Thursday, October 17, 2019

Harold Bloom said, “For me, Shakespeare is God.”

Remembering the recently deceased Harold Bloom:

Admission into Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare class at Yale was fiercely competitive. The writer Wendy Moffat, who studied with Bloom in the 1980s, recalled him as “a leonine, melancholy presence” who gave “an air of almost dissipated exhaustion when he was listening to students. He could, and did, quote extraordinarily long passages from memory. The class was like ether – when I was in his class I felt as though I understood something amazingly deeply and well, and then the sense of understanding would dissipate when I left. Only the sense of awe remained. He connected us to a great, old, almost rabbinical tradition of sacred reverence for the word. It was self-enclosed: no deconstruction, or history, or politics – just the words.”

Continue reading via this link.

Personal Postscript — Harold Bloom’s death saddens me. My encounters with his books changed my reading life: in fact, in many ways because of Bloom, I became a better teacher of literature and a more worshipful reader of Shakespeare. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

John Brown on 16 October 1859

Abolitionist John Brown leads a small group on a raid against a federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) in an attempt to start an armed slave revolt and destroy the institution of slavery. Continue reading the History Channel article via this link.

Postscript — Because of the John Brown connection, I also offer you a book review that I wrote for America magazine:

During his long, distinguished life as historian and novelist, Thomas Fleming has focused for the most part upon 18th-century America and the Revolution. That sustained focus, however, in some surprising ways, has led to his highly recommended narrative history that is dominated by this provocative theme: the public mind of the United States, ever since the nation’s colonial beginnings, has been infected by a damaging disease. Fleming, by diagnosing the causes, symptoms and spread of that disease, serves up controversial conclusions about why Americans fought the Civil War. Continue reading my review via this link.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Rapping Homer

By rapping The Iliad, classics professor makes ancient literature relevant again

Brandon Bourgeois believes that, by translating the entirety of Homer’s The Iliad into rap lyrics, he can help students better appreciate the classic poem.

Personal Postscript — As a former university instructor (English composition and literature), I have to throw the b.s. flag on this dim-witted and flagrant attempt to turn literary classics into social justice pablum that can be more easily digested by unchallenged minds already filled with mediocre mush. This is just another symptom of the disease which is leading to the death of the humanities and rigorous academic inquiry. Of course, you should feel free to disagree. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Idiotic Environmental Predictions

“The Competitive Enterprise Institute has published a new paper, “Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions.” Keep in mind that many of the grossly wrong environmentalist predictions were made by respected scientists and government officials. My question for you is: If you were around at the time, how many government restrictions and taxes would you have urged to avoid the predicted calamity?”

Continue reading via this link.

Personal Postscript — I’m losing no sleep over all the apocalyptic predictions, and I’m getting tired of the restrictions and taxes imposed by the paranoids. We need more common sense voices (as in the article above) and fewer Chicken Little rantings and ravings. (Note: On the other hand, saber rattle politicians and belligerent militarists do cause my insomnia.)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Before the beginning

Before the Beginning
by Christina Rossetti
Before the beginning Thou hast foreknown the end,
Before the birthday the death-bed was seen of Thee:
Cleanse what I cannot cleanse, mend what I cannot mend.
O Lord All-Merciful, be merciful to me.
While the end is drawing near I know not mine end:
Birth I recall not, my death I cannot foresee:
O God, arise to defend, arise to befriend,
O Lord All-Merciful, be merciful to me.

Personal Postscript — I was present, of course, at my beginning, about which I remember nothing but know too much (a paradox worth future commentary), and I will be present, of course, at my ending, which I hope will be shrouded in unconsciousness because I am a fearful coward. Neither beginning nor end matter very much. The stuff in between is all that matters. Oh, I have done much that was either good, bad, or ugly. Damn, I wish I could have done better. 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Cozy Mystery News — October

“I’ve got a fair amount of Cozy Mystery news this month!”

Want to read more? Here is the link.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Dorothy L. Sayers — how and why she should be read

“In the Golden Age of British detective fiction in the 1920s and 1930s, four women were universally considered the four Queens—Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, and Dorothy L. Sayers (don’t forget the middle initial, please, she was most adamant about that). She earned that title largely on the strength of eleven extraordinary novels published between 1923 and 1937, featuring the iconic character of Lord Peter Wimsey and, in four of them, the inestimble Harriet Vane, as well as dozens of short stories and one stand-alone novel. Her influence on detective fiction went far wider than that, however.”

Continue reading via this link.

Personal Postscript — As for this blog, I have cleaned the slate, and I have eliminated my past contradictions and false starts. Now, as for the article above, I must say that I agree with one of the arguments in the foregoing article: the best crime fiction can and should be read with an eye to discerning social, cultural, and political critiques and commentaries. Another argument in the article seems to suggest that readers might want to gloss over authors’ personal biases and prejudices (e.g., Sayers and anti-semitism), but I’m not sure about that argument. In sum, I say the article is both interesting and provocative. What do you say?