Saturday, October 22, 2016

Doesn't he always?

… With his first new play in nearly a decade, Tom Stoppard aims to 'stretch your mind just a little bit' - LA Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A real pro …

… The Odd Appeal of Shirley Jackson - Washington Free Beacon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… now, just over 50 years since her death, what are we to say about her? There are limits to the women-had-it-so-bad-in-the-1950s line that Ruth Franklin pushes in Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life. It doesn’t explain—and even seems to preclude—the genuine success that Jackson found. For that matter, the deeper one reaches in the biography, the less one trusts that Jackson was driven by her times. She was an odd girl, by the standards not just of her day but of any day. And she grew into a talented woman whose writings may have originated among her anxieties but are not fully explained by them.

Somerset Maugham gauged his place in literary history as "in the very front row of the second-rate." Of course, as he pointed out the truly first-rate are people like Shakespeare.

The Prosblogion

… The Prosblogion — Virtual Colloquium: Perry Hendricks, “An Empirical Argument for Substance Dualism”. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

This sounds to me like eavesdropping on a conversation in Laputa.

Help for politicized dimwits …

… Thomism Is Ready for Its Close-Up | RealClearReligion.

… Thomist thinkers in the New World defended the humanity of the native peoples against the deprecations of some European settlers. From these stout defenses of the natives’ dignity emerged theories of human rights and international law that hold sway even today. A statue of Francisco de Vitoria (1492–1546), a leading figure of the Thomist School of Salamanca, stands in the gardens of the United Nations headquarters in New York City. … Thomist intellectuals helped to draft the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the report of Quebec’s Tremblay Commission. 

Trick or treat …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Poor Devil by the Fire (Hugo Simberg), Sonnet #320.

Hmm …

… Not a Nobel Man - Taki's Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Nobel Committee says it gave Dylan the award for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." So they were giving it to him as a writer of songs that are sung not simply read. The connection between song and poetry is indubitable. Dalrymple cites lyrics that do stand especially well minus the music that accompanies them. But let's try some Dylan lyrics that, I think, do stand pretty well by themselves:

Take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time
Far past the frozen leaves
The haunted frightened trees
Out to the windy bench
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky
With one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea
Circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate
Driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow

Dylan deserves the prize for the same basic reason that anyone else who is given it does: Those charged with bestowing the prize decided to bestow it on him. 

Something to think n …

The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven't changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don't change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.
— Doris Lessing, born on this date in 1919

In case you wondered...

Friday, October 21, 2016

Songs bigger than life …

… “Let Us Not Talk Falsely Now, The Hour Is Getting Late”: Literature, the Nobel, and Bob Dylan | Town Topics. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

Wow …

… Faith Photo by Anna D. — National Geographic Your Shot. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Haiku …

Settled on the bench,
The old man sees where he's been
And wonders what's next.

An atheist Muslim...

Q&A …

 New Book Juster — Mass Poetry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Indeed …

… We’re Only Human | commentary — Review of 'The Kingdom of Speech,' by Tom Wolfe. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Clearing the popularizers from the field, as many specialists would like to do, would cede all scientific argument to scientists, who in many notable cases have not earned the deference they demand. The danger is doubled when scientists use science to draw metaphysical lessons—when, that is, they assert that human beings and primates are in essence the same kind of creature. A flurry of data and polysyllabic detail shouldn’t obscure the fact that such a thesis defies human experience and devalues the noblest human endeavors (including science, by the way).
One might add that, as often as not, when scientists draw those metaphysical, they mostly reveal their utter ignorance of philosophy in general and metaphysics in particular.

Short answer: Very high …

… What is the true standing of Oxford poet Elizabeth Jennings? | Oxford Today. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

A poet ought not to pick nature's pocket. Let him borrow, and so borrow as to repay by the very act of borrowing. Examine nature accurately, but write from recollection, and trust more to the imagination than the memory.
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge, born on this date in 1772

Thursday, October 20, 2016

One can only hope …

… The University Bookman: Is a Christian Society Possible? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Reno speaks a difficult truth when he takes on the point of solidarity. If a society is not unified, it is fragmented, individualized, and atomized—and so is left vulnerable to tyranny. A society that does not stand on solid ground has no foundation into which it might dig its heels. In his words, “Atomized, self-interested people are more easily managed than those united in a common purpose. They are easier to dominate than those willing and able to make sacrifices for the sake of a transcendent loyalty.” Time was that government reacted to the movements of the masses. But as a society becomes more fragmented the government no longer has a popular opinion to which to respond, and so pays attention not to the largest movements, but rather to the most raucous, which are easily confused with popular. Five men yelling can make as much noise as twenty men speaking; as Reno puts it, “We’re facing a crisis of solidarity, not freedom, and this crisis of solidarity foretells a crisis of freedom. Atomized, isolated individuals adrift in a deregulated moral culture are easily dominated, whether by political manipulators or the directionless leadership of mass culture.”

Fabulous …

… Undernews: Great moments in poetry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

 Screwtape and Human Wave | Cat Rotator's Quarterly.
There’s a sense in the air in the US right now that, as a fellow study group member put it, “Screwtape has his hand out telling Wormwood ‘Just chill. We’ve got this.’ ” Politics are unspeakable, the economy feels like one of those endless knock-knock jokes (Knock knock. Who’s there? Recovery. Recovery who? Knock knock. Who’s there? Recovery. Recovery who?), truly important news has been overwhelmed by a wave of tit for tat that makes a toddler spat look dignified and mature, and there’s a great urge to stop, dive into a hole and pull the hole in after you. Why bother saving if inflation will eat it. Why bother voting or participating in local politics since [they] are not listening/are not moving fast enough/are corrupt/are tied to business interests.

Hear, hear …

 The Millions : The Library Is Dead. Long Live the Library! - The Millions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think what needs to be understood is that information is not knowledge, and that education is more than mere training. Education is information and skill put to the purpose of forming character.

Anchors aweigh …

 The Violent Bear It Away: Reviews and Discussions: Blogging Note.

Always fresh …

 A History of Pictures by David Hockney and Martin Gayford review | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Like the best poetry, Hockney’s best pictures always give you the sense that the whole business is starting again. There are connoisseurs who scorn that view but they are of the kind whose necks get tired too easily in the Sistine chapel. (It’s featured here, with the prophet Jonah leaning back into the curved vault leaning forward, a world-beating trompe l’oeil effect disguised as almost nothing.) (But try and make a mark that doesn’t trick the eye.) (Anyone who meets Hockney will soon find, disconcertingly, that he speaks the way these parentheses add up.)


… Lieutenant-Colonel Norman Murphy, founder of the PG Wodehouse Society – obituary. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Broke is a temporary condition, poor is a state of mind.
— Richard Francis Burton, who died on this date in 1890

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Blogging note …

I have to do a bit of dog-sitting for my neighbors down the street, and then it's of to the dentist. So blogging on my part will resume this afternoon.

Candor …

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

There are two worlds: the world we can measure with line and rule, and the world that we feel with our hearts and imagination.
— Leigh Hunt, born on this date in 1784

Thriving on poison...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


… 10 popular word origins that are absolute codswallop.

A virtual future …

… Is This Economist Too Far Ahead of His Time? - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

To the extent that I can grasp this, it doesn't sound very appealing. Luckily, I won't be around.

Beauty and truth …

… First Known When Lost: Flowers And Stars.

A good poem (or any good work of art) brings us back to the world. It prompts us to take a fresh look at things. This fresh look encompasses both human and natural particulars. These particulars are not always lovely and cheerful -- poetry is not mere escapism -- but, in the hands of a good poet, they bring us into the presence of Beauty and Truth.
These are things we intuit, in Aristotle's sense. We simply know them. We do not reason toward them. They are their own evidence and proof.

Helpful hints …

 The Long Way through No, To a Big Short Yes | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Aboard with Ahab …

… The Violent Bear It Away: Reviews and Discussions: "Call me Ishmael" -- erratic blogging lies ahead!

Something to think on …

Some other faculty than the intellect is necessary for the apprehension of reality.
— Henri Bergson, born on this date in 1859

Another college to skip …

 Students told term 'be a man' represents toxic masculinity - The College Fix.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Not returning calls …

 Nobel Prize committee gives up trying to contact Bob Dylan. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Generation of ignoramuses

 How Many Millennials Think Bush Killed More Than Stalin.
When millennial respondents were asked about their familiarity with various historical communist figures, 42 percent were unfamiliar with Mao Zedong, 40 percent with Che Guevara, and 33 percent with Vladimir Lenin—three notorious figures in communist regimes. Among millennials familiar with Lenin, 25 percent viewed him favorably.
I wonder how many of those wear Che t-shirts

A reminder …







Philadelphia, PA

More Info:

This Event Is Free

A Terrific Poem by Autumn McClintock:

To Pennsylvania


You meager lost state.
You, dog with a tail between your legs.
You blue state of dirty cities.

You keystone,
lover of the middle.
You ignored child.

Not poor or rich or lively. Your Liberty Bell:
broken, tongue-tied cow. You of
rolling hills, of Amish

and Mennonites in the fields, the rolling fields
gold with corn. You sea-less creature.
You long divided by the Susquehanna.

Your bit of Lake Erie. You holding hands
with Ohio and Trenton, kneeling on Maryland.
You having a quick affair with Delaware, your tiny friend.

You kissing New York and kissing her and kissing her
along her pale spine. All between, among,
surrounded, you, Pennsylvania.

Of routes and skyscrapers, downed planes
in broad expanses, of 6 hours to cross you,
of long restless rides. Of ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer,

(oh dead highway, oh fur and bones across the highway)
of ladybug and firefly, brook trout, mountain laurel,
of eastern hemlock, waving.  Coal state, steel state,

state of our own sorrow. You, Pennsylvania
raising up and holding us, you nurturing and
wasting us. I love you. I love you.

Autumn McClintock grew up in Chester County and has lived in Philadelphia for over a decade. Her first chapbook, After the Creek, was published in late summer 2016, and poems of hers have recently appeared in Drunken Boat, Green Mountains Review, Poetry Daily, RHINO, and others. An essay of hers appears in the 2013 anthology The Poet’s Sourcebook, published by Autumn House Press, and she is a staff reader for Ploughshares.  She works at the Free Library.

Tuesday, November 15, 7 PM
Jan Freeman, author of Blue Structure,
published by Calypso Press
& Lynn Farmer, author of
The Rare, Persistent Light, winner of
the Charles Dickson Chapbook Award

Something to look forward to …

… Four Boys and a Guitar-The Story and Music of the Mills Brothersby douglas e. friedman - Home.

For those unfamiliar with the Mills Brothers, he's a clip:

Listen in …

… Episode 189 – Glen Baxter | Virtual Memories.

“All the cultural vibrancy of great cities has been made less possible by the fact that people can’t afford to live there anymore. The energy is dissipated.”