift’s garden | Dublin City Council. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Testimony …

… Which parts of Qur'an touch your heart the most? :: Center for Islamic Pluralism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dickens turns historical …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Barnaby Rudge -- beginning at the Maypole.

A noteworthy crank …

… “Library hand” | Brandywine Books.

Tasty …

… Review: The Plagiarist in the Kitchen by Jonathan Meades - The Dabbler.

Meades’ argument is delivered via notes and digressions dotted through the text, and I confess the distinction between ‘improving’ (permitted) and ‘creating’ (not) was a bit unclear to me until I came to the recipe for Fig and Ham Tart, which contains these instructions: ‘Leave to cool. Taste. Chuck in bin.’ Meades includes the inedible tart as a warning. It is a dish he tried to invent, ignoring his own prescription ‘Never create when you can steal’. Otherwise you can end up with Aubrey’s restaurant menu from Mike Leigh’s Life is Sweet: ‘Black pudding and camembert soup, Saveloy on a Bed of Lychees, Liver in Lager, Pork Cyst, King Prawn (just one) in Jam Sauce’ etc.

Art and politics …

… About Last Night | The president who hated Marcel Duchamp.

My question is this: ought we to care whether politicians take any kind of interest in the fine arts? It is, after all, a well-known fact that no twentieth-century political leader was more deeply interested in art than Adolf Hitler. As I wrote in a 2003 essay for Commentary called “The Murder Artist,” Hitler’s involvement in the arts “was—as far as it went—perfectly serious. Though his own abilities as a painter and architect were limited, they were real, just as his love of music was within its own narrow limits both intense and well-informed.” If that passion made him less monstrous, I’m not aware of it.

Something to think on …

Faith is not a thing which one 'loses', we merely cease to shape our lives by it.
— Georges Bernanos, born on this date in 1888

Round-up …

… The Cli-Fi Report.

Hmm …

… Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds - The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)





"… reason is an evolved trait, like bipedalism or three-color vision. It emerged on the savannas of Africa, and has to be understood in that context."
Really? What exactly is the evidence for that?



"Reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems or even to help us draw conclusions from unfamiliar data; rather, it developed to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups."
Says who? What we seem to have here are two just-so stories. I think most of us know that some people are really good at reasoning and lots of other people aren't. There's nothing surprising about that. Some people play the violin really well. Most can't play it at all. Reasoning is a talent. Even if you are blessed with  an abundance of it, you still have to work at it.

The students were asked to respond to two studies. One provided data in support of the deterrence argument, and the other provided data that called it into question. Both studies—you guessed it—were made up, and had been designed to present what were, objectively speaking, equally compelling statistics. The students who had originally supported capital punishment rated the pro-deterrence data highly credible and the anti-deterrence data unconvincing; the students who’d originally opposed capital punishment did the reverse. At the end of the experiment, the students were asked once again about their views. Those who’d started out pro-capital punishment were now even more in favor of it; those who’d opposed it were even more hostile.
A student with a real talent for reasoning might have pointed out that, first, capital punishment deters only one person for sure: the person who is executed. He will not be killing anyone else ever again. Said student might then point out that establishing for sure that capital punishment deters anyone else is not so easy. And he might point out as well that, even if you could, there is at least one very good reason to oppose capital punishment: It is wrong to kill people.



This is a pretty dim-witted piece from first to last. Naturally, the moral has to do with the recent presidential election. I should have guessed.





Cautionary tale …

… Norman Mailer’s Fatal Friendship | New Republic.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lovely …

… Forgotten Poems #19: more Henry Wadsworth Longfellow!



There are some very good lines in this poem, for instance:



The leaves of memory seemed to make 
      A mournful rustling in the dark. 

Happy birthday …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Light the candles on her birthday cake.

I'm not so sure...

...Even the SAT has become political

As with the essay that was asked, it would be perfectly fine for the SAT to have an essay that distils the conservative position on why a late-term abortion is wrong. If students have not come across these ideas, they should, and the fear that this would be the only thing they would have read on the issue may merely be a matter of time. 

Coming and going …

 First Known When Lost: Flower.
"A circle has no beginning or end." We can be acutely -- and heartbreakingly -- aware of the arrival and departure of the World's beautiful particulars, yet still feel a sense of constancy and continuity. Is it possible that nothing ever truly vanishes?
This very thought occurred to me at Mass this morning.

Inquirer reviews …

… Georges Simenon's Maigret novels: A Game of Pretend with a Gallic Soul.

 Wonderful translation of Alexander Pushkin's prose writings.

… 'My (Not So) Perfect Life' by Sophie Kinsella: Fizzy, with a touch of wisdom.

The headline on this post is somewhat misleading, since only the first of these three reviews is an Inquirer review. The others are from the Washington Post. A fourth review that appeared in the print version could not be linked to. And that's the way it's going to be from now on. God forbid that a print product cater to people who like to so much they even read books.

Fixed star …

… How ‘Weird Al’ eclipsed (almost) every star he ever parodied | The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.
— André Gide, who died on this date in 1951

The ways of birds …

 Zealotry of Guerin: Mobius Birds (Escher), Sonnet #337.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Rollin' on the river …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: C'mon back to the raft with Huck and Jim.

Nice to know …

… Students With Blue Suits Turned Away from Career Fair.



Maybe Rutgers needs to rethink its administration.

FYI …

… What’s New at the CHIRB – Chicago Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dan Bloom.)

The Coney Island of the underworld …

 Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Beat Column: Bond Vs The Mob: A Look Back at Ian Fleming's Visit To Saratoga Springs To Research ‘Diamonds Are Forever’.

A pair of kings …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: David and Solomon.

Something to think on …

Beauty is merciless. You do not look at it, it looks at you and does not forgive.
— Nikos Kazantzakis, born on this date in 1883

Extraordinary unhappiness...

Anniversary …

… Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History Mark Twain Published 'The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn'.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Q & A …

 The Language of Appalachian Storytelling: Cat Pleska’s Memoir Riding on Comets | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Listen in …

… Episode 185 – Willard Spiegelman | Virtual Memories.



“It’s an existential question, not a historical one: what kinds of places make you feel at home? Some people feel at home nowhere, and some feel at home everywhere. I’m myself, wherever I am.”

RIP …

… Michael Novak’s Death: George Weigel’s Remembrance of His Life | National Review.

And the winners are …

… 2016 December : IBPC.



The Judge's Page.



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Haiku …


Still February.
Clear blue sky, not really cold.
A hint of summer.

Serious loss …

… Jerome Tuccille, Author of It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand and More, RIP - Hit & Run : Reason.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Paging Dave Lull …

 Library Hand, the Fastidiously Neat Penmanship Style Made for Card Catalogs | Atlas Obscura.

Who said what when …

… Nigeness: 'A stupid person's idea of a clever person' and other misattributions.

Ancient places …

… Ever wonder where Amphimachus was born? Now is your chance to catch up on Homer’s Iliad. | The Book Haven.

FYI …

… Your First Website | Bill Peschel.

Worth watching …

… About Last Night | Replay: Somerset Maugham’s “The Alien Corn”.

Something to think on …

Can anything matter, unless there is Somebody who minds?
— Monsignor Ronald Knox, born on this date in 1888

Bird in the know …

… Poetry Daily: Gentleman Crow, by A. E. Stallings. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wow …

… Clive James's Anchorage International. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Structures and space …

… The Absent | North of Oxford.

It's the only time there is …

… The Best of Life is Now: On Willard Spiegelman’s Senior Moments: Looking Back, Looking Ahead - The Kenyon Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



One of the great things about Spiegelman's book is that you don't feel the need to agree with him. You just enjoy having him share his viewpoint.

Q & A…

 Reviewers & Critics: Laura Miller of Slate | Poets & Writers. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.$

Homage to Mistress Bradstreet …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Anne Bradstreet -- a review and a postscript.



Thanks to having been taught by a French order of nuns, I was largely spared the Catholic brand of puritanism. Still, there is much to admire in Puritan culture. Taken seriously, it certainly makes for an examined life.

Appreciation …

… Poet Thomas Lux, known for his generosity as a writer and teacher, dies at 70 - The Boston Globe. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hmm …

… We Are Wired To Be Outside. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



Who's the electrician?

Savoring the stories language tells …

… Bill Knott's unclassifiable poetry is collected in 'I Am Flying Into Myself' - LA Times. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Vintage review …

… Anthony Burgess: Last Will and Testament – Dana Gioia.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tyranny alert …

… Rare Phone Call From House Arrest Sparks Fears For Liu Xia's Well-Being. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Moving forward …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Manifesto.

Something to think on …

They know enough who know how to learn.
— Henry Adams, born on this date in1838

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Life and death …

 R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Crimes and Punishments.

Building a life...

Glad he cleared that up for us …

 Georgetown Prof. Praises Muslim Slavery.

"I don't think it's morally evil to own somebody," declared Jonathan A. Brown, the Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization at Georgetown University. Brown argued that the modern Western notion of "autonomy" is overemphasized, and that in reality "we own lots of people all around us and we're owned by people." Due to the complexity of human interdependence and social interaction, "the term doesn't mean anything," and neither does the term "slavery."
Well, stick-in-the-mud that I am, I continue to think that people are not property and that to act otherwise is morally evil.

Hmm …

… Addendum by Alfred Nicol | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Centenary …

… Anthony Burgess at 100: unearthly powers | Prospect Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The novelist, he declared, had to be first and foremost someone who gave pleasure. Burgess could manage darker tones as well—the passages about supernatural evil in Earthly Powers are chilling. But most of his enduring work is heavily spiced with ingenious humour.
Earthly Powers is one of the best novels I have ever read.


Something to think on …

A single grateful thought toward heaven is the most perfect prayer.
— Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, who died on this date in 1781

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sick-bay alert …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Return to the Binnacle List.

Q & A …

 Critically-acclaimed author George Saunders on his haunting first novel 'Lincoln in the Bardo'.

Hmm …

… The Greatest Jazz Pianists. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Nice to see a lot of people wondering why in the hell Nat King Cole was left off the list.  I'm so old I first heard him on the radio when I was a kid when he was still part of the King Cole Trio. And yes, Nina Simone belongs on the list, and how about Blossom Dearie?

Appreciation …

… About Last Night | Be careful what you ask for. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Marquand was one of the first novelists to explore the lingering disquiet felt by a generation of American businessmen whose lives were upended by World War II. Charles Gray, the protagonist of Point of No Return, was the original man in the gray flannel suit, unable to see why the world he left behind was no longer capable of satisfying him. But Point of No Return is not the novelistic equivalent of The Best Years of Our Lives. It is, rather, something more complicated and searching: a study of success and its discontents.

Multitasking...

The Dickens …

 R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: "Boz Ball" -- an invitation.

Gratitude …

… About Last Night | TT: Lucky man. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



In a piece I wrote about Haydn for Commentary back in 2005, I quoted the following statement that has been attributed to the composer:

Often when contending with obstacles of every sort that interfered with my work… a secret feeling within me whispered: “There are but few contented and happy men here below; grief and care prevail everywhere; perhaps your labors may one day be the source from which the weary and worn, or the man burdened with affairs, may derive a few moments’ rest and refreshment.” What a powerful motive for pressing onward! 
And what an equally powerful motive for seeking to make optimistic art.

Testimony …

… How a Man of the Coasts and Cities Found Christ | Christianity Today. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It was a small and even prideful prayer: a self-impressed intellectual’s hesitant experiment with faith. God’s response was an act of extravagant grace.

Something to think on …

Rex Stout's narrative and dialogue could not be improved, and he passes the supreme test of being rereadable. I don't know how many times I have reread the Wolfe stories, but plenty. I know exactly what is coming and how it is all going to end, but it doesn't matter. That's writing.
— P. G. Wodehouse, who died on this date in 1975

Monday, February 13, 2017

Seeking submissions …

 Redux Open to Submissions | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Utopians all …

… Ayn Rand and the Literary Origins of the Financial Crisis – RhysTranter.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I think comparing Alan Greenspan's tenure at the Fed to Lenin's activities is something of a stretch, and I wouldn't take a Congressional report as gospel, either. But the utopian thread is worth noting. I wouldn't be surprised to find, though, that Putin has a warm spot in his otherwise cold heart for Dostoyevsky's view of Russian destiny.

To the point …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Flannery O'Connor on her faith.



She gets to personal responsibility a lot more quickly and easily than Daniel Dennett does.

In case you wondered …

… Herbert Hoover: “He was a techie, a geek, a nerd. Where did he come from?” | The Book Haven.

During the belt tightening and labor shortages of the U.S. entry into World War I, he dismissed his chauffeur (normal for a man of his wealth to have) …
Thereby causing his chauffeur to do some belt-tightening of his own.

Recompense …

“The Raven” was his best-known work, for which he was paid $9.
Well, that was in 1845, when $9 was the equivalent in today's money of $268.87. 
 

FYI …

… 28 Recommendations of Black Children’s Books | Brandywine Books.

Nige to the rescue …

… Nigeness: Paper Dennett.

Just the thing to have around when you're tempted to think you are free to think and do as you will.

Something to think on …

If your vision of the world is of a certain kind you will put poetry in everything, necessarily.
— Georges Simenon, born on this date in 1903

Hmm …

… Daniel Dennett Explains It All - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Obviously what Mr. Dennett means by free will may be different from what you thought it meant. One way to tease out the difference is to realize that he leaves room in the human mind for intent—and he points out that other types of minds may lack it. Thus the distinction between “competence” and “comprehension.” Competence is the ability to carry out an act, but comprehension implies that the organism (or robot) carrying out the act has intent and an understanding of what it is doing. As I like to say, you may have a theory about your dog, but your dog doesn’t have any kind of theory about you.
More to the point, it seems that what he means by the word illusion is different from what the the rest of think it means. An illusion is generally understood to be an appearance that does not accord with reality. As for intent, is that not equivalent to purpose? Are you freely intending, or is your intent also determined? Moreover, there has been research recently that suggests  your dog may well have something on the order of a theory about you.

There is also the problem that no physical evidence has yet been adduced for Prof. Dawkins's beloved memes.

The bottom line is that Mr. Dennett and Mr. Gazzaniga continue to act like the rest of us, choosing potato salad instead of cole slaw, etc. Socrates would have had a field day with these people.

Lyndal Roper


Much has been written about Martin Luther: he and the religious reform bearing his name seem an inexhaustible source of inquiry. But a new biography of Luther -- by the acclaimed Oxford historian Lyndal Roper -- does something most works do not: it evaluates Luther both as a personality and as a product of geography. The novelty of this approach is worth the price of admission: Roper is excellent on the psychological underpinnings of Luther's development, and his turn from Catholic tradition. She's equally strong on the ways Luther manifest his German roots: where Luther was raised, and where he later taught, had a considerable impact on his theology. Roper is mindful to contextualize Luther: not to see him as an advocate of individualism and free will as much as a persistent critic of those ideas. Luther's sense of individualism was, if anything, defined by its rigidity, by its submission to God alone. I found Roper's biography an engaging piece of historical writing, and would suggest it as an absorbing account of those critical years at the start of the sixteenth century.  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

RIP …

… Singer Al Jarreau dies at age 76 | Daily Mail Online.

The literary and the personal …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: "The Geranium" by Flannery O'Connor.

Keeping it short …

… The Big Short | New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Shorter is harder.

Worthy sentiments …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `He Had No Experimental Sympathies'.

FYI …

… Audiobook Publishing | Bill Peschel.

Filling the God-shaped hole…

… Choosing my religion - Philosophy and Life.

Group portrait …

… 1p Book Review - Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym - The Dabbler.

Inquirer reviews …

… Caren Cooper's 'Citizen Science': How ordinary folks are transforming scientific practice.

… Han Kang's 'Human Acts': Outrage, brutality, and courage.

 'Age of Caesar: Leaders in times of tumult, told for our times.

Something to think on …

Speech is the small change of silence.
— George Meredith, born on this date in 1828

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Experientia docet …

Yeah


Not easy writing
When someone you love
Hurts. So out of place, too prim,
Proper. And it doesn't ease
Anything, which is all
That counts. The easing.
But words have been born
Of helplessness, the simple wish
That things make sense,
Echoing woodland  cries
Of predator and  prey.

Continuing …

 R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Back on the road with Flannery O'Connor.

Hmm …

… ‘Neruda’ review: Outlaw poet vs. Chilean dictatorship in inventive biopic | The Seattle Times. (Hat tip G.E. Reutter.)



It seems to me that Neruda's record regarding despots is decidedly mixed. There is this, for example.

Have a look …

… New Irish poetry: a sampler. (Ht tip, G. E. Reutter.)

RIP …

… Remembering Thomas Lux, a One-of-a-Kind Poet - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, G.E. Reutter.)

Force and object …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Army Men Attack, Sonnet #336.

Not by bread alone …

… Essay: Is High Culture a Luxury, or a Necessity? Great British Brands - Country & Town House Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Art makes us conscious of what we are and what we can hope to be, and it does so through moments of revelation in which all our being is aroused. Surely, we are tempted to think, it is better that the world contains people who are in that way alert to their condition.

Something to think on …

Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.
— James Bryant Conant, who died on this date in 1978

The transient glamour of the street...

Friday, February 10, 2017

Richard III


I've written before on the blog about my efforts, every so often, to read a play by Shakespeare, to pick up, in effect, where my high school education left off. This time, it was Richard III, my first of Shakespeare's histories. Given my interest in late-medieval and Tudor England, I was bound, I think, to enjoy the play: and enjoy, I did. There's much to like here: tangled royal lineage; a hunch-backed villain, determined to usurp; ghosts of princes past, come to support Henry Tudor in the battle at Bosworth. And more than that: treachery, alliances, and a real sense, I think, of the emotional toll the violence took on the women involved. After all, three generations of queens are united -- and divided -- by the rogue, Richard. I won't go on too much, but I did want to highlight one of my favorite lines, that one in which Henry VII is cast by Shakespeare as the great unifier, as the savior of a land ravaged by war. He is, in more ways than one, the anointed, the bridge to peace:

"Thou offspring of the house of Lancaster,
The wronged heirs of York do pray for free;
Good angels guard thy battle. Live and flourish!"

To which Shakespeare ends the play: "Amen."

Mystery Solved!

Paleontologists Determine Dinosaurs Were Killed By Someone They Trusted
 "Our findings indicate that someone, we don’t know who, spent at least 150 million years gaining the confidence of dinosaurs before abruptly betraying them and taking their lives near the end of the Cretaceous Era."
It's The Onion Friday! 

In case you wondered...

Belated …

I should have posted this on Tuesday, the anniversary of Poulenc's birth.

Listen in …

… Episode 203 – Ben Yagoda | Virtual Memories.

“It’s fun for me to find stories that haven’t been told and tell them for the first time.”

Minority report …

… Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Is Torturous | The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on…

A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots, and dog's ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins.
— Charles Lamb, born on this date in 1775

Bald courage...

Thursday, February 09, 2017

A quintessential Victorian …

… John Ruskin Taught Victorian Readers and Travelers the Art of Cultivation | Humanities. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Ruskin did not become England’s poet laureate, which was no doubt for the best, since he wrote very little poetry, and most of it was forgettable. Even so, readers tended to think of Ruskin as a kind of poet, since his prose style, rich in metaphor, leaned toward the rhapsodically romantic. Victorians versed in Wordsworth loved this sort of thing, but to the modern ear, Ruskin can often seem overdone. Here’s how Ruskin describes a swallow: “It is an owl that has been trained by the Graces. It is a bat that loves the morning light. It is the aerial reflection of a dolphin. It is the tender domestication of a trout.” There you have it, a swallow compared to a bat, a dolphin, and—in a phrase only dear Ruskin could coin—“the tender domestication of a trout.” It’s as if Ruskin is free-associating metaphors before our eyes, hoping that something, anything, will stick.

Recommended …

 Poetry To Pay Attention To: A Preview Of 2017's Best Verse : NPR. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Cynical girl …

… 10 Dorothy Parker Poems For A Perfectly Bitter Valentine’s Day. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



And here's the Marshall Crenshaw song referenced above:



A poet's tales …

… Capturing the essence of Pushkin, the revered poet killed in a duel at 37 - The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In case you wondered …

… Why Is a Poet’s First Collection So Important? - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Listen in …

… Episode 204 – Phillip Lopate | Virtual Memories.



“There were times when I was transcribing the tapes and I’d catch my breath and say, ‘Oh, my God.’ I would stop the tape and just sit there, staring into space. Did I hear what I just heard? It was a shocking, dramatic experience.”

Q & A with Dan Bloom …

… The Man Who Coined ‘Cli-Fi’ Has Some Reading Suggestions For You – Chicago Review of Books.



Novelists today don’t care much about such intellectual distinctions. Using words to tell a good story is all that matters. Genre is only important for organizing library shelves. Truly. Story is everything.

And they are disturbing thoughts …

… Some thoughts about Rudyard Kipling - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And so it is again and again, the sense of someone who knows that the shadow may conceal a worse substance, that the noise in the night may really be something to worry about; someone who has gone at midnight down the stinking alley and seen the seething slum, who has sat at the press desk in the courtroom listening to evidence in too many murder trials, watched the cholera victims carted away to the riverbank in piles, and who is in the end far too intelligent and informed about reality to believe what he wants to believe.
Several of Kipling's poems were favorites of mine when I was a kid.

Something to think on …

In the deep, unwritten wisdom of life there are many things to be learned that cannot be taught. We never know them by hearing them spoken, but we grow into them by experience and recognize them through understanding. Understanding is a great experience in itself, but it does not come through instruction.
— Anthony Hope, born on this date in 1863

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

One of the things we oldsters have to contend with …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Problem and solution: black holes in a Swiss-cheese memory.

Scary creatures …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Monsters in Literature.

RIP …

… Rifftides | Svend Asmussen, RIP. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Yet again — a kindred spirit …

 zmkc: At the Theatre.



Silly me. I … thought that what they were supposed to be doing over there on the South Bank was making theatre, but it turns out that they are busy with the important task of "celebrating" the nation, most specifically "the diversity of the nation in terms of ... ethnicity, disability, sexuality and class."



Another kindred spirit …

… Quid plura? | “…but nevertheless you know you’re locked toward the future.”

As we stretch forth our hands to receive it, what blur or film fills our eyes, once so bright with visions of the glorious past? Can we longer see, or do we dream?—for the shoes handed us are wrapped in the rudely torn leaves of a Bible! “May God forgive the impiety!” we explain. “The Bible,” answers the flippant salesman, “is of no special value; it is spread broadcast in this nineteenth century, not chained to the desk as in the Dark Ages. It is cheaper to us than other waste paper, for it is given away by thousands.”













A kindred spirit …

… First Known When Lost: Boat.

The politicization of culture and of human beings involves the creation of competing fictitious versions of reality. This way of viewing the world persuades the politicized that their lives are defined, even validated, by the political beliefs they espouse. In a politicized world of empty words, where does the individual human soul fit in? It doesn't.

Sound and sense …

… The Omni-American Blues by David Bradley | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… one did know the spirituals, which, Murray pointed out, “did reflect life on the plantation and the effects of political bondage; but they were also a profound and universally moving expression of Protestant Christianity, interwoven with . . . many other things, including an active physical existence and a rich, robust and highly imaginative conception of life itself.” Likewise, the blues, which, he said, “affirm not only U. S. Negro life in all its arbitrary complexities and not only life in America in all its infinite confusions, they affirm life and humanity itself in the very process of confronting failures and existentialistic absurdities.”

Unexpected destination …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: The Conjurer's Bird by Martin Davies (2005).

Debut …

 Hippocampus Magazine Releases First Book | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

The way we were …

 1940s images show how US traveled before cheap flights | Daily Mail Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Soundings …

… An Ancient Practice That’s Music to Their Ears, and More - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Reacquaintance …

… R.T.'s Commonplace Blog: Birthday of Kate Chopin -- a reader-response celebration.



I've not read her work, so have no opinion.

Something to think on …

Real faith means holding ourselves open to the unconditional mystery which we encounter in every sphere of our life and which cannot be comprised in any formula. Real faith means the ability to endure life in the face of this mystery.
— Martin Buber, born on this date in 1878

Grievous harm...

Monday, February 06, 2017

Good idea …

… especially since so many of them like big government: Conspiring to stifle free speech is a crime: Glenn Reynolds.

A review, plans, and more …

… R.T.'s Commonplace: The Price of Silence (2008); an editorial policy; and an invitation to read Flannery O'Connor's novels and stories.

Blogging note …

Another bust day out and about. Hope to blog some more on my iPad.

Pilgrimage …

… Evil to Good to God | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 If Blatty was right, then the battle of good against evil is not one between a god in heaven and a devil in hell, but rather is a struggle within the world between aspects of a single creature, us, struggling to make its way back, of its own accord, to where it once came from—and where it hopes to be again: in the company of God. Contrary to what many of his fans suppose, Blatty’s mystery tales are not horror stories but metaphysical allegories in the tradition of the ancient, Near Eastern cultures: stories his very ancestors might have told.

And the winner is …

… YaleNews | Jean Valentine wins Yale’s 2017 Bollingen Prize for Poetry, 50th poet to be honored. (Hat tip, G. E. Reutter.)

Occupational hazard …

… Deaths of the Poets by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts – the high price of poetry | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, G. E. Reutter.)

The right move …

… C.S. Lewis' Turn From Argument to Poetry - Washington Free Beacon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lewis' stories are not mere propaganda, nor are they dogmatic diatribes against the newest philosophical fads he encountered throughout his life. By showing how characters informed by the new ethics of moral relativism met challenges in the worlds he created, Lewis showed how those ethical frameworks broke down and proved insufficient, even as he avoided using philosophical or ethical language to prove it. … Through his stories, Lewis illustrates the conditions for the best human life.



Something to think on …

An essential element for good writing is a good ear: One must listen to the sound of one's own prose.
— Barbara Tuchman, who died on this date in 1989

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Tracking a subgenre …

 “Cli-Fi” as a Subgenre of SF Gains Traction Down Under – Our Future is Green.

Beautiful tale, remarkable characters …

… R.T.'s Commonplace: Review of Mudbound (2008).

Some music …

RIP …

… Filmmaker laments passing of Vt. writer Howard Frank Mosher | Addison County Independent. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Profile in courage …

… Ferris: Broadway bound, one determined step at a time.

Appreciation …

… Commentary: In 'Paterson,' a snippet of the poet's life.



Paterson really is a sweet film, and not at all slight.

Inquirer previews …

… Spring forward into great new books: Fiction, nonfiction, and sunlight.

… Good writers will talk about good writing.

Something to think on…

Art and prayer are the only decent ejaculations of the soul.
— Joris-Karl Huysmans, born on this date in 1848

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Sam Harris: Winning the War of Ideas

Facing mortality …

… Between the Lines: Writing Through Cancer | WMUK. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Found …

… Moving poems written by WWI soldier on the front-line revealed for first time after laying undiscovered in a loft. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Anniversary …

… Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History James Fenimore Cooper 'The Last of the Mohicans' Was Published.

Final call …

 Independent Publisher: THE Voice of the Independent Publishing Industry.

The play's the thing …

 R.T.'s Commonplace: Back on the road via "Our Town" (4 February 1938) and the promise of many more stops before the end of the line.
I think the first play I ever saw in a theater was a college production of Hamlet, which was quite good. I guess the one I remember was another college production, of Much Ado About Nothing. I was the prompter. I am fond of modern French drama — Giraudoux, Anouilh.

By the way, an excellent 1977 TV production of Our Town can be watched on YouTube.

Consistently outside

… Robert Graves, Reluctant War Poet. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Dave also sends along: The old trench-mind at work.

Same old same old …

… There's Nothing New About Fake News. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Regarding the Orson Welles broadcast, here is something interesting from the Wikipedia entry on Msgr. Ronald Knox:

In January 1926, for one of his regular BBC Radio programmes, Knox broadcast a simulated live report of revolution sweeping across London entitled Broadcasting from the Barricades. In addition to live reports of several people, including a government minister, being lynched, his broadcast mixed supposed band music from the Savoy Hotel with the hotel's purported destruction by trench mortars. The Houses of Parliament and the clock tower were also said to have been flattened. Four months later there was considerable public disorder during the General Strike so the possibility of a revolution was real at the time. Because the broadcast occurred on a snowy weekend, much of the United Kingdom was unable to get the newspapers until days later. The lack of newspapers caused a minor panic, as it was believed that this was caused by the events in London.[11]
A 2005 BBC report on the broadcast suggests that the innovative style of Knox's programme may have influenced Orson Welles's radio broadcast "The War of the Worlds" (1938), which it foreshadowed in its consequences.[12] In an interview for the book This is Orson Welles, Welles himself said that the broadcast gave him the idea for "The War of the Worlds".[13]

Politics as usual …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The High Council (Mabuse), Sonnet #335.

Something to think on…

We should try to be happy, just to set an example.
— Jacques Prévert, born on this date in 1900

Music and...

Friday, February 03, 2017

Tales by Dylan Thomas …

… POETICS IN THE FICTION OF DYLAN THOMAS | North of Oxford.

Have a listen …

Poetry Stars in a Movie. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not for the weak of heart …

… Z213: EXIT: Poena Damni | North of Oxford.

Have a listen …

… Rifftides | Getz, Two Gilbertos And Jobim. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Verbal economy …

… Scorpions – Brief Poems by Hilaire Belloc | Brief Poems. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality —  the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape.
— Walter Bagehot, born on this date in 1826

$%*# - that's your title!



Book Publishers Are Printing More #@$% Than Ever

 Link here - (using Google search to bypass WSJ paywall)