Friday, July 03, 2020

This will certainly dismay some people …

… Post-Pandemic Americans May Be Done With Taking Orders – Reason.com.

Good question …

… Instapundit —  WHY DO THE LEFTISTS WANT PEOPLE TO DIE???? …

 Column: Lincoln Statues Must Go, Margaret Sanger Stays? | Newsbusters.



Well, she won't stay when they learn that one of the reasons she promoted birth control was that it would prevent abortions. Trained as a nurse, Sanger didn't approve of abortion: “I do not approve of abortion, nor can I give the address of anyone who will perform this operation.”

Hmm …

… Opinion: Since we're canceling people for racism, can we talk about Charles Darwin? | Disrn.

Even by the most generous of measures, the intellectual and philosophical heritage of Charles Darwin is one of the most hideously racist legacies one can fathom. And yet, his inherently racist dogma is not only presented in public schools across America, it is state and federal policy that every student in America demonstrate proficiency in understanding and applying his dangerous ideology.

Listen in …

… Rupert Sheldrake & Mark Vernon on David Bohm & Infinite Potential – Mark Vernon.



I plan on watching the film, too.

Listen in …

 Christopher Lydon, Robert Pogue Harrison discuss our “worldwide theater of imitated desire” | The Book Haven.

“We have this illusion that there’s nothing more proper to my inner self than my own desires,” said Harrison – but Girard challenges that assumption, showing that our desires are the result of imitation. No coincidence, then, that Facebook was “a worldwide theater of imitated desire on people’s personal computers,” he said. Certainly his former Stanford pupil Peter Thiel, an early investor in Facebook, understood the importance of Girard’s legacy when he said: “I suspect that when the history of the 20th century is written circa 2100, he will be seen as truly one of the great intellectuals, but it may still be a long time till it’s fully understood.”

A haunting parable …

… Morning’s Canvas: The town that forgot how to breathe.

Regarding those models …

… Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Self-Flattening, or Will It Grind Relentlessly on? – Reason.com. (hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Last week, a global team of researchers issued a compelling manifesto in Nature outlining five ways to ensure that models serve society. Modelers, they argue, must take care to frankly assess the uncertainties and sensitivity of their models; avoid obfuscatory complexity; make clear the normative values chosen by the models' developers; avoid spurious precision, and acknowledge their ignorance. "Mathematical models are a great way to explore questions. They are also a dangerous way to assert answers," write the authors. "Asking models for certainty or consensus is more a sign of the difficulties in making controversial decisions than it is a solution, and can invite ritualistic use of quantification."


Here is the piece from Nature: Five ways to ensure that models serve society: a manifesto.

Mathematical models produce highly uncertain numbers that predict future infections, hospitalizations and deaths under various scenarios. Rather than using models to inform their understanding, political rivals often brandish them to support predetermined agendas. To make sure predictions do not become adjuncts to a political cause, modellers, decision makers and citizens need to establish new social norms. Modellers must not be permitted to project more certainty than their models deserve; and politicians must not be allowed to offload accountability to models of their choosing2,3.

Something to think on …

Atheism is a crutch for those who cannot bear the reality of God.
— Tom Stoppard, born on this date in 1937

Yes …

… Nigeness: Cue Music.

Too bad they waited …

… until he was dead: John Prine Named Illinois' First Honorary Poet Laureate - Rolling Stone. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Gone, but not forgotten …

… Morning’s Canvas: Sailing from Byzantium.

… without Byzantium - an empire that fluctuated dramatically in its size, power, and influence during its relatively brief history - a great deal of our world would now be quite different: the separate cultural worlds of the Italian Renaissance to the west, the medieval Islamic empire to the south, and the Slavic cultures to the north would have been radically altered in their respective developments and successes.

Hmm …

… AMAZING: Florida Sheriff Threatens to Deputize All Local Gun Owners to Put Down Riots.

A physician’s view …

… The Coronavirus Credibility Gap - WSJ.

Political leaders and health officials have often invoked “science” to justify decisions manifestly guided by their personal preferences. That costs them credibility. Restoring public confidence will require acknowledging their role in politicizing the pandemic, yielding to accommodations and sensible alternatives in the areas of greatest controversy, and focusing on the widely supported goal of not overwhelming hospitals, rather than less meaningful metrics such as increases in Covid-19 cases.

Q&A …

… A Conversation with Diane Glancy - Image Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Check it out …

… One critic’s summer reading list: From a scandalous memoir to obscure literary journalism - The Washington Post.

Last week the mail brought “Haiku for Business Travelers,” a slender volume of “writing, photography, conversation.” In it, the versatile Gil Roth prints some of his poems and mini-essays, but half the book consists of extracts from an interview with the late poet and editor J.D. McClatchy. I knew McClatchy a bit, and we shared an enthusiasm for the remarkable and now somewhat underrated Thornton Wilder. Roth himself is the host of “The Virtual Memories Show,” a weekly podcast in which he entices creative folks to talk about their work as novelists, literary scholars or comic-book artists. He’s even interviewed a few journalists, among them one who reviews books each Thursday in these pages.

Very nice …

… An Adieu by Florence Earle Coates - Poems | Academy of American Poets. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



Florence Earle Coates was born on July 1, 170 years ago.

Appreciation …

… Thomas Sowell, An Intellectual Giant | Hoover Institution. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Our galaxy …

… Unforgettable Images of the Milky Way by Top Photographers. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Two poems

… Paris Review - Poem to My Yellow Coat.



Bouquet.



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hmm …

… Homeschool requests overload state government website – The North State Journal.

RIP …

…  Famed Chicano author Rudolfo Anaya dies at age 82 | KOB 4. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Certainly worth considering …

A timely idea from the late Auberon Waugh. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Just so you know …

… Every Great Writer is a Great Deceiver: Vladimir Nabokov's Best Writing Advice | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …



We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.

— Hermann Hesse, born on this date in 1877

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Haiku …

That violet leaf
Seems glorified by sunlight
As if touched by God.

Our feathered friends …

… Nigel Andrew - Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Gyrfalcon | Literary Review | Issue 488. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Yesterday, while I was sitting in my garden, three sparrows lined up on the fence between my garden and my neighbor’s. The perched there looking at me. The suet and seed cake that had been hanging nearby had been devoured. There was a seed bell hanging there still, but they like that less. I got up and hung another suet and seed cake. Moments later the were feeding away. The birds in my garden have grown rather friendly. They routinely join Debbie and me when we dine on the patio. They often perch just a couple of feet from us. They certainly know who it is hangs up the food.

I must get Jennifer Ackerman’s book.

Talk about white privilege …

 (5) Ian Miles Cheong on Twitter: "White BLM activist assaults black man for tearing down Black Lives Matter signs. Woke. https://t.co/8IyRo5qR9e" / Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)




Take down …

DiAngelo isn’t the first person to make a buck pushing tricked-up pseudo-intellectual horseshit as corporate wisdom, but she might be the first to do it selling Hitlerian race theory. White Fragility has a simple message: there is no such thing as a universal human experience, and we are defined not by our individual personalities or moral choices, but only by our racial category.


It takes a special kind of ignorant for an author to choose an example that illustrates the mathematical opposite of one’s intended point, but this isn’t uncommon in White Fragility, which may be the dumbest book ever written. It makes The Art of the Deal read like Anna Karenina. 

Remembering …

 Morning’s Canvas: Old Man of the Mountain crumbles, but stamps remain.



I had forgotten he had crumbled.

For your reading pleasure …

… Better Than Starbucks Seven Poems by A. M. Juster. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

July Reviews/Essays at North of Oxford …

… Sojourners of the In-Between By Gregory Djanikian. (This one is by yours truly.)

 Audubon’s Sparrow by Juditha Dowd.

… The Elvis Machine by Kim Vodicka.

… Refuse by Julian Randall.

… The Minor Virtues by Lynn Levin.

… A Draught of Vintage by Bryon Beynon.

… Dearest Nature by James E. Diamond.


Picturing the lockdown...

...in the United Kingdom

Contemporary journalism …

… The Story Forbes Censored, Exploding The Myth Of Climate Crisis Alarmism - The Lid.

All the news that fits the narrative.
Here is piece I wrote about climate back in 2014, which appeared in The Inquirer.

When TV was a vast wasteland …

… Snapshot: a TV interview with Thornton Wilder | About Last Night.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Hmm …

… Ozymandias Laughs | The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I live in a suburb of Minneapolis, the city where the whole madness began. At the beginning, I had a lot of sympathy for the protesters. I still feel for them. I expect the black people who actually live in the burned-out neighborhoods weren’t looking for that style of urban renewal. But the neo-Khmer Rouge took over, exploiting our toxic media to divide us in a way unseen since Hans Heg was riding off to war.

And the winners are …

… Winning Poems for 2020 May : IBPC.



The Judge’s Page.



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Symmetry and reliability …

… Morning’s Canvas: Shakespeare & Co.

This may explain me …

… and why I’ve never had the flu: Immunity to COVID-19 is probably higher than tests have shown | Karolinska Institutet Nyheter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP …

… Johnny Mandel Dead: Composer Who Wrote ‘MASH’ Theme Song Was 94 – Variety. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

By Frederick Douglass …

… Oration in Memory of Abraham Lincoln - Teaching American History.

Friends and fellow-citizens, the story of our presence here is soon and easily told. We are here in the District of Columbia, here in the city of Washington, the most luminous point of American territory; a city recently transformed and made beautiful in its body and in its spirit; we are here in the place where the ablest and best men of the country are sent to devise the policy, enact the laws, and shape the destiny of the Republic; we are here, with the stately pillars and majestic dome of the Capitol of the nation looking down upon us; we are here, with the broad earth freshly adorned with the foliage and flowers of spring for our church, and all races, colors, and conditions of men for our congregation — in a word, we are here to express, as best we may, by appropriate forms and ceremonies, our grateful sense of the vast, high, and preeminent services rendered to ourselves, to our race, to our country, and to the whole world by Abraham Lincoln.

About time …

… Momentum Building in States to Require Campus 'Intellectual Diversity' | RealClearInvestigations.

After leaving Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., in 2017 amid a clash with woke activists, progressive academic Bret Weinstein has often felt like a lonely voice on the left warning about the dangers of campus intolerance and unrest spilling out into the real world.

Happy birthday…

… Sowell on Writing - Econlib. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Today is Thomas Sowell’s 90th birthday. I am sure many celebrations of Sowell will be published. Not in Europe, I am afraid: in spite of his renown in America, Sowell is virtually unknown in Europe. I suspect this is at least partially due to his choice to concentrate on writing and to eschew conferences and public gatherings. He never got on the conference circuit, so to say.
It is a pity. Sowell is admirable for a number of reasons. His courage. His productivity. His work.
Read the whole thing.

Something to think on …

Religion used to be the opium of the people. To those suffering humiliation, pain, illness, and serfdom, religion promised the reward of an after life. But now, we are witnessing a transformation, a true opium of the people is the belief in nothingness after death, the huge solace, the huge comfort of thinking that for our betrayals, our greed, our cowardice, our murders, we are not going to be judged.
— Czeslaw Milosz, born on this date in 1911

Monday, June 29, 2020

This looks significant …

“A 107-page roar of outrage” - The Lancet's Editor-in-Chief on The Covid-19 Catastrophe

The global response to the Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest science policy failure in a generation. We knew this was coming. Warnings about the threat of a new pandemic have been made repeatedly since the 1980s and it was clear in January that a dangerous new virus was causing a devastating human tragedy in China. And yet the world ignored the warnings. Why?
In this short and hard-hitting book, Richard Horton, editor of the medical journal The Lancet, scrutinizes the actions that governments around the world took – and failed to take – as the virus spread from its origins in Wuhan to the global pandemic that it is today. He shows that many Western governments and their scientific advisors made assumptions about the virus and its lethality that turned out to be mistaken. Valuable time was lost while the virus spread unchecked, leaving health systems unprepared for the avalanche of infections that followed. Drawing on his own scientific and medical expertise, Horton outlines the measures that need to be put in place, at both national and international levels, to prevent this kind of catastrophe from happening again.
We’re supposed to be living in an era where human beings have become the dominant influence on the environment, but Covid-19 has revealed the fragility of our societies and the speed with which our systems can come crashing down. We need to learn the lessons of this pandemic and we need to learn them fast because the next pandemic may arrive sooner than we think.

Where he lived …

… Morning’s Canvas: Mark Twain here and there.

Discovery …

 4 More “Lost” Dorothy Parker Poems Uncovered | Dorothy Parker Society. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And here’s some more …

… CDC Antibody Studies Confirm Huge Gap Between COVID-19 Infections and Known Cases – Reason.com.


These results confirm something we already knew: The COVID-19 infection fatality rate—deaths as a share of all infections—is much lower than the crude case fatality rate—deaths as a share of known cases. That is bound to be true when testing is limited and a virus typically produces mild or no symptoms. At the same time, the CDC's antibody studies imply that efforts to control the epidemic through testing, isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing will not be very effective, since they reach only a small percentage of virus carriers.

Comparison and contrast …

… Glad Midsommar! Covid comparison in six charts: Sweden and UK - InProportion2. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

He seems qualified to comment …

 (5) Ivor Cummins on Twitter: "Nobel Prize for Science winner Professor Levitt of Stanford - one of the few who called this thing correctly back in February - with a population fatality rate of 0.04 to 0.05%, largely regardless of lockdown Now calls it again - on how science has let us all down dreadfully: https://t.co/LrUA7t4rhv" / Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Who said it ?

… I’m Drunk, But I’ll Get Over That Soon. You’re a Fool and You’ll Never Get Over That – Quote Investigator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don't you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.
— Fréderíc Bastiat, born on this date in 1801

Anniversary …

… Happy Birthday, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry | The Sheila Variations.

Fascinating …

… The Big Bang | by Freeman Dyson | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The queerest and maddest part of the evening came at the end. People were then trying ineffectively to dance in the constricted space available. I was suddenly seized upon by an absurd and very drunken little woman, who ordered me to dance with her. As she is a pathetic-looking creature with a disfiguring scar on her face, I could not decently reject her. So I danced around with her for about twenty minutes, she evidently not minding how badly I danced. At the end of this she was getting so wild and jumping about so that it made me very uncomfortable, and I finally succeeded in returning her to her husband. The husband, who is a solemn and frightened-looking little man, was standing around by himself miserably while all this went on. He did not seem to talk to anybody all the evening. It makes me feel sick just to think of the horror of the lives these two people may be living. Evidently the reason the wife seized upon me for a partner is that I am the only one of the young men at the party whom she had met before. The name of the husband (I wonder if you guessed it) is Kurt Gödel.
The horror of this scene was real, but Adele Gödel was rarely drunk, and she was a good wife for Kurt when she was sober.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Being, when magical …

… Plum Tree Tavern: Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

The religion of Christianity vs. the religion of politics …

… Jesus Won't Let Us Use Him for Our Politics | Thinking Christian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 First, Jesus was not a “person of color” in any sense that matters. He wasn’t a minority race member. He was a member of the local dominant race and religion, whose leaders had him executed. His killing had nothing to do with race, everything to do with authority conflicts (from an earthly perspective) and God’s purposes (from the wider point of view).

Second, police shootings are not “state-sanctioned violence.” Many are justified actions, the police defending themselves or innocent civilians from imminent danger of being killed. In the small number of exceptional cases the state sanctions nothing; the officers are charged and tried for murder.
 We should never let our politics control or even influence our view of Jesus. But we can certainly let our view of Jesus influence our politics. We cannot try to get him on our side, for our purposes; but we can certainly try to set ourselves on his side, for his purposes, as long as we remember he’s completely in charge.
When last I checked all humans were members of the species homo sapiens. I was taught that all are made in the image and likeness of God. I have behaved accordingly.

Hmm …

… Morning’s Canvas: I shall fall / Like a bright exhalation in the evening, / And no man see me more.

The upper-division students in my “Shakespeare: Later Plays” elective at Boston College, which wrapped up with our reading of Henry VIII, articulated this realization especially well. Their most common sentiment was that they have nothing to look forward to — a view expressed not as an anxious complaint but as a clear-eyed observation. Their college education won’t lead to a job (or even a ceremony to mark the end of a life-stage), their semester of assignments won’t culminate in a feeling of mastery (or even a grade), and many meaningful relationships they have made will be cut off without resolution.
I don’t see why being well-instructed in literature — as  I happen to have been — would get in the way of employment. It never did for me. And I don’t see what unionization of teachers would have to do with that. If you want to teach literature in college, then you need an advanced degree. The number of such jobs will always be limited. Literature is grounded in life. Knowledge of literature helps in understanding life. Life tends to involves the necessity of employment. 
 

RIP …

… Charles Webb, who inspired a Hollywood classic with 'The Graduate,' dies at 81 - Los Angeles Times.



Unusual fellow.

Knowing what's good for you …

… Poem: At the Parkway Deli | Food & Wine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Good to know …

… The sacking of Long-Bailey shows that, at last, Labour is serious about antisemitism | Jonathan Freedland | Opinion | The Guardian.
By his action, Starmer has shown he grasps that politics is painted in primary colours. Most voters will barely be aware of this episode, let alone follow the nuances. If anything cuts through, it will be that the new Labour leader promised zero tolerance of antisemitism and he meant it. (Though it seems Starmer offered her a way out, had she agreed to apologise, which she refused to take.)

Hmm …

 43% of U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Are Linked to Nursing Homes - The New York Times.

Something to think on …

Prayer is the force as real as terrestrial gravity. As a physician, I have seen men, after all other therapy had failed, lifted out of disease and melancholy by the serene effort of prayer. Only in prayer do we achieve that complete and harmonious assembly of body, mind and spirit which gives the frail human reed its unshakable strength.
— Alexis Carrel, born on this date in 1873

Saturday, June 27, 2020

In case you wondered …

… The Riddle of Why Literary Riddles Are Overlooked - Athenaeum Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Considering both ambition and quantity, the all-time master of riddles is probably Lewis Carroll (1832-1898). His Phantasmagoria and Other Poems (1869) included a number of riddles, including two that were double acrostics, a feat rarely attempted since Aldhelm’s Praefatio to his Aenigmata. Despite Alice’s disdain for riddles (“I think you might do something better with time than wasting it in asking silly riddles.”), Alice in Wonderland is loaded with riddles and the language of riddles. As with the Exeter Book, scholars have focused on what is unsolved: The Mad Hatter’s riddle “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” Despite a statement by Carroll near the end of his life that indicated that the lack of answer to this riddle was part of his joke, commentators futilely continue to present “solutions” to the raven riddle.

A swell guy …

… Instapundit — EXPUNGING WOODROW WILSON FROM OFFICIAL PLACES OF HONOR.


Tackling biography …

… The Hard Life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The experience of writing Beckett’s life, before and after publication, left Deirdre Bair battle-scarred and weary, but she recalls some bright moments. After seven years of work, just before her book went to press, she was told that she had to obtain Beckett’s permission for every individual quotation from his letters and unpublished manuscripts. Distressed, she wrote to him to explain the situation, and asked him to place his initials beside every quotation that she planned to use, a total of twenty-three single-spaced pages. A week later she had his reply. He had initialled every single quotation except the poem he wrote as a twelve-year-old schoolboy at the Portora Royal School, wryly explaining that “it shows better your diligence as a researcher than my development as a writer”. Bair was deeply moved that after all the obstacles and hostile responses that she had encountered along the way, Beckett himself was as good as his word. “I have met many honorable persons throughout my long professional life,” she writes, “but there was never one whose integrity equaled Samuel Beckett’s. His word was indeed his bond.”

Worth seeing, despite flaws …

… Me and ‘Mr. Jones': A New Film Exposes one of the Oldest Deceits of the New York Times.

Anniversary …

 “I know why the caged bird sings, ah me…” — poet Paul Laurence Dunbar | The Sheila Variations.



Paul Laurence Dunbar was born on this date in 1872.

Sweet …

 Stunning Photographs Reimagine Disney Princesses as Black Girls. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Oops …

… Painting Restoration Fail Turns the Virgin Mary Into "Misshapen Lump". (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Committing truth …

… UPMC doctor sees too much focus on rising COVID-19 cases, too little on declining severity and hospitalizations - pennlive.com.

Yealy also said UPMC has tested more than 15,000 patients who were receiving non-COVID-19 care, with only about one in 400 testing positive. He said the rate, which has held steady for weeks, suggests that aren’t many people carrying COVID-19 who don’t know it.
Someone at The Inquirer should read this. Pittsburgh, after all, is in Pennsylvania.

See also: Hospital patients four times less likely to die now than they were in April, Oxford study finds.


But, no. Forget the silver lining. Only the cloud is real.

Life and death …

… Butchering by Rhina P. Espaillat : American Life in Poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

More about Scott Alexander …

 Ideas: Slate Star Codex and The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



A fairly detailed news article about the controversy. Like several others, it points out that the journalist's claim about NYT policy is inconsistent with past stories they have published, including a recent one on a podcast host who was identified only by his online pseudonym.


The NYT inconsistent?

Living faith …

… Richard Rodriguez on the Catholic Imagination: “We Are No Longer a Mystery to Ourselves” - Benedict XVI Institute. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 I think the most daring part of my speech was when I spoke about our fallen clergy—how we have turned our back on the sinner. With secular eyes we read stories about priests under arrest for sexual crimes. As Catholics, we used to have a more complicated relationship to sin. Even the decadent Renaissance Pope was a true pope, despite his sins, because of the grace of God. Priests and bishops who molest children are criminals and should be punished as criminals. But here is the astonishing thing: the sexual monsters were also our priests and bishops! The monster baptized many of us; the monster consecrated the host; the monster presided at the wedding of generations of Catholics; the monster buried our parents! What I am struck by is how we now won’t recognize our tie to these broken men.


Something to think on …

By listening to certain words as a child listens to the sea in a seashell, a word dreamer hears the murmur of a world of dreams.
— Gaston Bachelard, born on this date in 1884

Friday, June 26, 2020

William Faulkner



I can't claim to enjoy the novels of William Faulkner. And having now finished Light in August, the feeling remains: Faulkner's novels are a lift; they're tough and challenging, and require sustained intellectual engagement. 

Of course novels which demand these things are not to always be criticized, but Faulkner seems to me to be in a different league. Light is a dark, complex novel: one with a compelling plot, and with fully formed characters. The challenge is Faulkner's rhetoric: it overwhelms, it overflows, and it contradicts. Light is full of passages in which something is X, but also not X, someone is Y, but also not Y. It's as if Faulkner knew his characters so well that he could not accurately describe them: he was simply too close. 

And more: Faulkner's narrative seems at times to deliberately confuse. Characters have the same or similar names, and their interior monologues are so often intertwined that it becomes a challenge to understood where those monologues end and where the dialogue itself begins. (To wit: primary characters include Bunch, Brown, Burch, Bobbie, and Burden.) 

No doubt, Light is propelled by a frightening plot: one which which succeeds, remarkably, in coming full circle, in tying together its tangents. But the road toward resolution is a challenging one. Faulkner's characters act, but that action is obfuscated by cascades of thought and revelation. Had Robert Penn Warren, for instance, written Light in August, well, that would have been an entirely different, and more rewarding, experience. But he didn't, and the result is something tall and astonishing which is not all together coherent.  

Appreciation …

… AN Wilson on Brideshead Revisited - The Oldie. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The remarriage of divorced Catholics, however, was at that date unthinkable. Today, the Pope himself has suggested that there are circumstances in which it might be permissible, and emphasised that there are many grounds for questioning the notion of the “validity” of a marriage.
Which is why many of us have grown weary of him.

Hmm …

… The Funniest Books of All Time | The Reading Lists. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

No Decline and Fall? Nothing by Peter De Vries or S. J. Perelman?

And the winner is …

Incredible Photo of a Whale Wins Photographer $120,000. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



Deservedly so. But there are other great shots as well.

Appreciation …

… Remembering Robert Johnson | Chapter 16. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

… what constitutes the bulk of this short book: an extended interview, a free-wheeling journey through old times with an earnest historian and a sharp-witted witness. Mrs. Anderson, as she insists Lauterbach call her, remains a child of the city that gave the world the blues and ultimately rock and roll. Although her life after Johnson’s death led her to the East Coast, college, and a long career as a teacher and school administrator, she brings her brother and the Memphis of her youth to life with verve and humor, in a dialect that could have originated nowhere else:

A discovery …

… Night is the morning’s Canvas: Unfinished story by Little Women author Louisa May Alcott published for first time.

A response to Paul Elie by Amy Alznauer. …

… On Flannery O’Connor & Race — THE BITTER SOUTHERNER. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I read Elie’s piece with my mouth falling open, more incredulous as I read. Not because I was shocked to discover that O’Connor made blatantly racist remarks throughout her life. That has been known by anyone who has cared to look ever since the 1970s. What surprised me was his minimization or omission of so many of the people who have written on O’Connor and race. He claims that the reluctance to face these facts keeps us from “approaching her with the seriousness a great writer deserves,” implying that no serious engagement has yet happened. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me that much of the work he misreads or flat-out ignores has largely been done by women and Black Americans.

Brevity amid confinement …

… Richard Wright, Masaoka Shiki, and the Haiku of Confinement | by Christopher Benfey | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We have all experienced the ways in which the Covid-19 pandemic has shortened our attention spans, drained our energy, and made us fearful of the future. For Richard Wright and Masaoka Shiki, lying on their sickroom beds, writing haiku was an art of short spurts of insight followed by exhaustion. “I believe his haiku were self-developed antidotes against illness,” Julia Wright wrote of her father, “and that breaking down words into syllables matched the shortness of his breath.” On the morning before Shiki died, his sister held up a drawing board so that he could write his final poems. She said nothing as he paused after each line, choking on phlegm. When he had finished, according to Keene, “he let the brush drop, apparently exhausted by the effort.”
Shallow fellow that I am, Covid-19 has had no effect on my attention span or my energy. As for the future, I’ll wait and see.

Something to think on …

One cannot ignore half of life for the purposes of science, and then claim that the results of science give a full and adequate picture of the meaning of life. All discussions of 'life' which begin with a description of man's place on a speck of matter in space, in an endless evolutionary scale, are bound to be half-measures, because they leave out most of the experiences which are important to use as human beings.
— Colin Wilson, born on this date in 1931

Terrible mayor, failinf newspaper …

… Ten Tough Questions The Inky Would Never Ask Mayor Kenney | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog.

Hmm …

… Paul Davis On Crime: WikiLeaks Founder Charged In Superseding Indictment New Allegations Assert Assange Conspired With “Anonymous” Affiliated Hackers, Among Others.

Imagined encounter …

… ‘The Habit of Art’ Review: An Imagined Reunion - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Theater people being what they are, the collision of play and play-within-the-play leads to richly farcical occurrences, but “The Habit of Art” is at bottom a serious exploration of the artist’s life, one that is conjured out of an ingenious act of the theatrical imagination: Mr. Bennett supposes that Britten (David Yelland) approached Auden (Matthew Kelly) in 1972 to seek counsel about his last opera, a stage version of Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice.”


See also: Alan Bennett's THE HABIT OF ART is Streaming Now.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

So thought Nathaniel Hawthorne …

… Night is the morning’s Canvas: John Brown … Nobody was ever more justly hanged …

Time to hit back …

… Fall of giants | Brandywine Books.



These violent ignoramuses need to be stomped on. I suspect they’re going to be.

Haiku …


Clouds look so solid,
Puffed up, drifting slowly by.
Just like hopes and dreams.

In denial of life as felt …

… Conscience by Patricia Churchland book review - The TLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

To argue that we are “wired to care” tells us nothing about how our sense of good and evil, of right and wrong, is expressed in our daily lives not only as individual agents, but also as members of complex societies, or as citizens of nations. Churchland’s neuro-ethics seems steadfastly to ignore the entirety of human history and prehistory in which the moral codes with which we do and do not comply have been forged. It does not strike her as improbable that all the various views, historical and contemporary, espoused by disparate prophets, clerics, ideologues, teachers, legislators, role models, parents and moral philosophers are determined solely by asocial, ahistorical, tenseless nano-squirts of dopamine and oxytocin. Our moral intuitions are expressed through incurring, and delivering, or not delivering, on complex webs of obligations, on contracts and covenants. Bioscience has even less to say about the cauldron of arguments, precedents, agonizing decisions and indecisions, where moral expectations are forged, respected and knowingly breached. For those not blinded by neurophilosophy, the “moral intuition” of her subtitle is something that is developed, and argued over, in the extracranial spaces of the communal human world.

In defense of life as felt …

… The freedom of driving. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



This book is a defence of felt life against the intrusions of the technocrats – a running theme in Crawford’s work, from The Case for Working with Your Hands (2010) to The World Beyond Your Head: How to Flourish in an Age of Distraction (2015). But, as I said, it is strange. For a start, almost all the intellectual content is included in the first 50 pages. Most of the rest is the real thing – hot-rodding a VW Beetle, getting lost on a trip in a 1972 Jeepster Commando, folk engineering, demolition derbies, desert racing, how to handle road rage and so on. He admits the tone is uneven, but it is intrinsic to his world view; after all, life is uneven.

Something to think on …

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.
— George Orwell, born on this date in 1925

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Good to know …

… The statues of Samuel Johnson can stay. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nor was his belief in the wickedness of slavery a mere abstract commitment of the kind so familiar to scribblers then as now. Johnson's valet Francis Barber was a freed black Jamaican who eventually became his heir, an astonishing bequest that was widely reported in the English press at the time. With the help of his friend Tobias Smollett, Johnson secured Barber's release from naval service (for which he thought he should have been disqualified on grounds of health) and paid for him to receive an education. Johnson's relationship with Barber was one of genuine friendship and the latter was an invaluable source for James Boswell and other early biographers of the great man, including those like Sir John Hawkins who were disgusted by their subject's "ostentatious bounty [and] favour to negroes."

Hmm …

… News From the Non-Lockdown States - WSJ.

Per-capita Covid fatalities were 75% lower in open states.

Then and now …

… Night is the morning’s Canvas: Guilt: the enduring theme in history (and Nathaniel Hawthorne).



I feel no guilt about the past. I played no part in it.

And many happy returns …

… Happy Birthday, Millie Kirkham | The Sheila Variations.

Our town …

… Anarchy in the City of Brotherly Love | City Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Dim Kenney has to be the dumbest person ever to hold the office of mayor in this city. As for Krasner, the job description for District Attorney Seems to elude him.

Take a look at these …

… Studio: Raymond Pettibon | David Zwirner.

Thriller, space opera, lots of laughs …

‘Superego,’ by Frank J. fleming | Brandywine Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Just so you know …

… How Flannery O’Connor Fought Racism | Jessica Hooten Wilson | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Elie notes that in private correspondence, O’Connor used inexcusable racial slurs, and confessed to friends that she struggled between the Christian in her, who believed that all are God’s children, and the Southern white lady in her, who was trained to see black people as inferior. Elie declares O’Connor a racist because of these letters, and suggests that O’Connor scholars are unwilling to see or speak of them. Never mind that scholars have wrestled for years with the letters Elie quotes.