... my friend Sam Starnes has a novel out called Fall Line. He talks about it in this podcast.
... WGLS-FM Podcast Player.
Bad poetry can be very powerful and seductive, whether transparently bad like Poe’s or “skillfully obscure” like Hart Crane’s, in the words of Yvor Winters. Too much emphasis on sound results in nonsense; too much on sense, propaganda that might as well be prose.
Knight’s book is a grisly and plausible account of gang life in Manchester, London, and Glasgow. The Manchester scenes are familiar. No need to live in Longsight: in my old home of Didsbury (a posh suburb) I passed a chav, screaming “I’m gonna bleep cut your bleep face, you bleep bitch!” into his mobile phone at about four o’clock in the afternoon. Everybody walked by as if this was normal; and in England, it more or less is.
High hopes ride on The Art of Fielding. Chad Harbach’s debut novel, we are promised, will be a contender for next year’s Books of the Year feature. It’s a novel about baseball that both Sports Illustrated and Jay McInerney (who professes to dislike his national sport) love.
Americans' ever-shrinking attention span and an ever-shrinking number of leisure hours are also issues. "We're asking for people's time and we're competing with other experiences they could use the time for. We want them to leave the event saying 'wow,'" said Ms. Jennings, who'd like to say something similar when she looks at the cash register receipts after one of these events. One recent example: a visit from Vanessa Diffenbaugh, who spoke about the foster-care system—a theme of her debut novel, "The Language of Flowers"—and who gave a PowerPoint presentation about the significance of particular nosegays in the Victorian era.
|The weariness, the fever, and the fret|
|Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;|
|Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,||25|
|Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;|
|Where but to think is to be full of sorrow|
|And leaden-eyed despairs,|
|Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,|
|Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.|
... bigotry is something that needs to be fought in all its forms; unreasonable fears and prejudices based on religion will always be with us, but such fears belong in the gutter among the wackos, the haters and the tin-foil hat brigades on both the right and the left. When they rise from the sewers and the swamps into mainstream publications and can be casually uttered in polite company by distinguished professors, something is going very wrong, and people who believe in the American way need to speak up.
As far as I can make out, Professor Bloom is more elitist misanthrope than bigot; his hatred and loathing for Mormonism is part of a broader and deeper disgust with almost everything that the common people think or do in the contemporary United States. The essay drips with condescension and disdain; he hates and fears the Mormons not because they are different from most of their fellow citizens but because they are like them. American Religion, as the professor calls the faiths that ordinary, non-elite Americans profess, is a toxic brew of death denial and mammon worship, and partly as a result American society is a grotesque oligarchical plutocracy.
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.- C. S. Lewis, born on this date in 1898
A reviewer's job isn't to service writers; it's to advise their readers whether to buy a book—or go to a movie, eat at a restaurant, see new art. Good book critics are exceptionally well read and can put a book not only in the context of the writer's earlier work but also in literary history. They can say if the novel is Dickensian, Rabelaisian, Biblical, Proustian or Shakespearean or none of the above.
Dignifying the dish, Mr. Epstein does define many facets of the indefinable. Gossip enforces a community's norms. Gossip satisfies the ambition to be an insider. Gossip implies a judgment. Gossip is "a species of truth, deliverable in no other way than by word of mouth, personal letter, diaries and journals published posthumously and not obtainable otherwise." Gossip is like receiving stolen goods, "it puts you in immediate collusion with the person conveying the gossip to you." Gossip is "fascinating speculation." "Unedited information." It fills the discrepancy between appearance and reality. "Gossip is two or more people telling things about a third that the latter would prefer not be known."
Your will is false and cruel. You are too full of devilish repressions to be anything but lustful and cruel. ... The enemy of mankind, you are, full of the lust of enmity. It is not the hatred of falsehood which inspires you. It is the hatred of people, of flesh and blood. It is a perverted mental blood-lust. Why don't you own it.
Let us become strangers again, I think it is better.
The trouble with descriptivism—the idea that the grammarian's job is to describe the language, not to issue judgments about propriety—isn't that it's theoretically unsound. Rules really are just conventions. The trouble with descriptivism is that it's inhuman. People will always want to know the right way to say a thing. The secretary writing a letter or the corporate communications drone writing a press release doesn't care whether "impact" as a verb is "generally accepted," as modern usage manuals put it; he wants to know if using "impact" as a verb will make him sound stupid.
Orr’s criticism underscores how much the West has exhausted its fascination with the poetry of historical circumstance. As Robert Hass put it, readers “press their noses longingly against the window of people who have had dramatic historical experiences”. But the comments also expose a fundamental misunderstanding. Orr’s remarks reduce Milosz to a poet of witness, when he clearly wished to be considered a religious poet, and I would add that he is a poet of wonder as well.
The team, who work on an experiment called Icarus, tested an argument described in a recent paper by Andrew Cohen and Sheldon Glashow at Boston University, who claimed that faster-than-light or "superluminal" neutrinos would lose energy by spewing out electrons and their antimatter partners, called positrons. Professor Glashow shared the Nobel prize for physics in 1979.
When Maddalena Antonello and others on the Icarus team analysed the energy of the neutrinos arriving at Gran Sasso, they found no evidence that they had lost energy the way Cohen and Glashow predicted. The finding has bolstered the view of many physicists who believe the Opera result is an error of measurement.
When Heraclitus said that everything passes steadily along, he was not inciting us to make the best of the moment, an idea unseemly to his placid mind, but to pay attention to the pace of things. Each has its own rhythm: the nap of a dog, the procession of the equinoxes, the dances of Lydia, the majestically slow beat of the drums at Dodona, the swift runners at Olympia.
- Guy Davenport, born on this date in 1927
Gross was a prototype of the young punk rebel. The focus of his rebellion was the constricting, martial culture of German-speaking central Europe.
“I consider myself enormously lucky. I always thought that love came through sexual attraction, I really did. But it wasn’t that at all. I told him I had no desire to go to bed with him and that I loved him as a person, and he said he felt the same about me. That’s a great gift.”
For when it is the good that is under consideration, and the ethical object is predominant, truth must be considered more in reference to art than science, if, that is, unity is to be preserved in the work generally.- Friedrich Schleiermacher, born on this date in 1768
Appleyard's central point is that, in our desire to think great things about our IT "cloud", we're deliberately oversimplifying ourselves. We're hammering ourselves into ridiculously reductive boxes. In our desire to be part of something greater, we're making ourselves small.
The Charlie Rose show is a cultural treasure, provided you ignore the host. In this instance, the late John Updike talks about the art of fiction from the perspective of the character he is “measured against”, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom.
What Wodehouse craved was quiet and the company of his pipe, his pets and, above all, his typewriter. In 1902, when he was twenty, he published his first book, The Pothunters. On Valentine's Day, 1975, he was discovered next to all the usual accoutrements, along with the manuscript of his half-completed last novel, published asSunset at Blandings a couple years thence. Like the gnu he wrote about in 'Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court', he'd handed in his dinner pail, victim not of a crack shot but a heart attack.
... where I most approve of Appleyard is that he is an unashamed generalist in an increasingly splintered and specialised academic world. He is interested in everything, so his books are about Everything. Where science and art try to ignore each other, Appleyard tries to get them to talk (he ends, optimistically, with the union of art and technology in David Hockney’s iPad paintings, one of which adorns the cover).
A more complex response lies in his small 1993 book Beyond Despair, which is as profound a meditation on the relation of memory to imagination as anything I know. Once, at Boston University, he gave a lecture based on one of its chapters. Afterward, my students stood together, not moving, not speaking, in the courtyard. “I can’t stop trembling,” said one of them, as I approached this little grove of human aspens. Holding the book now, I can’t help trembling myself.
“Strips of cloth” is no substitute for “swaddling clothes”. And Mary was “with child” – we think of the Madonna and Child – and she had not “fallen pregnant” as it says in one of the modern versions. You cannot satisfactorily replace “through a glass darkly” with the crass literalism “puzzling reflections in a mirror” or “sounding brass and tinkling cymbal” with “noisy gong and clanging cymbal”. The King James Bible was designed to be read aloud in churches. All the modern versions sound as if they have been written by tone-deaf people with tin ears and no rhythm.Indeed.
Some sixty years earlier, C. S. Lewis had asked a church congregation, "Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spells that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years." Lewis and Sinclair don't have a great deal in common: the evil enchanters with whom the older man contended (Victorian skeptics, literary modernists, Freudians) bear little resemblance to Sinclair's enemies (city planners and Tory politicians), and where Lewis wished to restore orthodox Christianity Sinclair advocates an older and darker magic. But both rail against what Max Weber called Entzauberung, the disenchantment or de-magicking of the world. Sinclair's walk was a way to rage against the dying of an ancient light, a light given off for millennia by a disturbingly magical city on the banks of the Thames.
These women were held in the highest esteem by Kierkegaard for their devotion and patience, but the last thing he was thinking about was that they might deserve rooms of their own - pace Virginia Woolf - or political emancipation. It wasn’t that he saw no point at all in trying to cure social inequalities between men and women, or to ameliorate the living conditions of the poor - that would just have been mean-minded - but he saw that the democratic movements of his time were already trading on resentment and relativism, and that soon enough people would be taken to be good or kindly only if they espoused the correct political views. He saw that it was relatively easy to stress the equality of the lowliest - if not to act on it - and that the truest test of neighbourly love might sometimes be to show an immediate sense of the equality of the highest.He issued a memorable set of early warnings against the redefinition of human sympathy in doctrinal terms.
I guess my tendency is to think essentially that the new wrinkles won't do the job if the old major idea didn't, and so you have to try something different. Then maybe they can all be combined in some coherent piece.- Robert Nozick, born on this date in 1938
Being a Catholic of a particular kind - let us say Jesuit-trained - I have spent my life preparing for its ending. Unfortunately, the reality, when it arrives, is not as one expected. The prospect of death, it turns out, may well be the only certainty, but it is also quite unimaginable.
Beyond short-term earnings ... the lending library is just the latest innovation to raise big questions about the whole publishing ecosystem. In an environment where books are increasingly digital, what’s the most effective way to create value for readers, for authors and for intermediaries? And -- the biggest question -- which intermediaries will survive the transition?
So ... we now have the infuriating convention of the anchor interviewing the reporter in the field, a device that turns the reporter into a player in the drama, rather than a gatherer of information. It also wastes his time, which is why it is so often apparent that he knows next to nothing about the story and is forced to resort to cliché — “This tight-knit community is trying to come to terms with…” being the most irritating. Also, they can never challenge the anchor’s assumptions, so most of their responses begin with: “You’re absolutely right, George.”
ONN, of course, takes this to the limit by having Michael Falk, “the autistic reporter”, who can barely understand Alvarez’s questions, and whose main concern at the site where a man has died beneath a train is the wellbeing of the train. Do you, I ask Will Graham, ever get complaints on grounds of taste? “We get complaints on grounds of taste about everything we do.”
The poet of beauty and sublimity is like a tour-guide, who wishes to direct the attention of the reader to some wonderful object in the world, with just the right words and gestures. The poet of ingenuity is like a street-performer, who wishes to draw the attention of the reader away from the world towards his own extravagant performance. Or to employ a somewhat more impressionistic comparison, the pleasure derived from the poetry of beauty and sublimity is akin to the pleasure derived from observing a sunrise, whereas the pleasure derived from the poetry of ingenuity is akin to the pleasure of completing a puzzle. When critics have referred to the delight afforded by poetry, they have been referring specifically to the delight which originates in beauty and sublimity, since that is the only form of delight by which we are truly moved. We might sum up the consensus of our critical tradition in the affirmation that poetry is a thing like a sunset, and not a puzzle.