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Between Hope and Defeat, History and Heaven

“God himself culminates in the present moment.” (Thoreau) What is “now” for? What if you “know” the future? Fairy tales and wishes of complete knowledge are always disastrous. If you know the hour of your death you live “against it” or are perhaps completely tugged into the orbit of it. In Climate disruption; in the […]

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A Rule of Storytelling and Unhappiness

As my friend began reading William Morris’s News From Nowhere, or, An Epic of Rest, I thought I might take that journey too–and the existence of an audio recording guaranteed it. (Plus, what a great damn subtitle to entice a guy like me!) I’ve only just started, just now finishing Chapter 5 on this morning’s […]

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UPDATE! Coming Up on Interchange: “Later also headache”

The title of this post comes from Naomi Baron’s Words Onscreen which will serve as the basis of an upcoming Interchange program. “Later also headache” was a description given by a German respondent as to a negative aspect of “reading onscreen.” Here’s a look at the schedule for the next month or so, but you […]

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Serving the Word

It might have been but a deception of the vapours, but, the longer the stranger was watched, the more singular appeared her manoeuvres. “Benito Cereno” by Herman Melville In a recent scholarly biography of Louis Agassiz, Christoph Irmscher, in a chapter on Agassiz’s notorious “race science,” notes that Agassiz is in no way the lone […]

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The Work of Language

This is from Dan McCall’s preface to the Norton Critical ed. of Melville’s Short Novels. ********* He read voraciously; in Moby-Dick he said, “I have swam through libraries.” When he began to read Shakespeare, for example, something not altogether conscious or voluntary began happening to him. In American Renaissance, …F. O. Matthiessen concludes that Melville’s […]

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Pouring Out of Various Devices

After reading pages 40, 43 and 44 of the 9/25/14 New York Review of Books. 1. p 40: a review essay by Robin Lane Fox on several gardening books and an exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden called “Groundbreakers: Great American Gardens and the Women Who Designed Them.” Gardening is for the “birds.” It […]

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Part I–This American Life On Animal Sacrifice

I am a casual listener of This American Life. When our family of four drives to and fro to relatives’ homes we will listen to it along with Radiolab. These are “family friendly” podcasts normally (not always though). I’m often grumpy with Radiolab as they tend to answer the questions posed by their topic in […]

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The Ungraspable (Extractable) Phantom

“But the list is artful…” (Harold Beaver) Melville opens Moby Dick, often considered the greatest book written by an American, with a list of extracts. That is, our greatest author offers as opening gambit the words of others. And many of them. There are eighty extracts. They begin at the beginning, with Genesis, the beginning […]

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Becoming Commoner

Let’s give Henry a prefatory statement to center our thinking before we dither about in the malleabilities the minded self: The penny-post is, commonly, an institution through which you seriously offer a man that penny for his thoughts which is so often safely offered in jest. And I am sure that I never read any memorable […]

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In Silent Misconstrual Walks the Con

Coda to “Briggflatts” (1966) by Basil Bunting. A strong song tows us, long earsick. Blind, we follow rain slant, spray flick to fields we do not know. Night, float us. Offshore wind, shout, ask the sea what’s lost, what’s left, what horn sunk, what crown adrift. Where we are who knows of kings who sup […]

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Glorifying War Shall Not Grow Old

Concerning War Movies (prompted by a conversation about Peter Jackson’s movie They Shall Not Grow Old). In J. D. Salinger’s […]

Cutting Down the Clouds

This winter they are cutting down our woods more seriously than ever,—Fair Haven Hill, Walden, Linnaea Borealis Wood, etc. etc. […]

Representative Texts from Hawthorne to Dickinson

In your daily busyness you are pressed for time to think and often choose instead anesthetization – watching any number […]

Between Hope and Defeat, History and Heaven

“God himself culminates in the present moment.” (Thoreau) What is “now” for? What if you “know” the future? Fairy tales […]

Absolute Solutions Necessary

Only two things to do: 1. zero out carbon emissions 2. exception: all technological and scientific labor exploring new solutions […]

Rachel Carson’s book had no real effect

Facing Global Climate Disruption and the End of Everything All At Once… David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth tries very hard […]