Saturday, December 14, 2019

Get ready to chill…

 Frost Fair by Carol Ann Duffy review – icy perfection from a curator of cold | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

…  reading this small, icy, perfectly formed book – a ballad, a winter’s tale – one is reminded of Duffy’s consistent excellence. 

Sad anniversary …

 Beyond Eastrod: R.I.P. George Washington (d. 14 December 1799).

All-Stars …

… Replay: Buddy Rich plays Horace Silver | About Last Night.

Hmm …

 Pius XII, Francis, and the Media - The Catholic Thing.

The media seems to have a double standard about popes.  They’ll believe anything derogatory about the pope who was known to be a staunch defender of tradition and doctrine, and they’ll forgive everything for a pope who shares their own liberal views.  On the one hand, they’re eager to display a “fake news” photo of Pius in what appears to be a compromising position; on the other hand, they’re quite willing to ignore a photo of Francis embracing a contemporary anti-Semite.

The mystery of language …

… Walker Percy Ponders the Joy and Risk of Naming the World | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The other strange thing about language is that while it gives things an initial identity, it also obscures that identity over time. When Helen Keller learned the word for “water” in the example above she became aware of a distinctness the stuff hadn’t possessed for her until that moment (not that it was without any distinctness before). The problem is that the repeated use of the word swallows the thingness of water so that it is nearly lost. Language, Percy writes, “operates not only as a means of knowing but also as a means of concealment.” Objects can become “encrusted by a symbolic simulacrum”—a simulacrum that can only be broken (temporarily) by accident or art.

Nailing it …

… Nigeness: Old Nige's Prognostickation.

An Eliot poem new to me — and wonderful …

… The Cultivation of Christmas Trees - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Readers themselves, I think, contribute to a book. They add their own imaginations, and it is as though the writer only gave them something to work on, and they did the rest.
— Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who died on this date in 1953

Friday, December 13, 2019

Wouldn't surprise me …

 Crows could be the smartest animal other than primates - BBC Future. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Crows, in fact, might be like us not so much because they are clever (and so are we) but rather because they sometimes engage their cleverness simply for fun – and so do we.

Perhaps the year’s best movie …

… Review: 'Jojo Rabbit'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… when I tell you that Waititi actually uses whimsy as a storytelling tool in Jojo Rabbit to confound our expectations as his film offers a deepening portrait of a naïve child in a small town in Nazi Germany becoming aware of the inhuman monstrousness of his everyday world, you can trust me when I say I was gobsmacked. After half a century of moviegoing, I'm almost never surprised at the cinema, but Jojo Rabbit surprised me, amused me, touched me, devastated me.

Storytelling at its best …

… Beyond Eastrod: Ordinary Grace — learning through suffering.

Blogging note …

I have something I must finish writing this afternoon, and then, after dinner, must go to have an MRI (just a routine follow-up to surgery I had a couple of years ago). So blogging will be spotty for the rest of the day.

Looking back …

… Year in Reading: Nick Ripatrazone - The Millions. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Poetic outsider …

 A Russian Photography Star Is Born -- 20 Years After Her Death. (Rus Bowden.)

The way things were …

… Found: The Oldest-Known Photograph of Enslaved African Americans With Cotton - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hardly surprising …

 Poll Finds Most People Would Rather Be Annihilated By Giant Tidal Wave Than Continue To Be Lectured By Climate Change Activists | The Babylon Bee.

Snopes is probably fact-checking this.

Appreciation …

 Richard Rodriguez and the Browning of America | Elias Crim. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Like all very fine writers, Rodriguez is inimitable: he reminds you of nobody else. He gave the keynote talk a few months ago at Loyola University’s conference on “the Catholic Imagination” (watch it here). In his talks, Rodriguez is generally funnier than in his books, as well as more poignant at moments. In this talk he speaks directly and powerfully to his sense of himself as both gay and a Catholic, among other topics.

Sounds reaonable…

 In Praise of Telling the Truth | Peter Hitchens | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers were leaked now, when there is no Cold War, would the newspapers publish it? Would the big TV networks follow? Would the courts defend their freedom to do so? Would the public support the leak? While my small disclosure does not begin to match the scale of Daniel Ellsberg’s revelations about the futility of the Vietnam War in 1971, I suspect that the answers to all these questions are “maybe” at best and in some cases a clear “no.”

Something to think on …

Think enough and you won't know anything.
— Kenneth Patchen, born on this date in 1911

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The peasants are revolting …

… God bless them: UK general election 2019: exit poll predicts 86-seat Conservative landslide majority – live news | Politics | The Guardian.

Methinks this may signal the beginning of the end of rule by credentialed ignoramuses. 

Gore Vidal


Out of print for years, but now back on the cultural radar, Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge defies classification. It's a novel about Hollywood and entertainment, but it's also about sexuality, and violence, and psychoanalysis. It's a book that's serious, but silly; that's sad, but enticing.

Mostly, though, this is a book about gender, and about how our conception of masculinity, especially, is predicated on an unavoidable quest for power. Vidal is fascinated by this: by how power is accumulated, by how it grows, and by how it tends to perverts. Myra Breckinridge sets out to invert these dynamics, using her femininity, and a healthy dose of violence and manipulation, to stem the masculine drive. 

Reading about Myra Breckinridge reminded some of Sissy Hankshaw: except that, where Tom Robbins focused, a decade later, on the nature of physical attraction, Vidal focused on its emotional underpinnings. Myra Breckinridge is constantly at war with herself and others: her triumph is at much an act of violence and reordering as it is an affirmation of herself and her identity. 

I'm not sure that Myra Breckinridge is a book that was meant to be taken seriously: there's enough humor here, and enough self-deprecation, to distract. But Vidal used this as a tactic to make a more serious point: that sexuality, like gender, manifests structures of power, and that both assign roles without seeking permission. It takes a strong character -- like Myra Breckinridge, say -- to break that mold, and to subvert forces which are deeply habituated. 

This is not an excellent or lasting book, but it's certainly one that's timely, and its reprinting says as much about Myra Breckinridge as it does about our own culture and priorities today. For that reason alone, it's worth the read. 

Humorless twit alert …

… Snopes Fact-Checks Trump Babylon Bee Tweet, Emails White House.

Does Snopes also fact-check The Onion?

Oh, please …

… Is ‘A Christmas Carol’ Anti-Semitic? – The Forward.  (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



… the name Ebenezer is Hebrew, deriving from the phrase eben ha-ezer, meaning “stone of the help.” Scrooge’s dead friend and former business partner, Jacob Marley, sports a fully Jewish moniker …
Yeah. And Daniel Webster's father was named Ebenezer and Marley is in fact a long-established surname of Anglo-Saxon origin. And what about Jake Arrieta and Jacob DeGrom?

Indeed …

 We Just Got a Rare Look at National Security Surveillance. It Was Ugly. - The New York Times.

… everyone involved in the Page wiretap knew that what they were working on was likely to come under close scrutiny, yet they still repeatedly failed to follow policies.

A real journalist …

… Sunday Times writer Bryan Appleyard makes Duopoly warning as he picks up CBE - Press Gazette. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



First off, congratulations to Bryan. I think he's right about the British press, too. But there is a problem. Finding journalists of Bryan's caliber isn't easy, and the people our journalism schools are turning out these days don't seem to pass muster.

This just in …

 Rian Johnson To Direct Mr. Rogers Sequel Where He's Just A Bitter Old Man Who Doesn't Believe In All That 'Be Kind To Your Neighbor' Crap Anymore | The Babylon Bee.

Listen in …

… Episode 353 – Edie Nadelhaft – The Virtual Memories Show.

“For my art to click, sometimes I have to walk away at the right moment, and come back and see it new.”

Hmm …

 The Mirror or the Mask by Lydia McGrew: Liberating Gospel Readers from a Return to a Pre-Reformation Interpretive 'Priesthood'? | Thinking Christian.

The Mirror or the Mask is Lydia’s book-length response to Dr. Michael Licona’s Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? Both authors are friends of mine. I remember well when Mike first told me over dinner about the project that culminated in this book. He’d been studying Plutarch’s Lives, and had discovered, he told me, that ancient authors had a well-known and established practice of altering information sometimes to make a point. Readers were well aware of this, and they read Plutarch’s biographies accordingly.  It was the conventional way to write and to read. If everyone knew and followed the convention, no one was misled. In fact, if one were to take Plutarch as writing facts exactly as they were, that would be the mistake.
I'm not sure I buy his thesis about Plutarch and other ancient authors. I have read Plutarch, though, and I rather doubt that the authors of the Gospels had.

Me, too …

… I’m Partial to Impartiality - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Politics, let us agree, does not generally bring out the best in everybody. It narrows the lens of understanding, sets people against one another, is more interested in victory than truth. If, as Aristotle conceived it, the end of politics is happiness or the good life, in recent times it has never achieved much of the former nor gotten us any nearer to the latter.
We should never have allowed public office to pay enough to encourage people to make it a career.

Birthday boy …

 Beyond Eastrod: Gustave Flaubert — French realist master.

Something to think on …

All you have to do to make something interesting is to look at it long enough.
— Gustave Flaubert, born on this date in 1821

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Hmm …

… Maverick Philosopher: Five Grades of Agnosticism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My own faith is, like Bill Vallicella’s, “a living faith, not merely intellectual assent to a proposition; it is something I live, and my living as I do attests to the psychological reality of my believing.” But though I can’t prove that God is, I have had experiences that have reinforced my faith and so cannot say I am agnostic. Wordsworth puts it wonderfully in “Tintern Abbey”:

… I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.

Down the aisle …

… Poem of the month: Bicep to Bicep by Mary J Oliver | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A lady and a swarm …

… Poem: Mother of Swords by Lisa Bickmore – SLUG Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Murder amid mayhem …

… Beyond Eastrod: Ashes of the Earth.

Investigation …

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: Twas A Crime Before Christmas: My Interview With Santa Claus.

Hmm …

… Porn Is Not a Blessing of Liberty | Josh Hammer | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

At its core, libertarianism misunderstands the human condition. It is inimical to Aristotelian human flourishing. And it ultimately bastardizes the very thing it seeks to prioritize: Liberty, properly understood.
 The word pornography refers to printed or visual material of an explicitly sexual nature. I have usually found it boring because I’m not much of a voyeur.  Activities involving “forc[ing women] to perform certain sexual acts they had declined to do, or they would not be paid or allowed to leave” do not seem to me to fall under that rubric.

The list of lists …

The Ultimate Best Books of 2019 List | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to what he said …

… Beyond Eastrod: Decadence in Western culture.

There is a middle ground between decadence and despotism. It’s called civilization .

In case you wondered …

… Why we always get biology wrong – Mark Vernon.

It’s important to stress that basic misunderstandings of science are also rife amongst journalists. One of the most widespread is the conflation of causes and correlations. 
A recent review, published in The Lancet, identified risk factors linked to dementia. It generated headlines about how to avoid dementia by making lifestyle changes. These included such diverse strategies as raising levels of education and addressing midlife hearing loss, as well as tackling obesity and smoking. “Risk factors” became causes in the reporting, and what was easy to overlook, too, was that the factors themselves actually accounted for only a small fraction of the overall risk. In fact, two-thirds of dementia risk is thought to be “non-modifiable”, The Lancet reported. In a way, that was the real story, but it doesn’t make for good headlines.

A 17th-century sensibility …

 Nigeness: 'The complexion of a murderer in a bandbox'.

Begging to differ …

 Easy For Her To Say | Anne Kennedy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Something to think on …

It's a universal law — intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.
— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, born on this date in 1918

A noble Nobel lecture …

… Olga Tokarczuk’s Nobel lecture: “Literature is one of the few spheres that try to keep us close to the hard facts of the world.” | The Book Haven.

Literature is built on tenderness toward any being other than ourselves. It is the basic psychological mechanism of the novel. Thanks to this miraculous tool, the most sophisticated means of human communication, our experience can travel through time, reaching those who have not yet been born, but who will one day turn to what we have written, the stories we told about ourselves and our world.

More than you may have thought …

… America As a Catholic Country | James Matthew Wilson | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Michigan, surrounded by the Great Lakes, was among the places the French missionaries and traders came centuries ago, moving by canoe along the navigable bodies of water, to encounter the Indians, trade with them, live alongside them, and instruct them in the gospel. This communion of the French Jesuits with the Indians was one of several founding moments of America. The Jesuits at every opportunity consecrated places and events to Our Lady, no such instance of which is more striking than Jacques Marquette’s naming the Mississippi the River of the Immaculate Conception. Through these acts of prayer, this offering of the land to the Mother of God, they consecrated America, piece by piece, as a Catholic country.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Hmm …

… Word of the Year 2019 | They | Merriam-Webster. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Widespread use of they as a singular doesn’t make it any more literate, and maybe it’s not such a great idea to abuse the language to suit your ideology. Ideologies, after all, come and go.

A slight oversight …

… TT: Whoops! | About Last Night.



It remains a great book. Here is my review of it.

Light at night …

… First Known When Lost: Glimmers.

There is a great deal to complain of in our age, isn't there?  Yet, each successive "modern" age seems clamorous, base, and hollow to a large number of its inhabitants.  For instance, the politicized world that surrounds us is paltry and mean.  How could it be otherwise?  It has always been thus, and it will always be thus.  It is one manifestation of human nature, and it will never change.
But none of this is cause for despair.

Time for a smile …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: His And Her Diary.

Anniversary

… Beyond Eastrod: Come back to the raft



I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when I was a kid, right after I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I didn't like it that much. Maybe because I didn't like Huck as much as I did Tom. 

Happy birthday, Miss Emily …

… Emily Dickinson's Birthday, Emily's Room.

I arranged to spend an hour alone in Emily’s room from 5:30 t0 6:30 on the 26th. The house was empty but for the kind docent who escorted me upstairs. In the poet’s room she left me much alone, a loneliness that felt deep but did not last long. For five minutes or so, I breathed and did not move except to scan the room. I stared at the bed first, the bed where Emily lounged and slept, dreamed and died. My heron eyes swam into the shawl spread across the mattress, one of her shawls, one she liked wearing.
I stood outside that house once. It was closed to the public the day I was there.

One writer meets another …

 Paul Theroux - Born in the USA | Literary Review | Issue 482. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It was at this point I discovered Nathanael West. Although all his books had been published in the 1930s, they seemed to anticipate the America that was throbbing all around me, with its violence and disappointments, its spiritual emptiness, its foolishness and its freaks.

Q&A …

… The Unbearable Virtue-Mongering of Academics - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My position has become a minority one; perhaps it was always a minority one. Both students and some faculty feel more and more that colleges and universities should stand for values and policies that are thought to be progressive, rather than sitting on the political sideline. That’s a prevailing sentiment, and it’s one I don’t share.

Once you go in that direction, for example by declining to invest in fossil-fuel stock, you’ve transformed yourself from an educational institution into a political institution. Once you do that, there’s, in effect, no place to stop — the university becomes an extension of partisan politics, just another place where partisan politics occurs.

In case you wondered …

… Is Larkin good for you? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Amis identified a major component of Larkin’s style when he emphasised the transparency of his poetry. There is also his signature lucidity and precision of expression as well as the impression we have that his poems are hardly aware of themselves as poetry in any grand or affected sense. His poetry fulfils Orwell’s ideal of good writing, in that it possesses the virtue of being as clear “as a windowpane”. To achieve such an effect in prose is rare, but to accomplish it in poetry is exceptional. Larkin manages to be supremely poetic by being self-consciously unpoetic.

Something to think on …

A garden isn't meant to be useful. It's for joy.
— Rumer Godden, born on this date in 1907

Monday, December 09, 2019

In case you wondered …

… Why Do Teachers Make Us Read Old Books? 




Check this out …

… Mr. Business: The Adventures of Little BK.

Hear, hear …

… Vandals, Leave the Hymns Alone - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 why do the editors of Catholic hymnals play the blockhead, and mangle good poetry, to get rid of pronouns that we understand and that remain in the Mass and the Rosary anyway?  Maybe they are allergic to the sacral – a subject for another day.  As far as the hymns go, it’s irrelevant.  A hymn is a work of art and should be left in its integrity, or, if touched lightly, touched only by artists, not by committees, not by people with a linguistic agenda, and not by blockheads.
Because, like many self-styled intellectuals, they think the common people are as ignorant as they are, forgetting that for several centuries, the King James Bible was often the only book people read.

Wow …

… Curled Thyme. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The poet jeers at beauty, destroying with one hand, rewelding with the other. We hear him play two themes upon a double-pipe. The girls may jilt me, says the boy, and he becomes a figure of satire comparing his stupid eyes to the beauty of the Athenian goddess, but his music he says is sweet and we know that this is true.
What a writer she was.

 

Ah, yes …

… Old Age by Edmund Waller | Malcolm Guite. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I've certainly found this to be true:



Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view
That stand upon the threshold of the new.

A masked heart …

… Elizabeth Smart Died in 1986. Her Work Still Haunts Me | The Walrus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What far fewer people know about Elizabeth Smart—and what she declined to mention during the years I knew her in the 1980s—is that she spent much of her working life in London selling carpets, tiaras, and transistor radios as a witty fashion and advertising copywriter. She was reputed, at one point, to be the highest-paid commercial writer in England.
Read the whole thing. It is wonderful. By the way, this is Smart as she looked when was involved with Barker.

Dave Lull alerted me that the first link didn't work. This one seems to.

Why am I not surprised …

… Beyond Eastrod : Fraud in higher education (Walter Williams).

The way it was …

… Kip Praslowicz: "Photo Walk to Work" - Perfect Duluth Day. (Hat tip, Dave Lull, who lives nearby in Superior, WI.)

Appreciation …

… Here are Caroll Spinney’s best performances as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Getting to know them …

… Portraits: Umberto Eco, Saul Steinberg, and Aldo Buzzi | by Tullio Pericoli | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

It's impossible to lose your footing when you're on your knees.
— Fulton Sheen, who died on this date in 1979

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Interesting quote …

“Recollect that in arming yourselves, as you are bound to do unless you are willing to be forced into abject slavery, you are safely within the spirit and letter of the law. The constitution of the United States guarantees to you the right to bear arms, as it does to every other citizen.”
— Eugene V. Debs

God bless him …

… Anthony Hopkins on Why He Doesn't Talk About Politics: 'Actors Are Pretty Stupid' | Culture.

Of course, Hopkins is also a great actor.

Check this out …

… Replay: a drink with Igor Stravinsky | About Last Night.

About time …

… Ruskin Ready For a Revival, After the $120,000 Banana. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


A counter-mythical tale …

… The first case of real forgiveness ever? Maybe so. My talk on René Girard at Notre Dame. | The Book Haven.

 These days, “ how difficult to hold to Girard’s injunction of total non-retaliation!”

Then and now …

… Judy Kronenfeld — Once Unruffled | Sheila-Na-Gig online. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Birthday greetings …

… Beyond Eastrod : Salt, pepper, forks, buttons, and more.

Here we go again …

… The Fulton Sheen Fiasco | The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 The “postponed” beatification of Sheen is beginning to look like a cancellation. It is now deep in the realm of vicious papal politics. The “Sheen cause is over,” an unnamed source told the blogger Rocco Palmo. At least during this pontificate: As long as the pope’s pet cardinals (Tobin, Cupich, Wuerl, and company) oppose it, so will he.
One fine day, Francis will no longer be Pope.

Hmm …

… Getting Out of the Hole | The Russell Kirk Center. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Human as cosmic refugee—that is the true north to which Smith would orient his readers. Life’s journey is not returning to something you once knew, neither is it giving up the idea of home. Rather, life’s journey is going to a new place—a home you do not yet know.
I have the book, though I don’t think of myself as postmodern. I’m too old-fashioned.

Something to think on …

A thought should not expand symmetrically like a formula, but disorderly like a shrub.
— Don Colacho

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Weighty figure …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Gargantua (Honore Daumier), Sonnets #487 and #488.

Hmm …

 The trans ideology is a threat to womanhood - spiked. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



You might assume these rageful Vancouverites were protesting against some kind of Nazi or white supremacist, threatening to exterminate entire groups of people. But no, these folk were out on a Saturday night with megaphones, blaring sirens, chanting, ‘Hey hey, ho ho, Nazi scum has got to go’, because 300 people were inside to hear a panel discussing media bias in the gender-identity debate. To be fair, it was me, one of the speakers that night, who was the primary subject of their ire, as I continue to dare to insist that women are female, and that our rights matter.

Interesting …

Peter Fonda: We Got 'Easy Rider' Wrong, Man | The American Conservative.

“My movie is about the lack of freedom, not about freedom. My heroes are not right, they’re wrong. The only thing I can end up doing is killing my character. I end up committing suicide; that’s what I’m saying America is doing. People do go in and they think ‘Look at those terrible rednecks, they killed those two free souls who needed to love, blah blah blah.’ That’s something we have to put up with.”

Anniversary …

… Beyond Eastrod : Celebrating Willa Cather’s novels and stories.

Willa Cather is a great novelist. 

Something to think on …

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.
— Willa Cather, born on this date in 1873

Friday, December 06, 2019

For your listening pleasure …

… The 100 Best Recordings of 2019. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

News you can use …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Beat Column: Tis The Season - For Crime. Philadelphia Police Officer Offers Holiday Season Crime Prevention Tips.

The trouble with experts …

… to say nothing of jounalism: How Intellectuals and “Experts” Undermine Moral Agency - Taki's Magazine - Taki's Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 … the crucial, and fairly simple, issue is this: Is drug use “voluntary” or not? In other words, do people have free will or not? We certainly do. (If you don’t think so, see whether you can’t stop reading this article for a moment and return to it afterward.) Accordingly, Heyman et al. provide an
overview of data demonstrating that addiction is a set of behaviors whose course can be altered by foreseeable consequences. The same cannot be said of conventional brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis. The best scientific and clinical data we have do not support the view that addicts are unable to refrain from using substances by choice.

Thin guy trying to get out …

… Beyond Eastrod : St. Nicholas — not the jolly fat man in a red suit.

A monument to courage …

 Andrew Hussey - Massacre of the Satirists | Literary Review | Issue 482, (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It is to Lançon’s credit that there is very little about politics in the book. This is all the more impressive given that shortly after the Charlie Hebdo murders, sickening but inevitable hand-wringing began among many on the Left – those who saw Charlie Hebdo as an outdated and reactionary magazine that indulged in Muslim-baiting as part of a generalised Islamophobia in France. The implication was that Charlie Hebdo somehow ‘had it coming’. 

Classic Bron …

… Auberon Waugh Diary on Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament.
— Evelyn Underhill, born on this date in 1875

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Hmm …

… Beyond Eastrod : Flannery O'Connor's Catholicism.

I am a Catholic, and I think the reason O’Connor’s work affects people — even people who are not Catholic — so powerfully is that she presents the world and life from a strictly Catholic perspective, but without any preaching or doctrine, and that perspective resonates with many readers because it is rooted in Western culture.

Macro-aggressive gibberish …

… Lefty Lingo | Harper's Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The whole lexicon is of a piece. Its usage advertises that one has bought into a set menu of opinions—about race, gender, climate change, abortion, tax policy, #MeToo, Trump, Brexit, Brett Kavanaugh, probably Israel, and a great deal else. Reflexive resort to this argot therefore implies not that you think the same way as others of your political disposition but that you don’t think. You have ordered the prix fixe; you’re not in the kitchen cooking dinner for yourself. “The seductions of this shorthand,” writes Daum, are that there is “no need to sort out facts or wrestle with contradictions when just using certain buzzwords” grants “automatic entry into a group of ostensibly like-minded peers.” This vocabulary is lazy.

So cheer up …

… On Poetry: Happiness searches for us even when we hide from it | Lifestyles | record-eagle.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Postmortem …

John Simon’s double edge. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Were there no God, we would be in this glorious world with grateful hearts, and no one to thank.
— Christina Rosetti, born on this date in 1830

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

A classic Jesuit …

 Fr Schall: The man who launched a thousand libraries | Catholic Herald. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In an essay titled “On the Reasonableness of Hell”, Schall wrote: “If the human soul is not immortal – that is, if nothing passes beyond this life – it follows that injustice and justice have the same results. Great crimes of injustice are gotten away with and great examples of courage or generosity are unrewarded. If either of these results is the case, then the world is made in injustice. It is rationally incoherent. It was this frightening alternative that Plato fought against, as we also do.”

From our new paper of recotd …

… Narwhal Tusk Surrender Bins Installed Throughout The UK | The Babylon Bee.

Bryan Appleyard on Clive James …

 Remembering Clive James: “Dying turned out to be just what he needed.” | The Book Haven.

Ah, yes …

 The "Learning Together" London Bridge irony was forecasted by Evelyn Waugh in 1928, by Steve Sailer - The Unz Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

… Paul Davis On Crime: DEA Take Down Of Drug Lord Pablo Escobar: My Washington Times Review of 'Manhunters: How We Took Down Pablo Escobar'.

Hmm …

… Why we need religion | Prospect Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

[Asma] now views religion—his focus is primarily on Christianity and Buddhism, but much of what he says applies more widely—as natural, beneficial, humanising, and, indeed, indispensable.
Hard to square that, it seems to me, if none of its underlying assumptions is true?

Listen in …

 Episode 352 – Robb Armstrong – The Virtual Memories Show.

“These marks that the artist makes are our signature, our footprint. They have to stay.”

Something to think on …

Do not be embarrassed by your mistakes. Nothing can teach us better than our understanding of them. This is one of the best ways of self-education.
— Thomas Carlyle, born on this date in 1795

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Appreciation …

Remembering Clive James: “Dying turned out to be just what he needed.” | The Book Haven.

This just in …

… New Greta On The Shelf Doll Will Track Your Climate Sins | The Babylon Bee.

Appreciation …

… On Brian Doyle's Mystical, Genre-Exploding Work | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 During his final years, BD bravely bore intimations of an early departure from this life. During the same years he experienced ever more frequent visitations of what I can only call epiphanic joys. In the last lines of his last book, Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace, BD summons his combined desperation and joy when he does not merely quote but lives  à Kempis’s recommended imitation, making Jesus’s words in the Gospel of Thomas his own, praying to become, as a posthumous mystery, an unending prayer for his family. What greater gift can a mortal father possibly offer?
Meister Eckhart, by the way, was never excommunicated. A 1992 letter from the Vatican to the Master of Dominicans explains: “We tried to have the censure lifted on Eckhart [...] and were told that there was really no need since he had never been condemned by name, just some propositions which he was supposed to have held, and so we are perfectly free to say that he is a good and orthodox theologian.”

Pathetic …

… Baltimore Will Have Bought-a-Less: The City's Museum of Art Announces it Won't Buy Any Works if They're Made by Men.

I used to like the Baltimore Museum. Won’t set foot in it now. 

So near to our times …

 Peace In a Plastic World | Joshua Hren | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Because the “services” offered by the Department of Euthanasia are “essential,” Plastic has no feast on “Santa Claus Day” (December 25). After work he walks to the hospital to visit his lover Clara, who is with child, and finds “the hall porter . . .  engrossed in the television, which was performing an old obscure folk play which past generations had performed on Santa Claus Day, and was now revived and revised as a matter of historical interest.” The porter’s interest, Plastic supposes, is “professional,” for the show “dealt with maternity services before the days of Welfare.” The porter cannot look away from “the strange spectacle of an ox and an ass, an old man with a lantern, and a young mother.” “‘People here are always complaining,’” the porter says. “‘They ought to realize what things were like before Progress.’”

A fantastic format …

… Book Review: “Broadsword Calling Danny Boy: Watching Where Eagles Dare" | Bill Peschel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Taking his title from the radio call sign used throughout the movie, Dyer simply relates the plot of the movie, stopping frequently to riff on whatever seemingly comes to mind.

Just so you know …

… Wise Men Actually Just Sent Gifts Using Free Prime Shipping, Scholars Now Believe | The Babylon Bee.

Ongoing …

… Top Historians Slam NYT ‘1619 Project’ As It Infiltrates Public School Curriculum | The Daily Caller.

Some overlooked Nabokov …

… Donald Rayfield - Pride, Prejudice & Pushkin | Literary Review | Issue 482. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… unlike the embarrassingly jejune fragments of his novels, such as The Original of Laura, that have been published posthumously, this collection includes some of his sharpest prose, as well as his most cursory. It spans Nabokov’s career, from juvenilia to senilia.

Something to think on …

It is the mark of an inexperienced man not to believe in luck.
— Joseph Conrad, born on this date in 1857

Monday, December 02, 2019

in case you wondered …

… An Advent villanelle from Philadelphia’s Frank Wilson: “one of those memories that are like photographs” | The Book Haven.

Very nice of Cynthia to post that.

Decisions …

… Beyond Eastrod : Resolution — No more time torn off unused.

Patterns …

… A Closer Look at Ties: An Microscopic Introduction to Woven and Printed Textiles - Virginia Postrel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Listen in …

 The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: New Editor Meghan O'Rourke on what's ahead for the Yale Review.

Farewell …

… Clive James: the last interview | Culture | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Loving vs. liking, sin vs. symptom …

… Confession & Love of Neighbor: A Ramble — Maureen Mullarkey. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A man who has been told that everything is a symptom never need accuse or judge himself or ask to be judged. (Fulton Sheen)
I think that one of the better definition s\of sin was formulated by Philip Larkin in "Aubade"

The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused …

Increasingly ubiquitous …

 Beyond Eastrod : Flannery O’Connor and Thomas Merton — reading recommendations.

Something to think on …

One of the things that puzzles me is that so few people want to look at life as a totality and to recognize that death is no more extraordinary than birth. When they say it's the end of everything they don't seem to recognize that we came from somewhere and it would be very, very strange indeed to suppose that we're not going somewhere.
— Robertson Davies, who died on this date in 1995

Sunday, December 01, 2019

RIP …

… Mariss Jansons obituary | Music | The Guardian.

Time for a chuckle …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: The Young And Old Doctor.

The song is us …

… What Makes a Song? It's the Same Recipe in Every Culture - Scientific American. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Humans everywhere bring together pitch, tempo and the like in a similar fashion.

December Reviews at North of Oxford …

… Misguided Behavior by Leah Mueller.

 We Are Beat, National Poetry Festival Anthology.

… A Slow Boiling Beach by Rauan Klassnik.

… The City of Folding Faces by Jayinee Basu.

… Venusberg by Anthony Powell.

Another one …

… An interview with historian James Oakes on the New York Times’ 1619 Project - World Socialist Web Site.

 Slavery made the slaveholders rich. But it made the South poor. And it didn’t make the North rich. The wealth of the North was based on the emerging, capitalist internal market that allowed the North to win the Civil War. It’s true that cotton dominated the export market. But it’s only something like 5 percent of GDP. It’s really the wealth of the internal northern market that’s decisive. That depends on a fairly widespread distribution of wealth, and that doesn’t exist in the South. There’s a lot of evidence from western Virginia, for example, that non-slaveholders were angry at the slaveholders for blocking the railroads and things like that that would allow them to take advantage of the internal market. So the legacy of slavery is poverty, not wealth. The slave societies of the New World were comparatively impoverished. To say things like, the entire wealth of “the white world” is based on slavery seems to me to ignore the enormous levels of poverty among whites as well as blacks.

Congratulations!

 Happy birthday to the Book Haven! We’re ten years old! | The Book Haven.

Worth remembering …

… Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation: Still Brilliant After a Half Century | National Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 Like or dislike Clark, concur with or approve of, or not, his aesthetic evaluations; but fairness and accuracy require that one see and hear and read, and recognize, a moralist at work. The artwork Civilisation, films and book, is the master example of a new genre possible only in the era of high-technological audiovisual expertise. The work also offsets or mitigates the extreme and extravagant aesthetic tendencies of today, which are no longer hierarchical, backward-looking, or class-based but now vulgarly demotic, obscene, pornographic, or ironic: a very low culture for which ridiculously high claims are made, and whose noisy, nonstop regimen is constant and nearly inescapable.

Faith and language …

… Breviary notes : Essays in Idleness. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The whole of English literature, in its breadth and insularity, is compact with this Anglican “vision” of Our Lord, so that most of it will be lost on the reader without knowledge of that Anglican KJV and BCP. Behind this, Shakespeare himself, Chaucer and his predecessors, going back to Anglo-Saxons, are riddled with Biblical allusions, and the signs and symbols of religious devotion.
 All of this is lost on the contemporary university reader, for the entire field of the humanities has been defoliated — defiled and stripped bare — by the poison of “political correctness.”

Yeoman’s work …

… A List of Music Cues in Ducks, Newburyport – Reluctant Habits.

Anniversary …

… Beyond Eastrod : Great expectations and other encounters with Dickens.

Something to think on …

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was Dostoevsky and Dickens who taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who ever had been alive. Only if we face these open wounds in ourselves can we understand them in other people.
— James Baldwin, who died on this date in 1987

For the season

Today is the first day of Advent. So here, as usual, is my Advent villanelle: 


Advent


The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear
(Though winter’s scheduling an arctic flight).
The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.

Some say a telling sign will soon appear,
Though evidence this may be so is slight:
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.

Pale skeptics may be perfectly sincere
To postulate no ground for hope, despite
The rumor that a rendezvous draws near.

More enterprising souls may shed a tear
And, looking up, behold a striking light:
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.

The king, his courtiers, and priests, all fear
Arrival of a challenge to their might:
The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.

The wise in search of something all can cheer
May not rely on ordinary sight:
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.

Within a common place may rest one dear
To all who yearn to see the world made right.
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.
The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.



Saturday, November 30, 2019

Worth keeping an eye on …

Philosophers ask the big questions about religion.

Better than they knew…

… Review: “The Spectra Hoax” by William Jay Smith | Form in Formless Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Once again, in case you wondered …

… Who killed the American arts? | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
By the end of the Sixties, students and administrators had arrived at a Westphalian peace. The students permitted the university to stay in the business of training specialists and technicians. The university let the students redefine the humanistic curriculum. Henceforth, the purpose of liberal education was to prevent the education of classical liberals.

Happy birthday, Mr. Clemens …

 Beyond Eastrod : Mark Twain Revisited.

On the other hand, in case you wondered …

… Why Mister Rogers Is More Relevant than Ever — Strong Towns. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

You know who comes to mind is the character of Lady Elaine, in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Lady Elaine was ornery. Most real-life neighborhoods have a character like that too. But if you’re committed to a place, you’re not going to pull up stakes when things get tough. You have to figure out how to be a good neighbor to the “Lady Elaines.” One of the things I most admired about Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was that there was this very difficult character, and the other characters had to do the hard work of learning how to love her.
This seems about right:

He seems very simple, gentle, and sweet; some of his friends even described him as androgynous, not masculine in the traditional sense of being aggressive. And yet he became a very strong person. Everybody I talked to who worked with Fred described him as a wonderfully loving and caring friend, but also somebody who was as tough as nails. He knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish, and how he wanted to go about doing it.

Hear, hear …

… Edward Feser: Against candy-ass Christianity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… my point is not to criticize Rogers himself, who I’m sure was a decent fellow, and who was, after all, simply hosting a children’s program.  I don’t know anything about his personal theological opinions, and I don’t know whether the movie accurately represents them or even refers to them at all.  The point is to comment on the idea that an inoffensive “niceness” is somehow the essence of the true Christian, or at least of any Christian worthy of the liberal’s respect.  For it is an idea that even a great many churchmen seem to have bought into. 
The aim in life should never be to win the approval of the fashionable.

So much at stake …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Card Players and Girl (Paul Cezanne), Sonnet #486.

Something to think on …

Except among those whose education has been in the minimalist style, it is understood that hasty moral judgments about the past are a form of injustice.
— Jacques Barzun, born on this date in 1907

Friday, November 29, 2019

Blogging note …

I must be out and about today ± and soon. Blogging will resume later.

Not a bad idea …

 Eastrod Revisited and Beyond: C. S. Lewis invites us to start reading fairy tales again.

Weighing in …

… All Book Marks reviews for One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder by Brian Doyle. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Listen in …

… Replay: Stephen Hough plays Chopin on Queen Victoria’s piano | About Last Night.

Good idea …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Project Guardian Will Enforce Current Gun Laws To Combat Gun Crime: My Washington Times Piece On Strict Enforcement Of Existing Gun Laws Rather Than New Gun Control Laws.



It does seem rational to enforce the laws you already have on the books before passing new ones.

Meaning the real thing …

… In defense of journalism | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The chosen …

… Books of the Year 2019 - TLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Apologia pro vita sua …

… Critics & criticism by John Simon | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Criticism should also be comprehensible, which is to say not written by Frenchmen with esoteric theories and befuddling jargon. And it should not present itself as written on Mosaic tablets by the likes of Harold Bloom. Above all, it should not be the voice of a publisher or editor or anybody else, but independently the critic’s own.