Sunday, April 22, 2018

Are ideological...

World's oldest woman dies at 117

Women — and residents of Japan — dominate the list of [remaining] oldest people. The 22 oldest are women, and 13 of the 24 oldest people reside in Japan.

Mashing diction …

… State Lines: Brenda Hillman’s ‘The Bride Tree Can’t Be Read’ - San Francisco Chronicle.  (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the winner is …

… Cambridge resident, Wellesley professor wins Pulitzer for poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Wow …

 The Startling Colors and Abstract Shapes of Salt Ponds - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Discovery …

Paul Davis On Crime: 'Anthony Burgess: The Ink Trade': Offers Lost Anthony Burgess Essays.

A dubious move …

 Informal Inquiries: On this day in 1886 — seduction illegal.

The architecture of sociability …

… The Civic Character of a Front Porch — Strong Towns. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The importance of a front porch needs to be connected with its civic potency. In other words, a home with a front porch can provide the foundation for the cultivation and actualization of those virtues and habits that help citizens become more civically minded and engaged.
Here in South Philly it's the stoop that counts.

Inquirer reviews …

… Jo Nesbø's 'Macbeth': A Norwegian noir master takes on 'the Scottish play'.

… 'Visionary Women' by Joanna Scutts: Four women who changed the world.

Something to think on …

Nature, who permits no two leaves to be exactly alike, has given a still greater diversity to human minds. Imitation, then, is a double murder; for it deprives both copy and original of their primitive existence.
— Madame de Staël, born on this date in 1766

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Karl Ove Knausgaard

Say what you will about Karl Ove Knausgaard, but his recent piece in the New York Times is excellent. The essay focuses on the literature and politics of Russia over the past two hundred years. Part of what I enjoyed most about the essay is its accessibility: Knausgaard orients his readers to Russia's literary titans, and makes a convincing case for the role of stories -- and storytelling -- in Russian identity. For an honest look beyond the standard view of Russia under Putin, give Knausgaard's piece a read. As I say, it's excellent (and it's making me want to read Turgenev).

Blogging note …

I have done about all of the blogging I will be able to fit in today, because I have mucho obligations to meet. Of course, you never know. Maybe some time will open up. For now: Later.

A needed partnership …

… Comedy and the Catholic Novel: A Visit with Lee Oser - Crisis Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… there are certain taboos that a Catholic writer has to respect, and those did come up in my writing. Samuel Beckett will violate those taboos, and it’s interesting to watch him do it, and I respect Beckett. As a writer, not as a theologian. Without our taboos we lose the sense of who we are, we lose the reality of our emotions. We become more and more vaporous.”

In case you wondered …

… What is "blogging"? Is it different from "writing"? - Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The void …

… Zealotry of Guerin: On Nothing, Sonnet #401.

A special anthology …

… The poets’ home: how one small, heroic publisher shaped modern poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

… this book is an unusually beautiful object. But its beauty shouldn’t detract from its seriousness. 

No apology needed …

… Apologies for the recent hiatus | The Skeptical Doctor. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Losing one's brother is hard. I know.

Anniversary and confession …

… Informal Inquiries: On this day in 1816 — Charlotte Bronte Born.

Ah, yes …

… Before Blogs, There Were Zines | JSTOR Daily. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wordplay and switchboard …

… Two Eggs with Tom Stoppard | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

I asked Stoppard about the world of his plays, in which different perspectives unfold inside each other, like reversible prisms. Stoppard said, “I have almost no sense of working from a program or an agenda. Rather, it’s a relation one has—there’s a sense I can work in any form I like and go in any direction. Obviously, the plays are more unlike each other than like each other, but people who take pleasure in finding connections will have no trouble finding them.”

Something to think on …

The principal rule of art is to please and to move. All the other rules were created to achieve this first one.
— Jean Racine, who died on this date in 1699

Friday, April 20, 2018

Happy, happy, happy

Taking a bath with a baby elephant and not to anthropomorphize but look at the expression ... video here

And the winners are …

… Announcing The Charlie Medal! – Charlie's Corner.

Q&A …

… Michelle Dean: A Sharp Look at Criticism by Women | JSTOR Daily. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cross-pollination …

 Cripes, a bumbershoot! | Lionel Shriver on transatlantic linguistic confusion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The Prodigal Tongue takes head-on this supposed American contamination of British English. Murphy’s online search for “an ugly Americanism” turned up 7,780 hits; “a lovely Americanism”, 227. Citations of “horrible”, “vile”, “awful” and “dreadful” Americanisms were many times more common than “nice”, “useful”, “apt” and “delightful” ones. Paranoia about the corruption of the mother tongue – what Murphy calls “amerilexidophobia” – by a relentless assault from Netflix, Hollywood and books with American spelling (indeed, my British publisher no longer bothers to convert “harbor” to “harbour” in text edited in New York) is not constrained to young fogeys at the Telegraph. For a host of British purists, Murphy notes, American English is “an invasive species that will choke and supplant the native wordlife”.

All things to all people …

… that he might win their votes: NY Gov. Cuomo Says He's Muslim, Female, and Jewish, Among Other Things | Video.

Up for review …

.… Recently Received Books | North of Oxford.

Anniversary and heresy …

… Informal Inquiries: Poe’s first detective (not murder) story — April 20, 1841.

Coming Sunday …


>The Philadelphia Poetry Festival will include a Poetry Book Fair.
>This is for presses and poets signing and selling their books of poems.
>All proceeds will go to and be handled by the authors or publishers. 
>The space is free, but very limited. You must sign up in advance.
>Please arrive at 12:30.
>Please contact Leonard with interest:

>Are you interested?
>It’s simple to participate. Just pick a poet to represent your group.
>Send the info to me at:
>Bring (or have your reader bring) information about your organization. That’s it.
>Let me know soon. Cheers, Leonard

>The Free Poetry Festival
>The festival will be held at The Rotunda,
>4014 Walnut Street in West Philadelphia.  
>Join us on Sunday, April 22, 2018 from 1:00 p.m. tp 4:00 p.m..
>(Please arrive at 12:30 p.m.)

>Do you run a poetry organization, magazine, poetry press, poetry series,
>or college writing program in the Philadelphia area?  If so, please register for the Philadelphia Poetry Festival 2018 by sending your request via email to Include your name, the organization you represent, and a brief summary of what your org does and where and when you do it.   Please use The Philadelphia Poetry Festival 2018 in the subject line of the email. 
>Our Format:
>Each organization will present one poet to represent them, who will read for five minutes.  In the spirit of the event, we ask that organization leaders or editors not read, but choose a poet to spotlight.  
>There will be an area for the circulation of program brochures, flyers and information about dozens of Philadelphia poetry and writing outlets. Bring your favorite series’ information to share!  This is the area’s most comprehensive poetry event solely dedicated to celebrating Greater Philadelphia Poetry in all of its manifestations. It is a great way
>to promote what you do.
>About The Rotunda – 4014 Walnut Street in West Philadelphia
>A wonderful event space!
>Lots of street parking – metered and non-metered
>Fresh Grocer Parking Garage across Walnut Street
>Great places for food & spirits within a block:
>Smokey Joe’s, The Greek Lady, Mizu Sushi Bar,
>West Philly City Tap House, Bobby’s Burger Palace,
>Copabanana, Hummus, & The Last Word Book Shop
>Register now to introduce your poetry org to the greater Philadelphia poetry community OR just come and listen.

>Come and find out about all the other poetry orgs, series, coordinators, and more, in the Philly and surrounding areas. 
>Participants have included:
>* Farley’s First Thursday Series * The Collective Mic, LLC
>* Montgomery County Poet Laureate Program
>* Mad Poets Society/ Young Poets Contest /Mad Poets Review
>* Calypso Press * Philadelphia Community College Certificate Program
>* Philadelphia Stories * Brandywine Valley Writers Group

>* Manayunk Roxborough Art Center / Schuylkill Valley Journal
>* The Green Line Reading & Interview Series * Philadelphia Wordshop
>* Word Up Wednesdays * Joie deVivre Book Competition
>* Moonstone Art Center * The Osage Poets * Brigid’s House Writers
>* Musehouse: Supporting the Literary Arts * Philadelphia Writers Conference
>* Painted Bride Quarterly * Cleaver Magazine * American Poetry Review
>* Thread Makes Blanket Press * Poetry Aloud And Alive * Mighty Writers


Hmm …

… The Meanest Things Vladimir Nabokov Said About Other Writers | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For what it's worth (probably very little), I disagree about Eliot and Conrad and Camus. He's certainly right about Lady Chatterly, though Lawrence wrote good poetry and short stories. Faulkner also wrote some good stories. I once took Auden to task for a translation of Hölderlin, but I love his poetry. I think he is utterly right about Freud and Pound.

Things to bear in mind …

 Friday Poem: 'On Tender Hooks' by Brian Bilston. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hell ... and Depression

[T]he official textbook of Catholic Christianity, the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” reaffirms the Catholic belief in the eternal nature of hell. It omits the gory details found in earlier attempts to describe the hellish experience, but restates that the chief pain of hell is eternal separation from God.
Depression, as I've experienced it, is a gray curtain that makes communication with the world, and even movement, impossible sometimes.  Certainly I can't feel God is there, which is sad for me, as I've felt God's existence (or I guess technically speaking the Holy Spirit) since I was very young.  

But, as I've noted before, St. John Paul's favorite theologian, Von Balthasar, taught that Hell may well be empty.   I don't know what that means for others subject to depression here on Earth.  For me it is hope. 

Breathing ...

The secret behind the ability of a group of “sea nomads” in Southeast Asia to hold their breath for extraordinary periods of time while freediving to hunt fish has finally been revealed – and it’s down to evolution ....Genetic testing revealed that certain versions of genes are more commonly found in Bajau people than would be expected, with many apparently linked to biological changes that could help individuals cope with low-oxygen conditions.
Among them is a form of a gene linked to an increased spleen size – an effect the team reveal is likely down to an increase in thyroid hormone levels. Crucially, a contraction of the spleen is one of the features of the so called “diving reflex” – a set of responses in mammals that occur when the head is submerged. A large spleen means even more oxygen-carrying red blood cells can be pumped into the circulatory system when the organ contracts, allowing individuals to stay underwater for longer.

Something to think on …

Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous. When you have God, you don’t have to know everything about it; you just do it.
— Mother Angelica, born on this date in 1923

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Exorcising ...

 William Friedkin invented a new kind of car chase in “The French Connection,” but at the start of his new documentary, “The Devil and Father Amorth,” he puts his reputation for realism under assault.
“At the time I made ‘The Exorcist,’” the director confesses, “I had never seen an exorcism.” 
The article is slightly mocking, as one might expect from the NYTimes.  I read Father Amorth's books (and thought I blogged about them here but I can't find it.) They were terrifying.

And what a long strange trip it's been ...

LSD Turns 75

The shot heard round the world …

… Informal Inquiries: The revolution begins on 19 April 1775.

A poem for all seasons …

… and all faiths: 'Amen,' A Passover Poem – Tablet Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Bobber-fishing …

… Fishing for Bream by P. Ivan Young : American Life in Poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In case you wondered …

… How Do We Judge Translations? | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Soundness: the idea being that you should be able to use the thing made, to read it, to write on it, to drop it, to push at bits of it, to cite others, to set it to work and to activate it in all these ways in the context of your own life—and still it would hold. Comeliness:pleasing in its features and its proportions.
I’m not sure how much work these new criteria could be made to do in the evaluation of translations. But I like them (I offer them here as possibilities to think on).

Kay Ryan weighs in …

… wonderfully, of course: AdviceToWriters - Advice to Writers - Read Something of Thrilling Quality. (Hat tip, Dave Lull,)

Blurbs, Bromides, and Sulphites …

… The Seriocomic Origin of 'Blurb' | Merriam-Webster. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm …

… Harper’s Editor Insists He Was Fired Over Katie Roiphe Essay. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Here's Roiphe's essay: The Other Whisper Network.

I'm not sure Marcus should have been fired, but this sort of disagreement, if it became typical, would be problematic for any publisher. And, I would think, for the editor as well. As for the story, it lives up to its billing as contrarian. 

Something to think on …

Do your bit to save humanity from lapsing back into barbarity by reading all the novels you can.
— Richard Hughes, born on this date in 1900

Pondering the future...

Mirroring reality...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dark forest tale …

 Informal Inquiries (Revisited): Nathaniel Hawthorne (Revisited).

Hints and guesses …

 A millionaire who buried treasure in the Rockies has offered one main clue.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The poem is also called "The Thrill of the Chase." You can google it, but the website is not responding just now. Wonder why?

In case you want to go there …

… Daniel Kalder picks five books that get inside the minds of dictators | Books | The Guardian.

Also, listen in.


Stay where some famous writers stayed …

World Book Day 2018 Travel: Vacation where your favorite authors once stayed

MUNICH, April 2018 - If you love travel and literature, what better way to celebrate World Book Day (April 23, 2018) than by staying at a home once inhabited by your favorite author? Imagine reading “The Great Gatsby” in a classic 1920s-style hotel on the French Riviera – a hotel whose décor and legendary parties likely influenced Fitzgerald’s renowned novel? Or sipping a martini in the location where Ian Fleming first jotted down James Bond’s “shaken, not stirred” catchphrase? a leading search engine for vacation rentals, presents a list of eleven vacation rentals where famous writers have once stayed. All of these homes can be found on Holidu’s website, and can serve as inspiration for literature-lovers who also suffer from wanderlust this coming World Book Day.

As a quick refresher: World Book Day is an annual event that falls on April 23, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing and copyright.

Mary Shelley (“Frankenstein”) and Percy Shelley (“Ozymandias”): Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Wales, United Kingdom

This elegant and stately country house, now a B&B, was once the holiday home of the famed English writer Mary Shelley and her husband, romantic poet Percy Shelley. Among Mary Shelley’s various works, “Frankenstein” is indisputably the most well-known. Travelers who love the Shelleys might be entertained by this tale: This historic house is where Percy Shelley dodged an assassination attempt. Legend has it that he was shot at from outside the drawing room window by a disgruntled local, one of many irritated with his outspoken views. After that, the couple fled the country and never came back to Wales. The Gwynedd National Park is a must-see for any visitor.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (“The Great Gatsby”): Nice, France

When looking for a way to consolidate your love for travel with your love for books, look no further than Nice. Famous writers like Hemingway, H.G. Wells and F. Scott Fitzgerald loved the city and its famous coastline. Fitzgerald, in particular, was a big fan of the French Riviera; he and his family were known to spend lots of time there. Fitzgerald preferred to stay at the Negresco, one of the oldest classical hotels. With this apartment for two, you can stay within the famous Negresco building without spending a fortune on the rooms, and still get the classic 1920s feel that Fitzgerald was exposed to (and likely influenced by) when writing “The Great Gatsby.” It’s known that the Negresco used to host lots of wild parties – a recurring scene in Fitzgerald’s most esteemed novel. If you’re looking for something intellectual beyond the beach and the parties, check out Nice’s wide variety of art museums. It’s worth noting that Fitzgerald’s contemporary and rival, Hemingway, also stayed here.

John Steinbeck (“Of Mice and Men,” “The Grapes of Wrath”): Pacific Grove, United States

As most of Steinbeck’s work is set in California, it should come as no surprise that the Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning author owned a home in the Golden State. This Pacific Grove apartment belonged to Steinbeck in the early 1940s. He used it as a writing studio and worked on novels like “The Log from the Sea of Cortez” while residing here. Pacific Grove is on the very tip of the scenic, tree-shrouded Monterey Peninsula, which boasts a dramatic, craggy coastline and unbelievable ocean views. Besides the scenic beauty, the eclectic downtown has cute boutiques, art galleries, antique stores and more. Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are also half a mile away. Fun fact for Steinbeck lovers: The actual location Steinbeck was writing about in his famed novel, “Cannery Row,” was originally called “Ocean View Avenue.” It was later renamed “Cannery Row” in honor of the book.

Ian Fleming (“James Bond”): London, United Kingdom

Action-lovers and James Bond aficionados will surely enjoy a stay at the Dukes in London. Within this luxurious and sophisticated boutique apartment/hotel, travelers can enjoy a typical British high tea, or sip on classic cocktails at the elegant hotel bar. It was here that Fleming came up with James Bond’s famous catchphrase “shaken, not stirred,” which still features prominently in James Bond books and films. To really feel like the secret agent himself, be sure to order the Vesper Martini. Book-loving travelers can also visit the nearby British Library, which is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest library in the world by number of items catalogued.

Sylvia Plath (“The Bell Jar”) and Ted Hughes (“The Thought-Fox”): Loubressac, France

Literary powerhouse couple Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes were visitors of this beautiful, traditional two-bedroom original stone house in the tranquil rural village of Lacam de Loubressac. The property overlooks the Dordogne River, and the great 12th century castle of Castelnau de Bretenoux dominates the panorama below. This quiet, charming home, which boasts exposed beams, central heating, a wood-burning stove and an open fireplace is essentially one giant reading nook perfect for getting lost in both writers’ poetry, or to crack open Plath’s only novel, “The Bell Jar.” Once you’ve had your share of reading, rent canoes from one of the boating companies the Dordogne, for some outdoor exercise; bicycles can also be rented in nearby towns. Additionally, the pilgrimage village of Rocamadour is within a half hour’s drive, and its churches built among boulders and caves are worth exploring.

Roald Dahl (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”): Tenby, Wales, United Kingdom

Book-lovers looking for a comfortable accommodation in which to relax, like Dahl did, may enjoy this cozy cabin where the British novelist used to spend time with his family. Holidays in Tenby with his Norwegian mother influenced him, what with her fascinating Nordic stories involving witches and trolls. These imaginative myths have therefore always marked his style of writing, full of unexpected and outlandish situations, especially in novels such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda.” This seaside town is a holiday destination for people from all over the world, and its sandy shores, rows of multicolored houses and town walls make a perfect getaway from bigger cities. Close to Tenby, an evocative holy island is worth a visit: Inhabited by Cistercian monks, Caldey Island offers the perfect panorama in which you can lose yourself in a good book. 

Miguel de Cervantes (“Don Quixote”): Barri Gòtic, Spain

Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote is probably one of the most famous books worldwide and the author influenced the Spanish language so much that modern-day Spanish is sometimes referred to as “la lengua de Cervantes” or “the language of Cervantes.” This luminous apartment is a celebration of this renowned author: Situated in one of the most beautiful areas in Barcelona, it was here that Cervantes lived and wrote for a couple of years. The rental, catalogued by the UNESCO as Artistic Heritage of the XVth century Catalan Gothic style, was completely reformed and turned into a duplex conserving the old stone walls and arches. The area around the apartment, Barri Gòtic (or Gothic Quarter), seems to be made especially for book-lovers: you can stop by theSunday book market at Carrer Comte d'Urgell or have a coffee at the Café Els Quatre Gats, originally a meeting place of bohemian authors (artists like Gaudi and Picasso).

Gustave Flaubert ("Madame Bovary"): Pont-l'Évêque, France

This comfortable holiday home, on the shores of an 80-hectare lake, was the former residence of French naturalist author Gustave Flaubert, best known for his worldwide masterpiece “Madame Bovary.” The greenery sprawling around the house, as well as the serene lake, make the perfect environment for reading outside and basking in nature’s glory. If you can pull yourself away from your book, be sure to visit the Normandy Natural Park and also get to Rouen, the writer's birthplace. There you’ll find the museum dedicated to the author.

Nikos Kazantzakis (“Zorba the Greek”): West Mani, Greece

This charming seaside house built in the late 19th century has its own story to tell. Between 1917 and 1918 the famous author Nikos Kazantzakis from Crete lived here. This is where the original story of his world-famous book “Zorba the Greek” took place. The plot is partly inspired by Kazantzakis’s own life and focuses on a young man who works in a mine. The mine where Kazantzakis himself worked is only a few miles from the house. So is the beach where the famous “Sirtaki scene” from the movie with Anthony Quinn takes place. The rental offers a calm and private atmosphere in which one can relax and unwind, and houses between four to six people.

Paul Auster (“The Book of Illusions”): Azenhas do Mar, Portugal

The postmodern author and director Paul Auster spent some time in this spacious villa in Lisbon while filming “The Inner Life of Martin Frost.” His works are influenced by psychoanalysis and transcendentalism; therefore, some recurring themes are coincidence, failure and metafiction. This holiday house is surrounded by the magnificent gardens and is close in proximity to the 19th-century architectural monuments of Sintra, which has resulted in its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors may easily get carried away by the beautiful sites, especially the castle of Quinta da Regaleira: a romantic palace with luxurious park, that features lakes, grottoes and fountains.   

Carl Zuckmayer (“The Captain of Köpenick”)Saas-Fee, Switzerland

The famous German writer and playwright Zuckmayer shuttled between Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the U.S. throughout his life. His play, “The Captain of Köpenick,” was a smash success, but like his other plays it became censored during World War II. Following the War, Zuckmayer settled down in Saas-Fee, Switzerland where he bought this luxurious wooden chalet in Zermatt. The breathtaking alpine scenery there probably inspired him to continue writing and this chalet is also a perfect place in which one can quietly read for hours on end.

Not so apolitical after all …

… The University Bookman: Not Only Narnia: Lewis as Political Thinker.

Both books, in the end, open Lewis’s intellectual world to us and invite us to enter the conversation. Indeed, as McGrath writes, “Half a century after his death, the process of receiving and interpreting Lewis has still only begun.” In the same spirit, Dyer and Watson write that they hope their book “will contribute in some way to the conversation, still in its beginning stages, about Lewis’s surprising legacy in the world of politics and political thought.”

Recommended …

… Book review: 'Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners,' unforgettable free-verse poems for teens | The Kansas City Star. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hmm …

… John Keene: Elements of Literary Style | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Just get it down as best you can. Any style you may have will be manifest.Working at a style is like trying to be hip.

In case you wondered …

What Happens to Your Body on No Sleep | Outside Online. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The consequences of chronic sleep deprivation are far worse than one sleepless night. But the decision to pull an all-nighter just once can leave some serious damage in its wake.
 I once stayed awake for something on the order of 40 straight hours (I had deadlines to meet).  When I finally hit the sack I was surprised at how long it took for me to fall asleep and  how short a time I slept (about five hours). I was young, though, and my normal sleeping pattern soon returned.

Good for her …

… Tracy K. Smith, America’s Poet Laureate, Is a Woman With a Mission. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden,)
“More than anything now, I’m looking for the kind of silence that yields clarity,” she told me. “I’m interested in the way our voices sound when we dip below the decibel level of politics.”

A profile in courage …

 work and love – my online notebook since ALS. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

What has been the hardest issue in my ALS journey, so painfully sad, was the losing of my voice, which has recently progressed at breakneck speed as if to say.: Well if you have something final to say,  say it NOW. And I said it. I told everyone within reach that l loved them. I sang something for my sister that might with some good will resemble Happy Birthday. 

Not so much these days …

… The Stillness and Silence of Mass. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The word is a thing of mystery, so volatile that it van­ishes almost on the lip, yet so powerful that it decides fates and determines the meaning of existence. A frail structure shaped by fleeting sound, it yet contains the eternal: truth. Words come from within, rising as sounds fashioned by the organs of a man’s body, as expressions of his heart and spirit. He utters them, yet he does not create them, for they already existed independently of him. One word is related to another; together they form the great unity of language, that empire of truth-forms in which a man lives.
The current Mass is rather too busy to promote reflection, I fear.

Hmm …

… Study: People with less political knowledge think they know a lot about politics.

“The Dunning-Kruger effect holds that individuals with little knowledge about a topic will be, paradoxically, the most confident that they know a lot about the topic. Knowledgeable individuals will also discount their knowledgeability,” explained study author Ian Anson, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Real knowledge makes one aware of how much more there is to know.

For your listening pleasure …

Leopold Stokowski was born on this date in 1882. Ottorino Respighi died on this date in 1936.

Crime and poetry …

… 26 Crime Writing Poets | CrimeReads. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A sort of autobiography …

… Freeman Dyson’s Life, Through His Letters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
“Maker of Patterns” is not autobiography. That would require something more than just the long letters reproduced here, occasionally annotated with italicized commentary. But these letters will delight any reader with their often contrarian observations. Dyson is an excellent witness, an acute observer of personality and human foibles. This volume should make any reader pine for a deep memoir.

Something tp think on …

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
— Albert Einstein, who died on this date in 1955

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Something to think on …

Faith is a never-ending pool of clarity, reaching far beyond the margins of consciousness. We all know more than we know we know.
— Thornton Wilder, born on this date in 1897

Appreciation …

… Clarify Me, Please, God of the Galaxies by Dana Gioia | Articles | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The sorrows of poets are legion, and their failures commonplace. Why does the case of Elizabeth Jennings deserve special consideration? Despite her worldly failures, her artistic career was a steady course of achievement. Jennings ranks among the finest British poets of the second half of the twentieth century. She is also England’s best Catholic poet since Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Free sample …

… “The Genius to Glue Them Together”: On René Girard and His Ideas - Los Angeles Review of Books.

he “Romantic lie” Girard attempts to dismantle is the myth of personal autonomy, the “authentic self” so dear to thinkers from Rousseau onward. The hero wants something, and it is really “he” who wants it — unaffected by others, as if he were not also a slave to public opinion and the approbation of friends and family. Girard saw an inevitable third in these transactions — the one who modeled the desire, who taught us to have it.

Listen in …

 Episode 265 – Jaime Hernandez – The Virtual Memories Show.

“Whenever I write Maggie & Hopey, they’re always looking at the past, always thinking back about what they were. I didn’t mean for it to be that way, but that’s what I do: ‘Remember when we were like that, well, we’re not like that anymore. . . .'”

Monday, April 16, 2018

Certainly modern …

… if not modernist: Robert Frost was a poet who turned prose into poetry and the everyday into the extraordinary. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Jerzy Kosinski

Jerzy Kosinski is not an author with whom I was familiar, despite his having won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1969. 

Over the past week, I've made my way through Steps, the collection for which Kosinski was recognized by the National Book Foundation (and the work for which he is most commonly associated today).  

I should say at the start that Steps is a hybrid: part novella, part short stories, the collection takes as its subject the sexual awakening of its unnamed protagonist, a university-aged student forced to navigate the repressive qualities an equally unnamed totalitarian state. The result is a work in which sexual relations become regulated: like financial currency, sex is subject to the edicts of a bureaucratic state. Kosinski's characters emerge as paranoid lovers, desensitized to their pursuits: everything functions as an exchange. 

But more than that: Steps, I thought, served as a reminder of the extent to which Stalinist states traded in rumor and reputation. On several occasions, characters are ruined as a result of association, of rumors traded about their backgrounds or love interests. Here, again, the result is a novella in which sex is regulated: Kosinski is clear that the act itself is subservient to laws and language regulating it. 

This is not a perfect collection, but Kosinski has certainly achieved something: as his central character evolves, so too do his sexual awakening. What starts with childish exploits ends with philosophical meditations on the limits of human arousal and the pain so often associated with pleasure. By the culmination of Steps, almost all sexual encounters in the book are tinged with a tragic quality, as if all that we can hope to do in our partnerships is identify a flicker of ourselves. This is one of the most bleak byproducts of the Stalinist state. 

Appreciation …

 Denis Johnson's legacy of grace evident in new, posthumous story collection - Chicago Tribune. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And the winners are …

 Announcement of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize Winners - The Pulitzer Prizes. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A panoramic rendering …

 EVOLUTION OF DESIRE by Cynthia L. Haven | Kirkus Reviews.

… Haven ably, even elegantly, synopsizes the central tenets of Girard’s beliefs, in particular his pioneering views on mimesis—a kind of updated version of Rousseau’s amour propre—the notion that the desires and violent conflicts that often spring from people have their root cause in the gregarious mimicking of others.

Then and now …

  1.  Addicted to Addiction - The American Interest.

Lemon begins in the 1530s, when “addiction” begins to appear in English to designate both distorted desire for wine or riches and properly exclusive, single-minded desire for Christ. In 1534 George Joye asks God to “make faste thye promises to thy servant which is addicte unto thy worshyppe.” For these Protestant writers, Catholics were “addict to their supersticyons,” whereas they should be “addict unto none but to christ,” “addicted to praiers,” to “the meaneynge of the scripture.” Lemon’s Protestant sources share a suspicion of anything too material, too embodied—fasting, kneeling—as if Catholic sacraments were the original substance abuse. Lemon quotes a translation of the Letter of St. Paul to Titus which opens, “I Paule my selfe the addict servant & obeyer, not of Moses lawe as I was once, but of God the father, and ambassador of his sonne Jesus Christ.” That Paul should be an addict is obvious to his English readers; the important question is to whom he ought addict himself. 

Sense and sensibility …

 Life Without a View Other than the Immediate One - Maverick Philosopher: Strictly Philosophical. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

If there's one word that sums up everything that's gone wrong since the war, it's Workshop. After Youth, that is.
— Kingsley Amis, born on this date in 1922

The bond of memory …

 Forgotten Poems #40: "There Is a Mystic Borderland".

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Continuing …

… "Cosmography" Uranus-1.

Uranus/Ouranos/Prometheus is the ninth section of Cosmography's ten parts.

Oh, and by the way …

 Broward School Violence: Cruz's Massacre Is Far From the Whole Story | RealClearInvestigations.

Meanwhile, murders, armed robberies and other violent felonies committed by children outside of schools have hit record levels, and some see a connection with what’s happening on school grounds. Since the relaxing of discipline, Broward youths have not only brazenly punched out their teachers, but terrorized Broward neighborhoods with drive-by shootingsgang rapeshome invasions and carjackings.
Broward County now has the highest percentage of “the most serious, violent [and] chronic”juvenile offenders in Florida, according to the county’s chief juvenile probation officer.

April Poetry at North of Oxford …

… “On This World Where the Anglo-Zanzibar War Erupted” by Eileen R. Tabios.

… Abandoned soliloquy by James Walton.

… Still by m.f. nagel.

… Teresa: Translator by Stephen Page.