Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good writing, effective writing

This is a good but not well-written post - but part of the goodness is the writing. Curious.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Rereading Vanity Fair

I've been rereading _Vanity Fair_, and getting a lot more out of it this time. In part I've become a better reader over the last maybe fifteen years (including immersion in Austen), in part I read the introduction by Joseph Warren Beach in my ancient Modern Library edition. In _Tom Jones_ or _Tristram Shandy_ the constant presence of the author didn't bother me, perhaps because the writers were more sympathetic characters than Thackeray, with his moralizing and heavy-handed disdains. But Beach points out that the readers of the day were unable to read _Barry Lyndon_ with sophistication and Thackeray had to bear that in mind. It's not simple but there's a way of reading _VF_ that takes that into account and picks up irony in the very heavy-handedness noted above. How to clearly distinguish the layers of intention, though? It's probably not possible for the casual even close reader without knowing the literary and social environment of the time, but I'm seeing a richness of levels I don't recall in Dickens.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008


Maybe it's some nesting thing - I've finally gotten rid of my blogroll links to places I no longer read, due to their intolerance of atheism (Mark Kleiman), CDS and general mission failure (ObWi), inability to acknowledge blatant misuse of "mendacious" even when directed to a dictionary (Uggabugga), penchant for self-satisfied risibly-argued posts like this [and see comments] (Philosoraptor), or just lack of interest (etc.) - and without the detailed discussion my lack of energy for which was preventing said cleanup. Maybe I'll replace them with new links over the course of several tardy years if something better comes along. Suggestions (esp. for good poetry blogs) gratefully accepted.


The Unitarian Church in Knoxville

is where we spent our Sunday mornings when I was a kid. That was in the old building, which had an odd smell and many strange angles and carpeted ramps we used to run up and down, and which was always overfilled with caring people. I don't think I've ever been in the new building; I keep imagining the horrible event today in the wrong place.

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For the RLYW crowd

The Yankees are 5-0 while he's been a fan.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

I'm cute too


says, Daddy, I'm cute too!

As usual, click image for larger view.

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Daddy's kind of picture

Click for larger image.

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Mommy's kind of picture

Click on image for larger view - using right-click and Save Image As... may be convenient.

Rilkekindstrich (aka "The Pi Prime"), born 21 July 2008, 3.19 kg, 52 cm.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Liberal blogosphere Alanis Morissettes satire

Read The Editors and Tom Tomorrow on the uproar in the liberal blogosphere over the recent New Yorker covering "The Politics of Fear".

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Thomas Disch is dead; I hate the world

One of my favorite poets, Tom Disch, has died in apparent misery and despair. I don't know whether to feel grief or rage.

A poem of his from twenty years ago - not his best, but fitting enough:

In Memoriam

Nothing, no one, gives me rest
I have put it to the test
And it is not an idle jest
The life I live must lead to death
An emptiness and end of breath
Though still my heart beats in my breast
Nothing, no one, gives me rest

The streets are filled with cryers crying
No end of them, nor yet of dying
Some men may smile a little while
If sellers sell and some are buying
But they will join the rank and file
Who decorate our ancient Nile
No end of them, nor yet of dying

Memorials are built and then
Time silts a harbor, forms a fen
And tells its immemorial jest
To the worst as to the best
The world will be as it has been
I am feeling so depressed
Nothing, no one, gives me rest

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