Sunday, August 20, 2017

Something to think on …

Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.
— Paul Tillich, born on this date in 1886

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Hear, hear …

… Lay off men, Lessing tells feminists | UK news | The Guardian.

"It is time we began to ask who are these women who continually rubbish men. The most stupid, ill-educated and nasty woman can rubbish the nicest, kindest and most intelligent man and no one protests."

Congratulations to Frank Wilson and BooksInq

I wanted to take a moment to recognize another significant milestone for BooksInq. Earlier this week, the blog passed 4,000,000 pageviews. And happily, that growth shows no sign of slowing: BooksInq now attracts as many as 20,000 pageviews per day.

Congratulations, of course, is in order: first to Frank Wilson, who continues to provide a host of interesting links and commentary. Safe to say that Frank is the driving force behind BooksInq, and that his generosity of spirit is matched only by his commitment to the arts and literary culture. As I've said before, Frank embodies the characteristics both of a mentor and friend, and I give thanks for the support he's shown all these many years.

Second, congratulations to the team. To Julie, Vikram, and Dave, I say: a job well done. Like Frank, you provide a wealth of articles, essays, and observations. They're wonderful: always novel, respectfully presented, and thought provoking. Keep up the great work.

Finally, to our readers and to the many of you who share links and content: thank you for your engagement. The blog truly is a global effort, and we celebrate this accomplishment as a wider team of readers. Congratulations to everyone, then, on 4 million pageviews. Here's to the next million!


Comedy and romance …

… The love affairs of Stan Laurel: "If I had to do it over again things would be different". (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… He outlived his screen partner Oliver Hardy – “Babe” to his friends – by almost eight years but refused all offers of work during that time. Instead, heartbreakingly, he wrote sketches and routines for the duo that would never be performed. It was, perhaps, a way for Laurel to speak with Babe again, if only in his head, until he followed him into the dark on 23 February 1965.

Becoming Kafka …

… Ending at the Beginning | by John Banville | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For a person as sensitive as Kafka was, or at least as he presented himself as being—it is entirely possible to view his life in a light other than the one he himself shone upon it—inner escape was the only available strategy. “If we are to believe his own personal mythology,” Stach writes, “he drifted out of life and into literature,” to the point, indeed, that as an adult he would declare that he was literature, and nothing else. Stach, however, offers another and, in its way, far more interesting possibility when he asks, “What if literature was the only feasible way back for him?” Yet along this route into the psychological depths of Kafka’s emotional and artistic self we must pick our way carefully, recalling Kafka’s own skepticism toward Freudian analysis—“I consider the therapeutic part of psychoanalysis a helpless error”—and keeping in mind one of what are known as the Zürau aphorisms, in which he declares with uncharacteristic vehemence: “No psychology ever again!”

Words of wisdom …

 Paul Davis On Crime: 'As My Old Pappy Used To Say': 13 Crucial Life Lessons 'Maverick' Learned From His Pappy.

Online …

… Home — Schuylkill Valley Journal Online.

Shelter …

 Paul Davis On Crime: A Tudor Castle For The King Of Thrillers, Nelson DeMille.

The thief, time …

 Zealotry of Guerin: Ruins Of The Oybin Monastery (Caspar David Friedrich), Sonnet #364.

A telling tale indeed …

… Spillage – G. Emil Reutter | panoply, a literary zine.

Something to think on …

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.
— Blaise Pascal, who died on this date in 1662

Friday, August 18, 2017

He really was very, very good …

Hmm …

… The Books We Don't Understand | by Tim Parks | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't read books quite like this, but I suppose a lot of people do. I also don't teach literature.


According to a survey conducted Friday of Americans visiting scenic waterways across the nation, 97 percent of individuals currently floating down a lazy, winding river in an inflatable rubber tube agreed that it doesn’t get any better than this. 

"Don't run over the little people."

How to chauffeur a congressman - an eight page memo

Rescue mission …

… 'England hath need of thee': appeal to save Milton's Paradise Lost cottage | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On the other hand, he is just another dead white guy.


Cli-Fi.Net -- (the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi, a subgenre of sci-fi): A powerful *cli-fi* novel by J.M. Ledgard published in 2011 and in 2013, which was positively reviewed in the New York Mag by Kathryn Schulz is now a cli-fi movie starring big star Alicia Vikander, directed by master director from Germany Wim Wenders.

See also: Weather Channel founder denies climate change, so ‘put me to death’.

In case you wondered …

… How To Know You’re In a Mass Hysteria Bubble | Scott Adams' Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Anniversary …

… Informal Inquiries: Voters, Harry Burn, and the U. S. Constitution.

Something to think on …

Memory belongs to the imagination. Human memory is not like a computer which records things; it is part of the imaginative process, on the same terms as invention.
— Alain Robbe-Grillet, born on this date in 1922

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Well, this should take long enough …

… Informal Inquiries: A Modest Proposal.

What about those ancient Greeks and Romans? They had slaves, too. So did those Egyptians back then. Given how awful most of our forebears seem to be in our 20/20 hindsight, why do we care about them at all? Perhaps we should abandon all the knowledge and skills they pased along.

Listen in …

… Episode 230 – Patty Farmer | Virtual Memories.

“Hefner’s genius was in always getting the very best people, whether in entertainment, management, editing, or cartooning: he went directly to the top.”

Mark thy calendar …

The Worldwide Reading of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights on September 6, 2017

Presented by
Poetry In Common, Peace / Works,
Leonard Gontarek and Alicia Askenase

With Poets And Writers including:


The Event Will Include A Reading Of The 30 Articles Of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights By The Poets And Writers, As Well As A Reading Of Their Own Work And Others.

The date is Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 4 PM.       
The time is 4-6 PM.
The location is The Plateau, a sculpture located on 40th Street in West
Philadelphia, next to the Walnut Street West Library, which is on the Southeast corner of 40th & Walnut Streets. The event is outdoors.

This is part of a worldwide reading of the Human Rights Declaration:

Call for a Worldwide Reading of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights on September 6, 2017

We find ourselves living in a time where the fundamental underpinnings of democracy are being challenged and disrespected ad absurdum, as demonstrated by the current president of the United States towards a hitherto functioning judicial system. Even the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1951 Geneva Convention on refugees, and individual countries’ membership of the European Union are being called into question by certain Western statesmen and women and candidates for political leadership. Even the most unequivocal facts, such as climate change, are declared »fake news«, and, in turn, actual fake news reports are infiltrating and influencing accepted mainstream news media.

Nationalistic currents and right- and left-wing populist parties are gaining ground internationally, their leaders already occupying important positions of power in certain countries. Russia is being shaped by the dismantling of civil society caused by its current president and his administration, the criminalization of dissidents, oppositionists, gays and lesbians, its annexation of Crimea and war against Ukraine, and war crimes in Syria. Due to China’s economic success, international commercial relations and continuing operation as a police state, its ruling powers can continue to blithely eliminate anyone who opposes them. The state of peace we Europeans have grown accustomed to since the end of the Second World War can no longer be taken for granted.

This is why the international literature festival berlin is calling upon all cultural and political institutions, schools, universities, media and individuals interested in joining us to give a Worldwide Reading and to subsequently discuss the 30 articles that make up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations Assembly on 10 December 1984. This event aims to reignite the spirit of the Declaration and to remind people of »a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping (...) this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive to promote the teaching and education, respect for these rights and these freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international character, the universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and between those territories under their jurisdiction.« (Resolution 217 A (III), 10 December 1948).


Listen in …

… Brevity Podcast Episode #5 Dinty W. Moore | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Anniversary …

 Informal Inquiries: "Davy, Davy Crocket, King of the Wild Frontier".

Three cheers for me …

One of my therapists, Chris Masiello, just walked around the block with me and determined that my vital signs were all quite good afterward. This is the longest walk I have taken since before my recent medical adventure.

On your mark, poets …

… Siris: Like Some Grave Mighty Thought Threading a Dream. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

As poetry is the highest speech of man, it can not only accept and contain, but in the end express best everything in the world, or in himself, that he discovers. It will absorb and transmute, as it always has done, and glorify, all that we can know. This has always been, and always will be, poetry's office.
— Conrad Aiken, who died on this date in 1973

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Comedy crisis …

… Dave Barry on Humor, Writing, and Life as a Florida Man. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… now, it’s more likely to be a political target, and whichever side it is, I’m inclined to view that kind of humor as lazier. It’s more like, “I know you’re on my team, so if I mock that person, we’ll both get a good laugh, and it also will prove we’re smarter than them.”
That’s kind of the format, the template, for a lot of humor now. And for the most part, it’s not really based on anything real. It’s kind of silly to pretend that all Republicans are stupider than all Democrats, in my opinion, or the other way around. Either way, it’s kind of a dumb template to start with, and yet that is the template now for both sides.
I assume there's a crisis, because it used to be said that the one sure way to kill humor is to analyze it. But this is a very engaging interview.

Anniversary …

 Informal Inquiries: Charles Bukowski's birthday and "all that".

Q & A …

 IMAGE: A Journal of the Arts & Religion -- Back Issue #12 A Conversation with Richard Wilbur. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think I belong at the Hopkins end of that arc because I'm the sort of Christian animal for whom celebration is the most important thing of all. I know that, as you say, there is terror in my poems, not so much presented as a tangible scariness but as a feeling that the order of things is in peril or in doubt, that there are holes in things through which one might drop for a long distance. The terror is there and it's countered continually by trust and by hope, by an impulse to praise. When I go to church, what doesn't particularly interest me is the Creed, although I find that I can say it. The Creed strikes me as very much like a political platform of some sort, and I believe that's what it was. What I respond to is, "Lift up your hearts!" It's lines like that in the Mass that belong to me, belong to my kind of religious experience.
I feel much the same way.

Something to think on …

It's when you begin to lie to yourself in a poem in order to simply make a poem, that you fail.
— Charles Bukowski, born on this date in 1920

Who knew?

 No, Brian Williams, Your Job Isn't to Scare People | American Council on Science and Health.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fallen idol …

 Sigmund Fraud? - The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The only time I read very much of Freud was when I was in high school. I didn't read much. I just didn't find it persuasive.

The final expression …

Out From Behind This Mask | The Public Domain Review.

Return …

 Informal Inquiries: A reader's resolution and readers' choices.

August Poetry at North of Oxford …

… 2 Poems by Annie Blake.

 Late, Almost Morning by Lucas Carpenter.

 Unrequited forester contrite with sunrise by James Walton.

… Granny’s Guide to the Galaxy by Barbra Nightingale.

Listen in …

 Episode 231 – Sven Birkerts | Virtual Memories.

“There are thresholds or shelves where we go from having incremental change to systemic moments of transformation.”

The value of undesigned coincidences …

Our latest supercarrier …

… Paul Davis On Crime: The Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford: ‘A 100,000-Ton Message To The world.

Light, but not slight …

 Book Reviews | Light. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

There is a vulgar incredulity, which in historical matters, as well as in those of religion, finds it easier to doubt than to examine.
— Sir Walter Scott, born on this date 1771

Monday, August 14, 2017

Much in what he says …

Brendan O'Neill - It's becoming so clear now why the war... | Facebook.

Q & A …

… Wiseblood Books publishes “literature that possesses a sacramental vision of reality” – Catholic World Report. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ongoing …

… Anthony Madrid's H.D. Notebook (Part 2). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unsuccessfully …

… Sanitizing Robert Lowell. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

According to Jamison, Lowell’s life consisted of “sane” periods interrupted by a series of awkward, and sometimes violent, episodes, all excused by his mental illness. Most readers will be sympathetic to her efforts to “normalize” bipolar disease, but will also bewildered by her insistence that Lowell demonstrated character and courage. In fact, Jamison undercuts her own case by supplying overwhelming detail about periods of highly manic behavior and providing almost no detail about periods of less manic behavior.
Lowell's violence seems to have always been directed toward women. Too bad he never picked on the wrong guy and got the shit beat out of him. Might have done him a world of good.

Cartesian composition …

 I Am, Therefore I Write | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.


 Paul Davis On Crime: Joseph Bologna, 'My Favorite Year' Actor And Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter, Dies At 82.

Love birds …

… Forgotten Poems #26: Christina Rossetti, "A Bird Song".

Something to think on …

Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the problem.
— John Galsworthy, born on this date in 1867

Sunday, August 13, 2017

And on the other side of life...

...this is so cute

Mom asks for eclipse to be rescheduled because of school schedule.

A friend sent me this.

Caught in the brutal loneliness of the night 
Memories weigh heavy
Silence everywhere
A dark future with no light 
Just age and weakness
All alone

And so many years
So much effort
Into the happy of others 
But they left all of them
And there aren't new ones coming

Just fear and the dark

Unbelievable …

Our daily star …

 First Known When Lost: The Sun.

 The Sun: A Brief Addendum.

Very interesting …

… He Lives: Pathways to God. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Gingerich's book is indeed very worth reading.

Anniversary …

… Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History Film Director Alfred Hitchcock Was Born.

The family business …

… Another Waugh Writer | The Evelyn Waugh Society. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Reading Nathaniel Waugh's piece, I was struck how French seem to be. I am life-long walker, but I tend to saunter.The piece also reminded me of when, at De Gaulle Airport on our way to Dublin so I could cover the centenary of Bloomsday, a security escorted us to where we had tom go. As he was leaving, I turned and said to him merci. He stopped, turned, and gave me one of the friendliest smiles I have ever seen Then he waved and walked on.

Listen in …

 Art Tatum & Lionel Hampton & Buddy Rich - 03 - Makin' Whoopee - YouTube. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Spot on …

 Instant info is making us less informed and less thoughtful.

Technology has made getting bits of information so easy that the big picture is lost. A case in point: Most of us now rely on GPS devices in our smartphones for simple navigation. We fail to learn even the most rudimentary knowledge of neighborhoods, much less understand where main thoroughfares are in relation to a street two blocks away. We count on our phones to navigate passageways on the road and in our lives.

Inquirer reviews …

Knausgaard's 'Autumn': A sweet surprise for the end of summer.
This link now works.

'The Unwomanly Face of War': Remembering a million Soviet women who fought in World War II.

Ruth Ware ups the suspense in 'The Lying Game'.

I haven't checked the other links, but first only takes you the art. But so does the link on

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sad news …

… Informal Inquiries: Why this blog is being consigned to the wasteland.

Me, too …

Eyesight and vision …

 Seeing Is Believing | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

O’Connor’s aim in rehabilitating the word vision was twofold. First, she wanted to restore the earlier concept of inner vision—sight with the mind’s eye—to Catholic writers and readers alike, since “the Lord doesn’t speak to the novelist as he did to his servant, Moses, mouth to mouth. He speaks to him as he did those two complainers, Aaron and Aaron’s sister, Mary: through dreams and visions, in fits and starts, and by all the lesser and limited ways of the imagination” (Mystery and Manners). Second, she tried to push back against the ways in which technology—whether in the form of film, photography, television, or even microscopes—threatens to further narrow and distort our understanding of vision, by stripping it not only of an imaginative component, but of embodiment, coherence, and any sense of reciprocity between viewer and viewed. “The human eye is not the camera eye,” one manuscript reads. “Vision takes place in the depths of the mind, with the assistance of emotion, knowledge, and belief.”

Electric night …

 Zealotry of Guerin: my human disguise.

Something to think on …

Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.
— Edith Hamilton, born on this date in 1867

Friday, August 11, 2017

Who knew?

 "Cli-Fi" : ''JG Ballard's novel 'Drought' irrigated our vision of the future'' - headline in a French newspaper features great reporting by Le Monde journalist Julie Clarini.

For the one comng up …

… Annie Dillard's Classic Essay 'Total Eclipse' - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

Sick bay report …

Started the day feeling pretty energetic, but soon ran out of gas. Physical therapist told me take it, that I need to let my body do its healing. So I'm chilling out mostly.

Hear, hear …

… In Defense of the Dandelion- Make Fun Of Life! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bad guys …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review Of 'Three Minutes To Doomsday: An Agent, A Traitor, And The Worst Espionage Breach In History'.

In case you wondered...

Something to think on …

I have lost faith in universal panaceas - work is the one thing in which I really believe.
— Louise Bogan, born on this date in 1897

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hannah Arendt on solitude...

American onslaught...


What I was treated for last week is cholangitis. And yes, it is life-threatening and nasty. Apparently, being in pretty good health to begin with has aided in my recovery, but so also, I think, has been the wonderful wishes directed my way.

Something to think on …

Kneading memory makes the dough of fiction; which we know, sometimes never stops rising.
— Barry Unsworth, born on this date in 1930

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

When it sits around the museum,

it sits AROUND the museum.

New largest dinosaur discovered?

I am released …

I have just come home from the hospital. I am, however, still very weak. The pace of blogging will pick up slowly.

How stupid people think …

 Internet Outraged Over Capture of Mammoth Croc in Australia | Lifestyle.

The Pope! And the Catholics! And the Future!

The latest example of the pope’s blueprint for the future is contained in an article penned by two of his closest confidantes. They believe that conservative Catholics in the United States have formed a coalition with Evangelical Protestants to push Donald Trump’s agenda, which the authors call a “Manichean vision.” The article, in the Jesuit publication La Civiltà Cattolica, could not have been printed without Francis’s knowledge and approval.The pope left little doubt about his feelings toward Trump when the president and first lady visited the Vatican earlier this year. In their joint photo, Francis frowns as if he smelled something bad in the room.In addition to rejecting Trump’s worldview, the article’s authors single out White House strategist Stephen Bannon as a “supporter of apocalyptic geopolitics.” “The pope is expressing his displeasure at the election of Donald Trump as president and with the Catholics who voted for him,” says Deal Hudson, former Catholic Outreach director for the Republican National Committee. “It came as a huge surprise to the establishment of the church, who were pulling for Hillary Clinton.”

"How American Went Haywire"

in which the author reviews history and reality based communication.  From the Atlantic.

I am always surprised that people put so much effort into articles that start from a faulty premise -- before now life was reality based. No it wasn't; first, people have always believed in non "real" things, from the earliest recorded history, and second, reality is always being discovered and rediscovered -- how many times have the "experts" been wrong throughout history? Too many to count

Trump and...

...Negative piety
Last fall, I signed a letter in support of Trump for president. Some of my friends were appalled; others thought such a public endorsement unwise. These were not unreasonable reactions. Today’s populism has a revolutionary character, and revolutions are perilous. But I was and remain convinced that we cannot live in metaphysical poverty. We need to be empowered by loyalties and devotions that stir our hearts. Populism may be dangerous, but it reflects the correct intuition that my country and my citizenship cannot be bought and sold, nor can it be subordinated to institutions and agencies devoted solely to the protection and promotion of individual rights.

LSD and Silicon Valley...


Something to think on …

Scientific thought, then, is not momentary; it is not a static instance; it is a process.
—  Jean Piaget, born on this date in 1896

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Facebook and Google are MONSTERS!

Facebook and Google get their revenue from advertising, the effectiveness of which depends on gaining and maintaining consumer attention. Borrowing techniques from the gambling industry, Facebook, Google and others exploit human nature, creating addictive behaviors that compel consumers to check for new messages, respond to notifications, and seek validation from technologies whose only goal is to generate profits for their owners.
The people at Facebook and Google believe that giving consumers more of what they want and like is worthy of praise, not criticism. What they fail to recognize is that their products are not making consumers happier or more successful.

Hitler was a WOLF!

 Germany’s lycanthropic predilections rose to new popularity under Hitler’s Nazi regime, with Third Reich officials recalling images of the Germanic wolf in propaganda and commonly associating the term with their leading para-military groups, including the famed Organisation Werewolf. Hitler’s name is itself a derivation of the animal, meaning “father wolf” – a mammalian title he wore proudly, citing himself as a wolf on many public occasions throughout the war.
From The National Post: A review of Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, by Eric Kurlande

A day in the life …

… Informal Inquiries: John Keats on this day in 1818.

Sad …

… On Being a Lapsed Catholic | Anthony Burgess | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the state of being a lapsed Catholic is so painful that it sometimes seems to generate a positive charge, as though it had in itself a certain religious validity. 
Well, that is certainly true. He should have tried prayer.

Monday, August 07, 2017

My, my …

… A.N. Wilson: It’s time Charles Darwin was exposed for the fraud he was | London Evening Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.))

Talk about pulling no punches.


...War, tragedy, and art

Brouhaha …

… Something is Broken in the UK Intellectual Sphere. – INCERTO – Medium. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

(Sort-Of-Contra) News Item...

Everything from our heating systems to our toothbrushes are plugged in and connected to internet, and smartphones are glued to the palms of our hands. Yet, Americans are using less electricity than we did 10 years ago.
Overall residential electricity sales have declined 3 percent from 2010 to 2016, and 7 percent on a per capita basis, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Something to think on …

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
— Rabindranath Tagore, who died on this date in 1941

Sunday, August 06, 2017

How do people get new ideas?

A rediscovered essay by Isaac Asimov from the MIT Technology Review.

Sick bay alert …

Blogging by me, I regret to say — really — has been suspended, because I am sitting in the ICU at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. My condition, I am happy to report, is no longer critical, and I will be moved to a regular hospital room sometime tomorrow. I feel obligated to add that the care I have been given has been extraordinary. 

Friday, August 04, 2017

The lasting legacy...

...Of Jane Austen

Great Question!

If The Universe Is Expanding, Then Why Aren't We?
I remember an old science fiction story which I can't look up right now when the conceit was that everything is expanding -- away from us on Earth...

For those who need touching...

Professional cuddling is one of the latest iterations of self-care and wellness, focusing on touch therapy. Since the early 2000s, the field of professional cuddling as a therapeutic tool has transitioned from stigmatized field with pay-for-sex undertones to a legitimate service for healing with proven health benefit.

Science is so hard!

WASHINGTON, DC—Top physicists from several major American universities appeared before a Congressional committee Monday to request $50 billion for a science thing that would further U.S. advancement science-wise and broaden human knowing...
The highlight of the scientists' testimony was a series of several colorful diagrams of how the big machine would work. One consisted of colored dots resembling Skittles banging into one another. Noting the motion lines behind the circle-ball things, committee members surmised that they were slamming together in a "fast, forceful manner." Yet some expressed doubts as to whether they justified the $50 billion price tag.
"These scientists could trim $10 million if they would just cut out some of the purple and blue spheres," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), explaining that he understood the need for an abundance of reds and greens. "With all of those molecules and atoms going in every direction, the whole thing looks a bit unorganized, especially for science." 
It's Onion Friday