Thursday, June 30, 2016

Belated blogging note …

I should have mentioned that I had to be in Media today to have some diagnostics done on my knees. I just got back a short while ago.nothing significant to report.

I C A B.

The World’s Most Efficient Languages

Well I had a Smart Uncle...but he wasn't dangerous

Anti Intellectualism Is Biggest Threat to Modern Society

The example of New Directions …

Narrowing The Focus | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Not sure I get this …

… Cute – The Art Part. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It seems to be a bunch of people talking past each other. Trilling says Frost is a terrifying poet. Adams says Frost just sees the world as it is. Which would be terrifying. Which it is in many ways. And seeing it that way doesn't Frost is terrified of it. You tend to be less scared  of what you see accurately. So Adams misses Trilling's point and, to some extent at least, Frost's. What any of this has to do with postwar amnesia escapes me. Interestingly, I don't think I ever saw that particular Karsh photo of Frost until today. 

Hmm …

Farmers and Cowmen in the Language Wars – Lingua Franca - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
I've done of good bit of copy editing myself. My only journalism prize was a first prize for headline writing. I am pretty latitudinarian, but I am not antinomian. Disinterested and uninterested do not mean the same thing. But starting a sentence with a conjunction — as I just have — or ending one with a preposition seem OK to me. What works, works. What is wrong is wrong.

Combining the incompatible …

… It's unfashionable to call someone a "genius" – but William Empson was one. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Empson was certainly brilliant and eccentric. But I am not sure after reading this exactly were his genius lay. Though I feel a certain connection to him now, because many years ago I had an encounter, similar to his, with a statue of the Bodhisattva of Mercy.

Enthusiastic recommendation …

 Solitary Praxis: My sabbatical from blogging will be followed by a renewed commitment to blogging via Revisiting American Bloomsbury.

I have the book on my Kindle, but haven't had time to read it. I would also recommend Cheever's outstanding biography of e. e. cummings.

Snowflake meets sunshine …

… Spoiled College Grad Demands New Dress Code at Job, Gets the Boot | PJ Media.

You see, Junior was at his internship, and he wanted the company to have a more lax dress code. Plus, they noticed one of the regular staff wearing shoes that weren't in line with the standard dress code, and that just wasn't right. So, this individual got together with his fellow interns and wrote up a proposal for an alternate dress code (hmm ... ) accompanied with a petition (whoops!) and sent it on.
Hilarity ensued:
The next day, all of us who signed the petition were called into a meeting where we thought our proposal would be discussed. Instead, we were informed that due to our “unprofessional” behavior, we were being let go from our internships. We were told to hand in our ID badges and to gather our things and leave the property ASAP.

We were shocked. The proposal was written professionally like examples I have learned about in school, and our arguments were thought out and well-reasoned. We weren’t even given a chance to discuss it. The worst part is that just before the meeting ended, one of the managers told us that the worker who was allowed to disobey the dress code was a former soldier who lost her leg and was therefore given permission to wear whatever kind of shoes she could walk in. You can’t even tell, and if we had known about this we would have factored it into our argument.

Something to think on …

The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.
— Frédéric Bastiat, born on this date in 1801

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

In case you wondered …

… What Makes Bad Writing? | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Haiku …

Two kids on scooters
Cannot figure what it's like
Being an old man.

Science, theater, and the self …

… Bryan Appleyard — The Alzheimer Identity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Imagined futures tend to look quaint quite quickly — most old sci-fi movies and TV shows are now watched cultishly, ironically or as exercises in style. Some, however — think of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers — endure because they were so urgently engaged with their own present: in that case, anti-communist paranoia. We have moved from a phase in which science and technology were exciting but “out there” to one in which they are accelerating and “in here” — in our lives and, increasingly, in our minds.
I saw The Invasion of the Body Snatchers with my mother when it came out. I was 14. Neither my mother nor I responded to any subtext. We just saw it as a scary movie about creepy aliens from outer space. But then, we probably didn't experience the '50s in America as paranoid and conformist. I know I never did. But what did I know? I was just a kid, not an intellectual.

A hard view …

… Solitary Praxis: "Success is counted sweetest" (1859) by Emily Dickinson.

Well, I guess it is often true that many of those who are successful tend to take their success for granted, especially if it came fairly effortlessly.

Q&A …

… The Millions : A Story Made Purely of Feeling: The Millions Interviews Cynthia Ozick - The Millions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

CO: The difference is crucial: it’s between knowing and unknowing (rather than not knowing). If you are going to write an essay on, say, twilight in Sweden, or on Henry James, you know that much: you have your subject already in hand. But if you set out to write a story, whether long or short, you begin with less than a glimpse: a shred of idea that once moved you, or the wisp of memory of a mother and daughter you encountered for seconds as you passed them in a train, or simply an inchoate feeling. Plotting, though, can be intellectual or serendipitous, a deliberate plan or a revelation or an insight, and this can apply also to the “plot” of an essay; but overall an essay is an assessment, or rearrangement, of given materials, while a story must discover what it is made of in the very course of its own making.

Something to think on …

I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man's self-respect is a sin.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, born on this date in 1900

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The perils of long life …

 Bryan Appleyard — Ageing and Forgetting. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Interesting …

 Paul Davis On Crime: Thriller Writer Donald Hamilton Discusses Matt Helm Films Based On His Novels In 1991 Lettter.

Hmm …

… An Inquisition Is Not a Witch-Hunt | David P. Goldman | First Things.

I like the idea of fighting back against the anti-Christians. But I wonder about some of what is said in this. Aquinas may have approved of the Albigensian Crusade, but he would have to do so after the fact, since the crusade ended in 1229, when was only four years old.

Bad Things Are Gonna Happen

Our nervous systems aren't set up for this:  Addicts touch their phone as many as 5400 times a day.

"They talk Sports"

David Brooks visits the "masses," discovers their life. 

Together at last …

 Solitary Praxis: Unlikely pairing: Shakespeare and Cummings.

I will turn 75 in October. So far I find the vicissitudes of aging as interesting as they are painful. Prayer helps.

Hmm …

 Let’s ditch the dangerous idea that life is a story | Aeon Essays. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I like to think that only God knows who I really am. I know some things about myself, of course, but much besides remains a mystery to me. I do think I have constructed a serviceable persona, but I don't confuse that with myself, whoever that is.

The Pontiff leads...

Have a look at these …

… Rus Bowden Member Profile -- National Geographic Your Shot.

Nailing it …

… Solitary Praxis: "Poetry" by Marianne Moore.

How a poem says something must be shaped by what is being said.Technique is a means, not an end in itself.

Listen in …

… Episode 174 – Ann Patty | Virtual Memories.

“I’m an enthusiast. I think that’s why I was a good editor. I fall in love with things and I get very enthusiastic and I boost them. Now I’m a Latin enthusiast.”

Something to think on …

When the characters are really alive before their author, the latter does nothing but follow them in their action, in their words, in the situations which they suggest to him.
— Luigi Pirandello, born on this date in 1867

Everybody …

… Who’s the Xenophobe Now? - WSJ.

A question: How does this view of the majority of the British people—as a form of alien life with disgusting beliefs unfit for polite society—differ in substance from the view a bigoted British bricklayer might have toward the immigrants living in his midst?
Another question: How different is this portrait of the British as xenophobes from the picture of working-class Pennsylvanians presented by Barack Obama back when he was first running for president?
Speaking to his wealthy California patrons at a fundraiser in uber-chic Marin County, the president in 2008 characterized them as folks who “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” What could be more xenophobic?
Phobia: a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it. The operative word is irrational. Accusing huge swaths of your fellow citizens of being clinically irrational is either irrational itself or rhetorical bullshit.

More here: Elitist Rage With the Pro-Brexit Masses Echoes Longstanding British Suspicion of Democracy.
This is as ugly an anti-masses sentiment as I can remember. And the consequences of it are likely to be dire. Ordinary people are effectively being told they're too dumb for politics. And democracy is being treated as a negotiable commodity that can be cast aside if we the stupid people make the wrong decision. This is a species of tyranny. The mask has slipped. Our normally conscientious elite, feeling bruised and aloof after the referendum, has dispensed with its usual platitudes about "respecting all views," and shown that beneath the polite veneer there lurks an ancient fury with the least and the dumbest; with the masses; with the people.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Henri Pirenne

I took a break recently from fiction to read Henri Pirenne's famous analysis of the medieval city - and let me say: what a fascinating interpretation of events. 

Pirenne begins with the collapse of European trade around 700, attributing it to the emergence of Islam around the Mediterranean basin. This collapse is followed by nearly 300 years of economic contraction: indeed, it's as if all that's left in the wake of Rome is a land-holding elite and a distributed network of ecclesiastical officials. Slowly, though, the scene changes: fortresses, intended originally as protective zones, are surrounded by what effectively amount to trade "burgs." These, in turn, are populated first with merchants, and later with a middle class. Municipal institutions emerge - as do laws intended to protect the middle class and its interests. Finally, currency takes shape, as wealth is divorced from land and hereditary grants.

My summary here is a simplification, of course. What's important, I think, is that which Pirenne has left us: an accessible, convincing account of Europe's plunge into darkness and stagnation, and its subsequent rebirth around 1000. Ultimately, Pirenne's analysis offers a framework for understanding urban growth in other parts of the world, and reminds us just how important the middle class was then - and continues to be today. It is, if nothing else, an incubator of change and innovation. 

Pertinent to Brexit …

… and much of the commentary thereon: Bruce Charlton's Notions: Mandarins (the intellectual elite) make lousy leaders.

Other summer reading....

Novels that take place in one summer

The call of the void

and other emotions you didn't know you had

Spiritual summer reading...

Eight books

Bible stories …

 Solitary Praxis: Bible reading: vacation Bible school (in the 1950s) and life as a septuagenarian (in the 2010s).

Annals of redundancy …

 Brexit was fueled by irrational xenophobia, not real economic grievances - Vox.

I didn't read this, but was simply struck by the stupidity of the headline. A phobia by definition is irrational. 

A profile of Larry McMurtry...

Submissions wanted …

… Verbolatry: Call for Humorous Essays About Writing | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

And the winner is …

… US author Richard Ford wins top Spanish prize for literature - Business Insider. (Hat tip, G. E. Reutter.)

Quaintly insightful …

… Robert Spiller’s American Literature for old fogeys… | Progressive Culture | Scholars & Rogues. (Hat tip, G. E. Reutter.)

Those trained since the revolution that made criticism more important than the literature it is supposed to be critiquing may find it shocking at first to have a scholar/critic actually write about writers and their work as if those writers and their work actually matter and are not just products of deep psycho-social structures that reduce the literary artist to a cipher, a tool, an outlet for the historical and cultural forces of his/her time will scratch their heads and say, perhaps, “slightly benighted, but certainly some interesting stuff here.”
Spiller taught some of the people who taught me, so I guess he was an indirect influence on me.

The part called age …

… Old Advice - The American Interest. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On old age there are basically two schools of thought. The one is reflected in the Russian proverb “starost ne radost”—“old age is no joy” or the Arab proverb, “Every ailment has its cure except al-Ahram”—the pyramids, here meaning old age. Cicero writes about old age as the age of wisdom. He tells the story of Fabius who had many admirable qualities, but none more striking than how he bore the death of his son. Plato had a peaceful and serene end of a life spent quietly, and was still writing when he died at 81. Isocrates was another example who tells us himself that he was 94 when he composed his Panathenaticus.
Life is always a mix. One makes the best of it. Be grateful for good luck. Put up with the discomfort.

In case you wondered …

… Why George Will's Moral Narcissism Matters | PJ Media.

What we have on our hands is a genuine class war, but the classes don't line up as before. It's not entirely about money. It's now the elites versus the people and it's not just local, it's global. Those who choose to line up with elites might want to keep in mind the words of a man who was pretty elite himself -- William F. Buckley: "I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."
I have been amused recently by Will's self-righteous petulance. How dare voters not follow his sage advice? He may have gone to Princeton, but his most recent  post-graduate work seems to be in Central Casting as a pompous ass.

Clearing the record …

 … The University Bookman: Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition … to Be Explained Fairly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… as Alfred North Whitehead has noted, science did not develop in Christian civilization by accident: the faith that creation is fundamentally reasonable was the basis for the whole scientific enterprise.

A geography of literature …

… No book can tell you about all books, but this one comes close. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What is very obvious is that Orthofer’s intimate engagement with books has resulted in this crystal clear understanding of the manner in which literature may be mapped. His organisation underlines the close proximity between literature and socio-political factors, a link which is often denied by many.
 Well, I obviously have to get this book, because at my age there's a lot of stuff I'm just not going to live to get to.

The choice and placement of words …

Solitary Praxis: "To the Student Who Asked Why He Earned a 'C' on an Essay about Love" -- a poem (and a postscript).

When either you are reading something someone has written or you are writing something yourself, what English composition challenges or "problems" most vex you? Or, to ask the question about English composition in a different way, what are your pet peeves and nagging weaknesses?
As Jesus said, the law was made for man, not man for the law.  Either way, though, you have to know what the law is. The one time I taught freshman composition, I had already worked as an editor and been published as a writer. I started by telling the students to write me a letter. Then I sat with those who seemed to have the hardest time, and went through what they had written and edited it for them. Pretty much the way a guy taught me how to do carpentry. The greater your knowledge of the laws of grammar and usage, the better able you are to know when they might get in the way of what you want to say. "I don't feel good" may not be the best English, but it gets across something that "I don't feel well" doesn't. The important thing to remember is that writing is interesting. Once you get the kids interested, it's all pretty smooth sailing. I have been told that all the students in my two classes turned out to write pretty well. If so, it wasn't just because I did my job. It was also because they did their job.

Something to think on …

It is no exaggeration to say that the English Bible is, next to Shakespeare, the greatest work in English literature, and that it will have much more influence than even Shakespeare upon the written and spoken language of the English race. For this reason, to study English literature without some general knowledge of the relation of the Bible to that literature would be to leave one's literary education very incomplete.
— Lafcadio Hearn, born on this date in 1850

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The bastards …

 Texas city council votes to evict library’s cat | Fox News.

Conversation in a concentration camp …

 Life and Fate: “There’s nothing can stop me – as long as I can find the strength to face my destruction.” | The Book Haven.

Too close for comfort …

Let Sleeping Crocodiles Lie Cautionary Tales from a Freelance Life - Daniel Grotta & Sally Wiener Grotta.


… Promise the Infinite — A bibliography of libraries in novels. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Outdoor advertising …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Creative of Essential Beauty'.

Miss Emily and war …

 Solitary Praxis: "It feels a shame to be Alive -- " by Emily Dickinson.

Throbbing heart, bladed intellect …

 Maverick Philosopher: Depoliticize and Humanize.

Try your hand …

 Sherlock Holmes Puzzle by John French Sloan | Bill Peschel.

Who knows what's next?

… Brexit’s Complicated Aftermath | City Journal.

If insularity is indeed on the rise, it is affecting increasing numbers of Europeans. According to the latest polls, nearly a half of the Italians and Dutch want their countries to leave. Discontent with the Union is also widespread in other countries. The French have a poorer opinion of the European Union than do the British, but because the French believe it to be reformable, fewer want to leave. Before the vote, the danger of Brexit to the integrity of the European Union was described in the French media in pathological terms, as a possible “contagion,” rather than merely an example to be followed—or not, as the case might be. And now the Union is faced with a dilemma: on the one hand, it will not want to make Brexit too painless for Britain, in case other countries, such as Sweden, follow suit; but on the other, it will not want to disturb trade relationships with one of Europe’s largest economies. Britain’s trade with Europe is largely in Europe’s favor, but it’s easier for Britain to find alternative sources of imports than for Europe to find alternative export markets.

"A shape in words" …

 In Parenthesis: in praise of the Somme's forgotten poet | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In his introduction, TS Eliot hailed In Parenthesis as “a work of genius”. Graham Greene placed it “among the great poems of the century”. WH Auden claimed “it does for the British and Germans what Homer did for the Greeks and Trojans”; he wrote to Jones to tell him “your work makes me feel very small and madly jealous”. On entering a party and seeing Jones sitting in the corner, WB Yeats bowed low to “salute the author of In Parenthesis”.

Someone worth meeting …

… I am A Gay Conservative, And I Think It's Time You Met Me.

As we have advocated for years, the best way to understand the other side is to simply talk with them.  I rarely find those on the left willing to discuss issues with me.  I am well aware of their views but they are utterly ignorant of mine and yet they hold an astounding number of opinions about what mine must be.  If you talk with me, or Milo or Bruce or any of the others you will find an entirely different world of ideas and views.  You might even find you agree with us on many of them. 

The bad old days …

 Review: Mary Eberstadt, ‘It’s Dangerous to Believe'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… they seek to ban college campus Christian groups such as Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship because of alleged discrimination. Inter-Varsity groups have the temerity to desire Christians as their student leaders! Some question whether any Christian student groups should be allowed on campus at all, or if any Christian colleges should get accreditation. But the same people do not question the right of Buddhist or Hindu (or any other group, for that matter) students to have their own groups.
well, at least now Christians will no longer take certain things for granted.that it has taken so long for so many to figure out where the bigotry really comes from is another question.

Virgin territory …

… Very Well, Alone? | Peter Hitchens | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the rest of the continent tried out the idea of the nation state, especially in the 1918-1939 period, decided it didn’t like it, and abandoned it in favor of a new supranational experiment, this time secular and bureaucratic rather than religious. In most cases it ended either with some hideous despotism, or with invasion. Britain, by 1945, was the only surviving virgin in a continent of rape victims. But, alas, it was also bankrupt and could no longer afford to keep itself in aloof purity.

Inquirer reviews …

'Barkskins': Sweeping, not always captivating tale of ecological tragedy.

'Our Young Man': Defying clichés of the handsome gay model.

Paging through the history of 'Paper'.

'Alligator Candy': Memoir of a family after a child's murder.

Something to think on …

The mind has exactly the same power as the hands; not merely to grasp the world, but to change it.
— Colin Wilson, born on this date in 1931

Saturday, June 25, 2016


 Paul Davis On Crime: Michael Herr, Author Of The Vietnam-Era ‘Dispatches,’ dies.

Nothing surprising here …


Once you grasp that the target is power, it should become clear. If power comes by way of working class support, that's what you preach about. Think you don't need those people, especially if you think they're turning on you, you show how you really feel about them


… Solitary Praxis: New conversations and content at Solitary Praxis.

Striding across life …

… Graveyard Masonry: Walking. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not getting it …

TLSMiller’s fail – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Wow. This guy has figured out that Henry Miller was and remains politically incorrect. It doesn't seem to cross his mind that Miller often goes out of his way to portray himself in an unsympathetic light. But it's kind of nice to know that Henry can still offend the sensibilities of such delicate souls.

Underway …

… America Reads Exhibition to Open June 16 | News Releases - Library of Congress. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fit to print …

Zealotry of Guerin: Morning News (Francis Luis Mora), Sonnet #303.

Quite a tale …

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: 'The Horn Of The Bull'.

And yet...

Something to think on …

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
— George Orwell, born on this date in 1903

Friday, June 24, 2016

I love this headline …

… Why an E.U. without Britain is bad news for the fight against climate change - The Washington Post.

Does this mean that we are supposed to stop climate, which is a continuously changing process, from being climate? Just wondering.


… They Got It Wrong: Swarms of Global Chatterers Misread Brexit - Bloomberg Politics.

They've been getting it wrong since last year.


KEY WEST, Florida Keys -- A rich roster of literary events awaits readers and writers during Hemingway Days 2016, set forTuesday through Sunday, July 19-24.

The festival celebrates the literary accomplishments and exuberant Key West lifestyle of legendary writer Ernest Hemingway, who lived on the island throughout the 1930s.

Hemingway Days opens with a museum day Tuesday, July 19, honoring Key West's two most famous writers. Literary fans can view "Depicting Hemingway," featuring renowned artist Guy Harvey's original sketches illustrating Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea," at the Custom House Museum, 281 Front St. An exhibit exploring playwright Tennessee Williams' long residence in Key West can be seen at 513 Truman Ave. Both exhibitions continue throughout the festival and beyond.

Contemporary writers star in the "Voices, Places, Inspirations" readings set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, at the Key West Woman's Club, 319 Duval St. Scheduled participants include noted Irish novelist Denyse Woods, who recently bested 2,100 other writers to win the Florida Keys Flash Fiction Contest; Chuck Ball, author of "Hemingway's Heist" among others; Steven Hull, creator of the edgy Hunter Benson series; Mandy Bolen Miles, renowned for her "Tan Lines" books and columns; and Terry Schmida, whose "True Crime" series chronicles criminal deeds in the Florida Keys.

The event is presented by Literacy Volunteers of America–Monroe County and includes a "meet-the-authors" reception.

The spotlight returns to the Custom House Museum at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 21, for a presentation titled "People and Places That Influenced Ernest Hemingway" by Nancy Sindelar, Ph.D. An internationally acclaimed Hemingway scholar, Sindelar penned "Influencing Hemingway: The People and Places That Shaped His Life and Work." A reception follows at 6 p.m.

The next evening at 5 p.m., festival attendees can discover the little-known poetry that helped launch the literary legend's writing career. The Key West Poetry Guild presents "The Poetry of Ernest Hemingway," which also features guild members' work, at the Blue Heaven restaurant, 729 Thomas St. -- a site where Ernest refereed neighborhood boxing matches in the 1930s.

Held in conjunction with Hemingway Days is the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. The contest recognizes the work of emerging writers and has been directed by author Lorian Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway's granddaughter, since its inception in 1981.

Hemingway Days information: 

Key West visitor information: or 1-800-LAST-KEY
Social: Facebook · Twitter · Instagram · YouTube · Keys Voices

Belated note …

I was out and about again today. Just back, but feeling my age. So little if any blogging by me until tomorrow. (Am taking stepdaughter Jen and her kids to a Philadelphia Orchestra tonight for her birthday. )

And on a dreary Friday, this seems appropriate...

...sources confirmed Thursday that sitting inside his cardboard box is the safest local 6-year-old Kyle Wolfe will feel for the remainder of his life.
From The Onion, which also notes "At press time, Wolfe’s father was reportedly tossing the flattened cardboard box into the recycling."

And related...

How to Say Peace in Latin

Lest we forget...

Religion (and thoughtful people) really should give way to science.   Being trans is a matter of brain chemistry -- not sexual deviance, mental illness, or mortal sin:
So you have someone who by every measure discussed, from sex chromosomes to phenotype, is Sex A, but who insists that they have always felt like they are Sex B. What’s up in the sexually dimorphic brain regions? A number of studies report the brain bears a close resemblance to Sex B. And this shouldn’t seem surprising—we are determined by our brains, we are our brains, regardless of our pattern of facial hair, the thickness of our larynx, or what the landscape is like between our legs.
In other words, it’s not that transgendered individuals think they are a different gender than they actually are. It’s that they’ve had the profoundly crappy luck to be stuck with bodies that are a different gender from who they actually are.

Life as dream …

… First Known When Lost: Twilight.

I suppose that, from the standpoint of "literary criticism" (whatever that is), all of the poets of the Nineties (with the exception of W. B. Yeats) are "minor poets." But the whole concept of "major" and "minor" poets is useless. As you have heard me say before, dear readers, it is the poem that is important, not the poet.

Working class …

… Writers by Trade | The Weekly Standard. (Hat tip, dave Lull.)

… The Prose Factory, as befits thirsty work, presents the glass half-full. The contents may often be bitter, but they also intoxicate. The Greeks believed that he who drank from the Hippocrene, the sacred spring on Mount Helicon, would always file his copy on time. Here, amid the drudgery, backscratching, and bouncing checks, the joy of a life with books shines through.

Memory and loss …

… Poetry & prose - Richard Gilbert. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Narrative, to me, salves some of the inherent melancholy of poetry. But I think because of that quality, poetry seems mature to me, like adults of a certain age. Maybe literature itself is inherently elegiac because it’s at last about memory, and therefore about loss, our fleeting lives set against the ongoing ruination of time. Many of Sanders’s poems deal with memory, and therefore with vastly separated time frames, with adulthood’s losses.

He knew whereof he wrote …

… Solitary Praxis: Ambrose Bierce, his birthday, and his "bleak, bitter" war stories with "senseless deaths and no heroes".

Something to think on …

What has made this nation great? Not its heroes but its households.
— Sarah Orne Jewett, who died on this date in 1909

Unsurprising …

 Research Review: Universal Preschool May Do More Harm than Good.

You should always have some genuine experience of life before going to school. Someone should alert the mayor of Philadelphia.

A literary life...

...Cynthia Ozick’s Long Crusade
But Ozick, however fierce her identification as a Jew, is admirable in her freedom from identitarian parti pris. T.S. Eliot’s rank anti-Semitism does not blind her to his poetic virtues; she praises Tolstoy’s early novel “The Cossacks” despite its whitewashing of genocidal Cossack violence against Jews (Ozick’s ancestors among them). Above all, she resists the idea that writers are, or ought to be, representatives of a certain group, for it is then that “imagination flies out the door, and with it the freedom and volatility and irresponsibility that imagination both confers and commands.”


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tomorrow evening …

Evening Landscape

There is something scary about the children’s games.

The neon hopscotch at dusk. The way

everything rhymes, or seems to.

Is this about you? It is about tenderness.

So, yes, perhaps.







FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 6 PM, 2016
(On the University of
Pennsylvania Campus)


“This is a book of human hungers so exact in its recognitions it leaves a reader stricken with a sense not just of how detailed our desires are, but how rare it is to have them articulated in ways yet unspoken. 'In my poor country, we poured sugar/ on everything to not notice our hunger,' Leonard Gontarek writes, but where that coat of sweetening fails, this poet stays to record what is still needed, what is still hungry, what is still so very, and beautifully, human.”

—Katie Ford, author of Blood Lyrics and Colosseum

Leonard Gontarek is the author of six books of poems, including He Looked Beyond
My Faults and Saw My Needs and Déjà vu Diner. His poems have appeared in
American Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Verse, Blackbird, The Awl, Spinning Jenny,
and The Best American Poetry, among others. He coordinates Peace/Works,
Philly Poetry Day, The Philadelphia Poetry Festival, and hosts The Green Line
Reading & Interview Series. Gontarek has received Poetry fellowships from the
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Philadelphia Writers Conference Community Service Award, and was a Literary Death Match Champion. His poem, 37 Photos
From The Bridge, was a Poetry winner for the Big Bridges MotionPoems project
and the basis for the award-winning film by Lori Ersolmaz sponsored by the
Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.

Encore …

 Ebert to Debut in the Chicago Sun-Times Again | Chaz's Blog | Roger Ebert. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Universal harmony …

 Solitary Praxis: "String Theory," Beethoven, and the eternal cosmos.

Q&A …

… Audio Drama Sunday: The Grayscale, A Conversation with Andrew Kaberline | Reluctant Habits.

Remembering …

… Paul Davis On Crime: 50th Anniversary of Ian Fleming's Last Published James Bond Stories, 'Octopussy' & 'The Living Daylights'.

Who knew?

… The Broadway song that nominated a president | OUPblog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… The Problem with Hate Speech | PJ Media. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The problem with this article is that it is as much about transgenderism as it is about hate speech. The problem with hate speech is that the hate component is irrelevant and redundant. If someone comes up and hits you in the face with a baseball bat, it's a safe bet the guy's not fond of you. We already have a law against that. It's the one against aggravated assault. But to make opinions illegal just because a certain set disapproves of those opinions strikes at the heart of a free society. Free speech means speech some people may find offensive, that may even be offensive. It's a rough world. 

War and fiction (cont'd.) …

… Solitary Praxis: Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels, and books (fiction and nonfiction) about the American Civil War.

Scholarly annulment …

… Did Jesus Have a Wife? - The Atlantic.

… skeptics had identified other problems. Among the most damning was an odd typographical error that appears in both the Jesus’s-wife fragment and an edition of the Gospel of Thomas that was posted online in 2002, suggesting an easily available source for a modern forger’s cut-and-paste job.

Frostiana …

… Robert Frost's granddaughter kicks off annual 'Sunday Afternoons with Robert Frost' lectures - Berkshire Eagle Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"His poems were very accessible to my students," Newman said. "Their appreciation increased as our discussions revealed the depth of even his most simplistic appearing poems. Frost was a poet of substance as well as aesthetic delight."

Something to think on …

The nature of peoples is first crude, then severe, then benign, then delicate, finally dissolute.
— Giambattista Vico, born on this date in 1668

Terrible …

… Sufi singer shot dead by extremists in Pakistan - Al Arabiya English.

Fruits of pop culture...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

War and fiction …

… Solitary Praxis: Erich Maria Remarque's birthday (and a question for you about war and anti-war novels).

Q&A …

… Audio Drama Sunday: Wooden Overcoats, A Conversation with David K. Barnes & Felix Trench | Reluctant Habits.

In brief …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: Gloria Jaguden & Dennis Garvey: Wednesday Haiku, #229.

Blogging note …

Once again, I must be out and about. But I may be able to do some blogging anyway. Otherwise, I'll be back later.

The Abbess of Andalusia …

 Solitary Praxis: Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch.

Words that sting …

… On a Certain Epigram by Anna Akhmatova. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Anniversary …

… ‘Briggflatts’ at Fifty — LRB blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bunting finished Briggflatts – named after a Quaker meeting house in Cumbria – at midnight on 15 May, almost exactly a year after Pickard knocked on his door. He first read the poem in public on 22 December 1965 in a small, crowded chamber of the Morden Tower on Newcastle’s City Wall, which had recently been converted into a poetry venue by Pickard and his wife Connie. It was about to become one of the most storied poetry venues of its era.

Something to think on …

Truly the universe is full of ghosts, not sheeted churchyard spectres, but the inextinguishable elements of individual life, which having once been, can never die, though they blend and change, and change again for ever.
— H. Rider Haggard, born on this date in 1856

In his own words...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Excellent choices …

Searching …

… Solitary Praxis: Catholicism, Flannery O'Connor, and a few questions from a Christian malgre lui at Solitary Praxis.

In case you wondered …


Q&A …

… Five Books in My Life: Lionel Shriver | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Some music …

Hmm …

 Grim News from Cape Grim puts ​Australians on Alert | Inter Press Service.

Said the Guardian newspaper in London in a recent headline about the grim news: “World’s carbon dioxide concentration teetering on the point of no return.”

Well, the Guardian may say it, but it would be nice if they would explain what it means. Every respirating creature on the planet is exhaling carbon dioxide  (plants lay off during the day for photosynthesis, which produces oxygen, but at night breathe oxygen just like the rest of us). What is this point of no return? Return from where? These may be stupid questions, but stupid people deserve an explanation, too — and journalism is about asking stupid questions.

Tonight … hie thee there …


Open Political Poetry Reading

Presented by




TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2016, 7 PM

TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2016, 7 PM

Come and Read Two Poems
Sign Up In Advance:

This Event Is Free

Philadelphia, PA, USA

The guilt of feeling grateful to be alive is heavy.

Wanting to smile about surviving but not sure if the people around you are ready

As the world mourns, the victims killed and viciously slain, I feel guilty about screaming about my legs in pain.
Because I could feel nothing like the other 49 who weren’t so lucky to feel this pain of mine.
I never thought in a million years that this could happen.
I never thought in a million years that my eyes could witness something so tragic.
Looking at the souls leaving the bodies of individuals, looking at the killer’s machine gun throughout my right peripheral. Looking at the blood and debris covered on everyone’s faces.
Looking at the gunman’s feet under the stall as he paces.

The guilt of feeling lucky to be alive is heavy. It’s like the weight of the ocean’s walls crushing
uncontrolled by levies. It’s like being drug through the grass with a shattered leg and thrown
on the back of a Chevy. It’s like being rushed to the hospital and told you’re gonna make it
when you laid beside individuals whose lives were brutally taken.

The guilt of being alive is heavy.

                                                Patience Carter

Speaking truth to somebody …

… Solitary Praxis: 1956 - 21 June - Arthur Miller v. HUAC.

Miller's standing up against HUAC was genuinely admirable, because ruthless bullying — which is what HUAC was doing (and in a bipartisan manner) — is not the way to combat your philosophical antagonist. But only a fool would mistake Congress for a gathering of the wise.

And the winner is …

 BC Professor James Najarian Awarded Frost Farm Poetry Prize for 'The Dark Ages'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Be very scared …

… It Could Happen Here - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ms. Shriver has good fun with futurisms, including the continuing reign over Russia by Vladimir Putin,“Mr. President for Life”; a U.S. presidential primary whose challenger is “leftwing grandee Jon Stewart”; and a tempered use of invented slang (“roachbar” is bad, “malicious” is good). She also does a fair share of ironic upending, in line with one of her character’s observations that “plots set in the future are about what people fear in the present.” American TV features “two-thousand-some channels streamed en Español”; “Lats” like President Alvarado now run the country; automated voices instruct listeners to “press two for English”; and for all intents and purposes “America is now Greater Mexico, and the Continent is an extension of the Middle East.”

Lionel used to review for The Inquirer. We exchanged emails, spoke over the phone very occasionally, and at least once, met each other. Among the most enchanting, genuinely original persons I have ever met. Oh, and she is super smart.

Cast your vote …

 Solitary Praxis: Your chance to honor the first "great American novel".

Listen in …

… Episode 173 – Christopher Nelson | Virtual Memories.

“If virtue can be taught, it’s only by learning to ask the types of questions that make you a thoughtful person.” 

Something to think on …

There are historic situations in which refusal to defend the inheritance of a civilization, however imperfect, against tyranny and aggression may result in consequences even worse than war.
— Reinhold Niebuhr, born on this date in 1892

Monday, June 20, 2016

Guess he should have mentioned Allah instead …

… USAF Vet Forcibly Removed from Flag-Folding Ceremony for Mentioning God | PJ Media.

Another dumb mayor …

 Harrisburg, PA Mayor Picks And Chooses Who The 'Real' Journalists Are | Techdirt.

Neat little story …

… The Lawn | New Pop Lit.

More than just pigeons …

 On Teaching Exploration: The Pigeon Paper | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Domestic arrangements …

… Detectives Beyond Borders: It's a famille affaire, or What's with all those eccentric alternative households in French crime writing?

Nice …

… The Asses of Parnassus - Wild Words.

A story …

 The Rat Catcher | Elberry's Ghost.

Hmm …

 The Disadvantages of Being Stupid - The Atlantic.

Well, given all the nonsense about trigger warnings and the like on college campuses these days, one has to wonder how accurate these IQ and SAT tests really are. Also, anybody who went to school has to know that there are plenty of smart people who don't do all that well in school. Before you decide things should be run scholars, you should ponder this poem by Yeats.

Q&A …

BOMB Magazine — Sarah Ruden by Eric Banks. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

EB What is the Bible book about exactly?
SR Oh, well, it’s about beauty and meaning in the Bible, and the nexus between beauty and meaning, which is something that comes up all the time in ancient literature. It certainly came up in Hippias Minor. All these words, basic words, are multivalent in literary languages. They mean a bunch of things and are used very playfully. People don’t really think about the Bible this way, but these modes do extend to the Bible and its early translations. In Hebrew, Greek, and Latin—in each language, that is—you have a single word that means spirit, breath, and wind, and means all three of these! So that word is played with—the meanings are intertwining. You have a really intricate literary language that looks to us like a plain, even legalistic language in many passages, but in the original Bible there is no such thing. Meanings are worked out through form, which is not the way that modern languages function, especially English. Last week I was at the University of Colorado lecturing and I got asked whether Augustine believed in infallibility. That is, did he believe that scripture text was infallible? And I had to say, “Well, no, an ancient language doesn’t do that.” The infallibility thesis comes from the modern era and is based on the way that our languages work, which is with extreme precision and using a huge array of words. Each word is assigned an exact meaning within an exact category so that descriptions and instructions—say, engineering specifications—can be conveyed between cultures that are very different. 
EB There is an assumption that languages exist to be translatable, that there has to be a functionality built into language in a conscious way. This wasn’t the case with ancient languages. When you are translating from Latin, Greek, or Hebrew you are in a very different relationship to language.

Adams and Trump and Persuasion

Scott Adams, primarily of Dilbert fame, in an engaged blogger as well and to watch his coverage of Trump's persuasive tactics and persuasion skills is really quite fascinating.   Adams also provides his persuasion reading list here.

Summer Vacation Ideas

Flying Over an Active Volcano Using Only a Wingsuit

We that travail …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `The Prey of Spleen, Regret, Bad Jokes, Despair'.

My, my …

… Sam Harris spots Trump’s moral clarity > New English Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sublimely intricate …

… Solitary Praxis: The ghastly Civil War and the "lair of the beast".