Saturday, April 30, 2011
... that any were? Top 10 Unforgettable Editorials | James Russell Ament.
... On Rattigan | Bryan Appleyard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The whole point of a Rattigan play is that characters live in a world in which free emotional expression is not an option. In Flare Path that letter in French specifically acts as a mechanism for suppressing strong emotion. The cultivation of the self and the glorification of self-expression, which became, from the sixties onwards, the presiding ideology, were not virtues in Rattigan’s moral universe but threats. Honour, self-control and endurance were the qualities that mattered.
... Richard Cornuelle (1927-2011) | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Friday, April 29, 2011
... The New Atlantis � The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings.
The real problem with the mechanistic view lies in the nature of its underlying metaphor. A mechanism is an artifact, and an artifact demands an artificer. To speak of an artifact for which there is no artificer is to speak nonsense. (And no, this is not meant to give credence to intelligent design theory. It is merely to say that both ID theorists and mechanists think of living things in terms of something they are not.)
... Persistence: A Rich-Media Fiction by Eric Kraft — Kickstarter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... on The Future of History by John Lukacs (Yale University Press) | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... but thoroughly agree with: Garrison Keillor, August Kleinzahler, and the perils of one-sided fisticuffs.
I could never warm to Prarie Home Companion, either.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
... I think: Joseph Epstein on A. Alvarez and Hugh Kenner on Samuel Beckett. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... The Realm of the Disenfranchised and 'The Wizard of Oz' - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Knowing that there are things you haven’t thought of and couldn’t think of (unless the furniture of your consciousness were transformed) doesn’t give you the slightest hint of what those things might be.
... Princeton University Press Blog � Blog Archive � Of Flesh and Spirit: Karl Kirchwey on Translating Verlaine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
... I did nor know about: Classical TV News, classical music, opera, performing arts: Mozart, Beethoven, and more...
... Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors - Nicholas Jackson - Technology - The Atlantic.
On the other hand: Relax, They’re Still Making Typewriters.
(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Big thanks to Dave Lull for directing me to stories on the state of handwriting in today's world, like this one in the NY Times. I find it fascinating that this skill is maybe possibly becoming obsolete. I cannot understand the logic behind the choice not to teach handwriting, that in order to learn something new (keyboarding, computer skills) you must also stomp out all related and older but still-viable skills. It just seems so short-sighted.
... Gore, Ex-Apple Engineers Team Up to Blow Up the Book | Gadget Lab | Wired.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
“The app is the richest form of storytelling,” Matas said. “[Push Pop Press] opens doors to telling a story with more photos, more videos and interactions.”
And minimal reading. And, presumably, minimal thought.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
... Times Higher Education - Hume's diffuse effects cannot be reduced to Hefce's narrow vision. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Simon Blackburn Reviews Stanley Fish's "How To Write A Sentence" | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Why Digital Self-publishing Frightens Some Authors�|�Stormwolf.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... The Moral Implications of Dictionaries | Front Porch Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
To Johnson, the appearance of new words is just as likely as not to signify the effects of ignorance, and to constitute a real corruption in the quality of the language. To simply consent that every popular new coinage should be granted the status of proper English is to submit to a tyranny, the tyranny of popular opinion. The duty of the lexicographer, therefore, is to set his face against this tyranny, and to wage an unremitting battle against the encroachments of ubiquitous bigotry and nonsense.
... Vetting Memoirs A Tricky Problem For Publishers : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Transmissions from a Lone Star: Party of the damned | Columnists | RIA Novosti.
“They came from 69 nations: one emperor, eight kings and a cardinal, grand dukes, crown princes, and sheikhs, presidents, premiers and vice presidents…They dined sumptuously on roast peacock, drank the finest wine… Fifty gold-threaded uniforms for (the) royal court cost $1,000 each…Colored light bulbs alone cost $840,000.”
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
... Anecdotal Evidence: `From Books, Madam, Like Everyone Else.'
It is worth remembering that amateur means lover.
... David Eagleman and Mysteries of the Brain : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... how much of what we perceive exists outside of us and how much is a product of our minds? Time is a dimension like any other, fixed and defined down to its tiniest increments: millennia to microseconds, aeons to quartz oscillations. Yet the data rarely matches our reality.
I have myself had the experience of time slowing down as I fell. So I know that is precisely true.
... Verse and worse: choosing poems for readers' gender | Books | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
Monday, April 25, 2011
... Amis to Hitchens: be an agnostic - Philosophy and Life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Status Update: The Personal Essay in the Age of Facebook | TriQuarterly Online.
Why do I think this is very interesting? First, because Susan is a very good writer -- I can highly recommend Slipping the Moorings -- and a very bright person. But also because I've been doing some work in this line and I think she's pretty much on the money.
... Stratblog: Elizabeth, The Armada and the Strategy of Yin | Via Meadia.
Nice to know this book hasn't been forgotten.
The text we used was Garrett Mattingly’s delightful The Armada, a triumph of scholarship, strategic analysis and literature all at once.
... Reform the PhD system or close it down : Nature News.
One reason that many doctoral programmes do not adequately serve students is that they are overly specialized, with curricula fragmented and increasingly irrelevant to the world beyond academia. Expertise, of course, is essential to the advancement of knowledge and to society. But in far too many cases, specialization has led to areas of research so narrow that they are of interest only to other people working in the same fields, subfields or sub-subfields. Many researchers struggle to talk to colleagues in the same department, and communication across departments and disciplines can be impossible.
... A Case for Hell - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
This is more a case for believing in Hell rather for Hell itself. The two are not quite the same. I certainly think we "will not come out of it until we have paid the last penny," and I even go along with the notion of everlasting fire. But the nature of eternity makes eternal damnation a little difficult.
... How meditation might ward off the effects of ageing - Readability. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... How Easter and Christianity undermine atheism - USATODAY.com.
We can’t reduce the whole of reality to what our senses tell us for the simple reason that our senses are notorious for lying to us. Our senses tell us that the world is flat, and yet it’s not. Our senses tell us that the world is chaotic, and yet we know that on both a micro and a macro level, it’s incredibly organized. Our senses tell us that we’re stationary, and yet we’re really moving at incredible speeds. We just can’t see it.
Is it just me - or do the slender novels published by the NYRB pack a serious emotional punch? I ask because I've just finished John Williams's Stoner, a captivating, but ultimately devastating, book of memory and redemption.
Set on the campus of the University of Missouri in the years between the First and Second World Wars, the novel charts the loneliness attached to the Academic Life. There were moments in Stoner (which takes its name from the novel's central character, William Stoner) which approached a sort of American Existential: for as the aging professor contemplates his career, Williams constructs a universe tinged with sorrow, one which resembles the atmosphere of Cather's The Professor's House. The difference, however, is that Williams is unrelenting - positively unrelenting - in his quest for the meaning of regret. (And I mean no disrespect to Cather, because I enjoyed The Professor's House.)
This book really is a masterpiece - a quiet, unassuming masterpiece in which Williams captures the missed opportunities that, in the end, return to us with a frightening, unavoidable consistency. I leave the last word for Williams (271):
"And like any traveler, he felt that there were many things he had to do before he left; yet he could not think what they were."
... Harold Bloom by the Numbers - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Sunday, April 24, 2011
... A Commonplace Blog: Novels about Jesus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
I think the best way to approach Jesus fictionally is by indirection, as in Pär Lagervist's Barabbas (an excellent book). On the other hand, Franz Werfel's Song of Bernadette is so good it's hard not to think he could have done a good job. Kazantzakis's book is unfairly criticized, I think. After all, Jesus is known to have been tempted, and in Kazantzakis book, if memory serves, he in fact overcomes the last temptation.
... Southern Comforts - Bill Kauffman at Chelsea Green. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Saturday, April 23, 2011
... On Poetry - Matthew Zapruder and Rachel Wetzsteon - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Elmore Leonard And Sons' Recipes For Writing, Fried Spam : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... National Book Critics Circle: In Retrospect: Mark Athitakis on John Updike’s “Roger’s Version” - Critical Mass Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Science Friday Archives: Science Diction: The Origin Of The Word 'Robot.' (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
I actually read R.U.R. years ago. Didn't know it was Čapek's least favorite among his works.
... The Vintage Thrillers of John Buchan - The Barnes & Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... I'm a Poet. Yes, That's a Real Job - Speakeasy - WSJ. (Hat tip, aave Lull.)
Friday, April 22, 2011
... especially the future: Voodoo Economics? How About Voodoo Climate Science? - Patrick Michaels - Climate of Fear - Forbes.
... On William Harrington: My Uncle the Thriller Author | The Abbott Gran Medicine Show. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... A Commonplace Blog: Viktor Frankl and Auschwitz. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
No human experience is comparable to Auschwitz. There is no possible advice that floats like ash from the crematorium’s chimney. The Holocaust is another world, and any effort to adjust it to the ordinary world of ordinary human experience is a perversion and a lie.
I wonder, though. Frankl was only briefly at Auschwitz, as I recall, and was a slave laborer for six months or so after being moved to a camp connected to Dachau. I would hesitate to challenge the view of anyone who had actually experienced the horror of the camps. That said, David's post makes for powerful and unsettling reading.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
... The Los Angeles Review of Books � ReadySteadyBlog � ReadySteadyBook - a literary site. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Judith Flanders explores the history of Broadway, according to Larry Stempel, Stephen Sondheim and Charlotte Greenspan - TLS.
James Garfield, the twentieth President of the United States (and a character in Sondheim’s Assassins), suggested that “We may divide the whole struggle of the human race into two chapters. First, the fight to get leisure; and then the second fight of civilization – what shall we do with our leisure when we get it?”.
... we hope: Jack Kerouac's Big Sur heads to the big screen | Film | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Consider the hot cross bun | Life and style | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
... The Millions : The James Joyce Book Club: Julian Rios’s The House of Ulysses. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... 50 Best Blogs to Follow For National Poetry Month | Online Colleges. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
... Pulitzer Winner Kay Ryan on Poetry, Rhyming, and Terminal Cancer - Speakeasy - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
... Review: Drawings from the Gulag by Danzig Baldaev � The Dabbler.
I hope someone sends a copy to Eric Hobsbawm.
Monday, April 18, 2011
I had hoped to do a bit of blogging at The Inquirer this afternoon, but couldn't get the computer to copy anything from one site to another. I will look into that tomorrow. In the meantime I had to help an an elderly couple I know get back on the internet (which I did) and now that I am home I have things to do and am mainly exhausted. That is fine, because I realize now is what I want to do is keep working at a nice clip and one day just run out of gas. Not going to do anything tonight because I really am tired.
... Book Review: Moral Combat - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
To write a history of morality, Mr. Burleigh must steer between the conventions of the historians and the ethicists. On the one hand, he makes no claim to knowledge of the under lying ethics of war. On the other, he does not regard morality, as some historians might, only as one factor among others, to be understood dispassionately. He insists on the ineluctable historical presence of morality in our lives, which leads him to his basic insight: that those who did evil believed that they were doing good.
... POETRY MONTH: Kevin Young: 'Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels' | Huntington News. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
... It's exciting to hear that so many women writers work in the nude | Hadley Freeman | Life and style | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)
Sunday, April 17, 2011
... The Millions : Treasure Unearthed: Sir Thomas Browne’s Urn Burial. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... In memory of a ponderosa pine friend | this lively earth.
This link had been included in a comment on my WFTC column, but I have only just seen it.
... Electrician faces sack for displaying Christian cross in his van - Telegraph.
Maybe he should display the Koran. Bet they wouldn't complain about that.
... I’m a poet. I need my mouth. : Patricia Smith : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Jenny Diski on Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso – review | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)
... Book Review: Johnny Appleseed - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The primitive businessman had no overhead but sky. He carried an ax, a scythe and a hoe. Nature watered his trees, and for transportation he used those callused feet. He usually slept outside. He dined on nuts and berries "straight out of the John the Baptist cookbook," Mr. Means says—although eating locusts, he adds, "would have taxed Chapman's animism."
... Robert Potts reviews The Pale King by David Foster Wallace in the TLS.
Wallace was a formidable philos-ophy student, as well as an impressive junior tennis player and linguistics enthusiast; he wavered between philosophy and creative writing, to the extent that his supervisor Jay Garfield comments “I thought of David as a very talented young philosopher with a writing hobby, and did not realize that he was instead one of the most talented fiction writers of his generation who had a philosophy hobby”.
Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.- Isak Dinesen, born on this date on 1885
Saturday, April 16, 2011
... The Book Haven � Blog Archive � Ginsberg: “America when will you be angelic?”
I once walked out of a Ginsberg reading. He just didn't seem very interesting. At least not that night.
... John Updike's "James Agee, Talker" | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
If Agee is to be remembered, it should be for his few, uneven, hard-won successes. The author of the best pages ofLet Us Now Praise Famous Men and A Death in the Family owes no apology to posterity. As to “the quarter of a million unsigned words,” surely a culture is enhanced, rather than disgraced, when men of talent and passion undertake anonymous and secondary tasks. Excellence in the great things is built upon excellence in the small; Agee’s undoing was not his professionalism but his blind, despairing belief in an ideal amateurism.
... Matt Ridley on Cause and Effect Mix-Ups | Mind & Matter - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Friday, April 15, 2011
... Why the iPad Is Changing Everything — Again � Tennant: Digital Libraries. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Lessons from 10 years of Pepys's diaries online - Boing Boing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Pointless Is Pointless Is Pointless: David Orr Writes Useless Guide to Poetry’s Uselessness | The New York Observer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... 'Rooms With A View: The Open Window In The 19th Century' At The Met | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... but Julian Barnes is featured this week: Sleeping With John Updike — Part One � Five Chapters.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
... For New Mass, Closer to Latin, Critics Voice a Plain Objection - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
In the current Mass, when the priest says, “The Lord be with you,” the congregation responds, “And also with you.” Come November, the congregation will respond, “And with your spirit.”
That's because "et cum spiritu tuo" means -- mirabile dictu! -- "and with your spirit."
Check out the comments.
... Nassim Taleb on Living with Black Swans - Knowledge@Wharton (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
... The Book Bench: Review Poems in 140 Characters (But Don’t Call them Tweets) : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Amazon.com: Jacques Barzun: Portrait of a Mind eBook: Michael Murray: Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Ai Weiwei: 'China in many ways is just like the middle ages' | Art and design | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
... The Centered Librarian: April 12, 1861 the American Civil War began. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... Letters reveal Walt Whitman's other job: Government clerk | McClatchy. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
... Stephen King on the Creative Process, the State of Fiction, and More - James Parker - Entertainment - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
It is, I believe, the primary charm of poetry to give the lesson of mirage, that is, to show the fragile and vibrant movement of creation, in which the word is in a certain way human quintessence, prayer.- J. M. G Le Clézio, born on this date in 1940
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
... Poetry Foundation relaunches website | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
... The Motherf**cker With the Hat, Catch Me If You Can | Don't Let Its Name Be a Curse | Theater Review by Terry Teachout - WSJ.com.
What makes "Hat" more than just a foul-mouthed, fast-moving farce is that Mr. Guirgis's real subject turns out to be moral relativism. The impeccably sober Ralph D., who has swapped booze for fluorescent-colored nutritional beverages, preaches the gospel of AA with a convert's fervor, yet it doesn't stop him from doing whatever he wants to whomever he wants. Jackie, by contrast, has yet to master his self-destructive impulses, but at least he knows that the point of getting sober is not to become more efficient at taking advantage of other people: "Your—whaddyacallit—your world view? It ain't mine. And the day it is, that's the day I shoot myself in the head. I didn't get clean to live like that."
... with Elif Batuman. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
I wanted The Possessed to be fiction, actually, so I could take more liberties with it. But because it is based on true stuff there was a lot of pressure for it to be non-fiction, and when it is your first book, you have to do what you are told.
Monday, April 11, 2011
... When Falls the Coliseum � The tedium of the provincial, hack critic.
Such people cannot be subject to enough contempt and ridicule.
As for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese — there’s a hell of a lot more nutritional value to be had in a single box of that stuff than in the entirety of some asshole television critic’s oeuvre, written for an advertising distribution pamphlet.
If eating a meal at The Olive Garden is this man’s definition of abject misery, in a world in which the United States just entered a third warin the Middle East, in which a civil war is raging in the Ivory Coast, in which tens of thousands of people have been killed in the drug war in Mexico, well, then, yes, I know that he’s being hyperbolic but Mr. Gold is just a big giant asshole, isn’t he?
Such people cannot be subject to enough contempt and ridicule.
My Comcast internet conenction went down last night, and my phone was off as well this morning. So I was unable to blog this morning. I am back working at The Inquirer now, and certainly don't have any time to blog. So blogging will resume sometime later on. Ciao!
Sunday, April 10, 2011
... Reading the Short Story: Authors on the Short Story--Part V--Best American Short Stories Introductions. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)
... Paul Davis On Crime: A Prince Of The City Himself: New York Film Director Sidney Lumet Dies.
But I haven't seen much mention of one his films that I think is especially good -- one that ought to be shown again these days: The Pawnbroker.
As of tomorrow morning I will no longer be quite so retired from The Inquirer. To be precise, I will be a temporary, part-time staff member. Nothing important. I'm just going to edit the letters to the editor, sit in on the editorial board meetings, and maybe write something from time to time.