Monday, April 30, 2018

Published at last …

… Zora Neale Hurston ‘Barracoon’ Excerpt.

In 1931, Zora Neale Hurston sought to publish the story of Cudjo Lewis, the final slave-ship survivor. Instead it languished in a vault. Until now.

Cause for concern …

… Campus Free-Speech Crisis | City Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Under intense pressure from student activists to limit “hate speech,” college administrators can either acquiesce to demands or face protests. Many choose to acquiesce. As Mac Donald wrote last year: “Unless the campus zest for censorship is combatted now, what we have always regarded as a precious inheritance could be eroded beyond recognition, and a soft totalitarianism could become the new American norm.”

If your response to views that differ from your own is to silence them, it seems reasonable to conclude that you're not too secure in your own views.

A most valuable reminder …

 Confederacy “founded upon exactly the opposite idea” | Brandywine Books.

You can’t define a region or society by a great moral lie like this and avoid a permanent stain.

Who knew?

 Can’t Make a Living Writing Songs | Brandywine Books.

This does seem unjust.

Wish I could be there …

… Tonight! Philip Larkin’s early novel “A Girl in Winter” at Stanford! | The Book Haven.

Something to think on …

A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning, to an image rather than to an idea, to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments, to prestige rather than to competence.
— Jean-François Revel, who died on this date in 2006

Forgotten no more …

… Wade in the Water review – lost voices of the American underground | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Song and inspiration …

… Kate Bush Writes Tribute to Emily Brontë for UK Memorial | Pitchfork.

In case you wondered …

 Why Do So Many Judges Cite Jane Austen in Legal Decisions?

Working to please himself …

The Art of Elsewhere. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Edward Gorey, whose books, theatrical designs, and sundry ephemeral productions are the subject of a brilliant exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum, is among the most recent additions to this curious company. It is a loose-knit cohort, which spans the centuries and includes literary and musical artists as well as visual ones. Two novelists who immediately come to mind are Thomas Love Peacock in the nineteenth century and Ronald Firbank in the twentieth. I would include the sixteenth-century artists Luca Cambiaso, whose geometrized figure drawings fascinated the Surrealists, and Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who painted heads composed of fruits and flowers for the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. Other candidates include the American painter Florine Stettheimer and the American composer Harry Partch. Each of these men and women refuses to fit easily into any tradition. They’re idiosyncratic aristocrats. When we try to press them into some tradition—perhaps to see Peacock as an embodiment of eighteenth-century conversational conventions or Arcimboldo as a prototypical Mannerist—we rob them of some of their glory. They are nonpareil.

Sunday, April 29, 2018


… Informal Inquiries: Blogging Note — history and biography on the menu.

Along with everybody else in those productions …

… James Levine is wiped off Met Opera Radio – Slipped Disc.

It is actually possible for a third-rate human to make first-rate art. 

Submissions wanted …

… War & Peace: Flash | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Sounds about right …

… ‘No Man Swings More or Stands Higher Than the Duke’ - The Objective Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Interesting query …

… Archbishop Cranmer: What if Alfie Evans had been named Ahmed Edris, and the flight were to Mecca, not Rome?

When it comes to distinguishing true grace from counterfeit compassion, it helps to look up to the Spirit of God rather than out to the wisdom of man. Tom Evans and Kate James pray that the sun might shine upon them, and that the Son might light upon their son. They simply long for something spiritual, supernatural and divine. Rome offered them that, just as Mecca might do for Ahmed Edris. You might consider this a peculiar religious delusion or absurd subjective sensation, but who made you the fount of all holy knowledge, or gave you a title to heaven?

Anniversary …

Friends …

… How Dyson Saw Feynman. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What we all need …

… The Seekers; Strength to Change; Distance | The Hudson Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Choices of perfection …

… Top writers choose their perfect crime | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Appreciation …

… A weekend of poetry to celebrate Nick Virgilio Writers House in Camden - Philly.

Inquirer reviews …

… Jake Tapper's new book agrees with Donald Trump on at least one thing.

… Catherine Mangan's 'Tangerine': A debut thriller that will make a terrific movie.

… William T. Vollmann's 'No Immediate Danger': A searing indictment of climate denial, who we are, what we've done.
No Immediate Danger is divided into two parts, beginning with a primer. It is a kind of encyclopedia of the causes of climate change, including manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, and industrial chemicals, with occasional stretches of commentary and analysis that are some of the most compelling parts of the book.
While no one can deny that these things have an effect on the environment and, hence, climate, to regard them as the causes of climate change is obviously wrong, since the geological record indicates that Earth's climate has changed often in the past, and during much of that past the aforementioned factors did not figure at all.

Something to think on …

To certain people there comes a day when they must say the great Yes or the great No.
— Constantine P. Cavafy, born on this date in 1863

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Chilling observation …

… Almanac: Solzhenitsyn on Chekhov and the future of Russia | About Last Night.

A man of many parts, to say the least …

… Nigeness: The Curious Case of Godfrey Winn.

Poetry and the path of life …

Sad …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Musical Fête (Giovanni Paolo Pannini), Sonnet #402.

Hmm …

 'Weird Catholic Twitter' offers a reminder of Catholic complexity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I would suggest that all of them read E. E. Y Hales's The Catholic Church and the Modern World (Allen himself may have) and maybe look up Peter Maurin.


Blossom Dearie was born on this date in 1924. I had the privilege of meeting her briefly once.

Mark thy calendar — a reminder …

P O E T R Y   I N   C O M M O N

Saturday, April 28, ALL DAY– Write A Poem Anywhere With Sidewalk Chalk.

What Is Philly Poetry Day?
People say you can attend a poetry reading almost every day in the Philadelphia area.
There is a lot of poetry in Philadelphia. Philly Poetry Day is a chance for all poets to show
their stuff – to demonstrate how much poetry there is in Philadelphia. It is also an
attempt to bring poetry to a larger and not typical audience. The idea is that
on Saturday, April 28, 2018, from 12 AM to 12 PM, poetry will be everywhere.

How can you participate?

If you are a poetry organization that normally programs
readings, we are inviting you to create an event for that day.
We are also inviting any poets, anyone really, to create a poetry reading for that day:
at your school, community center, local library or bookstore, cafes, living room, etcetera. 

We also strongly recommend creating a reading in a space where poetry readings are not normally held (with permission). Any space with a built-in audience. We have had poetry
readings on railroad bridges, pizza parlors, subways, drugstores, parks, street corners,
porches, any place you can think of. All ideas and events are welcome.
In this way, poetry will pop-up all over the Philadelphia area. 

Or: Write A Poem Anywhere With Sidewalk Chalk.
A Haiku Or Epic. Or Part Of A Poem.
Your Poem Or Someone Else’s.

What do you have to do?  Create an event. Come up with an idea.
Everyone is welcome and we need everyone to participate.
Email a 2-line description of event, time and location, participating poets, to:

Post has been bumped.

Something to think on …

The Our Father contains all the duties we owe to God, the acts of all the virtues and the petitions for all our spiritual and corporal needs.
— Louis de Montfort, who died on this date in 1716

Friday, April 27, 2018

Do it at your peril …

… Paul Davis On Crime: How To Drink Like Ernest Hemingway, Ian Fleming, And Other Literary Greats.

OK by me …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Maureen Faulkner's Plea to Philly DA Larry Krasner: Help Keep Cop Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal In Jail |.

As for Philly's current DA, he may not be above reproach, but he is beneath contempt.

On Human Nature...

...And its relationship with philosophy

Blogging note …

Yet again, I have to be out and about. Will resume blogging when I can.

So he was wrong …

 Informal Inquiries: In the beginning — 4977 B,C. or 13.7 billion years ago.

Here is a review of mine that gives some idea of just how brilliant Kepler in fact was.

So called …

… Chance - The Sun Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Q&A …

… A conversation with poet Barbara Hamby on latest book 'Bird Odyssey'. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In a sense, (writing) becomes easier so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. You can think, "OK, this is the image that’s rotating in my mind" and start gathering other images up and you start writing...Sometimes you have to keep yourself going under very arduous circumstances. I think most writing lives are filled with more failures than they are successes. You just love the process so much that there’s nothing else that you’d rather do...I could have another "un-acknolwedgements page" for “Turned down by these magazines” which would be three times as long as the book...You have to be able to live with failure.

In case you wondered …

Who Bought Sylvia Plath’s Stuff? (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hope it helps …

… RSF hails Shawkan’s UNESCO prize, calls for his immediate release | RSF. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

To the point …

… Toadstools – Brief Poems by Fred Chappell | Brief Poems. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Don't be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, who died on this date in1882

Hmm …

… Was Shakespeare Catholic? | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Perhaps the best single treatment of the Catholic thesis in this poetry is by an unlikely but welcome hand—the late Judge John Noonan, estimable jurist and historian of moral theology, who died at ninety in April 2017. Shakespeare’s Spiritual Sonnets,Noonan’s final book, showcases a seasoned federal judge’s ability to sift out inadmissible from admissible evidence, to smell a put-up job, and to overrule an objection. The reading jury hears neither special pleading nor an ironclad case, but rather a “convergence of probabilities” suggesting “persuasive coherence.”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

In case you wondered …

… Bards of pray: Why is it that such a surprising number of the world’s best poets today are Catholics?  The Angelus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Close encounters …

… Informal Inquiries: A narrow Fellow in the Grass — Emily Dickinson.

Speaking South Philly …

 Market Talk: Exploring South Philly’s Italian Dialect | Hidden City Philadelphia.

Jen Patrick (as her name suggests her family is of Irish descent), a manager of Talluto’s, says that when she first started working at the store, it took a little while to figure out what some customers had asked for but she caught on, “once I heard it a few times.”

The longest lesson …

… Not Elegy, But Eros by Nausheen Eusuf | World Literature Today.

In case you wondered …

… How Poetry and Math Intersect | Science | Smithsonian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Finding the time …

… Solved: A Decades-Old Ansel Adams Mystery - Atlas Obscura. (hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

… as Olson’s team has found previously, the sky itself is a peerless record. In the past, the team had used the moon’s shape and position to figure out exactly when and where another famous Adams photo, Autumn Moon, was taken. While Denali and Wonder Lake lacks any celestial objects to hang an investigation on, Moon and Denali, below, features a waxing gibbous moon glowing through the clouds.

Getting ready …

 Poetry: Ministers to the Toothless - The Patriotic Vanguard. (Hat tip,  Rus Bowden.)

Thoroighly unformed …

… The last man who knew everything. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One really does mean everything. The Victorian parson's interests included but were not limited to philology, anthropology, folklore, children's stories, hymnology, hagiography, geology, topography, painting, optics, metallurgy, ancient and modern history, musical theory, biblical archeology, the plausibility of miracles, the minutiae of the English salt mining industry, and the theater. Among the 130 books he published were an anthology of Old Testament apocrypha; biographies of Napoleon I and the Caesars; histories of Germany, Iceland, North and South Wales, Cornwall, Dartmoor, the Rhine, and the Pyrenees; a guide to surnames; a 16-volume collection of saints' lives and a compilation of medieval superstitions beloved by H.P. Lovecraft among others; numerous volumes of sermons and dozens of novels; a theological treatise on the problem of evil; numerous works on ghosts; a surprisingly scholarly Book of Were-wolves. He also composed some 200 short stories and thousands of essays, prefaces, and magazine articles; he produced two collections of original verse and two memoirs and left behind a vast correspondence, thousands of pages of diaries, and a remarkable quantity of half-digested research.

Something to think on …

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
— Marcus Aurelius, born on this date in 121

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Blogging note …

I have obligations to attend to, so won't resume blogging until sometime later.

Anniversary …

 Informal Inquiries: Robinson Crusoe’s Birthday.

The challenge of The Odyssey …

… Colin Burrow reviews ‘The Odyssey’ translated by Peter Green, ‘The Odyssey’ translated by Emily Wilson and ‘The Odyssey’ translated by Anthony Verity — LRB 26 April 2018. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

All of this makes The Odyssey much harder to translate than The Iliad. One person’s interpolation or historical curiosity will be another person’s moment of deep psychological insight. That problem is compounded by the subject matter and social world of the poem. It is full of travellers and strangers who might be gods, or con men, or, like much enduring godly Odysseus of the many wiles himself, a little bit of both. So no one ever quite knows what’s going on. A swineherd might turn out to be an abducted prince. A Cyclops might greet a stranger who addresses it politely by bashing the brains out of one of his companions as if he were a puppy. A good king might politely offer a wary welcome and food, listen to a stranger’s story, and then after a tactful delay ask who he is and where he is from. And then the guest might lie. People in their conversations in this poem often proceed cagily in order to allow for what they do not yet know. Telemachus doesn’t quite know whether his mother is planning to remarry. We don’t know either.

Weighing in …

… Trouble brewing over Starbucks arrests - Washington Times

I don't go to Starbucks. There are too many other places that have far better coffee.

Sing a song of bagels …

… “Oh, Buy My Bagels, Friends!”: Yakov Yadov’s “Bublichki” – Boris Dralyuk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Anniversary year …

… Give a Shout Out to Charles Portis and His Extraordinary Novel ‘True Grit'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In 1968, critics were arguing about whether John Updike’s Couples accurately depicted suburban life, whether Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night was journalism or literature, or whether Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge was literature at all. I have no way of proving this, but I would bet that True Grit is still read by more people than those three combined.

Hmm …

… Against The Grass Eaters | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Once my wife and I were shown a house we were thinking of renting. As we walked through it with the agent, we could see that the family living there at the time were very conservative homeschooling Catholics. You could tell by the art on the wall and the books on their shelves. Normally this would have encouraged me, but the more time we spent at the house, the more the place struck me as a factory for manufacturing either totally docile conformists, or anti-Christian rebels. The parents seemed to take the moral and spiritual formation of their children seriously, but also seemed to think that the only way to form faithful Catholic children is to keep them from seeing, reading, or listening to anything that’s not the product of an extremely narrow, rigid, dessicated, and sentimental piety.
This seems rather a sweeping judgment given that their time in the house must been rather short.

Something to think on …

Now that cleverness was the fashion most people were clever — even perfect fools; and cleverness after all was often only a bore: all head and no body.
— Walter de La Mare, born on this date in 1873


 Bob Dorough, ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ Performer and Writer, Dies at 94. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dissenting voices …

… The greats we hate | The Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Appalling …

… UK Court Rejects Parents’ Appeal To Save Their Terminally Ill Child | Chicks On The Right.

They can’t give the kid oxygen until until he can get on a plane to Italy? The miracle  that is socialist medicine, or any other form of government control, for that matter.

Anniversary …

… Duke Ellington, 1899-1974 | Rifftides. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Noting a passing …

 Informal Inquiries: Remembering Willa Cather.

Cather is, in my view, the great American novelist.

Hmm …

 People Who Have “Too Many Interests” Are More Likely To Be Successful According To Research. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

This reminds me of the old saying that if you want something done, ask a busy man to do it.

And the winners are …

… 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Announced : The Booklist Reader. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The measure of all things …

… The Key to Everything | by Freeman Dyson | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

West’s neglect of villages as agents of change raises an important question. How likely is it that significant numbers of humans will choose to remain in genetically isolated communities in centuries to come? We cannot confidently answer this question. The answer depends on unpredictable patterns of economic development, on international politics, and on even more unpredictable human desires. But we can foresee two possible technological developments that would result in permanent genetic isolation of human communities.

Thinking charitably …

… Alan Jacobs: a Christian intellectual for the internet age | America Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More than a simple guide, [How to Think] is an argument for learning to live charitably in the midst of diverse ideas and beliefs. Jacobs posed the book’s driving question to me: “If plurality is inevitable, are there ways to make that work for us without sacrificing what is distinctive to your own tradition and what you really believe in?” How to Think is written for a general audience, but this question is particularly pressing for Christians, who Jacobs thinks are becoming increasingly nasty and uncharitable while viewing that lack of charity as a sign of Christian strength.

Classic …

 Just because: Dick Haymes sings “Come Rain or Come Shine” | About Last Night.

The quiet circle …

… First Known When Lost: Passing. Past. Perennial.

… I feel a sense of serenity when I contemplate the fact that the seasons will continue to come and go long after I have turned to dust.

Rhythm in the abstract …

… Language Log — Metered verse in a quiet place. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Crime in the country …

… BOOK REVIEW: 'The Western Star' by Craig Johnson - Washington Times.

Listen in …

 Episode 266 – Steven Heller – The Virtual Memories Show.

“I would look at other people’s design work and realize they have something I don’t have. What I do have is an ability to judge work, to come up with ideas.”

Something to think on …

There is such a difference between life and theory.
— Anthony Trollope, born on this date in 1815

Monday, April 23, 2018

Quite a story …

… How DNA Transfer Framed Lukis Anderson for Murder | The Marshall Project. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Explaining vs. understanding …

 Under the Skin | Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Educating for Liberty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Taleb begins by discussing Antaeus, the son of Mother Earth and Poseidon. According to Greek myth, Antaeus was unbeatable in a fight as long as he remained in contact with the ground. But Hercules was able to defeat him by lifting him in the air. For Taleb, the story teaches us to “keep our feet on the ground,” i.e., to keep in contact with the practical world. Nevertheless, we are plagued by theorizers lacking all practical experience. As Taleb puts it, “The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding.”

21st Century Will …

 DCblog: Shakespeare's Words version 3.0 launches today. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Happy birthday, Will …

 Informal Inquiries: William Shakespeare in the World.

Short answer: yes …

… Was Pope Francis right to tell a child his atheist dad may be in heaven? | America Magazine.

It's God's decision, not ours. God can do anything he wants to do. That's why we call him God.

Interesting list …

… Books | The Great American Read | PBS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Above all things — read. Read the great stylists who cannot be copied rather than the successful writers who must not be copied.
— Ngaio Marsh, born on this date in 1895

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Are ideological...

World's oldest woman dies at 117

Women — and residents of Japan — dominate the list of [remaining] oldest people. The 22 oldest are women, and 13 of the 24 oldest people reside in Japan.

Mashing diction …

… State Lines: Brenda Hillman’s ‘The Bride Tree Can’t Be Read’ - San Francisco Chronicle.  (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the winner is …

… Cambridge resident, Wellesley professor wins Pulitzer for poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Wow …

 The Startling Colors and Abstract Shapes of Salt Ponds - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Discovery …

Paul Davis On Crime: 'Anthony Burgess: The Ink Trade': Offers Lost Anthony Burgess Essays.

A dubious move …

 Informal Inquiries: On this day in 1886 — seduction illegal.

The architecture of sociability …

… The Civic Character of a Front Porch — Strong Towns. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The importance of a front porch needs to be connected with its civic potency. In other words, a home with a front porch can provide the foundation for the cultivation and actualization of those virtues and habits that help citizens become more civically minded and engaged.
Here in South Philly it's the stoop that counts.

Inquirer reviews …

… Jo Nesbø's 'Macbeth': A Norwegian noir master takes on 'the Scottish play'.

… 'Visionary Women' by Joanna Scutts: Four women who changed the world.

Something to think on …

Nature, who permits no two leaves to be exactly alike, has given a still greater diversity to human minds. Imitation, then, is a double murder; for it deprives both copy and original of their primitive existence.
— Madame de Staël, born on this date in 1766

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Karl Ove Knausgaard

Say what you will about Karl Ove Knausgaard, but his recent piece in the New York Times is excellent. The essay focuses on the literature and politics of Russia over the past two hundred years. Part of what I enjoyed most about the essay is its accessibility: Knausgaard orients his readers to Russia's literary titans, and makes a convincing case for the role of stories -- and storytelling -- in Russian identity. For an honest look beyond the standard view of Russia under Putin, give Knausgaard's piece a read. As I say, it's excellent (and it's making me want to read Turgenev).

Blogging note …

I have done about all of the blogging I will be able to fit in today, because I have mucho obligations to meet. Of course, you never know. Maybe some time will open up. For now: Later.

A needed partnership …

… Comedy and the Catholic Novel: A Visit with Lee Oser - Crisis Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… there are certain taboos that a Catholic writer has to respect, and those did come up in my writing. Samuel Beckett will violate those taboos, and it’s interesting to watch him do it, and I respect Beckett. As a writer, not as a theologian. Without our taboos we lose the sense of who we are, we lose the reality of our emotions. We become more and more vaporous.”

In case you wondered …

… What is "blogging"? Is it different from "writing"? - Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The void …

… Zealotry of Guerin: On Nothing, Sonnet #401.

A special anthology …

… The poets’ home: how one small, heroic publisher shaped modern poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

… this book is an unusually beautiful object. But its beauty shouldn’t detract from its seriousness. 

No apology needed …

… Apologies for the recent hiatus | The Skeptical Doctor. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Losing one's brother is hard. I know.

Anniversary and confession …

… Informal Inquiries: On this day in 1816 — Charlotte Bronte Born.

Ah, yes …

… Before Blogs, There Were Zines | JSTOR Daily. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wordplay and switchboard …

… Two Eggs with Tom Stoppard | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

I asked Stoppard about the world of his plays, in which different perspectives unfold inside each other, like reversible prisms. Stoppard said, “I have almost no sense of working from a program or an agenda. Rather, it’s a relation one has—there’s a sense I can work in any form I like and go in any direction. Obviously, the plays are more unlike each other than like each other, but people who take pleasure in finding connections will have no trouble finding them.”

Something to think on …

The principal rule of art is to please and to move. All the other rules were created to achieve this first one.
— Jean Racine, who died on this date in 1699

Friday, April 20, 2018

Happy, happy, happy

Taking a bath with a baby elephant and not to anthropomorphize but look at the expression ... video here

And the winners are …

… Announcing The Charlie Medal! – Charlie's Corner.

Q&A …

… Michelle Dean: A Sharp Look at Criticism by Women | JSTOR Daily. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cross-pollination …

 Cripes, a bumbershoot! | Lionel Shriver on transatlantic linguistic confusion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The Prodigal Tongue takes head-on this supposed American contamination of British English. Murphy’s online search for “an ugly Americanism” turned up 7,780 hits; “a lovely Americanism”, 227. Citations of “horrible”, “vile”, “awful” and “dreadful” Americanisms were many times more common than “nice”, “useful”, “apt” and “delightful” ones. Paranoia about the corruption of the mother tongue – what Murphy calls “amerilexidophobia” – by a relentless assault from Netflix, Hollywood and books with American spelling (indeed, my British publisher no longer bothers to convert “harbor” to “harbour” in text edited in New York) is not constrained to young fogeys at the Telegraph. For a host of British purists, Murphy notes, American English is “an invasive species that will choke and supplant the native wordlife”.

All things to all people …

… that he might win their votes: NY Gov. Cuomo Says He's Muslim, Female, and Jewish, Among Other Things | Video.

Up for review …

.… Recently Received Books | North of Oxford.

Anniversary and heresy …

… Informal Inquiries: Poe’s first detective (not murder) story — April 20, 1841.

Coming Sunday …


>The Philadelphia Poetry Festival will include a Poetry Book Fair.
>This is for presses and poets signing and selling their books of poems.
>All proceeds will go to and be handled by the authors or publishers. 
>The space is free, but very limited. You must sign up in advance.
>Please arrive at 12:30.
>Please contact Leonard with interest:

>Are you interested?
>It’s simple to participate. Just pick a poet to represent your group.
>Send the info to me at:
>Bring (or have your reader bring) information about your organization. That’s it.
>Let me know soon. Cheers, Leonard

>The Free Poetry Festival
>The festival will be held at The Rotunda,
>4014 Walnut Street in West Philadelphia.  
>Join us on Sunday, April 22, 2018 from 1:00 p.m. tp 4:00 p.m..
>(Please arrive at 12:30 p.m.)

>Do you run a poetry organization, magazine, poetry press, poetry series,
>or college writing program in the Philadelphia area?  If so, please register for the Philadelphia Poetry Festival 2018 by sending your request via email to Include your name, the organization you represent, and a brief summary of what your org does and where and when you do it.   Please use The Philadelphia Poetry Festival 2018 in the subject line of the email. 
>Our Format:
>Each organization will present one poet to represent them, who will read for five minutes.  In the spirit of the event, we ask that organization leaders or editors not read, but choose a poet to spotlight.  
>There will be an area for the circulation of program brochures, flyers and information about dozens of Philadelphia poetry and writing outlets. Bring your favorite series’ information to share!  This is the area’s most comprehensive poetry event solely dedicated to celebrating Greater Philadelphia Poetry in all of its manifestations. It is a great way
>to promote what you do.
>About The Rotunda – 4014 Walnut Street in West Philadelphia
>A wonderful event space!
>Lots of street parking – metered and non-metered
>Fresh Grocer Parking Garage across Walnut Street
>Great places for food & spirits within a block:
>Smokey Joe’s, The Greek Lady, Mizu Sushi Bar,
>West Philly City Tap House, Bobby’s Burger Palace,
>Copabanana, Hummus, & The Last Word Book Shop
>Register now to introduce your poetry org to the greater Philadelphia poetry community OR just come and listen.

>Come and find out about all the other poetry orgs, series, coordinators, and more, in the Philly and surrounding areas. 
>Participants have included:
>* Farley’s First Thursday Series * The Collective Mic, LLC
>* Montgomery County Poet Laureate Program
>* Mad Poets Society/ Young Poets Contest /Mad Poets Review
>* Calypso Press * Philadelphia Community College Certificate Program
>* Philadelphia Stories * Brandywine Valley Writers Group

>* Manayunk Roxborough Art Center / Schuylkill Valley Journal
>* The Green Line Reading & Interview Series * Philadelphia Wordshop
>* Word Up Wednesdays * Joie deVivre Book Competition
>* Moonstone Art Center * The Osage Poets * Brigid’s House Writers
>* Musehouse: Supporting the Literary Arts * Philadelphia Writers Conference
>* Painted Bride Quarterly * Cleaver Magazine * American Poetry Review
>* Thread Makes Blanket Press * Poetry Aloud And Alive * Mighty Writers


Hmm …

… The Meanest Things Vladimir Nabokov Said About Other Writers | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For what it's worth (probably very little), I disagree about Eliot and Conrad and Camus. He's certainly right about Lady Chatterly, though Lawrence wrote good poetry and short stories. Faulkner also wrote some good stories. I once took Auden to task for a translation of Hölderlin, but I love his poetry. I think he is utterly right about Freud and Pound.

Things to bear in mind …

 Friday Poem: 'On Tender Hooks' by Brian Bilston. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hell ... and Depression

[T]he official textbook of Catholic Christianity, the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” reaffirms the Catholic belief in the eternal nature of hell. It omits the gory details found in earlier attempts to describe the hellish experience, but restates that the chief pain of hell is eternal separation from God.
Depression, as I've experienced it, is a gray curtain that makes communication with the world, and even movement, impossible sometimes.  Certainly I can't feel God is there, which is sad for me, as I've felt God's existence (or I guess technically speaking the Holy Spirit) since I was very young.  

But, as I've noted before, St. John Paul's favorite theologian, Von Balthasar, taught that Hell may well be empty.   I don't know what that means for others subject to depression here on Earth.  For me it is hope. 

Breathing ...

The secret behind the ability of a group of “sea nomads” in Southeast Asia to hold their breath for extraordinary periods of time while freediving to hunt fish has finally been revealed – and it’s down to evolution ....Genetic testing revealed that certain versions of genes are more commonly found in Bajau people than would be expected, with many apparently linked to biological changes that could help individuals cope with low-oxygen conditions.
Among them is a form of a gene linked to an increased spleen size – an effect the team reveal is likely down to an increase in thyroid hormone levels. Crucially, a contraction of the spleen is one of the features of the so called “diving reflex” – a set of responses in mammals that occur when the head is submerged. A large spleen means even more oxygen-carrying red blood cells can be pumped into the circulatory system when the organ contracts, allowing individuals to stay underwater for longer.

Something to think on …

Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous. When you have God, you don’t have to know everything about it; you just do it.
— Mother Angelica, born on this date in 1923

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Exorcising ...

 William Friedkin invented a new kind of car chase in “The French Connection,” but at the start of his new documentary, “The Devil and Father Amorth,” he puts his reputation for realism under assault.
“At the time I made ‘The Exorcist,’” the director confesses, “I had never seen an exorcism.” 
The article is slightly mocking, as one might expect from the NYTimes.  I read Father Amorth's books (and thought I blogged about them here but I can't find it.) They were terrifying.

And what a long strange trip it's been ...

LSD Turns 75

The shot heard round the world …

… Informal Inquiries: The revolution begins on 19 April 1775.

A poem for all seasons …

… and all faiths: 'Amen,' A Passover Poem – Tablet Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Bobber-fishing …

… Fishing for Bream by P. Ivan Young : American Life in Poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In case you wondered …

… How Do We Judge Translations? | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Soundness: the idea being that you should be able to use the thing made, to read it, to write on it, to drop it, to push at bits of it, to cite others, to set it to work and to activate it in all these ways in the context of your own life—and still it would hold. Comeliness:pleasing in its features and its proportions.
I’m not sure how much work these new criteria could be made to do in the evaluation of translations. But I like them (I offer them here as possibilities to think on).

Kay Ryan weighs in …

… wonderfully, of course: AdviceToWriters - Advice to Writers - Read Something of Thrilling Quality. (Hat tip, Dave Lull,)

Blurbs, Bromides, and Sulphites …

… The Seriocomic Origin of 'Blurb' | Merriam-Webster. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Harper’s Editor Insists He Was Fired Over Katie Roiphe Essay. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Here's Roiphe's essay: The Other Whisper Network.

I'm not sure Marcus should have been fired, but this sort of disagreement, if it became typical, would be problematic for any publisher. And, I would think, for the editor as well. As for the story, it lives up to its billing as contrarian. 

Something to think on …

Do your bit to save humanity from lapsing back into barbarity by reading all the novels you can.
— Richard Hughes, born on this date in 1900

Pondering the future...

Mirroring reality...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dark forest tale …

 Informal Inquiries (Revisited): Nathaniel Hawthorne (Revisited).

Hints and guesses …

 A millionaire who buried treasure in the Rockies has offered one main clue.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The poem is also called "The Thrill of the Chase." You can google it, but the website is not responding just now. Wonder why?

In case you want to go there …

… Daniel Kalder picks five books that get inside the minds of dictators | Books | The Guardian.

Also, listen in.


Stay where some famous writers stayed …

World Book Day 2018 Travel: Vacation where your favorite authors once stayed

MUNICH, April 2018 - If you love travel and literature, what better way to celebrate World Book Day (April 23, 2018) than by staying at a home once inhabited by your favorite author? Imagine reading “The Great Gatsby” in a classic 1920s-style hotel on the French Riviera – a hotel whose décor and legendary parties likely influenced Fitzgerald’s renowned novel? Or sipping a martini in the location where Ian Fleming first jotted down James Bond’s “shaken, not stirred” catchphrase? a leading search engine for vacation rentals, presents a list of eleven vacation rentals where famous writers have once stayed. All of these homes can be found on Holidu’s website, and can serve as inspiration for literature-lovers who also suffer from wanderlust this coming World Book Day.

As a quick refresher: World Book Day is an annual event that falls on April 23, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing and copyright.

Mary Shelley (“Frankenstein”) and Percy Shelley (“Ozymandias”): Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales, United Kingdom

This elegant and stately country house, now a B&B, was once the holiday home of the famed English writer Mary Shelley and her husband, romantic poet Percy Shelley. Among Mary Shelley’s various works, “Frankenstein” is indisputably the most well-known. Travelers who love the Shelleys might be entertained by this tale: This historic house is where Percy Shelley dodged an assassination attempt. Legend has it that he was shot at from outside the drawing room window by a disgruntled local, one of many irritated with his outspoken views. After that, the couple fled the country and never came back to Wales. The Gwynedd National Park is a must-see for any visitor.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (“The Great Gatsby”): Nice, France

When looking for a way to consolidate your love for travel with your love for books, look no further than Nice. Famous writers like Hemingway, H.G. Wells and F. Scott Fitzgerald loved the city and its famous coastline. Fitzgerald, in particular, was a big fan of the French Riviera; he and his family were known to spend lots of time there. Fitzgerald preferred to stay at the Negresco, one of the oldest classical hotels. With this apartment for two, you can stay within the famous Negresco building without spending a fortune on the rooms, and still get the classic 1920s feel that Fitzgerald was exposed to (and likely influenced by) when writing “The Great Gatsby.” It’s known that the Negresco used to host lots of wild parties – a recurring scene in Fitzgerald’s most esteemed novel. If you’re looking for something intellectual beyond the beach and the parties, check out Nice’s wide variety of art museums. It’s worth noting that Fitzgerald’s contemporary and rival, Hemingway, also stayed here.

John Steinbeck (“Of Mice and Men,” “The Grapes of Wrath”): Pacific Grove, United States

As most of Steinbeck’s work is set in California, it should come as no surprise that the Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning author owned a home in the Golden State. This Pacific Grove apartment belonged to Steinbeck in the early 1940s. He used it as a writing studio and worked on novels like “The Log from the Sea of Cortez” while residing here. Pacific Grove is on the very tip of the scenic, tree-shrouded Monterey Peninsula, which boasts a dramatic, craggy coastline and unbelievable ocean views. Besides the scenic beauty, the eclectic downtown has cute boutiques, art galleries, antique stores and more. Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are also half a mile away. Fun fact for Steinbeck lovers: The actual location Steinbeck was writing about in his famed novel, “Cannery Row,” was originally called “Ocean View Avenue.” It was later renamed “Cannery Row” in honor of the book.

Ian Fleming (“James Bond”): London, United Kingdom

Action-lovers and James Bond aficionados will surely enjoy a stay at the Dukes in London. Within this luxurious and sophisticated boutique apartment/hotel, travelers can enjoy a typical British high tea, or sip on classic cocktails at the elegant hotel bar. It was here that Fleming came up with James Bond’s famous catchphrase “shaken, not stirred,” which still features prominently in James Bond books and films. To really feel like the secret agent himself, be sure to order the Vesper Martini. Book-loving travelers can also visit the nearby British Library, which is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest library in the world by number of items catalogued.

Sylvia Plath (“The Bell Jar”) and Ted Hughes (“The Thought-Fox”): Loubressac, France

Literary powerhouse couple Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes were visitors of this beautiful, traditional two-bedroom original stone house in the tranquil rural village of Lacam de Loubressac. The property overlooks the Dordogne River, and the great 12th century castle of Castelnau de Bretenoux dominates the panorama below. This quiet, charming home, which boasts exposed beams, central heating, a wood-burning stove and an open fireplace is essentially one giant reading nook perfect for getting lost in both writers’ poetry, or to crack open Plath’s only novel, “The Bell Jar.” Once you’ve had your share of reading, rent canoes from one of the boating companies the Dordogne, for some outdoor exercise; bicycles can also be rented in nearby towns. Additionally, the pilgrimage village of Rocamadour is within a half hour’s drive, and its churches built among boulders and caves are worth exploring.

Roald Dahl (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”): Tenby, Wales, United Kingdom

Book-lovers looking for a comfortable accommodation in which to relax, like Dahl did, may enjoy this cozy cabin where the British novelist used to spend time with his family. Holidays in Tenby with his Norwegian mother influenced him, what with her fascinating Nordic stories involving witches and trolls. These imaginative myths have therefore always marked his style of writing, full of unexpected and outlandish situations, especially in novels such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda.” This seaside town is a holiday destination for people from all over the world, and its sandy shores, rows of multicolored houses and town walls make a perfect getaway from bigger cities. Close to Tenby, an evocative holy island is worth a visit: Inhabited by Cistercian monks, Caldey Island offers the perfect panorama in which you can lose yourself in a good book. 

Miguel de Cervantes (“Don Quixote”): Barri Gòtic, Spain

Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote is probably one of the most famous books worldwide and the author influenced the Spanish language so much that modern-day Spanish is sometimes referred to as “la lengua de Cervantes” or “the language of Cervantes.” This luminous apartment is a celebration of this renowned author: Situated in one of the most beautiful areas in Barcelona, it was here that Cervantes lived and wrote for a couple of years. The rental, catalogued by the UNESCO as Artistic Heritage of the XVth century Catalan Gothic style, was completely reformed and turned into a duplex conserving the old stone walls and arches. The area around the apartment, Barri Gòtic (or Gothic Quarter), seems to be made especially for book-lovers: you can stop by theSunday book market at Carrer Comte d'Urgell or have a coffee at the Café Els Quatre Gats, originally a meeting place of bohemian authors (artists like Gaudi and Picasso).

Gustave Flaubert ("Madame Bovary"): Pont-l'Évêque, France

This comfortable holiday home, on the shores of an 80-hectare lake, was the former residence of French naturalist author Gustave Flaubert, best known for his worldwide masterpiece “Madame Bovary.” The greenery sprawling around the house, as well as the serene lake, make the perfect environment for reading outside and basking in nature’s glory. If you can pull yourself away from your book, be sure to visit the Normandy Natural Park and also get to Rouen, the writer's birthplace. There you’ll find the museum dedicated to the author.

Nikos Kazantzakis (“Zorba the Greek”): West Mani, Greece

This charming seaside house built in the late 19th century has its own story to tell. Between 1917 and 1918 the famous author Nikos Kazantzakis from Crete lived here. This is where the original story of his world-famous book “Zorba the Greek” took place. The plot is partly inspired by Kazantzakis’s own life and focuses on a young man who works in a mine. The mine where Kazantzakis himself worked is only a few miles from the house. So is the beach where the famous “Sirtaki scene” from the movie with Anthony Quinn takes place. The rental offers a calm and private atmosphere in which one can relax and unwind, and houses between four to six people.

Paul Auster (“The Book of Illusions”): Azenhas do Mar, Portugal

The postmodern author and director Paul Auster spent some time in this spacious villa in Lisbon while filming “The Inner Life of Martin Frost.” His works are influenced by psychoanalysis and transcendentalism; therefore, some recurring themes are coincidence, failure and metafiction. This holiday house is surrounded by the magnificent gardens and is close in proximity to the 19th-century architectural monuments of Sintra, which has resulted in its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors may easily get carried away by the beautiful sites, especially the castle of Quinta da Regaleira: a romantic palace with luxurious park, that features lakes, grottoes and fountains.   

Carl Zuckmayer (“The Captain of Köpenick”)Saas-Fee, Switzerland

The famous German writer and playwright Zuckmayer shuttled between Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the U.S. throughout his life. His play, “The Captain of Köpenick,” was a smash success, but like his other plays it became censored during World War II. Following the War, Zuckmayer settled down in Saas-Fee, Switzerland where he bought this luxurious wooden chalet in Zermatt. The breathtaking alpine scenery there probably inspired him to continue writing and this chalet is also a perfect place in which one can quietly read for hours on end.