Tag Archives: melville

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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The Poet Attempts To Explain His Poem

Common Errant:  What goes into the making of your poems? Nemesis-Poet:  Who knows? CE: One presumes you know. Or perhaps that you know something of this. NP: Well, I can only offer an interpretation and a critical response to each poem. That is, like you, I am a reader of the poem when I begin […]

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Listening to Literature, or Hearing Hard Words

I believe I’ve said somewhere else that I really only discovered a “fecundity” of thinking in myself* when I started listening to audiobooks while walking.  You know how you need to justify reading to yourself as an activity that isn’t just “wasting time” (stupid American “values”)?  Maybe you don’t, but something in me, still, even […]

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Discipline and Punish

Discipline and Punish

Maybe you’re not 44 and so are not conversant with the movie Reality Bites (its genesis and presentation 20 years past), but I am. The down-and-out 20-something “losers” (heed my punctuation, please) in that film did not exemplify me.  I had a job as an English teacher in a parochial high school in St. Louis, […]

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Tit-Bits

At last, passage paid, and luggage safe, we stood on board the schooner. Hoisting sail, it glided down the Acushnet river. On one side, New Bedford rose in terraces of streets, their ice- covered trees all glittering in the clear, cold air. Huge hills and mountains of casks on casks were piled upon her wharves, and […]

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Controlling Signs

Applicable in any century, be it 19th, 20th or 21st (or 21st BCE)–Language controls behavior. *** If Professor Booth goes into his usual coffee shop to get his morning coffee, and says to the waiter, “I’d like a cup of coffee, please,” and the waiter brings it to him, what has happened? What is the […]

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Master-ful-less-ly Supercilious

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost, — – and our first thought is rendered back […]

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Unseconded Coming

Unseconded Coming* Returning I sallied out upon my special errand the sky changed and charged drivingly sleeting stubbornly storming I fought and found and entered a reigning silence of sailors wives and widows congregational against grief stormingly shrieking insularly sitting incommunicably apart seated I pretendingly quoting They steadfastingly eyeing black-bordered masoned marbled tableted sacredly worded […]

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Judge Not Lest…

From a letter by Morse Peckham in response to a New York Review of Books piece by Christopher Ricks on five of his works, “Out of Order (1971).” Judging Art: (1) Any proposition can be used as a basis for judging art. (2) An indefinably wide range of propositions has so been used, and new ones […]

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Common Core Is Authority On Steroids

Peg with Pen wrote yesterday about a product offered by the designer of Common Core, David Coleman (more from me on that here, “Occupy Common Core Standards“). I recently had the unfortunate opportunity to examine a SpringBoard assignment, sent to me by a concerned parent with a child in seventh grade.  SpringBoard is the latest […]

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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 […]