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Preview: Books, Inq. — The Epilogue

Books, Inq. — The Epilogue

Proof there is still life after one retires as a newspaper book-review editor. Support to the debonair Mr. Wilson is provided by Vikram Johri, Jesse Freedman, and Julie Chovanes. (The incomparably generous and always consistent Superior, Wisconsin OWL, Da

Updated: 2018-02-23T10:51:04.041-05:00


Q&A …


… The TLS interview: Twenty Questions with Steven Pinker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)Which author (living or dead) do you think is most underrated?Thomas Sowell, an eighty-seven-year-old African American economist, has written more than thirty mind-expanding books. These include his Culture trilogy which (among other things) anticipated Jared Diamond’s ideas in Guns, Germs, and Steel and explains the ubiquity of anti-Semitism; A Conflict of Visions, which identifies the rival theories of the human condition underlying left-wing and right-wing political ideologies; The Quest for Cosmic Justice, which compares this quixotic pursuit with the quest for human justice; Intellectuals and Society, an uncomfortable exposé of the follies of all-star intellectuals; and Late-Talking Children, which anticipated Simon Baron-Cohen’s work on the extreme male brain. Sowell is a libertarian conservative, which makes him taboo in mainstream intellectual circles, but even those who disagree are well advised to grasp his facts and arguments.[...]

Chilling indeed …


… Outside It Is Already Winter: Two New Books on Stalinist Terror - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

Stalin’s innovative contribution to mass terror was to blur the lines separating prisoners from guards, the guilty from the not guilty, traitors from loyal Soviet citizens.

Those dreaded artistic differences …


… Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral and artist spar over ‘Paul Cava/Inks’ | Broad Street Review.

I agree that this dust-up was avoidable. On the other hand, the exhibition just got more notoriety than it would have otherwise. God works in mysterious ways. Cava should say a prayer of thanks

Well, maybe …


… That’s What Experience Is All About - The Sun Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Depends on your outlook, I guess.(image)

Hmm …


… Enclosures | belz. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Verlaine, I think, put it rather well:

Let your verse be a good-luck charm

Scattered on the brisk morning wind

That passes smelling of mint and thyme.

And everything else is mere literature. (image)

Roundup …


… 8 New Photography Books Released in February. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)(image)

Irresistible anecdotage …


… Two Classy Intellectual Sports Reunite | The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)(image)

Something to think on …


On the question of the world as a whole, science founders. For scientific knowledge the world lies in fragments, the more so the more precise our scientific knowledge becomes.
— Karl Jaspers, born on this date in 1883


Blogging note …


I am off to do mucho errands. Will resume blogging when I can.(image)

Master of light …


… Vermeer (Modern Library Nonfiction #83) – Reluctant Habits.

Gowing frames Vermeer’s achievements by observing that this painter, unlike his 17th century Dutch peers Gabriël Metsu and Jan Steen, eschewed line and overt modelling work. Vermeer’s purity as an artist emerged with his curious pursuit of diffuse light at all costs. He remained quite impartial about how light spilled into his scenes.

Dreams and a theory of time …


… Reading Nabokov’s Dream Diary | New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

I bought a used copy of the red Faber edition of An Experiment With Time in 1991, at Abacus Book Shop on Gregory Street in Rochester, New York. Abacus has since moved to Monroe Avenue, but according to Dunne’s theory the bookshop still exists in its old location inside one of the matryoshka dolls of universal Time, with the unbought copy of his book still waiting on the shelf. I didn’t get very far in the book. Dunne writes, of his theory: “Serialism discloses the existence of a reasonable kind of ‘soul’—an individual soul which has a definite beginning in absolute Time—a soul whose immortality, being in other dimensions of Time, does not clash with the obvious ending of the individual in the physiologist’s Time dimension.” His dream prophecies and “Master-minds” and “Superbodies” bewildered me—really they seemed like a fancier way of talking about sibyls and angels and the hierarchy of heaven. And the pseudogeometrical figures, reminiscent of drawings in paperback explications of Einsteinian space-time, seemed—not to be rude—quite nutty.
What seems nutty to me is finding the book wanting after not getting very far into it.(image)

Short on laughs, though …


 A Cartoon History of Late Antiquity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Most of The Darkening Age reads like an underachieving college sophomore's term paper.  Nixey stacks up superlatives for Romans, Greeks, and their culture as well as hate-drenched words for early Christians and their culture. She includes long paragraphs in the passive voice that make the reasoning impossible to follow, and even makes the bizarre observation that “thoughts were policed.” She footnotes inconsequential statements, but almost never footnotes the most sweeping (and usually false) claims. She uses words incorrectly (“assure” for “ensure” and “breathless” for “breathtaking”). She even has trouble with complete sentences, mixed metaphors, and noun/verb agreement.
Why would anybody publish something this bad? Because anti-Christianity is currently fashionable.


Q&A …


… Writing Isn't a Career, It's a Mission: An Interview with André Aciman - The Millions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hmm. Samuel Johnson said that "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." He was a pretty good writer, and people still read his stuff. Of course, as Max Beerbohm sagely observed, "Only the insane take themselves quite seriously."

Good idea …


 Edna St Vincent Millay's poetry has been eclipsed by her personal life – let's change that | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Where should one begin with Millay? She had a famed predilection for Petrarchan sonnets and rhyming couplets, at odds with prominent experimental modernists of the era, such as TS Eliot and Wallace Stevens. But Millay expanded the scope of these poetic forms, presenting a bold, sexually charged vision of the female experience. Her verses serve as a kind of elaborate architecture, housing the fickle, frenetic movements of the heart that falls in love and then out of it. Renascence and other poems (1917), which includes the 200-plus line poem that brought her acclaim, also boasts six sonnets, all of which are outstanding in this respect.
She also wrote the libretto for Deems Taylor's opera The King's Henchmen, which was quite a hit, though long a victim of our cultural amnesia.(image)

Listen in …


… Episode 257 – Jerry Beck – The Virtual Memories Show.

“I loved movies and I loved drawing, so animation was the perfect middle ground.”

Something to think on …


A man ceases to be a beginner in any given science and becomes a master in that science when he has learned that ... he is going to be a beginner all his life.
— R. G. Collingwood, born on this date in 1889

Life without misery...


...The poison we pick (Hat tip: Cynthia Haven.)
To see this epidemic as simply a pharmaceutical or chemically addictive problem is to miss something: the despair that currently makes so many want to fly away. Opioids are just one of the ways Americans are trying to cope with an inhuman new world where everything is flat, where communication is virtual, and where those core elements of human happiness — faith, family, community — seem to elude so many. Until we resolve these deeper social, cultural, and psychological problems, until we discover a new meaning or reimagine our old religion or reinvent our way of life, the poppy will flourish.

Q&A …


… David Mamet on Chicago, His New Crime Novel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I’m basically nuts. I sit by myself every day, most days, eight hours in this little room. It feels like either a torment or an adventure. The only way I can still the torment or appreciate the adventure is to write it down.

Heft and gravity …


 Adam Zagajewski and “the battle to imbue life with maximal meaning” | The Book Haven.

 “We’ll be living in small ghettos, far from where celebrities dwell, and yet in every generation there will be a new delivery of minds that will love long and slow thoughts and books and poetry and music, so that these rather pleasant ghettos will never perish — and one day may even stir more excitement than we’re used to now.” 



… Billy Graham, world's best-known evangelist, dies.(image)