Monday, October 15, 2018

Remembering …

… P. G. Wodehouse on the Eve of Eighty | The New Yorker(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

P. G. Wodehouse was born on this date in 1881.

Rugged individual …

… Moondog: The vagabond who became a countercultural icon(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Although many perceived him as just a homeless eccentric, the reality was that Moondog willingly lived rough for the sake of his art.

Good company …

… The Journey Begins – RT’s Blog.

Sad news …

… RIP Malty - The Dabbler(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Out of many none …

 Divided we stand: identity politics and the threat to democracy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What if plural identities survive and thrive best not in modern nation states but in some of the antique institutions that preceded them? How curious if a cosmopolitan civilisation – Appiah’s 21st-century ideal and Fukuyama’s end of history – should turn out to be in the past. 

Details, details …

… “Marlowe Would Be Proud”: On “The Annotated Big Sleep” - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No doubt the “semi-literate” public will not be rushing to read The Annotated Big Sleep, but for the rest of us, there’s a huge amount to enjoy in the book. I found myself more intrigued by the background information than by the editors’ close reading of the text, which sometimes feels like they’re breathing over your shoulder and making arch remarks, telling you how to read (for example, “Carmen is back to her default between the kitten and the tiger — for now”), but no doubt some readers will feel the opposite way.

In case you wondered …

… First Known When Lost: What The Leaves Say.

In the presence of autumn, anything other than silence is a diminishment.

Lovely …

 Once upon a time in New Orleans | About Last Night. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A friend sent me a photo taken after Saturday’s show in which Barry Shabaka Henley, the star of this and two previous productions of Satchmo, is seen chatting with a group of audience members. They were, my friend said, members of the Karnofsky family. As I looked at their happy faces, my eyes filled with tears.

Something to think on …

The universe is the mirror in which we can contemplate only what we have learned to know in ourselves.
— Italo Calvino, born on this date in 1923

Sunday, October 14, 2018

‘Twas ever thus …

… Forgotten Poems #50: "Something Left Undone," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

My favorite contrarian …

… Christine Blasey Ford is a poor role model for young women | Spectator USA(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I ain’t no little bird.
I can attest that Lionel, whom I very much like, is indeed no little bird.


Well-deserved …

… Nobel Peace Prize for anti-rape activists Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege - BBC News.

Inquirer reviews …

… Mimi Swartz's 'Ticker': The astonishing half-century quest for an artificial human heart.

… John Kerry's 'Every Day Is Extra': Skimming the surface, with lack of insight.

… 'Big Game' by Mark Leibovich: Scathing hit on football by a lifelong fan.

October Poetry at North of Oxford …

… 3 Poems by Byron Beynon.

… 2 poems by Elizabeth Jane Timms.

… 2 Poems by Patrick Theron Erickson.

 Uncle by Michael A. Griffith.

RIP …

… Mary Midgley obituary | Education | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… God in the Trash Fire: Thomas Traherne Endures - The Millions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Traherne’s magnum opus exists in the gaps, written in the lacunas, on a scroll kept inside the distance between that which is known and that which can never be found. Traherne describes this place as a “Temple of Majesty, yet no man regards it. It is a region of Light and Peace, did not man disquiet it. It is the Paradise of God.” Poetry of empty sepulchers and disembodied tombs, of empty rooms and cleared shelves; a liturgy of the Holy of Holies which contains no idol, but only a single, deafening, immaculate absence

The line of reasoning throughout this piece eludes me.  But this, from the concluding paragraph,
suggests, however slightly, that Traherne's thought (and experience) may have had something in common with that of the author of The Cloud of Unknowing.


The mystery of charm …

… Life’s Little Luxury. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)
Charm will not feed the hungry, help end wars, or fight evil. I’m not sure that it qualifies as a virtue, and, as is well known, it can be used for devious ends. Yet charm does provide, among other things, a form of necessary relief from the doldrums, the drabness of everyday life. Sydney Smith, the 18th-century clergyman and himself an immensely charming man, wrote that “man could direct his ways by plain reason and support his life by tasteless food; but God has given us wit, and flavour, and brightness, and laughter, and perfumes to enliven the days of man’s pilgrimage and to charm his pained steps over the burning marle.” If your vocabulary is as limited as mine, you will have to look up marle, which turns out to be “unconsolidated sedimentary rock or soil consisting of clay and lime, formerly used as fertilizer.” What Sydney Smith was too charming to say straight out is that charm helps us to get over the crap in life, which, as anyone who has lived a respectable number of years knows, can be abundant.

Unfortunately …

… Spadaro Speaks! | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



So Pope Francis accepted the pontificate in a spirit of penitence. So we must bear it as a penance, I guess.

Successful appropriation …

 "Miss Sherlock": Japan Takes On the Master | Bill Peschel.

Where the show really scores is in the casting of Sherlock and Watson. Yuko Takeuchi is just as mesmerizing as Sherlock as Benedict Cumberbatch. With her distinctive raven’s-wing hair style, her curt dismissal of everyone and their intelligence, her very un-Japanese walk and disregard for manners, she’s fun to watch as she blows through Japanese manners and polite talk. I would love to know how Japanese viewers look at her.

An important skill …

… On Reading 'On Reading Well'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As one reads more deeply into this book, it becomes clear Prior is addressing high school teachers and professors of introductory English classes at least as much as students. She implicitly recognizes that too many academics drag students through lowest-common-denominator exercises in postmodern drudgery and indoctrination. They simply lack the experience with which to light up a classroom with excitement about language or debate about the moral issues raised by the world’s greatest writers.

Remembering …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Birthday To Sir Roger Moore.

Something to think on …

There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous.
— Hannah Arendt, born on this date in 1906

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Change of venue …

… and more: Liberty Bar (2015) – R.T.’s Commonplace Blog.

We should all attend …

… 'The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis' Review | National Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For all the grandeur and ambition of their writings, the Christian humanists of the Forties were little more noticeably influential than those of our day. They depended on an audience of sympathetic fellow travelers to work out and give a first hearing to their ideas no less than do their counterparts in the present. With their constant summonses to contemplation, prayer, earnest faith, and ascetical sanctity, they clearly recognized something that Jacobs’s essay of two years ago failed to register, but that Auden appreciated from the moment he wrote his great poem “September 1, 1939,” in which he spoke of those who are good and loving as “ironic points of light” in the vast darkness. Intellectual influence is a communication of spirit with spirit, and of the soul with eternity. It acts within the interior privacy of each person and, should it come to have any measurable consequences for public life, it will be through a welling up from hidden springs impossible to measure.

Make-believe …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Actor (Picasso), Sonnet #426.

Time present and time past …

… The Wilbury Index - Perfect Duluth Day. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When I approached the age of 40, my friend Barrett Chase — who is eight days older than me — came up with a new way of thinking about age.
“I call it the Wilbury Index,” he told me. “It answers the question: How many Traveling Wilburys are you older than? — using their ages at the time of the release of ‘Handle with Care.’”
Well, I was older than three of them — Lynne, Harrison, and Petty — and just a shade younger than Dylan (I catch up with him tomorrow). Only Orbison was older.

Something to think on …

There's only one way to improve society. Present it with a single improved unit: yourself.
— Albert Jay Nock, born on this date in 1870

Friday, October 12, 2018

This Sunday …

… How We Do Illness - Triple Canopy.

An unsettling musical …

… ‘Girl From the North Country’ Review: A Visit to Desolation Row - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)





Nothing about “Girl From the North County” is conventional, starting with its structure. Mr. McPherson has made no attempt to choose songs that fit neatly into his dramatic scheme, the customary modus operandi of the jukebox musical. Instead, he’s followed the lead of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth in “Company,” a series of related but mostly free-standing sketches about a group of friends in which the songs typically comment on the sketches instead of propelling the dramatic action of the show.

In case you wondered …

… In Perfect Harmony: Why Music and Fiction Work Well Together. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My central character, as piano tuner, had a completely intimate relationship with the musicians and the music being produced – yet his angle on that world was unique and highly specialized. And – the novelist sighs with relief – it can be precisely described; there is a language that works brilliantly. The piano is a wonderful, highly complex machine; like a clock or a watch its intricate moving parts all perform specific functions and they can be written about in a precise and evocative technical language that absolutely conforms to the effects produced. Making music can come alive in a way that simply describing music doesn’t allow.

A day to remember …

… Tea and buns with Laurel and Hardy: Derek Malcolm on the day he met his comedy heroes | Film | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We spent almost an hour together before they called for the manager, who took me back to my mother, who was waiting impatiently in the foyer. I will never forget that flat bun, or the stories they told me about appearing on television and being informed that they were being introduced to 6 million people: “That will take rather a long time,” said Laurel. Another of his gags I recall from that day was: “I was dreaming I was awake, but I woke up and found myself asleep.”

The grief goes on …

… After Kaddish - Guernica. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something to think on …

The motive, principle, and end of the religious life is to make an absolute gift of self to God in a self-forgetting love, to end one's own life in order to make room for God's life.
— Edith Stein, born on this date in 1891

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Remembering Dutch …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Birthday, Dutch: A Look Back At Elmore Leonard's Greatest Opening Lines.

Surprise, surprise …

… Large Majorities Dislike Political Correctness - The Atlantic.

Whites are ever so slightly less likely than average to believe that political correctness is a problem in the country: 79 percent of them share this sentiment. Instead, it is Asians (82 percent), Hispanics (87 percent), and American Indians (88 percent) who are most likely to oppose political correctness. 

Blogging note …

I have to leave shortly to do various things in town. Blogging will resume later on.

A story-teller's poems …

… Patrick O'Brian's unknown poems discovered in a drawer | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Although O’Brian guarded his privacy – he was famously cool with reporters fishing for snippets of personal detail and many of his fans were upset when elements of his early personal life were revealed in a 1999 exposé – Smith said the poems were surprisingly autobiographical.

Hmm …

 Christian Wiman's stubborn, slippery faith: A review. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden,)

For a poet who once wanted to write an eternal poem, that is a nice humility. Wiman returned to faith after his cancer diagnosis, but he has also described the slippery nature of that faith. “It has been my experience,” Wiman testifies, “that faith, like art, is most available when I cease to seek it, cease even to believe in it, perhaps, if by belief one means that busy attentiveness, that purposeful modern consciousness that knows its object.” He Held Radical Lightcaptures that dogged, hypnotic stubbornness of faith.


I think that is because, if faith means anything, it means allowing God to get on with His work.

FYI …

… Coming soon: The Slowdown | The Slowdown | APM Podcasts.



… WITH TRACY K. SMITH.



 In a new podcast, the US poet laureate will read you poetry for five minutes a day.


(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Q&A …

… Reviewers & Critics: Laurie Hertzel of the Star Tribune | Poets & Writers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Men resemble great deserted palaces: the owner occupies only a few rooms and has closed-off wings where he never ventures.
— François Mauriac, born on this date in 1885

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Another storm …

… Update: Fall storm hammering the Twin Ports | Duluth News Tribune. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



This is Dave's part of the world. So let us pray he and his family — and everyone else in the area— stays safe.

Q&A …

… William Logan on Moby Dick, Claudia Emerson, and Samuel Johnson | Book Marks



(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Talking terror …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Vietnam War Spy & Southeast Asian Terrorism: My Q&A With Luke Hunt, Australian Journalist And Author Of 'Punji Trap: Pham Xuan An: The Spy Who Didn't Love Us'.

Right man …

… in right place: Paul Davis On Crime: A Look Back At Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Guzman: Once The Most Wanted Man In The World.

A book preview …

… Secret Scouts – A new fact-fiction children's book series about historical fact, friendship, mystery and adventure!

And the nominees are …

… These Are The Finalists For The 2018 National Book Awards. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… What Are We Doing Here? | James Ley on Marilynne Robinson . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

She has never concealed the fact that her religious faith is the bedrock of her political views. She is a practising Calvinist and a liberal theologian with a particular interest in the intellectual history of the modern era. The version of religious humanism she defends in her essays is characterised by its firm opposition to anything that smacks of rationalism or materialism or determinism — modes of thinking she sees as pervasive and pernicious.

My own impression has always been that her political views serve as the bedrock of her religious faith. And I would like to know how she addresses such Calvinist notions that we are unable not to sin because of our fallen nature and that God has predestined some for salvation and some for damnation.

Something to think on …

What mankind needs today is liberation from the rule of nonsensical slogans and a return to sound reasoning.
— Ludwig von Mises, who died on this date in 1973

Emily Bronte


After a solid month, I'm back in the land of the living. Wuthering Heights has released me!

Where to begin? The first point I'd offer is that this is a difficult book: both in terms of its style as well as its plot. Several characters share the same name, for instance, and keeping their stories distinct can be a challenge. Further: despite the fact that the novel is focused on two families, there's considerable intermingling between them -- such that surnames come and go, especially when marriages are proposed. This I found frustrating (and unnecessarily complex). 

So the novel is complicated. But what else? It's unusual, I gather, in its content. Wuthering Heights was first published in 1847 -- which makes Bronte a contemporary of Dickens. This I found odd. Because on the one hand, you have a move in Dickens toward realism and an exploration of industrialism in the city. And then in Wuthering Heights, you have the opposite: an almost entirely pastoral novel that flirts with ghosts and ghouls, and that follows agricultural rhythms. The complexity of human interactions in Bronte's novel was limited, I felt, to inheritance, property, and legacy: this is not a vision of humanity overcome by forces greater than itself (forces like capitalism, for instance). 

I don't know much about the Gothic novel (nor about eighteenth-century literature), but it struck me that Wuthering Heights fits far more into that earlier genre than into the one dominated by Dickens. And I suppose, in the end, that is what prevented me from full immersion here: I just couldn't connect with Bronte's characters, their pursuits, and their anguish. They seemed overly emotional -- and slightly bored. That led to an irrationality with which I could not relate. 

No doubt, this is novel alive with language and rhetoric. For me, it was somewhere between Shakespeare and the late-Victorian novel in terms of its linguistic evolution. Which I mean as a compliment. But that led to some lengthy passages full of stops and starts and language that could sometimes stumble over itself. I needed more here: either language that I could grasp or a character I could follow. And neither, in my experience, emerged.  

And so Wuthering Heights, this towering novel, this hulking book, remains something of an enigma: full of life and language, but brimming with untold emotion. Is this Romanticism? 



Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Check this out …

… Santuario.

Illustration and example …

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Creators (2006).

A man and his birds …

… Meet the Beloved Pet Ravens of Charles Dickens | Literary Hub, (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

How did Dickens get it so right when so many other writers seem to get it so wrong, or simply see the ravens as symbols? He lived with the birds, that’s how. He observed them. He spent time with them. As he explained in the preface to Barn­aby Rudge, “The raven in this story is a compound of two great originals, of whom I was, at different times, the proud possessor.” Scholars believe that during his lifetime Dickens in fact kept three or four ravens, the first of whom, Grip, liked to nip the ankles of Dickens’s children, whereupon he was barred from the house and banished outside. Unfortunately, just a few weeks after Dickens wrote about his idea of put­ ting a raven in a novel, Grip died, as a result of having drunk or eaten some lead paint.
I did not know that Dickens's raven was here in Philadelphia. I must pay him a visit.


The right man in the right place …

… Review of John Cleese’s ‘Professor at Large: The Cornell Years’ (opinion). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I studied theology for four years in college, and I went to see The Life of Brian with a friend who had gone to a Lutheran seminary. Ours had to be the loudest laughs in the theater.

Not to worry …

… All Those Books You’ve Bought but Haven’t Read? There’s a Word for That - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Our town …

 DROP Plans: The Looming Apocalypse in Philadelphia.

Here’s how bad it is: Our pension fund has $4.9 billion in assets but $11.3 billion in liabilities. Ultimately, in actuarial terms, that’s a $6.2 billion shortfall. For context, the entire city budget for the 2019 fiscal year is just $4.7 billion.
Well, as a wise man once said, what can't go on forever won't.

Really nice …

… 10 Beautiful Indigenous Children’s Books To Add To Your Library | Learning. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Humans at a distance …

… On Poetry: Closing the cottage, quieting the mind | Local News | record-eagle.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Listen in …

 Episode 290 – Jason Lutes – The Virtual Memories Show.

“Berlin was not a story that felt at arms’ length to me; there were many resonances with my life, and it’s all the most strange that the publication of this book coincides with a rise of nationalism in our own country.”

Hmm …

… In Literature, Who Decides When Homage Becomes Theft? - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Yes, and Jean Anouilh wrote a play called Antigone, and everyone knew that Sophocles had got there first. I think most people know the difference between a spin-off and a rip-off.

Something to think on …

If you create an act, you create a habit. If you create a habit, you create a character. If you create a character, you create a destiny.
— André Maurois, who died on this date in 1967

Anniversary …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: 9 October 1635 — Religious freedom?

Monday, October 08, 2018

Technical difficulties …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Blogging Note.

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Michel Tremblay on his play Hosanna, Quebec and Separation.

Inquirer reviews …

… 'Charles E. Hires' by Bill Double: A sweet Philly story of Hires Root Beer and its far-sighted founder.

'Car Trouble' by Robert Rorke: A 1960s Irish-American family in Brooklyn, and the shadow of 'Himself'.

'Coddling of the American Mind': Parents raising children to be fragile.

Latter-day folkways …

… Haul Videos: Postcards From the End of the World? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
But there is this other category of videos about clothing, and it’s called “hauls.” In a haul video, a person sits in front of her camera and holds up every piece of clothing she bought that day and describes where she got each item and how much she paid. Some of the hauls are collected on a day of shopping at regular stores—places where the stuff is new—and I tend to find those less interesting and actually a little distressing, considering how much new clothing can cost. It’s the hauls from a day of thrift store shopping (nope, still not using the word thrift as a verb) that get me excited.

In case you wondered …

… Philip Larkin liked his Mum and Dad - The Oldie. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
When I mentioned that I had feared that he would be difficult to talk to and a bit of a miserabilist, he laughed, saying that poems were often written out of unhappiness but that didn’t mean that the poet was in a continuous state of misery. When he was young, he had suffered from a stammer, he told me. I asked him to repeat all this in the interview.

Bad guy …

… Carmine "the Snake" Persico biography looks at infamous crime boss - Washington Times.

Family ties …

… Dr. Johnson’s Dream | Lapham’s Quarterly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
His father was far from Johnson’s only source of guilt. It shines through the prayers he composed in the wake of his beloved wife’s death, animating them with a pained sense of remorse for things not done, kindnesses not offered, that will be familiar to anyone who has lost a loved one. Nearly all of Johnson’s guilt takes that form: less a regret for actions taken than a deeply religious sense of failing to do what he should have done—fears of squandering what he truly believed were his gifts from God. His journals abound with acknowledgments of failings and resolutions to do better: laments that “this day I have trifled away,” repeated resolutions “to rise early,” reminders to “to do good as occasion offers itself,” even, late in life, “to review former resolutions.”
This reminds one of a line in Philip Larkin's "Aubade" — "… the good not done, the love not given, time torn off unused …" That is where sin dwells.

You decide …

 Does an irony about an irony cancel itself out? - Deutschland über Elvis. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Anniversary …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Wedding Bells for Peter and Harriet.

Something to think on …

The dynamic element in my philosophy, taken as a whole, can be seen as an obstinate and untiring battle against the spirit of abstraction.
— Gabriel Marcel, who died on this date in 1973

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Letters and life …

… The Poet and the Historian – The Hopkins Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For years and years, though, the two men’s letters were rarely wholly serious. They engaged often in forms of cultural satire, as when MacDonald tries to commission an article from Hecht for The Distinctive Howard Johnson’s Review: “Our honorarium will consist of free postage for all your business letters to Madagascar for twenty days. Please, do not write on more than two sides of the paper.” Hecht writes an entire letter in the person of “Astrophel, Acting Chairman, Department of English” to deny MacDonald a job: “We are obliged to confess, with some embarrassment, that we already have too many Capricorns on the department staff. . . . [W]e do not see our way to offering you an appointment in the near future. What we really need at present is a nice Gemini and a couple of Scorpios.” Academic politics are a constant theme: The friends had met in 1957 as fellows at The American Academy in Rome, and they knew firsthand all the pleasures of dedicated study, though on the home front it was conducted under less than ideal conditions. Explicitly deplored here are the drudgeries of committee work, the piles of appallingly written student papers, the mysterious ways of deans and provosts.

Check this out …

… Snapshot: Flannery O’Connor on the grotesque | About Last Night.

True and dangerous espionage …

Remembering …

… BBC Archive on Twitter: "#OnThisDay 1902: Poet and novelist Stevie Smith was born. In 1965 she gave Monitor a sample of her twisted, darkly comic style. A good time was had by all...… https://t.co/oRSXm2aVb8". (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Beauty is truth, truth beauty …

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Emily Dickinson on Truth, Beauty, and Death.

A great event …

… At the Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Tall Tales, Resonant Rhymes - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Here is my account of a visit to the gathering.

Blogging note …

I have just spent a lot of time deleting a comment appearing after any number of posts. I deleted all but two, because, who knows, maybe someone will want to get in touch with Dr. Zuma zuk. But I don't want the blog cluttered with the same pitch over and over.

Something to think on …

When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry.
— Niels Bohr, born on this date in 1885

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Anniversary …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Mennonites arrive in America on 6 October 1683.

And the winners are …

 Winning Poems for 2018 August : IBPC.



The Judge's Page.



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Form and function …

… The Beauty of Belonging by Roger Scruton. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Shorn of all ornament, ostentatiously declaring that they are nothing but their function, objects defy our humanity, tell us to give up on the idea that we can relate to the world in some other way than by using it. We once believed that objects, like people, should be treated as ends in themselves, and not as means only. We wished for them to be, as in the great days of Venice, enchanted by their human uses, full participants in a community united by style. But that attitude to objects has been banished to the realm of illusion. It is a fairy tale, like Father Christmas.

I guess so …

… Instagram Poetry Is A Huckster’s Paradise | HuffPost. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Atticus is a brand, not an artist; his books and Instagram and appearances cohere into a marketable aesthetic rather than an oeuvre of literature. His fans aren’t getting much, in terms of art, that they couldn’t get from a country song, a whiskey commercial and a throw pillow cross-stitched with inspirational sayings ― the key is that they’re getting everything at once, the country song, the whiskey commercial and the throw pillow, all from a persona that can be whatever you want it to be.

Listen in …

(Hat tip, David Tothero.)

Sound and sense …

… The Sacred Bonds of Sound by Sarah Ruden. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This prompts me to suggest a social meaning to the vital term Logos, usually translated as “Word,” in the Book of John. The term is connected to mathematics, whose power and prestige thinkers since before Plato had been emphasizing: some things are demonstrably and eternally true, in all languages and to all people at all times and places; the Logos in John is the reasoning of God and eternity; it creates and transcends the physical universe. But the Logos can also be “the compelling story”; it can be the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, teachings, death, and resurrection, accounts spread around the world through word of mouth in the lingua franca of the Koine Greek dialect, and on cheap papyrus paper. Like a times table, the story is simple, essential information, accessible to anyone who “has ears.”
I continue to feel  that the old English translation of the Latin Mass is better than the clunky one they use now. "It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation …" is just much more sonorous than the current tin-eared one (which I can't quite recall).  As for Logos, I think it interesting that the Chinese translation of the prologue to John's Gospel is "In the beginning was the Tao and the Tao was with God and the Tao was God." It works for me.

Arrow and target …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Nearly Hit (Paul Klee), Sonnet #425.

Something to think on …

It makes me happy to encounter goodness, love of work, humane intelligence, and people no matter at what kind of job, be it ever so humble, or ever so exalted, who do it well and con amore.
— Bernard Berenson, who died on this date in 1959

The hoax papers roiling academia...

Friday, October 05, 2018

Survivor...

...Testimony of an Islamic State slave

Nadia Murad has been awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Shooting star …

Oscar: A Life by Matthew Sturgis – review | Books | The Guardian(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Believe the woman …

… Women to Crazed Feminists: We Will Fight You To Defend Our Men | Trending.

For their sons and their daughters, right-minded women are rising up. They’re “woke” to the feminist lies, and they’re saying enough. Because of how male guilt is used to silence men, they have lost the moral authority to challenge the feminist threat. But women can make that challenge, and they are doing it now as they see the danger, the insanity, and the cruelty of the feminist movement today.

God bless her …

… Camille Paglia Takes on Millennials' 'Strangely Unsexy' Instagram Posts | Hollywood Reporter.

The leading artist of Instagram eroticism remains Rihanna, who for several years uploaded one brilliant image after another, often via the intuitive camera of her best friend, Melissa Forde. Rihanna understands magic, mood and mystique — sex as a shimmering state of mind. But the bright and shiny surface of too many of today's female-generated Instagrams conceals a bleak and regressive reality, with men in the driver's seat for careless, hit-and-run hookups.

Resolved …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: It’s as easy as A, B, C .... cutting through the confusion.

Good cause for eavesdropping …

“I’ve got a few of these stories”: An afternoon with Clive James, Tom Stoppard and Julian Barnes.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Let them eat cake …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Truman and the White House menu.

Blogging note …

I have to take off in a few minutes to meet various obligations. Blogging will resume later on.

Lost and found …

… Beats’ Holy Grail - Alta Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Neal Cassady’s letter inspired “On The Road,” then disappeared. Or did it?
Here is my review of The Holy Goof.

FYI …

… Highlights from the O. Henrys by Hannah Niemeier | The New Criterion.

Latter-day epic …

… Clive James: “The River in the Sky” | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 … The selections found here chart a grand movement, leaping about as the larger book-length work does, but providing a sense of the flowing whole. James’s is a poem of memory, which is to say, of place and passion—one in which figures appear and reappear, ideas remain, and books form “walls of color / The sunlight will titrate from spring to autumn.”

When birds turn bad …

… Birds Are Acting Erratically in Minnesota. Blame It on the Alcohol. | Smart News | Smithsonian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Nature is God's greatest evangelist.
— Jonathan Edwards, born on this date in 1703

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Good idea …

… First Known When Lost: Madness And Life.

Grim reminder …

… How the Gulag robbed Varlam Shalamov of his humanity | Prospect Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

That there is no redemption or resolution here is surely one of the reasons why Shalamov never gained the widespread renown achieved by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose own account of camp life in the novel A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich shocked the world after its publication in 1962. Whereas Solzhenitsyn’s title character was straight out of the 19th-century Russian novel, Shalamov’s shifting cast of desolate figures are far more modern creations, far less literary, far less comprehensible. Solzhenitsyn’s Ivan resembles a human being; Shalamov’s heroes have had the humanity beaten out of them.

From the annals of gullibility …

… For Sale: Legendary Photographic 'Proof' of Fairies and Gnomes - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

They look pretty fake to me.

Depends on how much time you have left …

… "1,000 Books to Read Before You Die” by James Mustich review - The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

What first strikes anyone who picks up “1,000 Books to Read Before You Die” is the freshness of what its subtitle calls this “life-changing list.” According to Oscar Wilde, only an auctioneer can appreciate all forms of art, but Mustich comes a close second. Who else would have included Madeleine Kamman’s “When French Women Cook,” Eugen Herrigel’s “Zen in the Art of Archery” and “The 9/11 Commission Report”?
Unless there's a check involved, I read what I feel like reading.

Favorites …

… 14 best poetry books | The Independent.

… The 10 books to read in October - The Washington Post.


(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Place your bets …

… The Card Tables by Jericho Brown | Poetry Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And loving it …

… Acerbic enemy of cowardice | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This exchange raises an interesting question about awkward Jews: Raphael, George Steiner, Jonathan Miller, Arnold Wesker. They all have a reputation for being difficult. Are they difficult because they have spent years speaking out about anti-Semitism? Or is speaking out what defines them as difficult?

In case you wondered …

… American Poet John Ashbery's Collage Art - Artsy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Ashbery’s poetry increasingly adopted a collaged aesthetic, commingling art-historical imagery with kitschy Americana and pop-cultural explorations of identity. “His poems are famously difficult because they go to four different places at one time,” Bessa observed. “That clash prompted an idea of the concept.” During a sojourn in Paris, Ashbery labored on his 1962 collection of poems, The Tennis Court Oath. The book is “beyond comprehension,” Bessa said, “because he was collaging a lot of different sources.” Ashbery’s poetry is generally elliptical, with references cut-and-pasted from film, pop culture, literature, and art history. The lines of the 2009 poem “They Knew What They Wanted,” for instance, are entirely composed of movie titles beginning with the word “they.”




Those were the days …

 R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and more.

The only boys book I can remember reading was Dave Dawson at Singapore by Robert Sidney Brown, whose 118th birthday happens to be today. I would have read it, of course, not long after World War II had ended. (It was published the year after I was born.) I remember liking it a lot, but I never came upon any others.

Something to think on …

It is not difficult for one seal to make many impressions exactly alike, but to vary shapes almost infinitely, which is what God has done in creation, this is in truth a divine work.
— Robert Bellarmine, born on this date in 1542

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

The dumbest generation …

… 1-in-3 pass ‘US Citizenship test,’ just 19% for Americans 45 and younger.

Listen in …

Episode 289 – Nora Krug – The Virtual Memories Show.

“The decision to make this book was the excuse to finally ask questions of my family.”

Our new overlords?...

Mark thy calendar …

… Nathaniel Popkin, "Everything is Borrowed" — Big Blue Marble Bookstore.

Sad ending …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Poe found unkempt and delirious in Baltimore.

Wonderful …

… Oh, the Places Books Can Not Go, Because They Didn't Deliver for 20 Years — MobyLives. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Artist maudit …

… King Saul in his pomp — and dotage | Standpoint. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bellow’s portrait of the Romantic author was self-reflective: “The artist is a spurned and misunderstood genius whose sensitivity separates him from and elevates him above the rest of philistine humanity.” But his good looks, exciting mind, sharp wit and exalted reputation were catnip to the ladies, whom he easily captured but could not control. Though not cut out for marriage, he had five wives and divorced the first four. One of his three sons explained, “He liked being taken care of. He liked beautiful, intelligent, spirited women. He didn’t like being bored.”
One likes to think this isn't true of all artists.

Hmm …

… Yes, the Grievance Studies hoax is hilarious – but it’s also rather worrying | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When institutions – like academic institutions and academic journals – become corrupted by ideologues of any political stripe, people can be left able to respect almost nothing and believe almost anything. Anyone need only glance at numerous fields of ‘academic studies’ today (gender ‘studies’, queer ‘studies’ and more) to realise that much of the humanities, and nearly all of the social sciences have become pulpits for frauds and megaphones for radical inadequates.
This all begins with a corruption of language, which was starting to be evident even when I was in college, with papers characterized by sesquipedalian sentences featuring dubious jargon.

Something to think on …


Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given.

— Francis of Assisi, who died on this date in 1226

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Blogging note …

I have much to do away from home today, so blogging will be spotty and most likely to pick up only later on.

An honest man …

… Hoffer’s Golden Rule – Idlings. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“To have a grievance is to have a purpose in life. A grievance can almost serve as a substitute for hope: and it not infrequently happens that those who hunger for hope give their allegiance to him who offers them a grievance.”

Not so bad …

… once you get to know it: Uncensored John Simon: IRONY. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… irony should, more or less discreetly, reveal itself as such, as if, for instance, we were to say or write “As the great Stephen King would have it.” To be sure, it may be missed by unsophisticated Americans, the ones whom Hermann Hesse qualified as “blithe and easily satisfied half human.” It can be inferred also by such a remark as Oscar Wilde’s, “Anybody can write a three-volumed novel. It merely requires complete ignorance of both life and literature.” 

Plus ça change …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: McCarthyism Revisited in Archived BookLoons Review.

Something to think on …

Sentimentality is a failure of feeling.
— Wallace Stevens, born on this date in 1879

Monday, October 01, 2018

War and fiction …

… The Waugh effort by Dominic Green | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
There is no implication that Waugh, like the fictional coward Ivor Claire, abandoned his men or disobeyed orders. Indeed, his bravery amid a collapsing defense suggests that he helped save the hundred and twenty men, who, racing against a group of Northumberland Hussars, got on the very last boat to leave. Gallagher’s clarification isolates the facts of the evacuation from their “transforming” in the labyrinth of Waugh’s conscience, where privilege, Waugh felt, had failed to withstand danger.

RIP …

… Walter Laqueur, eminent scholar who probed the 20th century, dies at 97 - The Washington Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Anna Porter on her Career in Canadian Publishing.

Join the discussion …

… Current Title – Big Library Read.



More here.

Endangered …

… It’s Still Nice to Be Charmed – The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
All right, attentive reader, defense stipulates that several of these examples have a bit of age on them. Understandable, as neither Epstein nor I are in the first bloom of youth. More to the point though, the examples buttress one of Epstein’s messages, that charm, thanks to some melancholy cultural shifts, is now on the endangered species list, if not on life support. Whatever history remembers this generation for, it won’t be charm.
I suspect that no one who is charming thinks himself charming, and anyone who thinks himself charming probably isn’t as charming as he thinks.

October Reviews at North of Oxford …

 Logos by Gil Fagiani.

 Sideways Blues – Irish Mountain & Beyond by Carl Kaucher.

… Distance Traveled by Michael Chin.

 In the Shadow of King Saul by Jerome Charyn.

Finale …

 Joel Weishaus "Cosmography: Re-Minding Our Place in the Universe".

Hmm …

… R.T.’s Commonplace Blog: Tim O’Brien on the Vietnam War.

Something to think on …

Celebrity-worship and hero-worship should not be confused. Yet we confuse them every day, and by doing so we come dangerously close to depriving ourselves of all real models. We lose sight of the men and women who do not simply seem great because they are famous but are famous because they are great. We come closer and closer to degrading all fame into notoriety.
— Daniel J. Boorstin, born on this date in 1914