Monday, October 23, 2017

Invictus …

… Informal Inquiries : "Men at some time are masters of their fates".

Our town …

… Philadelphia: A Brief History | George Hunka. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The over-blownness …

… The Pure Pleasure of Reading Lolita's First 100 Pages | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Yes, Lolita is not a tidy or inert book. But a tidy and inert book is never going to be worth doing.

Q&A …

… Chesterton the Activist  — An Interview with James O'Keefe | John M. Howting | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Chesterton was hailed as a journalist, but at heart he was an activist. At heart, every good journalist—in fact every good person—is an activist. Doing nothing is not an option. Some may object that nuns and monks don’t engage in activism. In fact, they are some of the greatest activists. They spend their entire days being active and for our sake and benefit. They are continually praying for change, a change in heart—or, in Latin, a conversion towards the Divine Light, towards God.

Something to think on …

It's not evil that's ruining the earth, but mediocrity. The crime is not that Nero played while Rome burned, but that he played badly.
— Ned Rorem, born on this date in 1923

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Pop goes the poetry …

… Sing, Muse: Three New Books on Literature and Pop Music - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unsettling vision …

… Forgotten Poems #31: "The Spectre".

Sounds right to me …

 Is Henry David Thoreau a philosopher, too? Andrea Nightingale votes yes. | The Book Haven.

He was not a professor of philosophy. But how many professors of philosophy really are philosophers?

The way many things are these days …

… Nigeness: Blindingly Obvious.

Destination: Repose …

… First Known When Lost: Bourne.

The potential pathways to a bourne of repose are innumerable: innumerable because of the uniqueness of each human soul. Still, because human nature has never changed (and will never change), we are not without guides. Poets and philosophers have preceded us. They provide us with clues to which we should attend. For instance, Epictetus tells us: "Do not seek to have everything that happens happen as you wish, but wish for everything to happen as it actually does happen, and your life will be serene." Epictetus (translated by W. A. Oldfather), The Enchiridion, Section 8. Variations on this bit of advice may be found in every part of the world, and at every point in the history of humanity. It is a finger pointing to the moon.

Hmm …

… The Theater of Trump | commentary. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For playwrights, the obvious answer is to follow Shaw’s own example by allowing Trump (or a Trump-like character) to speak for himself in a way that is persuasive, even seductive. Shaw himself did so in Major Barbara (1905), whose central character is an arms manufacturer so engagingly urbane that he persuades his pacifist daughter to give up her position with the Salvation Army and embrace the gospel of high explosives. But the trouble with this approach is that it is hard to imagine a playwright willing to admit that Trump could be persuasive to anyone but the hated booboisie.

Inquirer reviews …

… Jennifer Egan's 'Manhattan Beach': Inspired, enthralling tale of a woman who dives deep.

… Lawrence O'Donnell's 'Playing with Fire': The election that ignited the future.

… Naomi Alderman's 'The Power' - The 'Handmaid's Tale' of our time.

… 'Admissions': Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh cuts himself down to size.

Something to think on …

What society doesn't realize is that in the past, ordinary people respected learning. They respected books, and they don't now, or not very much. That whole respect for serious literature and learning has disappeared.
— Doris Lessing, born on this date in 1919

Saturday, October 21, 2017


 Informal Inquiries : Blogging Note.

The writer as prophet …

… Solzhenitsyn’s cathedrals by Gary Saul Morson | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In one memorable scene, Solzhenitsyn describes how a believing Jew shook his worldview. At the time he met him, Solzhenitsyn explains, “I was committed to that world outlook which is incapable of admitting any new fact or evaluating any new opinion before a label has been found for it . . . be it ‘the hesitant duplicity of the petty bourgeoisie,’ or the ‘militant nihilism of the déclassé intelligentsia.’ ” When someone mentioned a prayer spoken by President Roosevelt, Solzhenitsyn called it “hypocrisy, of course.” Gammerov, the Jew, demanded why he did not admit the possibility of a political leader sincerely believing in God. That was all, Solzhenitsyn remarks, but it was so shocking to hear such words from someone born in 1923 that it forced him to think. “I could have replied to him firmly, but prison had already undermined my certainty, and the principle thing was that some kind of clean, pure feeling does live within us, existing apart from all our convictions, and right then it dawned on me that I had not spoken out of conviction but because the idea had been implanted in me from outside.” He learns to question what he really believes and, still more important, to appreciate that basic human decency morally surpasses any “convictions.”

Best just read …

… Leave Novelists Out of Fiction | by Tim Parks | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

To attempt … to present [Samuel Beckett] as the hero of a traditional realist novel with an omniscient narrator who moves effortlessly in and out of the most intimate thoughts of both Beckett and his partner, Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, when they’re enjoying or failing to enjoy love-making, fleeing the Germans, or simply drinking with friends, inevitably suggests an abyss between the sensibilities of Baker and her hero. She ably describes a lanky, diffident, disconnected man who looks like the Beckett of the photographs and behaves as Beckett is described as behaving in the biographies, but the moment we become privy to his thoughts, it is very hard to imagine we are reading about Beckett at all. “How easy,” wrote Emil Cioran, “to imagine [Beckett], some centuries back, in a naked cell, undisturbed by the least decoration, not even a crucifix.” How much more difficult to think of him worrying that Suzanne will be upset if he stays out for another whisky or two.

Blogging note …

Must be out and about very early today. Blogging will not resume until later on.

Mystery moon …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Titan (NASA), Sonnet #374.

Something to think on …

I have seen great intolerance shown in support of tolerance.
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge, born on this date in 1772

Friday, October 20, 2017

Downward mobility …

… Review: ‘Schlesinger,’ From JFK’s Historian to Hagiographer - WSJ.

Few young men could have seemed more promising than the younger Schlesinger, until he met a Waterloo named the Kennedys. Once that fatal encounter occurred, Schlesinger went from boundlessly promising brilliant historian—with three volumes of an anticipated five of his never-finished Franklin Delano Roosevelt biography already completed—to a man variously called “a servant,” “a stooge,” a “poodle” and “a hagiographer.”

Hear, hear …

… There’s No Virtue in Joining an Angry Mob - WSJ.

The Weinstein case has its correlative in the political arena. On both sides of the political spectrum, we seem driven by a need for dramatic outrage that masquerades as virtue. Once a case has been made in the public sphere, on whichever side, the case gets made again and again in increasingly simplistic terms. Any attempt to see around or outside the established scenario means that you are a bad person. The deadening, coercive nature of this kind of thinking is disturbing.

For some perhaps …

… The Most Important Philosophy Books Ever Written | The Reading Lists. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Aristotle and Plato for sure, but no Thomas Aquinas? I got through Nausea easily enough, but found it ridiculous — e.g., that scene where Roquentin freaks out over a tree (as I remember it). I'd go with Gabriel Marcel's Homo Viator and Creative Fidelity.

Sweet …

… Lifting My Daughter by Joseph Hutchison : American Life in Poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And us …

… Salmon | by Marianne Boruch | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Careful what you wish for …

… A world without hate speech.

Always out of place …

… The Witty, Wistful Films of Whit Stillman | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Though certainly a contemporary filmmaker and not in any sense a stranded nostalgist, Stillman nevertheless displays qualities that, while once common, are now so rare that they put him in stark relief against nearly all of his contemporaries. Perhaps most pronounced is his distinctive affection for his uniformly well-born characters. If revulsion for bourgeois hypocrisy seems an obligatory quality in American independent filmmaking these days, Stillman will have none of it. He offers instead a gentle satire of his characters’ foibles combined with a frank sympathy for their principles. While quite natural in Austen novels and RKO comedies of the 1930s and ’40s, this is rare today. Thus is it all the more striking that Stillman continues to receive critical acclaim from disparate publications and institutions, from a Vanity Fair photo spread for the 25th anniversary of Metropolitan to a volume of effusive essays from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

Approaching the past …

… Informal Inquiries : History via novels (and two changes of plans).

Thank God!

Responding to concerns about the safety of the celestial domain, a spokesperson for God confirmed Monday that guardrails were being added along the perimeter of the Kingdom of Heaven after a fifth angel plunged over its edge in as many months. 

Blogging note …

I must take off shortly for a date with my cardiologist. (No big deal, just a routine follow-up.) Blogging will resume later on.

A most compatible endeavor …

… He Lives: Science v. Science. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Filling in the gaps …

… The Loneliness of Elizabeth Bishop | The Nation. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast, the new biography by Megan Marshall (whose previous book, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, won the Pulitzer Prize), helps to fill in for devotees of Bishop’s work much of what couldn’t fit into one of her painstakingly perfected poems. And what we learn from Marshall’s book—informed by a mother lode of newly discovered letters—is that none of Bishop’s accomplishments could ever ease the pain of her loneliness.

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

Paintings and Their Visitors

Ten Photographs


But this semi-regular scavenger hunt, which treated this entire strange world as its playground, was not the greatest content called “Queries and Answers” in the New York Times. That distinction goes to the similarly named if far more specifically inclined section that ran weekly in the Book Review for over half a century. It was basically Shazam, but for poetryInstead of an app with terabytes of data at its beck and call, all it had was millions of Times readers, superheroes armed with a jumbled mass of verses memorized in the sixth-grade, and the ability to acquire an endless number of stamps. Readers would send in snippets they remembered from their school days or ran across in their day-to-day lives in the hopes that another fellow Times lover would return it to them whole a few weeks later. And amazingly, they often did. Dozens of people from all over the country would send an envelope to Manhattan with the lost bit of verse, creating a Shop Around the Corner in which the Timesacted as mediator, an epistolary romance in which those involved fell in love with literature instead of each other. Hazel Felleman took over the column in 1923, and continued doing so until her retirement in 1951. She was the first line in the Times’ literary Pinkerton agency, consulting the archives to see if a request had already been answered (If the quote was from “Evolution,” by Langdon Smith, it had already been answered dozens of times, please stop sending it in), if it could be found in her collection of reference books, or if a librarian or academic knew the answer. If those methods didn’t work, the quotation would appear in the paper under the headline “Appeals to Readers.” In 1936, she published a book titled, The Best Loved Poems of the American People, featuring the poems that readers kept writing in to find. 

Let The New York Times Google That For You

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sickbay report …

Informal Inquiries : Binnacle List.

Aprreciation …

… Richard Wilbur’s Difficult Balance. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Honoring their father …

… A Colorful Black-and-White Life | Chapter 16. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Orbison’s sons recount an incident from the mid-1980s when British rock star and producer Jeff Lynne visited Orbison’s lakeside home in Hendersonville, Tennessee, to discuss recording an album with him. While Lynne waited for Orbison, the boys continued their teenage horseplay, eventually nailing the visiting producer with wet paper towels in the crossfire: “Dad sure wasn’t pleased, but Jeff took it in stride, and after we made our apologies, everything went back to normal and Dad and Jeff disappeared to talk shop.” Such moments give The Authorized Roy Orbison a distinctly personal cast, elevating what might have been a routine illustrated biography—generous with photos but lacking narrative detail—into a unique portrait of Orbison’s life.

At Cambridge no less …

… Cambridge University students given trigger warnings for Shakespeare plays | The Independent.

David Crilly, artistic director at The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, said: "If a student of English Literature doesn't know that Titus Andronicus contains scenes of violence they shouldn't be on the course."

Just the start …

… What Sylvia Plath’s letters reveal about the poet we thought we knew. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something to chew on …

… The Writer’s Almanac for October 12, 2017 | A Little Tooth | The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Listen in …

… Episode 240 – John Crowley and Michael Meyer – The Virtual Memories Show.

“Writing has made people feel unsafe and uncomfortable since, oh, the Bible.”

Making the rounds …

… BBC Radio 3 - Sunday Feature, Every County in the State of California. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Experience and philosophy …

… Maverick Philosopher: Grace. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Still, the experience was what it was, and could not be doubted a few moments ago, nor now in its afterglow. It is in such experiences that we find the phenomenological roots of the theology of grace which, growing from such roots, cannot be dismissed as empty speculation or projection or wish-fulfillment or anything else the naturalist may urge for its dismissal.

House of memories …

… How Gaston Bachelard gave the emotions of home a philosophy | Aeon Essays. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It is odd that a philosopher who so tenaciously excluded the harsh environments and hard circumstances of the exterior world, in mass culture, politics or architecture, was so welcomed in the modernist late-1960s while writing, essentially, about a nostalgic version of rustic Mediterranean peasant living.

Dave also sends along this: More a poem than a house … 

Anniversary …

… Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History Spy Novelist John le Carré Was Born.

Thank you, Dan Bloom …

… CliFi – A new way to talk about climate change | John Abraham | Environment | The Guardian.

Something to think on …

Forcible ways make not an end of evil, but leave hatred and malice behind them.
— Thomas Browne, born on this date in 1605

Chris Wickham

I've written on the blog before about my recent efforts to learn more about Europe's medieval past. Over the past few weeks, I've read chapters in Chris Wickham's history of that period, aptly titled Medieval Europe. For me, the most interesting parts of the book focus on the centuries following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. So many questions emerge: What came after the collapse? Who held power, and how was it exercised? When did the first nations appear? Wickham argues that the fifth century was a turning point: it was then that "army leaders from the frontier...began to call themselves kings." At the same time, he continues, "the whole economic basis for political action shifted, from taxation to landowning." The Roman network of self-governing cities collapsed, and in its place vague notions of regional affiliation emerged. As Wickham writes: Romans began to "see themselves" as Gauls or Franks. The story here is a complex one, and no doubt, I've simplified it. But for an overview of that critical period between 500 and 800, I do suggest Wickham's analysis. Understanding what came between the collapse of Rome and rise of Charlemagne remains, for me at least, a topic of unending interest. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Who knew

… Harvard classicist Richard Thomas on Bob Dylan | Harvard Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In truth, though, the Lane professor of the classics—whose freshman seminar “Bob Dylan” always fills up fall-semester classrooms—has been working on this book for a very long time. In 2001, he listened to Love and Theft a few days after the album was released and heard Virgil’s words singing back to him in Dylan’s voice. “I’m gonna spare the defeated—I’m gonna speak to the crowd,” Dylan rasps in “Lonesome Day Blues,” the fifth track. “I’m gonna teach peace to the conquered, I’m gonna tame the proud.” This was the Aeneid. The language was unmistakable. Virgil’s lines, translated from book six of his epic, read like this: “Remember Roman, these will be your arts: / to teach the ways of peace to those you conquer, / to spare the defeated peoples, tame the proud.” It turned out that Thomas’s two lifelong obsessions—Bob Dylan and the classics—were intertwined.

In case you wondered …

… A Day in the Life of a Freelancer | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I was a freelancer for some years, but a lot of what I did was editing, which paid better. The articles I got published were the cherries on the sundaes. That said, it is an iffy business.


From a recent exchange on Facebook...
Note:  "TF" means "the fuck"  

Party animals …

 Neolithic Feasts at Stonehenge Were Not Vegan-Friendly - History in the Headlines.

And the nominees are …

… 2017 Finalists – Parsec Awards.

Among the finalists:
Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Novella Form) — The Gray Area by Edward Champion.

A reading marathon …

 Finnegans Wake (Modern Library #77) – Reluctant Habits.

Finnegans Wake is a young man’s game. I would recommend attempting it before the age of forty, when there is still the time and the hunger to unravel the arcane wisecracking. Perhaps my mistake was reading this book on both sides of forty, with one foot steeped in bountiful possibility and the other more aware of mortality and the grave.
I have missed the opportunity by some 36 years.

The best swordsman in the world fears the amateur, not the one who is second best...

To get unstuck, I must let go of my “career” as an established writer and begin again as a novice. In truth, I am a novice in every new moment of the day, each of which presents possibilities unknown and untried. Why not embrace that fact and see what happens? As Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki said:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”In practical terms, what does it mean to begin again? I was afraid you’d ask. The truth is, I’m clueless, which may prove, mirable dictu, that I’m actually practicing beginner’s mind. If I’d waited for an answer, I wouldn’t have written this little piece — and writing it may help me get unstuck as a person, as a writer, as a citizen of the world. Simply pecking away at it over the past few days has already taken me to a place that feels less stagnant and more alive. At very least, I’ve been reminded that such a place exists.

Something to think on …

Names are changed more readily than doctrines, and doctrines more readily than ceremonies.
— Thomas Love Peacock, born on this date in 1785

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

And the winner is …

… George Saunders wins Man Booker Prize for 'unique' and 'extraordinary' work.

Victory and a forthcoming announcement …

… Informal Inquiries : U.S. v. Britain at Saratoga NY on this day in 1777.

Concerning reviews …

… About Last Night | TT: Out there on your own.

Q&A …

… We Found Our Joy in Latin | Matthew Schmitz | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well-deserved …

… Imprisoned Palestinian Poet Ashraf Fayadh wins PEN Canada One Humanity Award. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Fayadh was released, but re-arrested on January 1, 2014 on charges of illicit relations with women, and several blasphemy-related charges including insulting the Prophet Muhammad, spreading atheism, refuting the Quran, and insulting the King and the Kingdom. Evidence against Fayadh included poems from Instructions Within, which was later banned from circulation in Saudi Arabia, and photographs of Fayadh and female colleagues taken at an art exhibition.

A favorite …

 Informal Inquiries : Harold Bloom: reading about reading.

Cultivating amnesia …

… Forgetfulness: the dangers of a modern culture that wages war on its own past. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

O’Gorman does not make the point, but the current fad for destroying statues (of Confederate generals in the US or imperial figures in the UK) is also a rite of penitence and purification. Yet history never does stop or begin anew. The French Revolution gave the world the Terror, the Napoleonic Wars and the restoration of monarchy. Similarly, destroying statues will not correct past or present wrongs, only polarise society and exacerbate social conflict. The iconoclasts perform the ritual to impress on themselves and the world their superior righteousness.
 The business about early Christianity could use a bit of nuance. Christianity took over a lot pagan feast days, and churches were often built on the site of pagan temples.

After being attacked by a mob no less …

… Kirkus withdraws starred review after criticism. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

…  American Heartwon’t be published until January, but it has already attracted the ire of the fierce group of online YA readers that journalist Kat Rosenfield has referred to as “culture cops.” To them, it was an irredeemable problem that Moriarty’s novel, which was inspired in part by Huckleberry Finn, centers on a white teenager who gradually—too gradually—comes to terms with the racism around her. On Goodreads, the book’s top “community review,” posted in September, begins, “fuck your white savior narratives”; other early commenters on Goodreads accused Moriarty of “profiting off people’s pain” and said “a white writer should not have tackled this story, and neither should a white character be the center of it.”
What exactly does "white" have to do with any of this. Tens of millions of Muslims are Caucasian. The character Sadaf is from Iran. Ancient Persians referred to themselves as Aryans. The ones complaining sound like the racists. 

Something to think on …

Without the story — in which everyone living, unborn and dead, participates — men are no more than bits of paper blown on the cold wind.
— George Mackay Brown, born on this date in 1921

Monday, October 16, 2017

More on Richard Wilbur

Remembrance from his alma mater

Appreciation …

 Nigeness: Richard Wilbur RIP.

Tomorrow night …




Of Poems By Poets Other Than Yourself

On The Subject of Ghosts, Hauntings,
Creatures, Horror Films, The Devil,
The Supernatural, Sightings, Zombies, Vampires, Ouija, Urban Legends,
Telepathy, Witchcraft, Telekinesis,
Unexplained Mysteries, Or Anything
You Can Fit In This Category,
Or Even Just Plain Old Autumn



Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 7 PM

Sign Up:
You May Read For 5 Minutes

(Please note the address, there are
  other Green Line Café locations.)

     This Event Is Free

Wise words …

 9 Richard Wilbur Quotes To Inspire Your Inner Poet To Get To Work. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

From our edu channel...

Hmm …

… Philosophy Rebuts Key Barrier Between Science and Religion | RealClearScience.
If Descartes was apparently premodern in his blending of theological and scientific reasoning, he was quintessentially modern in another sense. Indeed, the method for which Descartes is perhaps most famous is not deductive, but skeptical — the two are interconnected. For Descartes, the paragon of rationality is to question everything — including the testimony of the senses and that of tradition — leaving only those principles which are so clear and distinct as to be beyond all doubt, thereby serving as the foundation of knowledge. Rational inquiry thus always starts afresh, doubting everything in order to discover self-evident truths from which all other may be deduced.


… Nigeness: The late Jeremy and Other Snails.

Sound advice …

 Trust But Verify Agents | Bill Peschel.

E books declining

Book publishers are giving an advance review of the industry’s future, and it looks a lot like the past.
After a decade of technological upheaval and lackluster growth, executives at the top four U.S. consumer book publishers say they are done relying on newfangled formats to boost growth.
It has been nearly 10 years since Inc. introduced its Kindle e-book reader amid the financial crisis, destabilizing publishers and challenging their well-honed business models.  
Now, e-book sales are on the decline, making up a fraction of publishers’ revenue, and traditional book sales are rising.  [ note the link is to google, as the WSJ paywall prevents direct links]

Losing locals

There rarely is a proper obituary for old newspapers, nothing to chronicle their coverage of town events: how the school board was caught in a corruption sting; how a local politician was caught taking cash in a bag; and how the town rallied when flood waters crested the banks of the Youghiogheny or when the train derailed.
It just dies.
Along with that death comes the death of the local reporter: the person who knows his or her community inside and out, a career that typically starts with the cops beat or the local school boards, the places where reporters really gets to know the pulse of their hometown and their people. The person who knows how the town ticks. Who knows where the bad guys are, both on the street and behind a podium.

Basic principles …

… Evidence: A Creative Writing Prompt in the Composition Classroom | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Passing strange …

 Fatima the Uncanny - The Catholic Thing.

Remembering Oscar …

 Informal Inquiries : Oscar Wilde — the paradox of an earnest artist.

Something to think on …

When you realize that the laws of nature must be incredibly finely tuned to produce the universe we see, that conspires to plant the idea that the universe did not just happen, but that there must be a purpose behind it.
— John Polkinghorne, born on this date in 1930

And their friendship...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

R.I.P. …

… The most perfect poet in the English language: Richard Wilbur is dead at 96 | The Book Haven.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Good advice …

 AttackingtheDemi-Puppets: Answer to a Young Poet.

Pairs of opposites …

 Four poets, two versions of Orpheus | The Book Haven.

Sotted on words …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `The Most Jocular Euphemisms'.

Decisions, decisions …

… Secrets of the Stacks – Farrar, Straus & Giroux – Medium. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

CREW stands for Continuous Review Evaluation and Weeding, and the manual uses “crew” as a transitive verb, so one can talk about a library’s “crewing” its collection. It means weeding but doesn’t sound so harsh. At the heart of the CREW method is a formula consisting of three factors—the number of years since the last copyright, the number of years since the book was last checked out, and a collection of six negative factors given the acronym MUSTIE, to help decide if a book has outlived its usefulness. M. Is it Misleading or inaccurate? Is its information, as so quickly happens with medical and legal texts or travel books, for example, outdated? U. Is it Ugly? Worn beyond repair? S. Has it been Superseded by a new edition or a better account of the subject? T. Is it Trivial, of no discernible literary or scientific merit? I. Is it Irrelevant to the needs and interests of the community the library serves? E. Can it be found Elsewhere, through interlibrary loan or on the Web?

October poetry at North of Oxford …

… Under the El by Michele Belluomini.

… 2 Poems by Gareth Culshaw.

… 2 Poems by Jefferson Holdridge.

… Billie by Marko Otten.

Inquirer reviews …

Ron Chernow's 'Grant': New look at a misunderstood hero.

… Katie Haegele's 'Cats I've Known': Felines as key to the world.

… Amy Tan explores the dark side of her Joy Luck Club in new memoir 'Where the Past Begins'.

… James McBride's 'Five-Carat Soul' crackles with the master's energy.

'Star Wars Super Graphic': Charting a course across the Star Wars universe.

So many …

… Informal Inquiries : Wodehouse v. Virgil v. Jackson: birthdays.

Incorrigible loser …

… The University Bookman: Mark Twain, Huckster. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Civil War, specifically the Union blockade, threw pilot Twain out of work. He went home to Hannibal, Missouri, and camped with the Marion [County] Rangers for a few weeks, which means—Thought Police take note—Mark Twain fought (sic) for the Confederacy. Ban the books! Tear down the statues! (If only we erected statuary to literary men rather than dead politicians and generals. Then again, I’m still waiting for the dunces to demolish the Ignatius Reilly bronze in New Orleans, once they realize that John Kennedy Toole’s book title contains the word Confederacy.)

I knew I felt better back then

Magic mushrooms can 'reset' depressed brain

Feel for people...just not too much

[T]hose who put themselves in the other person’s shoes had significantly higher “fight-or-flight” responses, as though they, too, were going through a stressful experience.
“Over time,” lead researcher Anneke Buffone notes, “the chronic activation of the stress hormone cortisol could lead to a variety of serious health issues like cardiovascular problems, a finding that is particularly meaningful for health professionals who are confronted with others’ pain and suffering daily.”
But the researchers also discovered that those who were asked to react to the essay with compassion — who thought about how the other person might be feeling but didn’t share the emotion — had a positive, invigorating arousal response, as if they were confronting a challenge that was achievable or offering advice that might help improve the student’s situation.
Empathy and types of empathy 

Something to think on …

Readers are what it's all about, aren't they? If not, why am I writing?
— Evan Hunter, born on this date in 1926

Saturday, October 14, 2017


"Everything that is in agreement with our personal desires seems true. Everything that is not puts us into a rage.”
Andre Maurois

Forever odd …

… Henry Green Is As Good As His Word. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Green’s critics all stress the degree to which his books are unlike each other, and certainly the social milieux he describes do change from one to the next: a downstairs view of an Irish country house in Loving (1945), for example, and then Concluding’s (1948) state school and socialist future. Nevertheless, his fiction from Living on is all marked by two things. One is his reliance on irresolution, his refusal of narrative neatness. Two girls in Concluding disappear one morning; one of them never returns, and her absence remains forever unexplained. But her vanishing seems something more than a loose end—it’s elliptical and numinous, and close to a mystery in the theological sense of the term. The truth cannot be known, and this takes me to the other thing that links his books: his interest in the way people talk, in the texture and deceptions of human speech, its enormous variety even at its most clichéd.

Something to look forward to …

… Paul Davis On Crime: 50 Years On, Secrets Of 'The Prisoner' Are Finally Revealed.

Speaking of birthdays …

E.E. Cummings was born on this date in 1894.

Anniversary …

 Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History Actor Roger Moore Was Born.

Mission territory …

… On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church | Charles J. Chaput | First Things.

The greatest captivity of Babylon, whatever name it goes by in any age, has little to do with persecution or repression. It’s the lie that nothing deeper, nothing greater, nothing more beautiful and satisfying and permanent than itself, exists.

Success story …

… From Dishwasher to Millionaire, Ethiopian Refugee Achieves American Dream.

What ya sees …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Figure-Ground Illusion, Sonnet #373.