Monday, February 19, 2018

Mohsin Hamid

It's not often that I read contemporary literature, and it's especially not often that I read literature focused on modern themes: the iPhone, the Internet, gentrification -- these are topics that don't interest me as much as others. 

But for a number of reasons, I've recently read Exit West, Mohsin Hamid's novel of migration and dislocation in the modern world. Reading it was an unusual experience -- if for no other reason than I felt I was re-reading the news. For me, this was fundamentally depressing: for while the novel endows that news with a human quality, with people and places, the story it told was familiar. Sure, this shouldn't be held against its author, but for me, it didn't provide enough of an escape. 

Which is not to say that I target science fiction or fantasy: indeed, I don't. But thinking about it, I do target novels which chart a different space, which uncover a different way of seeing, of being. Often, these spaces, these worlds are set in the past -- they might, for instance, be Victorian. Regardless, there's something about them -- in their strange qualities, in their distance from the contemporary -- that holds my attention, that serves as a mirror for our experience today. 

I was talking with a friend about Exit West and she argued that while the story is familiar (in the sense that we continue to read about migration from the Middle East and North Africa), the novel has the potential to attract a different sort of attention to the crisis: it has, as I say, the potential to humanize the sorrow -- and in so doing, inspire action. 

All of this, of course, I agree with: there's no doubt that novels like Exit West cast a light on horrific stories, on stories that need to be told. But at the same time -- for me, at least -- they do that in a way that can be generic, almost rushed: the characters in Hamid's novel, for instance, show and share emotion; they do it, though, without the sort of intensity or detail I might have expected. The same goes for their motivation: Hamid makes it clear why they're on the move, but the way they process this change, as fictional entities, felt limited. 

Ultimately, Exit West was most successful, I felt, when posing questions about the idea of "home." What is it? How do we construct it? And what does it take to leave it? These questions were at the heart of the novel and helped reorient my approach to "the news." When seen as a quest for home, contemporary migration becomes a fundamentally human journey. There's no looking away when it comes to building a home: we all share the desire for rootedness, even as we exit our native land. 

2-18-18 Big Sky MT

And the winner is …

 Philadelphia author Erin Entrada Kelly wins prestigious Newbery medal - Philly.

Inquirer reviews …

…My review of a book by a young poet well worth keeping an eye on: Nausheen Eusuf's 'Not Elegy, But Eros': Love, and the life of the senses.

… Pinker's 'Enlightenment Now': Sometimes overdone, but a much-needed reminder of reason's place.

… Kate Bowler's 'Everything Happens for a Reason': Love stands up to terror, suffering.

You can't make this up …

 Dr. Helen: Men Living Longer: Women and minorities hardest hit?

Blogging note …

I have to be out and about again. So blogging will resume sometime later.

Virgil as oracle …

… Ed Simon: When Books Read You. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

John Aubrey records that a year before the King’s decapitation, Charles’ son then living in exile in Paris asked the metaphysical poet Abraham Cowley to divert his own sorrows, writing that his friend offered “if his Highnesse pleased they would use ‘Siortes Virgilianae,’” as the poet, of course, “alwaies had a Virgil in his pocket.” This time, instead of letting the book fall open, Cowley rather took a pin and pushed it into the soft pages of the Aeneid, the prick arriving at the proper prediction for the royal estate. Both father and son, as it turned out, arrived at the exact same line regarding the Stuart family fortunes.  What of Charles’ lot, and that of the prince, which so distressed both of them? Book 4 of the Aeneid, line 615, which is Dido’s prayer against her former lover, reading: “Nor let him then enjoy supreme command; / But fall, untimely, by some hostile hand.” In 1649 Charles would stand as upon the scaffold at Westminster, wearing his extra heavy shirt and quoting his Sidney, awaiting the regicide’s blade on his neck. Virgil may guide everyone to the truth, but that doesn’t mean that the truth will always set one free.

Something to think on

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.
— André Gide, who died on this date in 1951

On the road …

A Literary Road Trip Into the Heart of Russia. (Hat tip, G.E. Reutter.)

It's by Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Mark thy calendar …

… Memento Park (2018) — Mark Sarvas.

Forthcoming …

… Cli-Fi.Net -- the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi: Barbara Kingsolver's new novel "Unsheltered" probes new feminist territory in New Jersey history.

The way things were …

… The Magical Power of Dictionaries - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In school we were taught to be curious. Whenever we asked a teacher what something meant, we were told to "look it up in the dictionary!" We never thought of this as a punishment. On the contrary: With this command we were given the keys to a magic cavern in which one word would lead without rhyme or reason (except an arbitrary alphabetical reason) to the next. 

Anniversary …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Wheresoever She Was, There Was Eden: For Mark Twain, It Was Love At First Sight When He Saw A Photo of Olivia Langton.

The dangers of received opinion...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Renaissance man …

 Public intellectuals, private intellectuals, and a professor of football | The Book Haven.

Announcement …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): The boy who cried wolf must now confront the bastard.

Still truckin'

 Q&A: At age 90, Mary Higgins Clark is still the queen of literary suspense | WTOP. (Hat tip, G. E. Reutter.)

Q&A …

… Paul Davis On Crime: An Interview With British Thriller Writer Len Deighton, The Author Of 'The Ipcress File,' 'Funeral In Berlin' And 'SS-GB'.

Watering holes …

… A Visual Tour of 35 Literary Bars and Cafés from Around the World | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Home is where the heart is …

… Making a Music Room #01 Photo by Rus Bowden — National Geographic Your Shot.

Trusting the inner voice …

… ‘I strive to bring the unimaginable into my poetry and into readers’ ordinary lives’. (Hat tip, G.E. Reutter.)

Poets are not prophets or journalists, but artists of a visual language, words their medium. Fear of being misunderstood is the greatest obstacle, so one inevitably begins to write for an audience rather than for oneself. Working in this manner only creates predictable and static poetry, obsessed in getting our message across, as if this is the poet’s only pursuit, but the inner voice is the only voice the poet can truly trust.

Latter-day orthodoxy …

… Stone Walls and No Discussions - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ideas freeze. Their proponents become harsh-minded and dictatorial. Many of the ideas the left affirms now grew out of ’60s radical politics. Then they were vital and life-endowing. Now it seems that, though still worthy on some level, they are tired. Their proponents have no humor, no brio. They do not like to laugh. Emerson tells us that we need to pass beyond frozen, once-worthy ideas — or at least break them up and reconsider.
Or, as Max Beerbohm sagely observed, "only the insane take themselves quite seriously."

Experiment and popularity …

… Hanif Kureishi: my beautiful box-set binge | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I grew up in the '50s watching TV when it was supposed to be a vast wasteland (you know, crap like a dramatization of Boswell's life of Johnson starring Peter Ustinov on Omnibus). Today, about the only thing I turn it on for is to watch a movie. I did watch some episodes of Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle, but wasn't impressed. 

An anniversary and a question …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): On this day in 1885 — Twain publishes the GAN.

Something to think on …

Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Well socialism is exactly the reverse.
— Len Deighton, born on this date in 1929

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Much in what he says …

… Steven Pinker: Identity Politics Is 'An Enemy of Reason and Enlightenment Values' | The Weekly Standard.

… when it spreads beyond the target of combatting discrimination and oppression, it is an enemy of reason and Enlightenment values, including, ironically, the pursuit of justice for oppressed groups. For one thing, reason depends on there being an objective reality and universal standards of logic. As Chekhov said, there is no national multiplication table, and there is no racial or LGBT one either.

The Psalms and the editor from Hell …

… Maryann Corbett on Alan Sullivan. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Anniversary …

… Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): On this day in 1801, Thomas Jefferson is elected the third president of the United States.

Hmm …

… La Lumière Blanche | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


 Anecdotal Evidence: `My Yale College and My Harvard'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The mysterious Sappho …

 Guide to the classics: Sappho, a poet in fragments. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Pictures of a lost world …

 Unseen 1960s Photos of London's East End - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

“…the photographer knows he’s getting the last shots of those wharves, steamers and warehouses before they are replaced by imagined hotels and marinas, the proto-blueprint for the new world dominated by leisure, tourism and heritage replicas. These post-dockland utopias are soon to be upgraded into big business steel and glass, craven monuments of late capitalism. The future was in a distant haze, just around the corner.”


… Zealotry of Guerin: Little Owl (Durer), Sonnet #392.

Words and drawings …

… Frank O'Hara & ‘the Skies of Italy in New York’ | by Barry Schwabsky | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The collaboration between O’Hara and Schifano is fully realized in the eighteen-page-long Words & Drawings, just published in its entirety in a beautifully designed and printed edition by the Archivio Mario Schifano in Rome (unfortunately, in an edition of just 300 numbered copies, plus fifty hors de commerce, which means that it still won’t be as widely seen as it should among admirers of the poet and the artist; though it is a step forward considering that, until now, just four pages had been published in an obscure journal from Palermo.)

Classic debut …

 Project MUSE - The Bestiary, or Procession of Orpheus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.
— Jiddu Krishnamurti, who died on this date in 1986

Friday, February 16, 2018

Makes you wonder …

… 25 Legendary Literary Feuds, Ranked | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No one comes off well in this except Janet Flanner.

Reading plan …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): 13 minutes a day — reading plan.

3 times 365 means over a thousand in the past year alone ...

If you reside in America and it is dinnertime, you have almost certainly broken the law. In his book Three Felonies a Day, civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate estimates that the average person unknowingly breaks at least three federal criminal laws every day. This toll does not count an avalanche of other laws — for example misdemeanors or civil violations such as disobeying a civil contempt order — all of which confront average people at every turn.

Master inspector …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Maigret (2015).

The miraculous puddle …

… First Known When Lost: Mirrors, Glimmers, Glimpses.

… I have sung the praises of puddles -- those World-reflecting wonders -- in the past, and I will do so again now. At the beginning of last week, on my afternoon walk, I was marveling at how the beauty of bare branches set against a cloud-dappled blue sky becomes deeper, more profound, when seen on the surface of a humble puddle. But that is not the end of it: the beauty takes on yet a different aspect as you begin to walk. All of the intricacy, color, and depth moves along with you, at your feet, as you pass beside the bright water -- an entire upside-down World in motion.

Beyond categories …

 Literatainment: A Personal Breakthrough - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It’s a ceaseless tide, I suspect, a ceaseless back and forth. It’s also the subject I seem to keep veering toward (just now I’ve decided to commit myself to it, once and for all), a subject that already wakes me up in the morning and tucks me in at night. “Hybridity,” it might be called. Or genre mixing, “register” mixing — the shaking up of categories, the alchemical stirring together of “high” and “low.”

Something to think on …

They know enough who know how to learn.
— Henry Adams, born on this date in 1838

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wow …

Poetry Daily: Elegy for India's Daughter, by Nausheen Eusuf.

I have been assured that review I have written of a volume of verse by Ms. Eusuf will run in this Sunday’s Inquirer.

Clint Eastwood's latest

Just as the movie is built as a long flashback, Eastwood works out his story in reverse, looking at the American society in which the three heroes were raised and seeing particular tendencies that allowed their characters to flourish, even as they floundered, before they had any accomplishments to show for themselves. It’s here that Eastwood crafts a distinctively American tale: a story of second and third chances, of alternate schools and the right to own guns, of casual employment and easy credit, of loose families with tight bonds. If you want a society to produce these types of men, the film suggests, you’d do well to start with this set of conditions. 


To the people that died in the horrific school shooting in Florida.  
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Cultural Clickbait!

Fifty years after the sexual revolution, sex in America is in decline. Americans are having less sex, the share of Americans who say they never once had sex in the past year is rising, and—perhaps most surprising—this revolution in sexual behavior is being led by the young. 

Reading about reading

In the preface to his great collection of essays The Dyer’s Hand, W.H. Auden claimed: ‘I prefer a critic’s notebooks to his treatises.’ Auden’s criticism is like that: a passage of insights instead of a single sustained argument, and the same is true of Samuel Johnson, whose works are a pleasure to read for the feeling of the pressure of a great mind at play. Clive James belongs in this company.
His new book Latest Readings is a kind of reading diary: a collection of short essays, each prompted by one book or a handful he happens to be reading. 

Conspirators …

… Twenty | The New Criterion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Me, too …

 Call me Crazy > New English Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Who cares what Joy Behar thinks about anything? Another piece Dave sent along recently seems relevant to this: Paging Dr. Marx.

It is hardly surprising, then, that intellectuals who claim not only to be rationalists but rational are often drawn to gnostic doctrines that claim to reveal the hidden meaning not just of something, but of everything about human existence. Marxism, Freudianism, and, in its most recent form, Darwinism are examples such doctrines. For many, they held, or hold, the key to reality as Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy held the key to the Scriptures.
Even I wouldn't insult intellectuals by counting Joy Behar among them, but the editor of Lancet I'm sure is one. Indeed, he sounds like a hopeless case.

In case you wondered …

… Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): How to write (or read) a detective story.

February Poetry at North of Oxford …

… Truth and Belief by Peter C. Scheponik.

… 2 Poems by Stephen Bett.

… In the Mirror by Byron Beynon.

… Theft by Richard Nester.

Something to think on …

The essence of Christianity is the appeal to the life of Christ as a revelation of the nature of God and of God's agency in the world. The record is fragmentary, inconsistent, and uncertain. . . . But there can be no doubt as to what elements in the record have evoked a response from all that is best in human nature. The Mother, the Child, and the bare manger: the lowly man, homeless and self-forgetful, with his message of peace, love, and sympathy: the suffering, the agony, the tender words as life ebbed, the final despair: and the whole with the authority of supreme victory.
— Alfred North Whitehead, born on this date in 1861

Listen in …

… Episode 255 – Henry Wessells – The Virtual Memories Show.

“This is a project I’ve either been working on for three years, or since I was seven years old.”
 … Episode 256 — Lauren Weinstein — The Virtual Memories Show.
“Comics are a way to process events in your life. You put it down on the page, and it has its own life, and you’re able to move away from it.”

New translation, famed inspector …

… Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Liberty Bar (2015).

The virtues of Enlightenment...

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

I was going to post about the day's history but no one really knows what the history is or who St. Valentine was (there are three contenders) so instead here is the first known Valentine's Day poem, from Charles Duke D' Orleans to his wife Bonne of Armangnac in 1415 (original in the Birtish Museum):

Je suis desja d’amour tanné,
Ma tres doulce Valentinée,
Car pour moi fustes trop tart née,
Et moy pour vous fus trop tost né.
Dieu lui pardoint qui estrené
M’a de vous, pour toute l’année.
Je suis desja d’amour tanné,
Ma tres doulce Valentinée
Bien m’estoye suspeconné,
Qu’auroye telle destinée,
Ains que passast ceste journée,
Combien qu’Amours l’eust ordonné.
Je suis desja d’amour tanné,
Ma tres doulce Valentinée. 

English Translation:
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine,
Since for me you were born too soon,
And I for you was born too late.
God forgives him who has estranged
Me from you for the whole year.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine.
Well might I have suspected
That such a destiny,
Thus would have happened this day,
How much that Love would have commanded.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine

Forewarned is forearmed ...

or just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you ...

original picture here 

Blogging note …

I won't be doing any blogging again until much later today. I have a doctor's appointment this morning, and after that I'm taking the train to Swarthmore to visit a friend.

Together at last …

… Pork Roll, Lent, and Catholic Identity | George Weigel | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

A man's subconscious self is not the ideal companion. It lurks for the greater part of his life in some dark den of its own, hidden away, and emerges only to taunt and deride and increase the misery of a miserable hour.
— P. G. Wodehouse, who died on this date in 1975

Mark thy calendar …








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

     This Event Is Free

Donna Wolf-Palacio  is author of What I Don't Know  The Other Side, and Step Lightly, published by Finishing Line Press.  She taught a poetry workshop at the University of the Arts and was editor/consultant of the UARTS Poetry Review.  She has published her writing in Poetry, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The Musehouse Journal, Intro, The Interpreter, Poems ftom the Heart: Poems about Adoption,  and Voices .She has received grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Leeway Foundation, and the Pennsyvania Council for the Arts.

Poems of Donna Wolf-Palacio:

Step Lightly

You never seemed to get it right, the puzzle of your mother.
No god or therapy could free you from those wires she tugged
to keep the medicine flowing.  So you read the masters for a sign,
Winnicott, Freud, the family people, stars so far away,
yet windows of hope for a real eternity.

Some days I see your eyes blink with disbelief
at their humane unwavering light.
Yet while you searched, your words and teaching
brought you to the source.  Sometimes, you couldn't take it in.
There was so much rage in you.  But other times you took it whole,
and what you made was personal, irreplaceable.

Hells and Hierarchies

        “All hells and heirarchies are works of the imagination.”
                        Anthony Madrid

Could it be more true?
The past
a plate
we can't break.
Each piece has
a spot.
And there it is, outlay to the outlay.
Mind around it
in memory.  The stone falls.
Maybe a small stone.
Still, a stone.

Reading the Poetry of Du Fu

I like the sound of the words in the old poem, “little farm boat”.
They take me out of this house, this city, this time.
We glide down a river.  The town fades behind the blue trees, and the house
is a white dot on the shore.  Little farm boat in autumn.

Much in what he says …

… Sam Shepard's 'Spy of the First Person' Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have seen only one Shepard play, True West. I thought it was awful.

Karl Ove Knausgaard

Well, it looks like I'll be following the seasons with Karl Ove Knausgaard. This time, it's Winter -- and as with Autumn, I'm a willing participant.  

Part of what I've enjoyed about these short essays is their mixture of levity and profundity: right on point, each and every time, Knausgaard delivers an observation, an aphorism, a detail -- all of which transform the commonplace into something more, something endowed with a flicker of meaning. 

In my reading, Autumn was more successful, perhaps, than Winter, but I attribute that as much to the season as to any deficiency in Knausgaard's prose. Winter marks the end: of life, of movement, of warmth. The topics that accompany this have the potential to be less engaging -- certainly less hopeful. 

And there were indeed sections of Winter which trace a hopelessness: a preoccupation with death, even with the underworld. But there were equally, I felt, chapters which moved in the opposite direction, which asked the reader to see beyond the snow and ice, to identify a beauty in the brown earth just below the frozen surface. 

At this point, I guess, I'm in for the rest of the year: Spring and Summer will be on my list. But it's not out of obligation that I'll read them as much as curiosity: as the year progresses and as the earth renews, I'm eager to see how Knausgaard's writing mirrors that change, how it assumes a faint and then sudden sense of life. "Nothing," writes Knausgaard, "ends with what the eyes can see."

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Wonderful …

 Poem | Wintry Gratitude, an Ode | Commonweal Magazine.

#TimothyMurphy is my gay, libertarian, #Beowulf-translating, prairie-loving, formalist friend, a friend with a bad cancer prognosis. Tim pulled through surgery last week and immediately wrote a gorgeous #sonnet. He is intent on making every last moment count, a lesson for us all.]

Discovery …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Huck Finn — Lost and Found Department.

Extraordinary …

… 75 Years Ago, One of the Best Dance Routines Ever Was Filmed, Unrehearsed on the First Take  TwistedSifter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Too Many Snowflakes in Princeton!

The N-word class (see "Snowflakes in Princeton" here) has been cancelled, according to The Weekly Standard.

Author (podcast) Request

I am working on material about creativity.  I have been fascinated by the creative process, and creative people, for a long time; as you may know I do intellectual property (patent, trademark, copyright, etc.) law (as well as civil rights law) and IP law is all about creativity.    

I would love any thoughts, insights, etc. etc. our incredible audience might be able to provide, no matter how big or small, and no matter the subject matter, from mechanical inventions to writing to art of all types.  The end result will be a series of podcasts as well as some type of hard copy (TBD).

I can be reached at  

Thank you!

What goes around ...

So, on Facebook, there are various ads for programs etc. that do silly stuff, like on the Boardwalk when I was little.  ("What will you look like when you're 80?")   The other day one came up on my newsfeed that was "What will you look like as the opposite sex?"

Irony is us so I had to do it

Moose, no squirrel


Hanging around the house in Big Sky MT yesterday morning.  A little different than what hung around the house in Philadelphia.

Aragorn (the dog on the porch) didn't know what to do.  I said "shoo, shoo" and they went away, the mom (a/k/a "cow") pissing on the sidewalk in disdain as she left.

And here's an article on the Moose & Squirrel Phenomenon when making music.

Watch and listen …

Untitled …

Still in the body, the great gift.
Body Gestalt, Chi exercises, narcissism.

We are headed towards a horizon
where there will be a light,
that is not the light of the sun.

Time will------------
no museum will house the artifacts.

What did they think they were doing
When they played their games of power?

 C.2018 Alexander Marshall

More than just looking …

 The Habit of Seeing | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In a lecture on “Catholic Novelists and Their Readers,” O’Connor explored what a Catholic novel and a Catholic novelist might be, with insights that remain valid today. For a novelist, O’Connor asserts, the only access to the supernatural is through the natural. You have to write what you see, not what you want to see or think you ought to see. If you close your own eyes and try to see with the eyes of the church, “the result is another addition to that large body of pious trash for which we have so long been famous.” The solution for a writer, O’Connor proposed, is not to abandon the eyes of the church, but to reach the point at which “the church becomes so much a part of his personality that he can forget about her.” She defined a Catholic novel as “one that represents reality adequately as we see it manifested in this world of things and human relationships.” Only by representing these things and relationships can the fiction writer “approach a contemplative knowledge of the mystery they embody.”

Getting it …

… Debunking the Caricature of Jack Kerouac the Nihilist | The American Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Underlying all of this as Kerouac’s spiritual bedrock was his Catholic upbringing in Lowell, Massachusetts among working-class French Canadian immigrants. Kerouac described himself as a “strange solitary Catholic mystic” whose ecstatic vision of life was the direct result of an eschatology of the end of time. What he longed for was contact with the heavenly eternity overlaying and occasionally penetrating our anodyne perceptions of time. “Life is a dream already over,” he said. It was the furthest thing from an existential claim of the primacy of death and absurdity. It was life reinvigorated by recognition of a transcendent reality.
“I know everything’s alright but I want proof and the Buddhas and the Virgin Marys are there reminding me of the solemn pledge of faith in this harsh and stupid earth where we rage our so-called lives in a sea of worry, meat for Chicagos of Graves—right this minute my very father and my very brother lie side by side in mud in the North and I’m supposed to be smarter than they are—being quick I am dead.”

It's a pretty good poem, too …

 TS Eliot's The Waste Land remains one of the finest reflections on mental illness ever written | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the crisis at the heart of The Waste Land wasn’t only global, it was also personal. Eliot’s wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood, also had poor physical and mental health and he scattered his poem with references to their life together. “I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter,” ends the poem’s first stanza, in one of the most powerful and subtle lines ever written about insomnia, of which he and Vivienne were both sufferers. She asked him to remove some lines due to their being too personal, but many others about a husband and wife living with mental illness were retained. “My nerves are bad tonight. Yes, bad. Stay with me./ Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak.” Theirs was one of the worst romantic mismatches in modern letters.

Something to think on …

Horse sense is the instinct that keeps horses from betting on men.
— Josephine Tey, who died on this date in 1952

Monday, February 12, 2018


… Vic Damone, renowned American crooner, dies aged 89 | Music | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Books in books …

Treacherous enemy …

 Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Beat Column: The Vietnam Spy Who Betrayed Us.

… The Journalist-Viet Cong Spy Who Changed the Course Of The Vietnam War.

Time magazine obviously did a great job vetting this guy.

Writing and letters …

… Of Fonts, and Fate, and Marcel’s Letters | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Hmm …

 The 10 worst colleges for free speech: 2018 - FIRE.

The guy at Drexel certainly had the right to say the things he said. But he was also an embarrassment to the university. Genocide is not a suitable subject for humor. There was also his nausea over hearing that someone had given a soldier a first-class seat on an airplane. The professor is no one I would want to have teaching any of my kids. Which is not to say Drexel couldn’t have handled it better. It is, after all, important to defend speech one doesn’t approve of.  

In case you haven’t heard …

… Record snowfall amounts pile up around the globe | Climate Depot.

In case you wondered …

… No, Asparagus Won't Give You Cancer | American Council on Science and Health.

What went wrong on, literally, a global scale? Sloppiness combined with a greater desire for eyeballs and ad revenue rather than telling people the truth.

Tracking the decline …

… Major Universities 'At One' with Junk Science | American Council on Science and Health.

News you can use …

… Wondering why it’s taking you so long to crank out that novel? Check out the competition. | The Book Haven.

A Pascalian blank …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `The Beauty of Somewhere You're Not.'

Saved by subplots …

… Review: Anne Perry's 'Echo of Murder' | Bill Peschel.

In translation …

… CLI-Fiのレポート.

Those dark '50s …

… About Last Night | Just because: Tanaquil Le Clercq and Jacques d’Amboise dance Afternoon of a Faun.

This is the sort of thing we had to put up with when I was in high school.

Weird times …

… Nigeness: The Blackberry Storm.

Light and the Light …

… Mysteries of the Light - The Catholic Thing.

When Michelangelo painted Jesus in the Last Judgment on the model of the Belvedere Apollo, the Greek sun god, he was self-consciously following a venerable tradition, which bridged Christianity to the religious aspirations of humankind.

A sensible twist …

Write What You (Want To) Know.

Something to think on …

Speech is the small change of silence.
— George Meredith, born on this date in 1828

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Snowflakes in Princeton!

Professor uses the N-word, students walk out.
The chair of Princeton’s anthropology department, Carolyn Rouse, defended Rosen’s decision to use the racial slur. The purpose of the course, Rouse said, was to give students the ability to clearly state why hate speech should or should not be protected, using an argument other than “because it made me feel bad.” 
The underprivileged have to learn the language of the oppressor -- I cannot shrivel up in a ball every time someone talks about how trans people are mentally ill or sexual deviants or whatever.  It is so hard to take but how am I going to ever win any progress for us if I just collapse?  I have to take the hurtful insulting terrible language in order to fight them and claim my, and other trans peoples', rights.