Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mark thy calendar …

PPF BOOK FAIR 2017


The Philadelphia Poetry Festival will include a Poetry Book Fair.


This is for individual poets signing and selling their books of poems.
All proceeds will go to and be handled by the authors.
The space is free, but very limited. You must sign up in advance.

Please contact Leonard with interest: gontarek9@earthlink.net


THE PHILADELPHIA POETRY FESTIVAL 2017!


The Free Poetry Festival

Poetry organizations, magazines, poetry presses, poetry series,
writing programs in the Philadelphia area, etcetera.

This year's festival will be held at
The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street in West Philadelphia.
Join us on Sunday, April 23, from 1 PM to 4 PM

The Rotunda – 4014 Walnut Street in West Philadelphia
A wonderful event space!
Lots of street parking – metered and non-metered
Fresh Grocer Parking Garage across Walnut Street
Great places for food & spirits within a block:
Smokey Joe’s, The Greek Lady, Mizu Sushi Bar,
West Philly City Tap House, Bobby’s Burger Palace,
Copabanana, Hummus & The Last Word Book Shop.


        THIS EVENT IS FREE

Something to think on

A novel should be an experience and convey an emotional truth rather than arguments.
— Joyce Cary, who died on this date in 1957

Law and Imagination

Hypotheticals, fantastical beings, and a fictional omnibus: legal reasoning is made supple by its use of the imagination

"The Mystery of Things"

This understanding is surely at the heart of King Lear’s “mystery of things” as well as our apprehension of the gulf between potentiality and actuality, a gulf that extends to the very act of creation itself, including the making of a poem.  As Gioia says of the difference between the idea of a poem and the poem as realized in words on the page (“The Next Poem”),
How much better it seems now
than when it is finally written.
How hungrily one waits to feel
the bright lure seized, the old hook bitten.
Such is the distance between Jacob sleeping on a “stone pillow” beside the brook and seraphim ascending the ladder between the earth and heaven.  And from that place lying in between what is and what was, what may be and what might have been—a place almost, but not quite, beyond words—Dana Gioia has brought back to us some of the finest poems of his or any other time.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Eight hour days??? Or three...

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 8.8 hours every day. Yet a study of nearly 2,000 full-time office workers revealed that most people aren't working for most of the time they're at work.
The most popular unproductive activities listed were:
  • Reading news websites - 1 hour 5 min
  • Checking social media - 44 min
  • Discussing non-work-related things with coworkers - 40 min
  • Searching for new jobs - 26 min
  • Taking smoke breaks - 23 min
  • Making calls to partners/ friends - 18 min
  • Making hot drinks - 17 min
  • Texting or instant messaging - 14 min
  • Eating snacks - 8 min
  • Making food in office - 7 min
  • This is particularly good news for freelancers and others who work from home. It's easy to feel like you're not "doing" enough when you don't have to go into an office. Yet this research suggests that if you're productive for just 3 hours a day, you're outputting the same amount as someone in the office for 8 hours.
    I

    Keeping Up With Nature!

    The Washington Post reports that:
    Spiders could theoretically eat every human on Earth in one year

    Who knew?

    … Laudator Temporis Acti: Thus Homer Lives On. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



    I wonder if he'd think that today.

    Seeing too clearly, perhaps …

    … Informal Inquiries: Much Madness is divinest Sense --.

    Q & A …

    … Samuel Beckett and Painting – RhysTranter.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



    The more I looked at paintings by the artists on whom he wrote and, for the most part, had close and extended relationships with, the more I became convinced that Beckett’s engagement with painting was less—and over his writing career less and less—to do with the prompts that theatrical images found in painting and increasingly to do with an interrogation of the image and its communicative structure. Beckett seemed more preoccupied with what the procedures and problems of painting suggest for the writer in relation to his own problems and procedures.

    Listen in …

    … Episode 211 – John Cuneo | Virtual Memories.

    “These drawings were made with no intention of anyone ever seeing them. They were just practice, and — as more than one person has suggested — a cry for help.”

    The lives of others …

    … This Long Pursuit. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    In a wonderful essay, “Shelley Unbound,” Holmes discusses the warping effect the actual events in a subject’s life have on our later assessment of that subject. This is a very odd, very astute observation, and one he explores brilliantly in showing how Shelley’s untimely death “was used to define an entire life, to frame a complete biography,” producing “what might be called thanatography.” Prime mover in this respect was Shelley’s friend, “the incorrigible myth-making” Edward John Trelawny, who, over fifty years, continued to rewrite his account of the fatal shipwreck “accumulating more and more baroque details, like some sinister biographical coral reef.”

    Profile in lack of courage …

    … Updated! Dreary day at Princeton with no Kuyper Prize for New Yorker Rev. Tim Keller › A Journey through NYC religions.

    Q & A …

    … The Creative Catholic: Fr. James V. Schall S.J. on the art and vocation of writing | Catholic World Report - Global Church news and views. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    There is an inverse ratio. Writing well is an art. Research is an art. The word ‘research’ can be confusing. Not infrequently, the most outlandish positions are ‘well researched’. It is basically a question of truth, not amount of time in justifying the position and citing authors.

    Exploring the ruins …

    … The Millions : Escaping the Waste Land: On Flannery O'Connor and T.S. Eliot - The Millions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Eliot delivers the ruins. O’Connor preserves them, navigates them, and then, inspired by Catholicism, discovers in them an original form of grace.

    Something to think on …

    I do have the feeling that other writers can't help you with writing. I've gone to writers' conferences and writers' sessions and writers' clinics, and the more I see of them, the more I'm sure it's the wrong direction. It isn't the place where you learn to write.
    — Nelson Algren, born on this date in 1909

    Fable buster …

    … BOOK REVIEW: 'Last Don Standing: The Secret Life of Mob Boss Ralph Natale' - Washington Times.

    Chinese students in the Midwest....

    Belated realization...

    Monday, March 27, 2017

    Hmm …

    … Informal Inquiries: Books as time-machines: memories and an idea.

    And the winners are …

    … Winning Poems for 2017 February : IBPC.



    The Judge's Page.



    (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

    Hemingway...

    ...And the publishing industry (the picture here alone is worth it)

    Hmm …

    … Populism is the result of global economic failure | Business | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Populism is seen as irrational and reprehensible. It is neither. It seems entirely rational for the bottom 90% of the US population to question why they are getting only 2% of income gains. It hardly seems strange that workers in Britain should complain at the weakest decade for real wage growth since the Napoleonic wars.

    Mysteries …

    … Informal Inquiries: The marriage of Heaven and Hell.



    I think Miss Emily was very much on guard against the two unforgivable sins, presumption and despair. I also think that C.S. Lewis was on to something when he said that the door to Hell was locked from the inside. Like the Abbé Mugnier, I believe in Hell because it is doctrine of the Church. Also like him, I do not necessarily believe that anyone is there.

    Avoiding invalidity …

    … Everything is illuminated: Rowan Williams on the art and faith of David Jones. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    For him, all art rested on the conviction that God had made a world of endless cross-reference, and that humanity was most fully human when it acknowledged this. Art was humanity doing what only humanity could do.

    The greatness of small things …

     First Known When Lost: Absence.

    "All poetry is in a sense love-poetry." Edward Thomas makes this suggestion at the end of a paragraph in which, discussing the unique power of poetry, he states: "If what poets say is true and not feigning, then of how little account are our ordinary assumptions, our feigned interests, our playful and our serious pastimes spread out between birth and death. . . [Poetry] is the utterance of the human spirit when it is in touch with a world to which the affairs of 'this world' are parochial." Edward Thomas, Feminine Influence on the Poets (Martin Secker 1910), pages 86-87.
    I think that these are wonderful, and true, observations. But might it not also be said that all poems are elegies? This may be a case of six of one, half a dozen of the other: an elegy is an expression of love (a greater or a lesser love, depending upon the nature of the relationship between the elegist and the departed). There are various types and degrees of love, and the potential objects of our love are innumerable. But what all love has in common is this: the belovèd may leave us. Hence, love poems. Hence, elegies.
    I love the painting of the house on the canal.

    Something to think on …

    Christ did not die for the good and beautiful. It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt.
    — Shusaku Endo, born on this date in 1923

    Sunday, March 26, 2017

    Nice …

    (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    A lyric of pain …

    … A Review of Sonya Huber’s Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

    The way things were …

    … Frank's Place: Now this was a Philly sports bar.

    Torment and the Muse …

    … A Letter from the Bottom of the World: On Robert Lowell, Poetry and Madness. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

    Advice from a pro …

    … zmkc: Just Read - Stephen King, On Writing.

    Remembering …

    … Nigeness: Saint Mug's Day.

    Hmm …

    … Graveyard Masonry: Feeding, Like a Parasite.

    Not the one you think …

    … Informal Inquiries: Mark Twain's first mysterious stranger.

    Walk, look, and listen …

    … The University Bookman: De Animali Ambulante. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    We do not have to move to Manhattan, where Horowitz lives, to practice what she preaches, which is, basically, that much is to be seen on your very own block, your very own street. In some ten accounts of walking around a single city block, often beginning from her own front door, Horowitz circles, or squares, or rectangles a city block.

    Inquirer reviews …

    … 'Quicksand': Sweden's latest blockbuster thriller lives up to the hype.

    … '#Republic': A new First Amendment in cyberspace?

    Ariel Levy's 'Rules Do Not Apply': Women can't have it all.

    … 'Amiable with Big Teeth': Long-lost Claude McKay novel not so amiable.

    Something to think on …

    Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out... Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.
    — A. E. Housman, born on this date in 1859

    Saturday, March 25, 2017

    FYI …

    … Informal Inquiries: Mark Twain summons me back to life.

    And a newer artist, John Mayer, seeks redemption...

    Across four hectic days this month, as Mr. Mayer, lucid and optimistic, finished his big-budget new album, “The Search for Everything,” and filmed a music video for what he hopes will be his next hit single, he seemed to especially relish reflecting on his 2010 undoing. Recalling the consequences of those infamous magazine articles — in which he used the phrase “sexual napalm,” chronicled his onanism in horrific detail, referred to his male anatomy as David Duke and somehow separately used a racial epithet — Mr. Mayer was vivid and virtuosic in his self-laceration.

    The answer my friend, is...

    The Nobel Prize winner talks about his latest release, Triplicate
    Are you concerned about what Bob Dylan fans think about these standards?These songs are meant for the man on the street, the common man, the everyday person. Maybe that is a Bob Dylan fan, maybe not, I don’t know.
    Has performing these songs taught you anything you didn’t know from listening to them?I had some idea of where they stood, but I hadn’t realized how much of the essence of life is in them – the human condition, how perfectly the lyrics and melodies are intertwined, how relevant to everyday life they are, how non-materialistic.
    Up to the sixties, these songs were everywhere – now they have almost faded away. Do they mean more to you when you hear them now? They do mean a lot more. These songs are some of the most heartbreaking stuff ever put on record and I wanted to do them justice. Now that I have lived them and lived through them I understand them better. They take you out of that mainstream grind where you’re trapped between differences which might seem different but are essentially the same. Modern music and songs are so institutionalized that you don’t realize it. These songs are cold and clear-sighted, there is a direct realism in them, faith in ordinary life just like in early rock and roll.

    Friendship has its burdens....


    ...Sometimes I get lucky and there’s a real-life event I can use as an excuse, like that time in ’93 when an accident in the Lincoln Tunnel had traffic backed up so bad I wouldn’t have been able to make it to his MTV Unplugged taping even if I’d wanted to,” Gilman said. “But for the most part, it just gets harder over the years. There are only so many ways I can change the subject when he asks if I’ve gotten around to checking out ‘Built To Run’ or whatever.”
    “I do occasionally feel guilty,” he added. “I mean, Bruce and his bandmates have helped me move like half a dozen times.”
    It's Onion Saturday!

    Faith in a secular age …

    … Charles Taylor and the Communion of the Saints | Dale M. Coulter | First Things.

    Taylor’s prescription for our secular age remains connected to his reading of Christian tradition, in particular his understanding of the communion of the saints. Within this communion, Taylor notes, there are a variety of models for how conversion unfolds in the life of a person. By “communion of the saints,” Taylor means: “a communion of whole lives, of whole itineraries toward God.” The church consists concretely of diverse peoples with different itineraries toward God that will be finally resolved only at the eschaton. Given that the desire for the transcendent remains embedded within the constitution of the human person, what helps the late-modern self to break out of the immanent frame is to see the rich tapestry of conversion that the church embodies in her life. It is no longer the relationship between the great Gothic cathedrals on the medieval landscape and the scholastic cathedrals of the mind; rather, it is the messy, sometimes chaotic, flow of men and women toward God.

    Hardly surprising …

    … Why College Graduates Still Can't Think — The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

    In 2010, the Noel-Levitz Employer Satisfaction Survey of over 900 employers identified “critical thinking [as] the academic skill with the second largest negative gap between performance satisfaction and expectation.” Four years later, a follow-up study conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found little progress, concluding that “employers…give students very low grades on nearly all of the 17 learning outcomes explored in the study”—including critical thinking—and that students “judge themselves to be far better prepared for post-college success than do employers.”
    Well, it's hard to think critically if you aren't interested in views different from your own.

    Disadvatageous …

    … Language Log — Aphantasia — absence of the mind's eye. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Public and private …

    … Listen NPR, the Market is Already Saving PBS - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



    I have been linking to different views on this debate precisely because there are different views.

    Grief …

    … “The Sharpened Shears He Plied” by Rhina P. Espaillat | Rattle: Poetry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Motions of bodies …

    … Zealotry of Guerin: Star Travel (Matta), Sonnet #343.

    Some thing to think on …

    It is only through shadows that one comes to know the light.
    — Catherine of Siena, born on this date in 1347

    Friday, March 24, 2017

    Blogging note …

    I have an appointment with a Jesuit friend and counsellor today, and have errands to run after that. So, once again, my blogging will resume sometime later. I am an unusually busy old man.

    Worth serious attention …

    … Collected Essays on Philosophers by Colin Wilson | Issue 119 | Philosophy Now. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Wilson never disassociates a man from his ideas; a core component of his theory of Existential Literary Criticism is that a study of the author’s character is an essential part of interpreting their thought. As he notes with regard to Spinoza, “any attempt to judge him must start from Spinoza the human being” (p.205). His view of Herbert Marcuse is similarly tempered: “I am less interested in condemning Marcuse than in finding out ‘how he got like he is’” (p.80). Similarly, for Wilson it is Foucault’s sexual dysfunction which induces the negative inertia of most of his writing; while Wittgenstein was “a strange, tormented man” (p.233). In fact, Wilson is at his most critical when dissecting Bertrand Russell in three pieces here, again because personality flaws in the man dissipated his philosophy: “I am not attacking Russell on grounds of morality, but on his blindness to his own shortcomings. He liked to think of himself as a philosopher in the traditional sense of the word… yet he failed to see any inconsistency in 

    In case you wondered …

    … Website vs. Social Media: Which Path Should You Take? | Bill Peschel.

    Those '50s …

    … About Last Night | Replay: Mary Martin appears in Our Town.

    Remembering …

    … “A Titan”: Caribbean poet Derek Walcott’s last voyage, 1930-2017 | The Book Haven.

    RIP …

    … Requiescat in pace: poet, novelist, translator Okla Elliott, 1977-2017 | The Book Haven.

    Q&A …

    … Exploring Beauty in the Bible: PW Talks to Sarah Ruden. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Conversation …

    … Paul Davis On Crime: My Q&A With Nelson DeMille, Author Of 'The Lion's Game' And 'The Panther'.

    Something to think on …

    The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.
    — William Morris, born on this date in 1834

    Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Letter without spirit …

     Really Modern English by Anthony Esolen | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Someone had to eventually …

    … Someone Organized All 403 Of Bob Ross' Paintings On One Happy Little Website | The Huffington Post. (Hat tip, David Tothero.)

    Appreciation …

    … About Last Night | Jamming with Byron Janis.

    Little to learn here …

    … Deaths of the Poets review: A superficial take on ‘self-destructive’ poets. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

    Preview …

    … Introducing The Gray Area | Reluctant Habits.

    Remembering …

     Derek Walcott: the “colonial upstart” who remade the world.



    … Derek Walcott and the Poetry of Liberalism.



    … Remembering Writer Derek Walcott.



    Rains.



    (Hat tip, Rus Bowden,)

    Conversation…

    … Q&A with Bill Flanagan | The Official Bob Dylan Site. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Take a look at these …

    … Lowell's Grotto of Our Lady #01 Photo by Rus Bowden — National Geographic Your Shot.



    This gives me an opportunity to once again sing the praises of Franz Werfel's novel, The Song of Bernadette, which really is great.

    Sad news …

    … Informal Inquiries: Blogging Note: responding to God's summons.

    Textual analysis …

    … Some Fake News About Me from Bloomberg | Scott Adams' Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)




    FYI …

    … Call for Submissions: Global Dystopias | Boston Review. (Hat tip, Dan Bloom.)



    A simple description of contemporary society ought to do.

    Too much truth for power …

    … check out the review of Isaac Babel's Odessa StoriesWe Reviewed March's Best Books, Music, and Movies - Vice. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Babel wrote his Odessa stories during the 1920s, and the tales set after the Russian Revolution depict with ironic skepticism the new government's efforts to impose a communist system on gangsters and religious Jews. … Although Babel welcomed the revolution, he saw the Soviets as violently opposed to the code of honor that existed among the Odessa gangsters and recklessly indifferent to Jewish history. 

    Mark thy calendar …

    … Lineup for 25 March 2017.



    Paul Robeson Center for the Arts

    102 Witherspoon Street
    Princeton, NJ 08542
    p: (609) 924-8777

    Something to think on …

    'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.
    — Friedrich von Hayek, who died on this date in 1992

    Merriam-Webster...

    ....Into the "word factory" we go

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Travel plans postponed …

    … Informal Inquiries: Crime-detective-mystery fiction is now on the menu.

    RIP …

    … Hey, it was the Seventies…Chuck Barris, ‘Gong Show’ creator (and, maybe, CIA assassin) dies at 87 – 5 Feet of Fury. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Once again …

    … I must be about others' business. My blogging will resume later in the day.

    Mix and match …

    … Beyond Ideology: Poetry and the Conservative Mind — The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    No matter its stripe, ideology subdues the imagination, the artistic spirit, and the intellect, which give life to culture itself. Besides, true conservatism is not ideological; it will be wildly distorted in the long run if its intellectual sustenance comes only from the dogmatists in its midst.
    This is certainly true, which is why literature in general and poetry in particular ought to be read disinterestedly, for their own sake, and not for any ideological reason.

    Something to think on …

    Nothing is worth more than this day.
    — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who died on this date in 1832

    Recommended reading …

    Dystopian fiction is big now. But here’s a book for people worried about fake news. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
    Ranked by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century and by Robert McCrum of the Guardian as the 60th best novel written in English, “Scoop” is, as Christopher Hitchens put it, “Waugh at the mid-season point of his perfect pitch; youthful and limber and light as a feather.” Waugh biographer David Wykes says it “radiates enjoyment and happiness” — tonally, then, it is quite different from the despairing visions that dominate today’s reading lists. But the novel’s depiction of an insular, gullible and sometime dishonest press will strike a chord with many readers in the Age of Trump — or in the Age of the Anti-Trump Media.

    Take a look …

    … About Last Night | Just because: Mark Twain on film.

    Remembering …

    … Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History Western Novelist Louis L'Amour Was Born.

    Pushback …

    … Paul Davis On Crime: ‘Untalented’ Crime Writers Respond To Their No 1 Critic: 13 Thriller Writers Take William O’Rourke To Task For Dismissing Them And Their Readers.

    And for 30 years, he got it...

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Hmm …

     Instapundit —  Blog Archive — K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: How Do Unschoolers Turn Out? Peter Gray has studied how learning happens .

    Good news …

    … Harvard Professors Sign Statement Endorsing ‘Freedom of Expression’ | News | The Harvard Crimson.

    In case you wondered ...

    Look and listen …

    … YOU'RE WATCHING WHY FORMALIST POETRY SPEAKS TO US AND WHY WE PRACTICE IT.

    Introducing himself …

    … The Millions : The Man Behind the Masks: On Nabokov's Forewords - The Millions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Mark thy calendar …


    Sat., April 1, 2017
     @ 5-7PM in Lambertville, NJ
    CHROMA: An Ekphrastic ProjectArt by Ravenna Taylor 

    with poets
    Ellen Foos
    Lois Marie Harrod
    Kasey Jueds
    Vasiliki Katsarou
    Fred Lowe
    MaryAnn L. Miller
    Hayden Saunier
    Lynne Shapiro
    John Richard Smith
    John Timpane
    Ravenna Taylor Studio
    233 N. Union St.
    Lambertville, NJ 08530
    Free
    Contact: (908) 238-1570

    Open studio, reading, and reception.
    Public invited.

    On-street parking possible and lot parking available behind Thai Tida restaurant.
    Chroma: An Ekphrastic Project


    Time out …

    … Informal Inquiries: Speaking of challenges -- "temporarily out of service".

    Hmm …

    … Informal Inquiries: Emily Dickinson and the challenge of existence.

    Something to look forward to …

     BBC - James Wood (Writer) Q&A - Decline And Fall - Media Centre. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Exploring your inner Paterson …

    … The Poetics of Everyday Life: Poetry Books for Fans of PATERSON : The Booklist Reader. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



    The movie really is sweet. Nice, too, that Paterson himself is not tormented.

    Just a reminder …

    … Vast Public Indifference: "Future Corrected Edition in the Hands of a Higher Editor". (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Listen in …

    … Episode 210 – Tony Tulathimutte | Virtual Memories.

    “There’s no way to write about millennials without adopting a comic tone.”

    Blogging note …

    I must be off to the dentist's and then to The Inquirer. My blogging effort will resume sometime later.

    For the occasion …

    … World Poetry Day: Listen to Philip Larkin read his melancholic poem Aubade. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Something to think on …

    God is an unutterable sigh, planted in the depths of the soul.
    — Jean Paul, born on this date in 1763

    Portrait

    Felix Giordano's portrait of poet Linh Dinh.

    FYI …

     Cli-Fi.Net -- (the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi, a subgenre of sci-fi): In Kim Stanley Robinson's NEW YORK 2140, the character named Gen Octaviasdottir is an homage and show ot respect and shout out to SF pioneer writer Octavia Butler!

    Monday, March 20, 2017

    Weighing in …

    … Muscle, Smoke, Mirrors: The Literature of Bodybuilding. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    For the defense …

    … 11 Things You Probably Didn't Know Were Funded With Help From The National Endowment For The Arts - BuzzFeed News.



    On the other hand, Faulkner, Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and lots of others seem to have got by without such help.

    Much in what he says …

    … The suicide of expertise: Glenn Reynolds.

    By its fruit the tree is known, and the tree of expertise hasn’t been doing well lately. As Nassim Taleb recently observed: “With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers.”

    RIP...

    Cause for hope …

    … These monks in Ireland spend their lives praying for priests. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    “As monks … we have a particular focus on reparation for the sins of priests which, especially of late, have so disfigured the Face of Christ in the eyes of the world.”

    RIP …

    … Obituary: George Braziller Dies at 101. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Minority report …

    … An Artist Against the NEA, Part 1: The Case of Karen Finley | THE REMODERN REVIEW.

    The first murder story …

    … Informal Inquiries: Crime and punishment in the story of Cain and Abel.

    Speaking truth to power …

    … Petition — Philip Hanlon: Take Back Dartmouth — Change.org.

    … we believe that the lack of fiscal discipline that has come to characterize the College’s decision-making process has harmed Dartmouth students as well as the broader Dartmouth community. Specifically, the unchecked growth of extraneous services and unnecessary support offices, along with the mass hiring of non-faculty staff members, is holding back Dartmouth from reaching its full potential. According to the Dartmouth Office of Institutional Research, non-faculty staff numbered 2,408 in the year 1999 (1). By 2004, this figure had risen to 3,342 – an increase of almost 1,000 staffers in just five years. Notwithstanding layoffs necessitated by the recession, the College has not taken steps to reverse its prolonged hiring binge. In 2015, Dartmouth employed a total of 3,497 non-faculty staff, and it seems unlikely that the current administration has plans to change course (2).
    I admire these students. Talk about swimming against the stream.

    Holocaust booster …

    … The ugly news at St. Thomas | Power Line.

    …  there can be no doubt that he crossed the line from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism. To say “[Y]ahood [Jews] will get what coming for them” is not just to criticize the State of Israel. It is to call, in plain enough terms, for the mass murder of Jewish people, whether in Israel or elsewhere. If Muhammad or his defenders think otherwise, then they must have spent their lives in a kind of coma, unaware of or indifferent to the Holocaust and the discourse about Jews and Judaism that preceded it.

    Change of season …

    … Informal Inquiries: Spring and All -- something for the vernal equinox.



    And there's this: Spring is like a perhaps hand.

    Appreciation …

    … Anecdotal Evidence: `A Hunter Without a Blank in His Magazine'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    The original femme fatale …

    … Informal Inquiries: Looking for Lilith -- the female night demon.

    Something to think on …

    Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance.
    — Isaac Newton, who died on this date in 1727

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

    RIP …

    … Paul Davis On Crime: Newspaper Columnist And Author Jimmy Breslin Dies At 88.

    Haiku …


    Leftover snowfall
    Lingers on the patio
    While the garden waits.

    Saving liberalism from itself...

    Enjoy …

    … Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Night Music: The Late David Bowie Performing 'Absolute Beginners'.

    Form and function …

    … Finding a Form for Prayer | Catholic World Report - Global Church news and views.

    Block has found a way to honor both Levertov’s apparent concern for authenticity of experience and Auden and Winters’s appreciation for the discipline and formal beauty made possible by speech when given form through the refinement of grammar into measure. He does so by concealing, as it were, the refinement of verse within the bare appearance of organic form. 

    Who knew?

    … Informal Inquiries: Biblical origins of pi?

    Inquirer reviews …

    … Archbishop Chaput writes against stereotype in new book.

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's advice for living boldly.

    … Mohsin Hamid's 'Exit West': Migration, the story that never ends.

    … 'The Enigma of the Owl' tells us whooo this bird is.

    Apocalypto …

    … Cli-Fi.Net -- (the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi, a subgenre of sci-fi): ''The Swiss Dr Seuss'' -- Franz Hohler performs an eco-poem titled THE END OF THE WORLD, first performed in 1974 but still very relevant today. Can someone make a 56-page picture book of this?

    Q & A …

    … Paul Davis On Crime: Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Chronicling Ernest Hemingway's Relationship With The Soviets.

    Something to think on …

    Some folks are wise and some are otherwise.
    — Tobias Smollett, born on this date in 1721

    Anita Brooker


    A few months ago, I read my first of Anita Brookner's novels, Hotel du Lac. I wrote about that book on the blog

    Now, I've finished another of Brookner's books, The Latecomers, which tells the story of two Jewish men transported to London as part of the Kindertransport at the start of the Second World War. 

    While there are elements of the novel that I found moving, it's not, on the whole, as successful as Hotel. For one thing, there's far too much description. I can't remember a work of fiction with such little dialogue, and with so much, well, describing. (That's fine and well, of course, and all those adjectives have the potential to circle something special: but in this case, they don't. Or they don't all the time.)

    By the end of The Latecomers we know Brookner's characters well. No doubt: we know their wives, their children, even their grandchildren; we anticipate their actions, their responses. And yet, they remain two dimensional -- which is a product, I think, of the narrative structure: they simply don't say enough; they do not interact as we might expect them to do, even in this imagined world. 

    The sense I took away is that the characters remain flat because Brookner is unwilling to fully chart their roots -- in Germany, before the war. True, one character spends a chapter back in Berlin, but it doesn't result in a coherent experience for the reader: there's not enough said or done; there's not enough dialogue to understand how the character -- in this case, Fibich -- felt about his return.  

    This I found odd, as Brookner herself came from a family of Ashkenazi Jews who'd emigrated to London. Indeed, there's a sense in which the entire history told in The Latecomers is Brookner's own. For whatever reason, that history is never fully probed: the idea of experiencing life in phases, under duress, is never fully exposed. 

    What is exposed here, though, and what is nicely presented, is the idea of family. Both characters in the novel -- Fibich and Hartmann -- emerge stronger than we found them: their sense of fatherhood more complete, their sense for life's rewards more nuanced. This, I think, is the lasting impact of Brookner's novel: that home is an emotional space, a space that we build with our families. It's more than geography alone.

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

    RIP …

    … Chuck Berry, a Founding Father of Rock 'n' Roll, Dies at 90 | Billboard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Family feuds …

    … Norman Podhoretz Still Picks Fights and Drops Names - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    “Every morning,” he wrote in the 1967 memoir “Making It,” “a stock-market report on reputation comes out in New York. It is invisible, but those who have eyes to see can read it. Did so-and-so have dinner at Jacqueline Kennedy’s apartment last night? Up five points. Was so-and-so not invited by the Lowells to meet the latest visiting Russian poet? Down one-eighth. Did so-and-so’s book get nominated for the National Book Award? Up two and five-eighths. Did Partisan Review neglect to ask so-and-so to participate in a symposium? Down two.”
    Small world. In more ways than one.

    Countering ignorance …

    … of Snoopy, among others: Leticia Miranda on Twitter: "is this offensive? 

    In all fairness, she did just pose a question. But it might be a good idea to ask it in private rather than on Twitter. And maybe one shouldn't be looking to take offense.

    And the winner is …

    … Levertov Award - Image Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Appointment …

    Kevin Young to be New Yorker poetry editor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

    The sense of loss …

    … Nigeness: Elegy Land.

    Except there is …

    … Nigeness: No Problem.



    Yes, it seems the more college-educated people there are, the more klutzy speaking and writing there is. I see "different than" everywhere now. One my own bugbears is "this begs the question," which demonstrates that the speaker or writer has no idea what "begging the question" means.

    Not so little, actually …

    … A LITTLE BOOK ON FORM by Robert Hass | Kirkus Reviews. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Hmm …

    … Einstein was not an Atheist - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



    I like the parable of the books and the library, and the focus on the order evident and discerned. But I would take it further. What is often to be found in books? Stories. Poems. So I find it interesting that Einstein seems to have been so impervious to myth (which is what religious poems and stories tend to be). The older I get, the more it is the drama of being that impresses and disturbs me, not its mechanics and ingredients. 

    Wary fruit …

    … Zealotry of Guerin: On the seashore there are two visiting apples (Rene Magritte), Sonnet #342.

    Something to think on …

    Every single human soul has more meaning and value than the whole of history.
    — Nikolai Berdyaev, born on this date in 1874

    Friday, March 17, 2017

    Remembering …

    Nat King Cole was born on this date in 1919.

    RIP …

    … Derek Walcott obituary: St Lucian Nobel Laureate and poet remembered | The Independent.

    Hmm …

    … 7 Female Beat Writers To Read Instead Of Jack Kerouac. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

     Maybe I'm missing something, but I count four women who can be called Beat writers — Joanne Kyger, Diane Di Prima, Carolyn Cassady, and Joyce Johnson. Brenda Knight was born in 1958, so although she has written about the Beats, she can hardly be said to have been one of them. I also count six books.

    Happy St. Patrick's Day …

    … Read Me, I’m Irish: 24 Books by Irish-American Poets : The Booklist Reader. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Take a look at these …

    … This Nanny’s Incredible Photography Went Unseen for 50 Years, Until Now – OtterFeed. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

    RIP …

    The strangeness of loss …

    … Stranger, Baby by Emily Berry review – deeply moving study of loss | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

    Have a listen …

    … "Dancin' In The Street!" Radio Spot Collection 1982 by NECWaudio. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden



    The lady singing at the start is Rus's friend Mary Salvi.

    Intimacies

    … Paul Davis On Crime: Spies, Affairs And James Bond...The Secret Diary Of Ian Fleming's Wartime Mistress.

    Be on your guard …

    … Google Gmail: Phishing Scam Scarily Effective at Stealing Passwords | Fortune.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



    I got hacked a few months ago. Quite annoying.

    Interesting question …

    … Informal Inquiries: Important: ignore the previous, anticipate the next.

    Blogging note …

    My wife and I have to head out for a bit. So there will be no more blogging from me until later in the day.

    Appreciation …

    … Broadway’s Tiny Giant | commentary. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    … the most distinctive quality of his work is its deep-dyed disillusion, which not infrequently comes across as harsh cynicism: “Caring too much is such / A juvenile fancy. / Learning to trust is just / For children in school.” Just as often, though, it manifests itself in the melancholy romanticism of “Glad to Be Unhappy” (“Unrequited love’s a bore, / And I’ve got it pretty bad”) or the hopeless despair of “This Funny World” (“If you’re beaten, conceal it! / There’s no pity for you”). In all these modes, Hart stands out from every other songwriter of the ’20s and ’30s, and the fact that his saddest lyrics were invariably set to major-key tunes by Rodgers makes the contrast still more striking.

    Something to think on …

    I've always been fascinated by the operation of memory — the way in which it is not linear but fragmented, and its ambivalence.
    — Penelope Lively, born on this date in 1933

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    And the winners are …

    … National Book Critics Circle: National Book Critics Circle Announces Winners For 2016 Awards - Critical Mass Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

    Submissions sought …

    New Ohio Review Seeks Lopatian Essays for Annual Contest, While Wondering What That Means .

    Talk postponed …

    Jim Remsen’s History Nuggets

    Mar 16, 2017 04:39 pm
    Schedule Alert: My author talk Friday, March 17, at the Library Express bookstore in Scranton has been POSTPONED due to Winter Storm Stella. I’ll let you know when we’ve got a rescheduled date.
    Meanwhile, dear reader, here are two fresh History Nuggets:
    “Singing Their A,B,C.” One fact that moved me in my book research was how urgently the fugitive slaves of Waverly, Pa., yearned to read and write. As I state in Embattled Freedom, they knew education would lift them out of “the dark cavity of oppression” wrought by slavery, and they welcomed the schooling that white allies provided. It seems the same yearning was true for the droves of “contraband” slaves who fled toward the Union army for protection down in the war-torn South. This comes through clearly in the book I’m currently reading, Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War. The author, historian Chandra Manning, has a wealth of examples. She tells of a free-black woman living near a contraband camp in Virginia who turned her home into a crowded school and taught the three R’s and hymns until tuberculosis overtook her. Not far from there, two white sisters from Massachusetts helped contraband women by tacking a large alphabet card onto the wall of the sewing room so everyone could keep “head and fingers busy” while they made clothing and repaired army material. When more slates were needed for the writing lessons, one of those sisters slipped away and pried roof shingles off a rebel building. In Tennessee, a runaway serving as a cook for the army kept a spelling book at hand so he could study even while tending his pots. In South Carolina, an elderly ex-slave taught math by lining his contraband pupils into rows and having them march around in shifting formations. He devised a method to teach reading by setting the alphabet and phonetics to song. When the old man’s brother died, the pupils “carried schoolbooks like hymnals” to the graveside, “singing their A,B,C, through and through again.” They knew education was a blessed thing.
    “A Pioneer Antislavery Man.” As the contraband camps formed, white missionaries and Northern benevolent societies stepped in to attend to body, mind and spirit. Their presence continued after the war, at that point to assist the millions of newly classified freedmen. One of the white patrons, I discovered, was a Waverly man. John L. Richardson had been a teacher and principal of Waverly’s elite Madison Academy in the 1850s and would have known the village’s abolitionists and fugitives. After the war, according to an old county history, the “pioneer antislavery man” became a roving agent of the New York American Missionary Association and “addressed thousands of his countrymen in favor of the newly-created citizens of African descent.” Richardson raised thousands of dollars, helped to set up freedmen schools, and trained the teachers. He reminds me of another impressive figure from my research, Joseph Kiddoo, commander of the stalwart black regiment that included six soldiers from Waverly. Kiddoo went on to head the Freedmen’s Bureau in Texas, where he prioritized education and advocated for black civil rights. Direct exposure to black people and their aspirations had a lasting effect on many white Northerners. Richardson and Kiddoo are prime examples.
    More Book News.  Embattled Freedom will be available as an e-book later this month, according to my publisher, Sunbury Press. Paula Radwanski of Tunkhannock, Pa., won last month’s book giveaway. Congrats, Paula! I’ve gotten some nice press for Embattled Freedom and am in the process of scheduling author talks–updates to come. And my book launch was a big success, with about 100 folks attending. Many thanks to my hosts at the Waverly Community House. Below is a photo from the launch. Civil War re-enactor Bob Bowell and I are displaying a replica of the dramatic battle flag of the black regiment that included six Waverly men.

    On history...

    ...and historians

    A reminder .…

     Bryn Mawr Book Sale Musings on the Ides of March With Shakespeare and Scott Fitzgerald | Town Topics. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

    The scene with Brutus and his book suggests a hushed Shakespearean state of mind conducive to an appreciation of the timeless pleasure of reading celebrated every year by the Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale. With this great community event only two days away, what better occasion to think about reading? I mean deep, blissed-out reading, the total absorption in a text bound between two covers like the 80,000 or so that are, to put it crudely, up for grabs this Friday when the dealers and first-comers will make their customary dent in the massive stock after paying $25 for the privilege of a day-long preview.

    Actually, I find this offensive …

    … Google adds tool to flag 'offensive' search results - Story | WNYW.

    I don't need trigger warnings, thank you. And if you don't think this will be abused, you're really naïve.

    Boy, those Russians …

    … Paul Davis On Crime: How The Soviets Once Recruited Ernest Hemingway To be A Spy.

    Encore …

    … The Writer’s Almanac for March 11, 2017 | Things to Think | The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



    Tim Davis linked to this last week on his blog and I linked to that, but why not link to it again?

    Just what your kid needs …

    … an illiterate teacher: NY dropping teacher literacy test amid claims of racism.

    To be fair, it sounds as if the test may be lousy. Come up with a better one. Not an easier one. A better one.


    Still fresh after all these years …

    … Miguel de Cervantes & the Invention of Fiction: William Egginton Book Review | National Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



    Like many innovators, Cervantes threw everything on the wall to see what stuck. Don Quixote features several interpolated stories, and a shift of narrator when we are suddenly told that a new chronicler, a Spanish Arab historian, has taken up the tale. Don’t make mountains of these (sometimes delightful) molehills. The engines of Don Quixote are its two main characters, and their interaction. They talk to, at, and past each other, like an old couple, which, as the days and pages pass, they become. Their pratfalls take them on a tour of Spain, and of their views of the world: the knight, brave, besotted, generous, paranoid; the squire, shrugging, accepting. Egginton gives us frequent helpings of their own words, mostly from Edith Grossman’s 2003 translation; we could listen all day.


    Anniversary and more …

    … Informal Inquiries: The Scarlet Letter: background, statement, and challenge.

    Not just pretty …

    … The Beauty Dialogues, Part 1. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



    See  The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo.

    Something to think on …

    The ways of Providence cannot be reasoned out by the finite mind ... I cannot fathom them, yet seeking to know them is the most satisfying thing in all the world.
    — Selma Lagerlöf, who died on this date in 1940

    Wednesday, March 15, 2017

    In case you wondered …

    … Paul Davis On Crime: Life On An Aircraft Carrier.

    Even Orwell...

    ...Might not believe this

    FYI …

     BREAKING NEWS: Today Trump recommended eliminating the NEA and NEH! Please write your Congressional representative pronto! | The Book Haven.

    Pertinent perhaps is an interview I did of Dana Gioia when he became director of the NEA.

    Revival …

    … ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’ Review: The Underknown Masterpiece - WSJ.

    Check this out …

    … About Last Night | Snapshot: Gene Krupa in 1947.

    Gee, I actually remember seeing this with my family — doubtless at the Century Theater, where my grandmother was the cleaning lady for awhile —when I was a little kid.

    Anniversary …

    … Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Opens.

    'Continuously metaphoric'...

    Adventures in listening and reading …

    … Of Books, Podcasts, and Leaving Home | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.