Saturday, August 31, 2019

Contemporary journalism …

… Bret Stephens has a new column on ‘Jews as bedbugs’ and it looks like he totally effed it up – twitchy.com.

“As you can see if you click on the bottom right photo, Stephens didn’t bother reading the footnote for his quote on the burning of Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto, ‘The bedbugs are on fire. The Germans are doing a great job.’ You see, at the time, there really was a bedbug epidemic in Warsaw and the author of the book from where Stephens got that quote said it should be taken literally.”

Don’t do this …

… if you want a second date: Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: Dinner Date.

A latter-day guide for the perplexed …

… Owen Barfield and the power of words, (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So Barfield’s spiritual awakening, fleshed out by his study of words, led him to a fresh account of the meaning of Christianity: humankind has undergone an alienation from God that in turn enabled the return of a freer humanity to God. Felix culpa! Happy Fall! It was Augustine’s discovery when he realised God as “more in me than I am in me” and that God was “waiting within me while I went outside me”. Perhaps it was a parallel insight that led Karl Rahner to make his well-known remark, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all.” 

Anniversary …

… Reviews and Marginalia : Everybody has got to die ... Now what?

If you say so …

… The 50 Greatest Coming-of-Age Novels | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



My candidate would be Alain-Fournier's Le grand Meaulnes.

Mark thy calendar …


Leonard Gontarek

Fri, Aug 30, 7:58 PM (14 hours ago)
to editordouglas.witmer
Poetry In Common and

The Green Line Café Poetry Series On Locust

are honored to celebrate
the posthumous publication

of More Here Than Light:
The Selected Poems of A.V. Christie



This invitation is extended to all.


“A.V. Christie took great care with her poems and so
she took great care of us.” LG




A.V. Christie (1963-2016) was the author of Nine Skies (University of Illinois Press), which won the National Poetry Series; The Housing, winner of the McGovern Prize (Ashland Poetry Press); and the chapbooks The Wonders (Seven Kitchens Press) and And I Began to Entertain Doubts (Folded Word Press).  Her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, Poetry, Commonweal, AGNI, Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner and many other reviews. She was a recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania and Maryland State Arts Councils and was a visiting writer at Villanova and LaSalle universities, Bryn Mawr College, Goucher College, the University of Maryland and Penn State Abington, as well as a Poet-in-the Schools.




The Poetry of A.V. Christie will be read by

Taije Silverman * Alix Christie *

Nathalie Anderson * Alyson Shore Adler


Hosted by Leonard Gontarek


Wednesday, September 11, 2019,
5:30-7:30 PM


THE GREEN LINE CAFE IS LOCATED
AT 45TH & LOCUST STREETS
PHILADELPHIA, PA  USA
(Please note the address, there are
  other Green Line Café locations.)
        greenlinecafe.com

     This Event Is Free

     More Here Than Light
     will be available for sale




Corn Maze by A.V. Christie

I heard the next voice over:
Think small it said. Think small.
Through the halls, the walls of corn,
I heard how the voice was held together
by its heritage of fear
and an inescapable sound of wings.
I had tried also always to flee—
the desire that rises and falters unceremoniously
Now I was in the middle with a tall flag
and a poor diagram shedding no light,
crosshatched hay strewn on the path.
It felt as though we all were the remnant
of some great trauma. Wandering.
One voice later, at the two hour mark,
I heard a father: Shut up or I’ll rip your tongue out.
This was maybe too near the center part of our map.
(Where we’d come to again.)
And I’d been one who’d tried always to position
herself at the edge of a field.
I thought we would simply go in and come out.
But here was density, tunnels leading back
to a childhood, its basic cosmology of annihilation.
Oh, this rustling and reliable sequence
of panic—I wondered who could I really be
without it?

Afloat in time …

… Zealotry of Guerin: No Image (Memory), Sonnet #473.

Something to think on …

The real dividing line between things we call work and the things we call leisure is that in leisure, however active we may be, we make our own choices and our own decisions. We feel for the time being that our life is our own.
— Raymond Williams, born on this date in 1921

Hmm …

… Suggested move to plant-based diets risks worsening brain health nutrient deficiency | EurekAlert! Science News.

Great minds …

… Nigeness: Ed.

Anxious commute …

 Autumn Road by James Matthew Wilson | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I read a book last week that says our reason
No longer sees the world as from God’s eyes;
Where the ancient mind saw signs, ours now denies
To it all but the most material meaning.

And it’s rather timely …

I discovered a new John Locke manuscript. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
At the time Locke was writing, religious uniformity was considered essential to social stability, and was rigorously enforced by law. But political reversals in 1667 meant Charles II had to seek support amongst “nonconformists” – and one key question was how far this tolerance should extend – to any denomination of Protestant, to Catholics, to Atheists, to other religious faiths?

Stepping out …

… Shoes - Australian Poetry Library. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden, who notes that David Rowbotham would have turned 95 on August 27.)

The spread of fear …

… When the Public Feared That Library Books Could Spread Deadly Diseases | History | Smithsonian. (Ha tip, Rus Bowden.)



Illness was rife in this period in both Britain and the United States. Epidemics including “tuberculosis, smallpox and scarlet fever” were taking “a fearful toll in urban areas,” according to scholar Gerald S. Greenberg’s 1988 article “Books as Disease Carriers, 1880-1920.” For a populace that was already on edge about fatal diseases, the idea of contaminated library books passing from hand to hand became a significant source of anxiety.

Be careful …

… Photographing When It’s Forbidden - Digital Photo Pro. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Just so you know …

… The most romantic words of all are not “I love you.” Here’s something better. | The Book Haven.

Classic …

… Replay: Imogene Coca performs “The Modest Stripper” | About Last Night.

Tyranny alert …

… China Formally Arrests Australian Writer on 'Spying' Charge. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Museums and artistry...

...As vehicles for economic development

Friday, August 30, 2019

RIP …

… Valerie Harper, Taboo-Busting 'Rhoda' TV Star, Dies at 80 - Truthdig. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Indeed …

… Reviews and Marginalia : Shining the light on creation and imagination.

How true …

… Reviews and Marginalia : How much — how little — is within our power.

The intelligence beat …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Q&A With Chief Inspector Daniel MacDonald, Chief Of The Philadelphia Police Department's Intelligence Bureau.



… Assange Is A Spy Not A Journalist: The Case Against WikiLeaks Founder Juilan Assange.

In case you wondered …

… Did Charles Schulz Really Write 'Peanuts' for Kids? - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Charles Schulz did not create Charlie Brown and Linus and Lucy to talk—or act—like normal children. He created them to be funny, and to act out what became a deeply personal theater of cruelty. But it is kids, real or unreal, that he put front and center, and it is kids who have been among his most avid readers, my own younger self very much included. I suspect that school-age children, who have to be shamed out of their natural inclination to laugh at others’ misfortune, enjoy Peanuts’ harshness as a subversive, vicarious thrill. I know I did. It helps that most of the jokes, references to Dostoyevsky and Beethoven notwithstanding, are accessible at a fairly early age, if not the deeper resonances of Schulz’s wit (such as the implication that adults also like to laugh at other people’s misery and pratfalls). It helps, too, that the strip’s surface concerns are children’s: friendships, pets, baseball, kite flying, thumb sucking, schoolyard crushes. Schulz met kids on their own terms, but then wrote up to them.

Interesting …

… Reckoning with Addiction in Crime Fiction | CrimeReads. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux did not need five books before he got sober. When the series opens, with 1987’s The Neon Rain, Dave is already in recovery. His best friend, partner, and archetypal trickster, Clete Purcel, is decidedly not. He’s an unapologetic alcoholic, and a violent one. In chapter one of The Neon Rain, he asks:
‘Dave, when does a guy know he’s got a drinking problem?’‘When it starts to hurt him,’ replies Dave.
There might be more wisdom summarized in those six words than in any self-lacerating / self-congratulatory memoir. 

Something to think on …

Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.
— Oliver Sacks, who died on this date in 2015

Good for Edinburgh...

...Attendance at Fringe Festival tops 3M

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Blogging note …

I am soon to take off for a long and leisurely lunch with a Jesuit friend of mine. Blogging will resume sometime later.

In case you wondered …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Why I Carry.

And it’s a good question …

… Ann Kjellberg asks: Is there a role for strong, considered thinking in our digital future? | The Book Haven.

A day late …

 Nigeness: 'Hassock and cassock, paraffin and pew...'

Listen in …

… Big histories and the new need for meaning – Mark Vernon.

Much in what he says …

… John Williams Considers the Literary Western (or Lack Thereof) c. 1961 | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Western adventure, then, is not really epical; no national force stronger than himself pushed the American frontiersman beyond the bounds of his known experience into the chaos of a new land, into the unknown. His voyage into the wilderness was most meaning­fully a voyage into the self, experiment­al, private and sometimes obscure.
He understands Calvinism better than Marilynne Robinson does. But it seems to me by confining himself to “the Western” he overlooks that the region has in fact been well served by  Willa Cather and, more recently, Larry Watson.

Multifaceted woman …

 Reviews and Marginalia : America’s first published poet.

Light and darkness …

 … In the Gloom, the Gold by Rachel Hadas | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

 61% Welcome Public Scrutiny of Big League Reporters - Rasmussen Reports.



Always useful to know what your customers think.

All in the family …

 … Glittering loneliness – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Philip Larkin and his parents.

Hmm …

… Address Unknown: the great, forgotten anti-Nazi book everyone must read | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



The book sounds great the parallels with contemporary politics are tiresomely predictable — pretty much like contemporary politics in general.

In case you wondered …

… Best Places to Submit Poetry 2019 - The Adroit Journal. (Ht tip, Rus Bowden,)

Diagnosis: terminal …

… Why the humanities can't be saved - UnHerd. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nietzsche found no way out from the condition he diagnosed, and it may well be that there is none. The decline of the humanities may be no more than an episode in the decline of the West. The idea that a solution can be found in the academy is silly. A cultural malady that goes all the way back to Socrates is not going to be remedied by anything that is done in floundering 21st-century universities.

Something to think on …

All mothers are rich when they love their children. There are no poor mothers, no ugly ones, no old ones. Their love is always the most beautiful of joys.
— Maurice Maeterlinck, born on this date in 1862

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Tracking the decline …

…  Renoir and the foolishness of chronological snobbery. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
 As Ed Driscoll pointed out at Instapundit, Schjeldahl’s essay is sterling example of what C.S. Lewis described as ‘chronological snobbery,’ the belief that ‘the thinking, art, or science of an earlier time is inherently inferior to that of the present, simply by virtue of its temporal priority or the belief that since civilization has advanced in certain areas, people of earlier time periods were less intelligent.’ If, Driscoll observes, we add the toxic codicil that those previous times were ‘therefore wrong and also racist’ we would have ‘a perfect definition of today’s SJWs.’
Link was broken. Fixed now.

The death of reportage …

… All the News That's Fit to Slant. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The digital upheaval removed experienced professionals from newsrooms and replaced them with novice activists working for paltry wages. It was former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes who best summarized the new reality. “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns,” he told the New York Times Magazine in 2016. “That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”
An example: The Inquirer, the newspaper I used to work, is transparently supportive of undocumented aliens. To the best of my knowledge it has never published a piece about how legal immigrants feel about the undocumented. I take a lot of cabs. A lot of cab drivers are immigrants — from Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Haiti, Morocco, to name just a few. I have yet to meet one who didn’t agree with the Indian cab driver who said to me, “They should all have to go through the same crap I went through.” Whether you agree or not, good reporting would let you know about this. But journalism these days is about advocacy, not reporting. And advocacy has a tendency to be dishonest.

Not good …

… The Federal Reserve Resistance - WSJ.

Wow. Talk about stripping the veil. These columns wondered if Mr. Dudley was politically motivated while he was at the Fed, favoring bond buying to finance Barack Obama ’s deficit spending, urging the Fed to intervene in markets to boost housing, and keeping interest rates low for as long as possible. And now here Mr. Dudley is confirming that he views the Fed as an agent of the Democratic Party.

Classic appreciation …

… Dorothy Parker on the Art of Her Old Pal James Thurber | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes …

… Renowned Yale Computer Science Prof Leaves Darwinism | The Stream. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good luck …

… Three years into nonprofit ownership, The Philadelphia Inquirer is still trying to chart its future — Nieman Journalism Lab.

Provocative and recommended …

Reviews and Marginalia : Rumpole and the Reign of Terror (2007).

Something to think on …

One of the things that puzzles me is that so few people want to look at life as a totality and to recognize that death is no more extraordinary than birth. When they say it's the end of everything they don't seem to recognize that we came from somewhere and it would be very, very strange indeed to suppose that we're not going somewhere.
— Robertson Davies, born on this date in 1913

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Hmm …

… Their Own Approach to Book Criticism - The Reading Experience. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

At the Bookseller, Adam Blades, a "lecturer in Publishing," attempts to defend "celebrity tastemakers" (those with "book clubs") by making this claim about actual literary critics …
I have no idea what a “lecturer in Publishing” is, but I am not impressed by what this one has to say. Are there bad reviewers and good reviewers? Definitely. Is reviewing subjective? Well, there sure in hell is a subjective component. But you can review a book and be impartial and unaffected by fashion and can honestly report on your experience of reading a book. I panned Cormac McCarthy’s The Road just a day or two after it won the Pulitzer Prize, because I happen to think it is a demonstrably bad book. Huge numbers of people disagreed with me. Fine. I disagree with them. Time will tell.

Time constraints …

I must be out in about in just a few minutes. I won't be blogging at all today until sometime this afternoon.

Hmm …

… Getting Beyond Darwin | George Weigel | First Things,

Put the Cambrian fossil record together with the high statistical improbability that the information-dense building-blocks of life happened through random mutations and you’re forced to consider what amounts to cultural heresy: that “the explosion of detailed, precise information that was necessary to build the brand-new Cambrian organisms, and the fact that the information was encoded, represented symbolically, in DNA” falsify the Darwinian explanation of the big picture. 
Well, one of the late Aristotle's four causes, is the final cause, the purpose behind the cause. 

Something to think on …

With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures and some books, I live without envy.
— Lope de Vega, who died on this date in 1635

Monday, August 26, 2019

Better late …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Belated 81st Birthday To Journalist And Thriller Writer Frederick .Forsyth.

Hmm …

… The Dark Side of the "Good War". (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, I guess it’s true that Britain ended up losing its empire. And it’s certainly true that those in charge before the war broke out made lots of grievous mistakes. And there is something to be said for the bombing of civilians signaling a contempt for innocent life. But wars tend to be awful. Which is why it is good to avoid them. Too bad politicians don’t seem to know how to do that, and in many cases don’t even want to do that.

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Claudia Pineiro on crime fiction, and the difference between writing novels and screenplays.

Claudia Piñeiro is an Argentine novelist and television scriptwriter best known for writing literary crime novels, most of which are best sellers in Latin America. She was born in Buenos Aires and has won numerous literary prizes including the German LiBeraturpreis for Elena Sabeand the Clarin Prize for fiction for Thursday Night Widows.

Getting to know him …

… Reviews and Marginalia : Wordsworth — an adroit and vivid portrait.



I would also recommend Kenneth L. Johnston’s The Hidden Wordsworth, which I reviewed some 20-odd years ago.

Writer, reader, and language …

… Holding It Together: On Tony Hoagland’s “The Art of Voice” - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“When we commence reading a poem, we are starting a relationship, and we want that relationship to be with an interesting, resourceful companion.” 

A world without transcendence …

… France’s Master Of ‘Materialist Horror’ | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
In the case of Christianity in Europe, I think the question to ask is something like this: can a civilization maintain its identity if it sheds its native religion? Houellebecq doesn’t think so, and neither do I. This isn’t a political or polemical point. Imagine taking as an anthropological platitude the claim that human beings will be religious and, moreover, that civilizations are built upon the metaphysical systems they create (or which are revealed to them, to give credit to the metaphysical on its own terms). It’s obvious from such an assumption that the collapse of the metaphysics entails the eventual collapse of everything else. This should be deeply alarming to anyone who cares about the West’s tradition of humanitarianism, which emerges—and it would be wonderful if we could all agree on this—out of the original Judaic notion of imago Dei and later from Christian humanism. Secular humanism has been running for quite some time on the fumes of the Judeo-Christian religious inheritance, but it’s not clear how much longer that can go on.
I reviewed Houellbecq’s The Map and the Territory. I thought it was great. This is very good interview. Betty has a lot on the ball.

Something to think on …

Only those who are capable of silliness can be called truly intelligent.
— Christopher Isherwood, born on this date in 1904

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Speaking of birthdays …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy 89th Birthday To Sean Connery.

Anniversary …

 On His Blindness by Jorge Luis Borges | Poetry Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden, who reminds us that yesterday was Borges's 120th birthday.)

World of wonders …

… First Known When Lost: Enchanted Or Disenchanted, Part Six: The Stars, The Planets, And The Wind.

 I like the fact that de la Mare and Stevenson do not patronize the children for whom they write.  (The same is true of Christina Rossetti.)  I also like the fact that "Escape at Bedtime" and "Wanderers" could be mistaken for "adult poems" if one encountered them outside the context of a book of "children's verse."  (This is true of a great many of the "children's poems" written by de la Mare, Stevenson, and Rossetti.)  Of course, modern ironists might scoff at this latter assertion, but they have ironized themselves out of Beauty and Truth long ago, haven't they?  Alas, there is no hope for them, so knowing and so undeceived.  Their World is disenchanted.

Appreciation …

… Honoring Charles Bukowski: A working poet for the ages - An-Nahar English. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Having given up for over a decade his attempts at fiction and narrative writing, a nearly fatal illness and hospitalization inspired him to take up the typewriter again. Instead of writing short stories, he composed short narrative style poetry, but much like a boxer in the ring, each line was a short jab, uppercut or a roundhouse.

And the winners are …

… Winning Poems for July 2019 : IBPC.



The Judge's Page.



(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Anniversary …

… Reviews and Marginalia : Life forms on moon reported by newspaper.

Hmm …

… The Eucharist is about more than Christ becoming present - Religion News Service.

I personally find the theology of transubstantiation unintelligible, not because I don’t believe that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, but because I do not believe in prime matter, substantial forms, substance and accidents. I don’t think we have a clue what Jesus meant when he said, “This is my body.” I think we should humbly accept it as a mystery and not pretend we understand it.
Well, in a comment I posted on this piece, I suggest that Father Reese has fallen into heresy. I point out that the Council of Trent formally confirmed that "by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."

But apparently, this the good padre’s shtick: Fr. Thomas Reese’s quixotic, irrational battle with Greek philosophy.

A poet to watch …

… The poetry of James Matthew Wilson, a storyteller of spiritual anxiety - Angelus News - Multimedia Catholic News. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I also reviewed The Hanging God: Virtuosity and verse at the service of the imaginative vision.

Ahm yes …

… The Case of the Disappearing Editors. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



You can edit your own work if you let it sit for awhile. But it is always better to have someone else look at it. The differentiation made here between line editing and copyediting doesn't really apply to newspapers — because most of the writing is on deadline. So the assigning editing does some line editing and the copyeditor may do more. What strikes me about much that I see online is that it goes on too long and has a tendency to digress too much.

Something to think on …

Those that embrace the entire universe with love, for the most part love nothing, but their narrow selves.
— Johann Gottfried Herder, born on this date in 1744

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Hmm …

… Recent Stories of Leaving the Faith | Scot McKnight.

I am a cradle Catholic. My faith is a heritage. It has its reasons, which I find plausible, for I have been well educated in my faith. I do not think of faith as the conclusion of a reasoning process. Those I know who have rejected the faith they inherited have always seemed to me to have done so out of convenience. As in all such cases, it is between the individual and God.  

Remembering …

… Nigeness: Crazy Day.

Back when television was a vast wasteland …

… Replay: an interview with Aldous Huxley | About Last Night.

Don’t know much about history …

… Slaves to Intellectual Fashion: 1619 | The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Let me say it plainly. Slavery did not come to America in 1619.
It’s well known by actual historians that slavery was common among the Native American tribes. This isn’t a slanderous statement, since slavery has been a universal human institution ever since we started living in houses and growing crops. 

Have a look …

Edward Norton's reinterpretation of Motherless Brooklyn actually looks great. | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dream times two …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Strong Dream (Paul Klee), Sonnets #471 and #472.

How it happened …

… Reviews and Marginalia : The key to understanding the rise and fall of Athens.

Something to think on …

Think of this — that the writer wrote alone, and the reader read alone, and they were alone with each other.
— A. S. Byatt, born on this date in 1934

Friday, August 23, 2019

Suspend your disbelief …

… Reviews and Marginalia : Actor thrown from tower ... police baffled.

Hmm …

Afternoon sunlight
Graces the ivy. How much
Longer may be left?

Blogging note …

I have much to do today. So blogging will resume sometime later.

Hmm …

… Lynsey Addario: Documenting The Human Condition - Digital Photo Pro. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)



I like to think there is a broader range to the human condition than what is shown here. But there is no denying what is shown here.

Not a bad idea

… Whatever Your Classroom, Please Teach More Living Poets | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

  Of course, you have to have the right teachers.

The strangeness of memory …

… Witness by Morri Creech | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Remembering …

… DownWithTyranny!: Introducing "Will Cuppy Tonight". (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In 1950 a group of V.I.P. wives was taken on a tour of NATO headquarters in Europe. Entering Dwight D. Eisenhower's office, they saw a single book lying on an otherwise empty desk, evidently a work of profound importance that consoled or inspired the Commander in Chief as he searched for a path to world peace. The book's rather disconcerting title was The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody.
Will Cuppy was born on this date in 1884.


Not a beach read

… An author who shows the real cost of salvation | Catholic Herald. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No novelist in my view has ever shown the real cost of salvation as the saints know it, or what the loveless life of Hell actually means, with such conviction or intensity. 

Th wrong move …

… The Novelist Whose Conservatism Robbed Him of Fame | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Most scholars interpret Brewster’s brushoff as O’Hara’s comeuppance for being a conspicuous recognition seeker with a frequently alcohol-infused temper. What is not emphasized is Brewster’s role as one of the most influential university presidents of the 20th century. In his 2004 book The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal EstablishmentGeoffrey Kabaservice depicts Brewster and his circle of Yale and Harvard friends—which included future political operatives McGeorge Bundy, Elliott Richardson, and Cyrus Vance—as the team that bridged the transition from establishment old-guard conservatism to a new generation of liberal elitism. By moving right at the same time, O’Hara all but assured that he would forever be an outsider peering through the window of an ivy-decorated tower.
I visited Pottsville and wrote about O'Hara during his centenary years. Here is the piece.

Something to think on …

They [the Pilgrims] believed in freedom of thought for themselves and for all other people who believed exactly as they did.
— Will Cuppy, born on this date in 1884

Thursday, August 22, 2019

In case you wondered …

… The Real Reason They Behave Hypocritically On Climate Change Is Because They Want To.


Band of criminals …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review Of 'Gotti's Boys: The Mafia Crew That Killed For John Gotti'.

You’re invited …

…  Join the National Endowment for the Arts at the 2019 National Book Festival | NEA.

Snapshot …

Trio of sparrows
Runaway morning glories
Late summer garden

Blogging note …

I have to take off for an appointment. Blogging will resume when I get back, which probably won’t be until the late afternoon.

Self-examination …

… The Sentence by Morri Creech | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Kafkaesque parable …

… Reviews and Marginalia : Locked room mystery with existential implications.

For the defense …

… Sarah Ruden's Mistakes | Mark Bauerlein | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The factual errors start with the phrase “anoints Whitman America’s greatest poet.” This isn’t true. Edmundson didn’t do this. It’s been done 100 times before by countless poets, writers, critics, and professors (Harold Bloom: “If you are American, then Walt Whitman is your imaginative father and mother”).

Have a look …

… Top Shots: The Week's Best Photojournalism. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Sounds lke fun, actually …

… The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders: A Tokyo Restaurant Where All the Servers Are People Living with Dementia | Open Culture. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The numbers …

… At 71 - Babilu.

The genuine article …

… Camille Paglia: The Maverick Critic and Scholar. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 This reveals something important about Paglia. Her project in Provocations, and in much of her later work, is not to provoke simply for the sake of it, in the manner of, say, Milo Yiannopoulos. Her project is cultural populism. “I feel I should use my name recognition for service, for art,” she told the blog Bookslut in 2015. “I’m just a teacher in the classroom from beginning to end,” she added. Paglia sees culture, from the stories of the Bible to the paintings of Picasso to the ballads of Joni Mitchell, as a vast patchwork of meaning that inspires awe and delivers wisdom. She wants to bring the riches of art, literature, and religion to everyday people.

Something to think on …

It is peculiar to “ressentiment criticism” that it does not seriously desire that its demands be fulfilled. It does not want to cure the evil. The evil is merely the pretext for the criticism.
— Max Scheler, born on this date in 1874

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sounds like a must-read …

… Mystics of the Imagination.

Mark Vernon, in this beautifully written and artfully constructed book, uses Barfield’s key insights and amplifying historical and literary scholarship, to trace the development of Christianity’s two founding traditions – Athens and Jerusalem – articulating how they embarked on similar journeys from original participation to an individualizing break to a new sense of humanity’s place in the cosmos. No longer inhabiting a field in which the gods pulled the strings of fate into a world governed by a unitary, ordered universe in which recognizable persons could, in freedom, respond either to Yahweh as person or in law or to the ordering Good or Logos. These two traditions, Vernon argues, merge in Christianity and give birth to a new dispensation, a new reconciling participation, witnessed to and embodied in the person of Christ.

Graham Greene in Cuba...

...There have been a number of recent reviews and articles about this topic

Listen in …

 A trip to the Hudson Valley, Interview talk in Connecticut & Sandwiches in Maine – Literary Tourist.

The destination was Richard Minsky’s place in the Hudson Valley, just south of Albany, NY. Richard was/is the founder of The Center for Book Arts in New York. I’d heard about him some years earlier thanks to a book he’d written called The Art of American Book Covers, 1875-1930On the drive back north from a visit to New York City one summer I called him up out-of- the-blue to ask if he’d like to be interviewed for The Biblio File podcast. He gamely agreed, and promptly fixed up a bountiful cheese plate (and drinks) for my wife and her brother, who was travelling with us, out on his patio. The two of us then got down to business inside. He poured me one of the best Negronis I’ve ever thrown back. We then sat down together to talk about the book arts. Listen above. 

Anniversary …

 Reviews and Marginalia : X. J. Kennedy and the Hippogriff.

Well, it is tring to get at a mystery …

… For Wittgenstein, Philosophy Had to Be as Complicated as the Knots it Unties | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“When a sentence is called senseless,” he said, “a combination of words is being excluded from the language, withdrawn from circulation,” and “it is not as it were its sense that is senseless.” But we cannot appreciate what we have achieved unless we find some way to commemorate our lost illusions and “get a clear view of the . . . state of affairs before the contradiction was resolved”—a task that called for imagination, tact and poetic skill rather than quick-witted cleverness.

Biography as autobiography …

… Reading in a Boom Time of Biographical Fiction | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I chose to write about Saint Paul because, first of all, I considered him the inventor of Christianity, a figure almost equal to Plato in his influence on western thought. But, in this case, one has only a handful of letters—perhaps six of the thirteen Pauline epistles in the New Testament are considered authentic by most scholars. The Acts of the Apostles provide a partial biography of Paul. But this is a sketch. It’s for the novelist to imagine the contours of Paul’s inner world, to guess at his motives. I saw him as a repressed homosexual, a man of amazing visionary powers, a godly person who heard voices—including the voice of God. 
How he sees Paul is just that. How exactly does how he sees Paul tell me anything about the actual Paul?

In the garden …

When the breeze subsides
And the wind chimes pause, notice
How vast silence seems.

Soft Stalinism …

… “Panic Attack” Reveals the Extent Of Young Radicals’ War Against the Middle Class. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Our elite schools have become training grounds for what Zach Goldberg has described in Tablet as a “white savior class”: upper-middle-class “woke” liberals educated in intersectionality, more in favor of reparations than African-Americans as a group, and more supportive of open borders than Mexican-Americans as a group.  (The men are even more feminist than women.) Their mission, to put it bluntly, is to keep the middle class in its place: beneath them.

Something to think on …

Have patience with all things — but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.
— Francis de Sales, born on this date in 1567

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The nature of language...

...In all its complexity

Not those kind of boobs …

… Right-Wing Boob Job - Taki's Magazine - Taki's Magazine.

… exactly the type of movie us Abes used to drunkenly pine for: a non documentary that would appeal to rightists. That movie is called The Hunt, and it’s a riff on the venerable “Most Dangerous Game” scenario (hunters hunting humans), but with villainous, hate-filled, intolerant leftists kidnapping innocent right-wingers and hunting them for sport. Even a retarded gibbon would have understood from the trailer that the “deplorables” in the film are the ones the audience is supposed to root for (especially the kick-ass blond female lead). But right-wing bloggers tend to fall below tardigibbons on the IQ chart.
I had forgotten about the protests against The Last Temptation of Christ. I just thought it was an awful film based on the title by Nikos Kazantzakis, made even with Willem Dafoe as a meshuga Jesus.

In case you wondered …

… on Who Wants To be A Jewish Writer? and Other Essays by Adam Kirsch – On the Seawall. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Taken as a whole, these essays reveal Kirsch’s focus on a Jewish approach to the world that is pragmatic, emphasizing the quotidian life lived here on earth now, and characterized by a special relationship to texts that originates in Talmud study. He contrasts this mode with a Christian outlook in which, while “[c]ontemporary poetry is not often religious, but … is still intensely, covertly metaphysical … The poet is for the modern world what the prophet and the philosopher were in ancient times: the person who sees into the essence of things, who knows what the world really is and how it should be.”

A small museum …

 zmkc: Gerard Dorville.

I love small museums. They usually contain something interesting, an object that gives you a glimpse into a bit of history or a way of life that you didn't know about, or a display that introduces you to a talent you would never have heard of otherwise.

An overreaction perhaps …

… A Nobel for Bob Dylan? “Grow up!” says a guy who is still on a rant about it. | The Book Haven.



I don't know. These lines from "Mr. Tamborine Man" have always seemed to me to have genuine literary merit:



Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea
Circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate
Driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today
Until tomorrow

Writers, artists, innovators …

 Reviews and Marginalia : Creators: From Chaucer and Dürer to Picasso and Disney by Paul Johnson (2006).

What distinguishes Johnson's essays most is the intellectual vigor of his research and observations, the impressive fluidity of his prose, and the ambitious boldness of the thematic premise which dominates Creators: Johnson's subjects (and the rest of the world's important creators) have become giants in their fields because of courage, curiosity, and industriousness …

A question of scale …

The American Scholar: Better on Paper — Walter Nicklin. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Precisely because the Rappahannock News is so small, the lessons may be large. That’s my hypothesis, anyway: the media mantra of “scaling up” and “monetizing eyeballs” is a siren song. Print publications that are thriving focus not on the quantity, but the quality, of their readership. Or for those who think of reading as a form of nourishment, a good analogy might be the “Eat Fresh, Eat Local” food movement in reaction to industrialized agriculture and packaged, processed products of grocery chains. When we analyze the best and most successful print products, money should not be our only metric.
It also helps if those working for a newspaper get to know the people who are likely to read it. Hanging out with your peers isn't very broadening of your viewpoint.

Something to think on …

Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.
— Paul Tillich, born on this date in 1886

What heroism looks like …

… Instapundit — ON THIS DAY IN 1919, RODDIE EDMONDS WAS BORN NEAR KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE.

Almost a century later, in 2015, he was posthumously recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations,” Israel’s highest honor for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Hmm …

 Intimidation-Produced Silence at Stanford - Minding The Campus.

Free speech at Stanford, of course, is no more endangered than at other institutions. In January of this year, for example, FIRE published the results of a survey of 2225 college students that found 57% think university administrators should be able to restrict views that some see as hurtful or offensive. Even though the fate of free speech at Stanford may be no worse than at other institutions, it is also no better, and the fact that threats to it are so common across similar and different campuses makes what is happening there of interest to more than its students and alumni. Thus, its recent symposium is sadly, revealingly relevant.
When I was at what was then St. Joseph's College at the beginning of the '60s, the overall political complexion was liberal Democratic. But when some of us — led by future Secretary of the Navy John Lehman — started a conservative club, we were just looked on as eccentric. Discussion was free and open. I think that was because all of us already had a religion. No one thought of turning politics into one.

Monday, August 19, 2019

What the Inquirer has failed to notice …

… War on cops in Philadelphia - Washington Times.

The day after the standoff and police shootings, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, William M. McSwain, weighed in.
“What I witnessed last night was true heroism by the Philadelphia police. But the crisis was precipitated by a stunning disrespect for law enforcement – a disrespect so flagrant and so reckless that the suspect immediately opened fire on every single officer within shooting distance. Only by the grace of God did they survive,” Mr. McSwain said. “Where does such disrespect come from?  There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this City that is promoted and championed by District Attorney Larry Krasner — and I am fed up with it.

Fake literature …

… Paging Big Brother: In Amazon’s Bookstore, Orwell Gets a Rewrite - ENM NEWS.

The agony and the ecstacy...

...Of being David Foster Wallace's pen pal

I guess so …

… The 30 Worst Remakes in Movies and TV. (Hat tip, Jon Caroulis.)

The only one I even heard of was the remake of The Day the Earth  Stood Still, which I didn’t bother to see.

Q&A …

… Bound by a Common Anguish: D.L. Mayfield Interviews Casey Cep - Image Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Casey N. Cep is a writer whose work tends towards thoughtfulness, with an eye for stories that are haunted by faith. Her work appears often in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and her first book, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee was recently published by Knopf. Here, she discusses the book and why she was drawn to Lee and her questions of geography, writing, and vocation. 
D.L. Mayfield asked her about fascination with Harper Lee, how reading the Bible as a child influenced her as a book reviewer for The New Yorker, and much more, for Good Letters

A confident spinster …

… Forgotten Poems #65: "The Old Maid's Prayer to Diana," by Mary Tighe.

A really cool poem.

Succulent distraction …

… Reviews and Marginalia : ... as if death were nowhere in the background...



As Peter Pan noted, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.”

Listen in …

… Episode 333 – Gil Roth – The Virtual Memories Show.

Because of a last-minute guest cancellation, I had no show lined up for this week! Rather than take a second week off this summer, I decided it was time for another Gil Roth AMA episode, since the last one was almost 5 years ago. Thirty-two past and upcoming guests and Patreon supporters came through with questions for me …

Just a thought …

Annoyances

Annoyances. That neighbor’s dog barking,
Barking. Something forgotten, spilled, or dropped.
Would they annoy if this day were your last?
Or would you clutch them like a frightened child?

Light and serious …

… Ogden Nash: The secret truths of rhymed unreason. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Although Nash was known as the most popular writer of humorous verse in America, he bore for a long time the burden of all brilliantly funny writers. That of not being taken seriously as an artist, as an innovator of unexpected rhyme schemes and a discoverer of the insane possibilities of known words. That lacuna in critical appreciation has been redeemed; that it existed points to the belief that ‘high’ art alone is poetry. This often blinds us to the acutely functioning imagination that pushes the bounds of language and vision in comic poetry — a quality lauded as the mark of the artist in poetry that refuses to laugh.



"Speak Low" is from One Touch of Venus, music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ogden Nash.

Moments …

 Mark Jarman: 'Memory Song' - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The highest …

 Whose Honors Include . . . – The Hopkins Review.

Listen in …

 The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Alberto Manguel on Packing My Library and the Idiocy of Honesty in Politics.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1948, Alberto Manguel grew up in Tel-Aviv, where his father served as the first Argentinian ambassador to Israel. At sixteen, while working at the Pygmalion bookshop in Buenos Aires, he was asked by the blind Jorge Luis Borges to read aloud to him at his home. Manguel left Argentina for Europe before the horrors of the 'disappeared' began, and just after the events of May 1968. During the 1970s he lived a peripatetic life in France, England, Italy, and Tahiti, reviewing, translating, editing, and always reading. In the 1980s he moved to Toronto, Canada where he lived and raised his three children for almost twenty years. He became a Canadian citizen and continues to identify his nationality as first and foremost Canadian. 

Something to think on …

No government has ever been, or can ever be, wherein time-servers and blockheads will not be uppermost.
— John Dryden, born on this date in 1631

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Worth noting …

Instapundit — UM: Dem rep: I’m not surprised to see Trump taking sides against peaceful protesters like … Antifa.

As I’ve said before, you don’t get Hitler because of Hitler — there are always potential Hitlers hanging around. You get Hitler because of Weimar, and you get Weimar because the people in charge of maintaining liberal democracy are too weak and corrupt to do the job. And there are a lot of those now, not exclusively in the Democratic Party. 

How Eric Blair became George Orwell …

 and much more: The Best George Orwell Books | Five Books Expert Recommendations, (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

…  he was staying in Suffolk at his parent’s house. He went on a day-trip to Ipswich, the county town, and came back and said to his then-girlfriend, ‘I’m going to call myself George Orwell. It’s the king’s name, ‘George’—good, solid English name—and ‘Orwell’ is the name of the local river that flows through Suffolk.’ So, George Orwell. A very simple process, in the end.

What a great poem …

… Reviews and Marginalia : Invisible Species.

Mind on vacation …

… but mouth working overtime: CNN corrects article criticizing purchase of Alaska in Greenland debate.

"One of the last times the United States bought land from a foreign country was in 1867, when Seward orchestrated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians for $7.2 million," reporter Chris Cillizza wrote. "It didn't work out so well -- and has gone down as 'Seward's Folly' in the history books."
Those of us who, unlike Mr. Cillizza, remember our history know — as the correction makes plain —  that “Seward’s Folly” was what critics called the purchase at the time of the purchase. When I was in school, the critics were the object of derision. And so far as I know, the purchase has actually gone pretty well. Obviously, Cillizza doesn’t remember the Alaska gold rush. What a journalist. 

Directions …

 Which Way to the City on a Hill? | by Marilynne Robinson | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
 The Hugh Peter Robinson thinks so well of was drawn and quartered because of his intimate involvement in the execution of Charles I. He may well have been the executioner’s assistant. As for the Puritans’ enlightened social outlook, perhaps she should read Puritan Economic Experiments (which Dave also sent along).

You can do the first perfectly well without the other…

… Nigeness: Big Reads and Eng Lit.

Precocity …

… Seamus Heaney and a toddler who “blew the heart wide open.” | The Book Haven.

Complete with cardboard owner …

… Visiting Nora Roberts' Bookstore | Bill Peschel.

In case you wondered …

… What Were People Reading in the Summer of ’69? - The New York Times.

Good question …

… ‘Global Temperature’ — Why Should We Trust A Statistic That Might Not Even Exist? – Issues & Insights.

“Discussions on global warming often refer to ‘global temperature.’ Yet the concept is thermodynamically as well as mathematically an impossibility,” says Science Daily, paraphrasing Bjarne Andresen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute, one of three authors of a paper questioning the “validity of a ‘global temperature.'”