Whatever may be said against blogging, in the right hands and minds it is hugely enriching (in a non-material sense, needless to say) and, in the best sense, educative. It is now for me an essential element in a vital life-enhancing, life-enlarging process of endless discovery and rediscovery.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
A newspaper ...
Well, this should ...
But I don't think newspapers are going to completely disappear. Two that I think are going to thrive are the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. I also think Roger underestimates blogs a bit. Specialist blogs - law blogs, for instance - provide information and expertise newspapers would be hard-pressed to match. That said, the world will be a poorer place because of the decline of newspapers.
I am skeptical ...
In Memoriam ...
…The American mind is not even close to being amenable to the ideogram principle as yet. The reason is simply this. America is 100% 18th Century. The 18th century had chucked out the principle of metaphor and analogy - the basic fact that as A is to B so is C to D. AB:CD. It can see AB relations. But relations in four terms are still verboten. This amounts to deep occultation of nearly all human thought for the U.S.A.
I am trying to devise a way of stating this difficulty as it exists. Until stated and publicly recognized for what it is, poetry and the arts can't exist in America. Mere exposure to the arts does nothing for a mentality which is incorrigibly dialectical. The vital tensions and nutritive action of ideogram remain inaccessible to this state of mind.
"Incorrigibly dialectical." I like that. It's a criticism of America that is apt.
Grim reaper roundup ...
Be very afraid ...
Everywhere in the country you encounter feral British morons driving their cars, low on the ground and with engines tuned to make an intimidating growling noise, their primitive rhythmic music vibrating the ground in a radius of 100 yards, as they peer sightlessly ahead of them with dim, world-hating ferocity.Good grief.
The cost of submission ...
Interesting way for a publication to make money.
A discovery ...
Well, Warner's poems look very interesting. Ackland's? I don't think so. And yes, Warner's withdrawal from poetry in deference to Ackland was indeed "a huge act of generosity," at least to Ackland, if not to the world's readers.
Thanks to all ...
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Blogging hiatus ...
The book scene ...
And, speaking of Peter De Vries, it was he who explained that "it is the final proof of God’s omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us."
Update: A reader sends along a link to a true library disaster: CRPL and the Flood of 2008.
And Dave Lull sends along these two links to Anecdotal Evidence:`Hilarious Frustration' and Happy Birthday.
De Vries also has a character in one of his novels who specializes in inventing useless end products, such as reversible mayonnaise and after-shaving mints.
Barnes & Noble's ...
But, as Emerson observed, "Language is fossil poetry."
Literary discovery ...
Monday, December 29, 2008
Slow-burning fuse ...
I imagine this is a good novel. I reviewed Barry Unsworth's The Ruby in Her Navel, and it was superb.
Good for him ...
Big bucks books ...
Quite an interesting mix. Scroll down to see the whole set of lists.
A guide for the perplexed ...
Blog post hit parade ...
Definitely read Terry Teachout on Willa Cather and Thorton Wilder. It's exquisite.
Con amore ...
This bears watching. It will be very interesting to see how things develop.
On the other hand ...
Pinter and Rattigan ...
Rattigan is pleading for tolerance within a certain code of behavior. He is not suggesting that the standards by which the major [in Separate Tables] was judged were in themselves wrong—that it is right for a man to manufacture a completely fake persona for himself, tell lies about his past, and touch up women in cinemas. But he is asking for the constant exercise of judgment rather than the mechanical application of rules, and his tolerance emerges not from abstract ideas, being neither ideological nor strident, but from genuine understanding of and sympathy for human weakness.
In Rattigan, the ability of his characters to respond to others with genuine and intense emotion is intimately connected with their reticence.
... in all of Rattigan’s best plays—The Deep Blue Sea, The Browning Version, The Winslow Boy—there are conflicts between passion and good sense, between what is good for the individual and what is good for the collectivity, between duty and inclination. These conflicts are presented both entertainingly and truthfully, so that one ends with an understanding that civilization depends upon an endless interplay of incompatible desiderata, and that even the good life cannot be lived without unhappiness.
In Rattigan, people do not say all that they think for reasons of social inhibition, in Pinter, both because they lack the words and because communication is in any case impossible. There is no doubt, of course, that many people—more than there used to be, thanks to modern educational methods —are inarticulate or that many people cannot stick to the point. If you listen to bar-room conversations, it becomes clear that they do not always progress like Socratic dialogues. Verbosity and incoherence are by no means opposites: and intelligent conversation is at least as much a matter of omission as of inclusion. But the characters in Pinter’s plays are inarticulate for a deeper reason; life for them lacks meaning because one moment is unconnected with another and because lack of meaning is inherent in all existence. In other words, there is simply no possibility of meaning. His characters are creatures of desire but no intellect; and therefore if disputes arise among them, they are mere struggles for power. When there are events—for example, the arrival on the stage of two thugs in The Birthday Party, Pinter’s first full-length play—they are completely arbitrary and without explanation. This arbitrariness is ontological; for Pinter admits that he has no explanation for the events he himself has put into his plays.
For Pinter, the choice is between Mr. Pecksniff and Elmer Gantry on the one hand and the kind of moral nihilism exhibited in his work on the other. But even if these were the only two possibilities in the world—which is quite clearly not the case —I would prefer Pecksniff to the nihilist; for if hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, at least it recognizes that there is a difference between the two.
There is something even more profoundly terrible in Pinter’s work: a sustained attack on the power of the human intellect to impose order on experience or to make sense of existence.
There is only one way to describe Pinter’s philosophical outlook: that of a poseur. I refer not to the internal contradiction in his speech [at the National Student Drama Festival in Bristol]. (If we can’t know the truth about any moment, how can we possibly say that any recollection of it is false?) Since we all commit errors of logic from time to time, Pinter may be forgiven on this count. What he cannot be forgiven for, in my opinion, is the brazenness of his insincerity. It is quite clear that he doesn’t believe a word of what he says, and his reason for saying it must therefore be more concerned with self-advertisement and self-promotion than with a search for the truth. Pinter does not in the least believe it is impossible to know truths about the past. While many of his plays concern uncertainties about the events gone by—about the impossibility of knowing, for example, whether X really did commit adultery with Y—he exhibits no uncertainty about other aspects of the past. I doubt that he has ever been quite so sceptical about his royalty checks.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Politics and art ...
Harold Pinter was the greatest English playwright of the 20th century. ... It is quite likely that, in the future, he will be seen as one of the greatest English playwrights in history.
Because when they happened ...
To assume people you don't know and don't try to understand are empty and hopeless, though, is a characteristic of a shallow, smug, incurious mind.
Everybody wants to be ...
I think Len did a pretty good job with this.
Humane letters ...
I haven't read Adiga's book - though I have seen a good deal of grousing about it - but it is hard to imagine that it is better than Barry's, which is extraordinary.
The first thing that needs to be remarked upon is the sheer beauty of the prose. This does not come of Barry's choosing fancy words or going out of his way for striking imagery. It comes of his uncanny sense of words as sounds. His sentences are melodies:
The light of the candles pierced everywhere, into the lines of my father's face as he sat beside me, into the stones of the church, into the voice of the minister as he spoke his words in that mysterious and stirring English of the bible, in through my own breastbone, right into my young heart, so that I wanted to cry out, but cry out what I could not say.Each of Barry's characters has a distinctive voice and a separate melodic line, though The Secret Scripture is largely antiphonal, a back and forth between the voices of Roseanne McNulty, a 100-year-old inmate of Roscommon mental hospital, and the psychiatrist who runs the hospital, Dr. William Grene. Chapters alternate between the memoir Roseanne is secretly writing and Dr. Grene's commonplace book. Roscommon is going to be closed and Dr. Grene has to determine who among the patients can be returned to society. In particular he wants to know if any have been wrongly confined there.
So Dr. Grene - who is Irish but was raised in England by adoptive parents - visits Roseanne regularly now, to see what she can tell him of her life before she came to Roscommon. He also does some independent investigating as well.
Dr. Grene is a melancoly man. A single impetuous fling destroyed his marriage, but he terribly misses his late wife. There is a heartbreaking scene where he lies on her bed and imagines being her and afterward gathers her books about roses and takes them with him to read in his bedroom:
... that Bet needed and wanted to know all these things about roses suddenly filled me with happiness, and pride. And curiously enough, this feeling didn't give way to regret and guilt. No, it opened room upon room, rose upon rose, to further happiness. That was not only the best day I have had since she died, but one of the best days of my life. It was as if she had dipped something of her essence down from heaven and helped me. I was so bloody grateful to her.
Roseanne's story is inextricably mixed up with Ireland's often terrible history. Barry's achievement has, happily, nothing to do with placing his characters in their historical context, and everything to do with restoring to history its human context. And his portrayal of that context is unfailingly humane. Take Father Gaunt, the priest who, as Roseanne tells us, "loomed so large in my own story, if a small man can be said to loom large." Dr. Grene concludes that Father Gaunt "was obviously sane to such a degree it makes sanity almost undesirable." Those characterizations frame a man who, like the Irish branch of the Church he served, usually managed fidelity to the Bark of Peter by tossing love overboard. Nevertheless, while Father Gaunt may be the least attractive figure in Barry's novel, he is never merely a villain.
Most readers, I suspect, will figure things out just before Dr. Grene does, which is exactly when they should. The Secret Scripture is a wonderful book - a magical one, really - a long, sad song about how very much that fragile thing called love can endure.
From the archive ...
Today's Inquirer reviews ...
... Nicest White House occupant ever.
... For 2 Beats, a beginning.
... Biography of lawyer Jim Beasley falls short.
... On trail of Einstein's fourth idea.
... A writer grapples with loneliness, being alone (the compleat review!).
... Obama chooses 'the perfect inaugural poet'. (I'm not sure that being "the perfect inaugural poet" is something one would aim at. But that's just me.)
Musicians needed ...
Dave Lull reminds me of this earlier post: Speaking of YouTube ... He also sends along the following:
Nice bit of crossover, I think.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Less better blogging ...
The best on the boards ...
Secret agent men ...
From accinge ...
Consider "Obtortion." The word means "a twisting, distortion, wresting, perversion." Appropriate for a migraine: "... the living that you think you're // doing is actually done to you, all pumps and pulleys plus this fine / teaching tool, this blossom blooming black behind one eye."
I've known Katie now, I suppose, for five or six years. But I think I know her a lot better now that I've read these poems.
Finding the right key ...
The latest ...
I don't think someone who uses the word prophesized in place of prophesied (perhaps he was thinking of proselytized) should be so quick to complain about pundint (which I, by the way, had never seen or heard of before now).
... it takes both talent and willpower to analyze [a] report in its entirety and put it in a context comprehensible to the casual reader.
That it does, but such analyses that I have seen in newspapers have tended to be both selective and tendentious. Actually, the people in a given school district are likely to be very interested in and willing to sit through such meetings and read such reports very carefully, since they are interested parties, more interested, apparently, than a cub reporter trying to keep himself awake during the proceedings "by employing trance-inducing techniques."
Friday, December 26, 2008
Posthumous fame ...
As usual with David, this is excellent.
A symposium ...
I forget ...
Heating up ...
The future of reading ...
In this corner ...
Very interesting ...
The result was not that they suddenly fell in love with grammar and usage, but rather that they discovered something about why grammar and usage were worth knowing. More importantly, they discovered that they wanted to learn how to say what was on their minds. Since their attempts to do that were there in front of us in the letters they wrote, we now how something we could work together on. I became more their editor than their teacher. By the end of the semester they had all learned pretty much how to organize their thoughts well enough to present them respectably on paper. Most of all, they had come to enjoy the challenge of doing so.
By the way, if I had cops in my class I wouldn't be assigning them "Araby." I'd have them read some Joseph Wambaugh. People are much more likely to read with interest and enjoyment something they can connect to. James Joyce can come later.
Of course ...
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Never forget ...
Harold Pinter ...
John Osborne also died on Christmas Eve.
Happy Holidaze & New-Year's Raise . . .
May this coming year be all it can for you
Whether scaling new heights or high peaks anew
May you find the strength to work to continue
To excel for joy and expel the hell — Adieu!
May your sorrows be minimally sad; and, oh, so few
Since you deserve all good things and then some, too
Welp, see if you can bring peace to all you do
And, never forget to your own self be utterly true
Plus, accept this rhyme in love from you know who
(That would be Frank, Eliza, John, Katie, and Ju . . .)
Andrew & Ellen Klavan's Message . . .
. . . to all appears following the fifth and final chapter of what texacalirose calls "this wicked good story" . . . (and, it *is*).
Dear Dirty Harry and Andrew: Thank you for the highs and lows, the blues and blows, the signs and snows . . . :). All best seasonal treats and greets to you, too.
Merry Christmas ...
... and God bless us, everyone.
Life is not a mechanical operation. It is a cosmic drama, unfolding one soul at a time.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Christmas Eve ...
|by Thomas Hardy|
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
The eternal note ...
Last night, I read the second story in Susan McCallum-Smith's new collection, Slipping the Moorings. It's called "High Rise" and, like the first story, "Ploughman's Lunch" - which I called an Exquisite miniature ... - it is characterized by a notable compassion toward its characters, who are unsophisticated, perhaps not even that bright, but palpably human.
The story is set is Glasgow. Allison lives in a high-rise flat in a public-housing complex. The flat had been her grandmother's, but had been "passed on to her by the council when her granny died." But Allison is so scared of heights she can't go near the windows.
The story recounts her visit to Malky, her boyfriend, who is doing time for assault. Allison has just turned 38. She desperately wants a child, so desperately that she has even taken steps that Malky would not approve of if he knew of them - and he may well know.
There' some fine writing here, as in this description of a visit from Malky's friend Hugh, who has brought her flowers for her birthday:
Allison headed for the kitchen, trailing lilac and yellow ribbons, leaving Hugh to shut the door behind him. Words ran out of him like a leaky dictionary, all down the hall, and onto the kitchen table, and through the boiling of the kettle, words about his mother, and his ex-wife, and those kids of his that were out of hand, and how lonely he was, and here she was, and Malky said he was to look after her, make sure all her needs were met, and it's her birthday, and did she never get lonely, sweetheart, and who would ever know?I've hung with people like this, but one rarely sees them portrayed fictionally either as accurately or as sympathetically as they are here. So far, McCallum-Smith is two for two.
Full disclosure: I met Susan McCallum-Smith once at the Baltimore Writers Conference, and she once wrote a review for me when I was a book-review editor. It was a good review, too, of Clare Clark's The Great Stink.
Guess what ...
... Interview with Clay Shirky, Part I.
You know, “Life was better when I was younger” is always an acceptable narrative. Right? And so for anybody who was brought up genuflecting to the literary culture and the virtues of reading Tolstoy—and essentially Tolstoy is a trope in these things, War and Peace is the longest novel in the sort of Euro-centric canon—you could always make the argument that the present is worse than the past by simply pointing to the virtues of the past. And so, what the Web does is that it does what all amateur increases do, which is it decreases the average quality of what’s available. It is exactly, precisely, the complaint made about the printing press. So, the only thing surprising about the Web, in a way, is that it’s been a long time since we’ve had a medium that increased the amount of production of written material this dramatically.... Interview with Clay Shirky, Part II.
The future of publishing (cont'd.) ...
La vida es sueño ...
I actually had a dream last night that I somewhat remembered and that wasn't - as is usually the case when I dream - utterly pedestrian.
From Rus Bowden ...
Rus also reminds us: . . . and don’t forget these Christmas poems (beautifully done).
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Gotta get up early ...
Very interesting ...
Yet, given these shared assumptions, Behe and Dawkins come to radically different conclusions. Dawkins' argument in The Blind Watchmaker goes like this: "There are probably more than a billion billion available planets in the universe. If each of them lasts as long as Earth, that gives us about a billion billion billion planet-years to play with." He then adds with obvious satisfaction, "That will do nicely!" However, he also warns that "we haven't the faintest hope of duplicating such a fantastically lucky, miraculous event as the origin of life in our laboratory experiments." Thus, he argues that purely theoretical arguments become scientifically justifiable.
Perhaps, but what for Dawkins is a scientifically justifiable piece of theoretical reasoning is a "just-so story" for Behe. Why? Because Behe doesn't share Dawkins' pessimism about what can be demonstrated in the laboratory. While scientists cannot be expected to carry out a billion billion billion years' worth of experiments, nature can and has.
It is interesting that their disagreement centers on what can and cannot be learned in the laboratory. Behe is often depicted in the media as being an off-the-wall sort. I interviewed him a number of years and found that not to be the case at all.
The Twelve Days of Hoserdom Christmas
Okay, Hosers, Gidday, eh? We didn't forget Da Box o' Beers (but, in <*ahem*> case you thought we did forgot, we did not, eh)?
This clip's fresh and animated (RT: 4:59). (I jes' love the fifth day.)
OT: Tech Question, Please and Thank You
Any ideas or suggestions would be welcomed since, as you know, Frank and I differ on many subjects; plus, I feel fairly confident speaking for him when I say I'm not sure he would like to be caught looking at the talent of his own gender. I do drool, IOW (although, sometimes, it's just a dribbly nibbly trickle. Example? Andrew Klavan. Wondering about his eye-shadow, ogling his baldiness, suggesting he consider a beard or moustache, the full-metal packet, IOW).
However, if I discuss the merits of Wonder Bra versus Victoria's Secret's lingerie at length, say, peeps might look at Frank weirdly, frankly, and move away from him on the Group W Bench. (Name that tune!) Also, he's a self-described Old-Tory Flâneur, not a Lib-Centrist Frisky Flambo in the know on the go ;).
Well, today *is* offically "Self-Esteem Dream Day," eh? If you know the solution to this problem, both Frank and I would be grateful if you'd email him (at the addie on his profile) and provide a walk-through for him. (I do have admin rights; but, I will not push my luck using them because, aside from the fact it would be the only exercise I get, one thing I do know: Frank began this enterprise and I believe what he does with, for, and to it his business; but, I tell you this in case you might think this to be a solution when we've already tried this one.)
If you can be of assistance, TIA.
Undeniably, NoT Frank Wilson, KIA
p.s. I have tried Google Help Gropes and BloggerTalk, etc.
Not afraid ...
How a Desperate Dickens Blessed Us
BTW, if Christ put in his earthly appearance in the middle of June, I (idly) wonder if that explains why Joyce chose the sixteenth of that month for what we now call Bloomsday. Hrm . . .
Not only does the above contain an excerpt from Chapter One @ NPR, there's also an audio clip to complement your reading experience.
Hardly surprising ...
... reading books that can't be made into movies isn't Hollywood's usual pastime. Yet the book seems to have become the topic of conversation around town, during holiday parties and Oscar soirees.I rest my case.
A Neat Sweet Canuck Round-Up Treat
The Miracle Came . . .
. . . According to The Toronto Star, "Hallelujah" provided Leonard Cohen with a Christmas miracle. Nice; but, no guitar. Leo would prolly appreciate a Hanukkah miracle more, ISTM.
(Running Time: 7:39)
The Writing Was on the Wall . . .
Watch your language ...
I first read Spicer when I was in college. The title of this book are said to have been his last words.
BITE: Our Quotidian Notable Quotable
"A protest song is a song that's so specific that you cannot mistake it for bullshit."
— Phil Ochs
"I Ain't A-Marchin' Anymore" (RT: 2:37)
Straight talk ...
The Latest on Elizabeth Alexander:
Meanwhile, back at the press: Graywolf Plans Instant Book on Inauguration Day Poem
Hrm . . . I've been thinking . . . I bet we could write a poem, in the new year, collectively, that would do its duty admirably. Yes we can. What think you? Among us, there are many fine poets. "How did we dream ourselves into being?" First line. Lots of time.
Right now, the entire world (except yours truly) is shopping (to which I am allergic; and, besides, I don't accommodify this most holy of days; it's personal and passionate; but, it's not about Santa who has, I see, just been proven to be Canadian; and, it further seems, has his own Blackbarry now; so, natch, Mrs. Santa can call him and tell him to pick up the dry cleaning and kids and milk, not necessarily in that order).
[Judith Fitzgerald, Shameless Beggar]
What's the Copyright Thing to Do?
Four Up, One To Come . . .
. . .Dirty Harry's Place presents Chapter 4 of Andrew Klavan's Amazing Christmas Gift to Readers and Viewers (RT: 5:18): "Nightmare." (Is that a five-o'clock shadow?)
Life in reverse ...
For years, when I would mention this Scott Fitzgerald story to people, they would tell me they never heard of it. Now it's a movie.
I was just enjoying these ...
OK, it's a pitch ...
Nige gets ...
I almost forgot ...
One reason I forgot is that I'm in the process of finishing the next one.
Monday, December 22, 2008
In returen, Mark has some holiday tips: Dealing with a yuletide felicity deficit.
The artist ...
Long live books ...
I think the time of books draws to a close’ with some confidence, but I can’t make up my mind about that idea. A serious interest in books has always been a minority taste. By nature I’m an anti-utopian and pretty grim-minded, but I think a lively underground of readers and writers has a chance of flourishing with the aid of the Internet. We’re only just beginning to learn what it will look like – perhaps we’re forging some of the `rules’ right now. I’m not a technologically adept person and I’m a natural-born skeptic, but I also know I’ve made some excellent friends thanks to the blog. It’s not the same as sitting around the dining room table shooting the shit but it’s gratifying and I’ve learned a hell of a lot. I wouldn’t have predicted this a decade ago.
I am optimistic about the future of books. I don't think that the internet is going to eliminate books any more than Velveeta has eliminated Delice de Bourgogne. I think there is going to be an artisanal book business as there is now an artisanal cheese business. I think POD technololgy is going to enable persons of modest means to publish books - including many out of print and past copyright - because they believe in them and want to and can. The book remains the most convenient vehicle for reading. The Kindle is fine for travel and commuting and for books you want to read, but don't feel you need to have and don't want to pay the full price for.
For the season ...
God, I love that Sisley.
Grinding axes ...
I suspect Jeff Sypeck would also take issue with Lewis.Counterfactual speculations of the kind that Lewis is trading in are in any case airy and insubstantial because we lack the knowledge required to evaluate them.
How about a bit ...
... The Grand Tetons 1.
... The Grand Tetons 2: Black & White.
Something I missed ...
Because it's winter ...
Winter for a moment takes the mind; the snow
Falls past the arclight; icicles guard a wall;
The wind moans through a crack in the window;
A keen sparkle of frost is on the sill.
Only for a moment; as spring too might engage it,
With a single crocus in the loam, or a pair of birds;
Or summer with hot grass; or autumn with a yellow leaf.
Winter is there, outside, is here in me:
Drapes the planets with snow, deepens the ice on the moon,
Darkens the darkness that was already darkness.
The mind too has its snows, its slippery paths,
Wall bayonetted with ice, leave ice-encased.
Here is the in-drawn room, to which you return
When the wind blows from Arcturus: here is the fire
At which your warm your hands and glaze your eyes:
The piano, on which you touch the cold treble;
Five notes like breathing icicles; and then silence.
The alarm- clock ticks, the pulse keeps time with it,
Night and the mind are full of sounds. I walk
from the fire-place, with his imaginary fire,
To the window, with its imaginary view.
Darkness, and snow ticking the window: silence,
And the knocking of chains on a motor-car, the tolling
Of a bronze bell, dedicated to Christ.
And then the uprush of angelic wings, the beating
Of wings demonic, from the abyss of the mind:
The darkness filled with a feathery whistling, wings
Numberless as the flakes of angelic snow,
The deep void swarming with wings and sound of wings,
The winnowing of chaos, the aliveness
Of depth and depth and depth dedicated to death.
Here are the bickerings of the inconsequential,
The chatterings of the ridiculous, the iterations
Of the meaningless. Memory, like a juggler,
Tosses its colored ball into the light, and again
Receives them into darkness. Here is the absurd,
Grinning like an idiot, and the omnivorous quotidian,
Which will have its day. A handful of coins,
Tickets, items for the news, a soiled handkerchief,
A letter to be answered, notice of a telephone call,
the petal of a flower in a volume of Shakspere,
The program of a concert. The photograph, too,
Propped on the mantel, and beneath it a dry rosebud;
The laundry bil, matches, an ash-tray, Utamaro's
Pearl-fishers. And the rug, on which are still the crumbs
Of yesterday's feast. These are the void, the night,
And the angelic wings that make it sound.
What is the flower? It is not a sigh of color,
Suspiration of purple, sibilation of saffron,
Nor aureate exhalation from the tomb.
Yet it is these because you think of these,
An emanation of emanation, fragile
As light, or glisten, or gleam, or coruscation,
Creature of brightness, and as brightness brief.
What is the frost? It is not the sparkle of death,
The flash ot time's wing, seeds of eternity;
Yet it is these because you think of these.
And you, because you think of these, are both
Frost and flower, the bright ambiguous syllable
Of which the meaning is both no and yes.
Here is the tragic, the distorting mirror
In which you gesture becomes grandiose;
Tears form and fall from your magnificent eyes,
The brow is noble, and the mouth of God's.
Here is God who seeks his mother, Chaos,-
Confusion seeking solution, and life seeking death.
Here is the rose that woos the icicle; the icicle
That woos the rose. Here is the silence of silences
Which dreams of becoming a sound, and the sound
Which will perfect itself in silence. And all
These things are only the uprush from the void,
the wings angelic and demonic, the sound of the abyss
Dedicated to death. And this is you.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Mama Mia: The Obamarama Baby Boom
The theory, notes Newsweek's Jessica Bennett, is almost too perfect to be true. Barack Obama, the son of politically progressive parents, was born 4 August 1961 (almost nine months to the day after John F. Kennedy was elected to the White House). Is it possible Obama was conceived on that historic night?
Man-oh-Mamma, one guy actually voted for Obama solely because he wanted to tell his bundle of joy s/he was conceived on this historic occasion. Talk sargasmic sardiculousness! (No doubt the child's name will be Barack or Baracka; but, I'd vote yay to Obama, if only because it works well for both genders; plus, the potential for neologisms increases exponentially: When Baracka's misbehaving, she's gone Obamaniacal; but, when he's good, he's an Obamaestro.)
Dickens: The Light- and Dark-Side Glides
Dickens was nuts about Christmas . . . But when we look at his Christmas writings, darker currents glide beneath all the beaming and laughter. "A Christmas Dinner," his earliest exercise in Yuletide-worship, is a yelpingly naive and callow invitation to the feast. It tells readers to buck up their ideas, pull up to the fire, fill their glasses, and just jolly well join in being merry. The author has no truck with party-poopers, misery-guts, pessimists, misanthropes, or the recently bereaved. He can be simultaneously sentimental and heartless when writing about children: "Look on the merry faces of your children (if you have any) as they sit round the fire. One little seat may be empty; one slight form that gladdened the father's heart, and roused the mother's eye to look upon, may not be there. Dwell not upon the past; think not that, one short year ago, the fair child now resolving into dust sat before you, with the bloom of health upon its cheek, and the gaiety of infancy in its joyous eye. Reflect upon your present blessings . . ." (Thanks for that, Charles.)
Thanks for this, Mr. Walsh. From one word-lover to another, do enjoy a wonderfully festive Follification for the duration in your incomparably eruditious nation.
BITE: Our Quotidian Notable Quotable
This sounds good ...
Here are a couple videos:
OMGuffaws: Worst Version of "O, Holy Night," EVER . . .
As for this clip (RT 3:39), its uploader provides the following 411 (so you don't need to dial 9-1-1 or 9-9-9):
The tape has been passed around for years, the singer is unknown. From the web, here is a description: "If you need a good laugh, and I mean 'can't breathe, stomach hurts' belly laugh, listen to the worst rendition of "O, Holy Night" ever. Warning: Put all drinks down and take a few deep breaths first so you don't suffocate from laughter. It starts out as sounding like a merely poor rendition of the song, but just wait."
A chance to listen ...
I'm torn ...
Once again ...
The CBC's "Words @ Large" Shelagh Rogers and Eleanor Wachtel . . .
However, past 'viewees include Salman Rushdie, Larry Hill, and Michele Tremblay, a utility-infielder world-class novelist, poet, and playwright who resides in Montréal half the year, Key West the other half. (Although I worship the pages upon which Tremblay writes, in this competition, Canada Reads, I gotta go with David Adams Richards, perhaps one of the finest novelists in the world; however, not to put too fine a pointer upon it, I do believe the work of either Tremblay or Richards [not to mention Daphne Marlatt] worthy of the Nobel Prize for literature. Maybe, with the dearly departured what's his name, the work of Canadians and Americans will begin to receive their recognition so long overdue? Here's hopin' with you.)
The state of publishing ...
... Making Books. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)
ChampionEd (Sometimes): Lurie Blurry
I am not quite sure if I’ve written a bad review. But I have spent far more words than I expected to on Lurie’s latest opus. And there are pages of notes I haven’t even touched on. I know that Rod Lurie is a bit obsessive about leaving comments at nearly every website that reviews his films. Perhaps he cares very deeply what some of us think. So, Rod, if you are looking for advice, do yourself and the film world a favor. Remake Ilsa. Stop injecting your screenplays with silly moral predicaments. Be honest for once and realize that there’s a great big cornball exploitation filmmaker inside you. If you’re true to that voice, then maybe you could be a Demme decades down the line.
For the big picture (visit Edward Champion's Reluctant Habits
(a.k.a. One Grace Place in CyberSpace).
For Christmas ...
Bryan wonders ...
Jean Vanier: Essential Writings
One of the great events in American religious publishing of the last several years has been the introduction of Orbis Books' Modern Spiritual Masters Series. This phenomenal series of slim volumes makes available the lives, witness, and writings of a plethora of religious writers of, roughly, the last century. Included are those you would expect — Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, and Mother Teresa, for example — and many who may be considered as either more obscure, or as having little interest outside of a narrow community of believers and students of the spiritual life . . . The latest installment in the series is no exception to the rule. Jean Vanier: Essential Writings is an exceptional and beautiful book, bringing together a rigorous and learned introduction with some of the finest writing on the committed religious life that I have had the pleasure of coming across for a long time.
— Chris Faatz
Canada's Finest . . .
Does Anyone Speak / Read Vietnamese?
Also, speaking of great 'sites on LC, I've been meaning to provide this link to DrHGuy for some time; he invariably has up-to-the-second info on all things coming and Cohen (almost before LC knows what he's going to say or do). Very good mind at work, though, an enjoyable read, no matter what brand of lover you are. Highly recommended for True-B'Losers, IOW.
BTW, when Leo sings about "twenty-seven angels," he's reffing the answer to how many ^i^s (or angels) can dance on the head of a pin, er, a pinhead (among other swing-ding things). JSYK.
As Jesus said ...
Of course, those in power tend not to agree.
Yet Another Literary Blog . . .
p.s. How can I have a hangover when I haven't had a drink since 9 June 1982? Is there such a thing as flash-black, drink-sink division? Egawds, my queendom for something to kill this migraine, ach, ack, achy, ouchy . . .
GreenCine Daily: Shorts, Fest, Etc.
Very interesting approach to all we've been discussing, dissecting, praising, and grazing these past few. That's my favourite cover of The Great Gatsby, BTW, too.
Too much ...
When His Holy Boobitude Dude Was Nuthin' But a Rebel Without Applause . . .
It's almost insulting, perhaps, to point out to the ancients among us who worshipped at the altar of the music, motivation, and sonic manifestations of one of His Boobitude's primary influences; but, there she blows (with apologies). When he was just a glint in the protest-song's mind's eye, Pete Seeger's oeuvre, alongside that of, say, Woodie Guthrie, figured (and continues to figure) prominently in his co-workers' musical mindscrapes of equal stature — Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Guy Clark, Dusty Springfield (born Mary O'Brien), George Jones, Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, Kurt Cobain, Loretta Lynn, Ry Cooder, Laurie Anderson, James McMurtry, Janis Joplin, Toms Paxton and Lehrer, Joni Mitchell, Gordy Lightfoot, Jacques Brel, David Blue, James Taylor, k.d., The Rankin Family, Willy Nelson, Neil Young, The Highwaymen, Trent Reznor, LC, The Beagles :) . . . Thus, although I consider "There's A Bottom Below" her greatest side, here's The Original, Malvina Reynolds, performing the original "Little Boxes":
p.s. Hold that thought on your journey down Revolutionary Road . . .
p.p.s. This post is dedicated to Levi Asher (avec xoxoxoxo)
Andrew Klavan's Third Chapter's Now Posted . . .
"A Voice in the Storm," Chapter Three of Mr. K's Christmas Ghost Story's now available for your viewing spook-a-boo pleasure @ Dirty Harry's Place . . . The final two instal(l)ments shall, apparently, be broadcast before Christmas (so, three down and four to go).
As Christmas nears ...
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear
(Though winter’s scheduling an arctic flight).
The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.
Some say a telling sign will soon appear,
Though evidence this may be so is slight:
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.
Pale skeptics may be perfectly sincere
To postulate no ground for hope, despite
The rumor that a rendezvous draws near.
More enterprising souls may shed a tear
And, looking up, behold a striking light:
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.
The king, his courtiers, and priests, all fear
Arrival of a challenge to their might:
The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.
The wise in search of something all can cheer
May not rely on ordinary sight:
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.
Within a common place may rest one dear
To all who yearn to see the world made right.
The leaves are fallen, but the sky is clear.
The rumor is a rendezvous draws near.
© 2006 F. Wilson
Another one ...
Horatio departs ...
Horace had found working difficult with his foot in his mouth.
Today's Inquirer reviews ...
... Carlin Romano ponders hypocrisy: An 'inevitable' part of democratic life.
... Desmond Ryan savors The ruthless, rapacious Borgias.
... I savor a classic: From Lourdes, a still-inspiring story.
... Christine Ma looks ar Scarface Nation: Say hello to a cinematic phenomenon.
... Paula Marantz Cohen praises - as one must - Fred Astaire: A hoofer deserving a place on a pedestal.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Take note ...
Ed Pettit is on the case ...
What it's like ...
My next column deals somewhat with Santayana. I have been reading The Life of Reason. What a sense of wisdom his splendid prose conveys.