Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Look and listen …

Still time to listen …

 Helen Sung Spins Dana Gioia's Poetry Into Jazz On 'Sung With Words' : NPR.

Birds of many parts …

 The Ravens at the Tower of London Are More Than Symbols - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Skaife calls attention to the birds’ beautiful contradictions. In sunlight their dark feathers shine with the iridescence of oil on water. They can be friendly, curious, even loving. In the wild they’ll take turns sliding down snowbanks and make toys out of sticks. At the Tower they play games of KerPlunk, pulling the straws free from the tube to retrieve a dead mouse as their prize. Yet, as that special raven edition of KerPlunk suggests, they’re also birds of gothic darkness and gore, the birds that followed Viking raiders in quest of fresh corpses and that feasted on executed bodies hung from roadside gibbets. You might visit Skaife’s charges in the Tower and watch, entranced, as they gently preen each other’s nape feathers, murmuring in their soft raven idiolect—but you might also see them gang up to ambush a pigeon and eat it alive.

Unsung no more …

 Rediscovering a Founding Mother | History | Smithsonian.

While researching my new book, Rush: Revolution, Madness & the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father, I managed to track down new and revealing correspondence to, from and about Benjamin, the misunderstood patriot, physician, writer and educator known as the “American Hippocrates.” But one of the biggest surprises was finding unpublished writing by and to Julia. The Rushes’ descendants hid much of the couple’s writing away, partly to shield the unvarnished opinions of Benjamin and his favorite correspondents, Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and partly to protect the career prospects of some of their sons. (Their son Richard served four presidents, as attorney general, secretary of the treasury and U.S. representative to Great Britain and France.)

Hmm …

… The Problem With All Those Liberal Professors - Bloomberg.

The real problems arise in subjects like history, political science, philosophy and psychology, where the professor’s political perspective might well make a difference. (The same is true of law.)

The comments  unintentionally provide considerable evidence in support of his thesis.

Not your usual coming-of-age novel …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: The Amalgamation Polka (2006).

In case you wondered …

… How George V. Higgins Invented the Boston Crime Novel | CrimeReads. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The world of Higgins’s first three novels is where the Boston crime genre still largely resides in the popular imagination, but the author himself wasn’t content to keep exploring this one particular slice of the city. In the decades that followed, he chronicled cops (The Judgment of Deke Hunter), politicians (A Choice of Enemies), defense attorneys (the Jerry Kennedy quartet), and high society (Swan Boats at Four), expanding his Boston canvas far beyond the working-class Irish neighborhoods that spawned his memorable crooks. Though he would return to that world occasionally (Trust, The Rat on Fire), he disdained being known as a crime writer. Not all of the books hold up. At times the deadpan humor is lost and his thickets of dialogue become virtually impenetrable, providing camouflage to stories that unfold on an almost subliminal level.

Something to think on …

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.
— Samuel Johnson, born on this date in 1709

Karl Ove Knausgaard

Well, I've made it: I've toured the seasons with Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Most recent was Summer, the final volume of his seasonal quartet. This installation was similar to the others in its tone and approach, but different, I felt, too. 

As with the other volumes, Summer offers brief mediations on a range of seemingly banal topics: everything from clothing and bicycles, to dogs and wasps. In almost all of these essays, Knausgaard manages to derive some unexpected meaning, some sort of aphoristic conclusion. 

I must say, I came to enjoy these meditations: not just in Summer, but in the other volumes as well. Sure, they're delicate, and they can be a bit contrived. But they served, for me, as a reminder of the beauty that surrounds us. In this sense, I found them inspiring: they ask us to look, and look again, and to embrace the mundane: for in it,  Knausgaard seems to imply, there must be a spark. 

Where Summer differs from the other volumes is in two extended sections which include Knausgaard's journal entries. These, I felt, were less effective, and could be rather self-indulgent. The second of these sections, though, does include an interesting -- if not fully evolved -- fictional rendering of a love story from the Second World War. The story seemed oddly placed among Knausgaard's diary entries, but did serve, I suppose, as a welcome interlude. 

All told, I'm really pleased with Knausgaard's seasonal quartet. As I say, there's a quality to each volume that inspires, that asks readers to reconsider their lives and the objects surrounding them. I found this refreshing, and refreshingly hopeful. No doubt, the diary sections of Summer, especially, can be a little trying, but that doesn't cloud the rest of the collection, which includes a number of thoughtful observations on the world around us. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Getting Advice...

...From a philosopher

And again …

… The Wry Eye: Cutting Looks at Contemporary Life w/ Elisabeth Cohen & Kathy Anderson | Penn Book Center.

Mark thy calendar …


God at work …

… Pope Plunges In Poll | The American Conservative.

The way we were

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Religious Roots (Boston born on this date in 1630).

Q&A …

… The Magazine Interview: William Boyd on his Gordonstoun years with Prince Charles, and why novels can best explain humanity | The Sunday Times Magazine | The Sunday Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

He certainly inserts writers into everything he does. Even describing how he found and bought his Chelsea house requires the assistance of John le Carré. Thirty years ago, Boyd and his wife, Susan, decided they needed a larger house than the one they had in Fulham. It had to be end-of-terrace to minimise the risk of neighbour noise. They were offered this one — it was cheap for Chelsea. This was because it was, in his mind, written by le Carré at his seediest. “It was,” says Boyd, “very Smiley’s People. There was a woman who rented rooms to gentlemen from the Ministry of Defence. There were Ascot water heaters and socks drying on radiators.”

Present at the creation …

… Clarence H. White & His World: Exhibit of Photography as Early Art | National Review. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

“Lyrical” is the word most often used to describe his work, but that’s too glib and dismissive in that it suggests a reassuring beauty, almost a mild sedative. Yes, he did many photographs of young women, psychologically absent, as allegories of spring, and Spring in Triptych from 1898 is the best known. They’re beautiful, and I have no quibble with beauty, but in White’s case they’re daring and new. He used low light to reduce shadows, creating a limited, consistent tone and flattening space but only as much as he wanted. He made contact prints from his negative, cut and cropped, and moved bits around. He found a composite pose of the figure and distribution of foliage he liked and arranged the puzzle pieces in a Renaissance-style triptych. Drops of Rain from 1902 is an abstract, offbeat play of forms — the glass orb became a favorite prop — juxtaposed against the drops of rain. His son was the model. Like the boy’s youth, it’s about transience and fragility.

Well worth a listen — or three …

… Hear Langston Hughes Read His Poetry Over Original Compositions by Charles Mingus & Leonard Feather: A Classic Collaboration from 1958 | Open Culture. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Further recommendations …

… Must-Read Poetry: September 2018 - The Millions. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Recommended …

… 23 hot picks for cool fall books - The Boston Globe. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

No mask …

… “No Makeup” | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Birthday …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: William Carlos Williams — a celebration of the damned.

Something to think on …

Sometimes I find myself thinking, rather wistfully, about Lao Tzu's famous dictum: 'Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish.' All around me I see something very different, let us say — a number of angry dwarfs trying to grill a whale.
— William Carlos Williams, born on this date in 1883

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Philip Larkin...

...The poet's afterlife

Cape Cod MA - 9-16-18

When men were men …

… Laughing Shall I Die,’ by Tom Shippey | Brandywine Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Vikings, Shippey says, were violent. They excelled at violence and intimidated their enemies, not only through their advanced ships, but through a “death cult” ethic, one which glorified courage and trivialized death. The proper way to face it was with a quip, a laugh, a pithy exit line. Not, he says, because of faith in Valhalla, but simply because courage was the value above all others, the thing other warriors esteemed.

Anniversary …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Anne Bradstreet — d. 16 September 1672.

Man of Aran …

Aran Islands, Hiding in Plain Sight. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Synge’s most famous work, “Playboy of the Western World” was inspired by a story he heard while on the islands, and caused riots in Dublin when it was first staged in 1906. The foremost playwright of the Irish Renaissance — a movement inspired by strong political Nationalism and a revival of Celtic traditions — Synge was co-founder of the Abbey, also known as the National Theatre of Ireland. All six of his plays are either set in or heavily influenced by his time in Aran.

Seeing all that’s there …

… The Hawks in the Leaves by Robert W. Crawford | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Appreciation …

 Paul Davis On Crime: A Look Back At Samuel Fuller's Classic Crime Film. 'Underworld USA'.

Corrective …

… Peter Hitchens says it's time we faced the truth: Winston cost countless British lives | Daily Mail Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Novelist Olivia Manning, who lived through some of the bitterest experiences of that war, concluded her series of brilliant autobiographical novels on the war with these words of sympathy and hope for the surviving characters: ‘Like the stray figures left on the stage at the end of a great tragedy, they had now to tidy up the ruins of war and in their hearts bury the noble dead.’ We who came after are now those stray figures left on the stage. Until we understand the true nature of that great tragedy, which we seem unwilling to do, I do not think that we can ever, in our hearts, bury the noble dead. Worse by far, we may be tempted again into wars that may utterly ruin us, because we have been beguiled into thinking that these wars are good.

Inquirer reviews …

… The best books to read this fall: Michelle Obama, Stephen King, Lin Manuel Miranda's 'Little Pep Talks,' more.
 Book talks in Philly this fall: Tom Hanks, Jennifer Egan, Barbara Kingsolver, Jeff Tweedy, the 'Evan Hansen' crew - and John Cena.

Anniversary …

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Saints and Strangers — 16 August 1620.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Romance and Romantics...

...And drawing a distinction between the two

Q&A …

Birthday …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Agatha Christie — b. 1890.

Bird of legend …

 Zealotry of Guerin: Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (Audubon), Sonnet #422.

Odd trio …

… Three Blockbuster Novels From the 1950s, and Their Remarkable Afterlife - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the aftermath of Sputnik three towering and best-selling works of fiction by dissident Russians — “Atlas Shrugged,” “Lolita” and “Doctor Zhivago” — were published in quick succession, crowded into an 11-month span, from October 1957 to September 1958. Today, all three still live on, each a universe in itself, read and discussed — and fought over — as if written not in prose but in hieroglyphics or code.
Here is my review of Sam Tanenhaus's excellent biography of Whitaker Chambers.
The conclusion seems citing:
… to many, Hiss was a martyr and Chambers a pariah. As Chambers noted in Witness: ``No feature of the Hiss case is more obvious, or more troubling . . . than the jagged fissure . . . between the plain men and women of the nation, and those who affected to act, think and speak for them. It was . . . in general the `best people' who were for Alger Hiss . . . the enlightened and the powerful . . . who snapped their minds shut. . . . ''
In attempting to explain ``this curious disjunction,'' Tanenhaus cites critic Leslie Fiedler, who traced it to ``the implicit dogma of American liberalism'' that in any political drama ``the liberal per se is the hero. '' The Partisan Review's Philip Rahv put it more bluntly: The pro-Hiss faction ``fought to save Hiss in order to safeguard its own illusions. ''

An offer he couldn't refuse …

… Plunder My Songbook, Bob Dylan Said. So He Did. - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the multicharacter drama Mr. McPherson has written, the first original work by this Irish playwright that is set in America, represents a sidelong route into Mr. Dylan’s musical and cultural roots.

Something to think on …

The artist tries to see what there is to be interested in... He has not created something, he has seen something.
— T. E. Hulme, born on this date in 1883

Together at last …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Geraldine Brooks, Louisa May Alcott, and King David.

Something to think on …

Sheer madness is, of course, the highest possible brow in humor.
— Robert Benchley, born on this date in 1889

Friday, September 14, 2018

V. S. Naipaul...

...His life and legacy

Poetry and life …

… Colm Tóibín reviews ‘Selected Poems’ by Thom Gunn — LRB 13 September 2018. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In his introduction, Wilmer writes that in 1965 he lent Gunn copies of Sylvia Plath’s last poems. When he returned them, Gunn wrote that they ‘make a kind of rambling hysterical monologue, which is fine for people who believe in art as Organic but less satisfactory for those who demand more’. He admired ‘some incredibly beautiful passages’, but felt that ‘the trouble is with the emotion, itself, really: it is largely one of hysteria, and it is amazing that her hysteria has produced poetry as good as this. I think there’s a tremendous danger in the fact that we know she committed suicide. If they were anonymous poems I wonder how we’d take them.’ In The Alvarez Generation, Wootten quotes the opening two lines of Gunn’s late poem ‘My Mother’s Pride’: ‘She dramatised herself/Without thought of the dangers.’ Gunn’s mother committed suicide in December 1944, when Gunn was 15, by gassing herself, leaving her two sons to find her. Like Plath, she was the mother of two children. As Wootten writes, ‘the connection between one mother who dramatised herself without thought of the dangers, who gassed herself leaving two children behind, and another is not a difficult one to make.’

September Poetry at North of Oxford …

… Baptism of Sorts by Cliff Saunders.

… The Greeting by John D. Robinson.

 2 Poems by Louis Gallo.

… Temple of Jupiter by Jefferey Cyphers Wright.

Working writer …

… Anthony Burgess’s boundless curiosity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… The Ink Trade can be read as a practical handbook of reading, writing and reviewing, as a compendium of shrewd maxims and epigrammatic wit, and as a defence of the business of writing alongside a gently ironic lament to a writer’s plight in the age of mass media and marketing. For those with a deeper interest in Burgess’s bountiful output, it is also a vital source for his theories of literature and language, and how these animate his work.

Not your usual book launch …

… friends and family honor Roger Forseth, who had something very important to teach: HAVE A THINK — Cassandra Csencsitz. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Little did I know that turning hundreds of pages of old printouts into new book form would take four years from the time of that email. It truly killed me not to have the published book in his hands when he passed away in December of 2016. I was able to show him our cover but the interior took another year+ to clean up as my mom, Dave and I vetted scanning errors, and I contended with the limitations of Word. The lessons for any aspiring bookmakers: 1) Sometimes it's easier to start from scratch than try shortcuts.  2) Never, ever design a book in Word.
But here's the fun part: as I started to re-read my grandpa's articles with an eye to the eventual book, I was astounded by the clarity of his insights, the beauty of his prose, and the breadth of his reading
Read the whole thing, and discover who the Dave she mentions is.

I just got the Kindle edition of the book.

Something to think on …

Ours is the age of substitutes: instead of language, we have jargon: instead of principles, slogans: and, instead of genuine ideas, bright ideas.
— Eric Bentley, born on this date in 1916

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A must-read …

 Is Pope Francis right about traditionalists who love the Latin Mass? | America Magazine.

My experience with the Latin Mass offers one possible answer to Pope Francis’ questions about why young people are attracted to traditional liturgies: Having grown up with the Mass in English, these young Catholics have a vague sense of what any given moment in the Mass is about. The unfamiliar rituals and language of the Tridentine Rite, however, allows them to see these moments with fresh eyes. Discovering the Latin Mass is, to many members of my generation, what the introduction of the vernacular Mass was to people like Francis.

Once upon a time we had mandarins …

… Parry and Thrust | Lapham’s Quarterly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In their heydays Buckley and Vidal were each deemed a “national treasure.” Now they are somewhat forgotten figures. That is sad. And we have no one like them today, which is sadder. 

Anniversary …

Mark thy calendar …

… Welcome to Museum Day | Museum Day | Smithsonian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something tp think on …

Any fool can be fussy and rid himself of energy all over the place, but a man has to have something in him before he can settle down to do nothing.
— J.B. Priestley, born on this date in 1894

How silicon took over the world...

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What were they thinking?

Worrisome …

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Blogging Note — plans of mice and men.

We could use more like it …

… Opinion | The Most Contrarian College in America - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

I’m not saying that most students would take to it or that other schools should mimic it. The degree to which “the program” omits the intellectual contributions of women and people of color troubles me. 
Oh, please. Completion of their program will well enable you and probably even incline you to read all sorts of other writers. Do you think these students are unaware that many great writers are not male or white? I wonder if Bruni has read Tan Twan Eng, one of the best novelists writing today.

Art and life…

… Woman who wrote 'How to Murder Your Husband' arrested for allegedly murdering her husband - Fox 4 Now WFTX Fort Myers/Cape Coral.

Hmm …

… Mind–Body Problems: My Meta-Solution to the Mystery of Who We Really Are - Scientific American Blog Network. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My slightly less megalomaniacal hope is that Mind-Body Problems will start a conversation by provoking reactions from readers. Send corrections, complaints and criticism to me at jhorgan@highlands.com. If your comments meet minimal standards of civility and intelligibility, I’ll post them in my book’s discussion section. Who knows, you might even get me to change my mind, again, about the mind-body problem.
Well, I just down-loaded the book. I plan on reading it fairly and tossing in my two cents.

Giving the victim precedence …

… The Dust on a Butterfly’s Wing: On Sarah Weinman’s Investigation of “The Real Lolita” - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Love Lolita or loathe it, Weinman reminds us that its legacy is so deeply embedded in the culture that no one is neutral about this novel. Weinman shares her own shivering response as an adolescent to the opening lines. Later, in one of the startling, best responses to this Great American Novel, she recounts the experience of the enthralled, well-intentioned writer Mikita Brottman leading a book club at a maximum-security prison:
The prisoners in her book club were nowhere near so enchanted. An hour into the discussion, one of them looked up at Brottman and cried, “he’s just an old pedo!’ A second prisoner added: “It’s all bullshit, all his long, fancy words, I can see through it. It’s all a cover-up. I know what he wants to do with her.” A third prisoner drove home the point that Lolita “isn’t a love story. Get rid of all the fancy language, bring it down to the lower [sic] common denominator, and it’s a grown man molesting a little girl.

"Positive, Trusting Social Connection"

From an Interview with Jonathan Rauch, Author of The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50: 
RealClearBooks: In “The Happiness Curve,” you write that crises such as unemployment, divorce, disease take their toll on human beings — which is intuitive — and cite research that puts a price take on it ($60,000 a year for losing your job; $100,00 for a painful divorce). Absent those kind of traumas, what’s the single biggest determinant of happiness in adults?
Jonathan Rauch: Positive, trusting social connection. Hands down. Being in supportive, trusting, and loving relationships is more important than wealth, health, and status. In fact, investing in wealth and status just makes us hungrier for more of the same (what researchers call the hedonic treadmill). Investing in core relationships and giving back to others provides lasting satisfaction that grows over time.

A birthday and more …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Alfred A. Knopf, book publishing, and my blogging.

Titles Are Important!

Novelist who wrote about ‘How to Murder Your Husband’ charged with murdering her husband

Something to think on …

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule—and both commonly succeed, and are right.
 H. L. Mencken, born on this date in 1880
 Instapundit — BATTLE OF VIENNA.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Listen in …

 Episode 286 – Moby – The Virtual Memories Show.

I love making music, but I don’t think of it as a job anymore.”

Sound analysis …

… The University Is Ripe for Replacement | Trending.

We should also consider that efforts to reform the university might only contribute to its endurance. It may conceivably permit a few reforms as a sop to its adversaries, but the situation will persist. After all, with the wavering exceptions of MBA programs and of STEM, the universities are no longer knowledge guilds, but self-regulating commercial and doctrinaire systems interested primarily in profit and social revisionism. They will double down to preserve their turf. The Academy is now enemy-occupied territory, defended by a formidable army of the ignorant, the corrupt, the vulgar and the perverse, and they are not about to surrender their sinecures.

Blogging note …

I've done some blogging, and I hope to caught up with other things by day's end. After which, I hope, blogging will proceed as before.

Coming soon to a court somewhere …

… The Empire Strikes Bach — Algorithms and copyright laws are stealing music from all of us. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The fact that James Rhodes was actually playing should have been enough to halt any sane person from filing the complaint. But that's the real point of the story. No sane person was involved, because no actual person was involved. It all happened mechanically, from the application of the algorithms in Youtube's Content ID system. A crawling bot obtained a complex digital signature for the sound in Rhodes's YouTube posting. The system compared that signature to its database of registered recordings and found a partial match of 47 seconds. The system then automatically deleted the video and sent a "dispute claim" to Rhodes's YouTube channel. It was a process entirely lacking in human eyes or human ears. Human sanity, for that matter.

Seventeen years ago today …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Counterterrorism Magazine Piece On The 9/11 Attack On The Pentagon.

Anniversary …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Hope Diamond stolen.

Never entirely common or prosaic …

 First Known When Lost: A Life.

Something to think on …

Beauty is an experience, nothing else. It is not a fixed pattern or an arrangement of features. It is something felt, a glow or a communicated sense of fineness.
— D. H. Lawrence, born on this date in 1885

Another try at Virgil's Aeneid …

… Power and Rhythm. (hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winners are …

… Winning Poems for 2018 July : IBPC.

The Judge's Page.

(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Monday, September 10, 2018

True crime …

 BOOK REVIEW: 'Inspector Oldfield and the Black Hand Society' by William Oldfield and Victoria .Bruce - Washington Times.

Indeed …

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Happy birthday, H.D.

One day, when I was maybe 15, I stopped by the Holmesburg library, the public library nearest to where I lived, and came upon, for the first time, H. D.’s poetry. One poem in particular, “Pear Tree,” caught my attention, and converted me to poetry. I knew nothing about H. D. at the time, though I learned she was a woman named Hilda Doolittle, but I think I fell at least half in love with her that day.

The differences between Men and Women

Frank posts below on the differences between sexes and why the Almighty ("She"!) created it and it is good.  And using "She" is right if only to make up for the thousands of years of "He's".  Because  the Almighty made us in God's Image, Male AND Female God made them, not Male OR Female.  (See Genesis).  And that means each of us are somewhere on a gender spectrum.  Paul said in Heaven there is no male nor female and Jesus said in Heaven there is no marriage because you are like the angels.

(The citations are left as an exercise for the reader.  After all, as both Sam Johnson and Elmore Leonard said, there is no reason to write, except for money.  So I'll write anyway but not as much as I might.)

So the difference between the sexes is only earth bound, according to the Christian God, which is a matter for the earth bound science and arts.

And according to the earth bound sciences and arts, there are real differences: to the sciences it's everything from external genitalia to brain neuroanatomy; to the arts, it's everything from portraying different emotions to having different cognitive skills, although some liberal arts are mixed, with some claiming a difference and others claiming there is no difference with regard to "gender" at least, which is a word for the actual identity a person is -- the understanding by them of who they are on the male-female spectrum identified by God -- since we are all and each of us made somehow as God's Image, Male And Female.

This is kind of a warmup writeup on my own perception of the differences, because in my life I've gone from a very male appearing person to who I am now, and the differences I have seen from walking as close as someone can come to being both, Male And Female, in one lifetime.  In the meantime, it is interesting to me to consider the fact that I am closest to an angel according to God as one can be here on Earth.  And it is kind of really funny too.

Blogging note …

I have to immediately go out to exercise power of attorney for someone. I won’t be blogging again until later.

Poor babies …

… ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ Review: Fragile, Fearful, Feeling Aggrieved - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“What is new today is the premise that students are fragile,” write Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in “The Coddling of the American Mind.” “Even those who are not fragile themselves often believe that others are in danger and therefore need protection.” The debate narrows as everyone censors others as well as themselves.
An old-fashioned classical education would do the trick, but not everybody is up to that, at least not at the same time in life.

Something to think on …

Religion is the everlasting dialogue between humanity and God. Art is its soliloquy.
— Franz Werfel, born on this date in 1890

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Holy war …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: The Religion by Tim Willocks (2007)

Indeed …

… What We Have Here Is Failure To Educate - L'Ombre de l'Olivier.

Very few seem to learn at school how to make a logical argument, how to debate or how to respond to criticism – and the criticism need not be of them personally just someone/something they support. Hence you see cases where students complain about professors being *phobic or *ist when they quote what some other person said as a trigger for debate or learning.

Remembering Larkin …

 This Is Your Subject Speaking – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tramping along …

… An unexpected afterlife for Philip Larkin? | Andrew Motion. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

… two other kinds of contact with him continued, during and beyond the seven years I spent researching and writing my book. One involved Raymond Cass, a Hull-based hearing-aid specialist, who had regularly tested Larkin’s ears and fixed his hearing aids for him. I never met Dr Cass, but as I came close to finishing my work he wrote to me out of the blue, introducing himself as a doctor and adding (if I didn’t mind him “using a literary phrase to a literary man”) that he was also a spiritualist, and had been in touch with Larkin’s shade. 
It seems appropriate to link to this:

Holy ground …

… Grain Field by Adelaide Crapsey | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

On second thought …

… We DIDN'T win the war! PETER HITCHENS writes a provocative book challenging all we think about WW2 | Daily Mail Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The myth that it was all glorious, and that it saved the world, is a comforting old muffler keeping out the clammy draughts of economic failure and political weakness.

Hmm …

… Overcoming Bias : Sexism Inflation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So first it was sexist to suggest human women have lower science ability, then sexist to suggest women have differing tech-job preferences, and now it is sexist to say that in general across species and traits males tend to have more variance because they are selected less often.
I should think it would be obvious to most that Almighty Evolution knew what She was about when She introduced sexual differentiation into the biologic configuration. The object of the game, after all, is reproduction, failing which species cannot survive.The male of any given species is really meant to be at the service of the female. For some — male spiders, for instance — this is a costly enterprise.

Inquirer reviews …

… Stephan Salisbury hits a homer with 'Britt & Jimmy Strike Out'.

Katharine Weber's 'Still Life with Monkey': A bright light comes to a dark world.

… Gary Shteyngart's 'Lake Success': A snapshot of a nation, and a man, at a crossroads.

Story boarding...literally

Story boarding, or mapping, is often used by writers and there is plenty of software that helps a writer construct boards, or cards, or whatever.  I'm fascinated by it; it uses different cognitive skills, outlining and summarizing and abstraction and visualization, to construct prose (and other) narratives.

Here are Gay Talese's story boards, literally, written on shirt cardboard, for his Frank Sinatra has Caught a Cold article, generally proclaimed as the start of New Journalism:

An Exorcist Speaks...

“Who is going to believe you?” It is the devil’s taunt, according to exorcist, Father Gary Thomas. It is a message to silence sexual abuse victims. And we have learned that same message silenced or impeded the truth of the sexual scandal in the Church from getting out for so long.
Father Thomas noted that sexual abuse involving children, both inside and outside of the Church, is especially heinous. “By sexually abusing children, Satan desires to destroy the icon of the kingdom of God. He wants to destroy the most innocent version of humanity, which is the child.”

Something to think on …

If we have not found the heaven within,we have not found the heaven without.
— James Hilton, born on this date in 1900

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Cause to celebrate, I suppose …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: International Literacy Day 2018 — 5 Facts.

Of course, being literate is not exactly the same as being able to read.

In case you wondered …

 The State of Poetry: Loud and Live - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The situation of poetry is impossible to describe but easy to summarize. No one fully understands what is happening because poetry and its audience are changing too quickly in too many places. There is considerable continuity with the past. The traditional ways in which poetry has been written, read, and evaluated still have relevance, but those methods don’t always seem very useful in understanding new developments. Old theories (including postmodern ones) are incommensurate with the present realities. There is no emerging mainstream replacing a dying old order. There is no mainstream at all — only more alternatives. The best metaphor is not death but birth. The poetry scene isn’t a cemetery; it’s a crowded, noisy maternity ward.

Worth remembering …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: When mercy seasons justice — Shakespeare’s wisdom.

Hmm …

 Belief in immortality hard-wired? Study examines development of children's 'prelife' reasoning -- ScienceDaily.
Why would humans have evolved this seemingly universal belief in the eternal existence of our emotions? Emmons said that this human trait might be a by-product of our highly developed social reasoning. "We're really good at figuring out what people are thinking, what their emotions are, what their desires are," she said. We tend to see people as the sum of their mental states, and desires and emotions may be particularly helpful when predicting their behavior. Because this ability is so useful and so powerful, it flows over into other parts of our thinking. We sometimes see connections where potentially none exist, we hope there's a master plan for the universe, we see purpose when there is none, and we imagine that a soul survives without a body.
There is also the possibility that the belief corresponds to reality.

Blessed are the cheesemakers …

For Ancient Farmers, the Road to Europe Was Paved with … Cheese.

"I'd imagine it [was] sort of a fresh, firm cheese," McClure said, "not as squishy as a ricotta, with a little more heft to it — like a farmer's cheese or perhaps like a feta."

Flesh and fog …

… Zealotry of Guerin: A Woman Ghost Appears from a Well (Hokusai), Sonnet #421.

Something to think on …

We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility.
— Thomas Szasz, who died on this date in 2012

Friday, September 07, 2018

Blogging note …

I just learned that a dear, dear friend has passed away. I feel chilly and grown old. I will resume blogging tomorrow.

Art and life …

Romance novelist Nancy Crampton-Brophy arrested in murder of her chef husband.

Wow …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Willa Cather — poet.

Joined in myth …

… C. S. Lewis and T. S. Eliot: Unlikely Partners in Mythopoeic Pilgrimage. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For Eliot, the variant world mythologies reflected a universal mythos. Each strand of tradition was a broken image. Piled in a heap, though, with the sun (the Son?) illuminating them, a brighter reality shines through. Lewis’s view concurs: the variant mythologies are individual “gleams” illuminating the “jungle of filth.” The “heap of broken images” and “gleams of strength and beauty” are parallel ideas.

Something to think on …

Why not be oneself? That is the whole secret of a successful appearance. If one is a greyhound, why try to look like a Pekingese?
— Edith Sitwell, born on this date in 1887

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Q&A …

… Nick Ripatrazone on Criticism as Performance and Twitter as Purgatory | Book Marks. (Hat tip, dave Lull.)

William H. Gass transformed my idea of criticism; he was playful, expansive, omnivorous. “The true alchemists do not change lead into gold, they change the world into words”—Gass would inhabit a book in order to write about it. 

Sharp letters, sad life …

 Flann O'Brien and the way he might look at you... - Independent.ie. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


… Burt Reynolds Dead: 'Deliverance,' 'Boogie Nights' Star Was 82 | Hollywood Reporter.


… Triple Canopy 2018 call for proposals.

Anniversary …

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Thoreau, Emerson, and Hungry Hummingbirds.

Hmm …

… A deathbed prayer for the Catholic Church | Opinion.

 On its deathbed, the church has nothing to lose  …  [a]s the church implodes before our eyes … [t]he church that has played such a huge part in lives is dying, and we are helpless … the church will be remembered as a nonprofit hijacked in the name of God  ….
First, I think there is great merit in Judge Rice's initial proposal regarding trained mediators and lay professionals. But the rest of this screed is way off base theologically. The judge may be a practicing Catholic, but his grasp of Church doctrine is seriously wanting. If he believes what he writes, he does not believe, as Catholics are taught, that the Church is divinely instituted, that its founder, Jesus, remains its head, and that the Pope is but his vicar, a stand-in. Anyone familiar with Church history knows that the Papal throne has often been occupied by quite dubious figures. I am not alone in thinking that its current bien-pensant occupant — who paused in his concern over the sex scandal to warn us about plastic straws — may be one of them. Judge Rice obviously thinks otherwise. He apparently is unaware that a good many laypersons are already at work on this problem and have been for quite some time. The Rosary Confraternity is about 500 years old and is still praying away. He mentions prayer at the end, but he seems to view the Church as a purely human institution in need of God's help. That is not Catholic doctrine. He should read this: The McCarrick Mess.

Something to think on …

You cannot imagine at all how much you interest God; He is interested in you as if there were no one else on earth.
— Julien Green, born on this date in 1900

Hmm …

… The Pleasures of John Ashbery's "Difficult" Poetry | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… difficulty, rather than pleasure, is the quality most commonly associated with Ashbery’s literary legacy. Richard Koestelanetz opened his 1976 New York Times profile of the poet, which bears the headline “How to be a difficult poet,” with this observation: “John Ashbery’s poetry is extremely difficult, if not often impenetrable; it does not ‘work’ or ‘mean’ like traditional verse, or even most contemporary poetry.”
I have never found him all that difficult. Here is my review of Where Shall I Wander.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018


… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog.

Listen in …

… Episode 285 – Glen David Gold – The Virtual Memories Show.

“As a novelist, you get an idea of listening to a character, and thinking about what the character would do, judging whether an action would be true to the character. If you base it on a real person, a lot of those questions are answered, and it becomes a question of finding an avatar for them.”

Blogging note …

I won't be blogging again until later today. Too much to do elsewhere.

Exquisite portrait …

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor by Brad Gooch.

Much in what he says …

… Sage Against the Machine - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

America’s university system, says Mr. Gilder, is “incredibly corrupt and ideological.” How did it come to be like that? Surely, I observe, it wasn’t that way when he graduated from Harvard in 1962. “It was beginning to get that way,” he says, as he revs his engines for a fresh sortie. “The rise of affluence through the 1960s created this kind of amazing irresponsibility that resulted in a whole generation losing track of reality.”

Mark thy calendar …

MAKING POEMS THAT LAST – Autumn (September-October)  2018 



Reserve a place in the class via: gontarek9@earthlink.net

While there’s no guarantee you’ll become the next Robert Frost, with the guidance of award-winning, prolific poet Leonard Gontarek, it’s at least a possibility. Encouraging students to explore as many avenues as possible and remove themselves from their work, he’ll help you find—then strengthen—your style and voice.

                                Philadelphia Weekly, Nicole Finkbiner

The workshop will include discussions of contemporary and international 
poetry, translation, the students’ poetry, and the realities of publishing poetry.

Narrative, persona, political, homage, and confessional poetry will be 
covered with a focus on what makes a poet’s voice original and their own.

Specific direction and assignments will be given, with attention
to the basic elements and forms of poetry.

Through invention students will build more accurate and textured work.

All participants are asked to participate in the Green Line Open Poetry Reading,
Tuesday, September 25, 7 PM – Green Line Café, 45th & Locust Streets, Philadelphia, PA.

The workshop will be presented in eight 2-hour classes,
All Saturdays, 11:00 – 1:00 PM: September 8, 15, 22, 29, October 6, 13, 20, 27.                                               
The cost is 192 dollars for 8 classes.
24 dollars per class. You may pay as you go.     Sign up in advance.

Please contact Leonard Gontarek with interest: gontarek9@earthlink.net,
215.808.9507 – Independent workshops and manuscript editing available.

Location: 4221 Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia.

Leonard poems here:


Leonard Gontarek is the author of six books of poems:
St. Genevieve Watching Over Paris, Van Morrison Can’t Find His Feet,
Zen For Beginners, Déjà Vu Diner, He Looked Beyond My Faults
and Saw My Needs, and Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket, Shiva 
(Hanging Loose Press, 2016) – Available from Small Press Distribution & Amazon.

His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Field, Poet Lore,
Verse, Handsome, Fence, Blackbird, The Awl, Poetry Northwest, 
and in the anthologies, The Best American Poetry, The Working Poet,
and Joyful Noise: American Spiritual Poetry. He has received five
Pushcart Prize nominations and twice received poetry fellowships 
from the Pennsylvania Council On The Arts.
He was the 2011 Philadelphia Literary Death Match Champion.

He coordinates The Philadelphia Poetry Festival, Peace/Works: Poetry Readings
for Peace, and the Green Line Café Reading and Interview Series.
Since 2006 he has conducted 1000 poetry workshops in venues including,
The Moonstone Arts Center, Musehouse, The Kelly Writers House,
University City Arts League, Free Library of Philadelphia, 
Mad Poets Society, Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership,
and a weekly Saturday workshop from his home in West Philadelphia.

In 2014 he created the first Philly Poetry Day. He was recipient of
the Philadelphia Writers Conference Community Service Award in 2014.
In 2015, his poem, 37 Photos From The Bridge, was a Poetry winner for the Big Bridges 
MotionPoems project and the basis for the winning film from the Big Bridges poetry
film contest sponsored by MotionPoems and the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.
He is Poetry Consultant for the Walt Whitman At 200: Art And Democracy project.



P O E T R Y   I N   C O M M O N



Guest Host: JEN ANOLIK

Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 7 PM

Sign Up In Advance: jenanolik@gmail.com
Each Reader Has 5 Minutes

(Please note the address, there are
  other Green Line Café locations.)


     This Event Is Free

Coordinator: JEN ANOLIK

Series Coordinator: LEONARD GONTAREK