Wednesday, January 20, 2021

One of those days …

… 1, 20, and 46 — making the most of coincidental numbers.

Blogging note …

 I received word last night that Walt Birbeck, my oldest and best friend, passed away on Sunday. We last got together just before Thanksgiving. I don’t much feel like blogging right now. Maybe later on.

 

The way things were …

 In Living Color: Georgia Before The Soviets Arrived. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A sad anniversary …

… Aaron Would Have Been 34 Years Old | Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Further proof that blind in government is unwise.

Something to think on …

People are eternally divided into two classes, the believer, builder, and praiser...and the unbeliever, destroyer and critic.
— John Ruskin, who died on this date in 1900

Covid days …

… Give a Book on Twitter: "A teacher writes @sophiawaugh @OldieMagazine https://t.co/qtTZNfG69b" / Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Word of the Day …

… Estaminet | Word Genius.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

How very sad …

… Kathy Hacker, longtime journalist and Inquirer editor, dies at 71.

Kathy was everything the article says and much more besides. I feel chilly and growrn old.

Our newspaper of record …

… Most Popular President In History To Be Inaugurated In Secret Behind Giant Wall Guarded By Thousands Of Soldiers | The Babylon Bee.

I do understand that the humor-challenged among us — God bless them — may not be amused.

Anniversary …

… Reviews and Reflections: Edgar Allan Poe impressed the literary world in 1841.

Alice Munro


The experience of reading Alice Munro is a bit, I think, like studying a painting: each story represents a moment, a scene. They are not series of moments, as a novel might be; instead, they are vignettes, peering into a fixed reality. 

For me, the best of Munro's stories are those like 'Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage' -- stories which lurk in the space between the local and the universal, stories which imagine the impact of the random or unintended on lives and relationships. 'Hateship,' I thought, emerged as the strongest story in Munro's Vintage collection: it was long enough to develop a sense of tension, but short enough to resolve it.

I will admit, however, that some of Munro's pieces struggled, in my reading, to transcend the nagging tendency of short-story writers to leave little crumbs along the way, to propose tangents and distractions when diversion is itself not necessary. The result is an equivalent tendency among readers of short stories to focus too heavily on the red herring, to make every effort not to overlook that one critical word. It's sometimes as if the stories are too delicate. 

Thankfully, Munro engages this habit far less than some of her peers, and her stories, as I suggest, are stronger for it: they are equal measures patient and balanced. And more than that, of course: they address content not often explored in contemporary fiction, including old age and the process of aging. 

Ultimately, I found Munro best when focused on the detail, when describing the smallest of paintings -- or when more expansive, when charting the impact of unintended decisions on life, love, and happiness. Certainly 'Hateship' is a successful exercise in literary expression.  

RIP …

… Sharon Begley, path-breaking science journalist, dies at 64 - STAT. Hat tip, Dave Lull,)

When the pandemic hit last year, she was at the forefront of STAT’s coverage until she herself got sick — with lung cancer, it turned out — breaking down computer modeling studies, mortality data, and wastewater analyses to help millions make sense of a disorienting barrage of un-vetted information. Sharon’s was a voice readers knew they could trust.

A bit of self-defense

 The Making of a Misogynist - Joseph Epstein, Commentary Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Might it be that many of the people who wrote such vile things to me, or pronounced upon my op-ed on social media or in actual media, were in fact offended by my pointing up the degradation of the contemporary university? Might it be that my even partially describing this degradation of higher education, and the subsequent devaluation of its degrees, ordinary and honorary, on which they feel that their prestige depends offended them more than a thousand kiddos? By mocking the state of the university, did they feel I was attacking the foundation on which their own lives have been built? Might R.R. Reno, writing about my op-ed in First Things, be on target when he writes: “That Epstein should note the obvious—that credentials are the cheap cellophane in which elites wrap themselves when they lack real achievements and nobility of soul that win respect—galls them.”

As long ago as 1931, in The Theory of Eduction in the United States, Albert Jay Nock argued that American universities were devolving to mere trining schools.


 

Something to think on …

Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it.
— Lysander Spooner, born on this date in 1808

TV alert …

… Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes on BritBox.

Word of the Day …

… Felicitous | Word Genius.

Monday, January 18, 2021

For all of us …

… Christian Wiman | Survival is a Style | reviewed by Ian Pople - The Manchester Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Wiman’s duelling with secular tensions is, in this book as elsewhere in Wiman’s writing, manifested in his profound empathy with the duels that others also undergo. In that sense, survival is the style for most of us. And if ‘style’ seems an inappropriate word for survival, it is a characteristic of Wiman’s very raw, visceral sense of irony. Thus, the ‘confessional’ in Wiman’s writing sits cheek by jowl with the ironic ‘sacrifice’ of so many lives. As he puts it in long poem, ‘The Parable of Perfect Silence’ with its own highly ironised title, these are ‘Hard lives hardly there’. And he admits that ‘When I began writing these lines / it was not, to be sure, inspiration but desperation, / to be alive, to believe again in the love of God.’ 

Q&A …

… Reviews and Reflections: An Interview with writer David McCullough.

A master …

 

 
 (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lost continent of perfection …

… on Atlantis, A Journey in Search of Beauty by Carlo and Renzo Piano. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Travelogue, natural history, mariner’s meditation, and architecture drama, Atlantis is animated by Renzo’s restless mind and lively recollections. But it is Carlo who weaves all sorts of relevant bits into the tale. For instance, he tells us that the modern Greek word anoxis means “spring” – but originally, the word “meant the moment a ship sails into the open sea, as well as the moment when your mind grasps an idea for the first time.” Atlantis itself is Carlo’s attempt to grasp the dynamics of his father’s creativity, a force that has managed to envision work, performance, institutional and living spaces in so many different environments and cultures. The voyage trope provides an armature on which not only to erect a vision of his father, but to consider the vastness of what is manifest and hidden.


Something to think on …

There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy.
— Jacob Bronowski, born on this date in 1908

Word of the Day …

… Mansuetude | Word Genius.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Have a peek …

… Preview of my new Dante book!

The genuine article …

… Jack Thompson of All Trades - Bruce Bawer, Commentary Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… zmkc: Forgetfulness.

Worth checking out — to say the least …

… Replay: Laurence Olivier in Uncle Vanya | About Last Night.

Poetry — the real thing …

 … MARILYN HACKER: ELEGY. (Hat tip, Dave  Lull.)

This is at once deeply moving and technically dazzling.

Imagine that …

… Trump receives Morocco's highest award for Middle East work: official | Reuters.

Good for her …

… 'Age does not define you': Laguna Beach's Karen Pierce, 65, enters Sports Illustrated swimsuit contest - Los Angeles Times. (Hat tip, Jon Caroulis.)

Q&A …

… Is America's Golden Age Over? How Can We Restore American Greatness? | The Stream. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… free societies are much more creative. One statistic I cite in my book is this: Switzerland with its eight million people has produced 25 Nobel Prize winners in science, including Einstein. The People’s Republic of China with its 1.3 billion has produced just one. That’s not a racial thing. Scientists of Chinese extraction have won Nobels in the United States, Canada and France.

Anniversary …

… Reviews and Reflections: Richard Saunders offers predictions, hints, and essays.

Word of the Day …

… Holus-Bolus | Word Genius.

Something to think on …

Freedom of inquiry, freedom of discussion, and freedom of teaching — without these a university cannot exist.
— Robert Maynard Hutchins, born on this date in 1899

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Hmm …

… Poem: Variation on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Beautiful …

Underwater Dance Captured by Photographer Marta Syrko. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Appreciation — sort of …

Who Chopped Off the Priest’s Nob? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Despite the Irishness of Banville’s murder story, it nevertheless appears generic. So much so that in the second chapter, someone says that “Poirot himself appears in the scene.” This reference to Agatha Christie’s famous detective is one of many allusions Banville makes to classic literature, myths, and fairy tales. (He even references his own work, with mentions of the new State Pathologist in Dublin, Dr. Quirke, the protagonist of most Benjamin Black books.)

Blogging note …

 I have things to do this morning. Blogging will resume later in the day.

The best kind …

… Reviews and Reflections: Baker Street irregularities.

Hmm …

… out of Stanford University: Assessing Mandatory Stay‐at‐Home and Business Closure Effects on the Spread of COVID‐19.


Conclusions

While small benefits cannot be excluded, we do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs. Similar reductions in case growth may be achievable with less restrictive interventions.

Imagine that.  



Something to think on …

Politics, as I never tire of saying, is for social and emotional misfits, handicapped folk, those with a grudge. The purpose of politics is to help them overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power.
— Auberon Waugh, who died on this date in 2001

More than a color …

… This Blue by Jane Greer | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Word of the Day …

Anagnorisis | Word Genius.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Brilliant …

… Local Church Tries Innovative Growth Strategy Of Being Open On Sundays | The Babylon Bee.

Drawing like a pirate …

… Peake practice - The Spectator - news, politics, life & arts. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
‘Peake was synesthetic,’ explains Rachel Foss, curator of the new archive. ‘The act of drawing was often part of his literary process… It’s impossible to separate his art from his writing.’

Interesting …

… History of early American Catholics late author's crowning achievement | Catholic Courier. (Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

Starr also devotes attention to European Catholics who figured prominently in the Patriot victory, such as the Polish engineer Thaddeus Kosciuszko.

And he notes the singular Baron von Steuben of Prussia, a "Catholic-friendly Calvinist" educated by Jesuits who served as master drill sergeant for the army. Von Steuben is credited with establishing the drilling norms that Patriot soldiers, who mostly viewed their bayonets as a cooking spit, desperately needed.

Fabulous figures …

… Wildlife Photographer Promotes Lion Conservation With Stunning Portraits. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Being close to any lion is absolutely phenomenal, their power is palpable, but with the added unique white coat it's just a privilege!!

Q &A …

 Heather Clark on her Sylvia Plath biography Red Comet.  Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I really tried not to use words like obsessive that pathologized her. I really tried to watch my language to the level of individual words. But every once in a while, something would slip through, and my editor would catch it. I guess I had even started thinking maybe she was more fragile than I came to discover she was. By the end of the book, she seemed so strong—strong in the sense that she had such a clear vision of her vocation, and she had such a strong will, and she wanted to fulfill her calling. Nothing could deviate her from fulfilling that literary calling.

I was so impressed by that. Of course, when severe depression struck, it was a different story. When she became ill. But in her day-to-day life this amazing sense of fortitude and strength really came across to me as I researched her.

Wow …

… from Stone: 24 by Osip Mandelstam | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Yesterdat was the anniversary of Mandelstam's birth in 1891.

Something to think on …

Moons and years pass by and are gone forever, but a beautiful moment shimmers through life a ray of light.
— Franz Grillparzer, born on this date in 1791

 

Case in point …

… The Antifa thugs shame America - UnHerd.

[Andy] Ngo is everything the progressive Left should be in favour of. The son of Vietnamese immigrants to America, he was raised in Portland and, while doing a Master’s degree at the local university, began his career at the student newspaper.

It was there that I first noticed him. He showed himself to be one of the insightful people of his age who had seen through the identity politics that were roiling their generation. Ngo had pointed out that as a person of colour, of immigrant heritage who happened to be gay, his politics and outlook on the world should have been ordained for him. The radical left clearly thought they should be able to speak for him, and yet they clearly did not. Ngo asserted the right — whatever his characteristics — to be allowed to think for himself and not to be told that he had to fall in line with some specific political project because of his background.

Word of the Day …

… Maecenatism | Word Genius.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The not-necessarily-good old days …

… Novel Suspects : Dangerous intersection of religion and politics in 14th c..

Tracking the decline …

… A novel ending - The Spectator - news, politics, life & arts. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One thinks of Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Fielding’s Tom Jones, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Stendhal’s Rouge et Noirand Tolstoy’s War and Peace; of Melville’s Moby-Dick, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises; of Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! Of these, among the most easily recognizable and celebrated titles in the history of western literature, not one exhibits a trace of the solipsism, self-referentiality, self-identity and the narrow, intolerant and vicious puppy ideology that are among the more disgusting features of the novel in the 21st century. Instead their concern is with the natural world and the creatures that inhabit it; with human society at every level and including every type of human personality; with history, war and peace; with ennobling adventure and thrilling experience; with high passions and great loves; with good versus evil; with life and death; ultimately, with the relationship between mankind and the Divine. 

Lovely …

… Reviews and Reflections: Thomas Hardy and the woman much missed.

And the winners are …

… 2020 December : IBPC — Winning Poems for December 2020.


(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something to think on …

Why is it that people with the most narrow of minds seem to have the widest of mouths?
— Lewis Carroll, who died on this date in 1898

Me, either …

… Anecdotal Evidence: 'I Could Never Abide "Group Think"'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Normally, declarations of independence are intended to mask one’s profound loyalty to some cause or fashion. In his thinking, Pipes seems to have been that human curiosity, a genuinely independent thinker.

Mark thy calendar…

Katonah Poetry Series — Gregory Djanikian Introduced by Billy Collins.
Sunday, January 31, 2021 at 4:00 pm Reading via Zoom

In case you wondered …

… The Most-Popular College Books - DegreeQuery.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Word of the Day …

… Demiurgic | Word Genius.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Our newspaper of record …

… Trump Praised For Accepting Election Results 4 Years Quicker Than Hillary Clinton Did | The Babylon Bee.

Feel free to object.  Rest assured I won't delete your comment.

Good for them …

… Epic! Twitter Competitor Gab Backed Up Trump's Twitter Account and Recreated It on Their Platform.
I deactivated my Twitter account yesterday (I hardly used it, except from time to time  to tell assorted politicians to go stuff it). Of course, the servile true believers will object to what Gab has done. They also won't be celebrating World Logic Day. So don't try persuading them.


Oh, I forgot. Gab is a free speech advocate. 

Well, this is important these days …

… World Logic Day - a small contribution! - Logic MattersLogic Matters. (Hat tip,  Dave Lull.)

And here is a freeload to help you out.

A new resolve …

… Failures as stepping stones: 1946–2021.

Anniversary …

… Tintin at 90 - The Oldie. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Over the years, Hergé became, to some extent, a victim of his own obsession. After hundreds of letters from Tintin fans were posted to Professor Calculus in Room 122 on the fourth floor of the Cornavin Hotel, the management sent Hergé a huffy letter pointing out that such a room number did not exist. But in the end, art triumphed over reality, and, when the letters kept coming, the management were obliged to introduce a Room 122 where none had been before.

Health alert …

… A drink a day keeps the doctor away! - The Oldie.

Something to think on …

Conscious faith is freedom. Emotional faith is slavery. Mechanical faith is foolishness.
— G. I. Gudjieff, born on this date in 1866

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Fiction as sacrament …

… George Saunders on Story | Joshua Hren | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
But for Saunders, however emotive his morality may be, fiction is fundamentally moral; a badly-made story lacks moral authority and a well-made one can lead us to love better. Saunders is not wrong to trace the pulse of many literary problems to our strivings after moral salvation: Great works contain multitudes. The Russians teach us that lasting literature is not merely “something decorative,” Saunders writes, but “a vital moral-ethical tool.” 

Somebody alert Jack Dorsey …

… to check his house: Here are six videos of Democrats calling for violence or physical confrontations that are still active on Twitter.

Hmm …

… Novel Suspects : Ranking the Genres of Mystery and Suspense.

One hell of a record …

… Arlin's Eleven - BallNine.

Be afraid, be very afraid …

 … VOTE FOR BIDEN, THEY SAID. AMERICA WILL RETURN BACK TO NORMAL, THEY SAID.

The true believers, of course, those who seem to buy into any official opinion, will naturally object.

Nice to know …

… Supreme Court rules hospital may not kill baby girl on life support | News | LifeSite.

Biography of a place …

… Review of Debra Di Blasi’s Selling the Farm.

In Di Blasi’s hands, memoir is not a work of confession. As she writes in the prologue, she views autobiography as pretense—observing the past inevitably alters it, and any memoir that fails to recognize this fact is fiction. She calls attention to her self-editing through white space, indented text that often breaks the fourth wall. As Di Blasi explained in an interview about the book, “The intent is not only to illuminate the many facets of remembering but also to reflect the process of writing and revising one’s recollections, exposing the fallibility of memory and the intrusion of self-aggrandizement.”

January Poetry at North of Oxford …

 … Two Poems by Judy DeCroce.

… Howard Beach: Queens, NY by Doug Holder.

… Strands by Michael Griffith.

… Leave Meeting by Bruce Whitacre.

 Cast Iron Bookends of Girls in Ladderback Chairs by Katherine Barham.

Anniversary …

… Taking another look at God’s holy community.

Appreciation …

… My Brilliant Friend — Peter W. Huber, 1952–2021. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A beautiful mind was taken from the world, but his ideas through the legacy of his words will continue to help illuminate our future.

Something to think on …

The saddest thing in life and the hardest to live through, is the knowledge that there is someone you love very much whom you cannot save from suffering.
— Agatha Christie, who died on this date in 1976

Word of the Day …

 Tohubohu | Word Genius.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Appreciation …

… Reviews and Reflections: That slow spoken, quiet mannered Abbess of Andalusia.

Good …

… Twitter Shares Drop by 12 Percent After Company Banned Trump.

Who the hell elected Jack Dorsey to anything?

A singular anniversary …

… Hungry like the rabbit - The Spectator - news, politics, life & arts. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There are few American creations more endearing or enduring than Bugs Bunny. As voiced in the Noo Yawk accent of Mel Blanc, Bugs embodies a national character that combines street smarts with whimsy, reserve with reluctant but ultimately total engagement. He also emerged on the world stage at just the right moment in history.

The state of the world …

… First Known When Lost: Presence.
So here we are again.  But all is not lost.  Some of us continue to love, and attempt to preserve, what Wordsworth and MacNeice loved (and feared for).  Yet at times one does think of the Roman living contentedly, going about his or her daily business, seeing dust on the horizon, having never heard of Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and Vandals.

Limning a chasm …

… Reviews and Reflections: Childlike simplicity combined with great complexity.

Brethren boy …

… Garrison Keillor's "That Time of Year" ~ The Imaginative Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
This is … an engaging, even disarmingly, honest memoir. It isn’t searingly honest. Nor is it thoroughly honest, if only because it isn’t introspectively deep. But engaging and disarming it is, whether the subject is either of his two failed marriages or his brutal separation from Minnesota Public Radio over what amounted to an essentially bogus sexual harassment claim.

Something to think on …

You may not get everything you dream about, but you will never get anything you don't dream about.
— William James, born on this date in 1842

Word of the Day …

… Ailurophile | Word Genius.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Faith is not for sissies …

John Berryman’s Letters Reveal a Confounding Catholic Faith. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Once a Catholic — to turn the baptismal theology into a slogan — always a Catholic. While the full sense of Berryman’s religious belief might rightly remain a mystery, the publication of his selected letters suggests that a new look at the poet’s faith is not merely warranted but essential to understanding his art.

I think of this every time I attend Mass, including this morning, when I kept thinking that I have been coming here since I was born (my mother took me with her when she went to Mass; even when I was much older, we attended Mass together). There is more than people think in that phrase “cradle Catholic.”

I was very moved by Berryman’s suicide. I even made a sort a pilgrimage to the site once.

Listen in …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Night Music: Chris Botti, Sting And Carolyn Campbell Live At The Java Jazz festival.

Something must be done …

… about Twitter and Facebook, etc. — Russian Dissident: Dictators Cheer Twitter Ban on Trump.

Who the hell do Dorsey and Zuckerberg think they are? I don’t do Facebook, and I rarely tweet — except to asshole politicians — but  I don’t think they would have been as successful if they had told people beforehand that only what they approved of would be permissible on their platforms. Rich, arrogant  pricks. 
 

Blogging note …

 Bloging will pick up a bit later on. I am rather bust with other things today.

How we got here …

… A different view of America’s past.

Obit authored by the deceased …

… 5 Feet of Fury. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP …

 Kathy's World :: SteynOnline.

Word of the Day …

… Badinage | Word Genius.

Something to think on …

Long live freedom and damn the ideologies.
— Robinson Jeffers, born on this date in 1887

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Hmm …


What love looks like …

… Jericho Brown, “A Young Man”. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Not just a singer …

… Write Like I’m Hungry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

With Unlikely Angel: The Songs of Dolly Parton, musicologist Lydia Hamessley wants to return focus to Parton’s formidable skill as a songwriter. Hamessley argues persuasively that even after decades of prolific composition, resulting in dozens of studio albums and hundreds of recorded original songs, Parton has never received the public recognition that she deserves for her accomplished body of work.

Watch and listen …

 

 
 (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A refreshing destination …

 Reviews and Reflections: Revisiting science fiction author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Cute …

… Some Doggerel Concerning the Quaker Epiphany Party. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nice to know …

  … Facts Win Out: Peter Wood’s learned and thoughtful demolition of the 1619 Project. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… National Association of Scholars president Peter W. Wood reveals in 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project, the larger purpose of the Times’s project appears to have been to promote racial grievances and resentment. Most damningly, Wood points out that a Times fact-checker who contacted a radical historian to weigh the claim that the revolution was fought to protect slavery was told that this was nonsense. But the paper ignored that input, and 1619’s creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, herself recently said that the project was not intended to serve as history (after nearly a year of claiming the opposite).

Elusive curves …

 Zealotry of Guerin: Poetry and Fiction by Christopher Guerin: Poof Taste (Alice Bea Guerin), Sonnet #546.

Good question …

 … ACTUAL DISCUSSION IS THE WAY FORWARD, BUT WILL WE TAKE IT?

Something to think on …

It's not possible to search for God using the methods of a detective... There is no way. You can only wait till God's axe severs your roots: then you will understand that you are here only through a miracle, and you will remain fixed forever in wonderment and equilibrium.
— Karel Čapek, born on this date in 1890

Happy birthday, Joseph Epstein …

… Anecdotal Evidence: 'I Read in the Hope of Discovering the Truth'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In 2000, five years after the death of his formidably well-read friend Edward Shils, Epstein published in First Thingsthe only poem of his I have ever read, “Edward Shils in Heaven.” In it he asks: “Are there good books and journals in the place for you to read?” A Heaven without books sounds like a shoddy, low-rent Heaven, like a cheap motel.

Word of the Day …

… Skeuomorph | Word Genius.

Friday, January 08, 2021

In case you wondered …

… The Top Mystery Novels Ever Written. (Hat tip, Jon Caroulis.)

Me, too …

… I Now Better Understand the 'Good German', by Dennis Prager | Creators Syndicate. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The ease with which tens of millions of Americans have accepted irrational, unconstitutional and unprecedented police state-type restrictions on their freedoms, including even the freedom to make a living, has been, to understate the case, sobering.

It has indeed. We thought it couldn't happen here. But it looks like it has..

Well, maybe not …

zmkc: Get with the Programme.
Since when have we started judging fiction by subject matter? So much for - well the list of books that would be found wanting if that's the standard is so long that I really don't know where to begin. The idea that subject matter should be the first port of call when making a judgment about a work of art is a very dangerous one - it points directly to a road marked “censorship”.

I think that I too shall “ retreat into the glorified past of literature published before this year.”

Strangely contemporary …

… Melville’s Rejection of Utopia. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Rather than seeing Ahab as a representative of the old order—a theocrat who takes his people on a wild chase to “comprehend” and vanquish evil—Morrisey argues he is a modern man who is driven by a desire to conquer nature. Quaker though he may be, he is a Quaker of a strange sort—one who is happy to kill, with no particular interest in piety, and who rules over his “brothers” with an iron hand. Ahab may profess egalitarianism, but in reality he merely uses it as whetstone to sharpen his tyrannical axe.

Just a start …

… A chance to rectify Penn Station’s grime. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The Moynihan Train Hall is a step in the right direction
 to re-welcome workers to the city, to be sure. By building on McKim, Mead & White’s Beaux-Arts masterpiece, the new hall could begin a Midtown classical revival. Each New York neighborhood has its own unique character; what New York doesn’t need is another sterile mall.

A choice of essays …

… Opinion | The Sidney Awards - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Rauch was the subject of an interview by Nick Gillespie in Reason magazine, called “How to Tell if You’re Being Canceled,” which gets the first Sidney of 2020, the awards I give out for the best long-form essays of each year. Rauch was an early vocal champion of the movement for same-sex marriage, which was led by people who, in the early years, said things that seemed shocking and offensive to others. All they had back then was their freedom of speech, Rauch observes.

In Reason, he takes up the argument that certain ideas should be unsaid because they make other people feel unsafe. “The emotional safety argument, I argue, is fundamentally illiberal, and there is really nothing about it that can be salvaged. It is just inconsistent with the open society,” Rauch says.

True and lovely …

… The poetry of American novelist John Updike | San Diego Reader. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

There is only one world; the world pressing against you at this minute. There is only one minute in which you are alive; this minute here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.
— Storm Jameson, born on this date in 1891

Word of the Day …

… Preprandial | Word Genius.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

So let us pray …

… Reviews and Reflections: Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

The mice against the frogs …

A Nony Mouse. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Now comes a new translation [of the Batrachomyomachia] in rhyming iambic pentameter by A.E. Stallings, with illustrations by the etcher Grant Silverstein. The handsome large-format book, and the ingenious heroic couplets recounting the deeds of ‘King Pufferthroat’, ‘Morselsnatcher’ et al, suggest Mother Goose or Aesop. That’s one way to look at it. But with two introductions – one under Stallings’s name and another by ‘A. Nony Mouse’ – plus a glossary of dramatis personae, an appendix and the notes of an erudite classicist, this is a playful yet serious work of scholarship in miniature.


A closer look …

… Poe in the City - Law & Liberty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Peeples … expertly tacks a course between Poe’s various locales and the way in which they might reflect his stories, or may have influenced them. In most cases, Peeples explains the stories that were produced in each of the principal cities in which he lived, or the way in which the character of those cities might be suggested in various Poe stories; he may even go so far as to suggest correlations and affinities. For the most part, however, Peeples lets the reader draw his own conclusions regarding the extent to which those places might have influenced the 19th century writer. It is always nice when readers are treated like adults.

Hmm …

I remember editing a review by The Inquirer's excellent restaurant critic Craig LaBan. His reference to "the rubble of roast potatoes on my plate" has stayed with me ever since. But Craig does not go out of his way to be negative. As he pointed out, when I asked him to "tell me what you really think," the restaurant under review was very expensive and if you're going to ask for a lot of money for a meal, the food should measure up.

A genre-straddling epic …

… Review: 'Aftershocks' is a powerful, poetic memoir about identity, family and belonging | Datebook. Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

When we leave Nadia in Rome at 7, we’re taken next to a chapter titled “Resettlement Registration Form” and enter the storytelling present: Nadia is 28, living in New York City. The chapter is written as its title suggests, a form. “Citizenship: United States of America; Ghana.” … “Occupation/Skill: Waitress, Graduate Student, Writer.” Short answers give way to longer ones. “Ethnic Origin: Black. Biracial. Indo-European? Central Asian? Although I identify as Black, I am more literally Caucasian than most people who call themselves Caucasian.”

A masterpiece …

 

 
 Francis Poulenc was born on this date in 1899.

Something to think on …

We shall never know how many acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of appearing not sufficiently progressive.
— Charles Peguy, born on this date in 1873

Word of the Day …

… Eudaemonic | Word Genius.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

A lovely book …

… zmkc: Book 1 Reading 2021 - Tea with Walter de la Mare by Russell Brain. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Indeed it is. I read it some years ago, and still have a copy. Here is my review of De La Mare's Memoirs of a Midget.

Deadly cat-and-mouse …

… Reviews and Reflections: Dickens, Collins, Drood, and mysterious horror.

Haiku …

 

The leafless branches’

Filigree against the sky:

Beauty of winter.

The kind of person we need …

 Reviews and Reflections: Remembering Joseph Warren, a Bunker Hill hero.

The uses of faith …

… Adult Life > Theodore Dalrymple. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

Thee, of course, is God, in whose existence personally I do not believe: and yet there is wisdom (is there not?) in the Psalm. If you can’t believe in the God of the Bible, it is sometimes best to act as if you did, for the faith that one’s suffering has some value or meaning beyond itself is the best way to transcend it, even if there are no indubitable metaphysical grounds for holding such a faith.  

Looking for the invisible …

… Can’t Explain — ‘Hotly in Pursuit of the Real’. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… one should not underestimate the strangeness of Mariette to its audience in 1991, even to some Catholics: it was already some decades since Vatican II’s reforms and the more complete integration of Catholics into American life. A novel about an ecstatic nun in 1906, where even the unecstatic ones wear cinctures, was bound to remind people that Catholicism can be odd. Among the other striking passages in Mariette is one in which Hansen recounts a discussion between two nuns about their lives before they entered the convent: “We talked about our childhoods.... She played in a habit just like the one that her sister wore. She whipped herself with knotted apron strings. She rebuked temptations against chastity by lying naked on thorns.” And this is before we get to the stigmata.

Still creating after all these years …

… Paul McCartney on creating "McCartney III" in lockdown, and remembering John Lennon - CBS News. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 "It's very difficult for me, and I occasionally will have thoughts and sort of say, 'I don't know, why don't I just break down crying every day?' Because it's that bad."

"Do you sometimes?"

"Not every day, you know? There will be times that I just have memories and just think, 'Oh my God, it was just so senseless.'"

Something to think on …

Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.
— Alan Watts, born on this date in 1915

Hmm …

… Best Pop Music of 2020 | National Review. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)
In 2020, listeners could find edification in music that met their best standards and shared their ethical concerns, or else they endured Taylor Swift selling narcissism alongside political smugness. Pop stars who place their brand on progressive ideology make pop culture seem inseparable from hive-mind conformity, but Dylan, Morrissey, Morrison, and others launched a musical offensive by releasing the best pop music of the year.

A very sad anniversary …

… Rear-view mirror | About Last Night.

Mastery …

… Nigeness: Michelangeli.

Word of the Day …

… Bijou | Word Genius.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

A prophet unheeded …

… Jacques Barzun and the Tragedy of ‘Race Thinking’. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


One of the consequences is the family tradition of “no religion or politics at the dining table”. He wrote about these pressures long before formalhouse rules on conversation appeared on campus with laws and codes related to “hate speech”, trigger warnings and the demand for safe spaces where only approved ideas may be expressed. Barzun advocated practices and procedures to free the flow of conversation and facilitate the nuanced consideration of divisive issues, noting any rules dictating what can and cannot be discussed will always be designed to restrict free speech, avoid controversial issues and kill the capacity of students to think critically and imaginatively about them.

Embarkation …

… Beyond Necessity — vicarious travels in American history.

I think I missed these

… Photos Of The Week #52. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something to think on …

The more immoral we become in big ways, the more puritanical we become in little ways.
— Florence King, born on this date in 1936

Something I missed …

… (5) Midge Goldberg on Twitter: ""Three Visitors" from Wonder and Wrath by @amjuster seems appropriate on this Christmas Eve morning. @PaulDryBooks @HylaBrookPoets https://t.co/f6hJ2o0U1M" / Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ah, yes …

… Pop open the champagne! Happy Public Domain Day!

RIP …

… Last Documented Civil War Widow Dies At 101 | The Daily Wire.

Word of the Day …

… Trouvaille | Word Genius.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Just so you know …

… Warning: Facebook And Twitter Are ‘Dangerous’ Even If You’ve Never Used Them.

… the bits and pieces of information your friends, family and acquaintances share about you on social media, could equip AI-based algorithms or bots to effectively ‘clone’ your online persona.

In other words, there’s the real you—the one whose never used any social media platform, for example—and the cloned you: which is an online representation of your thoughts, behaviors and responses.


These days, the two can be hard to differentiate …

… Babylon Bee: Satire or real news? - Washington Times. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

History and mystery …

Lizard mysteries and Marconi’s wireless.

Something to think on …

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.
— Albert Camus, who died on this date in 1960

Word of the Day …

… Quisquous | Word Genius.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Something to think on …

Living by faith includes the call to something greater than cowardly self-preservation.
— J. R. R. Tolkien, born on this date in 1892

The music of crows …

FROM THE ARCHIVES – WINTER VISITATION BY PETER VERTACNIK. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Choices …

… The Spectator’s Books of the Year 2020. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Here's an idea …

(5) Ivor Cummins on Twitter: "Idea for passive resistance to the madness, just sent to me by email - what do you think? (three pics attached with the idea) https://t.co/qQHf8O5Nn7" / Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't have a problem wearing a mask in stores. It's minimally inconvenient and may be common-sense. But I don't wear one in the open air, because sunlight kills the virus and, if it didn't, a mask would be about as useful as putting up a chain link fence to keep mosquitoes out of your garden. I would don the mask if I were in the open and in a crowd — unless, of course, I was rioting. I wu]ill, though, try to get a smiley mask button.

Good news

… Reviews and Reflections: Looking back to 14 September 1901.

Hmm …

… An American Coup > Daniel Mallock.

While it is true that the press has always been under the protection of the Constitution (due to its “watchdog” role in American politics and society) its track record in fulfilling its duties is spotty at best. Political players with dubious ethics have always understood the power of the press and the benefits to be had by corrupting and controlling it. Thomas Jefferson, like Donald Trump today, was no stranger to a false, lying, corrupt press. Jefferson wrote during his first term that the press had,  

        ". . . by pushing it’s licentiousness and it’s lying to such a degree of prostitution as to deprive it of all credit. and the fact is that so abandoned are the tory presses in this particular that even the least informed of the people have learnt that nothing in a newspaper is to be believed. this is a dangerous state of things, and the press ought to be restored to it’s credibility if possible.

Word of the Day …

… Majuscule | Word Genius.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Sad news …

 … Lemons aren’t always useful for lemonade.

… Exit lines.

On the other hand …

 There Is No Such Thing as Unconscious Thought.

Never mind.

Is he consciously aware of this?

… There Is No Such Thing as Conscious Thought - Scientific American.

Am I? Are you?

The way of war …

… Enjoy “ancient liberties” or suffer the consequences.

Learning from a mentor …

 ‘Studying With Miss Bishop’ Review: Learning His Lines. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Elizabeth Bishop’s approach to teaching makes the reader long to be transported back to the mid-1970s, to sit in her class. After all, there was no shortage of places. She began by asking the dozen or so students who were denied the opportunity to study with Lowell to propose “three or four poets they would like to read and talk about. Does anyone have a suggestion?”

An elaborate puzzle …

… Mystery Scene: Finding clues in Shakespeare, Cervantes, and the Bible.