Sunday, April 20, 2014
Today because I am sufficiently connected here in my book-glutted home in Boston I have decided to make my little room an everywhere. As it so happens, I am hovering now above an area of greater London known as Mitcham that four-hundred years ago was an outlying village backwater away from the teeming intrigue and bustle of King James’ city and his court.
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Latest Goodies :
  • Three of America's most famous poets announced today the immediate availability of new, moderately priced "diffusion lines" based on their celebrated high-end works to be sold online and at mainstream retail outlets such as Walmart, Costco, Sam's, Target, and Barnes & Noble. Representatives of K2 by Kay Ryan, Frederick by Frederick Seidel, and JohnT by John Ashbery (for Target) announced the move at a joint news conference on the sidewalk outside of Century 21 in lower Manhattan.
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  • When word came again, last week, that Knott had died, no one knew quite whether to believe it. Death makes deniers of us all, but in Knott’s case we had good reason to trust our instinctive disbelief. This time, unfortunately, the facts were unrelenting: on Wednesday, Knott died of complications from heart surgery. He was seventy-four.
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  • Elizabeth Bishop’s most impactful letter of the summer of 1947 was the first substantive one she ever wrote to Robert Lowell. Written from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia on August 14, that first real letter of the poets’ storied epistolary friendship begins with a parenthetical aside that nods to their new familiarity: "Dear Robert, (I’ve never been able to catch that name they call you, but Mr. Lowell doesn’t sound right, either.)”
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  • It was June of my freshman year in college, in the middle of final exam week, when I received an early-​morning call. My mother had been killed, gunned down in a parking lot by her second husband—​her then ex-​husband—​a troubled Vietnam veteran with a history of mental illness. Grief set in quickly. I must have been in shock.
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  • While living in Kyoto, I would ride my motorcycle downtown in the afternoon and work on my translations of César Vallejo’s Poemas humanos in the Yorunomado (“Night Window”) coffee shop. I had determined that a publishable version of this 1989 poem collection would constitute my apprenticeship to poetry. As I struggled to get Vallejo’s complicated Spanish into English, I increasingly had the feeling that I was struggling with a man more than with a text and that the struggle was a matter of my becoming or failing to become a poet.
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  • We cannot escape metaphor: there are “metaphors we live by,” according to George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Philosophically minded modern writers from Jacques Derrida to William Gass have tried to make sure that we know how thoroughly metaphor saturates even the most apparently plain and clear speech. The sentence you have just read contains, by my count, at least four fossilized or unobtrusive metaphors; the sentence you are now reading has at least three more.
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  • Huh. Well, I collect weird dictionaries, including dictionaries of cliches (which come in handy, in my line of work). But my favorite strange dictionary is the great classic Dictionary of Similes, edited by Frank Wilstach and published in 1916; it has the epigraph, "It's hard to find a simile when one is seeking for one," uttered by George Moore.
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  • Around the same time English-language philosophers were debating whether or not you can know what it is like to be a bat (generally deciding that you can not), the Australian poet Les Murray was busy directly transcribing the thought-world of an imagined representative of this order.
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  • In English writing we seldom speak of tradition, though we occasionally apply its name in deploring its absence. We cannot refer to “the tradition” or to “a tradition”; at most, we employ the adjective in saying that the poetry of So-and-so is “traditional” or even “too traditional.” Seldom, perhaps, does the word appear except in a phrase of censure. If otherwise, it is vaguely approbative, with the implication, as to the work approved, of some pleasing archæological reconstruction.
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  • People want poems about titties. Want poems that parody the Kill List (or the Fuck List). Want stalker hate poetry. Poems about dogs pissing on other dogs. Mosquitos fucking people in the ear. hi, I'm Rauan Klassnik and I curate and illustrate the occasional Poem-A-Day for The Academy of American Lunatics on HTMLGIANT because, well, it's a whole lot of fun.
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  • Though Aldous Huxley is primarily remembered for his novels and to a lesser extent his essays, he began his writing career as a poet. While a student at Balliol College at Oxford, having been exempted from military service due to extremely poor eyesight, he was involved in several student poetry magazines. In September 1916 his first book of poetry, The Burning Wheel, appeared.
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  • Fail again. Fail better. [...] Fail again. Better again. Or better worse. Fail worse again. [...] Fail better worse now."[1] By the writer who most famously explored the theme of failure, Samuel Beckett, this sequence is one of the most famous instances, from his final extended prose narrative essay in failure, Worstward Ho. With all that failing going on, it's tempting to read Beckett as a pessimist, but that would be an easy way out. For one, it would miss the comedy, the residual humor that is present even in these bare late texts, the puns on words and worse, the joke of a narrative that keeps trying to fail, but seems to fail even at that. Failing falling flat.
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  • I was prompted to revisit these ancient questions anew by a long footnote about a single line in the new Complete Poems edition of Philip Larkin’s poetry. The footnote refers to “An Arundel Tomb”—widely regarded as one of Larkin’s finest poems—and contains a provocative remark about that the poem’s celebrated, controversial, closing line, the one about the true nature of immortality: “What will survive of us is love.”
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by Kristen Zipperer
There are very few Urdu writers who have written about these despondent days in Pakistan’s history, with perhaps one notable exception. Intizar Husain is a novelist and short story writer whose work takes an unrelenting look at man’s attempt and ultimate failure to keep his humanity during the post-Partition period.
by Daniel Bosch
Even before the camera slowly swings upward from her mouth to her eyes, even before we realize that those are not opaque black pits but irises, the first frames of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo have made us conscious of how a camera and a screen limit and fix visual perception — even with all their jump cuts, films concentrate better than we do. And so it is strangely a relief to fall as we do into the pupil of the eye that Hitchcock’s camera enters.
by Stephen T. Asma
In his 1790 Critique of Judgment, Kant famously predicted that there would never be a “Newton for a blade of grass.” Biology, he thought, would never be unified and reduced down to a handful of mechanical laws, as in the case of physics. This, he argued, is because we cannot expunge teleology (goal-directedness) from living systems. The question “what is it for?” applies to living structures in a way that has no corollary in physics.
by Eric Schneider
Were Philadelphia police different? In some ways, yes; in other ways, no. City police may not have exchanged their badges for the white hoods of vigilante groups, but a nearly completely white police force held the same racial prejudices of the Philadelphia neighborhoods from which they were recruited.
by Russell Bennetts
Wittgenstein certainly regarded himself as a philosopher, and certainly believed in the fundamental truth of what he was saying. So it would be a misleading oversimplification to maintain that he was “against philosophy” or against “the possibility of philosophical truth”. More accurately, what he criticized was a certain kind of philosophy – perhaps the dominant kind in the West.
by Michael B. Katz
The biological definition of poverty reinforces the idea of the undeserving poor, which is the oldest theme in post-Enlightenment poverty discourse. Its history stretches from the late eighteenth century through to the present. Poverty, in this view, results from personal failure and inferiority. Moral weaknesses – drunkenness, laziness, sexual promiscuity – constitute the most consistent markers of the undeserving poor.
by Volker M. Welter
Following a map for a driving tour along Palm Spring’s mid-twentieth century Modernist homes and buildings, I had just peeked at Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House, the rebellious sibling from 1947 of Frank Lloyds Wright’s Fallingwater House in Pennsylvania, which was begun for the same client in 1935. Figuring out on the map where to drive to next, a house whose owner was identified as Dr. Franz Alexander caught my attention.
by Albert Rolls
Consider, for example, the Pynchon anecdotes told by the television producer Deane Rink — who attended Cornell a few years after Pynchon and studied creative writing under Walter Slatoff, with whom Pynchon had also studied. Rink tells his stories as part of an early Web exercise in which he sent emails for publication to the B&R Samizdat Express at the end of 1996, when he was in McMurdo, Antarctica, to work on Live from Antarctica (1997) for PBS productions.
by Cain Todd
In an effort to be interdisciplinary, and to keep up with the current trend for all things neuroscience, I recently attended a conference in Berlin on neuroaesthetics. One of only two philosophers in the room, I found myself on the receiving end of an incredibly hostile attack after asking a question of the founding guru of the discipline, the neuroscientist Professor Semir Zeki of University College London.
by Patricia Emison
I came to John Berger’s Ways of Seeing through the back door. About a decade after the four-part series on the BBC (1972) had excited attention as a scrappy response to Kenneth Clark’s staid Civilisation (1969), I read the book because the title was so often cited. I confess that I was left wondering what all the fuss was about. It was a little, murkily grey book that seemed to make rather obvious points about how the Old Masters had reinforced orthodoxies to which we no longer subscribe.
by Frank R. Stockton
In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing, and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, the thing was done.
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