Monday, September 30, 2019

A felt change of consciousness …

… Owen Barfield on C.S. Lewis – Mark Vernon.

… the parables of Jesus are not primarily moral tales about how to behave well, Barfield argued. For one thing, if read like that, many of them seem amoral if not immoral. Instead, they are akin to disturbing allegories and strange stories. If we listen to them aright, they imaginatively jolt us out of our suppositions and open our hearts and minds to receive what Jesus called “life in all its fulness”.

RIP …

… Jessye Norman, international opera star, dead at 74 | FOX 5 DC.

Make your choice and place your bet …

… Here are the bookies' odds for the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature. | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I used to care, but I don’t much anymore. It’s a pretty mixed bag: Nobel Laureates in Literature.

And they never gave it to Torgny Lindgren, one of their own.

Anniversary

… R.T.’s Reviews and Marginalia: Little Women — the beginning of a “children’s book”.

Louisa May Alcott was born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia section of Philadelphia, where I lived for 20 years.

Lamentable sea cruises …

… BOOK REVIEW: 'The Outlaw Ocean' - Washington Times.

Ian Urbina, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, offers a collection of fascinating and often lamentable stories that chronicle how life on the vast oceans of the world is largely ungoverned
Mr. Urbina offers stories of traffickers, smugglers, pirates and other criminals who take to the sea and ply their criminal trades often beyond the reach of international and national laws

Paging Jeff Bezos …

… Nigeness: Another Bump in the Writer's Road.

Surely many among the readers of  this blog and Nige’s should have some ideas about how to handle this. Let’s hope so.

I think I’ll pass …

… Jews of Kansas: Adam Kirsch Reviews Ben Lerner's 'The Topeka School' – Tablet Magazine. (Hat tips, Dave Lull and Rus Bowden.)

… Lerner suggests, what he learned in the school that was the American Midwest was how to be a man, in the narrowest, most noxious sense of the word. And the problem of masculinity—how to define it, achieve it, control it—is the central theme of The Topeka School
If, on the cusp of my 78th birthday, I haven’t learned how to be a man, it’s probably too late for me to find out. Actually, I don’t think I ever thought about it. I just went about the business of being me as best I could. There are some things best left to practice. Skip the theories. And please don’t bore me with talk of toxic masculinity.

Whatever works …

… but only when it does: Radical verse versus the poetic traditions | Letters | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Coming of age differently …

… R.T.’s Reviews and Marginalia: Transcendentalist Bildungsroman.

Blogging note …

The cold — or whatever it is I caught awhile back — seems have to returned with a vengeance. So I have decided to focus on it for a bit. So I am spending the day in bed and doing all the things you’re supposed. In between naps, though, I will do some blogging, as I already have, actually.

Good thing it’s only weather …

… Record-Smashing, Historic September Snowstorm Brings Up to 4 Feet of Snow, Blizzard Conditions to Northern Rockies | The Weather Channel.

Art and disaster

… Ange Mlinko —  Poem: Watteau — LRB 26 September 2019. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Bob Rae on What's Happened to Politics.

Bob Rae is senior counsel with the law firm Olthuis, Kleer Townshend and teaches public policy and governance at the University of Toronto. He was the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre and was the interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from 2011 to 2013. He was previously leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party and the 21st Premier of Ontario, from 1990 until 1995. Between 1978 and 2013, he was elected 11 times to federal and provincial parliaments. Mr. Rae is currently Canada's special envoy to Myanmar. He has written five books, the most recent of which, What's Happened to Politics? was published in 2015, just prior to that year's Canadian federal election.

Hmm …

… In praise of cultural elitism | The Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

People once fell out over books, plays and movies the way they now fall out over Brexit. As a teenager, I remember a dinner party at my parents’ house when Germaine Greer said that Jean-Paul Sartre was a ‘second-rate philosopher’ and another guest, the American novelist Chandler Brossard, replied, ‘I think it’s time to go home now,’ and left in disgust.
Well, I’m all in favor of passionate likes and dislikes, though I see no point in getting bent out of shape over them. You used to be able to google “Wilson, Inquirer, Cormac, asshole” and read all the nasty things lots of people had to say about an article I wrote about The Road. I rather liked that. Obviously, I had got their attention, which is always nice. As for what Ms. Greer had to say about Sartre, I think she was being polite. I’d have said third-rate. Being and Nothingness is an excruciating read. And the “philosophy” is pretty forgettable. If you want to read French philosophy of that period, read Gabriel Marcel.

Something to think on …

If you weren't here, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be, doing anything you wanted to do, where would you be and what would you be doing?
— Truman Capote, born on this date in 1924

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Pathetic …

… When did Robert de Niro become such a douchebag? | Spectator USA.

I will never let the fact that Robert de Niro the person is apparently an asshole interfere with my admiration of his work as an actor. But I do wish he would glom on to some insight and realize that it is only his acting that is of interest to most of us. His pontifications. — which tend to come to strings of obscenities — are rather insubstantial, to put it mildly. Go home, Bob. Chill out. Trust me. I will never bother you with my anarchism.

The Guardian...

...Gets into brand marketing

More than just funny …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: Different Worlds.

Love it …

… Instapundit —SEEN ON FACEBOOK: …

A motoring specialist is unimpressed …

… The world may be getting hotter, Greta Thunberg… but having a meltdown isn’t going to help – The Sun.

How dare you sail to America on a carbon fibre yacht that you didn’t build which cost £15million, that you didn’t earn, and which has a back-up diesel engine that you didn’t mention.

Ignorant, humorless, and dead certain …

… You Too Can Have a Viral Tweet Like Mine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The “Iambic pentameter FTW” reply guy was wrong on two counts. First of all, the lyrics in question are not in iambic pentameter, a poetic meter best described as “the one that goes da-DA da-DA da-DA da-DA da-DA” (that is to say: five iambs, or “da-DA”s, per line). And second of all, FTW, or “for the win”—a prepositional idiom that Wiktionary defines as “being the best; being great, awesome, amazing or spectacular; sure to succeed”—is not a phrase that remotely applies to iambic pentameter, the most overrated of all meters. It’s a perfectly serviceable meter, but it’s the Sweeney Todd/Hallelujah tweet of meters: with so many other good ones out there, why does that one get all the glory?
I hardly think it's overrated. Precisely because it is so serviceable.


Q&A …

 Listening for the Mystery — FORMA JOURNAL. (Hat ti[, Dave Lull.)

I’m a person who listens and that’s long been my habit. I much prefer listening to the sounds in the world than talking or making my own sounds. And I prefer sensing the rhythms of the natural world. Right now the katydids are chirping to their particular rhythm. And I love feeling that in the world. It exists in its rhythm and its sense of sound. Whenever I want to make my own sounds with words, that is what I draw from.

Together at last …

… R.T.’s Reviews and Marginalia: Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and more.

Something to think on …

I believe in God as I believe in my friends, because I feel the breath of His affection, feel His invisible and intangible hand, drawing me, leading me, grasping me; because I possess an inner consciousness of a particular providence and of a universal mind that marks out for me the course of my own destiny.
— Miguel de Unamuno, born on this date in 1864

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Speaking of Cynthia …

… here is a post on her blog that is definitely worth reading: “Mark Twain, but with a harder edge”: new film on Flannery O’Connor – and here’s the trailer! | The Book Haven.

Correction…

I linked earlier to a story about a drug called Lupron. My friend Cynthia has alerted that the reprting in the story was incorrect. So I deleted the post.

Who knew …

DOH! Did You Know There's a Treaty Between the USA & Ukraine Regarding Cooperation For Prosecuting Crimes? - DCWhispers.com.

Apparently, lots of so-called journalists don’t.

The Wallace Collection...

...This great museum will lend select pieces for the first time

Hmm …

Americans' Trust in Mass Media Edges Down to 41%.

Although trust in the media has edged down this year, it is well above the record low of 32% in 2016 when Republicans' trust dropped precipitously and drove the overall trust reading down during the divisive presidential campaign. Republicans' trust is still at a very low level and a wide gap in views of the media among partisans persists as 69% of Democrats say they have trust and confidence in it, while 15% of Republicans and 36% of independents agree.
So they play to their base. Not necessarily the best idea in this case.

Something to think on …

When I see a paragraph shrinking under my eyes like a strip of bacon in a skillet, I know I'm on the right track.
— Peter De Vries, who died on this date in 1993

The weight of monuments …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Stone Henge (Thomas Hearne), Sonnet #477.

Not such a nice guy …

… once you get to know him: Leninthink by Gary Saul Morson | The New Criterion.

Lenin constantly recommended that people be shot “without pity” or “exterminated mercilessly” (Leszek Kołakowski wondered wryly what it would mean to exterminate people mercifully). “Exterminate” is a term used for vermin, and, long before the Nazis described Jews as Ungeziefer (vermin), Lenin routinely called for “the cleansing of Russia’s soil of all harmful insects, of scoundrels, fleas, bedbugs—the rich, and so on.”

A timely reminder …

… A Thing Called Civilization - Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Think. Live Free. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The further you look into it, the more comprehensive and universal do you see the inheritance of our civilization to be. And that is something that we tend to forget today. It isn’t a narrow bequest. It is something which actually is open to all kinds of innovation, which accepts the whole of human being as its subject matter.

I remember when the cartoons were funny …

… Instapundit — PROGRESS, OF A SORT: New Yorker cover depicts Trump and Giuliani as mobsters murdering Uncle Sam.

Ideology and decency …

… In Search of an Honest Man | by Gary Saul Morson | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Although it can be read on its own, Life and Fate is actually the second part of a “dilogy.” It continues the story of Grossman’s earlier novel, Stalingrad, which he was forced to publish under the title For a Just Cause, a phrase that Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov had used to describe the Soviet war effort when he announced the German invasion. Robert and Elizabeth Chandler’s new translation of Stalingrad allows us to trace the earlier trajectory of Life and Fate’s many real and fictional characters. First published when Stalin was still alive, Stalingrad is considerably less explicit than Life and Fate about its ethical and political themes. Even so, it was, by Soviet standards, remarkably bold.

Reading and the human condition …

… ADDICTED TO LIT: The Vital Decadence of Great Books — Cassandra Csencsitz, (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Those of us here, however, know that rather than merely a luxury—let’s call it Great Booking—is a vital and necessary practice that life is so much emptier and scarier without. One that calls to mind the William Carlos Williams quote, "It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there."

Judge for yourself…

… The Babylon Bee Satirizes the Absurdities of American Politics – Reason.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

… Everything the Press Gets Wrong about the Ukraine Call - Scott Adam's Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 Regardless of corruption in Ukraine, it was still smart to withhold funds until after the leaders spoke, because it made Trump the only person Zelensky needs to satisfy. That’s what we want from our presidents. We want them going in strong, with the full weight of their office and influence, to every interaction with foreign leaders, every time.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Hmm …

… Nature paper on ocean warming retracted – Retraction Watch.

Gender and...

...Global art sales

Something to think on …

Words were her plague and words were her redemption.
— Hilda Doolittle, who died on this date in 1960


Blogging note …

I am still not feeling well. I may get around to blogging a bit later on. But I am mostly taking the day off.

Lolita and America …

… Little nothings: Nabokov’s road notes | Elsa Court | Granta Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… for months before Nabokov began work on the book, he took notes. Sitting at the back of public buses, he jotted down teenage slang, setting it aside for his unfortunate heroine. Nabokov was a non-driver, and so on family road trips his wife Véra acted as chauffeur. When Nabokov was not reading road maps, he would be collecting road signs, recording the repetitious names of the hotels and mocking their crass publicity materials, all of which filtered into the final book:
‘. . . all those Sunset Motels, U-Beam Cottages, Hillcrest Courts, Pine View Courts, Mountain View Courts, Skyline Courts, Park Plaza Courts, Green Acres, Mac’s Courts . . . Some motels had instructions pasted above the toilet . . . asking guests not to throw into its bowl garbage, beer cans, cartons, stillborn babies . . .’

Postmortem …

… An archipelago of parvenus | A. N. Wilson on Downton Abbey. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Downton, then, is for audiences happy that the old aristocratic world is dead, just as the popularity of Choral Evensong on Radio Three is not a symptom of a residual British religious sense, so much as a signal that secularism has triumphed. Religion is a concert, a “vast, moth-eaten musical brocade”, as Philip Larkin called it. The aristocratic old world, comparably, in the Fellowes version, is a tourist attraction. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

RIP …

… Heidi Nieland Hall, a barn-burning journalist and former Tennessean education editor, dies at 49.



See most especially: Finding a faith that is stronger than death — or my family’s rejection.



(Hat tip — for both — to Dave Lull.)



As my Jesuit mentor used to say, it all comes to being good and kind, which is not always as easy as it sounds.

Here and there …

… A vision of Britain's polarised future - UnHerd. (Hat tip, Rich Lloret.)

A Briton in the US explains why we can expect partisanship to get far, far worse.
 Now that the judges are wading into politics, prepare for immense acrimony. You will see more lawfare, as people try to take down governments they dislike through the courts. You will learn the names of the judges. You will discover how the judges are appointed. Newspapers will start to dig into their political affiliations. You will learn whether they ever wore blackface, about the bar fights they instigated at UB40 concerts in the 1980s, and you will see them attacked and vilified by politicians on the Right and Left.
Yes, our trustworthy media.

Q&A …

… U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo on opening a ‘doorway of hope’ for indigenous artists | PBS NewsHour. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The genuine article …

… The Word and the words: a sonnet for Lancelot Andrewes | Malcolm Guite. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

September 25th is Lancelot Andrewes Day, when the Church remembers one of its greatest preachers and the man whose scholarship and gift for poetic phrasing was so central to the making of the King James Version of the Bible.

Hear, hear …

… Our “Sophisticated” Bible Translators - The Catholic Thing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I’m not picking sour cherries.  What I have illustrated is everywhere in the NAB.  “Be fertile and multiply,” says God to the creatures and then to man.  Really?  When the Hebrew verb is built from the noun fruit?  In a story about what fruit to eat and what not to eat?  When Cain and Abel are supposed to offer the Lord the first fruits of their labor?

Something to think on …

If we really want to pray we must first learn to listen, for in the silence of the heart God speaks.
— T. S. Eliot, born on this date in 1888

A fruitful irritant …

… What Makes a Pearl by Emily Rose Cole : American Life in Poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

RIP …

… Harold Mabern, Pianist Who Mastered Post-Bop, Blues and Memphis Soul, Is Dead at 83 | WBGO. (Hat tip, David Tothero.)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Appreciation …

… John Coltrane, 1926-1967 | Rifftides. (Hat tip, David Tothero.)

In case you wondered …

 Instapundit — NEWS YOU CAN USE: Five Reasons Capitalist Chile is Better than Socialist Venezuela.

Contemporary journalism …

… Iowa Man Donates $1 Million to Children's Hospital, Gets Cancelled for Bad Tweets.

A guy donated $1 million to a children's hospital, so his local newspaper dug up some bad tweets from when he was a teenager. He did a good thing and gained national attention for it, and our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters in the press had to put him in his place.
Do read the whole thing.

Wow …

… This hero airman saved a child's life on the way to pick up an award for doing a bunch of other heroic things - Task & Purpose.

John Coltrane, 1926-1967 | Rifftides

… John Coltrane, 1926-1967 | Rifftides. (Hat tip, David Tothero.)

Blogging note …

I have some things to do this morning. So blogging will start later on.

Something to think on …

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.
— William Faulkner, born on this date in 1897

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Jean Rhys


Wide Sargasso Sea -- Jean Rhys's novel of the colonial West Indies -- is not a book I expected to read. But I did so last week and found myself largely confused. 

The first part of the novel is well done: Rhys highlights racial tensions stemming from slavery and its abolition; she's equally sensitive to violence, and the shadow it cast across the islands. These themes are extended in the second section of the novel, which focuses on the complex relationship between race and power. Rhys explores this complexity by way of the colonial superstructure as well as through tangled family histories. The third section of the novel, which felt most disjointed, attempts in some ways to bring these themes full circle: the violence which is realized in the first part, for instance, is hinted at again in the end -- as if violence bequeaths more of the same. 

The sense I had upon finishing Sargasso, though, was that it required an extension: the themes introduced warrant further exploration; the characters, despite their trauma, do not emerge in three dimensions. I suppose, in my reading, there was too much left unspoken by Rhys, too much that felt ephemeral, ethereal. Sargasso is best when most concrete; unfortunately, those moments of certainty paled in comparison to stretches of implication and innuendo. 

There is something happening here, I readily concede: I was just not convinced that the pieces, when taken together, amount to a coherent whole. Style is not enough to carry a novel to completion -- even the beauty of the language seeks to communicate profound themes. 


Listen in …

… Episode 339 – Simon Critchley – The Virtual Memories Show.

“What are the plays telling us that philosophy is not telling us, and that we need to attend to?”

Winston Smith was unavaliable for commment …

… My Book Defending Free Speech Has Been Banned - Quillette.



Well, some publisher ought to pick it up. It's already getting a lot of pre-publication publicity. The world seems to going nuts.

A call to repent …

… Drag Queen Story Time, Climate Change, and Naboth’s Vineyard | Anne Kennedy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 The last thing we should do is double down to some political or economic position and send our children out to shut down what little reasonable conversation might still be had.

A kindred spirit …

… Maverick Philosopher: The Question of Private Judgment.



I think when it comes to the practice we need something on the order of what in music is called rubato.

Good question …

… Instapundit — THEN WHY ARE THEY STILL IN COLLEGE? VIDEO: College students think world will end in 12 years….

Even when I was a student — back in the day when Mario Savio was making headlines — I was skeptical of student demonstrations. Students have a right to ask questions. In fact, they have an obligation to. But if they know all the answers, what’s left to study?    

A very fine painter …

… Nigeness: Valadon.

Q&A …

… Exclusive: An Interview With Me | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Catching an eye …

… Suspected terrorist spy is arrested for surveilling New York targets - Washington Times.

An old al Qaeda manual discovered by the Manchester Police in the United Kingdom back in 2000 revealed the terrorist groups’ guidance to terrorists, as well as to terrorist spies. The 180-page training manual’s 11th and 12th chapters dealt with espionage.
“The spy is called an eye because his work is through his eyes or because of his excessive preoccupation with observation, as if all his being is an eye,” the manual noted.

In case you wondered …

… Lookback: must critics be “right”? | About Last Night.

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Jody Wilson Raybould on Justin Trudeau, telling the truth and keeping promises.

Might help to know what you’re talking about …

… Jackson Lee: AR-15s Weigh as Much as 10 Moving Boxes. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

I haven’t shot a gun since I was in my teens — yes, you read that right — but I may soon go around the corner (there’s a gun store nearby) and get one, since I’m old and the city has become dangerous (because of people, not implements). I will then take steps to get a license to carry. As for these Congressional ninnies, if they can’t go to the trouble of getting the facts right, why should I not conclude that they are either really dumb or just lying? Why should anyone take them seriously? 

Something to think on …

Money may not buy happiness, but I'd rather cry in a Jaguar than on a bus.
— Françoise Sagan, who died on this date in 2004

Monday, September 23, 2019

Begging to differ …

… Free-Thinking LGBT Activists Say the 'Gay Mafia' Is 'Harming Gay People' | Trending.

RIP …

… Al Alvarez obituary | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)




Just a thought …





Pilgrimage

Pray the journey lasts
Long enough to be enriched
With lingering detours
Along paths beckoning 
To villages where time holds
No sway, until you find yourself
Grateful at last to learn
There can be no heading home.

An endangered species …

… Newman’s University Today | Avery Cardinal Dulles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Newman was convinced that the mental refinement that comes from literary and philosophical training is something good in itself, quite apart from its utility. But he added that, far from being useless, an education of this sort would equip the student to enter many walks of life. Whether one becomes a soldier, a statesman, a lawyer, or a physician, one will need the ability to think clearly, to organize one’s knowledge, and to articulate one’s ideas so as to deal effectively with the questions at hand. A narrowly professional or vocational program of training would therefore fail the test of pragmatic usefulness, not to mention the additional test of liberal knowledge as its own end.
Albert Jay Nock makes this same point in The System of Education in the United States. An educated mind, according to Nock, is an experienced mind, experienced by having become acquainted with history and literature and art.

But some people want to take their carbon from them …

… The Amazon's Tallest Trees Are Growing 50% Bigger, And Scientists Don't Know How.

With each one able to hold as much carbon as an average hectare of rainforest, our discovery means that the vast jungle may be a greater carbon sink than previously thought.

Ah, milkweed …

… Two views of a milkpod, and a (very) few words from Richard Wilbur | The Book Haven.

Getting it straight …

… Maverick Philosopher: Hanged and Hung.

In case you wondered …

(Hat tip, David Tothero.)

A most interesting one …

… Nigeness: Footnote.

Hmm …

… BOOK REVIEW: 'Deceiving the Sky' - Washington Times.

China is steeped in ancient strategy, and the title, ‘Deceiving the Sky,’ comes from an ancient Chinese strategy used by generals to win battles called ‘Deceive the sky to cross the ocean,’” Mr. Gertz explains.
I am certainly unimpressed by the clothing coming out of there.

A uniter …

The Bridge and the Breach: A Review of Indigenous by Jennifer Reeser | Front Porch Republic.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)




My blood—all Indian while still all white—
Mixes and balances, a dual birthright.
I am your bridge. I am, as well, your breach.
Hear me, and heal—I’m none of you, and each.
 We, all of us, inherit the land, and if we choose to follow Reeser, that inheritance is inextricable from the command to hold fast to goodness.



In the stretch …

… Literature's enduring hero: The Inspector Maigret novels will soon all be available in English - The National. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… if pressed to choose an exemplar of the modern detective novel from among the dozens of contenders who could legitimately press their case, many readers would, I think, vote for the astonishingly productive and consistently compelling Belgian mystery writer Georges Simenon (1903-1989), creator of the everyman Parisian police inspector Jules Maigret.

Well, we were warned …

… In Other Words: Crossing "The Bridge". (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



"It was after the road breakers came. After my brother died because there was no car to take him where the doctor was."
"Lots of people died like that."
"They said thousands had died in cars. It was better that one man should die because there were no cars."
Dave also sent along the Kirkus review of The Bridge.

Much here to think on …

 ‘Duality’ – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mobocracy …

… How identity politics drove the world mad - UnHerd. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Douglas Murray shows in his impressive and lively survey, The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, the emerging world of censorship is a world without forgiveness, in which people are condemned for what they are rather than what they do, and in which the real virtues and vices that govern our conduct are ignored altogether as irrelevant.
Newton’s third law of motion  — for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction — applies to human actions as well as those among objects. The reaction to the action described herein will not be pretty.

Change of season …

… RT’s Reviews and Marginalia: To Autumn.

Something to think on …

Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.
— Padre Pio, who died on this date in 1968

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The examined life …

… Left for Dead: On the Philosophical Life and Vocation of Walter Kaufmann - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… as Kaufmann writes, honest appraisals of faith and morals often lead to hurt feelings and even war, “most people speak dishonestly of the most important subjects.” And worse, in a state of presumption or resignation, “[m]any recent philosophers prefer not to speak of them at all.” For Kaufmann, this was a pervasive, lamentable, and distressing silence that needed to be broken. How could reticence about religion and theology lead to anything more than ignorance of religious and theological traditions? How could confused interpretations of the Old and New Testament lead to anything more than dismissive, muddled, or overzealous treatments of formative cultures and institutions? And what good is philosophy, if its timeless pursuits are increasingly obscured by petty domestic infighting between the annoyingly abstruse (Continental) and the presumptuously ascetic (Analytic)?
I read a good bit of Kaufmann in my college days. He always impressed me.

Blurring boundaries …

… RT’s Reviews and Marginalia: Resurrected by hopes and dreams and paradoxes.

In this corner …

… 25 Legendary Literary Feuds, Ranked | Literary Hub.

Regarding one of these, Antonia Byatt told me once over dinner that if not at first resort, surely at last resort she and her sister Maggie would come to each other’s aid.

I times three …

… “First Person,” by Eliza Griswold | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And another …

… Imelda: Homewood Suites staffer in Texas does it all – literally.

A great American …

… Man catches bass in floodwaters while eating Whataburger, is officially Texas hero - It's a Southern Thing.

Worrisome …

… Amy Coney Barrett Is Not a Safe Pick for the Supreme Court. | Human Events. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Barrett co-authored a scholarly legal article with John H. Garvey, now the President of the Catholic University of America. They stated their conclusion quite bluntly:
[W]e believe that Catholic judges (if they are faithful to the teaching of their church) are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty. This means that they can neither themselves sentence criminals to death nor enforce jury recommendations of death.
Judges administer the law as enacted by the legislature. If they cannot do that in good conscience, they should resign. I have reservations about the death penalty, because I think it is bad to kill people, but were I judge, I would have to put aside my private reservations and as the law prescribes.  

Pointless yammering …

… Having a Conversation, One Cliché at a Time - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the realm of clichés in extemporaneous speech, politicians surely lead the field. Without such clichés as “going forward,” “bring to the table,” “level playing field,” “at the end of the day,” “tipping point” and “the American people,” most would be reduced to stuttering, if not rendered speechless. The characteristic cliché-studded political sentence might run: “At the end of the day, given a level playing field, we have to bring to the table [blank] to allow the American people to go forward before we reach a tipping point.” 

‘Twas ever thus …

… Your parents don’t want you to study philosophy? That fight has a long history. | The Book Haven.

Watch and listen …

… Replay: Leopold Stokowski conducts Bach in Hollywood | About Last Night.

Pushback …

… One brave young man takes on gender inequality at USC - The Post Millennial.

Title IX’s language is very plain. It prohibits any institution from funding, sponsoring, or listing gender-discriminatory programs and initiatives, so for example, even listing a woman-only scholarship or placing an employment ad specifying only women need apply runs counter to Title IX, though such breaches happen all the time. Title IX also prohibits discrimination in terms of counselling or health benefits. That should mean that both men and women are treated with equal objectivity and respect when, say, sexual-assault allegations come up for assessment. But universities have not covered themselves in glory, to say the least, on that front. 

Hmm…

… The 100 best books of the 21st century | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



There are some pretty good books in this list — Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, to cite just two. But The God Delusion? As I said when I wrote about it, nobody in his right mind believes in the God Richard Dawkins doesn’t believe in. And The Road? I couldn’t suspend the amount of disbelief necessary to take that one seriously.

Something to think on …

Style is what's there when you look at someone's writing and you know that they wrote it and nobody else did.
— Fay Weldon, born on this date in 1931

Getty Trust...

...To be commended for investing in historic preservation

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saved …

… Banned From Playing Violent Video Games, Local Kid Settles For Reading Old Testament | The Babylon Bee.

Photos of an imaginary world …

… Maria Svarbova: Frozen In Time And Space - Digital Photo Pro. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I discovered a beauty in architecture. I love symmetry and geometry so much—elements that you often find in these massive structures. In my compositions, symmetry is also one of the main factors that distinguishes my artwork. It’s a key element of my style. I also try to harmonize a human and a place with each other. These two elements become as one.

Hope it works …

… Hong Kong writers resort to poetry amid protests to express the inexpressible - The Globe and Mail. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Check this out …

Terry Teachout on Twitter: "If you haven't heard this yet, stop and give a listen. It brought tears—lots of them—to my eyes: https://t.co/VzZPUE5GSl" / Twitter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Appreciation …

… A Hymn to Notre-Dame | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Notre-Dame had always seemed eternal, and the medieval builders certainly thought it would last until the Day of Judgment; but suddenly we saw that it could be destroyed. In the life of every boy there is a painful moment when he realizes that his father is not all-powerful and invulnerable. The fall of the spire made me think of that moment.

Hmm …

… Interpreting Clarence Thomas - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 Justice Thomas’s jurisprudence is “a bitter mix of right-wing revanchism and black nationalism,” Mr. Robin writes. “It begins with the belief that racism is permanent, the state is ineffective, and politics is feeble, and ends with a dystopia that looks painfully familiar: men armed to the teeth, people locked up in jails, money ruling all, and racial conflict as far as the eye can see.” I think that’s Mr. Robin’s way of saying Justice Thomas is a conservative.

Honor deserved …

… P.G. Wodehouse in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey – Plumtopia. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The fears that lie ahead …

… RT’s Reviews and Marginalia: What terror does tomorrow hold?

Place your bets …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Red Jester (Jan Van Beers), Sonnet #476.

Something really worth worrying about …

… ‘The Meritocracy Trap’ Review: Squeezing Through the Narrow Door - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

…  in my view he overrates the quality—the merit, you might say—of education that underlies and reinforces the new meritocracy. Mr. Markovits shows that elite educational institutions at all stages spend more per student, that they have smaller student-teacher ratios, and that they result in higher SAT scores allowing students to gain admission to elite universities. But what if much of this added expenditure is spent on recreation facilities, computer centers, so-called cultural enrichment and counselling salaries; what does it matter if there are more teachers per pupil if the teachers themselves are not extraordinary; what does a higher SAT score mean except that one is good at taking the SAT, and in some cases preparing for it, as Mr. Markovits records, with the aid of $600-per-hour tutoring; and what, finally, if the elite schools aren’t really in fact all that intrinsically splendid but flourish largely owing to snobbery?
Those among the elite that I have encountered are certainly well-trained. But I get little sense that they are educated.

Something to think on …

Nothing is more completely the child of art than a garden
— Sir Walter Scott, who died on this date in 1832

Royal Shakespeare Company...

...A conference scheduled for 2020 focused on literature, history, and education

Friday, September 20, 2019

Dealing with pretty ghastly people …

… The return of the federal death penalty - Washington Times.

A kindred spirit …

… Maverick Philosopher: The Question of Private Judgment.

This is quite incisive. The Pope also is entitled to his private judgment. I am not obligated to share it. And as Charles Williams pointed out, given Jesus view of the religious leaders of his day, perhaps we should not be overly servile to those of our day. God, after all, is intimately in touch with each and every one of us. The institutional Church has been shown,  in recent years, to have a lot of ‘splaining to do. The buck stops with God.

Sounds like a must-read …

… Nigeness: Ruskin's Fireflies.

“ … the fireflies everywhere in sky and cloud rising and falling, mixed with the lightning, and more intense than the stars.”
Wonderful. I just ordered a copy.

Who knew?

… Your parents don’t want you to study philosophy? That fight has a long history. | The Book Haven.

As someone who did study philosophy, my question is, “Where the hell would you do that today?”

Not as advertised …

… Saudi Arabia Closes Down New Chick-Fil-A Location For Disappointing Lack Of Homophobia | The Babylon Bee.

 "When we heard how homophobic Chick-fil-A was, we thought it was a perfect fit," said King Salman. "But they ran their restaurant for a solid three months here and never once did they stone a gay person, throw a gay person off a roof, or even use anti-LGBT slurs against them."

Blogging note …

I mst be out and about for a few hours. Blogging will resume later on.

Heart and spirit …

… First Known When Lost: Autumn Evening.

 I have no interest in "literary history."  Nor is the spurious taxonomy of "major" and "minor" poets of concern to me.  At the risk of trying the patience of long-time readers, I am afraid I must repeat my First Poetic Principle:  It is the individual poem that matters, not the poet.  As I say, I am fond of "The Trees at Night."  I understand the objections that might be forthcoming from moderns:  the poem is "sentimental" and "romantic," and its anthropomorphism ("The lonely lovely trees sigh"; "A few homing leaves drift by,/Poor souls bewildered and wan") places it beyond the pale.  We have progressed beyond such things, the undeceived and knowing moderns say, all irony and self-regard.  They are wrong, of course.
Amen, brother.

A master …

 Snapshot: Harry Nilsson sings “1941” | About Last Night.



I had the pleasure of chatting with Harry a couple of times, and somewhere around here I have a letter from him. We were both born in 1941.

And poetry …

… Carpentry by Carl Dennis | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the niminees are …

… The 2019 National Book Awards Longlists are here! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good idea …

… Homework for the climate strikers | Spectator USA. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 ‘Does scientific evidence support the notion that “the Earth is dying”?’ As for resources to answer that question, I point them towards the latest IPCC report as well as the data sources which feed into it. That would include Nasa data on sea ice in the Arctic, which shows a sharp retreat in recent decades, as well as satellite data from the same organization on wildfires – which shows a fall in the acreages burned in recent decades. They might also like to look at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization’s report on hurricanes which last month concluded: ‘it is premature to conclude with high confidence that human activity – and particularly greenhouse warming – has already caused a detectable change in Atlantic hurricane activity.’

Farewell …

… RIP Frank Key - The Dabbler. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What a wonderful poem …

 RT’s Reviews and Marginalia: We had not thought of the airy Christ.

Something to think on …

The Divine Thing that made itself the foundation of the Church does not seem, to judge by his comments on the religious leadership of his day, to have hoped much from officers of a church.
— Charles Williams, born on this date in 1886

England's high streets...

...A renewed effort at revival

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Choosing not judge is an exercise in judgment …

… The Hypocrisy of Experts - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Q&A …

… The Freedom of the Book Review: John Wilson on the job of the book critic and the importance of miscellany in the good reading life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Many people, I've discovered over the years, have a narrow conception of what a book review can do or should do. This reaches its nadir in the perception of a review as essentially a “book report,” hence (supposedly) boring. But what attracted me from the beginning (though, again, I couldn't have said so at the time) was the enormous freedom the form allows! A good review can be “impersonal” or “personal.” It can be focused almost entirely on the book (or books) at hand or use the book under review primarily as a point of departure. There are very few “rules,” in fact, though this or that editor, this or that publication, may impose all sorts of constraints. That freedom appealed to me enormously (it still does), and I enjoyed seeing how many different ways a review could be done, and done well.

Indeed …

… A Failure of Leadership: The Culture of Antisemitism on Campus | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com.

At UC Berkeley, the 2019 Spring semester was plagued by multiple high-profile antisemitic incidents. Antisemitic flyers were posted across the campus comparing Zionism to Nazism. Pro-Israel events were purposely blocked in academic departments, while these departments continued to indoctrinate students with a pre-defined anti-Israel narrative.
You have to wonder about the students. There were students in my day — at a Jesuit college no less — who relished standing up to profs and administrators.

Closet classicist …

… Among the Barbarians: V. S. Naipaul and His Critics | The Hudson Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
A Writer’s People is about Naipaul’s genesis as a writer and of his personal struggles from not knowing to mastery of his craft. It is a story he frequently told, but told this time at a remove, reflected in the life of Gandhi. Like Gandhi, he also came of age far from the center of empire and, while initially ignorant of its institutions and culture, mastered its language and its ways. Although he was a native speaker of English, the Trinidad in which he grew up had no standard form, which is reflected in the English of his first two novels. The older members of his family spoke Hindi, but his father spoke good English, as can be seen in the letters they exchanged when Naipaul was a student at Oxford. These letters reveal the younger Naipaul to be an outsider striving to get in, as well as his ambition “to show these people that I can beat them at their own language.” In A House for Mr. Biswas, the point of view of the omniscient narrator is totally free of dialect. With that novel, Naipaul found a place in a tradition stretching back to Dickens, Balzac, and Tolstoy (three writers mentioned in A Writer’s People), not to forget Flaubert. But by the 1950s the world around such societies had changed, “had grown steadily larger,” and after Mr. Biswas, Naipaul struck out to look at and report on this larger world. Those reports were not well received in certain quarters.
Here is my review of Naipaul's Half a Life.

Great minds …

… When Milton met Shakespeare: poet's notes on Bard appear to have been found | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

“… this allows us to see the encounter happening,” said Scott-Warren. “It shows you the firsthand encounter between two great writers, which you don’t often get to see, especially in this period. A lot of that kind of evidence is lost, so that’s really exciting.”
More here:  A rare Shakespeare First Folio annotated by John Milton hid in Free Library of Philadelphia for 75 years.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes …

… More Reviews and Marginalia: Martin Edwards on detective fiction — then and now.


Let's talk …

… Having a Conversation, One Cliché at a Time - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“We have got to have a national conversation and a Republican conversation on where we are going on debt and deficit spending,” Mr. Sanford told Fox’s Chris Wallace. We need “to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd. He informed both men that we need to have a conversation on trade, and Mr. Wallace that we also need “a conversation on humility and one’s approach to politics.” Mark Sanford, clearly, is a man with a hunger for discussion. If you’ve a free moment, give him a ring.


When I was on a newspaper copy desk, we kept an eye for clichés. Ee probably didn't catch them all, but we kept plenty out of print. Of course, you can make reference to them tongue-in-cheek, as I confess I have been wont to do from time to time.

Everything and nothing …

 Are Prose Poets Trolling Us? | The Walrus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Put another way: if you accept that Strand’s brief story is a poem, then everything is a poem—and nothing, too. Prose poetry is the original trolling.

Tracking the decline …

… In Memory of the Critic’s Trade - 21CM. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The profession isn’t entirely defunct – there are some extraordinary critics still on the beat. In cities with major arts centers or celebrated orchestras, such positions are easier for an editor to justify in tough financial times (and it has been mostly downhill since the advent of the internet). But it is now more common for a newspaper to find a general assignment writer to write some nice words about the local production of “The Nutcracker” or a visit from Yo-Yo Ma – the so-called “big-ticket items” – while leaving a city’s more venturesome endeavors alone.