Saturday, May 27, 2017

Why one writer writes …

… Marly Youmans / The Palace at 2:00 a.m. / poems, stories, novels: To make or not to make--. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A strange part of all this leaning toward shapeliness is that a writer is also made, enlarged, changed and transformed. She may fly into ethereal realms or trudge through the underworld, may die on the phoenix pyre many times. She experiences redemption, loss, debasement, courage, all wax and wane--a whole gamut of ways of being. She loves the unloveable as well as the much-loved. Like a fantasy object, a writer becomes bigger on the inside through making poems and narratives.

So true …

… Otherwise, by Jane Kenyon - Poem 050 | Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003 (Poetry and Literature, Library of Congress). (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

RIP …

… Chana Bloch, Berkeley poet and Yehuda Amichai translator, dies at 77 – J. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

FYI …

… Turkey: A History of Banning Poetry and Targeting Poets | The Armenian Weekly. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Who knew?

… Writing is Centering, Like Prayer | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Together at last …

… Of Writing, Biscuits, and Gratitude | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Something to think on …

A first-rate organizer is never in a hurry. He is never late. He always keeps up his sleeve a margin for the unexpected.
— Arnold Bennett, born on this date in 1867

And here is another …

… entirely too many pieces of unsolicited advice to young writer types. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

Prophetic literature …

… This 1962 Novel Predicted Western Collapse and Islam's Takeover | The Stream. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



One of the books mentioned, The Camp of the Saints, really does read as if it had been written last year.

RIP …

… Denis Johnson, author of ‘Jesus’ Son,’ dead at 67.

Just one look …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Medusa (Caravaggio), Sonnet #352.

Indeed …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `There Is Only One Subject'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Prufrock's centenary …

… Magic Lantern | The Weekly Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



It is only mentioned in passing here, but I have always been fond of Preludes. It awakened me to the poetry of the city.

Wondering …

… Informal Inquiries: Why do writers write?


I've always liked Dr. Johnson's explanation: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money."


Blogging note …

Busy and about once again. Will resume blogging later on.

Preview …

… Randy Newman's "Dark Matter" Due August 4 on Nonesuch; First Album of New Material Since 2008 | Nonesuch Records. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Not sure what to think of "Putin." But I do find it odd that Putin seems to have become more of a bogeyman than Stalin ever did, at least in certain circles.

Hmm …

… Informal Inquiries: Troublemakers in history.



Well, you have to wonder about a guy afraid of a thunderstorm. As for troublemakers, I prefer trouble enders.

Something to think on …

Barbarism is needed every four or five hundred years to bring the world back to life. Otherwise it would die of civilization.
— Edmond de Goncourt, born on this date in 1822

Appreciation …

 The American Scholar: Brazil by Way of Bach - Sudip Bose. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

His most famous piece by its greatest interpreter:

It's come to this …

… Banning Lou Reed: The Cultural Revolution Eats Its Fathers | The Stream.

The post went viral, to vast ridicule. “I don’t know if Lou would be cracking up about this or crying because it’s just too stupid,” Reed’s producer Hal Willner told The Guardian
There really is something profoundly ludicrous about Lou Reed falling victim to PC nonsense.

So let's hear it from (and for) Lou:


Interesting …

 Cli-Fi.Net -- (the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi, a subgenre of sci-fi): The New York Times expands to Australia, with Damien Cave running the Sydney bureau and the New York Times Sunday Book Review setting up an Australia office as well to cover books written and reviewed by Australian writers and literary critics.

Hmm …

… A climate change solution beneath our feet.

Nearly 20 years ago, in an article in the New York Review of Books, Freeman Dyson pointed out that the U.S. could eliminate excess carbon emissions by increasing the topsoil by three-eighths of an inch.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Much in what he says …

… Notes of a Reformed News Weasel: Understanding the Vacuity | Fred On Everything. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ask journalists when they were last in a truck stop on an Interstate, last in Boone, North Carolina or Barstow, California or any of thousands of such towns across the country. Ask whether they were in the military, whether they have ever talked to a cop or an ambulance crewman or a fireman. Ask whether they have a Mexican friend, when they last ate in a restaurant where a majority of the customers were black. Whether they know an enlisted man, or anyone in the armed services. Whether they have hitchhiked overnight, baited a hook, hunted, or fired a rifle. Whether they have ever worked washing dishes, harvesting crops, driving a delivery truck. Whether they have a blue-collar friend. Know what the Texas Two-Step is, have been in a biker bar.
But what he says is not only true of journalists. And it used to not be true of journalists.

First class indeed …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Class Act: The Story Everyone's Sharing About Sir Roger Moore.

The way we are …

… Crime and Drugs @ Your Library — Annoyed Librarian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It’s pretty bleak stuff, too. In Philly overdoses and Narcan use are so common in the library that “They have been using the spray so often that they can tell the type of overdose simply by the sound coming from the lavatory: Heroin victims slide sluggishly into unconsciousness, the librarians have found, while victims of deadly fentanyl collapse instantly, with a thud that resonates through the entire building.”

Talking about Bix …

… Q&A: Delving into the Life of the Inscrutable Jazz Legend Bix Beiderbecke — The National Book Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The way we were …

… Tense photos capture the atmosphere as New Yorkers wait for news on D-Day. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

True love's unsmooth course …

 London man writes world's longest love poem at 2,400 words | Daily Mail Online. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Discovery …

… Unseen Sylvia Plath poems deciphered in carbon paper | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A poet's travails …

… Gerard Manley Hopkins, a terrible teacher who hated UCD. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Of the 28 poems he wrote in Ireland, the six known as the Terrible Sonnets are the most arresting. For anyone who has known depression, the gut-wrenchingly bleak No worst, there is none, which ends with the crumb of comfort that “all life death does end and each day dies with sleep”, is the poetic equivalent of Munch’s The Scream. It’s hardly complimentary to his adopted home, and the best we can say is that Hopkins’ misery was literature’s gain.

Satirical leveling …

… Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Decline and Fall’: British TV Series Captures the Book’s Comedy | National Review.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



The TV adaptation gets Waugh’s humor exactly right: pugnacious and genteel, shocking yet understated, viciously deadpan, awash with fondness and cruelty.


Section 6 (of 10) …

 "Cosmography" Neptune-1.

Q & A …

… 'Times' Book Review Editor Shares Her Love Of Reading In 'My Life With Bob' : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

The state incurs debts for politics, war, and other higher causes and 'progress'. . . . The assumption is that the future will honour this relationship in perpetuity. The state has learned from the merchants and industrialists how to exploit credit; it defies the nation ever to let it go into bankruptcy. Alongside all swindlers the state now stands there as swindler-in-chief.
— Jacob Burckhardt, born on this date in 1818

Get ready for some chuckles …

… Hilarious Winners of the First Annual ‘Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards’ – FLOW ART STATION. (Hat tips, Dave Lull and Rus Bowden.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Epiphany …

… Informal Inquiries: Not by accident have I stumbled upon Balaam's words.



Blogging note: postscript to previous posting.

Sad news …

… Peter Lawler: R.I.P. – Front Porch Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Innovation and its consequences …

… Informal Inquiries: What hath God wrought?

Words and the Word …

… Sarah Ruden’s Rebellion Against Our ‘Just the Facts’ Bibles | Christianity Today. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Aesthetics, she says, seems to be the great factor disregarded by the modern mind. A close attentiveness to the original texts reveals that these words were carefully chosen and artfully deployed. So what would happen if we were to be just as careful and artful in the way we choose to present these words today? Ruden is asking translators to wrestle with more than meaning. She is making the case for doing the intense and challenging work of digging as deeply as possible into ancient worlds so we can once again feel the Bible, not just know things from it. Again and again she asks, “What was it like?”

Intense and edgy …

… Nigeness: Pontormo.

Plus ça change …

… First Known When Lost: Present.

"But as to one result of this merely mechanical extending of an horizon I am clear, and clear that it is spiritually injurious to man. The growing tendency of a world where means of instantaneous communication and rapid transit and the ever-widening ramifications of commercial interests more and more make everybody's business everybody's business, is to breed a shallow and aimless cosmopolitanism in all of us at the expense of an exact and intimate growth in our knowledge of ourselves and our neighbours and the land of our birth."

World enough and time …

… A Physicist and a Literature Professor Discuss Time Travel | RealClearScience.

Something to think on …

I believe in not quite knowing. A writer needs to be doubtful, questioning. I write out of curiosity and bewilderment.
— William Trevor, born on this date in 1928

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Listen in …

… Episode 219 – Keiler Roberts | Virtual Memories.

“My drawing is as close as it can be to my handwriting. It’s what comes out without too much thought.”

Few, but perfect lyrics …

… The Laureate of Loneliness | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

History as time travel …

… Informal Inquiries: Time-travel to the past in America. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Anniversary and a query …

… Informal Inquiries: Margaret Fuller, Emerson, and time-travel.

RIP …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Sir Roger Moore, Actor, Author and UNICEF Ambassador, Dead at 89.

Who would've thought?

Something to think on …

Before I write down one word, I have to have the character in my mind through and through. I must penetrate into the last wrinkle of his soul.
— Henrik Ibsen, who died on this date in 1906

Taking out a terrorist …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review Of 'The Operator: Firing The Shots That Killed Osama Bin Laden And My Years As A SEAL Team Warrior'.

Picky eaters …

… The Anatomy of Finickiness: On Alexander Theroux’s “Einstein’s Beets: An Examination of Food Phobias” - Los Angeles Review of Book. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

From time to time I was reminded of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy, similar in its baggy, overstuffed, eccentric, encyclopedic qualitieswith the author by no means restricted to his alleged subject. Theroux’s book has something of the magnificent folly about it. He tells us Brief Lives, John Aubrey’s gorgeously chaotic collection of biographies, is one of his favorite books: no big surprise there.

Mystery man …

… How the Owner of the Greatest Mystery Bookstore Pulled the Genre Out of the Muck - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mysteries have always been around and always been popular, but they haven’t always been respected. Otto Penzler has had a significant hand in that transformation. He’s probably the most important figure in the history of mystery fiction who’s never written a mystery story.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Blogging note …

I have a dentist's appointment tomorrow morning. So I won't be blogging until later in the day/

Anniversary …

… Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Creator Of Sherlock Holmes, Was Born.

Falling on hard times …

… Sinners in the hands of an angry buddha. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The material in this collection trades in mature topics, no less serious than the death of a child. Intelligent teenagers are marooned without jobs or the means to attend college during the Great Depression, poverty sits next to great affluence in New York City, there is despair and divorce and premarital sex, when marriage thereafter began to collapse as a norm. But Fitzgerald’s precision and fineness, even at the depth of his powers, exceeds contemporary writers by miles. If Saunders thinks Trump is no Lincoln—and what president is a Lincoln?—George Saunders is no Scott Fitzgerald.

Philosophy and romance …

Mill’s nickname, given him by Gladstone, was “the Saint of Rationalism.” He had a reputation as England’s gentle philosopher, whose school, if it erred, did so only in assuming that the rest of mankind was as decent and benevolent as himself. But the more we examine him, the less plausible it is that Mill was too good for this world. Instead it begins to appear that Mill was unable to tell his readers how to become decent, benevolent people—because he wasn’t one himself.

Path to faith …

… The University Bookman: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Wallace Stevens. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mariani’s concluding chapters resonate with something different, something about that austere and ethical conscience: “… the figures in the street,” Stevens had written in his homage to Santayana, “Become the figures in heaven, the majestic movement / Of men growing small in the distances of space, / Singing, with smaller and still smaller sound, / Unintelligible absolution and an end.” There’s a celestial possibility being limned here, “happiness in the shape of Rome,” prefigures a soul waiting to be released. Meditating on Santayana, Stevens is reading his own mind near the end of his own life, and a peaceful and tranquil Catholic even in his own mind.

Something to think on …

As I grow to understand life less and less I grow to love it more and more.
— Jules Renard, who died on this date in 1910

Sunday, May 21, 2017

They also serve …

… Informal Inquiries: Creators and contributors in society.


In case you wondered...

In case you wondered …

… What Anglicans get right about angels | CatholicHerald.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One of the silliest claims made by those who do not share my affection for them is that devotion to Michael and Gabriel, as with the Seven Dolours or poor neglected St Aloysius, smacks of grandmotherly piety. This is entirely true, and speaks very much in its favour. Heaven, one suspects, will be full of grandmothers, and angels keeping them company.
The older I get, the simpler my piety becomes.

Sight and vision …

A NEUROLOGIST'S NOTEBOOK: THE MIND'S EYE. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ben Franklin, creative borrower …

… Do As Poor Richard Says, Not As He Does – The Awl. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 As a citizen of a British colony, [Franklin]took immense pride in the comedic sensibilities of his motherland. More importantly, as an eighteenth-century publisher, he considered the inclusion of unattributed knowledge well within the bounds of fair use. “Writers [back then] didn’t have the modern sense of plagiarism that today’s professors pound into the heads of our students,” says George Boudreau, history professor at La Salle University. “There was certainly no shame in lifting someone else’s words or ideas, whether it was for a personal letter, a newspaper article, or a government document.”

Inquirer reviews …

 Amy Goldstein's 'Janesville': Superb, heart-wrenching account on whatever happened to Wisconsin.

Colm Tóibín's 'House of Names': A furious, contemporary Clytemnestra.

… Mary Gordon's 'There Your Heart Lies': Hackneyed and soggy.

 'Since We Fell': Lehane back in New England with chilling love tale.

A most humane human …

… Celebrating the Philosopher of Beauty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“Through the pursuit of beauty we shape the world as a home. We also come to understanding our own nature as spiritual beings,” Scruton says in the documentary.

Something to think on …

Some people will never learn anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon.
— Alexander Pope, born on this date in 1688

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The science is settled …

… Hoax Science Paper Says Penis Is a Social Construct that Worsens Climate Change | American Council on Science and Health.



Not that it ever is.

Only sub specie aeternitatis …

 Does God care about global warming? | Danny Bloom | The Blogs | The Times of Israel.

Hmm …

… America’s Rich Literary Past Gets Its Own Museum. (Hat tip, G.E. Reutter.)



Isn't every library a writers' museum?

The self's allure …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Narcissus in Rome (Caravaggio), Sonnet # 351.

Friends for a while …

… Book review: The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War. (Hat tip, G.E. Reutter.)

Anniversary …

 Informal Inquiries: Remembering Shakespeare and predicting the future.

Something to think on …

The more one judges, the less one loves.
— Honoré de Balzac, born on this date in 1799

History, Fiction...

...And a molding of the two

Friday, May 19, 2017

Anniversary …

… Informal Inquiries: Oscar Wilde, crimes, punishments, and sticky wickets.

Faithful in its fashion …

… What King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Gets Right About the Middle Ages | New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Q & A …

… “Dreaming the World in Translation: A Conversation with Hélène Cardona,” by Alison Williams | World Literature Today. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Losing the way …

… ‘Mervyn Peake (1911–1968)’ – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

RIP …

 Norman Thomas di Giovanni obituary | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Innovation …

… Cool! Penn State Libraries, Short Edition Partner for First University Collaboration | LJ INFOdocket. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Let's hope the writing measures up.

Postmodern politics …

… Post Truth by Matthew D’Ancona and Post-Truth by Evan Davis review – is this really a new era of politics? | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One of the implications of his analysis is that bullshit can be found across the political spectrum. He devotes remarkably little attention to the fact, but liberals engage in bullshit as much as populists. While leave campaigners may have exaggerated Britain’s financial contribution to the EU, as he shows at length, remainers launched “Project Fear” – a naked appeal to the emotions deploying unverifiable figures about the economic consequences of leaving the EU that were plucked from the air. Few voters can have imagined they were making their decision on the basis of brute facts. In the event counter-productive, Project Fear was an example of incompetent bullshit – a larger category of discourse than Davis seems to think. Most voters made their decision on the basis of what was most important to them – in other words, they were guided by their values.

Grand lady …

… Informal Inquiries: A brief but spectacular take on growing old.

Something to think on …

Never be afraid to sit a while and think.
— Lorraine Hansberry, born on this date in 1930

Apologies …

I have been unwell. Hence, no blogging. Feeling better now.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Once again …

… I must be away from my desk for most of today.

Definitely worth missing, apparently …

… Embittered Spinster - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.
— William Saroyan, who dies on this date in1981

Chuckles …

… Five Limericks (in the Style of Edward Lear). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Speaking of listening …

… Hear 2,000 Recordings of the Most Essential Jazz Songs: A Huge Playlist for Your Jazz Education | Open Culture. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Listen in …

 Episode 218 – RO Blechman | Virtual Memories.



“Time may have taught me things, but I don’t think I learned anything."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Back at last …

… but it is to late and I am too tired to do anything. See everybody tomorrow.

Blogging note …

I have to head out early today and won't resume blogging until I get back, and I;m not sure when that will be.

How the Bible means …

… Informal Inquiries: The Bible's beauty and meaning: a book review.

What is needed is the commitment to establishing a kind of literary relationship with those who gave us the Scriptures—as Ruden describes it, “a relationship with them as clever and imaginative people.” This is precisely what she doesn’t see in so many of our contemporary Bible renderings. Ruden is kicking the tires of these versions and finding them seriously deflated—flat presentations filled with predictable phrasings and anemic construals.


I have become a fan of Ronald Knox's translation.

Something to think on …

Seek truth and you will find a path.
— Frank G. Slaughter, who died on this date in 2001