Friday, March 23, 2018

Pulling no punches...

...I review a new book that merrily dives into surgery's bloody past: On the cutting edge

In case you wondered …

… Madness and civilization | The influences and output of Cormac McCarthy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Anyone who has read my review of The Road knows I am not a fan.

Window critter …

… Bird by Dorianne Laux : American Life in Poetry. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

On and on …

… A Never-Ending Poem Grows in the Netherlands | Travel | Smithsonian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something to think on …

A society that does not recognize that each individual has values of his own which he is entitled to follow can have no respect for the dignity of the individual and cannot really know freedom.
— Friedrich von Hayek, who died on this date in 1992


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Something to think on …

Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.
— Malcolm Muggeridge, born on this date in 1903

Not so non …

 Time to call 'In Cold Blood' fiction? - Richard Gilbert.

So now they DO know you're a dog ...

Years ago I wrote on here about a book called The Transparent Society by David Brin (I can't find the post).  The conceit was that with the Internet everything will be visible so no one really has to worry about their privacy -- no one has any.  The author didn't really predict social media interactions, and people giving information away, but the end the result is the same.

This relates to the paranoia about Facebook, etc. because you are giving information away everywhere on the Internet -- with every search you do on Google or other places, every website you visit, every time you buy over the Internet.  It isn't just one single website that you have to be worried about -- each of them tracks you if they can, and even if they can't through your privacy settings you visits are often tracked by central advertising agencies -- which then decide which ads to serve to you.

So in other words, the old joke that "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog" isn't really relevant anymore.  Your information is tracked. diced and sold, and you can't call it back.

Once upon a time …

… When Frank Lloyd Wright Designed a Bookstore. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Even though most of Wright’s works have been obsessively catalogued by scholars, information on Browne’s Bookstore was difficult to find. From a website that sells windows and lamp patterns modeled on Wright’s I gleaned that for the bookstore, Wright had replicated the windows he used for the children’s playroom in his home. A clearer picture started to emerge only after I searched through scans of century-old newspapers, flipped through out-of-print memoirs, and made a trek to the Fine Arts 

Reappraisal …

… The Popular Connoisseur | by Richard Dorment | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, dave Lull.)

In most of his articles, books, lectures, and broadcasts from the late 1920s onward Clark synthesized formalist and iconographical approaches to the study of art with historical understanding to create a method of inquiry that is uniquely his. He first asks who, what, when, and where the work was made, then questions why and under what circumstances the artist made it—and, crucially, how it was understood by those who first saw it. Clark always relates an artwork to its historical precedents and assesses the degree to which it conforms to or departs from earlier representations of the same subject.

Withdrawing …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Blogging Note: Blogger, Facebook, Twitter et al.

Something to return to …

… First Known When Lost: A Poem.

Remembering …

 Human Rights Day: A poem about Sharpeville by Dennis Brutus. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Meanwhile, there's this from Newsweek.

Further evidence in support of the Original Sin hypothesis.

Evergreen …

In ‘Godsong,’ a New Poem That’s 2,000 Years Old. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
Thoreau took it with him to Walden Pond. Himmler carried a copy in his pocket. Whitman supposedly kept his under his pillow as he lay dying. Gandhi declared it to be his guide — as did his assassin, Nathuram Godse, who carried it with him to the gallows.

Q&A …

… Ferlinghetti speaks out at 99, his voice as vital as ever - San Francisco Chronicle. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

“As a poet,” he says with a laugh, “I don’t deal in reality.”

More about Masha Ivashintsova …

 Found: 30,000 Photographs by the ‘Russian Vivian Maier’ | Smart News | Smithsonian: Masha Ivashintsova. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Take the tour …

… The National Museum of Scotland can be toured via Google StreetView | Digital meets Culture. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Simply devastating

… ‘Great Kanto, 1923’ – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Good for him …

… Yes, Jordan Peterson Really Is That Smart.

As you might expect, controversy has followed, most recently having to do with a negative review about his book. In response to a New York Review of Books essay by the Indian novelist and essayist Pankaj Mishra titled, “Jordan Peterson & Fascist Mysticism,” Peterson tweeted at Mishra: “And you call me a fascist? You sanctimonious prick. If you were in my room at the moment, I’d slap you happily.”
I thought the Mishra piece was terrible and wondered why NYRB had published it. Niall Ferguson recently threatened to sue Mishra for libel after he accused Ferguson of racism in a piece he wrote for the London Review of Books.  
For what it’s worth, Peterson doesn’t see himself as a conservative, so much as a “terrified traditionalist” who generally believes in exercising caution over endorsing sweeping or radical cultural changes.
Sounds like me.

Something to think on …

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who died on this date in 1832

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A sonnet and some questions …

Hmm …

… The Advice Columnists Who Prescribe Literature as Medicine | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I presume you would first have to have the necessary problems.

Pilgrims …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): The Clerkenwell Tales by Peter Ackroyd.

Ackroyd has also written a biography of Chaucer.

The times they are a changing...and/or we really don't remember right.

Hazleton was another former coal mining town slipping into decline until a wave of Latinos arrived. It would not be an overstatement to say a tidal wave. In 2000 Hazleton’s 23,399 residents were 95 percent non-Hispanic white and less than 5 percent Latino. By 2016 Latinos became the majority, composing 52 percent of the population, while the white share plunged to 44 percent.
This article, partially profiling Hazleton PA, is from National Geographic's race issue.  There is a quote later on too:
White Hazletonians consistently recalled a city that was “close-knit, quiet, obedient, honest, harmless, and hardworking” and described newcomers (Latinos) as “loud, disobedient, manipulative, lawless, and lazy.”  
The Hazletonians interviewed are wrong.  Interesting how they falsely glorify those days.  

Hazleton has always been a pit during my lifetime -- over many years.  My parents were fron there, and couldn't wait to flee.  I still go back to visit relatives.  

Hazleton was a mining city.  It fell apart in post WWII - when the mines started to close and strip mining took over.  The strip mines required many fewer people, and Hazleton had no other industry.  It was a depressed place for many years following.  

Even before that it was a harsh town -- my dad used to tell the story of his mother's first husband dying in the mines one day and the workers simply brought his body back to her porch, left him there, and that was that. 

Getting at the truth …

As If!  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Appiah considers another type of idealization that he calls “counter-normative”: thinking or acting as if a moral principle is true although we know it isn’t. He believes we do this when we treat certain prohibitions—against murder or torture, for example—as moral absolutes. His view is that strictly, there are exceptions to any such rule, but it may be better to treat it as exceptionless. In that way we will be sure to avoid unjustified violations, without countervailing risk, since “it is remarkably unlikely that I will ever be in one of those situations where it might be that murder was permissible (and even less likely that I will ever be in one where it is required).” Appiah adds that sometimes the advantage of the fiction will depend on its acceptance not by an individual but by a community. Perhaps the strict rule against making false promises would be an example, since even if it is not universally obeyed, the general belief that it is generally accepted encourages people to trust one another.

Something to think on …

Despair is the only genuine atheism.
— Jean Paul, born on this date in 1763

Listen in …

… Episode 261 – Robert Weil – The Virtual Memories Show.

“Translation editing is all about the idiom.”

Explications welcome …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): “After great pain, a formal feeling comes”.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Agatha Christie

Frank writes below about an Agatha Christie biography.  Coincidentally I have been rereading her books, they are very inexpensive through Amazon Kindle and If you need really good entertainment you can do far worse than her books.  

The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Ten Little Soldiers, The Secret Adversary are so remarkably well written, with characters and plots that are simply engrossing, and her style is very clean and almost sparse, like Elmore Leonard sparse, far moreso than I remembered.  She was an innovator in many ways too, so if you haven't read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd I would encourage to to do that too.

Warning: There is casual racism throughout which I also forgot or never noticed originally.  It is shocking now.  That was the era however.  

LAST Minute deadline ...

for the Sewanee Writers' Conference

Hear, hear …

… Instapundit — BACK TO THE FUTURE.

In praise of Laurence Sterne …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Tears, Fancy Cakes and Curry'.

Mirror images …

… Schiller’s Mary Stuart: a play of mighty opposites for two great actresses | The Book Haven.

One of my complaints about contemporary theater has to do with how little repertory theater there is. Conductors make their reputations by interpreting great works from the past. Actors and directors ought to do the same. This problem also afflicts ballet. How often does one see a performance of The Rite of Spring or Debussy's Jeux? Instead, you get Mendelssohn's violin concerto revised so it can be danced to. If you want any live acquaintance with the music, you have to settle for hearing it in the concert hall. I would love to be able to actually see plays by Pirandello, Giraudoux, Anouilh, Hauptmann, J.B. Priestley  Enid Bagnold. And there are many more than that.

Well, this looks interesting …

Here's some more information:

Years after he changed the landscape of American filmmaking with 1973’s THE EXORCIST, director, co-writer and legendary storyteller William Friedkin moves from fiction to fact with his new documentary, THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH. What began as a brief conversation between Friedkin and Father Gabrielle Amorth – the head Exorcist for the Diocese of Rome for over 30 years – as two professionals who knew of each other’s work soon transformed into an once-in-a- lifetime opportunity, as Amorth agreed Friedkin could film an exorcism ceremony. It would be the ninth exorcism for a painfully afflicted woman, Cristina (a pseudonym), who had already been under Father Amorth’s care – and it would be filmed by Friedkin alone, with no other crew allowed, no light other than the natural light in the room and a small digital camera-and-mic unit that could capture the ritual and its revelations.
Combining the startling and singular footage from Cristina’s exorcism with interviews from priests and psychologists, neurosurgeons and non-believers, Friedkin guides us on a journey into the twilight world between the boundaries of what we know and what we don’t with a singular and startling guide in the form of the urbane, charming and self-deprecatingly funny Father Amorth, a man who laughs in the face of the Devil both figuratively and literally. Combining Friedkin’s past memories and present observations with archival footage and new interviews – as well as also presenting what may be the only real exorcism ceremony captured on film – THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH is a startling and surprising story of the religion, the ritual and the real-world victims involved in possession and exorcism.

Bottoms up …

… The Time I Drank with Borges in a Scottish Pub | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

His deep voice boomed, beautifully controlled, almost theatrical. The accent was slight: his grandmother had been English, and he had grown up with the language. He read Shakespeare and Wells, Stevenson and Chesterton, Wilde, and any number of obscure poets in English. “I adore Chidiock Tichborne,” he said to me. “Don’t you?” He could recite long passages of Anglo-Saxon verse from memory.

Music and philosophy …

 BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs, John Gray. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Perfect for the waiting room …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): “Spring” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

It's everywhere …

… PETER HITCHENS: The 'patriotic' thought police came for Corbyn. You are next - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

The State, that cawing rookery of committees and subcommittees.
— V. S. Pritchett, who died on this date in 1997

Monday, March 19, 2018

What Agatha knew …

 Agatha Christie’s life rivaled the immortal mysteries she created.

Hmm …

The Classics Scholar Redefining What Twitter Can Do. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
“Many translations import misogynistic language when it isn't there in the Greek,” she wrote. “In [Robert] Fagles’ best-selling version, ‘You sluts -- the suitors’ whores!’ [Stanley] Lombardo: ‘Sluts’. [Richmond] Lattimore: ‘Creatures’. [Robert] Fitzgerald: ‘Sluts’. [Alexander] Pope’s is the best: ‘nightly prostitutes to shame’.”
I guess I'm insufficiently sensitive to nuance. I just read a couple of translations of these passages online and all of them struck me as pretty gruesome. It is obvious that Telemachus does not like these ladies and hasn't for a long time. The women don't seem to put up any struggle. They don't say anything. Maybe the Greek text is less "misogynistic" than some translations suggest, but death by slow strangulation hardly suggests that Telemachus had much respect for the women, however delicate the language may be. The treatment of Melanthius doesn't show a lot of respect for men, either. 


… Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Blogging Note.

Immersive Music

Little colored bubbles fltoat ever higher, growing larger as they rise toward the sky. People drift into a circle of six towering screens, wearing high-tech 3-D holographic visors, like moon-walkers taking their first steps in an alien atmosphere.They reach out their arms and use their thumbs and forefingers to pinch the air in front of them. Each time they do, new bubbles appear, and each one emits a single, precise musical tone.The tones combine and dissipate; there is the sound of crickets chirping, and waves of white noise.This is “Bloom: Open Space,” an art and music installation created by the influential producer and music pioneer Brian Eno and his frequent collaborator, the musician and software designer Peter Chilvers.

Because he was really good?

… Why Billy Wilder is Deemed the Greatest Screenwriter of All Time. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Meanwhile, in World Politics ...

Busy Schedule Forces Vladimir Putin To Move Up Election Win A Couple Days Early
It's from The Onion but whither satire in today's age?

Restoration …

… A Review of Scott Freeman’s Saving Tarboo Creek | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

A local band …

 Roman Music – Roman's ruthless energy is not to be missed.

Jim Roman, the drummer, is the greeter at 8 AM Mass at my parish. Just thought I'd give his band a plug.

Very interesting indeed …

… Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard – The Movie! | The Book Haven.

Listen in …

 About Last Night | Or is it four?

Taking on the Bard …

… Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Shakespeare via Cornwell.

Beautiful …

… A Garden for Moonlight - 36.08. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

No mean feat …

… Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Reading along with John Adams.

In case you wondered …

… Why Jewish History Is So Hard to Write. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… neither Abraham nor Moses is available as a starting point for a modern historian, for the simple reason that neither of them can be proved to have existed. Indeed, for a scholar who subscribes to critical and scientific canons of evidence, it is quite certain that they did not exist, since their stories are full of things that could not possibly have happened: the voices from Heaven, the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea. Instead, the secular historian must find a starting point that is well attested in non-Biblical evidence, and work forward from there. Already, in this decision, Jewish memory is separated from Jewish history; the latter must study the former, but must not rely on it.
Hard to get more parochial than this. These people couldn't have existed because the miraculous is impossible. Presumably, all mystical experiences are also impossible — unless we want to psychologize them in some intellectually fashionable manner. I'll stick with Hamlet:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hmm …

… The voices of ancient women - Medieval manuscripts blog. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

I wonder if there are any fragments recording things other than complaints and petitions.

Something to think on …

Broke is a temporary condition, poor is a state of mind.
— Richard Francis Burton, born on this date in 1821

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The hard problem …

 Maverick Philosopher: The Problem of Consciousness and Galen Strawson's Non-Solution. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Mark thy calendar …




in association with PEN America

will present a poetry reading

on Gun Control and Sexual Harassment

We would love it if you would read for five minutes,

your own work, or another’s, or a combination of both

Tuesday, March 20, 7-8:30 PM

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

     This Event Is Free


Email or text me: 215.808.9507





in association with PEN America

will present a Poetry Reading

on Gun Control and Sexual Harassment

Hosted by Leonard Gontarek


     This Event Is Free

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

If you would like to read a poem
in the open reading, sign up in


If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta’s opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.

Brian Turner

Cops and agents …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Deep Undercover: Former Legendary FBI Undercover Agent Joseph Pistone Introduces Netflix True Crime Series.

Worth remembering …

 The Presumption of Innocence: Not Just for the Courtroom | The Libertarian Institute. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It has great bearing on justice.

But is it art?

… Portraits: No Politics, Just Pictures — Maureen Mullarkey. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In love with Locke …

… “Essay on ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’ ” | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Putting words in his mouth …

… Why do we love to quote (and misquote) Albert Einstein? | Aeon Essays. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

… consider a statement prominently attributed to Einstein in the concluding section of a current British Museum exhibition on religion, ‘Living with Gods’: ‘The most beautiful and profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science.’ Absent from The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, it seems to have been derived in the decades after Einstein’s death from the following comment, in his handwriting, spoken by him in 1932 for a recording issued by the German League for Human Rights. Translated from Einstein’s original German it reads: ‘The most beautiful and profound experience is the feeling of mystery. It underlies religion as well as all deeper aspirations in art and science.’ Note the most significant modification: ‘mystery’ in 1932 has become ‘mystical’ by 2018.
Attaching oneself to authority is a nice way of avoiding having to think for yourself.  As Aquinas pointed out, the weakest form of argument is the argument from authority. Of course, he immediately cited  the authority of Boethius in support of his assertion (I somehow think the irony was not lost on him).

Good advice …

… The Courage to Be Yourself: E.E. Cummings on Art, Life, and Being Unafraid to Feel – Brain Pickings. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

 A good way to start is by making sure you don;'talk in ideological boilerplate and don't get your courage by joining a crowd. As Kierkegaard put it:

"[A] crowd in its very concept is the untruth, by reason of the fact that it renders the individual completely impenitent and irresponsible, or at least weakens his sense of responsibility by reducing it to a fraction. Observe that there was not one single soldier that dared lay hands upon Caius Marius -- this was an instance of truth. But given merely three or four women with the consciousness or the impression that they were a crowd, and with hope of a sort in the possibility that no one could say definitely who was doing it or who began it -- then they had courage for it. What a falsehood! The falsehood first of all is the notion that the crowd does what in fact only the individual in the crowd does, though it be every individual. For 'crowd' is an abstraction and has no hands: but each individual has ordinarily two hands, and so when an individual lays his two hands upon Caius Marius they are the two hands of the individual, certainly not those of his neighbor, and still less those of the crowd which has no hands...For every individual who flees for refuge into the crowd, and so flees in cowardice from being an individual (who had not the courage to lay his hands upon Caius Marius, nor even to admit that he had it not), such a man contributes his share of cowardliness to the cowardliness which we know as the 'crowd.'

In case you wondered …

… Seven Books of Poetry and Where to Read Them in Portland's Lents District. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Inquirer reviews …

… David Mamet's 'Chicago': The 1920s, roaring, with bullets and language flying.

… Knausgaard's 'Winter': Dark but brilliant surprises - and a daughter is born.

Steve Fraser's 'Class Matters': Why we ignore class to our peril.

See also: Ian Buruma brings 'A Tokyo Romance' to the Free Library Thursday.

I haven't read A Tokyo Romance, but I did review  Buruma's The China Lover some years ago.

As Tax Day nears …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): 18 March 1766 - Tax Repealed.

Well, as has been pointed out often, we rebelled against taxation with out representation. Maybe, beforehand, we should have looked into what taxation with representation was like.

Usage Note - Nonprofit or Non-Profit?

 The AP Stylebook has Nonprofit while this site has some comments on which:
[T}he people at AskOxford, an email interface for addressing the OED, noted the use of the hyphen in the OED as a traditional respect for the term as originally developed, while the “new” American version has more quickly accepted the term as nonprofit.
Technically, however, there seems to be a rather clear and definite solution. Grammarians would likely argue that use of the term in it’s hyphenated form indicates its placement as an adjective, describing a following noun. For example, the non-profit business model is growing in its popularity. In its unhyphenated form, the term is used as a noun. Together, they could be used as follows: the non-profit business model is used as a foundation for many of the nonprofits across the globe.
But do you trust a site about grammar with an " it's " signifying possessive?  Hmmm ...

What is Truth?

From Pericles to Now - the tribes define their own.  
(NOTE THE LINK is to google's links to the article because of the WSJ paywall.)

Skier + Horse + Rope + Course

Skijoring in Big Sky, MT 3-17-18

Something to think on …

In reading, a lonely quiet concert is given to our minds; all our mental faculties will be present in this symphonic exaltation.
— Stephane Mallarmé, born on this date in 1842

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Birthday …

… Paul Davis On Crime: The Ugliest Man In Hollywood: On This Day in History Comedian Shemp Howard, One Of the Three Stooges, Was Born.

Inner conflict...

Happy Saint Patrick's Day …

When volcanos awaken …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Mount Pinatubo, Sonnet #396.

Anniversary …

… Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Colonial America: John Adams, British evacuation, and a question of priorities and loyalties.

A Dylan musical …

 Superior native reviews “Girl From the North Country” - Perfect Duluth Day. (Hat tip, dave Lull.)

Kudos …

 NYLON — The 10 Best Femme-Fronted Bands Changing The Face Of Punk Rock.

My step-granddaughters — Emma and Sophie Hendry — are each in one of these bands, Emma in Krimewatch and Sophie in Firewalker.

Something to think on …

The past is our ultimate privacy; we pile it up, year by year, decade by decade, it stows itself away, with its perverse random recall system.
— Penelope Lively, born on this date in 1933

Heartfelt appreciation …

… These Days I Miss John Updike, a Remote and Noble Male Mentor - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

At first Updike bristled at the subject matter of my thesis — I was writing about fathers and children of divorce in his stories and Richard Ford’s novels — warning me not to assume that his fiction was memoir (as he warned many others). But he gradually warmed and, on and off, became a faithful and gracious correspondent, a gentle and perhaps unintentional mentor.
See also: "Why time isn’t up for Updike" - Google Search.

The origin of ideas...

Friday, March 16, 2018

Visual and verbal …

 Is It Worth 1,000 Words? Mark Sarvas on Writing Art in Fiction | Literary Hub. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unlike music, painting gives us something visual to hang on to but, for all that, it strikes me as only marginally less challenging to write about, moving something from its medium of strength—the visual, the seen—to a compromised secondary language that is forever striving to create, at best, an impression of an original that is always fated to fall short.

Course reset …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): John Adams.

I was at a luncheon for David McCullough when his biography of Adams came out. He spoke of Adams as if he were talking about an old and dear friend

Violating the spirit of the book ...

One of the year’s most anticipated Broadway plays — the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” — faces a legal challenge from Ms. Lee’s estate, which is suing over Mr. Sorkin’s version of the story.
In a complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Alabama, the estate argued that Mr. Sorkin’s adaptation deviates too much from the novel, and violates a contract, between Ms. Lee and the producers, which stipulates that the characters and plot must remain faithful to the spirit of the book.
A chief dispute in the complaint is the assertion that Mr. Sorkin’s portrayal of the much beloved Atticus Finch, the crusading lawyer who represents a black man unjustly accused of rape, presents him as a man who begins the drama as a naïve apologist for the racial status quo, a depiction at odds with his purely heroic image in the novel.

Anniversary …

… Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): The Scarlet Letter - 16 March 1850.

Sociopathic con artist …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Peace, Love And Homicide: A Look Back At The Unicorn Killer In Philadelphia.

Something to think on …

The ways of Providence cannot be reasoned out by the finite mind ... I cannot fathom them, yet seeking to know them is the most satisfying thing in all the world.
— Selma Lagerlöf, who died on this date in 1940

A certain slant of light …

… Winter’s Immutable Poetics | Review 31. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The only artist who ever painted that certain slant of winter light with such immaculate verisimilitude as Monet was Brueghel. His 1565 Netherlandish painting The Hunters in the Snow encapsulates the very feel of winter, when fingers grow numb and lungs are pained from the cold.

And the winners are …

… National Book Critics Circle: National Book Critics Circle Announces Winners for 2017 Awards - Critical Mass Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Vintage appreciation …

 The Music of the Beatles | by Ned Rorem | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

WHY are the Beatles superior? It is easy to say that most of their competition (like most everything everywhere) is junk. More important, their superiority is consistent: each of the songs from their last three albums is memorable. The best of these memorable tunes—and the best is a large percentage (Here, There and Everywhere, Good Day Sunshine, Michelle, Norwegian Wood)—compare with those by composers from great eras of song: Monteverdi, Schumann, Poulenc.

Never mind …

 The Consciousness Deniers | by Galen Strawson | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The facts of the Denial are before us, and we have an account of how they arose: first, from a mistaken interpretation of behaviorism; then, from a mistake about what a naturalistic outlook requires. But I believe we still lack a satisfactory explanation of the Denial as long as we lack a satisfactory explanation of how these mistakes could have been made. How could anybody have been led to something so silly as to deny the existence of conscious experience, the only general thing we know for certain exists? 
The explanation is as ancient as it is simple. As Cicero says, there is “no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it.” Descartes agrees, in 1637: “Nothing can be imagined which is too strange or incredible to have been said by some philosopher.” Thomas Reid concurs in 1785: “There is nothing so absurd which some philosophers have not maintained.” Louise Antony puts it like this in 2007: “There is… no banality so banal that no philosopher will deny it.”


… Book/DVD/Record Review | Town Topics. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

For dealers and folks who pay $25. Open to public (free) Saturday. Half price Monday.
Box day Tuesday.

Phonies …

 The Ignoble Lie by Patrick J. Deneen | Articles | First Things.

… The ruling class denies that they really are a self-perpetuating elite that has not only inherited certain advantages but also seeks to pass them on. To mask this fact, they describe themselves as the vanguard of equality, in effect denying the very fact of their elevated status and the deleterious consequences of their perpetuation of a class divide that has left their less fortunate countrymen in a dire and perilous condition. Indeed, one is tempted to conclude that their insistent defense of equality is a way of freeing themselves from any real duties to the lower classes that are increasingly out of geographical sight and mind. Because they repudiate inequality, they need not consciously consider themselves to be a ruling class. Denying that they are deeply self-interested in maintaining their elite position, they easily assume that they believe in common kinship—so long as their position is unthreatened. The part of the “noble lie” that once would have horrified the elites—the claim of common kinship—is irrelevant; instead, they resist the inegalitarian part of the myth that would then, as now, have seemed self-evident to the elites as well as the underclass. Today’s underclass is as likely to recognize its unequal position as Plato’s. It is elites that seem most prone to the condition of “false

Oh, my …

 Up from Orphanism - The Catholic Thing.

… exactly what this pop sociology has to do with Christianity’s greatest prayer is unclear. If his point is that it’s hard to believe in THE Father if you have no faith in your own (biological) daddy, I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything quite so jejune.

In case you wondered …

 Why Agatha Christie Is Still the Queen of Crime | CrimeReads. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It is simply clever, this inversion of the cliché, but it is so much more than that. This twist of Agatha’s upon the femme fatale is also the truth: women like Arlena are not so much predators as prey. And so the twist slots the whole book into position. It solves the puzzle because it solves the character: that is why it is satisfying.
As Jule Styne said, “It's easy to be clever. But the really clever thing is to be simple.”

A varied life …

 Informal Inquiries (2nd edition): Musings on finite time well-spent doing one thing well.

Chesterton, Johnson and Unseriousness and Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day!  (3.14 etc. get it?)

Sometime ago I posted about seriousness and unseriousness, and God and Plato and a book by Fr. Schall.  I went looking for it and came up with this review instead about the book, The Unseriousness of Human Affairs:
Schall's book is a series of essays that revolve around a basic question: How ought we to live our lives? He never tries to offer an answer, but he provides guidance in an array of areas, as evidenced by the book's subtitle: “Teaching, Writing, Playing, Believing, Lecturing, Philosophizing, Singing, Dancing.” To these one could add Writing and Receiving Letters, Watching Sports, and Wasting Time