Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hmm …

 Paul Davis On Crime: Chinese Spies, Thieves And Hackers: My Piece On Two Cases That Expose China's Campaign To Steal America's Trade Secrets.



… there's more here.

Watch the trailer …

… Mackenzie’s Secret Novel Tease on Vimeo.

Affluence …

… Nicolas Maduro raises minimum wage in Venezuela to $6 per month - UPI.com.

I don’t imagine this will garner much criticism in these parts because, you know, socialism.

Good …

… Oscar endorsement for Women of the Gulag: “To go through such suffering without going mad is a spiritual feat.” | The Book Haven.

Anniversary …

… RT’s Marginalia : Don Quixote — on the road with a kindred spirit.

Poetry and faith …

 Mary Karr’s Poems of Pity and Praise - The Kenyon Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Together at last …

 Aquarium of Vulcan: Sir Thomas Browne and Japan. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Browne's philosophical discourse assists the youthful’s protagonist’s intellectual development, for during his meditation upon it, he witnesses a child’s funeral. The combination of Browne's stoical prose and child's funeral awakens in the dreaming student an acute awareness of his own mortality. Here's the full, relevant text, including a passage in which Browne's literary voice is likened to the lingering reverberation of a giant temple bell sounding faintly throughout the centuries, a particularly original homage.

Something to think on …

Poetry operates by hints and dark suggestions. It is full of secrets and hidden formulae, like a witch's brew.
— Anthony Hecht, born on this date in 1923

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: James Daunt on the Turnaround at Waterstones.

Anniversary …

 RT’s Marginalia : Salem Witch Trials — fasting and repentance.

So long, Dolly…

… The Legendary Carol Channing Dies at 97.

Ah, yes …

… Almanac: Phyllis McGinley on tolerance | About Last Night.

Here is In Praise of Diversity.

They didn't just ban books …

… they also stole them: The Hunt for the Nazi Loot Still Sitting on Library Shelves. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Given the scope of the looting, the task ahead remains mountainous. In Berlin, for example, at the Central and Regional Library, almost a third of the 3.5 million books are suspected to have been looted by the Nazis, according to Sebastian Finsterwalder, a provenance researcher there.

The new New Class …

… Class warfare between workers and elites explains Trump-era conflicts. 
The postwar era saw the creation of international institutions ranging from NATO to the United Nations to the World Bank, along with a proliferation of think tanks and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to accompany them. It saw the vast expansion of higher education in the United States, and the transformation of academic degrees into something close to must-haves for the upper-middle class. It saw a great expansion of power on the part of media organizations, and on the part of government bureaucrats and lobbyists, both of whose numbers increased enormously.

And the winner is …

… 'A star is born': TS Eliot prize goes to Hannah Sullivan's debut | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sullivan’s debut is made up of three lengthy poems: You, Very Young in New York, which explores the lives of various young people, all united by their cynicism and their uncertainty, making their way through unfulfilling relationships and work in the city; Repeat Until Time is an exploration of revision in art and form, Sullivan’s PhD subject; the third, The Sandpit After Rain explores connections between the birth of her baby and the death of her father.

Turns out he could boogie …

… The Ancient Greek rebel leader who saw Socrates solo-dancing | Aeon Essays. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In Xenophon’s Symposium, Socrates asks the Phoenician dance-master to show him some dance moves. Everyone laughs: what will you do with dance moves, Socrates? He replies: ‘I’ll dance, by God!

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

Listen in…

… Episode 303 – Peter Kuper – The Virtual Memories Show.

“Art has been my saving grace, in terms of having an outlet so I’m not just having today’s news run around in my head and make me scream.”

A fresh understanding …

… In the stars: an epiphany story | National Catholic Reporter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 To say that the stars influence the minutia of your life is to say that each ephemeral moment and contingency is pulsing with reality, a granular instance of an immortal cosmos.

Overview …

… Complete Works Evelyn Waugh, Personal Writings, CWEW. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So far the books retail at about £65 (or £100 for the blue volume). What else could one get for about £3,000 that would represent better value? (Obviously I'm talking about the full set, once it's available.)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Second World War...

...Looted literature, books, and manuscripts

Not those snowflakes …

… the real ones: RT’s Marginalia : Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and “Snow-Flakes”.

Hmm …

… ‘The gilets jaunes are unstoppable’ - spiked.

One illustration of this cultural divide is that most modern, progressive social movements and protests are quickly endorsed by celebrities, actors, the media and the intellectuals. But none of them approve of the gilets jaunes. Their emergence has caused a kind of psychological shock to the cultural establishment. It is exactly the same shock that the British elites experienced with the Brexit vote and that they are still experiencing now, three years later.


Then there's this: French riot police are now using semi-automatic weapons with live ammunition against Yellow Vest protestors as Macron’s law and order crisis spirals.

Blogging note

I have to head out to a doctor's appointment (just routine — I hope). Then I have some other things to do. Blogging will resume sometime later on.

In case you wondered …

… BOOK REVIEW: How one of Al Capone's 'boy wonders' lived and died
- Washington Times
.

Fruitful dialogue …

… The Habit of Being a Catholic Writer | The Russell Kirk Center. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

They both rejected a Catholicism devoid of imagination, or what we might call “catholic kitsch.” But the problem of being a Catholic novelist was on their minds. In one of the early letters, O’Connor voiced this concern to Gordon: “I used to be concerned with writing a ‘Catholic’ novel and all that but I think now I was only occupying myself with fancy problems. If you are a Catholic you know so well what you believe, that you can forget about it and get on with the business of making the novel work.” O’Connor did not turn the Catholic faith into an ideology or an -ism, but treated it as a lived reality, a mystery. This is part of the reason, surely, that she has achieved her place in the American literary canon. She didn’t utilize the doctrines of the church and proceed to preach from the pulpit. She wasn’t a false prophet like many of her characters.

Vintage Q&A …

… Paris Review - Joyce Cary, The Art of Fiction No. 7.

Something to think on …

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
— Anaïs Nin, who died on this date in 1977

The bastards …

… RT’s Marginalia : British try to steal sheep from colonists — January 13.

Ch-ch-changes …

… The Millions Was the Last Great Indie Book Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

See also: Suburban malaise ...

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Let’s hope …

Will Women of the Gulag get an Oscar next month? Please vote yes. Putin won’t like it. | The Book Haven.

According to Paul, the film “drives home the point that Russia has yet to come to terms with the Gulag and the Great Terror. Consider the striking images of a Stalin look-alike selling photos on Red Square and older men and women sobbing at Stalin’s burial place. There has never been a big event, like Nuremberg or the Truth Commission in South Africa, that wipes the slate clean.  The Russian President Vladimir Putincannot deny that the Gulag happened, but he needs the Russian people to want a leader with a firm hand. The strategy of admitting Stalin’s ‘harshness’ while emphasizing his presumed contributions has paid off. The Russian people name Stalin as the most significant figure in history!”

Resomution and independence …

… RT’s Marginalia : British try to steal sheep from colonists — January 13.

Appreciation …

… ‘She was a shining light in the world of letters’ – John Banville pays tribute to critic Eileen Battersby | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Poetry live …

Inquirer reviews …

… Jodi Picoult’s ‘Spark of Light’: Tackling a divisive social issue with plot twists and a point of view.

… B.A. Shapiro’s 'Collector’s Apprentice’: A historical suspense novel involving Albert C. Barnes and the art world.

… Michael Beschloss’ ‘Presidents of War’: The dangers of ‘the power invested in me’.

… Miriam Parker’s ‘Shortest Way Home’: A romance as fizzy as champagne.

Sorely missed …

 Auberon Waugh “Celebrated” in New Book | The Evelyn Waugh Society. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



He would have a field day with today's political mediocrities.

Remembering …

… RT’s Marginalia : Edmund Spenser — a poem and anniversary.

Q&A …

 A Conversation with Dana Gioia - Image Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I wasn’t drawn to poetry or opera because of their popularity. It was their beauty and excitement that drew me. Of course, I would like these arts to have larger audiences, but the value of an art isn’t in the size of its audience. It’s in the truth and splendor of its existence.

Something to think on …

The Christian is like the ripening corn; the riper he grows the more lowly he bends his head.
— A. B. Guthrie, Jr., born on this date in 1901

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Will to the rescue …

… RT’s Marginalia : Shakespeare — flabbergasted again after 60 years.

Gauging absence …

… Asymmetry by Adam Zagajewski | World Literature Today. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

These poems know that they are governed by a tangled logic. They also, crucially, realize that human life is not always governed by any perceptible logic and do not try to explain the inexplicable to their readers. 

Call a lawyer …

… The trial of Peter Boghossian | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ideologically biased scholarship which relies on shoddy methods, unevidenced ‘theory’ and ethics that are dependent on one’s gender, racial and sexual identity abound within these fields and they undermine both scholarship and social justice. One cannot expect a philosopher who has devoted his career to evidence-based epistemology and liberal ethics to ignore this alarming threat to both.

A wise man …

… Schall at 91—an Interim Report - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Somehow, I have found the so-called “Jesus Prayer,’ to be most helpful – “Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on me, a sinner.” One’s life is often filled with prayers for others, and rightly so. But in the lonely hours when you cannot sleep or get comfortable or figure out what it is all about, you realize that you too are now the locus of the reality that is you.
I, too, find the Jesus Prayer a great help.

Reappraisal …

… How John Singer Sargent made a scene | Art and design | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The forthcoming exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery…  makes the case for a show that would reveal all of Sargent’s range – not only the many magnificent portraits on display in this exhibition, but also his landscapes, watercolours, sketches and murals, as well as the extraordinary Gassed, the colossal late painting of soldiers blinded on the western front that anticipates “proletarian realism”.
John Singer Sargent was born on this date in 1856.

Dreamt or dreaming?

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Punishment of Luxury (Giovanni Segantini), Sonnet #439.

Something to think on …

I would rather be ashes than dust.
— Jack London, born on this date in 1876

Friday, January 11, 2019

Blogging note …

I have to be out and about again. Blogging will resume later on.

So much for the bird-brain put-down …

… For boy budgies, brains beat brawn in the mating game | Cosmos.

Poetry and truth …

 RT’s Marginalia : Emily Dickinson on time, trouble, and suffering.

Contemporary journalism …

… NBC New York on Twitter: "Police say a New Jersey man fought off an unwanted house visitor by using the suspect’s own gun, ultimately killing him https://t.co/1WHJSynccb".

Well, why not?

… “O Uommibatto”: How the Pre-Raphaelites Became Obsessed with the Wombat – The Public Domain Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Home’s wombat, a male, was in fact caught by George Bass, probably on King Island, where we know Bass and his companions shot several other specimens. Once provoked, this particular wombat put up a splendid struggle, tearing strips off Bass’s coat sleeves and making loud “whizzing” noises. Evidently he took ages to calm down. Bass kept him alive, looked after him well, and sent him to England. There, in London, he lived in what Home described as “a domesticated state for two years”. The following description is no less charming today than it must have been for English scientific readers nearly two centuries ago.

Drawing and memory …

… Drawing Helps Us Remember Details Better Than Writing or Taking Photos, a New Study Shows | artnet News. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Look and ponder …

… Photography Life in acute focus | Morning Star. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Recommended …

… Must-Read Poetry: January 2019 - The Millions. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Photographs of empire …

… Over 6,000 Ottoman-Era Photographs Now Available Online. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Useful and entertaining …

… Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer, reviewed by Beth Spencer - Beth Spencer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unpersoning …

… [Easy Chair] Cruel and Unusual Punishment | Harper's Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… in the instances we’re examining here, the distributor makes that decision for us. As if we need to be protected. (Or the distributor needs to protect itself—from association with sin. Clearly the real motivation here is to appear immaculate.) In truth, we’re being punished too, along with the alleged perpetrators. We’ve been robbed of a halfway watchable season of Transparent that includes Jeffrey Tambor. I wanted to see the new Louis C.K. movie. But presumptuously, patronizingly, I’m not allowed. Who’s really deprived when we can’t access The Best of A Prairie Home Companion? What does that accomplish? In ditching the revival of Roseanne, we’ve lost the one program that exhibited the kind of diversity of which this country is starved: it sponsored a real live Trump supporter. After much soul searching, I can’t see who benefits if I throw away Mario Batali’s recipe for lemon tart.

Something to think on …

I myself believe that the evidence for God lies primarily in inner personal experiences.
— William James, born on this date in 1842

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Loss …

… First Known When Lost: Companion.

Taking note …

… RT’s Marginalia : Stephen Ambrose — birthday and books.

Lovely …

… Psalm | Dorianne Laux. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Today is Dorianne Laux’s birthday.

Mark thy calendar …


Reading Gorbachev in Moscow

An interesting piece on meeting your historical subject...

Gauging the vitriol …

… Is Anna Gaca the Worst Writer Ever? – Reluctant Habits

Every band has an off gig. Every person has an off day. There isn’t a human being walking this earth who hasn’t made a mistake. And if you’re the kind of person who is just waiting for someone you despise to screw up, what does this say about you? Wouldn’t that time be better spent creating or making something? Or perhaps basking in culture that you enjoy or hanging out with friends that you do like?

The rest is history …

… When Leo Fender Asked Les Paul to Endorse the Telecaster | Reverb News. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The joke’s on us …

… Pranked by the Cross - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Politics and religion …

… RT’s Marginalia : Archbishop of Canterbury beheaded.

Mastery …

… That Formal Feeling | by Elisa Gabbert | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Stallings may be so immersed in form that her thoughts arrive already dressed in it—or maybe they arrive formless, but she so enjoys the game of arranging those thoughts into patterns of meter and rhyme that almost any occasion will do. She moves freely between the mythic and the quotidian, between epic and modest scales—one poem, “Lost and Found,” begins with a search for a misplaced fragment of toy (“Some vital Lego brick or puzzle piece”) and ends up traveling to a Valley of Lost Things set not in Oz but on the moon. Others remain firmly domestic; the muse might arrive while the speaker reseasons a cast-iron skillet (as in “Cast Irony”) or picks lice or glitter (two separate poems, “Lice” and “Glitter”) from a daughter’s hair.

Treasure hunt …

… Litanies of Reclamation:A Review of The Lost Words by Sally Thomas. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In The Lost Words, Macfarlane and Morris aim to restore an imaginative vision of the natural world. Macfarlane might have contented himself with simply listing and defining those words lost to the dictionary, pairing them with Morris’s breathtaking illustrations. An illustrated nature dictionary would have been, in itself, a magical-enough book. But in making each “lost word” a poem, Macfarlane has revived not only the word itself, but language as an experience. The book’s subtitle labels it “A Spell Book,” and its poems are incantatory, each one a litany of reclamation.

Let us hope …

… On Poetry: A wish for New Year: Less fear, more safety | Local News | record-eagle.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Listen in …

… Episode 302 – Jerome Charyn – The Virtual Memories Show.

“In most historical novels, you’re dealing with events, and I’m really dealing with trauma and wounds.”

Wonderful …

… The House Dog's Grave By Robinson Jeffers: An Animal Rights Poem from All-Creatures.org.

Something to think on …

Poetry is not a civilizer, rather the reverse, for great poetry appeals to the most primitive instincts.
— Robinson Jeffers, born on this date in 1887

And the winner is …

… Benford Wins 2019 Heinlein Award – Locus Online.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Blogger woes …

… RT’s Marginalia : Blogging Note — The beginning of the end.

Quite a guy, actually …

… The Ministry of Mr. Rogers | by Robert Sullivan | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Now, fifty years after the first episode aired, we are still modulating through versions of Fred Rogers. Children of a certain age know him as the guy in the suit who switched into a cardigan at each show’s start, singing, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” Off-screen Rogers was hard to know, or difficult to categorize. He was a lifelong teetotaler who owned a stake in Vegetarian Times and used salty language with his own kids, though only in the puppet voice of Lady Elaine Fairchilde. Coworkers remember Rogers as both zany—dancing across the set with an inflatable sex doll they had hid in his closet—and imperious, as when he reprimanded an actor who kindly suggested to Henrietta Pussycat that she not cry, something Rogers would never suggest to a child.

The road to martyrdom …

… RT’s Marginalia : Joan of Arc -- beginning of the end.

Kudos …

 In Praise of Les Murray - Quadrant Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Kindred spirits …

 A Treasure Trove of Labyrinths | Lapham’s Quarterly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the letters of Kenner and Davenport, as in those of artists and intellectuals throughout history, we meet first-draft people and are introduced to their first-draft ideas. But these shards of insight are surrounded by “eloquent absences” and “ghosts unfulfilled,” using Kenner’s phrasing: “the accessible world a domain of ghosts and shadows and half-men.”

Indeed …

… Poetry Resources: The Norton Book of Light Verse | Form in Formless Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

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

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Inquirer reviews …

… Liane Moriarty returns with another engrossing star-maker, ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’.

… Diane Sahms-Guarnieri’s ‘Handheld Mirror’: Well-chosen words as emotional abstract art.

… ’Justice Under the Rubble’: The Salvation Army thrift store collapse and its human and legal aftermath.

Blogging note …

I will be away from my desk for most of the rest of the day. So blogging will resume later on.

Take your pick …

… Global warming of oceans equivalent to an atomic bomb per second.

…  Deep Pacific Waters Are Cooling Down Due To Centuries-Ago Little Ice Age, New Study Suggests.

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Current CEO Stephen Page in dialogue with Geoffrey Faber.

In this corner …

… RT’s Marginalia : God & Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now by John Dominic Crossan.

The grace of life as lived …

Spotlight: Midge Goldberg | Light. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Goldberg indelibly celebrates the ordinary in poems such as “Pan,” not about the mythic deity but about trying to find a twenty-inch baking pan with a high rim, suitable for making a chicken feeder. She has also given us poems on such subjects as hats, a sump pump, a coffeepot, and an ice tray …

Hmm …

… A note on character in politics by James Piereson | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On Machiavelli and contemporary political discourse.

Thinking soundly …

… Taleb the Philosopher by Joshua P. Hochschild | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Taleb is an original philosopher, not a historian of ideas, and it would be as churlish to fixate on the errors in his interpretation of Aristotelian causality or Platonic political theory as to correct his occasional sloppiness in describing Christian doctrine. Taleb is bold and takes risks. Incidental errors should be recognized for what they are: inadvertent distractions that may be refined away with time.

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

Monday, January 07, 2019

The art of holiness …

… Wendy Beckett -- Turning to Jesus with Sister Wendy Beckett | National Review.

Bardic wisdom …

… RT’s Marginalia : Shakespeare — wisdom and promise.

No mere literary critic …

 Lionel Trilling “Life in Culture”: Critic’s Letters Reveal Brilliant Moralist, Literary Mind | National Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Trilling’s own teachers, Erskine (a serious Anglican), Mark Van Doren (later a colleague), and Arnold, had conveyed to him a sense that language and literature must be suffused with or at least oriented toward ethics, and his dissent from the exaltation of literary and artistic modernism was not simplistic, hasty, petulant, or merely temperamental: It was the fruit of a lifetime disposition to virtue. He loved to recount how pleased he was with a student who called George Orwell “a virtuous man,” and the fact is that in a madly extreme “age of enormity” he tried to be such a man himself, without much help from the traditional props and sources of monotheistic religion or the philosophical idealism of Plato, Spinoza, or Kant. If his faith in Freud was misplaced, as I believe it was, his steady decency and intellectual discrimination were no less real. Many a believer has been better than his god.


Since mention is made in this piece of "Sam Tanenhaus’s great biography of [Whittaker] Chambers," I thought I would link to my review of it.

Sad anniversary …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Wave From the Fat Book Again'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



John Berryman committed suicide on this date in 1972 by jumping off the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis. I visited the site once while driving through Minneapolis. Oddly enough, I live right down the street from Philadelphia's Washington Avenue.
One poem in his last collection, Delusions, Etc., seems to me have prefigured his end:


He Resigns

                   Age, and the deaths, and the ghosts.
                        Her having gone away
                        in spirit from me. Hosts
                        of regrets come and find me empty.

                        I don’t feel this will change.
                        I don’t want anything
                        or person, familiar or strange.
                        I don’t think I will sing

                        anymore just now,
                        or ever. I must start
                        to sit with a blind brow
                        above an empty heart.

Anniversary …

Francis Poulenc was born on this date in 1899.

Something to think on …

The sinner is at the heart of Christianity. No one is as competent as the sinner in matters of Christianity. No one, except a saint.
— Charles Péguy, born on this date 1873