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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Quote of the Day.


Lewis refusing consolation on the death of his wife: Kind people have said to me, ‘She is with God.’ In one sense that is most certain. She is, like God, incomprehensible and unimaginable.

On the Canon.


Lindsay Johns has a little piece worth reading on the literary canon, arguing for its universal validity. The most striking passage: The dead white men never had to face the evils of slavery or the physical and emotional oppression of racism. Thus their minds were freer to range over the great philosophical questions, metaphysical quandaries […]

Country Churchyard.


“Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade, Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid, The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.”

“I’m not here to write. I’m here to be mad.”


The beginning of this review by Rivka Galchen reads almost like a Borges faux-review short story. Her double-take writing does indeed make me do doubletakes. And much as I love Balzac I certainly never heard that story before.

Slave to Secrecy.


The older my former students get, the more astonished I am by them – these people I knew as children now lead lives whose richness and complexity equals or exceeds mine, and it occasions strange thoughts in me – a kind of autumn feeling, watching the harvest come in, so fast, it seems. One story […]



Krugman does an excellent job giving it to the Republicans. They want to balance the budget by cutting spending, but not spending on seniors and the military, which is the entire problem with the federal budget. Krugman notes that we would have to eliminate the entire federal government, even including Congress, in order to simultaneously […]

The Ferry Terminal.


An excerpt from the Staten Island book in Brooklyn Rail. The Staten Island book is (at long last!) nearing its release, which should be in October. I’ve been proofing the galleys over the past few days. The book can be ordered here.



“Would that I had never been to Wittenberg, never read book.” – Marlowe Back from a three-day hike, hitting Giant Ledge, Panther Mountain, Wittenberg, Cornell Mountain, and Slide Mountain.  The scenery was spectacular.  The view from Wittenberg is the best I have seen in the Catskills – not only remarkable distance but a remarkable foreground. […]

Burton’s Arabian Nights (preliminary notice).


I’m on volume six of Richard Burton’s sixteen-volume translation of the Arabian Nights.  I intend to write a bit on this topic when I am done with the whole, but as that will be at a far-future date, I wish to set down some of my amazement with this work.  The vast scope of the […]

Life Without Principle.


Two pieces, by Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald, on Obama’s policy of torturing human beings for whatever an American president’s ends may be, without limitation.  The national malaise continues – how much sadness I see in people’s lives! even people a decade younger than myself are locked in it – and Obama’s practicality (i.e., lack […]