Showing posts from October, 2011

Ignorance of Faith

While I am interested in and sensitive to Mr. Juan Williams's plight in having be chastised for stating an opinion that has crossed the minds of most thinking American's even as they did not allow it to become the signpost and guide for their thinking, such profound ignorance as is expressed in the passage that follows cannot be allowed to pass without comment:

from Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate
Juan Williams

Catholic leaders threaten to deny politicians the right to communion if they disagree with the church hierarchy, without acknowledging that there is a major divide on the issue of abortion among the most faithful Catholics.
There are several disturbing points in the passage most of which stem from the fact that I sincerely believe that Juan Williams thinks he understands Catholicism, the faith, and what Church Leaders are and do.

Let's start with the simplest--there is no "right" to communion.  Indeed the word implies that one is united with the body t…

Go Read It!

from "The Whisperer in Darkness"H. P. Lovecraft
I hope--devoutly hope--that they were the waxen products of a master artist, despite what my inmost fears tell me. Great God! That whisperer in darkness with its morbid odour and vibrations!  Sorcerer, emissary, changeling, outsider. . . that hideous repressed buzzing. . .  and all the time in that fresh, shiny cylinder on the shelf. . . poor devil. . . "prodigious surgical, biological, chemical, and mechanical skill" . . .  For the things in the chair, perfect to the last, subtle detail of microscopic resemblance--or identity--were. . .
H. P. Lovecraft is one of the greats.  This is one of the four or five major canonical stories--but each tale has its own compelling interest.  And if only for his influence on major writers of our own day, one should take time to peruse the occasionally florid, sometimes purple prose of HPL and get a glimpse of the cosmic horrors he made his metier.

The Gates John Connolly

Our intrepid 11 year old protagonist, Samuel Johnson and his faithful dog Boswell are our guides for this spooky-funny trip to the End of the World as we know it.

Using the energy of the High-Energy Hadron Collider at CERN, some not so nice denizens of another world break through and begin to prepare to make Earth quite literally Hell on Earth.   Samuel Johnson (who brings in the Angels dancing on the head of a pin for show-and-tell), his dog, his mother, some of the feistier denizens of his village, and a few other friends are all that stands in the way of the plans of the Great Malevolence.

A fun, light-hearted, amusing (in a Dennis Adams sort of way) romp through our childhood fears and some very real evils.


On the Strength of the Inclination to Bad

from When I am Playing with My Cat, How Do I know That She Is Not Playing with Me?
Saul Frampton
Our zeal performs wonder when it seconds our inclinations to hatred, cruelty, ambition, avarice, detraction, rebellion. But moved. . . toward goodness, benignity, moderation, unless by miracle some rare disposition prompt us to it, we stir neither hand nor foot. Our religion is intended to eradicate vices whereas it covers, nourishes, incites them.  (Quoting Montaigne)
All too true and frightening, and so how much more frightening, then, when words, spoken innocently enough and without guile or intent to deceive can be used to foment division and unrest.  Words of faith, rightly used and wrongly construed still result in the negative that Montaigne conceives here.  So our doctrine must not only be sound, but soundly worded so that there can be nothing within it that can be taken to detract from the value of another human being--nothing that can be interpreted to mean that one person is nece…

Quotation of the Day

I wanted to preserve this random Quotation that showed up on the site because, while I may not necessarily agreed with all that it entails, I think it captures a sense of mystery perfectly.  Oh, and it is lovely, absolutely lovely.

Life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.

Virginia Woolf

The Lantern--Deborah Lawrenson

First the good news--Deborah Lawrenson gives us a remarkable and well-written first novel.  I was a little afraid upon reading the first twenty or so pages that I had stumbled into another example of borgeous writing--but it was not so.  The writing is superb, beautifully balanced, well-handled.  The descriptions both germane and adding to the overall effect of the book.  It really is a delightful novel.

Ms. Lawrenson gives us a gothic in the fashion of Daphne DuMaurier (whose Rebecca is mentioned by name, and who is further honored by the name of our hero's first wife--Rachel).  We have a house in Provence that may be haunted, a romance doomed by an impassioned first marriage and divorce, perhaps a few ghosts--although it takes a long while for this element to be resolved, a nosy neighbor constantly issuing cryptic warnings, and a serial killer in southern France.  At least these are the elements on the surface.  They are brought together into a confection that makes for delight…

On Homosexuality (Incidentally)

One issue I never tire of tiring of is the question of homosexuality whenever a relationship, of whatever sort, occurs between two men.  The latest example to tweak me in this way is from a very fine (so far) study of Montaigne--the second in as many years.

from When I Am Playing With My Cat, How Do I Know That She Is Not Playing With Me: Montainge and Being in Touch With Life
Saul Frampton
     Montaigne's letter is clearly a moving testament to his friend. But the question that inevitably raises itself is to what extent was there more than friendship at stake--that is to say, was it a platonic relationship or a romantic one?
     The idea that the two men's relationship was a homosexual one is by no means implausible, but neither is it necessarily the case: Montaigne later adds to his essay a reference to: 'that other Greek licence . . . justly abhorred by our conscience', meaning homosexuality, a crime one of his schoolmasters, Marc-Antoine Muret, was accused of, for …

Aftertime--Sophie Littlefield

Aftertime is an interesting, powerful, and confusing book.  It is published by Luna Press which is a division of Harlequin Romances and this occasionally shows, though not to the detriment of the work overall.  Aftertime is an apocalypse-quasi-zombie novel.  Note, I have deliberately avoided saying a Zombie Apocalypse novel because in fact, that is the innovation Ms. Littlefield has introduced.  The plague of horrific zombie-like creatures is a result of the actions that bring about the apocalypse in the novel.  To say more would be to detract from some of the more interesting revelations along the way.

Ms. Littlefield has served up several variations on the typical zombie novel. The creatures in this book, called beaters, are, in fact, not dead.  They are victims of a fever induced by. . . well, that would be telling.  They retain human characteristics but have acquired a taste for human flesh. Because of the effects of the fever, they are largely helpless at night, but powerful and …


The most merciful thing in the world, I think is the inability of the human mind to correlate all of its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.

H. P. Lovecraft--the open of "The Call of Cthulhu"

On the Road--Jack Kerouac

I have long avoided On the Road--for a variety of reasons.  For one, there is Truman Capote's famous gloss, "That's not writing, that's typing."  Second, there has been entirely too much said and written about the work so that it is nearly impossible to read without all of the baggage.  And third, the several times I tried it, I simply wasn't hooked, I found it overwritten and simplistic.

Now I've attempted the work and I have to say that there is the phantom of my third reason lingering in my head.  The prose is hopped up, perfervid, and overdosed.  There are entire passage in which it is nearly impossible to make out what Kerouac is trying to convey--and I get the suspicion if I could make it out, I probably wouldn't care for it any more than I do the surrounding prose I comprehend.

On the Road is a nightmare of a book--four interminable trips with people who don't know what they want, don't know how to get it, and don't know where to loo…


I am so remiss.  Notice of this blog came to me ages ago and I have neglected to post it.  But there is some very fine stuff at


University of Chicago Press--October Free E-book

Rebel with a Cause: Liberal Satire in Postwar America

Can You Forgive Her?--Anthony Trollope

Can You Forgive Her? is the first novel in the "Pallisers" series.  I'm not certain whether this series of novels was ever known in Trollope's time under this name; however, ever since the BBC production of the entire series, they have become known as such to us.  The Pallisers is a series of six novels that center around Platagenet and Glencora Palliser--although in this novel the couple is hardly at center stage.  Or, if at center stage they share it prominently with one other trio and are shadowed by yet a third trio.

Indeed the novel is a novel of twos and threes.  There are three groups of three people--Glencora, Plantagenet, and Burgo Fitzgerald; Alice Vavasor, her cousin George Vavasor, and John Grey; and Mrs. Greenow (an Aunt to Alice Vavsor), Captain Bellfield, and Mr. Cheesacre.  The first two listed are the centerpieces of the novel, the last trio is present largely for broad comic relief--the poor Widow Greenow besieged by suitors on all sides while stil…

Gideon's Sword--Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

First of a new series featuring a new hero Gideon Crew.  As such, is a guaranteed fast and amusing reading.  It is also guaranteed to be notoriously sloppy when authors want to get around certain inconvenient problems---like people revealing secret information.  Crew manages in nearly every case to draw out secrets that no sane or awake person would ever tell.  The plot and action here as usual--fast paced, the reading light.  The story--the barest traces of one, whisked away from one's memory almost upon turning the last page.  Not that that is a problem--these books are not meant to be immortal, they are meant to help one pass a few pleasant hours, and this indeed allowed for that.


Pay Me in Flesh K. Bennett

You've heard of bloodsucking lawyers--well, welcome to their ranks the living dead.  Only the heroine of our particular tale is an interesting hybrid--she combines the raised from the dead Haitian Voodoo Zombie with the lover of cranial contents so much enshrined in modern cinema.  Her task--to defend a recently-made vampire against charges for a crime that the lawyer knows the vampire didn't commit.  How does she know?  Well, that would be telling wouldn't it.

Very light fare, but some fun for those into courtroom drama and zombies.