Friday, May 07, 2021

In case you wondered …

 “Complete recipe” for how to commit the perfect crime.


Brilliant …

… The American Graduate (2020) - Intercollegiate Studies Institute. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


For a little perspective see this.

Entertaining and demanding …

… Bleak Expectations (2021 ed.): A different perspective on Chaucer and his pilgrims.

Something to think on …

Beauty is simply reality seen with the eyes of love.
— Rabindranath Tagore, born on this date in 1861

Hmm …

… In defense of William Logan’s criticism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I tend to find Logan’s criticism predictable and pedantic. Everything he weighs in his balance is found wanting.

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — The most courageous act ….

Word of the Day …

… Primacy | Word Genius.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Goethe

 

I won't attempt here to analyze Goethe's Faust: the academic corpus surrounding this important work is extensive. That said, I'd like to offer a response to the Oxford edition of Part One: Goethe's play -- if that's what it can be called -- was more poetic that I was expecting. And for David Luke to translate this work so effectively is truly something to be celebrated. I can't imagine it's easy to translate eighteenth and early nineteenth century German in modern English, but that's exactly what Luke has done. I found Faust to be full of life: Goethe's language and characters are defined in equal measure by their movement, their sense of momentum. Again, I won't pretend to offer an academic analysis of Part One; I'll only say how surprised I was by the play: both in terms of how approachable I found it to be, but also in terms of how much I enjoyed its attempts at moral conjecture. This is a piece rich with European tradition and culture. I'm committed -- I think I am, at least -- to Part Two

He did pretty well here …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Poe In Philadelphia: My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column On Edgar Allan Poe's Creative Peak In Philly.

Reading during quarantine …

… Bleak Expectations (2021 ed.): Sheltering and fretting at home with Holmes and Watson.

Alex, we hardly knew ye …

 Bleak Expectations (2021 ed.): Alexander the Great: Journey to the end of the earth.

Hear, hear …

 … In defense of dandelions - The Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Wordsworth may have been banging on about daffodils, but there is no objective reason why a dandelion, which supports far more wildlife than a daffodil, should be considered lesser. 

Fascinating …

… 78rpm Records Digitized by George Blood, L.P. : Free Audio : Free Download, Borrow and Streaming : Internet Archive. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The rise of photography …

Obscura No More: How photography rose from the margins of the art world to occupy its vital center(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

From the medium’s beginnings, starting in 1839, photographers sought to have their work recognized as art. Indeed, the modern history of photography has been written as a kind of pilgrim’s tale, a major plotline of which is a progressive discovery of the medium’s unique artistic nature following a series of unsatisfying imitative encounters with the arts of painting and drawing.

A week of photos …

… Top Shots: Compelling Photos From Around Our Region. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something to think on …

 Our spaceship is a tiny bubble in a glass of God.

— Harry Martinson, born on this date in  1904

Remembering …

… Donald Junkins, writer & poet. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Donald Junkins died on April 15. He was 89.

Word of the Day …

… Redoubtable | Word Genius.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Dickens as poet …

Bleak Expectations (2021 ed.): The Song of the Wreck by Charles Dickens.

Sounds promising …

… 'Deplorable' professor creates 'anti-indoctrination mill' with new education startup | Just The News. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

American Scholars will "challenge the ideologies that are being purveyed" in mainstream schools, including critical race theory, postmodernism and socialism, he said. It wants to prepare students for the "political outlook" they are likely to face in college.

Latter day problem …

 Bleak Expectations (2021 ed.): Stopping by blogs on a frosty evening.

Hmm …

… EXCLUSIVE: Classified study found COVID-19 could have originated in Chinese lab | WJLA.


… Chinese leaders “have not been forthcoming through this process,” and that U.S. analysis “is not based on an assumption that what they say is true.”

Something to think on …

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
— Søren Kierkegaard, born on this date in 1830

Rejected no longer …

‘He’s got a wee spring in his step’: 92-year-old grandfather becomes bestselling poet. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

McCulloch’s son William told the Guardian that his father was “over the moon” at the sales. “He has been writing poetry for years, and sent it to different places, but always got rejected,” he said.

Word of the Day …

… Corrigendum | Word Genius.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Blogging note …

 I have to take Debbie to a doctor's appointment/ So I won't be blogging again until later.

Reason to hope …

… Capitalist Havens of Free Speech | City Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… After [Andrew] Sullivan left New York, he quickly attracted some 60,000 subscribers to his new newsletter on the independent online platform Substack; he more than doubled the income he was earning at the magazine, he said. One media critic described Sullivan’s success as “gut curdling” to other journalists. Substack reportedly recruited Yglesias, offering him a hefty advance to join after news of his clashes within Vox emerged. Among the other popular features on Substack are Mounk’s free-speech newsletter Persuasion, which aims “to persuade, rather than to mock or troll, those who disagree with us” and gained about 25,000 subscribers just weeks after it debuted in April 2020; and former Rolling Stonereporter Matt Taibbi’s widely read media criticism, published under the rubric TK News.

Smile, though your heart is aching …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: Olongapo R&R.

Olongapo in 1971 was Dodge City, Las Vegas, and Sodom and Gomorrah all rolled into one. Subic Bay was called “Septic Bay,” by the sailors due to the high rate of VD cases.
 

Something to think on …

Time is, as you are probably aware, merely a convenient fiction. There is no such thing as time.
— E. Nesbit, who died on this date in 1924

RIP …

… The death of the French intellectual - UnHerd.

When the talented Le Figaro columnist, Eugénie Bastié, recently asked Éditions Gallimard’s residing sage Pierre Nora, 89, what he thought of the state of intellectual life in France today, Nora couldn’t find enough epithets to characterise his disdain. “Do we have an intellectual life left? It has collapsed. Well,  subsided, really. Shrunk… Ran out of steam… French intellectual life is provincialised.” (And no worse insult is possible from the heart of the Septième Arrondissement.)


In case you don’t remember …

… 50 years of failed doomsday, eco-pocalyptic predictions; the so-called ‘experts’ are 0-50.

More than merely spotlighting the failed predictions, this collection shows that the makers of failed apocalyptic predictions often are individuals holding respected positions in government and science. While such predictions have been and continue to be enthusiastically reported by a media eager for sensational headlines, the failures are typically not revisited.

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — You can start late …

Word of the Day …

… Anamnesis | Word Genius.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Papa and the Game …

… The Son Also Rises - BallNine.

In his memoir Papa Hemingway, A. E. Hotchner wrote the author “loved baseball and would go to any game (in Cuba) and occasionally he came to New York just to see a World Series.”

Bittersweet wistfulness and wistful bittersweetness…

 First Known When Lost: April.

April would not be April without its characteristic tinge of melancholy.  All of those cherry, plum, and pear petals drifting down beneath a blue sky, carpeting the green grass and the sidewalks.  It's wonderful how April and October share a similar bittersweet wistfulness and wistful bittersweetness, isn't it?  Every six months, year after year, the falling of petals and the falling of leaves.  Trying to tell us something

Things are getting back to …;

… Vaccinated Man Licks First Doorknob In Over A Year | The Babylon Bee.

Wherein everything is askew …

…  “Caesar is in danger. Great danger!”

I just got a copy …

… Memoirs of a Woke Warrior - Daisy Waugh - The Oldie.

It will surprise no one that I am not a fan of wokeness.

But of course …

Newsalert: The Kentucky Derby bested the Oscars and the SOTU in ratings? Wow.

It had more to offer than just horses’ asses.

Pistol shot heard all around Europe …

… Bleak Expectations (2021 ed.): Singular moment in history of political assassinations.

Something to think on …

Religion is a way of walking, not a way of talking.
— William Inge, born on this date in 1913

Sweet …

… Bedside Reading by Marilyn Nelson | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Appreciation …

In Praise of a Brazen Poet: On the Essays of Kay Ryan, Outsider. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“Something nonsensical in the heart of poetry is the very reason why one can’t call poetry ‘useful’,” she explains at one point, and then adds, a little later, “This is why Auden and others can say with such confidence that poetry makes nothing happen. That’s the relief of it. And the reason why nothing can substitute for it.” We don’t expect critics to assert such truths anymore, let alone with such confidence. We expect them to “problematize,” to qualify. Ryan’s own confidence, then, is thrillingly anachronistic: obstinate, sure, but warming, too, as if a cast-iron stove were squatting in the middle of that valley.

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — The blizzard doesn't last ….

Word of the Day …

… Zelig | Word Genius.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Not much blogging today …

 After Mass at noon I had to pick some things up for Debbie and bring them to her. I just got back and have some other things to do now.

Anniversary …

… “Tail-Gunner Joe” succumbs to illness and alcoholism.

Something to think on …

If you will it, it is no dream; and if you do not will it, a dream it is and a dream it will stay.
— Theodor Herzl, born on this date in 1860

Word of the Day …

… Imprimatur | Word Genius.

Homicide and horror …

… Reviewing the Evidence: Coals of fire and cakes of glass (1998).

Start the day with a smile …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: Hong Kong R&R.

Women's Prize for Fiction...

...The finalists have been announced

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Something to think on …

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, born on this date in 1881

Anniversary …

… Cold War “Mayday” alert sounded on this day in 1960..

The embrace of being …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Poetry and Fiction by Christopher Guerin: The Gate Contained (Michael Antman), Sonnet #561.

These times …

… A Journey into Mask Country | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Then it happened. Upon exiting the car in downtown Washington, I had one of those Charlton Heston end-of-civilization epiphanies. Here in the cool spring air were people who actually wore these things outdoors, as a matter of habit. “You maniacs!” I shouted more or less to myself, trying to remember when it had first been established beyond any reasonable doubt that there was no meaningful risk of outdoor transmission of the virus. I stumbled along in a daze past double maskers, a species I assumed were bred only in captivity, and a child wrapped in some kind of translucent garbage bag. Rain began to fall.

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — Set wide the window …

Word of the Day …

 Raillery | Word Genius.

Yesterday …

 Paul Davis On Crime: A Dark Day In American History: Today Is The Anniversary Of The Fall Of South Vietnam.

Getting ready for the Booker...

 ...An innovate approach to the shortlist

Friday, April 30, 2021

Sounds good …

… Substack: A Crack in Our Media's Berlin Wall | The Stream.

The Stasi became a highly effective secret police organization. Within East Germany it sought to infiltrate every institution of society and every aspect of daily life, including even intimate personal and familial relationships. It accomplished this goal both through its official apparatus and through a vast network of informants and unofficial collaborators (inoffizielle Mitarbeiter), who spied on and denounced colleagues, friends, neighbours, and even family members.

Notable anniversary …

… Bleak Expectations : George Washington and valuable lessons from the past.

Take a look at these …

 5 Surreal Fine Art Photographers to Blow Your Mind - Digital Photo Pro. (Hat tip,  Rus Bowden.)

RIP …

… Anthony Thwaite obituary | Poetry | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For these days …

NORTH OF OXFORD – SPRING 2021 PANDEMIC ISSUE #7.

Yes, indeed …

… What is true in life is true in baseball is true in politics - The Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 Localize. Decentralize. Break down the overly large into a smaller and more human scale. I mourn the death of the minors but perhaps it presages the death of the majors, or at least the rebirth of baseball in organized forms that respect the local, the idiosyncratic, the unregimented.

Something to think on …

I do not choose the right word, I get rid of the wrong one.
— A.E. Housman, who died on this date in 1936

A very worthwhile revival ¬

… ‘A Picture of Autumn’ Review: The Waning Days of Aristocracy.  (Hat tip, John Lehman.)
My guess is that Hunter meant for the Denhams’ plight to symbolize the condition of England after World War II, when unrelieved gray austerity was a way of daily life. But when I saw “A Picture of Autumn” in the theater, I was no less struck by the way in which it portrays the difficulties of sons and daughters whose aged parents can no longer care for themselves. That both interpretations are equally valid is a sign of the play’s thematic richness, and the fact that so much of it is so funny is a tribute to the author’s dramaturgical skill. Mr. Kaikkonen’s cast gets its laughs without stretching for them, and the production, as always with the Mint, is designed and mounted with consummate skill.

Our town …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Peruto Means Business: Part Two Of My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column On Chuck Peruto's Run For Philly DA.

I'll take anybody to get rid of Krasner.

Anniversary …

… Bleak Expectations : The season of Light and Darkness (again).

Word of the Day …

… Ocher | Word Genius.

A good year for books...

 ...Sales way up in 2020, despite it all

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Anither blogging note …

 I am still not feeling well. I am also in my 80th year. Sometime later tomorrow blogging will resume. I apologize.


Sounds good to me …

… US Catholic bishops may press Biden to stop taking Communion. (Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

If you want to advertise yourself as a Catholic, Joe, try practicing the faith. Of course, given the bishops wonderful witness in response to Covid, I won’t hold my breath. Of course, Biden is also senile.

Blogging note …

 I’m not feeling well. I’ll do some blogging again tonight.

Something to think on …

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

Word of the Day …

… Leonine | Word Genius.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Blogging post …

 Believe or not, doing the things that must when some passes and you are one those responsible for putting things in or order. Thank God my brilliant friend Katherine Miller was there to help. I could not conceivably have done it without her help. So: I will blog again tomorrow.

Blogging post …

 I have to go out shortly to begin making funeral arrangements for my friend Harold Boatrite.  So I won't be blogging again until later in the day.

Classic …

 

Blossom Dearie was born on this date in 1924.

Looking to the past to understand the present …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): Ye shall be broken in pieces (Isaiah 8:9).

Something to think on …

Either mathematics is too big for the human mind or the human mind is more than a machine.
— Kurt Gödel, born on this date in 1906

Just listen to the music …

The Truth it is a-Changin’. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Word of the Day …

… Crepitate | Word Genius.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Q&A …

… Annotating Frost - Harvard University Press Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Father and son …

… In search of the Bible’s sacred kings.

Blogging note …

 I have to get ready to go out. I am finally scheduled to get my knee shots. I am looking forward to walking again without so much pain. Blogging will resume sometime later today.

Something to think on

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, who died on this date in 1882

Hmm …

… Scott Galloway: the wolf at Big Tech’s door.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The vastly inflated valuations of Big Tech have also, Galloway says, made it easier to become a billionaire than a millionaire. The obsession with not just money, but with enormous sums of it, has distorted the economy by squeezing out middle-class aspirants and wealth creators in favour of market manipulators and socially dysfunctional coders (that last bit is me, not Galloway). “The data’s overwhelming – in the last 30 years the top 1 per cent have increased their share of wealth by a third. And people under the age of 40 in the lower 50 per cent have seen their share of wealth cut in half.”

I think the problem facing this country today is how timorous, credulous, and servile so many of our citizens have  become.

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — Tell your heart ….

Word of the Day …

… Solatium | Word Genius.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Human, all too human …

 Bleak Expectations : Complicated and compromised Founding Father.

Blogging note …

 My friend, the composer Harold Boatrite, passed away this morning. I share power of attorney for him with our friend Katherine Miller. So we will be involved in the funeral arrangements. We were friends for 50 years and I just spoke with him last night. So I'm pretty bummed out and really not interested in blogging just now. Here is a piece of his:


Good for him …

… Dad says NYC school 'teaches children to feel bad about their skin color' | Daily Mail Online.

Something to think on …

If God be God and man a creature made in image of the divine intelligence, his noblest function is the search for truth.
— Morris West, born on this date in 1916

Word of the Day …

… Irrefragable | Word Genius.

Interesting choices …

… Cherwell Recommends: University Reads | Cherwell. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I haven’t watched them in years …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Why I And Millions Of Other Viewers Don't Watch The Oscars: Oscars 2021 Celebs Rip Derek Chauvin, Police Brutality.

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — Don't try to lessen yourself.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes …

… Drood reviewed (and a feckless fellow’s fickle about face).

Remembering …

Auberon Waugh: 20 years since he’s gone. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Waspish, contrarian and mean spirited but never banal: Auberon was one of a kind. He was the son of the celebrated novelist Evelyn Waugh. Auberon came from a long line of writers and eccentrics. His forekind would be traced to 17th century North Britain. Waugh actually has a meaning: it means something like valiant. Thence they transmigrated to northern England wherein their surname was pronounced ‘woof.’ The Waugh’s were a most gifted race. They produced physicians, palmary writers and even a religious maniac who argued that the evidence for evolution was planted by Beelzebub to fool those of little faith

Nice to know …

… Where life is normal - The Spectator.

… outside of the Twitter bubble and large city centers where mask virtue-signaling reigns supreme, no sane person has been wearing a mask outdoors for months. The science doesn’t support it. As Slate noted in its late-to-the-party piece, the chances of catching COVID during a brief moment passing someone else on the sidewalk are lower than getting struck by lightning.

Like we really needed them to weigh in …

… Charles Dickens Society’s anti-racism rant.

I really don’t know what they bring to the discussion other than a large helping of self-righteousness.

Mark thy calendar …

… Bleak Expectations : Charles Dickens museum opening on 19 May.

Something to think on …

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

Tyranny alert …

… Richard Dawkins Punished for Inviting Us to Think > New English Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The American Humanist Association, in withdrawing its award to Professor Dawkins for his work, did not in the least revise their estimate of its worth, but rather condemned him for obliquely expressing an opinion contrary to a moral orthodoxy at least as doubtful as any religious orthodoxy. Its closedmindedness is worthy of any totalitarian regime.

I, too, am no big fan of Dawkins, but I certainly he should be allowed to say what he wants. 

Worth considering …

 Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — There is no rememdy for love ….

A morning chuckle …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Little Humor: Another Car Stop.

Word of the Day …

… Betide | Word Genius.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

A touch of realism …

… COVID19: Taking Stock | Dr. Malcolm Kendrick.

Yes, we have realpolitik in place. Maybe we should call it realscientik. Neil Ferguson, and his ilk, pressed the emergency red button. It is a button they have been itching to press for years, decades. It is the ‘Here is the infection that is going to kill us all’ button. That infection may turn up at some point. COVID19 isn’t it. The button should never have been pressed.

The true believers in what the government tells will of course disagree. But I have never bee a true believer in what the government tells me. And the truth wil come out sooner or later. I think I have a pretty good idea what it will be.

Shakespeare’s musings on religion are like curious whispers – they require deep listening to be heard. (Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

There is little in the way of biographical detail to help scholars looking for Shakepeare’s religious beliefs. Instead, they have generally relied on explicit references to familiar religious language or character types – the Catholic priest in “Romeo and Juliet,” for instance – in speculating about Shakespeare’s faith. Some have suggested that clues and codes in his play suggest the playwright was a closeted Catholic. But to me it is more in what he doesn’t say, or where he finds new ways of saying something old, that Shakespeare is theologically at his most interesting.

Blogging note …

 Debbie is still in the hospital. I am about to pay her a visit.

A glimpse of vastness …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Poetry and Fiction by Christopher Guerin: Veil Nebula (NASA), Sonnet #560.

Word of the Day …

… Cryptonym | Word Genius.

Something to think on …

In a world where thrushes sing and willow trees are golden in the spring, boredom should have been included among the seven deadly sins.
— Elizabeth Goudge, born on this date in 1900

Good for them …

… Atheists Joyfully Celebrate 'Meaningless Rock Hurtling Through Space' Day | The Babylon Bee.

Worth considering …

 Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — You don't luck into integrity …

Let’s hope not …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): This is the final posting at Beyond Eastrod.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Anniversary …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): Boston Latin School.

Love and time …

 Farm Sonnet by Kitty Carpenter | American Life in Poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Mark thy calendar …

… “A Company of Authors” this Saturday: Come join me for a discussion of Stanford’s latest books!

Time for some smiles …

… The First Issue of My Free Substack! - Frank Talk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

 The most important tribute any human being can pay to a poem or a piece of prose he or she really loves is to learn it by heart. Not by brain, by heart; the expression is vital.

— George Steiner, born on this date in 1921

Sound advice …

 'Never Stupid To Ask Questions’: Rare Raymond Chandler Essay Gives Writing, Office Tips.

Word of the Day …

… Entelechy | Word Genius.

Worth considering …

…. Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — He who has peace of mind …

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Bearing witness …

I’ve lived in Minneapolis my entire life. I’m leaving Friday. I no longer recognize my hometown.

Let me be clear: this city’s demise wasn’t just violent protests and burning buildings, or crime skyrocketing and businesses fleeing. It was also political indoctrination, hypocritical leadership, and the suppression of oppositional thought.

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: David Frum on why he thinks about Horatio Hornblower every day.

For the defense …

… Across the Years and into a Documentary | The Evelyn Waugh Society.

Our town …

… Paul Davis On Crime: 'I;m Going To Kick Krasner's Ass': My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column On Chuck Peruto's Run For Philadelphia District Attorney.

Blogging note …

 My wife had a fall and is in the ER. Obviously, this is more important just now than blogging.

In case you wondered …

… Miserable American Cities: The Places You Shouldn't Move to, Ranked.

Q&A …

… We Live Once and Never Better: A Conversation with Cynthia Ozick. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Spiritual, numinous, mystical, Gnostic — whatever you wish to call it — what it comes down to is God-is-in-me. The self as part of the Creator. The Creator as equal to his creation; creation as a substantive element of its maker. Magic and miracle: incarnation. Fusion; anti-distinction. The whirlwind power of imagining.


Comparison and contrast …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): A good mouse is hard to find

Hmm …

… The Best Philosophy Books for Beginners | The Reading Lists. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Well, Dawkins has no philosophical that I have ever been able to discern. Copleston's history is outstanding. There ought to be something by Gabriel Marcel. And I would have included William Luijpen's Existential Phenomenology.

Something to think on …

Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.
— Vladimir Nabokov, born on this date in 1899

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — Get up quickly.

Word of the Day …

… Polychromy | Word Genius.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

James Agee

 

A Death in the Family -- James Agee's grim tale of loss and redemption -- is an imperfect masterpiece. There are sections of the novel -- especially those focused on the impact of death on children and families -- which are quite moving: Agee is able to generate considerable pathos; his writing is endowed with a clear sense of poignancy and regret. 

Equally powerful, I felt, were those sections of the novel focused on causation, on who is responsible for what, and on whether events assume their own -- insurmountable, forward -- momentum. It was for this reason that I thought a lot about Thornton Wilder's Bridge of San Luis Rey. In their fiction, Wilder and Agee take seriously the idea of destiny: of whether a path, once established, can truly be exited.

There were other sections of the novel, though, which I felt were less effective: those focused on the histories of Agee's characters, for instance, read as a Faulkner passage might. Agee constructs these using italics, writing in a more poetic fashion: they tend to be breezy and imprecise. Some, I'll concede, are helpful, but others are far too opaque. All told, I found these histories ambitious, but not altogether effective. 

No question, this is a sad, wearying novel: the experience of the children, especially, is wrenching. But as I say, this was a book, for me, less about death than about fate, about whether we chart a course for ourselves, or whether that course is written before we take those first steps toward our eventual demise. Cheering stuff, indeed!

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — Comfort can be dangerous …

Contemporary journalism …

… Journalists, Learning They Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Instantly Embrace a New One - Glenn Greenwald.

When the CIA or related security state agencies tell American journalists to believe something, we obey unquestioningly, and as a result, whatever assertions are spread by these agencies, no matter how bereft of evidence or shielded by accountability-free anonymity, they instantly transform, in our government-worshipping worldview, into a proven fact — gospel — never to be questioned but only affirmed and then repeated and spread as far and wide as possible.

In case you wondered …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): Why do we keep coming back to Holmes and Watson?

Departure …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): Mark Twain goes out in 1910 (but remains relevant now).



 He could be funny, as in his remembrance of a poetry reading given by William Empson and interrupted by the poet’s wife: “After the second poem, as I remember, Mrs. Empson called out: ‘William, you’re very boring.’ He let that pass. But after the next poem she called out more formally: ‘William, you are very boring.’ Empson stopped, looked at the audience, and said: ‘My wife tells me I am very boring.’” 

Interesting …

… 3/4 of States Are Now Stand Your Ground; only 12 Are Duty to Retreat.

But what exactly do these terms mean?

Poetry and painting …

… Nigeness: 'The eyes like quinine...' (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
— John Muir, born on this date in 1838

A biographer’s tale …

… The Dark Manipulative Life of Blake Bailey.

The girls who went to Lusher have been talking with each other for decades and living with their pain, trying to make sense of what happened while sometimes contending with the great fear of speaking out, trying to understand how they could have been so easily manipulated. They were still starstruck with Bailey in college. And Bailey would stay in touch and meet them and betray their trust by being wantonly flirtatious. Some of the former students allege that they went up to the hotel room with him. Some allege that this was consensual. Some have carried their secrets for far too long and some have had rough lives afterward. Until now, their stories have been largely contained by the many beautiful lakes that surround the Big Easy.

Comparison and contrast …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Ernest Hemingway And James Jones: Writers And Warriors.

Word of the Day …

… Syncretism | Word Genius.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Who cares?

… American Humanist Association Board Statement Withdrawing Honor from Richard Dawkins - American Humanist Association. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

ADVOCATING PROGRESSIVE VALUES AND EQUALITY FOR HUMANISTS, ATHEISTS, AND FREETHINKERS. 

Well, that says it all, doesn’t it? Why don’t they try clear and correct thinking, rather than fashionable notions. I’d call them bird brains, but that would be an insult to birds. Pathetic. If I were Dawkins, I’d tell them to take their award and and shove it. Maybe it will dawn on him what  kind of intellectual lowlifes he’s been encouraging.

Anniversary …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): Monkey business in France leads the way for others.

Sounds about right …

 College Student Aces Final By Just Answering 'Racism!' To Every Question | The Babylon Bee.

The Skidmore College English professor who delivered the passing grade explained her rationale. "Charlie's test answers weren't technically correct, but they spoke to a deeper truth: everything is racist. At Skidmore College, creating leftist radicals who can find racism everywhere and help us burn down Western Civilization is much more important than educating people. For that reason, we decided to give her a passing grade!"


Together at last …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): Twain, Caesar, and Shakespeare in America.

That $40 a week Twain got was the equivalent in today’s money of $1,276.

Before the fall …

… Western Civilization's Growing Intellectual Dead Zones

Only after the rot becomes too evident to deny will there be widespread recognition of the problem. But by then it is usually too late. Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of collapsing civilizations is they rarely see the crash coming. Things keep “getting better” until the smash, which reveals itself briefly in what has been termed the “Ceauscescu moment”, the instant when artificial stupidity is replaced by blinding clarity.

Interesting choices …

… Largehearted Boy: Aaron Poochigian's Playlist for His Translation of "Aristophanes: Four Plays". (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Attending to now …

 First Known When Lost.

… I am not amused by what appears in the newspapers (or in their modern electronic successors).  Hence, I am content to leave news out of my life entirely.  "Where, to me, is the loss/Of the scenes they saw -- of the sounds they heard."  (Mary Coleridge, "No Newspapers.")  Of course, in this day and age snippets inevitably seep through -- insidious, noisome.  Our life is now akin to being forever stranded in an airport departure lounge, forced to listen to the ever-present cable news presenters dissembling from an unasked-for television screen hovering in the air somewhere above us.  Ah, welladay!

Something to think on …

Throughout history the world has been laid waste to ensure the triumph of conceptions that are now as dead as the men that died for them.
— Henry de Montherlant, born on this date in 1895

Compelling …

… Paul Davis On Crime: 'The Serpent': A Fascinating True Crime Series Now Streaming On Netflix.

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — That man is richest.

Word of the Day …

… Numismatic | Word Genius.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Mutual virtuosity …

… Poem of the week: To Vladimir Nabokov … by Anthony Burgess. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Blogging note …

 I have had things to deal with today, and I still do. A dear for whom have power of attorney has just been taken the hospital from the assisted living facility where he resides. I am awaiting word as to whether I should go to the hospital. Obviously, blogging just now takes a back seat.

Imagine that …

… Believe it or not — Iranian Radio reviews works by Twain.

Something to think on …

All that non-fiction can do is answer questions. It's fiction's business to ask them.
— Richard Hughes, born on this date in 1900

Q&A …

 Formal Poetry Is Not a Museum Piece: The Millions Interviews Aaron Poochigian - The Millions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the experience of translating Bacchae, on commission, for the stage changed my whole approach to the translation of plays. Whereas readers of a text can stop to learn about arcane subjects in footnotes and endnotes, theatergoers cannot. In both the Bacchae translation and the Aristophanes translations I tried to gloss as much as I could, unobtrusively, in the text. Thus “Bromios,” a cult title of Dionysus, is translated as its meaning, “The Roarer” or “The Roaring God.” 

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — Love takes off the masks.

Sounds about right …

… Neil Ferguson and the Imperial College 'Modelers' are Incompetent Scientists and Shameful Liars - Cafe Hayek.

And much else …

 Samantha Bee Is Wrong about Comedy | National Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… At the Babylon Bee, we make fun of the Left more than we make fun of the Right. I can understand Bee’s comments, along with the desire to poke fun at the opposition more than anyone or anything else. Yet at the same time, my favorite pieces to write are the ones that punch our audience square in the face, that call out the hypocrisy of the Right, that make fun of inconsistent living among Christians and our failure to live up to what we preach. I love satire that loves its target most of all.

Word of the Day …

… Gruntled | Word Genius.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Blogging note …

 I have had a long day. Much caring for others. Feeling very tired. Blogging will resume tomorrow.

A sound resolution …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): Listen my children and you shall hear (all sorts of things).

Blogging note …

 I have to run some errands for my wife, so blogging won't resume later. (Life comes first.)

Report from the front …

… Racial Justice Riots: Calling Evil Good and Good Evil | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What would the prophet Isaiah say about the latest chaos around Minneapolis?

Ah, yes …

… Poet laureate Simon Armitage publishes elegy for Prince Philip | Poetry | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

These transnationalists have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite's global operations
— Samuel P. Huntington, born on this date in 1927

Misery and romance …

… Monica Jones, Philip Larkin and Me by John Sutherland review – a poisonous love. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Enter, like a shining knight, John Sutherland, who was taught by Jones as an undergraduate, became a good friend and drinking partner, and rightly believes she has been hard done by. “In crucial ways Monica made me,” he says, and his book pays generous tribute to the woman who kick-started his prolific academic career. As the first scholar to see Jones’s letters to Larkin (all 54 boxes of them in the Bodleian Library), he has also learned things about her he didn’t know, some of them hard to take.

Word of the Day …

 Digerati | Word Genius.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Lovely …

In The Beauty Created By Others” by Adam Zagajewski. (Hat tip, Cynthia Haven.)

Odd couple …

 Beyond Eastrod (again): Unexpected friendship between two 19th century giants.

Art available online...

 ...This sort of initiative is wonderful: thousands of works now accessible from Amsterdam

Just so you know …

… Climate Attribution Studies Can’t Be Trusted — New Paper/ (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“We simply have little or no idea what the climate would have been without human activity. Moreover, we can’t ever know what it was like.”

Adventures at the movies …

Sitting in the Dark with Strangers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

These are not exactly reviews. They are – as any regular reader of Theodore Dalrymple would expect – brief but eloquent essays on just about any topic the film in question suggests. He touches on (among other things) how undramatic landscapes make for better paintings than mountain vistas, how medical mortality rates are affected by the Christmas holidays, how good fortune may test our character more than ill fortune, and how subjects apparently “irrelevant” to children’s lives may be the most important part of their education.

For the defense …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): Sex, Nonsense, and Shakespeare.

Dangling …

 Zealotry of Guerin: Poetry and Fiction by Christopher Guerin: Painting the Eiffel Tower, 1924, Sonnet #559.

Something to think on …

I would distinguish between a visitor and a pilgrim: both will come to a place and go away again, but a visitor arrives, a pilgrim is restored. A visitor passes through a place; the place passes through the pilgrim.
—. Cynthia Ozick,  born on this date in 1928

Unimpressed …

What’s so disappointing (and indeed outright nasty) is the way that Bailey has traded in his compassion for casual misogyny and a complete lack of fairness in relation to Maggie Martinson. Much as it pains me to say, Bailey’s Roth assignment turns out to be his Faustian bargain. 

Worth considering …

… Daily Inspiration | Inspiring Quotes — The most difficult thing.

Coining a phrase …

… The paired words “Cold War” get added to our lexicon.

Word of the Day …

… Hyaline | Word Genius.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Blogging note …

 I have persons to take care of today. Blogging will resume whenever?

Offbeat wisdom …

… The 40 Best Hunter S. Thompson Quotes | Libertas Bella.

“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.”

Hmm …

 Bruce Charlton's Notions: More on Christian Zen (and John Butler) - how it differs from what I want from life, and after-life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 This is something that must be read in full. But it may prove useful to read this as well: Shusaku Endo in conversation with William Johnston. I once interviewed William Johnston. He was one of two persons I have  encountered who gave me the impression of being genuinely good (the other was John Polkinghorne).

Thanks to Dave, here is my interview with Father Johnston.

Something to think on …

 Man is a rational animal. He can think up a reason for anything he wants to believe.

— Anatole France, born on this date in 1844

Word of the Day …

… Confrere | Word Genius.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Together at last …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Baseball, Boxing And Murder: My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column On Allen Abel, Hughie McLoon And Prohibition Era Philadelphia.

The greatest generation …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): The best and brightest in the U.S. Navy during WW2.

Good …

… James O'Keefe to Sue Twitter Over Suspension Following CNN Sting Videos.

Together at last …

 Paul Davis On Crime: Baseball, Boxing And Murder: My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column On Allen Abel, Hughie McLoon And Prohibition Era Philadelphia.

These days …

… Chad Prather: Texas Venue Wanted to Censor Comedian's Jokes - Hollywood in Toto.

“I would rather somebody come out and say exactly what they’re thinking, because then, if they’re being an a**hole or a s***head I can call ’em an a**hole or a s***head,” he said. “Their language is the only way I can get a reflection of what’s going on in their brain and their personality. I want a person to tell me the truth.”

Me, too. 

Indeed …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): There once was a poem called a limerick.

Learning and planning …

… Lessons from Flannery O’Connor.

Something to think on …

We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility.
— Thomas Szasz, born on this date in 1920

The course of deeds …

… The Stones by Tomas Tranströmer | Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Tomas Tranströmer was born on this date in 1931.

Have a look …

… Photos Of The Week No. 14. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hearkening …

… The Rainbird by Bliss Carman | Poetry Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Bliss Carman was born on this date in 1861.

Word of the Day …

… Taxonomy | Word Genius.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

I’m not so sure …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): Beyond Eastrod (again) explained in plain English.

I cannot quite agree with Tim. I do not think that anything he has written about Flannery O’Connor’s writing has in any way diminished it. It has, on the contrary, provided an explanation of why it affects us as it does.

Reunited …

… Beyond Eastrod (again): Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice.

Something to think on …

Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder. 
— Arnold J. Toynbee, born on this date in 1889

 


It was bound to happen …

Politically Correct “Lord of the Flies. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“Just because we’re stranded doesn’t give you the right to use non-inclusive language,” Jack said.

Character and writing …

 Style Reveals the Man by Joseph Epstein | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

From Aristotle through Horace, Tacitus, and Quintilian, on to Edgar Allan Poe, Walter Raleigh, and Arthur Quiller-Couch, up to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style in our own day, there has been no shortage of manuals on oratory and writing. The most useful, I have found, is F. L. Lucas’s Style, partly because it does not pretend to instruct, but in even greater part because of the wide-ranging literary intelligence of its author, whose own style, lucid, learned, authoritative, rarely fails to persuade. One has to admire the sangfroid of an author who, at the close of a splendid book on the subject of style, writes: “We may question, indeed, whether style has ever been much improved by books on style.”