Tuesday, March 02, 2021
… Poochigian writes in form. Like Auden, he is a poet of wild inventiveness within even the strictest limitations. He says of his own work — he has not been shy about giving interviews — that “[e]very poem I write is an attempt to recapture an ecstatic experience…”
The Amazon spokesperson wouldn’t respond to emailed questions on when the policy was adopted, what constitutes “hate speech,” and how Amazon’s customers were informed about the change.
Monday, March 01, 2021
2020 demonstrated that certainties are few and far between, even while the rigid nature of ideological arrogance has become a most certain part of everyone’s life. 2021 will likely see much more of the same, if only because 2020 was not a change from pre-2020 years, but a year-long ripping off of the scab underneath of which was a festering and feverish illness that could no longer be covered by pop culture clichés, political promises, and streaming bread-and-circuses.
… we know that racism also exists in the Church, particularly in this country. I hope that anyone who saw or experienced the racial unrest of the past year asked themselves what they can do to contribute to the advancement of racial justice. We all have to do something. One thing I knew I could do was to highlight these important and life-giving stories. All six of these men and women emerged from the black Catholic community, and they are the only six black Catholics currently under consideration for canonization. A few other pieces of writing and projects related to these six figures led me to the idea for this book.
There are, as far as I can tell, two things that must change. Opinion columnists must write with some end in mind that is not outrage, including that of the shared variety, which will mean ignoring a great deal of that which seems genuinely to demand it. Readers, meanwhile, must respond to what the former have written, if at all, with carefully considered, good-faith criticism or a simple shake of the head. (For either of these to take place, social media will very likely have to play a role in journalism very different from its present one, in which it exists primarily as both the source of and the destination for so much of our pointless anger.)
I’ve written some opinion pieces in my time. I always made sure to ground the opinions I ventured in sound reporting, which is more interesting than just bloviating.
Sunday, February 28, 2021
By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper. Had my credentials been in order I would never have become a writer. Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. Why did the oil refineries around Carquinez Strait seem sinister to me in the summer of 1956? Why have the night lights in the Bevatron burned in my mind for twenty years?
Saturday, February 27, 2021
Friday, February 26, 2021
This seems to me to be much ado about very little. I've written a few. I try to be matter-of-fact and not over-the-top. I would need more than a blurb on a book cover to prompt me to buy a book.
In When These Things Begin: Conversations with Michel Treguer, Girard tells Treguer, “I’m not concealing my biography, but I don’t want to fall victim to the narcissism to which we’re all inclined.” For Girard, interviews served the same purpose as his “books of conversation”: to challenge and test his ideas while discovering new things in the company of others. Cynthia L. Haven, the author of a remarkably insightful biography of Girard, Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard, has now put together a selection of these interviews. They give us a good picture not only of the complexity and multifacetedness of Girard’s ideas, but also of the process through which a young professor of French literature originally operating in a rather narrow field turned into a visionary thinker of global renown, as revered as he was contested. As Haven puts it in her introduction, in “these interviews, over years and decades, Girard gradually becomes Girard, like an image slowly appearing in the developer of an old darkroom.”
Thursday, February 25, 2021
… Proust should be read slowly, 20 or so pages at a time. (When you are a thousand or so pages in and cannot help yourself from pressing on to learn what Brichot has to say about the death of Swann, you will have reached the stage at which it is probably acceptable to lie down with Proust.) Sooner or later readers will discover that the novel unfolds not slowly per se but at something that approximates the pace of life itself — or, better yet, that "real life" is blissfully Proustian.
Yes, yes, language is a living, breathing thing that’s eternally transforming… But these examples are arguably inorganic. They involve strategic lingual reinventions that are relatively new and politically motivated. Language may evolve naturally, but it also responds to manhandling. Er, if we can use that word any more.
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Joe Sobran … cannot be absolved for the pall that has fallen over his legacy. But anybody who studies the full saga carefully and with a fair mind will conclude that the pall should not have fallen so heavily.
… polling suggests that devotees of contemporary architecture are overwhelmingly in the minority: aside from monuments, few of thepublic’s favorite structures are from the postwar period. (When the results of the poll were released, architects harrumphed that it didn’t “reflect expert judgment” but merely people’s “emotions,” a distinction that rather proves the entire point.)
… A PBS episode about Flannery O’Connor will feature interviews with Hilton Als and Mary Karr. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Monday, February 22, 2021
We want lady justice to be blind but in actuality she’s a cyborg with all-seeing, rotating night vision similar to the kind you might find on many urban street corners today from Beijing to Chicago, using the latest algorithms to isolate presumed enemies of the state.
The downside of receiving upwards of nine hundred submissions per issue is that you have to reject so many writers, and no, despite what some may think, we don’t enjoy that at all. With the quality of the submissions being so high, we find ourselves rejecting fairly good work, pieces that are maybe ninety-five percent of the way there but still aren’t perfect. The upside, of course, is that the work we eventually do publish is stunningly good. That’s the evolution that matters, of course.
“Ultimately, the issues associated with the misuse of scenarios in climate research and assessment are a matter of scientific integrity,” he concludes.