Friday, September 30, 2022
Every day, before I start to write, I pray, and I ask to be willing, and then I see what happens. “I offer myself to Thee to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.” People who’ve been in recovery might recognize that as the third-step prayer, and that’s the one I say every day. It’s my asking to have the perspective of self lifted and to give myself to the situation and the characters. I find that I function most effectively when I sort of disembody myself. I lie there on the floor and I talk and the words come up on the screen and then I fix the words, but I never actually lay my hands on anything, a computer or a typewriter, none of that.
In Zoom Rooms, not all poems are about the Great Isolation of 2020, but many are, in one way or another. Covid-19 provided—and, in some places, still provides—a nutrient-rich petri dish for artists. The choice was this: cope or go crazy. Video chats and meetings suddenly proliferated. They were one way to cope, but they offered their own variants of misery. The collection’s first poem hints at the uncomfortable doubts that arose during the first year of the pandemic
Thursday, September 29, 2022
The seven songs are, in Marcus’s order, “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1962), “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” (1964), “Ain’t Talkin’” (2006), “The Times They Are A-Changin’” (1964), “Desolation Row” (1965), “Jim Jones” (1992), and “Murder Most Foul” (2020). Prefacing these seven is a concise two-page biography of Dylan and a companion piece entitled “In Other Lives.” “I can see myself in others,” Bob Dylan said in Rome in 2001, speaking to a crowd of journalists. If there is a key to his work from now back to its beginning, that may be it.
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
These will make you want to start reading Sinclair Lewis again.
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Monday, September 26, 2022
Sunday, September 25, 2022
Alternately comical and sentimental, ironic and poignant, Prince of Darkness, like much of Powers' work, exploits as well as subverts our expectations about men of God and their cloistered lives.
Partly because I’d never worked at any newspaper before, everything about The Post struck me as magical. And surprisingly noisy. In those days, each staffer’s cubicle held a telephone, a heavy metal Rolodex and a Selectric typewriter. Phones in the open newsroom rang almost continuously, and reporters hammered out their stories on sheets of six-ply paper, instantly creating five copies of each page. One of those pages — called “takes” — would be scrolled up in a canister and sent via pneumatic tubes to the composing room. There, linotype machines would turn those paragraphs into rows of metal type.
My mid-20s were steeped in Romantic poetry because I spent eight years at Oxford not finishing a PhD on Shelley. I’ve always felt that nothing is wasted, and I was asking myself how I could recycle this material when I read , the fantastically modern-feeling autobiography by [the 19th-century French writer] Stendhal, who I don’t think is much read in UK literary circles. He called himself a romantic because he kept falling in love – he felt it was a curse – and I decided that this store of knowledge I had about Romantic poets could gel with writing about someone with that kind of temperament.
Saturday, September 24, 2022
The letters sent to an author are less often anthologised, if at all. Yet, they offer a remarkable cross-section through the literary and personal networks, friendships and relationships that intersect with the literary and creative worlds. How do other writers approach and critique McGahern’s writing? What of their own self do they bring to the reading of his works? So much in these letters ties to the world, both physical and imaginative, out of which McGahern wrote and crafted his stories and novels. Ian McEwan, for instance, wrote to McGahern in 2006 stating that he “would dearly love to come and see the land that lies around your imagination”.
Friday, September 23, 2022
Train's industrious pleasure in the human condition didn't blind him to the darker precincts of the human universe. Prompted by the example of his friend and sometime colleague Alexander Solzhenitsyn, he was founding chairman of a foundation that awards an annual Civil Courage Prize "for steadfast resistance to evil at great personal cost." And during the 1980s, he established the Afghanistan Relief Committee, which provided humanitarian aid to civilian refugees and assistance to the mujahedeen warriors resisting the Russian invasion.
It would be a little bizarre to say I couldn’t put a literary biography down. But that was very nearly the case with . Granted, that’s partly because the author’s wide-ranging references often touch on my personal interests – from the English Inklings to Olav, royal patron saint of Norway. The narrative never lags, and Undset provides a surprisingly dramatic subject, the kind of “difficult” woman who continually rocks the boat while celebrating subordination.
Thursday, September 22, 2022
. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)The spectacle of his age and his life overpowered him into art. His immense energy assaulted journalism, the theatre and finally fiction where it spilled out into glorious English that could find no peace with itself. It was the first expression that could find no peace with itself. It was the first expression in prose of the legacy of romanticism. Ackroyd calls the style ‘passionate, comic, direct, plangent, farcical, lachrymose’ and adds with casual brilliance: ‘Prose as a principle of animation.’ Academic English departments should study such superb critical distillations and then abolish themselves.
The period during which I was not a practicing Catholic was so brief as hardly to be worth mentioning. It was an adolescent revolt rather than a lasting apostasy. But, certainly, the grace of faith came to me in new ways and like a flood — or floods.
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Elliott’s family has long known he’s gifted — the youngster started doing math as a toddler and became a member of Mensa International at the tender age of 6, Minnesota Parent reported. But the rest of the world was made privy to his academic prowess when he graduated from UofM earlier this year at age 13 with a bachelor’s degreein physics and a minor in math, making waves in the media and earning him a loyal following of supporters wanting to see him succeed.
I distinguish philosophy-as-inquiry from philosophy-as-worldview. These are two ideal types of approach to the deepest problems that vex the thoughtful. Roughly, a worldview is a more or less comprehensive system of more or less precisely articulated action-guiding beliefs and values. Despite the word, a worldview is more than a view; it is a guide to life. It sets goals and prescribes and proscribes courses of action. It provides an overarching context of meaning in which individual actions assume a meaning that transcends their momentary meaning. It is practical rather than merely theoretical. A worldview is something one lives by, and sometimes dies for. (Transfinite cardinal arithmetic is not a worldview: it has no practical implications. One cannot 'take it to the streets.')
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
The book’s short chapters are written in paragraphs, as all writing in English is, but about two thirds of these paragraphs have little dots to the left. “The bullet point is a wonderful way to isolate important facts or ideas,” the authors write. Maybe so, but the excessive use of bullets leads you to wonder why some bulleted paragraphs have no important facts or ideas, and some nonbulleted ones do. And anyway why am I thinking more about these little dots than about the subject matter? It’s a fine way to read if you want to go insane.
Monday, September 19, 2022
One such was Old Bill, who only ever worked for room and board and chewing tobacco. He wasn’t that old, really, probably in his fifties, but Old Bill put my young grandfather in mind of Abraham Lincoln, tall and lanky with dark hair and whiskers. He would just show up on the farm one day, and even if Grandpa’s father didn’t exactly need him (Bill required lots of supervision), he always took him on.
n Feser’s analysis, Marxism, postmodernism, liberation theology, and CRT pivot on conflict, power, and domination among classes or racial groups. The individual is marginalized, reconciliation is not possible, and division is necessary for victory. The Catholic paradigm, in contrast, sees each human person as created in the image and likeness of God, as equally, individually, and uniquely sacred, and as called to love God and others with full mind and body through spiritual and corporal works of mercy (e.g., Mother Theresa of Calcutta).
Sunday, September 18, 2022
Updike saved almost everything. His papers, stored at Harvard, include his golf scorecards, legal and business records, fan mail, video tapes, photographs, drawings and rejection letters. Was saving and preserving the past done so we could remember him, and he could better remember himself, and try again?
Saturday, September 17, 2022
Friday, September 16, 2022
… after the western zones were combined into West Berlin, the gulf between the quality of life in the city’s two halves grew steadily. The Berlin Airlift of 1948–1949, a heroic response to a Soviet attempt to cut off supplies to West Berlin, only intensified the feeling among West Berliners that Americans had their backs: “Where the Soviets moved with cruelty . . . the Americans were seen to be bringing joy to the children of their former enemies.” Yet for all the Americans had done for them, one of the chief complaints by West Berliners by the time the 1950s rock-and-rolled around was that “alien” and “vulgar” American pop music was poisoning their culture. Nor did they hide their racism toward black American performers. You would think they would have been embarrassed to express such sentiments so soon after the Holocaust, but no. It was almost as if, having been lifted by America back to a position of dignity and self-respect, they were returning to master-race form and looking upon their saviors with the same old arrogance and contempt. (This is a phenomenon I’ve often reflected on when visiting Germany; I wish McKay had devoted more time to it.)
The car inspired affection in its owners. The T rapidly acquired nicknames: Tin Lizzie, flivver – a word of indeterminate origins – or jalopy, which might be derived from Jalapa, a Mexican town where many old cars were sent to be turned into scrap.
Thursday, September 15, 2022
Everybody has heard of the Tao Te Ching, the Taoist classic. Less well known, but equally important and far more accessible, is “The Book of Zhuangzi,” written in the fourth century B.C., which also enables the reader to become aware of the Tao the sacred reality that permeates every aspect of life. Zhuangzi’s style is energetic, ebullient, bracing, humorous and accessible. The secret, he explains, is to let ourselves go, laying aside the ego that we cherish so diligently. We do this not by abstruse meditation; instead, we must focus on simple tasks so thoroughly and wholeheartedly that we forget ourselves and allow the, the sacred force that permeates the whole of reality, to take over
One might be surprised to find such vitality in a novel that both begins and ends in a cemetery, but Hren vividly depicts the various members of the Yourrick family and the villainous Hape in such a way as to clarify a point from Caroline Gordon’s . Gordon’s novelist friend Mr. X claimed that there was no such thing as a novel of ideas, because novels deal with life, with action, but Hren reveals within the lives of his character the power of both truth and sophistry.
Dave also sends along this other review of the book: An Infinity of Imperfections.
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
Cardinal Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, announced on an interview program that the Catholic Church had no interest in opposing Italy's law allowing abortion. Indeed, while encouraging more women to have children, Paglia called the law "a pillar of our social life."
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
… Richard Rodriguez discusses the 40th anniversary edition of his classic book, Hunger of Memory. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The fourth Catholic Imagination Conference will be held at the University of Dallas, from September 30 until October 1. It has been a staple of this event to bring back together friends from previous years, such as Gioia, Sarah Cortez, Phil Klay, Philip Metres, Sally Thomas, and others, while also introducing new writers each time. The 2022 Conference will feature Christopher Beha, Gloria Purvis, Uwem Akpan, Haley Stewart, Tsh Oxenreider, and a host of other notable Catholic luminaries, while recognizing that there is a lengthy list of those who could have also been invited. It is a beautiful problem to have too many worthy Catholic writers to invite and not enough space and time to hear from all of them.