Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sounds like a must-read …

… Mystics of the Imagination.

Mark Vernon, in this beautifully written and artfully constructed book, uses Barfield’s key insights and amplifying historical and literary scholarship, to trace the development of Christianity’s two founding traditions – Athens and Jerusalem – articulating how they embarked on similar journeys from original participation to an individualizing break to a new sense of humanity’s place in the cosmos. No longer inhabiting a field in which the gods pulled the strings of fate into a world governed by a unitary, ordered universe in which recognizable persons could, in freedom, respond either to Yahweh as person or in law or to the ordering Good or Logos. These two traditions, Vernon argues, merge in Christianity and give birth to a new dispensation, a new reconciling participation, witnessed to and embodied in the person of Christ.

Graham Greene in Cuba...

...There have been a number of recent reviews and articles about this topic

Listen in …

 A trip to the Hudson Valley, Interview talk in Connecticut & Sandwiches in Maine – Literary Tourist.

The destination was Richard Minsky’s place in the Hudson Valley, just south of Albany, NY. Richard was/is the founder of The Center for Book Arts in New York. I’d heard about him some years earlier thanks to a book he’d written called The Art of American Book Covers, 1875-1930On the drive back north from a visit to New York City one summer I called him up out-of- the-blue to ask if he’d like to be interviewed for The Biblio File podcast. He gamely agreed, and promptly fixed up a bountiful cheese plate (and drinks) for my wife and her brother, who was travelling with us, out on his patio. The two of us then got down to business inside. He poured me one of the best Negronis I’ve ever thrown back. We then sat down together to talk about the book arts. Listen above. 

Anniversary …

 Reviews and Marginalia : X. J. Kennedy and the Hippogriff.

Well, it is tring to get at a mystery …

… For Wittgenstein, Philosophy Had to Be as Complicated as the Knots it Unties | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“When a sentence is called senseless,” he said, “a combination of words is being excluded from the language, withdrawn from circulation,” and “it is not as it were its sense that is senseless.” But we cannot appreciate what we have achieved unless we find some way to commemorate our lost illusions and “get a clear view of the . . . state of affairs before the contradiction was resolved”—a task that called for imagination, tact and poetic skill rather than quick-witted cleverness.

Reading in a Boom Time of Biographical Fiction | Literary Hub

… Reading in a Boom Time of Biographical Fiction | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I chose to write about Saint Paul because, first of all, I considered him the inventor of Christianity, a figure almost equal to Plato in his influence on western thought. But, in this case, one has only a handful of letters—perhaps six of the thirteen Pauline epistles in the New Testament are considered authentic by most scholars. The Acts of the Apostles provide a partial biography of Paul. But this is a sketch. It’s for the novelist to imagine the contours of Paul’s inner world, to guess at his motives. I saw him as a repressed homosexual, a man of amazing visionary powers, a godly person who heard voices—including the voice of God. 
How he sees Paul is just that. How exactly does how he sees Paul tell me anything about the actual Paul?

In the garden …

When the breeze subsides
And the wind chimes pause, notice
How vast silence seems.

Soft Stalinism …

… “Panic Attack” Reveals the Extent Of Young Radicals’ War Against the Middle Class. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Our elite schools have become training grounds for what Zach Goldberg has described in Tablet as a “white savior class”: upper-middle-class “woke” liberals educated in intersectionality, more in favor of reparations than African-Americans as a group, and more supportive of open borders than Mexican-Americans as a group.  (The men are even more feminist than women.) Their mission, to put it bluntly, is to keep the middle class in its place: beneath them.

Something to think on …

Have patience with all things — but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.
— Francis de Sales, born on this date in 1567

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The nature of language...

...In all its complexity

Not those kind of boobs …

… Right-Wing Boob Job - Taki's Magazine - Taki's Magazine.

… exactly the type of movie us Abes used to drunkenly pine for: a non documentary that would appeal to rightists. That movie is called The Hunt, and it’s a riff on the venerable “Most Dangerous Game” scenario (hunters hunting humans), but with villainous, hate-filled, intolerant leftists kidnapping innocent right-wingers and hunting them for sport. Even a retarded gibbon would have understood from the trailer that the “deplorables” in the film are the ones the audience is supposed to root for (especially the kick-ass blond female lead). But right-wing bloggers tend to fall below tardigibbons on the IQ chart.
I had forgotten about the protests against The Last Temptation of Christ. I just thought it was an awful film based on the title by Nikos Kazantzakis, made even with Willem Dafoe as a meshuga Jesus.

In case you wondered …

… on Who Wants To be A Jewish Writer? and Other Essays by Adam Kirsch – On the Seawall. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Taken as a whole, these essays reveal Kirsch’s focus on a Jewish approach to the world that is pragmatic, emphasizing the quotidian life lived here on earth now, and characterized by a special relationship to texts that originates in Talmud study. He contrasts this mode with a Christian outlook in which, while “[c]ontemporary poetry is not often religious, but … is still intensely, covertly metaphysical … The poet is for the modern world what the prophet and the philosopher were in ancient times: the person who sees into the essence of things, who knows what the world really is and how it should be.”

A small museum …

 zmkc: Gerard Dorville.

I love small museums. They usually contain something interesting, an object that gives you a glimpse into a bit of history or a way of life that you didn't know about, or a display that introduces you to a talent you would never have heard of otherwise.

An overreaction perhaps …

… A Nobel for Bob Dylan? “Grow up!” says a guy who is still on a rant about it. | The Book Haven.



I don't know. These lines from "Mr. Tamborine Man" have always seemed to me to have genuine literary merit:



Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea
Circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate
Driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today
Until tomorrow

Writers, artists, innovators …

 Reviews and Marginalia : Creators: From Chaucer and Dürer to Picasso and Disney by Paul Johnson (2006).

What distinguishes Johnson's essays most is the intellectual vigor of his research and observations, the impressive fluidity of his prose, and the ambitious boldness of the thematic premise which dominates Creators: Johnson's subjects (and the rest of the world's important creators) have become giants in their fields because of courage, curiosity, and industriousness …

A question of scale …

The American Scholar: Better on Paper — Walter Nicklin. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Precisely because the Rappahannock News is so small, the lessons may be large. That’s my hypothesis, anyway: the media mantra of “scaling up” and “monetizing eyeballs” is a siren song. Print publications that are thriving focus not on the quantity, but the quality, of their readership. Or for those who think of reading as a form of nourishment, a good analogy might be the “Eat Fresh, Eat Local” food movement in reaction to industrialized agriculture and packaged, processed products of grocery chains. When we analyze the best and most successful print products, money should not be our only metric.
It also helps if those working for a newspaper get to know the people who are likely to read it. Hanging out with your peers isn't very broadening of your viewpoint.

Something to think on …

Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.
— Paul Tillich, born on this date in 1886

What heroism looks like …

… Instapundit — ON THIS DAY IN 1919, RODDIE EDMONDS WAS BORN NEAR KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE.

Almost a century later, in 2015, he was posthumously recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations,” Israel’s highest honor for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Hmm …

 Intimidation-Produced Silence at Stanford - Minding The Campus.

Free speech at Stanford, of course, is no more endangered than at other institutions. In January of this year, for example, FIRE published the results of a survey of 2225 college students that found 57% think university administrators should be able to restrict views that some see as hurtful or offensive. Even though the fate of free speech at Stanford may be no worse than at other institutions, it is also no better, and the fact that threats to it are so common across similar and different campuses makes what is happening there of interest to more than its students and alumni. Thus, its recent symposium is sadly, revealingly relevant.
When I was at what was then St. Joseph's College at the beginning of the '60s, the overall political complexion was liberal Democratic. But when some of us — led by future Secretary of the Navy John Lehman — started a conservative club, we were just looked on as eccentric. Discussion was free and open. I think that was because all of us already had a religion. No one thought of turning politics into one.

Monday, August 19, 2019

What the Inquirer has failed to notice …

… War on cops in Philadelphia - Washington Times.

The day after the standoff and police shootings, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, William M. McSwain, weighed in.
“What I witnessed last night was true heroism by the Philadelphia police. But the crisis was precipitated by a stunning disrespect for law enforcement – a disrespect so flagrant and so reckless that the suspect immediately opened fire on every single officer within shooting distance. Only by the grace of God did they survive,” Mr. McSwain said. “Where does such disrespect come from?  There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this City that is promoted and championed by District Attorney Larry Krasner — and I am fed up with it.

Fake literature …

… Paging Big Brother: In Amazon’s Bookstore, Orwell Gets a Rewrite - ENM NEWS.

The agony and the ecstacy...

...Of being David Foster Wallace's pen pal

I guess so …

… The 30 Worst Remakes in Movies and TV. (Hat tip, Jon Caroulis.)

The only one I even heard of was the remake of The Day the Earth  Stood Still, which I didn’t bother to see.

Q&A …

… Bound by a Common Anguish: D.L. Mayfield Interviews Casey Cep - Image Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Casey N. Cep is a writer whose work tends towards thoughtfulness, with an eye for stories that are haunted by faith. Her work appears often in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and her first book, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee was recently published by Knopf. Here, she discusses the book and why she was drawn to Lee and her questions of geography, writing, and vocation. 
D.L. Mayfield asked her about fascination with Harper Lee, how reading the Bible as a child influenced her as a book reviewer for The New Yorker, and much more, for Good Letters

A confident spinster …

… Forgotten Poems #65: "The Old Maid's Prayer to Diana," by Mary Tighe.

A really cool poem.

Succulent distraction …

… Reviews and Marginalia : ... as if death were nowhere in the background...



As Peter Pan noted, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.”

Listen in …

… Episode 333 – Gil Roth – The Virtual Memories Show.

Because of a last-minute guest cancellation, I had no show lined up for this week! Rather than take a second week off this summer, I decided it was time for another Gil Roth AMA episode, since the last one was almost 5 years ago. Thirty-two past and upcoming guests and Patreon supporters came through with questions for me …

Just a thought …

Annoyances

Annoyances. That neighbor’s dog barking,
Barking. Something forgotten, spilled, or dropped.
Would they annoy if this day were your last?
Or would you clutch them like a frightened child?

Light and serious …

… Ogden Nash: The secret truths of rhymed unreason. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Although Nash was known as the most popular writer of humorous verse in America, he bore for a long time the burden of all brilliantly funny writers. That of not being taken seriously as an artist, as an innovator of unexpected rhyme schemes and a discoverer of the insane possibilities of known words. That lacuna in critical appreciation has been redeemed; that it existed points to the belief that ‘high’ art alone is poetry. This often blinds us to the acutely functioning imagination that pushes the bounds of language and vision in comic poetry — a quality lauded as the mark of the artist in poetry that refuses to laugh.



"Speak Low" is from One Touch of Venus, music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ogden Nash.

Moments …

 Mark Jarman: 'Memory Song' - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The highest …

 Whose Honors Include . . . – The Hopkins Review.

Listen in …

 The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Alberto Manguel on Packing My Library and the Idiocy of Honesty in Politics.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1948, Alberto Manguel grew up in Tel-Aviv, where his father served as the first Argentinian ambassador to Israel. At sixteen, while working at the Pygmalion bookshop in Buenos Aires, he was asked by the blind Jorge Luis Borges to read aloud to him at his home. Manguel left Argentina for Europe before the horrors of the 'disappeared' began, and just after the events of May 1968. During the 1970s he lived a peripatetic life in France, England, Italy, and Tahiti, reviewing, translating, editing, and always reading. In the 1980s he moved to Toronto, Canada where he lived and raised his three children for almost twenty years. He became a Canadian citizen and continues to identify his nationality as first and foremost Canadian. 

Something to think on …

No government has ever been, or can ever be, wherein time-servers and blockheads will not be uppermost.
— John Dryden, born on this date in 1631

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Worth noting …

Instapundit — UM: Dem rep: I’m not surprised to see Trump taking sides against peaceful protesters like … Antifa.

As I’ve said before, you don’t get Hitler because of Hitler — there are always potential Hitlers hanging around. You get Hitler because of Weimar, and you get Weimar because the people in charge of maintaining liberal democracy are too weak and corrupt to do the job. And there are a lot of those now, not exclusively in the Democratic Party. 

How Eric Blair became George Orwell …

 and much more: The Best George Orwell Books | Five Books Expert Recommendations, (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

…  he was staying in Suffolk at his parent’s house. He went on a day-trip to Ipswich, the county town, and came back and said to his then-girlfriend, ‘I’m going to call myself George Orwell. It’s the king’s name, ‘George’—good, solid English name—and ‘Orwell’ is the name of the local river that flows through Suffolk.’ So, George Orwell. A very simple process, in the end.

What a great poem …

… Reviews and Marginalia : Invisible Species.

Mind on vacation …

… but mouth working overtime: CNN corrects article criticizing purchase of Alaska in Greenland debate.

"One of the last times the United States bought land from a foreign country was in 1867, when Seward orchestrated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians for $7.2 million," reporter Chris Cillizza wrote. "It didn't work out so well -- and has gone down as 'Seward's Folly' in the history books."
Those of us who, unlike Mr. Cillizza, remember our history know — as the correction makes plain —  that “Seward’s Folly” was what critics called the purchase at the time of the purchase. When I was in school, the critics were the object of derision. And so far as I know, the purchase has actually gone pretty well. Obviously, Cillizza doesn’t remember the Alaska gold rush. What a journalist. 

Directions …

 Which Way to the City on a Hill? | by Marilynne Robinson | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
 The Hugh Peter Robinson thinks so well of was drawn and quartered because of his intimate involvement in the execution of Charles I. He may well have been the executioner’s assistant. As for the Puritans’ enlightened social outlook, perhaps she should read Puritan Economic Experiments (which Dave also sent along).

You can do the first perfectly well without the other…

… Nigeness: Big Reads and Eng Lit.

Precocity …

… Seamus Heaney and a toddler who “blew the heart wide open.” | The Book Haven.

Complete with cardboard owner …

… Visiting Nora Roberts' Bookstore | Bill Peschel.

In case you wondered …

… What Were People Reading in the Summer of ’69? - The New York Times.

Good question …

… ‘Global Temperature’ — Why Should We Trust A Statistic That Might Not Even Exist? – Issues & Insights.

“Discussions on global warming often refer to ‘global temperature.’ Yet the concept is thermodynamically as well as mathematically an impossibility,” says Science Daily, paraphrasing Bjarne Andresen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute, one of three authors of a paper questioning the “validity of a ‘global temperature.'”

An American believer …

… Scalia’s Applied Faith | The Russell Kirk Center. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As Christopher Scalia pointed out at his father’s funeral mass, “there is no conflict between loving God and loving one’s country,” and certainly this was true in Antonin Scalia’s service on the nation’s courts. If anything, the conflict can be said to be between irreligion and public service, for too often the nonreligious appear to be intent on banning religious expression, an effort unsupported by the Constitution and, indeed, specifically precluded by it.

Something to think on …

Memory belongs to the imagination. Human memory is not like a computer which records things; it is part of the imaginative process, on the same terms as invention.
— Alain Robbe-Grillet, born on this date in 1922

Saturday, August 17, 2019

I hope he sues …

… Johns Hopkins University Fires Professor Who Defied Campus Protesters.
Students claimed their concern about armed campus police stemmed from the death of a black man named Tyrone West, who died during a physical struggle with police in Baltimore in 2013. Experts ultimately cited various health issues for West’s death as he resisted arrest, and none of the officers involved were ever charged.
Which means they either didn’t know what they were talking or were being knowingly dishonest.

Hmm …

… Reviews and Marginalia : The Resurrection: History and Myth by Geza Vermes.

Wittgenstein noted that the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection in the Gospels exhibit the usual characteristics of eyewitness testimony.

Thinking about things …

 ‘Witcraft’ Review: Stop Your Blubbering - WSJ. (Hat tip,Dave Lull.)

I studied philosophy within the context a particular philosophy — Thomism. But in my case the Thomism was supplemented, as it were, by existential phenomenology.The only English philosopher I can think of whom I have found impressive was Whitehead. But that's just me.

Read two sonnets and call me on the morning …

 The healing power of poetry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It beats like a heart, soothes emotional wounds, and builds life-giving connections. Rafael Campo, physician and award-winning author, prescribes poetry for students, patients, and doctors.

In case you wondered …

… What Is a Liturgist? - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I stand in line to receive, just as I stand in line for chili and doughnuts at Tim Horton’s.  Indeed, at the latter, I may have a few moments of silence for thinking, but at Communion, no.  Keep that line moving, pal.  Body of Christ already.
Among the many problems with the English Mass is that the text seems to have been translated by people with no ear for language. Hardly surprising that they also seem to have no feeing for liturgy.

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Peggy Fox, former president and publisher of New Directions.

Peggy L. Fox is the former president and publisher of New Directions, was Tennessee Williams’s last editor, and is James Laughlin’s literary coexecutor. She lives in Athens, New York, where we met to talk about, among other things, her career at New Directions, Tennessee Williams, the Chinese poet Bei Dao, Norfolk confetti, contacts and connections, James Laughlin's literary influence, letter writing, re-introducing deceased giants, Barbara Elpler, W.G. "Max" Sebald, Gore Vidal, and New Directions's colophon design. 

Man on the spot …

… The poetry of Bei Dao and the paradox of Hong Kong. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Dao was all of twenty-seven during the peaceful April Fifth Democracy Movement that unfolded in front of Tiananmen Square, in 1976. Reacting to the sponsored beliefs and belief-systems that were being unfurled at the time, Dao wrote a poem, “The Answer”, which spread like an underground fire in popular imagination. A quote from it:
Let me tell you, world,I—do—not—believe!If a thousand challengers lie beneath your feet,Count me as number thousand and one.

Everlasting grains …

… Zealotry of Guerin: View From The Dunes (Piet Mondrian), Sonnet #470.

Something to think on …

It's very attractive to people to be a victim. Instead of having to think out the whole situation, about history and your group and what you are doing... if you begin from the point of view of being a victim, you've got it half-made. I mean intellectually.
— V. S. Naipaul, born on this date in 1932

Hmm …

… Instapundit — TECH BLOG BEHIND THE BLACK REVIEWS my The Social Media Upheaval.

“Reynolds has not only succinctly described in clear language the problem posed by these social media giants, he has outlined forcefully the best ways the problem can be addressed, both by our federal government and by we the citizenry.”

Friday, August 16, 2019

Heretics …

… Abandoning Darwinism: Gelernter Talks with Meyer, Berlinski | Evolution News.

RIP …

… Peter Fonda Dead at 79 After Respiratory Failure from Lung Cancer | PEOPLE.com.

Well, maybe …

… Charles Sanders Peirce was America's greatest thinker | Aeon Essays. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I really can’t much about this piece because, while it is full of sound and fury it often isn’r very clear. Take this, for example:

Because of his view of mathematics as the foundation of other disciplines, Peirce considered the Principia Mathematica (1910-13) by Bertrand Russell and A N Whitehead – who used Peirce’s logical notation, rather than Frege’s – to be seriously misguided, because the latter attempted to derive mathematics from logic when it should have been, according to Peirce, the other way around. The failure of the Russell-Whitehead programme would not have surprised Pierce.
 I do not know who the who is in the phrase “who used Peirce’s logical notation, rather than Frege’s” refers to — Whitehead or Russell and Whitehead. The link leads me think it is Whitehead, because the criticism in the link is directed at Russell. And I don’t know who the word latter refers to — Frege, I guess. But then where does Whitehead, co-author of the Principia Mathematica, fit in? Perhaps I am becoming unusually dense in my old age.

Sounds like a good idea …

… Restoring a Great Intellectual Tradition to America’s Campuses — The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

College campuses are a natural venue for debates over the full range of political, economic, and philosophical issues that face us. Colleges have (or at least should have) a commitment to inquiry and the free exchange of ideas. And seeing how adults who have prepared for the intellectual combat of debate handle themselves is an important aspect of the preparation for citizenship that’s part of higher education’s mission.
Unfortunately, debate has largely disappeared on most campuses. That is the finding of political science professor George La Noue in his book Silenced Stages: The Loss of Academic Freedom and Campus Policy Debates. Based on his study of 97 colleges and 28 law schools during the 2014-2015 academic year, La Noue concludes, “For most students in American higher education, the opportunity to hear on-campus debates about important public policy issues does not exist.”
I wrote a piece about the accuracy of The DaVinci Code because I was asked to by my boss at the time, who had been to dinner over the weekend attended mostly by Ph. D’s (husbands and wives) who thought its historical as wondrous. It isn’t. Makes you wonder.

Blogging note …

I must be off immediately to run some errands in what we call Center City. But I should be back by mid-afternoon.

Or a watch …

… Plants can tell time even without a brain – here's how.

Larkin and more …

… Nigeness: It's That Man Again.

For the record, I maintain that the best way to read Dante is in an edition with the original on one side and an accurate prose translation on the other (as in the old Temple Classics). That way you keep the unique, unEnglishable beauty of the verse – and learn a little Italian along the way.
I quite agree. I still remember the light coming through the window of the place we rented in BarberinoVal  d’Elsa as I finished reading Paradiso in just that way.

Great story, poorly told …

 ‘The 12th Man,’ by Scott and Haug | Brandywine Books.

Neat …

… Replay: Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison “rehearse” My Fair Lady | About Last Night.

Meet Cindy …

 IN THE GROOVE with Cindy Annis | The Valley Patriot.



Cindy is Rus Bowden's niece.

FYI …

… How personal letters built the possibility of a modern public | Aeon Essays. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the earliest forms for public discussion of politics and literature in print presented themselves as epistolary conversations. Rather than negating the personalising effects of handwritten correspondence, they relied on them to make new forms of print seem familiar and understandable. The ‘print public sphere’ made its debut as a series of letters.

Gauging history …

… Solidarity Hall —  In Our Father’s Court. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We gauge culture by the extent to which a whole people, not only individuals, live in accordance with the dictates of an eternal doctrine or strive for spiritual integrity; the extent to which inwardness, compassion, justice and holiness are to be found in the daily life of the masses.

Something to think on …

Simplicity is always the secret, to a profound truth, to doing things, to writing, to painting. Life is profound in its simplicity.
— Charles Bukowski, born on this date in 1920

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Sounds good …

… Simon's center-court star | The New Criterion.

A re-telling of the Faust legend set in the world of professional tennis, it is not an attempt to surpass Goethe in length or tragic weightiness. But Simon, never losing sight of the goal of entertaining his readers, nonetheless manages to slip in some serious ideas and a few important precepts.

Most disconcerting …

Worse Than Ever: Government Schools After 35 Years.



Poor preparation, however, was only the tip of the iceberg.  Students did not bring books to class, relentlessly complained about homework, and expected high grades regardless of proficiency. 


Blogging note …

I must off in a few minutes and won't be back until much later. Blogging will resume whenever.

Anniversary …

… Today is the 95th Anniversary of Playwright Robert Bolt’s Birth. – Reason.com.



ALICE: While you talk, he's gone!
MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law.
ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast–man's laws, not God's–and if you cut them down–and you're just the man to do it–d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes. I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

Hmm …

… Bystanders taunted and laughed as police officers were being fired upon in Philadelphia - TheBlaze.

This doesn't seem to have made it into my local newspaper.

Historical rhyming

… Nigeness: Children's Crusades, Then and Now.

Watch and listen …

… From postmodernity to final participation: talking Owen Barfield – Mark Vernon.

Consonance of spirit …

… First Known When Lost: Affinity.

Anniversary …

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was born on this date in 1875.

Poetry tablet …

… Taking a stanza: Simon Armitage cancer poem engraved on a pill | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Sad and lovely …

… Poetry: Death at the Derby - The Patriotic Vanguard. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Great poetry …

 Review: “Selected Poems” by Gwendolyn Brooks | Form in Formless Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dreams and reality were both important in her upbringing. Her father had given up on medical school and become a janitor in order to get married and raise a family. Her mother was a school teacher and concert pianist. Reading and recitation were high priorities in the family, and Brooks started writing poetry very early. Four of her poems were published in a local paper when she was 11, and her mother encouraged her, saying ”You are going to be the lady Paul Laurence Dunbar.” 

In case you wondered …

… What Thom Gunn Thought of Oliver Sacks. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The first Oliver I knew would have been the last person I would have thought capable of writing Awakenings. It was precisely his problem that he couldn’t sympathize with people enough. It wasn’t that he was lacking in kindness; rather he was lacking in sympathetic imagination. And that is of course what he has now—in his conduct and his talk and his life and his writing—more than anyone else I know.

Something to think on …

Funny, isn't it, how your whole life goes by while you think you're only planning the way you're going to live it?
— Edna Ferber, born on this date in 1885

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Blogging note …

I must take my to PT. Will resume blogging when I can.

Down-to-earth fellow …

 Louis Kemp Memoir Pulls Back the Curtain on Bob Dylan | Jewish Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Kemp provides readers with glimpses into the unguarded Dylan — the good friend, family man and Jewish seeker. Opening with how he met Dylan at the Wisconsin summer camp, Kemp portrays the teenage Zimmerman as polite and well-spoken but mischievous. He’s the guy who shows up for a school formal in a leather jacket, black jeans and a pink ruffled shirt. But he’s also a nice Jewish boy. When Dylan’s friend Larry Kegan is paralyzed in a diving accident, Dylan regularly shows up in his hospital room with his guitar and, in 1981, invites him onstage for a song.

Politics as tower of babble …

… Language Is First Casualty of the 2020 Campaign. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Read it all. No one gets off easy.

One courageous gentleman …

… Mali’s cultural hero Abdel Kader Haidara: how a librarian saved the treasures of Timbuktu | The Book Haven.

The result was a heist worthy of “Ocean’s Eleven.” They bought metal and wooden trunks houses around the city and beyond. They organized a small army of packers who worked silently in the dark and arranged for the trunks to be carried by donkey to their hiding places. Over the course of eight months, the operation came to involve hundreds of packers, drivers and couriers. They smuggled the manuscripts out of Timbuktu by road and by river, past jihadist checkpoints and, in government territory, suspicious Malian troops.

Faith grounded in experience …

… A Kindly Light - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Newman said in the Biglietto Speech, given in Rome when he was made a Cardinal, that liberalism in religion, saccharine formulas such as “God is Love,” or – to jump to our own time – “Who am I to judge?” has no real content. Liberalism eviscerates God’s action in saving us from a sinful state with eternal dimensions.

Who knew?

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: The Bible Told Him So.

August Poetry at North of Oxford …

… 3 Poems by Gwil James Thomas.

 Tatow by Holly Day.

… 2 Poems by Foy Timms.

… The System by John D. Robinson.

… Obit by Doug Holder.

Check this out …

… Stéphane Grappelli - A Tribute. Introduced by Yehudi Menuhin. (BBC, full length 0:50) - video dailymotion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to 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, who died on this date in 1984

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Hmm …

… Waterloo Of Boomer Catholics | The American Conservative.

The parishioners of  this “bastion of progressive Catholic faith” are free to believe as they choose, but they are not free to call it Catholicism, and they appear to be ignorant. God only knows where, if anywhere, they received their Catholic education. I’m no saint, but I think I know what you have to believe in order to be in accord with Catholic doctrine. I’d excommunicate the lot of them. There is no progressive Catholic faith. There is one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic faith. Non-Catholics likely don’t get that, and that’s OK. They don’t claim to be Catholic. But if being Catholic means anything, it means not having the option of believing in any damn thing you feel like.

The charm of staying at home …

Journey to Nowhere — The American Scholar. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A fine encounter …

… How Are You, Dr. Sacks? A Biographical Memoir of Oliver Sacks, by Lawrence Weschler | Booklist Online.

An odd occurrence …

Yesterday morning, I paid a visit to our local RiteAid. When I came to check out, I got to the counter at the same time as another gentleman. He was only there to get a pack of cigarettes, so I told him to go first. He was asked for ID, which it turned out he didn’t happen to have. The cashier, a very nice woman whom I know from church, told him she couldn’t sell him cigarettes without ID.
Now he was obviously younger than I. Most people are. But he was also obviously well past 18. I offered to buy the cigarettes for him, but the only ID I have is my long out-of-date driver’s license, which didn’t pass muster either. Finally, another customer with acceptable ID bought him a pack and he paid the fellow for them and went his way.
This is apparently a RiteAid policy, not something the state insists on. I suppose a store does have the right to set the rules regarding what it sells. But this seems bad business to me. Some mention was made that RiteAid wants to get data on cigarette sales. Are they going to stop selling them if they discover that not enough people are buying them? But they must already know the cigarette sales numbers.
This RiteAid policy, by the way, seems as much of an annoyance for the cashier as it is for the customers. They really should rethink it. Sooner or later a lawyer’s going to ask to buy a pack of cigarettes, only to discover he lacks proper ID.
(I remember the last time I was carded after ordering a drink. I was over 30 at the time. I thanked the waitress. I was flattered she thought I was so young.)

Much ado about comparatively little …

… How to Punctuate with Style: Lewis Thomas’s Charming Meditation on the Subtleties of Language – Brain Pickings.

Having spent a good stretch of years on a newspaper copy desk, punctuation has become rather reflexive with me. I really don’t think about it all. I do agree that exclamation points should be held in check and that using italics for emphasis tends to be vulgar.

Listen in …

… Episode 332 – Christopher Brown – The Virtual Memories Show.

If you want to have a healthy society, people need to believe there is justice and accountability for people who do bad things. The problem in this society is that it’s a really bottom-heavy system.”

Not good …

… Escalating the war on police - Washington Times.

There was a time when criminals knew that assaulting or murdering a police officer would bring on an immediate condemnation from politicians, the press and the public. And any violent act against a cop would marshal the ranks of all law enforcement officers into quickly apprehending the offender. But today we see fearless and brazen assaults on cops that are filmed and placed proudly on social media.
Of course, I’m biased. My father was a cop. My nephew is a cop.

Bounded by time …

… Eight O'Clock by Sara Teasdale | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



Sara Teasdale was born on August 8, 18854.


A pointed lesson …

… The Complaints of the Poor by Robert Southey | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



Robert Southey was born on August 12, 1774. He was England's Poet Laureate from 1830 until 1843. He was Coleridge's brother-in-law. Methinks conditions have improved somewhat since he wrote this poem.

Getting at the truth …

… I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise. - The Washington Post.

By the time we published our project, I didn't believe in many of the interventions I'd heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don't want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can't endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.

Appalling …

… Three Men Attacked On Their Way to Synagogue, As Renewed Spate of Assaults Targets Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com.

Truly one of a kind …

 “Completely Unmasked at All Times”: On the Complete Piano Recordings of Oscar Levant - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The only time I watched the Tonight Show was when Jack Paar hosted it. I certainly remember Levant’s appearances. The recording mentioned in this are well worth listening to.

Not the library as Miss Marian knew it …

… Librarians facing new tasks say crisis isn't in the catalog - ABC News. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

You could deal with the homelessness problem by opening facilitating for better enforcing the vagrancy laws. (I know, I know. I’m a meanie.)

RIP …

…. Cape Coral poet Lee Bennett Hopkins dies at age 81. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… RTs Reviews and Marginalia : A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War.

I have myself long thought that naval blockade of the South would have been the best response to the attack on Fort Sumter. The South had no manufacturing to speak of and was dependent on exports of cotton and tobacco. They also had no navy. It would taken time, of course, but the bloodshed would have been far less.

Let’s keep praying …

… Two cheers and dammit | About Last Night. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

The secret is to write just anything, to dare to write just anything, because when you write just anything, you begin to say what is important.
— Julien Green, who died on this date in 1998

Monday, August 12, 2019

Blogging note …

I have had much else to do today besides blog. Will get up to speed when circumstances permit.

Drinking and business …

 20011: The Beneficiary.

The Robert Scott mentioned herein would be Robert Montgomery Scott, who was president of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 1982 until 1996, during which time he increased the museum's endowment from $19 million to more than $100 million. Attendance at the museum more than doubled during his tenure. His drinking does appear to have been legendary. But I once read that, his pedigree notwithstanding, he could walk into a bar in Fishtown back when that was a strictly working-class neighborhood and be one of the boys within minutes. His mother, Hope Montgomery Scott, was supposedly the model for Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story.

Remembering …

 Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In history Ian Fleming, Author Of The James Bond Thrillers, Died.

Hmm …

 RTs Reviews and Marginalia : There is a gold light in certain old paintings.

Donald Justice was born on this date in 1925.

It's only a movie

… not history: Paul Davis On Crime: The Lies Of the Irishman: Netflix And Martin Scorsese Are Making Their Biggest Bets Ever On The Confessions Of A Mafia “Hitman” - The Guy Made It All Up.

Contrarian …

… ‘So Huge a Phallic Triumph’: Why Apollo Had Little Appeal for Auden | by Edward Mendelson | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.
— Edith Hamilton born on this date in 1867

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Hmm …

… I Immigrated to the US to Pursue the American Dream, Not to Pay for Your College Degree | Intellectual Takeout.

One bad night …

 Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: Hard Working Husband.

Tune in …

… The Sonic Society — Sonic Summerstock Playhouse S10E06: Yellow Wallpaper.

Cool …

… Zealotry of Guerin: A Suite of Poetic Forms.

The right sort of pause …

… In praise of the semicolon, a most maligned punctuation mark | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This isn’t something that can be summed up in a simple rule, and those who have tried over the past 200 years to find rules governing punctuation have failed miserably, as Cecelia Watson shows in the opening chapters of her insightful book. Punctuation tries to capture two incompatible drives: the desire to mark grammatical structure, and the desire to express the dynamic of the speaking voice. The tension between them means that no two people share exactly the same set of preferences. That’s easy to demonstrate. Give a group an unpunctuated page and ask them to mark it up, and you’d be lucky to find two who would do it in exactly the same way.

Q&A …

 ‘To Get Things More Real’: An Interview with Ira Glass | by Claudia Dreifus | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Can I go back to something? And feel free to edit this any way you like. I’m already editing this interview in my head because I’m a crazy person and can’t stop myself. This idea of not wanting to interview famous people, that’s one of the things that led to the work I’m doing today. I knew in my twenties, while at NPR, that the thing I wanted to do was document regular people’s lives. The question then was, “How do you do that?”

Anniversary and more …

… On the Water - JAMES MATTHEW WILSON. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Q&A …

… Alexandra Oliver finds poetry in old films, the loneliness of parenthood and the aftermath of disaster | CBC Radio. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

To a certain extent, and I'd love to make films of my poems. But when I moved to the suburbs with my husband and my son when he was very small, I remember thinking, "gosh, here I am." But I went through this period of poem-making where I would go out into the world, into ordinary waiting rooms, malls, wherever. You go out, and you think, 'What if I thought of myself as a camera? What if I walked amongst people, and I looked at people, and I imagined what they were thinking and I imagined how they were interacting?' 

He’s back …

… Mike Hammer Lives : The Booklist Reader. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 In reading Spillane, it’s important, Collins emphasizes, to “consider the era.” He explains, “Mike Hammer was a returning World War II vet who learned to kill in the jungle islands of the South Pacific. He was now going to deal with criminals the way he dealt with the enemy in war, bringing a combat soldier’s approach to crime fighting. This connected him with an audience of veterans returning to a postwar world that was not living up to its billing.”

The quest for meaning …

… Human evolution and soul – Mark Vernon.



 … there are activities our ancestors must have experienced as having intrinsic value, and that these activities are prior to those that delivered the instrumental benefits. Early humans must have wanted to engage with reality in a quest for connection and truths.

Listen in …

 The faith of the Inklings, with Malcolm Guite – Mark Vernon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Just so you know …

… Libraries can have 3-D printers but they are still about books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



The news isn’t that library services and programs have moved beyond books, it’s that public libraries are still very much about books.

Anniversary…

 RTs Reviews and Marginalia : Louise Bogan — “Knowledge”.

Something to think on …

God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission.
— John Henry Newman, who died on this date in 1890


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Hmm …

… Study: Physically Weak Men More Likely To Be Socialists | Daily Wire.

Worth noting …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Note to China, Russia, Iran And North Korea: US Aircraft Carriers Are Almost Unsinkable Giants Of The Ocean.

What about Socratic irony?

Overcoming Bias : Against Irony. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Irony has been around for a long time. I think what is being talked about here is the currently fashionable in-crowd faux irony.

Learned whizbangs …

 'Questioning Minds': Guy Davenport & Hugh Kenner's Letters Book Review | National Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For 30 years — between roughly 1960 and 1990 — two of the best-read people of the past century regularly exchanged ideas, gossip, drafts of work in progress, commentary on the books they liked and the people they disliked, scholarly discoveries, complaints about publishers, and charming verbal snapshots of their private lives. These 1,800 pages may well represent the last brilliant flowering of paper-based epistolary culture, what early-modern historians punningly refer to as the “republic of letters.” 

‘Twas ever thus …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Alexander Confronts The Headless People (The Talbot Shrewsbury Book), Sonnet #469.

Hmm …

… Walt Whitman Not America's Greatest Poet | National Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is a rant, and like most such long on passion, short on reasoning. “Whitman, whose professional self-promotion was pretty much as relentless as his literary self-glorification — the two are almost indistinguishable — looks to me less like the father of the American spirit than the father of empty American celebrity: the Kardashians, mommy bloggers, the “creative writing” and identity-study industries, the whole mutually trampling stampede of ineffable individual specialness.”
OK. Well, here’s D. H. Lawrence:

Whitman, the great poet, has meant so much to me. Whitman, the one man breaking a way ahead. Whitman, the one pioneer. And only Whitman. No English pioneers, no French. No European pioneer-poets. In Europe the would-be pioneers are mere innovators. The same in America. Ahead of Whitman, nothing. Ahead of all poets, pioneering into the wilderness of unopened life, Whitman. Beyond him, none. His wide, strange camp at the end of the great high-road. And lots of new little poets camping on Whitman’s camping ground now. But none going really beyond. … The true democracy, where soul meets soul, in the open road. Democracy. American democracy where all journey down the open road, and where a soul is known at once in its going. Not by its clothes or appearance. Whitman did away with that. … The love of man and woman: a recognition of souls, and a communion of worship. The love of comrades: a recognition of souls, and a communion of worship. Democracy: a recognition of souls, all down the open road, and a great soul seen in its greatness, as it travels on foot among the rest, down the common way of the living. … The only riches, the great souls.

Anniversary …

… RTs Reviews and Marginalia : Laurence Binyon — birthday remembrance.

Appreciation …

… Remembering David Bevington | The Chicago Blog | The Chicago Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

David Bevington’s influence as an editor and interpreter of medieval and Renaissance literature is plain to see: his Bantam paperback editions of Shakespeare’s plays are classroom favorites, and several of his scholarly books have become critical classics. But the fond reminiscences that filled social media after David’s death highlighted a different theme: his extraordinary generosity toward younger scholars. He continued to attend conferences and campus talks well past his retirement, following the work of the latest generation and dispensing encouragement.

Unsettled science …

… which is as it should be: Finnish Scientists: Effect of human activity on climate change insignificant.

This article covers all the bases, though I would say that the critics have rebutted, not refuted the findings. The Japanese researchers seem to be offering evidence to support Hendrik Svensmark’s theories regarding cosmic rays and climate. The business near the end about the earth flipping its magnetic bears looking into.

Something to think on …

I like the condition of being an outsider, just passing through.
— Barry Unsworth, born on this date in 1930

Friday, August 09, 2019

It’s the 1930s all over again …

… Europe Poised to Put Warning Labels on Jewish-Made Products.

Ideas without evidence …

 “And the prize for speculation goes to…” How physics went down a post-empirical dead end | Prospect Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Just awful …

… West African slavery lives on, 400 years after transatlantic trade began - Reuters.

Writers talk about a favorite …

… 11 Famous Writers on the Genius and Influence of Shirley Jackson | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Better late …

… Nine Newly Discovered Proust Stories to Be Published | Smart News | Smithsonian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

‘Twill be interesting to see how this one flies …

… Let fat people die to save NHS money, says Michael Buerk | News | The Times.

On the other hand: How Sumo Taught Me to Love the Gym.

Arrgh, me hearties …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review Of 'The Last Pirate of New York: A Ghost Ship, A Killer, And The Birth Of A Gangster Nation'.

Anniversary …

… RTs Reviews and Marginalia : Philip Larkin — going on beyond the melancholy.



I am very fond of Larkin's Aubade.

"The good not done, the love not given, time / Torn off unused" is as good a description of sin as I can think of.

Then they're not Catholics …

 New survey: Only one-third of Catholics believe in Real Presence. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


“About six-in-ten (63 percent) of the most observant Catholics - those who attend Mass at least once a week - accept the Church’s teaching about transubstantiation. Still, even among this most observant group of Catholics, roughly one-third (37 percent) don’t believe that the Communion bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ (including 23 percent who don’t know the Church’s teaching and 14 percent who know the Church’s teaching but don’t believe it). And among Catholics who do not attend Mass weekly, large majorities say they believe the bread and wine are symbolic and do not actually become the body and blood of Jesus,” the organization states. 

The literal translation of what Jesus said in Aramaic when he blessed and broke the bread at the last supper  is "This is me."
 Guess Catholic education is worth the money. It was obviously much better back when it cost virtually nothing.

Hmm …

… Statistics Confirm Bleak Prospects For Local Print Newspapers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I just finished looking through this morning's edition of the paper I was employed at for 28 years. The only thing I read was the piece about the Phillies, and the one about the Eagles.
For the rest, I understood that I should disapprove of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for doing what its title indicates it is supposed to do, that guns are the problem not people with problems (no mention that I saw of yesterday's stabbing spree in California).
What I want from a newspaper is dispassionate reporting (which is hard to do). Just the facts, Ma'am. I'll make up own mind about them. But everybody these days seems to have gone into journalism in order to change the world.They don't seem to realize how much they and we would learn if they just tried to find out as much about things from as many different angles as possible. 
"Democracy dies in darkness." "Community dies in darkness." Forget the slogans. Replace the bulbs.