Friday, July 19, 2019

Anniversary and resolution …

… RTs Reviews and Marginalia : Lord of the Rings anniversary and my reading goal.

The lyricism of relativity …

… The Universe in Verse: Cosmologist and Saxophonist Stephon Alexander Reads “Explaining Relativity” by Astronomer and Poet Rebecca Elson – Brain Pickings. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Appalling …

… When Teaching African-Americans to Read in the South Meant Risking 20 Lashes From a Bullwhip | Essay | Zócalo Public Square. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Sounds good to me …

… The charm – and artifice – of the English cottage garden | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
What was going on in cottage gardens in the 19th and early 20th centuries was both practical and inspiring. The challenge was to make the most out of not much space, not much money and not much time. Plants needed to be tough and easy to propagate, and self-seeding was encouraged. Indeed the spirit of a cottage garden — think towering hollyhocks, paths over-spilling with lavender and a laden apple tree  — is that nothing need match or be formally arranged. The only agenda is to fill your space with scent and color.

Who knew they were dangerous …

… Your Local Library May Have A New Offering In Stock: A Resident Social Worker : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

 Hateful Conduct in Libraries: Supporting Library Workers and Patrons | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



They may want to ponder this (from a piece by Lionel Shriver that I linked to yesterday):

In striking down a law prohibiting ‘racially disparaging’ trademarks in 2017, Justice Samuel Alito wrote: ‘Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate”.’ Justice Anthony Kennedy contributed on that same case: ‘A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence.’

Centenary graphic …

The Magic of Iris Murdoch. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Deep-down Philly …

… Underground Philly Tour | PhillyVoice.





On a brilliant sun-drenched Saturday, a dozen travelers signed up for a guided tour sponsored by Hidden City Philadelphia. They wanted to see how what was below ground influenced what was above ground.

Something to think on …

Above all am I convinced of the need, irrevocable and inescapable, of every human heart, for God. No matter how we try to escape, to lose ourselves in restless seeking, we cannot separate ourselves from our divine source. There is no substitute for God.
— A. J. Cronin, born on this day in 1896

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Malcolm Lowry


It's not often that you read a book which walks such a fine line between failure and success. But Under the Volcano, Malcom Lowry's celebrated novel of inebriation and despair, does just that: fluctuate between stylistic genius and narrative incomprehensibility. 

The start of Volcano is promising enough: Lowry establishes his central characters -- including the troubled British consul, Geoffrey Firmin -- using a style all his own: histories overlap, time bends. But the story holds together: Firmin emerges as a character of interest, his descent into divorce and alcoholism a topic worthy of exploration. 

What comes next, however, is an experiment in narration so extreme as to make the more difficult passages of a Faulkner novel, for instance, appear elementary. If Lowry's goal in Volcano was to capture the essence of inebriation alone, then he's done so: Firmin's story becomes so opaque, so misguided, that it reaches the point of becoming unintelligible. 

And this, for me, served to frustrate: Lowry provides just enough clarity around his four main characters to spark interest in their tangled relationships, but he does little to help untangle that knot. The middle section of this novel, especially, is a real challenge, not least because Lowry is unwilling to use Firmin's alcoholism as a vehicle for change. Instead, Firmin drinks, and in so doing, sacrifices any hope at redemption. 

It's true, of course, that alcoholism can do this: it can lead to nothingness. But I wondered why Lowry committed so much to Firmin's drinking when, in the end, it doesn't advance any sort of narrative arc: in fact, it does the opposite -- it serves to stall, and compound the Firmin's associated tragedy.  

There are beautiful passages in this novel, and for that, Lowry is to be praised: for he did achieve some sort of transcendence in his doggedly poetic style. But a novel needs to tell a story, and no matter how experimental, it needs to progress. Ultimately, Under the Volcano seems less a book about Geoffrey Firmin and more one about that single topic which Lowry manages to render in three dimensions: Mexico. 

Talk about being up to date …

… Facebook Bans St. Augustine Quote as 'Hate Speech'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Don’t anybody tell them about this one:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”

Blogging note …

I have an appointment with my dentist, and other things to do after that. So blogging will resume sometime later.

Ah, yes …

 Inheriting the Wind, or Reaping the Whirlwind? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Almost all of the “conventional wisdom” concerning the Scopes trial is false. Contrary to the impression created by Inherit the Wind and other popular accounts (including the sensational reportage of H. L. Mencken of The Baltimore Sun, one of the leading journalists of his day), the trial was not a fundamentalist inquisition, but an ill-conceived publicity stunt by Dayton businessmen who were trying to attract tourists to the small town—to put Dayton on the map. To generate a test case challenging the statute, the American Civil Liberties Union had offered to defend any teacher charged with violating the Butler Act, gratis. Dayton businessmen recruited Scopes to agree to serve as the defendant, even though he was unsure he had actually taught evolution. Nonetheless, Scopes volunteered to be charged. The trial—for a misdemeanor offense—was staged. Celebrity lawyers were solicited to participate for the sole purpose of increasing public interest in the case. The Baltimore Sun paid part of the defense’s expenses because it knew that the spectacle would sell newspapers, and it did.  A lot of them

Recommended …

… 4 Must-Own Black Culture & History Books | Black Excellence. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

God bless her …

… Alelia Murphy, the Oldest Woman in the United States, Just Turned 114-Years Old. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



Of course, obviously, He already has.

Strange …

… 'Book ripper' on vandalism spree in seaside town | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Alas, it’s one thing to remember good advice and another to live by it with iron consistency. No matter how experienced you are, you’ll still get things wrong, and the only way to defend against such error is to stay as open as you can to the perpetual possibility that you’re putting your foot in it.

The sun, the sun …

… Climate Change - The Sun Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Self-examination …

 When Critics Err - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Alas, it’s one thing to remember good advice and another to live by it with iron consistency. No matter how experienced you are, you’ll still get things wrong, and the only way to defend against such error is to stay as open as you can to the perpetual possibility that you’re putting your foot in it.

Gratitude …

… RTs Reviews and Marginalia : Emily Dickinson on singular blessings.

Suffering and faith …

… The Terror of Goodbye | John Waters | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I could not help feeling that these reactions bespoke a diminution of faith, which had seemed strong when I was strong, but now was dissolving with my strength. The substance of my beliefs remained but, with my reason shot to pieces, could no longer find traction. In this new and unfamiliar place, I felt spiritually alone; marooned, without an external source of support. I had lost my spiritual equilibrium. My illness made it clear that something had shifted in me, without my knowing, to render my steps on the spiritual path less sure-footed. Sometimes, doubt and unease can remain as undetected as a latent virus.

Indeed …

… The best response to hate speech is free speech | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hatred is often in the eye of the beholder. Like Boris, I think Muslim women should be free to wear what they like. I also think the burka is a dehumanizing garment that effaces women’s identity, conveys not modesty but shame, covers women in hot climates in stifling black while men wear heat-reflective white, and absurdly flatters the virility of Muslim men, who at the flash of an ankle can’t control their lust. I ask you: is this paragraph ‘hate speech’?

Something to think on …

Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.
— Jessamyn West, born on this date in 1902

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Old-fashioned journalism …

… ICE feints on Sunday – STU BYKOFSKY.

Let’s be clear on a few points:
1- No one has a “right” to be in the United States without permission, under U.S. law.
2- Any person who enters without permission is subject to removal.
3- ICE enforces U.S. law approved by Congress. So when some in Congress attack ICE for enforcing the laws Congress itself wrote, is that hypocrisy, political posturing or stupidity?
4- Polls with good reputations show a large majority of Americans oppose two things: deportation of millions of long-here illegals who have clean records.  They also oppose Sanctuary Cities.

Hmm …

… Ex-White House advisor Richard Clarke: Thiel right on Google and China.

The dumbest generation …

… Age of Amnesia - Quillette.
Information is increasingly separated from actual knowledge; blogs replace books, and tweets replace essays. Knowledge of even relatively recent events, like the Holocaust or D-Day, is become scanty. Four in 10 American millennials, and at least one in three Europeans, say they know “very little” about the Holocaust, and one in five young French respondents are not even aware it took place.
A population of submissive ignoramuses is obviously attractive to those in search of power. Why anyone would want to be ignorant and submissive escapes me.

Listen in …

 Episode 329 – Kate Maruyama – The Virtual Memories Show.

“I was always attracted to dark writing. I grew up in a kind of gothic house, and there was always good stuff on the shelves.”

Odd hero …

… BOOK REVIEW: 'Freedom's Detective' by Charles Lane - Washington Times.

Charles Lane, a columnist for The Washington Post, offers a portrait of a man who played a major role in combating the Ku Klux Klan and major counterfeiters in the post-Civil War era. Mr. Lane’s “Freedom’s Detective: The Secret Service, the Ku Klux Klan and the Man Who Masterminded America’s First War on Terror” takes us back to a contentious time in the South after the Civil War, as well as further north to Washington, D.C., with its political battles, and to New York City with its criminal gangs.


Sad news …

 RTs Reviews and Marginalia : R.I.P. Andrea Camilleri.

Bizarre …

… The world’s top 50 thinkers 2019 | Prospect Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A popular vote is hardly the best way to determine who the world’s greatest thinkers, and some of the nominees seem dubious choices.

In praise of the cento …

… Another Person’s Words: Poetry Is Always the Speaker — The Millions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… few poetic forms are as honest about this as a forgotten Latin genre from late antiquity known as the cento. Rather than inheritance and consciousness, the originators of the cento preferred the metaphor of textiles. For them, all of poetry is like a massive patchwork garment, squares of fabric borrowed from disparate places and sewn together to create a new whole. Such a metaphor is an apt explanation of what exactly a cento is – a novel poem that is assembled entirely from rearranged lines written by other poets.

In case you wondered …

… When Did Librarians Get Woke? | Ricochet.

I suppose I should’ve been surprised by Ms. Pullmann’s article, but I really wasn’t. It seems the ALA has been moving to the left for several decades now. I first became aware of this shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In the immediate aftermath of those attacks the Congress passed and President Bush signed into law what was called the Patriot Act, the purpose of which was to strengthen national security. Specifically, the ALA opposed Section 215 of that law, which provided for the collection of “business records,” as per this fact sheetprepared by a group in support of the law. To be fair, there were legitimate concerns regarding this provision of the law and the Congress eventually allowed Section 215 to expire in 2015. That said, the ALA’s reaction to the law was hysterical and went beyond criticism to willful disobedience of the law via purposeful destruction of records they thought pertinent to the law.

When Did Librarians Get Woke? �|� Ricochet

… When Did Librarians Get Woke? | Ricochet.

I suppose I should’ve been surprised by Ms. Pullmann’s article, but I really wasn’t. It seems the ALA has been moving to the left for several decades now. I first became aware of this shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In the immediate aftermath of those attacks the Congress passed and President Bush signed into law what was called the Patriot Act, the purpose of which was to strengthen national security. Specifically, the ALA opposed Section 215 of that law, which provided for the collection of “business records,” as per this fact sheetprepared by a group in support of the law. To be fair, there were legitimate concerns regarding this provision of the law and the Congress eventually allowed Section 215 to expire in 2015. That said, the ALA’s reaction to the law was hysterical and went beyond criticism to willful disobedience of the law via purposeful destruction of records they thought pertinent to the law.

Hmm …

Behold, the Millennial Nuns.
These young women have one last surprise: They tend to be far more doctrinally conservative than their predecessors. If you go deeper into their social media feeds, past the wacky photos of habited nuns making the hang-loose sign, you’ll find a firm devotion to the most traditional of Catholic beliefs. They fervently protest abortion. They celebrate virginity not as a necessity to free up time to serve God—how some “liberal” sisters see it—but as something in itself holy. It’s a severity that overlaps neatly, actually, with the OMG maximalism that dominates social media.

Something to think on …

Courage is the antidote to danger.
— Erle Stanley Gardner, born on this date in 1889

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Caution advised …

… RTs Reviews and Marginalia : Warning — approach Flannery O’Connor with caution.

Our revered bell …

Sixth and Market

Ninety-one degrees, summer without mercy; a tourist
Line slugged and slumped and smelled like a sock. Oozed
Among pictures, 1915, of crowds rushing to touch
The Liberty Bell, on tour by train and dolly to towns
All over, a nation thirsty for symbols. Black arms,
Black hands, fixed forever, reached until you thought
Tendons snapped, bones split.

“My people,”
He said to his friend, the one who wanted to see
The damn bell, “came to Georgia, 1820, good luck
A man like him finding work except he knew how
To go up the town tower, set the time. Everybody
Needed that, keep the bell ringing good.” “Told them
When to get up, go to church,” his friend said, “come
In from the fields.” “When war was over,” the first said,
“When to be happy.”

Some hold-up at the front of
The line. Weeping, it sounded like, the whole world
Wanting a selfie with the damn bell. The line?
Clogged. Dead snake. Slack whip. Air conditioning
Busted. Stalled, he and his friend; all around, hands,
Black, arms, black, outreach, uproar, hopeless
Cries of hope.

“I wonder,” he said,

“If anybody knows just what a strange place this is.”
His friend: “They tell you it’s the best place ever, so,
No, I suspect not.” Images: bodies pressing as if

To merge and one body of them all embrace
The bell. “I hope,” the first one said, “they don’t mess up
The God in this place.” His friend: “They do,
God’ll step aside, let us eat each other.” The first:
“That’s what you call God not forgiving us.” His friend:
“Yeah.”
Swollen and swelling, that line, mercury shoved
Up a tube. The two stayed behind with pictures: crowds,
Bodies aching for touch, as if copper mixed with tin,
Arsenic, bronze sang a hard choir of rescue.
They whispered, “Don’t give me
Any of this world-as-it-really-is. Who’s that
Talking? Your teacher? Your boss? Your politician? No
Bell rings unless hands of need forged it first. All
The world you have is claps of meaning against
Soul juddering at the blow. It wasn’t the bell they
Were reaching for,” they whispered. “They knew
There was no rescue for them. They were reaching for
What isn’t here yet, their sons and daughters,
Their kids and their kids and theirs, a garden
Of pain passed, promises kept. For that, you know
They surged like death.” Don’t know if the two
Ever reached the bell. (They don’t let you touch it,
Anyway.) Maybe they just stayed behind,
Mumbling among images:

“Their
Bodies cried out for no rescue but to lay it all down
Tired, cracked, their whole lives ringing.”

— John Timpane

About time …

… Anglo-Saxons deserve reparations for the Norman Conquest | The Spectator.

I have no dog in this fight. Except for a dash of Polish, I'm almost entirely Irish.

Specialist in crime …

… Edna Buchanan's Miami | CrimeReads. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Edna Rydzik, with a limited future in Paterson, had been wholly subsumed into Edna Buchanan, hard-driving, insatiably curious police beat reporter in Miami. Another short-lived marriage, this time to a cop, added insight, but far less than the daily calls to police stations wondering if there was a crime for her to write about. She liked to note, especially during the book tour phase for her 1987 nonfiction collection The Corpse Had A Familiar Face, that she had borne witness to more than 5,000 murders during her career and thousands more assaults, rapes, robberies, and other violent crimes in addition.

Hmm …

… Dead Poets Society: 30 years on Robin Williams' stirring call to 'seize the day' endures | Luke Buckmaster | Film | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I thought it was a good film. But I was long past high school when I saw it.

Heartbreaking …

… My Father – Reluctant Habits.

Something to think on …

Sex almost always disappoints me in novels. Everything can be said or done now, and that's what I often find: everything, a feeling of generality or dispersal. But in my experience, true sex is so particular, so peculiar to the person who yearns for it. Only he or she, and no one else, would desire so very much that very person under those circumstances. In fiction, I miss that sense of terrific specificity.
— Anatole Broyard, born on this date in 1920

Monday, July 15, 2019

Resting places …

… Nigeness: The Other Philip Larkin.

Spirit or contraption …

… First Known When Lost: Enchanted Or Disenchanted, Part Five: Halcyon, Dragonfly, Grasshopper, Cricket, Cicada.

The prevailing modern world-view (a spawn of the so-called "Age of Enlightenment") is reductive and soulless. Whether one accepts this state of affairs is a matter of choice. Fortunately, there are alternative paths on which to make one's way through "the vale of Soul-making" …

Encouraging update …

Short but sweet | About Last Night.

Is nothing safe ….

… Review: Duncan Minshull and Erling Kagge on Walking - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 The more conscious writers become of its creative benefits, the more walking takes on the quality of goal-driven labor, the very thing we are meant to be marching against.
As someone who has walked, I am sure, thousands of miles, the last thing I want is for walking to somehow become politicized. It’s hard to imagine that politics could become anymore despicable than it already is, but intruding on walking could achieve that dubious goal.

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Ana Maria Cabanellas on the Pleasures and Perils of Publishing in Argentina.

Ana María Cabanellas began her career as a lawyer, after which she joined the family-owned publishing company Editorial Heliasta as a partner. In 1979, she became President of Editorial Claridad which specializes in legal dictionaries, as well as fiction, philosophy and history. In 2006, Ms Cabanellas founded UnaLuna, which publishes children’s books. 

Why there are more ignoramuses …

… Just Released: New Indicators on Book Reading Behavior, Time Spent Reading, and Reading of Specific Types of Humanities-Related Works | LJ infoDOCKET. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A blogging debut …

… Why are you here? – STU BYKOFSKY.

Breaking up is hard to do …

… RTs Reviews and Marginalia : The Breaking Point by Stephen Koch.

July Poetry at North of Oxford …

… 3 Poems by Mark B. Hamilton.

… 2 Poems by Robin Ray.

…  was the night by Jonathan Hine.

… Lights of Gatlinburg by Greg Scheiber.

… Less is Now by John Grey.

Blogging note …

I have to take Debbie to an appointment. Blogging will begin when we get back.

Something to think on …

The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.
— Robert Conquest, born on this date in 1917

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Recommended …

… A Justified Confessions | The Russell Kirk Center. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Last year I read Sarah Ruden’s 2017 translation, and re-read the limpid F. J. Sheed translation that first introduced me to Augustine. Of these three the Williams is the one I’d hand to an Augustine newcomer. In both its lyrical prose and its excellent, spiritually rich apparatus you can feel Williams’s teaching experience (he is a professor at the University of South Florida). A disclaimer: I don’t read Latin. I can only judge how useful a Confessions is to the barbarian. But Williams translates with great love for the barbarians.

Unhappy anniversary …

… RTs Reviews and Marginalia : Sedition Act becomes federal law in 1798.

Sounds like a must-read …

… Unlikely Pilgrim is one convert's incredible journey. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Regnery’s travels in Slavic countries invite a comparison to Patrick Leigh-Fermor’s account of his walk from Holland to Constantinople, far-away countries of which we know little. The author visited the forgotten places that held Christian artistic treasures, like the painted monastery in Romania’s Voronet. Built in 1488, its walls and interiors are covered with hundreds of frescoes, and it’s called the Sistine Chapel of the East. I had never heard of it and, fascinating though they were, virtually every place Regnery visited was new to me.

What a miracle is like …

… Cardinal Newman saved both our lives | Catholic Herald. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Q&A …

… Virginia Postrel on Big Ideas, Overlooked Issues, Style, and Hard Reporting | The Elements of Writing.

I’m attracted to topics that are important but overlooked. I’m easily bored and put a high premium on new material and original thought. If everybody already knows something, why bother to repeat it?

Something to think on …

Beauty is one in the universe, and, whatever form it assumes, it always arouses a religious feeling in the hearts of mankind.
— Germaine de Staël, who died on this date in 1817

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The stuff of life …

… Trunk. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Time for a chuckle …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: The Red Neck And The Saw.

RIP …

 … Fawzi Karim obituary | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Well, it’s certainly good …

Nigerian Poetry This beautiful poem by Wole Soyinka is the best thing on the Internet right now - Pulse Nigeria. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Soyinka turned 85 today.

Beloved vessel …

 The Writer's Almanac for July 9, 2019 | Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden,)

Poetical honours …

… Nigeness: 'Sentiments to which every bosom returns an echo'.

Speaking of PC …

… Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture - The Atlantic - Pocket.

Among the general population, a full 80 percent believe that “political correctness is a problem in our country.” Even young people are uncomfortable with it, including 74 percent ages 24 to 29, and 79 percent under age 24. On this particular issue, the woke are in a clear minority across all ages.
Compared with the rest of the (nationally representative) polling sample, progressive activists are much more likely to be rich, highly educated—and white. They are nearly twice as likely as the average to make more than $100,000 a year. They are nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree. And while 12 percent of the overall sample in the study is African American, only 3 percent of progressive activists are.  

Pushback …

… 'Y'all Are Smoking Crack!' ESPN Host Goes Ballistic Over the NBA Getting Rid of the Term 'Owner'.

In case you wondered ……

… The complete list of alternatives to all Google products - TechSpot.

Feathered companions …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Ghosts in the Tree (Franz Sedlacek), Sonnet #465.

No easy task …

… What Notre Dame Cathedral Looks Like Months After Fire | Time. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The man responsible for overseeing the reconstruction of Notre-Dame says the risks of a catastrophic collapse are small but that the true extent of the damage will not be known until at least the end of the year. Until then, it will remain a triage site.

But a sad life …

… RTs Reviews and Marginalia : John Clare — a birthday celebration.

Something to think on …

The great achievement of the Catholic Church lay in harmonizing, civilizing the deepest impulses of ordinary, ignorant people.
— Sir Kenneth Clark, born on this date in 1903

Friday, July 12, 2019

Something to think on …

Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.
— Henry David Thoreau, born on this date in 1817

Blogging note …

I have to take off shortly. I have much to do away from my desk. Blogging will resume later.

A real journalist takes his leave …

… This is my final column, for real | Stu Bykofsky.

From phone calls and emails, I know I speak for traditional, older, newspaper-reading Americans. I am liked less by lost-in-the-Twitterverse younger people, who live their lives on cell phones.

Chec this out …

… Replay: Thomas Mann on antisemitism | About Last Night.

The restoration of beauty …

… Ethika Politika | Review: Aesthetics by Detrich von Hildebrand. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

While I am partial to phenomenology myself, I do think Hildebrand’s project lacks a proper foundation in metaphysics. He speaks, for example, of works of art being “a curious quasi-substance of a spiritual kind” which strikes me as rather nonsensical statement. This lack in metaphysics becomes even clearer as Hildebrand seeks to distance himself from the Thomists. He writes that “Beauty presents itself unambiguously as a property of an object - more specifically, as a value.” And while I first read that to mean that beauty is ontological in the classical understanding, he later writes that “metaphysical beauty is not in the least a transcendental property of being in the sense that this term possesses in Thomistic philosophy.”
I studied phenomenology — to which I am also partial — in a Thomist context, so I don't see what Hildebrand's problem was exactly. Which is why I plan on reading the book.

Faith and literature …

… Literary faith from Dostoevsky to Marilynne Robinson: A review of Richard Harries. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The former bishop of Oxford in the Church of England has written a compilation of engagements with literary figures from Fyodor Dostoevsky to Marilynne Robinson, and every single chapter seems fresh and inviting. I learned about authors of whom I had never heard, and I learned new things about authors I’ve read backward and forward.

Consulting a master …

… Thursday Throwback – A Sunday of Liberty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 When I am opposed, my attention is roused, not my anger. I go out to meet the man who contradicts me and corrects me. The cause of truth ought to be a cause common to us both.
It is worth remembering four wise words penned by Somerset Maugham: "Most people think little."

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Catching a spy …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review Of 'Gray Day: My Undercover Mission To Expose America's First Cyber Spy'.

Good to know …

… After years of shutting down speech, Pomona College rolls out new pro-free speech code | The College Fix.

The new code states that the “Pomona College student body believes that free speech is critical to Pomona’s mission as an educational institution, and therefore, the norm is that speech and other forms of expression are protected.”

A sweet fantasy …

… Poem: Willa Cather’s Ride - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hmm …

… 10 of the Best-Selling Books in History (Minus Religious Texts) | Mental Floss. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I don’t think Mao’s book should count, since he had, shall we say, a captive audience. The success of The Da Vinci Code is dismaying. But there’s still a sucker born every minute. As for Dickens, in my day at least he was on an awful lot of school reading lists. 

Good to know …

… Alfred E. Neuman: A Marked Man | The Smoking Gun. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

He was of course a role model for many of us teens in the ‘50s. Glad to know her worried J. Edgar.

Anniversary …

… RTs Reviews and Marginalia : First Quaker colonists land at Boston — 11 July 1656.

Looking back …

… Nigeness: 1949.

They are English people being, quite unselfconsciously, English, part of a single, amiable, cohesive nation, united perhaps as never before by the recently ended war.
As Tchaikovsky said in a letter to Madame von Meck, “it is all so sad and yet so sweet to muse  upon the past.”

Update …

… We made it | About Last Night.

When you’re in the end stage of pulmonary hypertension, the rare and deadly disease that has laid Mrs. T low, the right ventricle of your heart can start to “decompensate” at any time without much advance warning. Once that happens, you need to be transplanted on the double. If you’re not near a transplant center when it happens—and UConn, the center for her pulmonary-hypertension care, doesn’t do lung transplants—then you’re out of luck.

The poetry of paying attention …

… It All Means Something. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Kooser hones in on the remains of things, like an archaeologist combing through layers of time. Broken-down trucks. Unused shears. Tree stumps. Ashes. He is especially fascinated by old tools. “Lantern” (p. 143) ruminates on an aged lantern that, even in its prime, gave “not more than a cup of warmth.” At the end of its usefulness, it provides a bed for a brood of mice. They soon abandon it, “the way we all, one day, move on / leaving a sharp little whiff / of ourselves in the dirty bedding.” In Kooser’s eyes, we are no more or less significant than mice. Our only advantage is the ability to write verses about our brief passage. Images and stories illuminate the short, dark path: “Theirs are the open wings / we light our table by” (“At a Kitchen Table” p. 146).

Sign up …

… The Lamp Weekly Newsletter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is the first entry in our weekly email newsletter series, which we hope will not only tide you over between now and the magazine's launch but also provide continuity between issues and serve as a kind of interactive space for readers. 
Here is the link for signing up.

Sad anniversary …


Goerge Gershwin died on this date in 1937.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Anniversary …

Carl Orff was born on this date in 1895. This recording, when it was released, was described in HiFi-Stereo Review as "the greatest choral orchestral record ever made." Hareve Presnell is especially noteworthy.

Freedom …

 “No proven Communist should hold a position at Stanford.” Yet Victor Arnautoff did, and scored a victory for academic freedom. | The Book Haven.

Here’s why San Francisco School Board should be sacked, every single one of them: They have failed their students. They district has failed to “educate” them, in a way that should be part of any sound humanities curriculum. Facing complicated emotions and objectionable ideas is part of it. Learning to empathize with others is part of what history and great literature teaches. Kids can learn to shape their emotions – an important life skill. However, the operating paradigm here seems to be  that the students’ feelings are objective and immutable, and that art, along with the effort and skill and time of the artist, must give way before them.

Anniversary …

… RTs Reviews and Marginalia : Bentley has a birthday.

In case you wondered …

… The Benefits of a DIY Writing Retreat | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Poetry trio …

… on Poets & Poetry: Walking with David Blair, William Carlos Williams as Pen Pal, Joshua Beckman at the Lectern – On the Seawall. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Prayer and the city …

… Small Graces | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When I walk through cities, I try to remember to pray. It doesn’t usually get very sophisticated—Hail Marys and Our Fathers, in some combination, when I pass someone who seems to be homeless, or hear an ambulance, or see a person in distress. Even if there’s nobody in distress, I’ll try to just recite these prayers to the rhythm of my footsteps. After all, just because I can’t see someone doesn’t mean they might not need a prayer. And every once in a while, strangers will ask you to pray for them.

Appreciation …

… Herman Wouk, Storyteller | George Weigel | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One of our last conversations reminded me of the regularity of Herman’s Jewish practice. He’d had his publisher send me the proofs of his penultimate novel, A Hole in Texas, which anticipated nuclear physicists’ discovery of the Higgs boson while lampooning scientific hubris and governmental craziness. I’d read the galleys in a single sitting and called the author on a Saturday evening, Washington time, to congratulate him. But I’d miscalculated sundown in California, and the housekeeper who answered the phone said, very politely, that “Mr. Wouk will be happy to take your call after the Sabbath.”

Something to think on …

If you can keep your head when all about are losing theirs, it's just possible that you haven't grasped the situation.
— Jean Kerr, born on this date in 1922

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Blogging note …

Once again, I must be out and about,. Blogging will resume sometime later.

Up-close and personal …

… Nigeness: First Person.

Listen in …

 The front line of parapsychology – Mark Vernon.

The evidence for these phenomena is dismissed by sceptics with increasingly dogmatic assertions. But that’s no surprise because the data in support of phenomena from telepathy to pre-sentience is now openly discussed in leading science journals.
So the real question, at the forefront of research, is which of the various ways for accounting for them is most productive.
We draw on the proposals aired at a recent seminar attended by the leading theorists, including Rupert himself. We explore the ideas of practising physicists and biologists working in the area, and move onto questions from the nature of time and consciousness to the philosophy of A.N. Whitehead.