Showing posts from February, 2011

From the Article Cited Before

And for my own commonplace book:

“To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda or even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery; it means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.”
--Cardinal Emmanuel Célestin Suhard, Archbishop of Paris 1940-1949

LoA: Jack London

"To Build a Fire," Jack London

If you haven't already encountered it, I would consider this one of your "must read" stories.  Like several others I may make of point of later, this is a staple of the literary reader.  Much has stemmed from it and it is just a darned good story.

Lenten Reading Plans

Any Catholics out there have any?

I haven't figured mine out yet.  But it appears that Pope Benedict has a new volume in his Jesus books--perhaps that will make a good, if somewhat daunting read.

Amazing Sensible, Sensitive Advice

"Why I Avoid Both the Catholic Left and Right"

Thanks to Dylan for this link from Facebook.

Advice for everyone who engages in theological discussion:

My response had basically been: If the discussions frustrate you, DON’T ENGAGE IN THEM. Figure out what you’re for, not what you’re against. The road to Christ is lonely, long, and almost unbelievably rocky, and though it takes place in community, we have to also walk it alone, often in great anguish and distress, often for decades if not our whole lives. Figure out what you are for--not what you're against.  The statement is such a basic Christian attitude, or at least should be.  Christianity would be better for it.  Christians would be better for it.  Society at large would be better for it.  Mother Teresa did this as she tended the poor in India.

Gunter Grass, In Case You're Interested

An excerpt from The Box

A book that seems to have an intriguing premise, if you care that much about Grass personally. I cannot conceive of why so many writers think their own lives make for particularly interesting reading.  On the other hand, I have to admit to being captivated by this beginning.

Thucydides Hates "Realists"

Surprising Houellebecq

La Carte et la Territoire reviewed

I'm surprised by much of this review.  Not the Houellebecq I'm accustomed to--at least according to this review.

Ethiopian Stone Cutters

Abraham Verghese Cutting for Stone

This is a book I've looked at on and off, this review makes me think I need to do more than look.

Audio Ulysses

The (Lack of) Joy of Céline

Djuna Barnes Reminisces

Moyers interviews JKG

"I contain multitudes. . ."

Matchmaker, Matchmaker. . .

Two Cities in the Same Place

Keats Tribute

Loren Eisley Poem

"The Shore Haunter" by Loren Eisley

Talk about cultivating a sense of wonder--the thought of the lake shores on which mammoths once wandered.

Another Review of Next

Next reviewed

I liked it better than the reviewer at Hungry Like the Woolf.  I liked it a great deal, but the reviewer makes some good points.

One by Rosetti

Two from Zeno

See what happens when you're away from blogging for a day?

Zeno's Conscience 1

Zeno's Conscience 2

A book I have long meant to take up along with Robert Musil's incomplete epic.

Philosophy is Supposed to Be Difficult

A Book-Length Poem

Why the View from Mordor?

E-book Piracy

Who Do You Consider the 10 Greatest Poets

You are asked to name the 10 greatest poets

My list according to their rules:

Li Po
Tu Fu

Now to order them

Oh well. I can't.  Let's just say this forms the top ten in my estimation. And I have to say that it is a quickly considered top ten--not one with great thought behind it.  So. . . perhaps I should think more and post again.  Though I probably won't.

Isaac Asimov--A Mentor and a Hero

This review of The End of Eternity, reminded me of my debt to Isaac Asimov.

In my youngest days, the works of Isaac Asimov--particularly The Foundation Trilogy sparked and fed a continual sense of wonder. In my convention-going days, I was able to meet and talk with the Legend and found that he was an ordinary, affable, congenial, pleasant companion for short stints.  (I cannot comment on more because I only spent a short time with him--dinner or such--each time we met--but I always enjoyed our conversation and interaction).  One could do worse than to revisit the works of Mr. Asimov--or if interested in exploring science fiction to visit them for the first time.

Reading the 100 best, #97

Best American Fiction 1891-1991

How to Keep the Marginalia

Marginalia in the electronic age

At first I thought, well this is a no-brainer, one can easily annotate most texts under most e-book readers.  But the question is not the making of the marginalia, but the preservation of them under the rapidly changing protocols of internet delivery, etc.  This is essentially a librarian/curator problem and as such, it is fascinating.

Most Useful Cultural Archives

Most Useful Cultural Archives

A nice list of where to go online for some really spectacular information.  Also via Books Inq.  I think.

Almost Surfable Lake Superior

What's With Elizabeth C?

Elizabeth Costello reviewed. This encapsulates my experience as well, but says it much, much better than I could do.

Ten Greatest Philosophers

Ten greatest philosophers

Rene Descartes and John Locke are the only ones referenced from the Modern Era.  I'd be interested in the opinions of any itenirant philosophers out there.

An Enthusiasm for Ms. Mantel

While I liked Wolf Hall, I was not nearly so enthusiastic as Frank is in this review.  I found her use of third person at times extremely thorny and confusing, and felt that we lingered a trifle in places where I would have preferred to speed on.  On the other hand, I enjoyed it greatly while I read it.  I must say though, that it has no lingering power with me.  Nothing from it sticks in my head as particularly provocative or evocative after having read it nearly a year ago.  This is, ultimately, how I judge the value of what I have read.

Who Doesn't Want to Be Happy?

Exploring Happiness by Sissela Bok

If there is a place where I am most often deficient in my reading of works in translation, it certainly must be works in translation.  This one sounds like a wonderful intellectual feast.  I hope I can find it in the local library soon.

(Although, it is possible this is not a translation--still, the point holds.)

If You're Reading This in Central Ohio. . .


LoA Story of the Week--Just In Time for President's Day

Considering Elizabeth Bowen

The End of an Era?

"A From of Epitaph"

"A Form of Epitaph"  And before you read the last bit of commentary--see if you recognize the form.

Australian Literature: The Triumvirate

Notes on and a Translation of

Concerning Cornwell

The Follies of Science

"God and Gossip"

An evolutionary psychologist (ridiculous in any understanding of evolutionary principles--almost Lamarckian in its implications) tells us why humans are pathetic losers, but shouldn't look at themselves that way.

Arrian History

I don't have the Landmark Arrian, wasn't even aware of its availability.  Looks like I need to add a book to my list.

Murakami on Film

The Miracles of Leopold Bloom

From Ulysses

While I admire the whole book, probably my favorite portion is the Laestrygonians because of that magnificent walk through Dublin that doesn't culminate in the Gorgonzola sandwich, but certainly features it.

(Some/Most) Scientists Make Bad Philosophers

Facing the ex nihilo arguments of a physicist

I'll be the first to admit--I am also a bad philosopher.  The fact is, I'm just not that interested because much philosophy flies in the face of experience and therefore is immediately invalidated in the real world.  I have no interest in any argument that does not address what is here, now, and real. be that state of mind, nature of the soul, or what makes for beauty.

Additionally, I was not trained in this way of reasoning, and for most scientists, it is a set of reasonings that lack anything on which to reason.  It is often, to me, like an endless series of Euclid's postulates, all of which I need to accept before I can accept the conclusion.

For example, Aquinas baldly states that reason is a positive good.  I must accept that to go farther with Aquinas.  But what if I don't.  What if I say that reason itself is neutral--that it is the purpose to which reason is but that makes the faculty itself good or bad?  There'…

Zooming into a Spiral Galaxy

Franzen Redux, or Is It More?

Model Home reviewed

Haiku Treasury Part III

An Elegy for Borders

The Lighter Side of ZA

Neeta Lyffe: Zombie Exterminator

Sound like it could be a romp.

Talking Thucydides

Literature and Literalism

Reading Is Overrated

Good Lovecraftian News

Guillermo del Toro to direct At the Mountains of Madness

We'll see if funding materializes, but if he handles it with the aplomb of The Orphanage and Pan's Labyrinth with a liberal sprinkling of Hellboy, we're likely to be in for a real treat.  The first Lovecraftian treat on film (other than the Lovecraft-in-name-only Reanimator.)

Poor H.P. suffers nearly as badly as E.A. Poe and Stephen King in the transition to the silver screen.  Consider such gems as Die, Monster Die!, The Shuttered Room, The Dunwich HorrorDagon was all right, but not much related to the story.  And probably the best Lovecraftian film, In the Mouth of Madness has precious little to do with anything H. P. penned.

Against Interpretation for Kafka

Icelandic Idyll

Through the Forest with Richard Jeffries

Great House

A review that helped me decide that it wasn't really so bad that I tried to read it twice and just couldn't manage.

Not that I found it bad or off-putting, I just couldn't get behind it in any way.  And now, I feel relieved of my duty to try to do so.

The Great Gatsby Game

More Colonial/Revolutionary Plantations

Chamber Four Begins Publication

Notice of a New Online Literary Magazine--Chamber Four

Received notice in e-mail but have not yet had the chance to look through the whole thing.  Thought you might like to know.

"Leaving Town"

Mailer v. Vidal

Mailer v. Vidal

For those who thought incivility in public was a relatively new phenomenon.

A Delightful New Yorker Reprint

How to Make a great Novel into a Great Novel

Allegra Goodman v. Jonathan Franzen

Even from the brief description, it appears that I would need to look into the book by Ms. Goodman.  It sounds too good to be missed.

When people have sex in Freedom, heads bang on walls. In The Cookbook Collector it's a finger on the chest and then fade out. There are great flights of imagination in The Cookbook Collector – like the scene where George stumbles upon a collection of 17th-century manuscripts in the cabinets and ovens of a musty kitchen: "For a moment, he thought she was searching for the iodine, and then he saw them. Leather-bound, cloth-bound, quartos and folios, books of every size." 
I'll spare you the rest of that paragraph.  In all, it sounds to me like Goodman wins hands down.  So why so little acclaim--read the article to find out.

Escher's Waterfall

The Sculpture:

One to Add to My Collection

When I'm back in the business of buying books: The Ancient Near East

via Books Inq.

The Voynich Manuscript

The 400th Anniversary of the KJV

The 400th Anniversary of the KJV

With Shakespeare one of the great pearls of the English Language.  Admittedly there are problems with it as a translation--but given time and age, these are remarkably few.  And of course, most of us have not been trained to wrestle with the complexities of this made-for-reverence manifestation of Jacobean English.  But, it is worth your time.

A Book I'm Enjoying Despite Myself

Heart of the City--Ariel Sabar

Despite my own expectations, I'm slowly reading through and enjoying this compendium of true love stories sparked by a New York setting.

Henry's Queens Number Five

The Fifth Queen--Ford Madox Ford

Perhaps a palliative for those who succumb to frothing at the mouth over Wolf Hall (either succumbing to the critical approval or railing against the language and historicity).  The review makes this sound like a book worth taking up.

Frankenstein Continued

Frankenstein: Lost Souls reviewed

In general, I am NOT a fan of Dead Koontz.  I've like the Thomas books.  However, this series has always been a bit persuasive.  Perhaps I should consider it.

Middle Earth According to Mordor

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Acquainted with the Night considered

Somehow I missed this first time around--but it looks like the kind of book I could sympathize with.  Never much cared for morning, but love the dusk and night.

The Unmatched Georgette Heyer

Truffaut chats with Hitchcock

I Missed This Important Birthday, but Nigeness Did Not

Celebrating? Sax Rohmer

I'm not sure celebrate is exactly the word for encountering Mr. Rohmer's opus--if you can screen out the bigotry, the books do make for some occasionally entertaining reading.  And I suspect that without them Mr. Bond would not be amongst us.

Without Mr. Rohmer and Mr. Boothby, it is highly likely that SPECTRE would be a mere spectre of itself.

Continuing the 19th Century Apocalypse

Appreciating Henry James

The Bostonians 125th Anniversary

Hard to believe that anything by James would spark a scandal.  Edith Wharton, yes, James, particularly of this period. . . well, not so much.

In his inimitable way--this is what Twain had to say on the matter:

Mark Twain famously declared that “I would rather be damned to John Bunyan’s heaven than read [The Bostonians].” Later critics developed a keener appreciation.

J.F. Powers Still Speaks

Morte D'Urban considered

A marvelous, insightful, and delightful book.

Bi Feiyu on the Man Booker Asian Prize List

Science Discovers Chesterton

Outer Reaches of the Solar System

A Brown Dwarf or a Gas Giant in the Outer Reaches

This is tremendously interesting--in the outer reaches of the solar system.

Surfin' on Skis

You have to be in less than full possession of your faculties to consider something like this at Jaws.

I mean, what do you do when you wipe out?  Flip off the skies, grab them, and then try to swim to shore in ski boots?   At Jaws, that's insane.

(Thought it was Pipe, but label indicates that it's Jaws)

Fascinating Byways of Early America

Morality without Relgion

Morality without Religion--is it possible? 

Depends on what you mean? 

Is it sustainable--not sure that's been tested.

Darn! I Can't, So You May As Well

What We Can Learn about Today from Thucydides

Thucydides on American Foreign Policy

Wonderful reading.  A glance tells us why reading the classics is a good practice beyond the mere exercise for the mind.

The Apocalypse is Ever With Us--Soon and Late

Open Courses at NYU

What's Your English?

Edward Thomas looks for "Home"

"Home"-- Edward Thomas

Considering Hardy's Mayor

Three Dead Walnuts


Scariest Walkway in the World

I wouldn't want to be the one to seek out one scarier.  El Camino del Rey

Scientist Valentines

Preview of a Review

Picked up an absolutely delightful volume at the library.  Richard Parks On the Banks of the River of Heaven--a collection of short stories.  In the first three stories we have a tale about how the otter in the river of heaven made things better for the lovers who needed to cross the bridge of birds; how Kali Ma incarnates in the tv of a recently divorced man--she's looking for Shiva and he's supposed to show up here; and the tale of the man who married the mermaid and his son.

Haven't read enough to post a review, but this is light, airy, full of myth and fantasy.  The stories move quickly and they are utterly delightful.  This is the kind of collection that makes you feel good as you are reading it.

Writers--One in A Million

Missionaries in China

The City of Tranquil Light--Bo Caldwell

I've seen this book and have been undecided about its merits.  Picked it up, fondled it, gazed upon it.  But this review is enough to encourage me to read it.  Besides that I really love the title.

Ring Around Wagner

Classical Music and Intelligence

Classical Music and High Intelligence

Being a major fan,  I should hope that it were true.  But, I'm dubious.  Equally I'm dubious about the other side of the proposition.  And I will note that if you have a will to, you can learn to enjoy nearly any kind of music.  One would profit from reading the Stravinsky chapter of Jonah Lehrer's Proust Was a Neuroscientist.

GAN Motif I: Child Lost in the Bush

Poem of the Week: "The Bus to Ramallah"

"The Bus to Ramallah"--gorgeous, poignant, short and beautiful

A Comment on Multiculturalism

A rather rabid, but highly interesting comment on multiculturalism

Odd, I thought both Hallal and Kosher laws were, in fact, less cruel than normal slaughtering methods.  But I know nothing about the matter so I cannot say.

Note: I apologize--I am sometimes like a bull-dog when it comes to these issues, and so I post the following:

Kosher and Hallal

And I apologize in advance to any I may have offended by linking the two.  However, this, coming from an agricultural university seems to suggest that both Kosher and Hallal represent the most profound respect for and awareness of the animal to be slaughtered.  I am not an expert, but I wouldn't want to leave the field without presenting both sides.  I had always been taught that the Kosher laws were, in fact, laws to elevate humanity above the animals and to teach respect for the living things that themselves give life.  Not respect to the point of idolization, but respect to the point of reducing cruelty during an inherently brutal pr…

Happy St. Valentine's Day

And this day I am reminded of one of my sojourns in Dublin when I decided to talk from my hotel down Grafton Street to the northern border of St. Stephen's Green.  Because I had not done so before, I followed the street to the next major intersection and headed north--at this point only desiring a walk.  To my surprised, I found myself let out at Whitefriars Church (a church I had spent much time and energy tying to find on a previous trip, only to discover it closed.)  This is a Carmelite Church, and thus quite dear to my heart.  I went in because the church is reputed to have within the relics of St. Valentine--and sure enough there they were.  I spent some time there requesting the intercession of St. Valentine--and curiously, it appears, in celebration of his feast day, those prayers have been, if not answered, at least addressed.

This Is Not a Game--Walter Jon Williams

Walter Jon Williams gives us a fascinating look into the world of online role playing games and gamers.  We start with our protagonist Dagmar flying into Jakarta on her way out of India and back to the U.S..  Just as she does so a currency collapse in Indonesia sends Jakarta into chaos and she finds herself trapped in the city and virtually trapped in her hotel room.  But, she's still connected.  Using those connections and getting the help of literally hundreds, if not thousands of fans, she bests the mercenaries hired by her employer to spring her from Jakarta.

Back in the states one of her best friends from college is murdered and his death caught on film by one of the gamers.  And so it goes.

Williams effectively explores the world in which all of the ingenuity and person power that goes into online games is exploited toward good ends--uncovering a murderer and undoing some of the damage cause in a world-wide currency crisis.

The book moves--fast.  The characters lively and en…

One Last Excerpt that Says it All

Just as I was a dissenter on The Road, seeing in it far more optimism that others did, so too with The Angels are the Reapers  in some ways it's a positively perky little zombie apocalyse:

[Alden Bell responding] What I enjoyed most about writing the book – and what I hope readers will enjoy most about it – is the sense of unfailing optimism about the world, no matter how miserable and blighted it seems to be. The book is tragic in all the ways you might expect, of course, but there’s an underlying hope that feels like it triumphs by the end. I like that. I’m a sucker for the bittersweet ending.

Conversation with Alden Bell

Conversation with Alden Bell

an interesting excerpt:

But, yes, I think you hit the nail on the head with Cormac McCarthy. He was a huge influence on the narrative style of the book – along with other writers of the Southern Gothic genre: Tom Franklin, William Gay, Daniel Woodrell. Behind them all, of course, is William Faulkner. Faulkner is my cornerstone. Reapers is loaded with pretty overt references to him.

And, yes, I really am quite susceptible to the styles of books I’m reading. That’s one of the reasons Hummingbirds is so different from Reapers. One day I’m reading Muriel Spark, the next I’m reading Cormac McCarthy. Especially when I’m at the beginning of a novel, I try not to read anything that will derail the style – at least until the book is sufficiently established. I once got on a Virginia Woolf kick in the middle of trying to write something – and the story wound itself into such knots of internal monologue that I had to abandon it entirely.

Derek Mahon "The Chinese Restaurant in Portrush"

Another Celebration of Elizabeth Bishop

The Reapers Are the Angels--Alden Bell

How long is the memory of the dead? 
-Quotation from the book

This book came to me recommended by an unimpeachable source--Julie at Happy Catholic.  Generally, if Julie likes it, so do I  (we're rarely mismatched that way), I think there are many things that I have truly liked that Julie has found somewhat less appealing--so my match to her recommendations is about 90%, the reverse match probably closer to 70%.  But we have high compatibility as reading partners.

Problem is, I have a very high avoidance factor with zombie novels.  No matter how many I read, they still disturb me down to the very core of my being.  Conceptually, they are just about the most awful thing I can think of short of Jaws, and most likely for the same atavistic reason.

But you didn't really stop by to listen to me natter on about my own sensibilities, did you?  You really want to know about this book, don't you?

Think James Lee Burke filtered through Cormac McCarthy's The Road with zombies.  Boy…

As I Had Hoped: Prof. Myers

What Does It Mean to Be Evil?

A young woman confronts the mayhem she has caused.

from The Reapers are the Angels
Alden Bell

The thing that happened back here, she says. I mean it ain't like you asked--but anyway.

He doesn't take his eyes off the fire.

I mean I guess I been around meatskins too long, she continues. Sometimes it happens where I'll lose it. Like a switch got flicked somewhere in my brain, you know? And then my hands'll start rippin and tearin and they don't care about the whys or wherefores.

The fire pops and sizzles with the sap from the branches they found.

And it's wrong, it's  a sin as big as the world we live in, bigger even--to lay your hands on a creation of God's and snuff it out. It don't matter how ugly a thing it is, it's a sin, and God will send a terrible vengeance down on you for it--I know, I seen it. But the truth is--the truth is I don't know where I got off on the wrong track. Moses, he says I ain't evil, but then if I ain't evil. . …

At the Heart of a City

Received a wonderful gift yesterday in the mail,  Heart of the City by Ariel Sabar.  What is most wonderful about it is that if I read only the introduction  (I won't, I'll read the whole thing), it will be enough to make the entire book worthwhile.

Working under the principles of environmental psychology author Ariel Sabar shares nine different love stories that begin and sometimes center around the city of New York.  But he starts with an essay that tells how he became interested and what he looked into before compiling the case studies that make up the rest of the book. 

Relating his own parents' love story, he notes that if his mother had not stepped into Washington Park, their romance might never have started:

from the Introduction to Heart of the City
Ariel Sabar

"So wait a second," I said, turning to my father. "You mean if she'd never gone into the park, you wouldn't have tried to talk to her?"

"Correct." The streets were too exp…

A Magnificent Rendezvous

"When you ack-cinch-you-ate the negative"

Oedipus with Vegetables

Urban Exploration: Under City

Strangely Lovely

A Brief Survey of the Short Story: Boccaccio

A Brief Survey of the Short Story: Boccaccio

A must read for everyone eventually--you'll be surprised at how many stories you recognize.

A Tribute to Brian Jacques

Coming of Age

Great Literary Brawls

Houellebecq and Franzen

Nadine Gordimer Considered

Nadine Gordimer--The Conservationist

I've been trying to figure out a place to start with Nadine Gordimer.  If anyone has suggestions, I would welcome them.

I Hope Professor Myers Comments on This