It's a universal law — intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.
— Alwksandr Solzhenitsyn, born on this date in 1918
Literature is built on tenderness toward any being other than ourselves. It is the basic psychological mechanism of the novel. Thanks to this miraculous tool, the most sophisticated means of human communication, our experience can travel through time, reaching those who have not yet been born, but who will one day turn to what we have written, the stories we told about ourselves and our world.
Michigan, surrounded by the Great Lakes, was among the places the French missionaries and traders came centuries ago, moving by canoe along the navigable bodies of water, to encounter the Indians, trade with them, live alongside them, and instruct them in the gospel. This communion of the French Jesuits with the Indians was one of several founding moments of America. The Jesuits at every opportunity consecrated places and events to Our Lady, no such instance of which is more striking than Jacques Marquette’s naming the Mississippi the River of the Immaculate Conception. Through these acts of prayer, this offering of the land to the Mother of God, they consecrated America, piece by piece, as a Catholic country.
Widespread use of they as a singular doesn’t make it any more literate, and maybe it’s not such a great idea to abuse the language to suit your ideology. Ideologies, after all, come and go.
There is a great deal to complain of in our age, isn't there? Yet, each successive "modern" age seems clamorous, base, and hollow to a large number of its inhabitants. For instance, the politicized world that surrounds us is paltry and mean. How could it be otherwise? It has always been thus, and it will always be thus. It is one manifestation of human nature, and it will never change.
But none of this is cause for despair.
I arranged to spend an hour alone in Emily’s room from 5:30 t0 6:30 on the 26th. The house was empty but for the kind docent who escorted me upstairs. In the poet’s room she left me much alone, a loneliness that felt deep but did not last long. For five minutes or so, I breathed and did not move except to scan the room. I stared at the bed first, the bed where Emily lounged and slept, dreamed and died. My heron eyes swam into the shawl spread across the mattress, one of her shawls, one she liked wearing.I stood outside that house once. It was closed to the public the day I was there.
It was at this point I discovered Nathanael West. Although all his books had been published in the 1930s, they seemed to anticipate the America that was throbbing all around me, with its violence and disappointments, its spiritual emptiness, its foolishness and its freaks.
My position has become a minority one; perhaps it was always a minority one. Both students and some faculty feel more and more that colleges and universities should stand for values and policies that are thought to be progressive, rather than sitting on the political sideline. That’s a prevailing sentiment, and it’s one I don’t share.
Once you go in that direction, for example by declining to invest in fossil-fuel stock, you’ve transformed yourself from an educational institution into a political institution. Once you do that, there’s, in effect, no place to stop — the university becomes an extension of partisan politics, just another place where partisan politics occurs.
Amis identified a major component of Larkin’s style when he emphasised the transparency of his poetry. There is also his signature lucidity and precision of expression as well as the impression we have that his poems are hardly aware of themselves as poetry in any grand or affected sense. His poetry fulfils Orwell’s ideal of good writing, in that it possesses the virtue of being as clear “as a windowpane”. To achieve such an effect in prose is rare, but to accomplish it in poetry is exceptional. Larkin manages to be supremely poetic by being self-consciously unpoetic.
… why do the editors of Catholic hymnals play the blockhead, and mangle good poetry, to get rid of pronouns that we understand and that ? Maybe they are allergic to the sacral – a subject for another day. As far as the hymns go, it’s irrelevant. A hymn is a work of art and should be left in its integrity, or, if touched lightly, touched only by artists, not by committees, not by people with a linguistic agenda, and not by blockheads.Because, like many self-styled intellectuals, they think the common people are as ignorant as they are, forgetting that for several centuries, the King James Bible was often the only book people read.
… Curled Thyme. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The poet jeers at beauty, destroying with one hand, rewelding with the other. We hear him play two themes upon a double-pipe. The girls may jilt me, says the boy, and he becomes a figure of satire comparing his stupid eyes to the beauty of the Athenian goddess, but his music he says is sweet and we know that this is true.What a writer she was.
What far fewer people know about Elizabeth Smart—and what she declined to mention during the years I knew her in the 1980s—is that she spent much of her working life in London selling carpets, tiaras, and transistor radios as a witty fashion and advertising copywriter. She was reputed, at one point, to be the highest-paid commercial writer in England.Read the whole thing. It is wonderful. By the way, this is Smart as she looked when was involved with Barker.
Of course, Hopkins is also a great actor.
These days, “ how difficult to hold to Girard’s injunction of total non-retaliation!”
The “postponed” beatification of Sheen is beginning to look like a cancellation. It is now deep in the realm of vicious papal politics. The “Sheen cause is over,” an unnamed source told the blogger Rocco Palmo. At least during this pontificate: As long as the pope’s pet cardinals (Tobin, Cupich, Wuerl, and company) oppose it, so will he.One fine day, Francis will no longer be Pope.
Human as cosmic refugee—that is the true north to which Smith would orient his readers. Life’s journey is not returning to something you once knew, neither is it giving up the idea of home. Rather, life’s journey is going to a new place—a home you do not yet know.I have the book, though I don’t think of myself as postmodern. I’m too old-fashioned.
You might assume these rageful Vancouverites were protesting against some kind of Nazi or white supremacist, threatening to exterminate entire groups of people. But no, these folk were out on a Saturday night with megaphones, blaring sirens, chanting, ‘Hey hey, ho ho, Nazi scum has got to go’, because 300 people were inside to hear a panel discussing media bias in the gender-identity debate. To be fair, it was me, one of the speakers that night, who was the primary subject of their ire, as I continue to dare to insist that women are female, and that our rights matter.
“My movie is about the lack of freedom, not about freedom. My heroes are not right, they’re wrong. The only thing I can end up doing is killing my character. I end up committing suicide; that’s what I’m saying America is doing. People do go in and they think ‘Look at those terrible rednecks, they killed those two free souls who needed to love, blah blah blah.’ That’s something we have to put up with.”
Willa Cather is a great novelist.
… the crucial, and fairly simple, issue is this: Is drug use “voluntary” or not? In other words, do people have free will or not? We certainly do. (If you don’t think so, see whether you can’t stop reading this article for a moment and return to it afterward.) Accordingly, Heyman et al. provide an
overview of data demonstrating that addiction is a set of behaviors whose course can be altered by foreseeable consequences. The same cannot be said of conventional brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis. The best scientific and clinical data we have do not support the view that addicts are unable to refrain from using substances by choice.
It is to Lançon’s credit that there is very little about politics in the book. This is all the more impressive given that shortly after the Charlie Hebdo murders, sickening but inevitable hand-wringing began among many on the Left – those who saw Charlie Hebdo as an outdated and reactionary magazine that indulged in Muslim-baiting as part of a generalised Islamophobia in France. The implication was that Charlie Hebdo somehow ‘had it coming’.
I am a Catholic, and I think the reason O’Connor’s work affects people — even people who are not Catholic — so powerfully is that she presents the world and life from a strictly Catholic perspective, but without any preaching or doctrine, and that perspective resonates with many readers because it is rooted in Western culture.
The whole lexicon is of a piece. Its usage advertises that one has bought into a set menu of opinions—about race, gender, climate change, abortion, tax policy, #MeToo, Trump, Brexit, Brett Kavanaugh, probably Israel, and a great deal else. Reflexive resort to this argot therefore implies not that you think the same way as others of your political disposition but that you don’t think. You have ordered the prix fixe; you’re not in the kitchen cooking dinner for yourself. “The seductions of this shorthand,” writes Daum, are that there is “no need to sort out facts or wrestle with contradictions when just using certain buzzwords” grants “automatic entry into a group of ostensibly like-minded peers.” This vocabulary is lazy.
In an essay titled “On the Reasonableness of Hell”, Schall wrote: “If the human soul is not immortal – that is, if nothing passes beyond this life – it follows that injustice and justice have the same results. Great crimes of injustice are gotten away with and great examples of courage or generosity are unrewarded. If either of these results is the case, then the world is made in injustice. It is rationally incoherent. It was this frightening alternative that Plato fought against, as we also do.”
[Asma] now views religion—his focus is primarily on Christianity and Buddhism, but much of what he says applies more widely—as natural, beneficial, humanising, and, indeed, indispensable.Hard to square that, it seems to me, if none of its underlying assumptions is true?
“These marks that the artist makes are our signature, our footprint. They have to stay.”
During his final years, BD bravely bore intimations of an early departure from this life. During the same years he experienced ever more frequent visitations of what I can only call epiphanic joys. In the last lines of his last book, Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace, BD summons his combined desperation and joy when he does not merely quote but lives à Kempis’s recommended imitation, making Jesus’s words in the Gospel of Thomas his own, praying to become, as a posthumous mystery, an unending prayer for his family. What greater gift can a mortal father possibly offer?Meister Eckhart, by the way, was never excommunicated. A 1992 letter from the Vatican to the Master of Dominicans explains: “We tried to have the censure lifted on Eckhart [...] and were told that there was really no need since he had never been condemned by name, just some propositions which he was supposed to have held, and so we are perfectly free to say that he is a good and orthodox theologian.”
I used to like the Baltimore Museum. Won’t set foot in it now.
Because the “services” offered by the Department of Euthanasia are “essential,” Plastic has no feast on “Santa Claus Day” (December 25). After work he walks to the hospital to visit his lover Clara, who is with child, and finds “the hall porter . . . engrossed in the television, which was performing an old obscure folk play which past generations had performed on Santa Claus Day, and was now revived and revised as a matter of historical interest.” The porter’s interest, Plastic supposes, is “professional,” for the show “dealt with maternity services before the days of Welfare.” The porter cannot look away from “the strange spectacle of an ox and an ass, an old man with a lantern, and a young mother.” “‘People here are always complaining,’” the porter says. “‘They ought to realize what things were like before Progress.’”
Taking his title from the radio call sign used throughout the movie, Dyer simply relates the plot of the movie, stopping frequently to riff on whatever seemingly comes to mind.
… unlike the embarrassingly jejune fragments of his novels, such as The Original of Laura, that have been published posthumously, this collection includes some of his sharpest prose, as well as his most cursory. It spans Nabokov’s career, from juvenilia to senilia.
Very nice of Cynthia to post that.
. (Fulton Sheen)I think that one of the better definition s\of sin was formulated by Philip Larkin in "Aubade"
The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused …
One of the things that puzzles me is that so few people want to look at life as a totality and to recognize that death is no more extraordinary than birth. When they say it's the end of everything they don't seem to recognize that we came from somewhere and it would be very, very strange indeed to suppose that we're not going somewhere.
— Robertson Davies, who died on this date in 1995
Humans everywhere bring together pitch, tempo and the like in a similar fashion.
Slavery made the slaveholders rich. But it made the South poor. And it didn’t make the North rich. The wealth of the North was based on the emerging, capitalist internal market that allowed the North to win the Civil War. It’s true that cotton dominated the export market. But it’s only something like 5 percent of GDP. It’s really the wealth of the internal northern market that’s decisive. That depends on a fairly widespread distribution of wealth, and that doesn’t exist in the South. There’s a lot of evidence from western Virginia, for example, that non-slaveholders were angry at the slaveholders for blocking the railroads and things like that that would allow them to take advantage of the internal market. So the legacy of slavery is poverty, not wealth. The slave societies of the New World were comparatively impoverished. To say things like, the entire wealth of “the white world” is based on slavery seems to me to ignore the enormous levels of poverty among whites as well as blacks.
Like or dislike Clark, concur with or approve of, or not, his aesthetic evaluations; but fairness and accuracy require that one see and hear and read, and recognize, a moralist at work. The artwork Civilisation, films and book, is the master example of a new genre possible only in the era of high-technological audiovisual expertise. The work also offsets or mitigates the extreme and extravagant aesthetic tendencies of today, which are no longer hierarchical, backward-looking, or class-based but now vulgarly demotic, obscene, pornographic, or ironic: a very low culture for which ridiculously high claims are made, and whose noisy, nonstop regimen is constant and nearly inescapable.
The whole of English literature, in its breadth and insularity, is compact with this Anglican “vision” of Our Lord, so that most of it will be lost on the reader without knowledge of that Anglican KJV and BCP. Behind this, Shakespeare himself, Chaucer and his predecessors, going back to Anglo-Saxons, are riddled with Biblical allusions, and the signs and symbols of religious devotion.
All of this is lost on the contemporary university reader, for the entire field of the humanities has been defoliated — defiled and stripped bare — by the poison of “political correctness.”
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was Dostoevsky and Dickens who taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who ever had been alive. Only if we face these open wounds in ourselves can we understand them in other people.
— James Baldwin, who died on this date in 1987