Friday, September 20, 2019

Dealing with pretty ghastly people …

… The return of the federal death penalty - Washington Times.

A kindred spirit …

… Maverick Philosopher: The Question of Private Judgment.

This is quite incisive. The Pope also is entitled to his private judgment. I am not obligated to share it. And as Charles Williams pointed out, given Jesus view of the religious leaders of his day, perhaps we should not be overly servile to those of our day. God, after all, is intimately in touch with each and every one of us. The institutional Church has been shown,  in recent years, to have a lot of ‘splaining to do. The buck stops with God.

Sounds like a must-read …

… Nigeness: Ruskin's Fireflies.

“ … the fireflies everywhere in sky and cloud rising and falling, mixed with the lightning, and more intense than the stars.”
Wonderful. I just ordered a copy.

Who knew?

… Your parents don’t want you to study philosophy? That fight has a long history. | The Book Haven.

As someone who did study philosophy, my question is, “Where the hell would you do that today?”

Not as advertised …

… Saudi Arabia Closes Down New Chick-Fil-A Location For Disappointing Lack Of Homophobia | The Babylon Bee.

 "When we heard how homophobic Chick-fil-A was, we thought it was a perfect fit," said King Salman. "But they ran their restaurant for a solid three months here and never once did they stone a gay person, throw a gay person off a roof, or even use anti-LGBT slurs against them."

Blogging note …

I mst be out and about for a few hours. Blogging will resume later on.

Heart and spirit …

… First Known When Lost: Autumn Evening.

 I have no interest in "literary history."  Nor is the spurious taxonomy of "major" and "minor" poets of concern to me.  At the risk of trying the patience of long-time readers, I am afraid I must repeat my First Poetic Principle:  It is the individual poem that matters, not the poet.  As I say, I am fond of "The Trees at Night."  I understand the objections that might be forthcoming from moderns:  the poem is "sentimental" and "romantic," and its anthropomorphism ("The lonely lovely trees sigh"; "A few homing leaves drift by,/Poor souls bewildered and wan") places it beyond the pale.  We have progressed beyond such things, the undeceived and knowing moderns say, all irony and self-regard.  They are wrong, of course.
Amen, brother.

A master …

 Snapshot: Harry Nilsson sings “1941” | About Last Night.



I had the pleasure of chatting with Harry a couple of times, and somewhere around here I have a letter from him. We were both born in 1941.

And poetry …

… Carpentry by Carl Dennis | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the niminees are …

… The 2019 National Book Awards Longlists are here! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good idea …

… Homework for the climate strikers | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 ‘Does scientific evidence support the notion that “the Earth is dying”?’ As for resources to answer that question, I point them towards the latest IPCC report as well as the data sources which feed into it. That would include Nasa data on sea ice in the Arctic, which shows a sharp retreat in recent decades, as well as satellite data from the same organization on wildfires – which shows a fall in the acreages burned in recent decades. They might also like to look at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization’s report on hurricanes which last month concluded: ‘it is premature to conclude with high confidence that human activity – and particularly greenhouse warming – has already caused a detectable change in Atlantic hurricane activity.’

Farewell …

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

What a wonderful poem …

 RT’s Reviews and Marginalia: We had not thought of the airy Christ.

Something to think on …

The Divine Thing that made itself the foundation of the Church does not seem, to judge by his comments on the religious leadership of his day, to have hoped much from officers of a church.
— Charles Williams, born on this date in 1886

England's high streets...

...A renewed effort at revival

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Choosing not judge is an exercise in judgment …

… The Hypocrisy of Experts - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Q&A …

… The Freedom of the Book Review: John Wilson on the job of the book critic and the importance of miscellany in the good reading life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Many people, I've discovered over the years, have a narrow conception of what a book review can do or should do. This reaches its nadir in the perception of a review as essentially a “book report,” hence (supposedly) boring. But what attracted me from the beginning (though, again, I couldn't have said so at the time) was the enormous freedom the form allows! A good review can be “impersonal” or “personal.” It can be focused almost entirely on the book (or books) at hand or use the book under review primarily as a point of departure. There are very few “rules,” in fact, though this or that editor, this or that publication, may impose all sorts of constraints. That freedom appealed to me enormously (it still does), and I enjoyed seeing how many different ways a review could be done, and done well.

Indeed …

… A Failure of Leadership: The Culture of Antisemitism on Campus | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com.

At UC Berkeley, the 2019 Spring semester was plagued by multiple high-profile antisemitic incidents. Antisemitic flyers were posted across the campus comparing Zionism to Nazism. Pro-Israel events were purposely blocked in academic departments, while these departments continued to indoctrinate students with a pre-defined anti-Israel narrative.
You have to wonder about the students. There were students in my day — at a Jesuit college no less — who relished standing up to profs and administrators.

Closet classicist …

… Among the Barbarians: V. S. Naipaul and His Critics | The Hudson Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
A Writer’s People is about Naipaul’s genesis as a writer and of his personal struggles from not knowing to mastery of his craft. It is a story he frequently told, but told this time at a remove, reflected in the life of Gandhi. Like Gandhi, he also came of age far from the center of empire and, while initially ignorant of its institutions and culture, mastered its language and its ways. Although he was a native speaker of English, the Trinidad in which he grew up had no standard form, which is reflected in the English of his first two novels. The older members of his family spoke Hindi, but his father spoke good English, as can be seen in the letters they exchanged when Naipaul was a student at Oxford. These letters reveal the younger Naipaul to be an outsider striving to get in, as well as his ambition “to show these people that I can beat them at their own language.” In A House for Mr. Biswas, the point of view of the omniscient narrator is totally free of dialect. With that novel, Naipaul found a place in a tradition stretching back to Dickens, Balzac, and Tolstoy (three writers mentioned in A Writer’s People), not to forget Flaubert. But by the 1950s the world around such societies had changed, “had grown steadily larger,” and after Mr. Biswas, Naipaul struck out to look at and report on this larger world. Those reports were not well received in certain quarters.
Here is my review of Naipaul's Half a Life.

Great minds …

… When Milton met Shakespeare: poet's notes on Bard appear to have been found | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

“… this allows us to see the encounter happening,” said Scott-Warren. “It shows you the firsthand encounter between two great writers, which you don’t often get to see, especially in this period. A lot of that kind of evidence is lost, so that’s really exciting.”
More here:  A rare Shakespeare First Folio annotated by John Milton hid in Free Library of Philadelphia for 75 years.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes …

… More Reviews and Marginalia: Martin Edwards on detective fiction — then and now.


Let's talk …

… Having a Conversation, One Cliché at a Time - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“We have got to have a national conversation and a Republican conversation on where we are going on debt and deficit spending,” Mr. Sanford told Fox’s Chris Wallace. We need “to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd. He informed both men that we need to have a conversation on trade, and Mr. Wallace that we also need “a conversation on humility and one’s approach to politics.” Mark Sanford, clearly, is a man with a hunger for discussion. If you’ve a free moment, give him a ring.


When I was on a newspaper copy desk, we kept an eye for clichés. Ee probably didn't catch them all, but we kept plenty out of print. Of course, you can make reference to them tongue-in-cheek, as I confess I have been wont to do from time to time.

Everything and nothing …

 Are Prose Poets Trolling Us? | The Walrus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Put another way: if you accept that Strand’s brief story is a poem, then everything is a poem—and nothing, too. Prose poetry is the original trolling.

Tracking the decline …

… In Memory of the Critic’s Trade - 21CM. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The profession isn’t entirely defunct – there are some extraordinary critics still on the beat. In cities with major arts centers or celebrated orchestras, such positions are easier for an editor to justify in tough financial times (and it has been mostly downhill since the advent of the internet). But it is now more common for a newspaper to find a general assignment writer to write some nice words about the local production of “The Nutcracker” or a visit from Yo-Yo Ma – the so-called “big-ticket items” – while leaving a city’s more venturesome endeavors alone.

In case you wondered …

… Why this creepy melody is in so many movies - YouTube. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I had never noticed this. And I actually do not think of the Dies Irae as creepy. 

Classy …

… Prayer for a Prayer by a Nonbeliever | The North American Anglican. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

To minds tormented by the divine thirst, it is useless to offer the most certain knowledge of the laws of numbers and the arrangement of the universe.
— Etienne Gilson who died on this date in 1978

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

As Niels Bohr said …

… predicting is difficult — especially the future: Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions | Competitive Enterprise Institute.



I like what the guy who predicted in 1970 that we would now be in a new ice age said: “Three factors could prevent these disasters: population control, a less wasteful standard of living, and a major technological breakthrough in the way man consumes the earth’s resources.” Two of the three are also solutions for the global warming we are supposed to be suffering from now. I think the idea is to get rid of all the plebes, so the elites can enjoy themselves in peace.

Oops …

… A Trial That Gene-Hacked Mosquitoes to Stop Breeding Has Backfired Spectacularly.

The genetically-altered mosquitoes did mix with the wild population, and for a brief period the number of mosquitoes in Jacobino, Brazil did plummet, according to research published in Nature Scientific Reports last week.
But 18 months later the population bounced right back up, New Atlas reports - and even worse, the new genetic hybrids may be even more resilient to future attempts to quell their numbers.

But then there’s this:
Mosquitoes capable of transmitting dangerous diseases like Zika, dengue, and malaria are spreading farther than ever, thanks to global climate change.
Really? Where I live used to be the source of yellow fever in Philadelphia (back then, it was a marsh). Which was George Washington moved to Germantown when he lived here during a yellow fever outbreak. We still have mosquitoes, but no yellow fever, and it’s still hot and humid as hell in the summer.  So the yellow fever mosquitoes to be here. If climate change is causing mosquitoes to increase their range, why aren’t they back here? Just wondering.

Hmm …

… Why God needs skin in the game - UnHerd. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think both Taleb and Fraser are reading more into what Pascal wrote on this subject that was intended. For one thing, he is not talking about Christ’s call to follow Him. Here is the relevant passage from Pensées:

If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is....
..."God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
Do not, then, reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know nothing about it. "No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The true course is not to wager at all."
Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.
"That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much." Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite.[7]

Listen in times two …

… Episode 337 – Amor Towles – The Virtual Memories Show.

“In the back of my mind I knew that if I didn’t write a book that I felt proud of by the time I was 50, I’d probably end up bitter in my old age.”


Episode 338 – Simon Doonan.

“Drag has been the wallpaper in my life forever.”

The appeal of other worllds …

… is their otherness:  S/F Reviews and Marginalia: Strangeness that moves us more than fear.

The usual suspects on another planet remain the usual suspects.

And the nominees are …

… 2019 National Book Awards Longlist for Poetry - National Book Foundation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Appreciation…

 The Incomparable Django - Commentary. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Philip Larkin, a staunch admirer, described him as “fond of gambling, too proud to carry his guitar, and almost entirely unreliable.”
The only thing about Reinhardt on which it was possible to rely was his iron determination to play the guitar as well as it could be played. A child prodigy who started performing at the age of 12, he permanently damaged the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand in a 1928 fire. This forced him to reconstruct his technique from scratch, which he did with awe-inspiring completeness.

Something to think on …

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

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Getting to the bottom again of things …

… New Evidence Suggests Esau Actually Sold Birthright For Spicy Chicken Sandwich From Chick-Fil-A | The Babylon Bee.

Don’t throw out your old dictionary …

… Merriam-Webster Adds Gender-Neutral Pronouns to Dictionary | Time. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



This would seem to have some bearing in this:  How identity politics drove the world mad.



As Mencken said, “There is no idea so stupid that you can't find a professor who will believe it.” Or, as George Orwell put it, “Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.”

Discovery …

… After 350 Years, Scholars Have Found Another Hidden Message in Milton's 'Paradise Lost'. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Take a look at these …

… Rivers & Waterfall Collection Archives - Clyde Butcher | Black & White Fine Art Photography. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Sad and beautiful …

… December, 1919 by Claude McKay | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Claude McKay was born on September 15, 1889

Why don’t we all adopt the royal we …

… The problem with calling Sam Smith ‘they’ | Spectator USA.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I had never heard of Sam Smith before he made this announcement. With any luck, I’ll never hear of him again.

Good choices …

… Five Great Books of Spiritual Poetry | Book Marks. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The way we were …

 Old Wenham Burying Ground | Salem Witch Trials Cemetery. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the winners are …

… Winning Poems for August 2019: IBPC.



The Judge's Page.



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Emotional reprise …

 On Going (Back) | Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction.

FYI …

… ‘We’re the magazine for the queen and the scaffolder’ - spiked. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The rest of the country is pretty equally startled. Overnight, denizens of the Spectator have seized power. Early on in Margaret Thatcher’s reign, she is said to have startled guests at a Downing Street reception by leaping on a sofa to declare: ‘I am the rebel head of an establishment government.’ One wonders if the staff at the Spectator aren’t now taking it in turns to bounce up and down on former editor Boris Johnson’s old couch (certainly the springs are broken) because, if anyone’s in charge today, it is the ex-employees of this magazine (which coined the very term The Establishment).

Something to think on …

The job of the poet is to use language effectively, his own language, the only language which is to him authentic.
— William Carlos Williams, born on this date in 1883

Monday, September 16, 2019

Anniversary …

… Nigeness: Sixty Years On.

Listen in …

The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: John Ivison on his new biography and whether or not Canadians can trust Justin Trudeau.

Your tax dollars at work …

… Corruption of Public Health | Government’s Effort To Suppress Vaping.

Wittingly or not, public-health activists have labored away on behalf of Big Pharma and Big Tobacco.

Something worth worrying about …

… S/F Reviews and Marginalia: Survival will be your priority if this happens.

Master plus master equals masterpiece …

… The American Scholar: Innocence and Loss - <a href='https://theamericanscholar.org/author/sudip-bose/'>Sudip Bose</a>. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 It is indeed heartbreakingly beautiful.

Blogging note …

Last night I had the worst sore throat I have ever had. It kept me awake half the night. Chloraseptic and liniment got me through it. But I am still not up to par. Hence the desultory posting today,

Every which way but loose …

… Academia’s Holy Warriors - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I guess the takeaway from this is that our current political discourse is going in all sorts of directions at once. The problem may be categorism — thinking in terms of labels. I know persons who have been liberal Democrats all their lives who feel uncomfortable with the views of those calling themselves progressives. The practical problem, it seems to me, has to do, in government, with the unelected  bureaucracy and, in education, with bloated administrations.

Sounds about right …

… New Radar System Alerts Politicians When People Are Enjoying Something So They Can Ban It | The Babylon Bee.

RIP …

 Susan Kamil, longtime publisher and editor, dead at 69. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Science should leave off making pronouncements: the river of knowledge has too often turned back on itself.
— Sir James Jeans, who died on this date in 1946

Tracking the decline …

… The Oscar goes to Felicity Huffman | Spectator USA.

The colleges will now point to Huffman in her orange jumpsuit as proof that the admissions’ process is fair and clean. But Huffman’s conviction demonstrates the opposite. The applications system is rotten to the core, and Huffman is the fall girl.

Well, maybe …

 William Blake review – a rousing call to arms | Art and design | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I read a lot of Blake when I was young. I can't say I was ever sure I got what he was driving at, but I always found him — and still find him — thrilling. I cannot, however, see him at the center of any organized sociopolitical movement, and to attach him in any way to today's goofy politics seems to me to trivialize him.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

RIP …

… The Cars frontman Ric Ocasek found dead in Manhattan townhouse.

In case you wondered …

… The best classical music works of the 21st century | Music | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I’ll have to look into these, but I am somewhat surprised that Esa-Pekka Salonen’s violin concerto received no mention. I think it’s excellent.

Time to take a stand …

… Bari Weiss Explains How To Fight The Rise Of Anti-Semitism.

… Weiss’s book is an important read. It isn’t exhaustive, but it’s an excellent overview. There are insightful gems worth consideration for those new to the topic, as well as those who are well versed in it.

For your listening pleasure …

Frank Martin was born on this date in 1890.

September Poetry at North of Oxford …

 … Two Poems by Lowell Jaeger.

… Two Poems by Lynette G. Esposito.

… Why Whimper by Suchoon Mo.

 09.07.16 by Adrian Manning.

FYI …

… Fall 2019′s biggest books include new titles from Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Stephen King, and Ann Patchett.

Remembering Mencken …

 “Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” Happy birthday, H.L. Mencken | The Sheila Variations.

Gratitude …

… Thirteen Years in New York – Reluctant Habits.

Time for a smile …

… Comic without Context: Mark Trail and the Internet | Bill Peschel.

Rejections …

… A Legendary Publishing House's Most Infamous Rejection Letters | Literary Hub.

Noble observation — and maybe despair …

… Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene: Eating Raw Meat by g emil reutter, reviewed by Gregory J. Wolos.

Tragic mystic …

… Homesick for Eternity | The Russell Kirk Center. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Johnson had a fascination of and gift for crafting the arresting image, but what separates him from his Imagist progeny is how the objects Johnson depicts always seem to flash for an instant before dissolving into an ethereal mist. If Imagists followed the notion that the world is all that is the case, Johnson’s prose was struck through with the ephemerality of life itself. In Johnson’s poetry, as a fellow mystic said sixty years later, life is a dream already over.

Something to think on …

The height of cleverness is to be able to conceal it.
— François de La Rochefoucauld, born on this date in 1613

Saturday, September 14, 2019

A Devastating Riposte to the 'New Atheists' | Spengler

… A Devastating Riposte to the 'New Atheists' | Spengler.

The pagan religions of the past were founded on the fatalistic submission of the weak to the powerful. Biblical religion invites the humblest as well as the most exalted to act as free people, by taking moral responsibility for their actions. It demanded equality before the law for rich and poor, for home-born and stranger, with the premise that every human being was a free agent with the right to live without fear of predation from the strong or oppression from the rich, and that every human being was equally responsible for his or her actions

A Devastating Riposte to the 'New Atheists' | Spengler

… A Devastating Riposte to the 'New Atheists' | Spengler.

The pagan religions of the past were founded on the fatalistic submission of the weak to the powerful. Biblical religion invites the humblest as well as the most exalted to act as free people, by taking moral responsibility for their actions. It demanded equality before the law for rich and poor, for home-born and stranger, with the premise that every human being was a free agent with the right to live without fear of predation from the strong or oppression from the rich, and that every human being was equally responsible for his or her actions

Good to remember …

… THINK ABOUT THIS: Why Our Brains And Our Minds Aren’t One And The Same Thing – HillFaith.



This has bearing on this: A Famous Argument Against Free Will Has Been Debunked.

Of course, there is activity in my brain when I think. But there is no reason to identify what I am thinking with said activity.

Well, one must not presume …

… More Reviews and Marginalia: Going to Heaven.

A terrific exhibition …

Nigeness: Vallotton.

Seeing a lot just by observing …

… Andrew Sullivan: NY Times Abandons Liberalism for Activism.

I don’t believe most African-Americans believe this, outside the elites. They’re much less doctrinaire than elite white leftists on a whole range of subjects. I don’t buy it either — alongside, I suspect, most immigrants, including most immigrants of color. Who would ever want to immigrate to such a vile and oppressive place? But it is extremely telling that this is not merely aired in the paper of record (as it should be), but that it is aggressively presented as objective reality. That’s propaganda, directed, as we now know, from the very top — and now being marched through the entire educational system to achieve a specific end. To present a truth as the truth is, in fact, a deception. And it is hard to trust a paper engaged in trying to deceive its readers in order for its radical reporters and weak editors to transform the world.

imagination …

… The Trouble With Literary Prime Ministers - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… if Mr. Johnson, like Churchill and Disraeli, seems like an adventurer, it is mainly because all three saw their lives in politics as one big adventure. The sheer improbability of their careers energized them.

Something to think on …

The liberally educated person is one who is able to resist the easy and preferred answers, not because he is obstinate but because he knows others worthy of consideration.
— Allan Bloom, born on this date in 1930

Friday, September 13, 2019

My sentiments exactly …

… Instapundit — SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP: Students protest Sean Spicer campus talk: ‘makes me really scared.’ Cal…



Good Lord. If hearing Spicer talk makes you scared, (a) don’t attend his talk and (b) never leave home again.

Curious Abe …

… BOOK REVIEW: 'Lincoln's Spies' - Washington Times.

Lincoln’s Spies” is the story of Allan Pinkerton, Lafayette Baker, George Sharpe and Elizabeth Van Lew — important Union agents who operated mainly in the Civil War’s Eastern Theater, which included Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. The U.S. government, of course, ran intelligence operations elsewhere — against Confederates in the Deep South and the western campaigns, for example, and to root out pro-Confederate subversives in the northeastern and northwestern states. To cover all the spying that went on in the Civil War would consume several volumes,” Mr. Waller writes in his note to readers

His side …

… With ‘Talking to Strangers,’ Malcolm Gladwell Goes Dark - The New York Times.

Make of this what you will. I have been skeptical of Gladwell for years. But he seems like a nice enough guy.

Tracking the decline …

… More Reviews and Marginalia: Angry librarians clash with greedy publishers.

So much seems to be going wrong these days. Perhaps the people taking over these days just aren’t up to the job.

Facts vs. propaganda …

… Here's Data Showing The Amazon Fires Aren't As Bad As You've Heard.

In other words, not as it has been “reported.”  

In case you wondered …

… Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What I Learned Writing for 'Veronica Mars'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Finally, there was Rob, our Glorious Leader. I've had the pressure of playing for NBA championships in front of millions of people, but that paled when watching the pressure he faced every day of the five months I was there. While we planned out the plot and character arcs of the eight episodes of Veronica Mars, he and Diane were also overseeing the final season of iZombie. He was making decisions about budget, casting, editing, music and a thousand other things. While we ate lunch, he was editing scenes from iZombie or on the phone trying to get J.K. Simmons. Yet he came in each day with good cheer, a clear vision and a great sense of humor. All while on a juice diet!

Blogging note …

I have much do today. So blogging will resume later on.

Not so enlightening after all …

… Adjusting to the world | Brandywine Books.



… the Enlightenment didn’t last long.
In practice, it was inadequate to actual human life. Enlightenment thought was like trying to feed people with vitamin pills only. Technically all the necessary nutrients might be there, but people need more than that. They need flavor and texture and scent. They need the whole human experience. The Enlightenment didn’t feed the soul.

Freedom and the vision it allows …

… William Blake’s therapy for the soul – Mark Vernon.

Ask people now what liberty means and they might say freedom to determine your own laws or make your own choices. But Blake’s freedom is not at root the liberty to do this or that. It’s founded first on something more substantial: the glorious capacity to see “a World in a Grain of Sand”; “Heaven in a Wild Flower”. It’s a liberty based upon perception. “A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees,” he remarked.

Time to listen up …

… When the Pianos Went to War - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



By the end of the war, Steinway had produced about 5,000 Victory Verticals, roughly half of which went to military service. (The others were sold to schools and churches.) Piper notes that the specially designed instruments were an incredible moment for the makers of musical instruments, and their resilience through the war years. But more remarkable were the moments of comfort, joy, and camaraderie those pianos created in difficult times.

Two legends …

… Replay: Bill “Bojangles” Robinson meets Fats Waller | About Last Night.

The heat under the words …

… Nigeness: A House of Many Mansions.

The Professor's House is a richly rewarding book…

A hanged man and a wolf …

… BOOK REVIEW: 'Land of Wolves' - Washington Times.

This morning …

Cool, breezy, and gray.
What we must forward to.
Among other things.

A seasoned observer …

… MY FILLMORE | The New Fillmore. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Now, exercise offers more of an opportunity to pause. I have favorite houses. Many mansions have had their facades lifted. After being swathed in netting or shrink-wrapped in white plastic for months, even years, exteriors are revealed to the street in pristine turn-of-the-century clarity. I have long admired the novels of American wealth — Wharton, James, Fitzgerald — and the interior secrets they revealed. Walking along Vallejo or up Steiner, however pleasant, is not like reading novels. There is no discernible narrative.
Richard is three years younger than I am.

Something to think on …

The more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.
— J. B. Priestley, born on this date in 1894

Cautionary tale …

… ISIS Terroris Differs With Millennial Couple He Killed: Humans Aren't 'Kind'.

When I look at you now, I see another human being. When you look at me, what do you see?” she asked.
“I see a Christian person,” he said. “A person who isn’t a Muslim.””Do you think you have anything in common with the people that you killed?” Callimachi pressed.”No. There was nothing in common,” Abusamadov said. “They are humans and so are we. We didn’t have anything else in common.”

Thursday, September 12, 2019

This morning …

The birds seem to like
Joining him in the garden.
Coffee and seed cake.

War and crime …

… Reading and Responding: How Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Dorothy Hughes, and other crime icons addressed (or didn't) the war in crime fiction.

Ah, yes …

… The Writer's Almanac for Friday, September 6, 2019 | Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Good luck …

… 30 Nobel Peace Prize winners confirmed for Mérida summit. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

RIP …

… Why Photographer Robert Frank Mattered | Smart News | Smithsonian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Faith, hope, and love …

… Mitzvah by Paul Mariani | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Britain’s political system is broken. America’s isn’t | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The whole purpose of democracy is to manage situations in which everyone believes they’re right and everyone disagrees. The dangerous game Remainer politicians are playing could indeed result in a win. But what good is triumph, if in the end your system of governance looks a farce, its ‘democratic’ decisions revealed as rigged by the lowlife electorate’s haughty betters?
Trump won in 2016 because he ran a better campaign than his opponent did. Hillary's larger vote totals came from a few concentrated urban areas. Also, she and Trump were not the only candidates. She won a plurality of the vote, not a majority.  Let's see what the people decide next time.

Good question …

… Is the “final judgment” really final? | The Christian Century. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



It has long seemed to me that the notion of an eternal hell suggests that hell is coexistent with God, who is eternal in the sense that He has no beginning and no end. Jesus refers to the everlasting fire. But everlasting is a temporal term — last until the end of time (the eternal being that which transcends time (i.e., God). I think Hart's conclusion has much to recommend it: "the end of history in a final judgment and then, beyond that, the end of judgment in a final reconciliation." C. S. Lewis said that the door to hell is locked from the inside. I do not think hell will last longer than the world.

Something to think on …

A candidate is a person who gets money from the rich and votes from the poor to protect them from each other.
— Stanislaw Lem, born on this date in 1921

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Ecology …

… John Bolton Waves Goodbye, Returns To Sea To Be Walrus Again | The Babylon Bee.

Those damned airplanes …

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We sinners …

… But What of Us? by Joseph Mirra | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Does Free Will Exist? Neuroscience Can't Disprove It Yet. - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



As Dr. Johnson observed, “All theory is against freedom of the will; all experience for it.”

Hmm …

… Imagining What D.H. Lawrence Would Make of Brexit: A Birthday Adventure | Town Topics. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

I find it impossible to imagine Lawrence having an iota of sympathy for the European Union. I think he would have had wonderful things to say about a government that put the matter to a vote and then could not implement the will of the people. I am certain he would not have been in sympathy with the views fashionable among the elites.

Standing up for the good guys …

… Washington Times - Politics, Breaking News, US and World News.

The agents are federal law enforcement officers who enforce the laws created by Congress.
So Congressional hacks who claim to not like what they’re should undertake to change the statutes they object. That’s what Congress is supposed to be about.

Lest we forget …

… Solemn musics | About Last Night.

Faith and interpretation …

… Reading and Responding: Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood.

Tonight …

Poetry In Common and

The Green Line Café Poetry Series On Locust

are honored to celebrate
the posthumous publication

of More Here Than Light:
The Selected Poems of A.V. Christie

This invitation is extended to all.


“A.V. Christie took great care with her poems and so
she took great care of us.” LG




A.V. Christie (1963-2016) was the author of Nine Skies (University of Illinois Press), which won the National Poetry Series; The Housing, winner of the McGovern Prize (Ashland Poetry Press); and the chapbooks The Wonders (Seven Kitchens Press) and And I Began to Entertain Doubts (Folded Word Press).  Her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, Poetry, Commonweal, AGNI, Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner and many other reviews. She was a recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania and Maryland State Arts Councils and was a visiting writer at Villanova and LaSalle universities, Bryn Mawr College, Goucher College, the University of Maryland and Penn State Abington, as well as a Poet-in-the Schools.




The Poetry of A.V. Christie will be read by

Taije Silverman * Alix Christie *

Nathalie Anderson * Alyson Shore Adler


Hosted by Leonard Gontarek


Wednesday, September 11, 2019,
5:30-7:30 PM


THE GREEN LINE CAFE IS LOCATED
AT 45TH & LOCUST STREETS
PHILADELPHIA, PA  USA
(Please note the address, there are
  other Green Line Café locations.)
        greenlinecafe.com


     This Event Is Free

     More Here Than Light
     will be available for sale


Corn Maze by A.V. Christie

I heard the next voice over:
Think small it said. Think small.
Through the halls, the walls of corn,
I heard how the voice was held together
by its heritage of fear
and an inescapable sound of wings.
I had tried also always to flee—
the desire that rises and falters unceremoniously
Now I was in the middle with a tall flag
and a poor diagram shedding no light,
crosshatched hay strewn on the path.
It felt as though we all were the remnant
of some great trauma. Wandering.
One voice later, at the two hour mark,
I heard a father: Shut up or I’ll rip your tongue out.
This was maybe too near the center part of our map.
(Where we’d come to again.)
And I’d been one who’d tried always to position
herself at the edge of a field.
I thought we would simply go in and come out.
But here was density, tunnels leading back
to a childhood, its basic cosmology of annihilation.
Oh, this rustling and reliable sequence
of panic—I wondered who could I really be
without it?









Surely something can be done about this …

… Who Gets Emily Dickinson? - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

Several Dickinson scholars have expressed to me their frustration with Harvard’s policies. It is a topic frequently whispered about in Dickinson studies, but some avoid speaking publicly for fear of reprisal. Critics who spend their entire careers citing Dickinson cannot risk losing permission to do so. One tenured Dickinson scholar who wished to remain anonymous wrote to me, “Frankly, this topic makes me very nervous!” The same person underscored Harvard’s power to intimidate: “Please, please, I’ll tell you anything I can, but I can’t afford to be on the outs with Harvard!” The chilling effects of Harvard’s policies not only make it harder to cite and edit Dickinson, then, but also to discuss the issue publicly.

Lest we forget …

… How A Priest With No Money Honored Flight 93's Heroes Where They Fell.

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder. ‘Thunder on the Mountain’ is the message of Flight 93. … As the plane crashed in the fields of Shanksville, it exploded and could be heard all across the hills, and shook the houses, and people heard it for miles around. That’s how powerful is the message of Flight 93. Once we understand it, it will explode upon our hearts. Never surrender. Never surrender. On Sept. 11, 2001, the old world passed away forever and can never be restored the way it was. The old heavens and the old earth passed away and behold, God said, ‘I create all things anew, and this time I give you 40 new stars — 40 stars to guide you in the darkness of terror.’

This morning …

Cool September breeze.
Sun, high clouds, and the roses.
Oh, and five sparrows.

Signs and times …

… The Burnt Orange Carpet Liturgical Test - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Now and again, I go hear a Latin Mass.  Not too long ago, I heard one in the basement chapel of St. John Cantius in Chicago.  There, a great sea of young people, clutching their breviaries, women in veils, knelt about me on the hard tile, contemplating the back of the priest as he offered the holy sacrifice of the Mass in almost perfect silence. Those around seemed at home here, by which I mean only that this – what a generation older than me would refer to with intolerant and vitriolic disdain as an antique, museum, and oppressive Church – has somehow become the one and only true Church of their worship.
I grew up with the Latin Mass, and I don't think of the Church in those days as oppressive, though I am sure many of my generation do. But my generation produced as many horses' asses as any other. I also have nothing in particular against the Mass being said in the vernacular, though I wish they had just started using the English translation of the old Latin Mass. As I have noted before, "It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation" is so much more elevating than "It is right and just." I attended the Latin Mass for several years when it was easy for me to get to. It is no longer, and I have grown very fond of attending Mass at my neighborhood parish. The pastor is very good at connecting the faith to the life we actually live. That said, I am increasingly inclined to think that Vatican II was an unmitigated disaster. 

Something to think on …

There is a sixth sense, the natural religious sense, the sense of wonder.
— D. H. Lawrence, born on this date in 1885

Go figure …

… Snopes reboots bizarre vendetta against Christian satire website Babylon Bee. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Makes one wonder how Snopes would have reacted to Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” Maybe they should fact-check this one:  In Embarrassing Gaffe, Biden's Head Falls Off During Town Hall. I can see some people taking that seriously.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

George Orwell


For whatever reason, 1984 was not part of my high school curriculum. But now, all these years later, I've read it, and I have to say: it's pretty much as I imagined.

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of admiration for Orwell, and his essays, especially, are that rare mixture of prescience and insight. 1984, of course, reveals something similar: namely, a balance between perception and anticipation. 

I suppose, though, given the ubiquity of the novel, that I found parts of 1984 somewhat predictable: there's the state in opposition to the individual, who is ultimately betrayed by elements of the state; then there's criticism of Communism and Stalinism, and a hope, expressed through Winston Smith, for a humane form of socialism. All of this is fair enough: the critique is certainly well founded. But there wasn't much here that truly moved me. 

What I did find compelling, however, were Orwell's meditations on language and what he expected might happen to it over time, as politics became more binary, more extreme. I hesitate to raise topics which are overly political on the blog, but it's my sense that we saw a reduction of language under the second Bush president, and that we're seeing an acceleration of it today under Trump. In fact, it's scary: the simplicity, the juvenile nature of the language used by Trump to articulate political objectives -- and to identify political enemies -- is no far from what Orwell imagined with Newspeak. 

Again, my goal here is not to comment on contemporary politics but instead to highlight Orwell's sensitivity to language, and to his concern -- which is one I share -- about its deliberate reduction, its calculated simplification. Orwell was clearly alarmed by this potential -- and for good reason.

In the end, I am pleased to have finally read 1984, and there are parts of it which I'll take with me. But dystopian literature has never been my interest, really, and in these strange and disconcerting times, I am perhaps less inclined than ever to engage works which serve as a mirror to the current condition. For the moment, at least, I'm it's all about Down and Out.

Gee, Governor, ever heard the phrase ‘Do no harm’ ?

… Jill Stanek: I Witnessed the Infanticide Ralph Northam Defended.

Can you believe …

… Here's Data Showing The Amazon Fires Aren't As Bad As You've Heard.

The world in a moment …

… First Known When Lost: All There Is.

Faith and fiction …

… The Breath of God | Randy Boyagoda | First Things. (Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

What I’m trying to do with my work, particularly with my latest novel, Original Prin, is write fiction where there is purchase, where you are reading about someone who’s pursuing a life that could, in fact, be yours, because it is a life lived in the chaotic, messy world of assorted extremities that pile up into life in the twenty-first century. This world is globalized in a jagged variety of ways and marked—especially for a religious believer—by a sense of First World urban life as constitutionally inimical to religion, which makes it hard to be a believer in such places. Harder still is weighing that sense of felt difficulty against the knowledge that there are people elsewhere in the world, right now, being slaughtered for believing in the same God.

Listen in …

… Episode 336 – Dawn Raffel – The Virtual Memories Show.

“I think Couney understood that no one else was going to save these children if he didn’t.”