Friday, December 31, 2010
(Of course, if you have to explain why something matters, there's a real possibility that it no longer does.)
Six accomplished critics explain the importance of their work.
... if the place I want to get to could only be reached by way of a ladder, I would give up trying to get there. For the place I really have to get is a place I must already be at now.- Wittgenstein
In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.- Eliot
And yes, in the comments, some suggest that humans should head the list. It is true, of course, that humans have done their share of violence to nature. But it is also true that humans are the only species that includes conservationists.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
... a nameless spirituality denies that we are people with names - formed by particular cultures, times, traditions. You've just got to engage with those cultures, times and traditions, for good or ill, to become more of a person. (Hence the Dalai Lama also tells westerners not to become Buddhists.)
... those for whom heated argument is not their default mode of communication often go unheard in public discourse nowadays, precisely because heated argument is not their default mode.
Sad, but true. And the problem with heated arguments is that they tend to shed neither light nor warmth.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I have to say -- and I don't like saying it -- but Andrew Sullivan does seem to have taken leave of his senses lately. The obsession with Sarah Palen and her family just strikes me as -- and this is putting it as politely as I can -- bizarre.
If the Inquirer website's annoyingly intrusive ads is an example of how they're repsonding to the new media model, well, I can understand why Newsweek sold for a dollar. (That's an in joke, I admit.)
What is it they want from the man that they didn't get from the work? What do they expect? What is there left when he's done with his work, what's any artist but the dregs of his work, the human shambles that follows it around?- William Gaddis, born on this date in 1922
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Poetry Out Loud fails in practice, however, to emphasize sufficiently those qualities of poetry essential to its educative power. It is not simply that the program has been avowedly influenced by hip-hop, with its typically monotonous rhythms, and by “slam poetry,” a form of expression more akin to political propaganda than to art. A deeper problem is that the Poetry Out Loud anthology, on which participants must draw in choosing the poems they recite, favors modern poets, many of whom lack the rhythmical sophistication of the acknowledged masters of versification—the major poets in the literary canon. Of some 360 poets featured in the online anthology, more than 200 were born after 1910. With poetry so recent, it is difficult to distinguish poems with a permanent value from those that reflect transient fashions. Much of the poetry chosen for the anthology is, moreover, metrically irregular; whatever the other merits of this verse, it cannot match the intricacy and musical complexity of poetry composed in fidelity to the traditional rubrics of metrical order.
Underlying this, of course, is the usual crap about relevance.
And, of course, the founder and editor of Arts & Letters Daily.
Monday, December 27, 2010
I have an ring with an opal in it -- made by Gwen, who makes jewelry -- on my right hand. But I am an October child. It is my birthstone. It is said that we are the only ones who can wear opals without incurring bad luck
(Actually, the first and second movements of the later recording are very similar to the earlier recording; the third movement in the later recording, however, is just a tad more deft, and the final movement of the later recording is even better than the earlier one: Bernstein, a great conductor-- aa well as a pretty good composer -- understood this music.)
Once again, I feel obliged to recall John Hall Wheelock's insight that “to have lived / Even if once only, once and no more, / Will have been – oh, how truly — worth it.”
I think being alive is a grace from God. But even if you think it's just happenstance, it still seems grounds for gratitude.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
As of today Kierkegaard is the winner with 42 percent of the votes cast. John Henry Newman ame in second with 33 percent. Wittgenstein, William James, and John Polkinghorne were tied with 8 percent each.
The correct answer was Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
From back when TV was a vast wasteland -- not like now.
Friday, December 24, 2010
(So far SK and Newman are tied at 38 percent each, and Wittgenstein and Polkingnorne are also tied at 13 percent each. No votes yet for William James.)
Librarians often contrive for themselves this Luddite image. But they are in truth the most progressive and visionary figures ... like bloodhounds, always hot on the trail of the future.
Sounds like Dave Lull to me!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Don’t ask the wives. (Except the last one, Janis, who was a force behind this volume, mother of his last child, and staunch keeper of the flame.) They lived with the man who wrote these letters. They also lived with the man who wrote the novels, and the distance between these two men, you imagine, must be part of the story of the wives’ fiery sense of right and wrong. Bellow’s striving with life’s problems, when the reviewers’ backs were turned, most often involved the complications of the heart, to put it nicely. One might instead speak of matrimonial torture, faithlessness, cheating, divorce, alimony, parental access and the courts. Bellow had a big heart for struggling male souls, and the letters are at their most tender when he’s dealing with people like Berryman or John Cheever – ‘you were engaged, as a writer should be, in transforming yourself … I loved you for this’ – but the wives, sadly, emerge with snakes for hair. In fact he gives them the same sort of critical dermabrasion he gives to the critics, searing their faces: you never understood me; you’re not qualified to judge me; why don’t you just climb into the centre of your smallness and fuck off and die.
"[Y]ou were engaged, as a writer should be, in transforming yourself ..." There is a widespread notion that the creation of art is so important that it gives artists license to behave however they wish. Well, it isn't and they shouldn't.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I link. You decide for yourself. In the meantime, here's something I posted a link to a while back: The Super La Nina and the Coming Winter.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Apologies for visiting twice in one week, but it might be a good time for us to do some Paul Revere-ing on the Internet–today the FCC is passing down the first of the Net Neutrality rulings. Al Franken on HuffPo (scroll down middle column there) says we should be outraged, and he doesn’t usually exaggerate. The Internet should not be headed toward corporate blogs buying the fast lane and the rest of us stuck in slow.
Not sure where to make our voice heard, by emailing the White House or maybe the FCC page with How To Make ECFS Express Comments? It might be good if non-corporate websites had a community way for us to alert each other when something important like this comes up. Please consider passing it on.
... using data generated by a £33million supercomputer...Happily, this is only weather.
Here's something related: The man who repeatedly beats the Met Office at its own game.
Monday, December 20, 2010
... on the other: "Erin Brockovich" Town Shows No Cancer Cluster.
We link. You decide.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
With his faith, Dr. Gaskell, who now works at the University of Texas but has accepted a job in Chile, does embrace views that most of his peers find indefensible. In a 1998 survey, 7.5 percent of physicists and astronomers in the National Academy of Sciences said they believed in God — and many of the believers would still concede that science explains the universe better than a reading of Genesis.
"...views that most of his peers find indefensible." What might those views be? That Big Bang theory sounds an awful lot like "Let there be light"? It's not as if he were arguing on behalf of the world being created in six 24-hour periods. I believe in a creator. That does not make me a "creationist," which I am not. Maybe some of the people at the University of Kentucky need to make plain to themselves what or whom they are talking about.
Case in point: THOUSANDS Of Protesters Storm Government Building After Rigged Elections in Belarus – Opposition Candidate Beaten to a Pulp.
I think Fred MacMurray is the one to watch in The Apartment. He is wondrously callous. By the way, I think Mark Steyn is every bit as good on politics as he is on films, but I can see why those who are unsympathetic to his politics would think otherwise.
I think Mendelssohn is generally thought to be the musical prodigy of all time, because some his early works -- like the octet, but also the overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream -- were not only written when he was very young, but are masterpieces.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)? - Trailer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull. Thank you, Dave!)