Tuesday, September 22, 2020

All right then... I'm a psychopath

Happy anniversary to this tweet! It couldn't have been me judging from where Mr. Gay lives and writes. Not to mention I don't like coffee and never drink it. I'm sure, though, I have engendered the same respone from others in coffeeshops that I have patronized for other caffeine delivery methods. Well, all that plus usually there's a book open on the table in front of me.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Tim Wilkinson (1947 - 2020)

I was extremely sad to see a post from hlo.hu on the passing of Tim Wilkinson, "One of Hungarian literature's most prominent translators, known best for his work with Imre Kertész and Miklós Szentkuthy." I've read quite a few books translated by him and have posted on some of them.
Wilkinson translated many academic books, mostly related to Hungarian history, and it was only decades later, in the early 2000's, he published his first book-length literary translations. From then until the present day, almost twenty literary fiction and non-fiction titles were published in Tim Wilkinson's name, including works by Iván Bächer, László F. Földényi, Miklós Mészöly, György Spiró and Péter Zilahy among others.

I was looking forward to Contramundum Press' fall release of Miklós Szentkuthy's Chapter on Love. Although the translator isn't named, I would assume it is Wilkinson. I love his attitude toward his translation projects (quote from one of the links on my posts):

I often translate just for my own pleasure, independent of whether I’ve been commissioned or not by a publisher. If I manage to “sell” one of these translations later on, then all the merrier, but there’s usually no guarantee that this will ever happen. Consequently, I’ve done translations of works—usually one or two—written by ten to twelve different authors, but these manuscripts are still slumbering in the depths of my desk drawer. There is also a list of authors I haven’t translated yet, but would if I only had the time. Among them are István Szilágyi, László Végel, György Spiró and Dezső Tandori, whom I’ve lately included. Ádám Bodor and Péter Lengyel are also on this list, but I know others are already translating them.

Wishing comfort and strength for his family and friends.

Additional links:

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Dean's Lecture Series at St. John's College

I'm a little late in posting this, but here is the 2020 Fall Semester Dean's Lecture Series at St. John's College. There have been two lectures already, one on Hesiod and one on Montaigne. Hopefully the transcripts for these will be available soon at their archives site (link on the Lecture list page). Speaking of which, the archive site looks like it will be fun to explore.

Tomorrow's lecture for Constitution Day will be on the Grutter v. Bollinger case. The remaining lectures cover a wide variety of subjects, from pendulums to Aristotle's De Anima to photography. If you find something good in the archives, let me know!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Fairy Inn of Dry Creek

It's easy to get bogged down in negative things right now (well, at any time, really), so I thought I would share a few pictures of things that make me smile when I'm walking our dog. On a nearby trail it appears kids have painted rocks and set up a "fairy inn" to house them. They also leave rocks in places along the trail. The kids' work brightens every day we walk there.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Charley Crockett and Deep Ellum History

The Proving Grounds: Charley Crockett and the Story of Deep Ellum is a fun article that covers Crockett's career as well as the long history of Dallas' Deep Ellum story. It also caught my eye since I wanted to see if it covered the time I spent there in the mid/late 1980s. I was happy to see that it did. One of my first visits to the Theatre Gallery was to see the Del Fuegos. Just before their set started four or five extremely tall guys walk in, and it takes me a few moments to realize they're Dallas Mavericks' players. You never knew who was going to be in the audience with you at any of these places.
Theatre Gallery was a refuge for musically inclined misfits as much as it was a concert venue. Everything about its early days was DIY and, in all likelihood, very illegal. “We just gave away free beer,” Liles said. “You paid $5 and got beer all night. There were no licenses. ... Soon, [Russell] Hobbs opened up the Prophet Bar and Club Clearview in 1985, Club Dada in 1986. ... In the mid-80s, Deep Ellum was a scene with no rules and no definition of cool.

Even though I didn't move from Dallas until 1992, my days in Deep Ellum (and similar venues) slowed down and eventually ended around 1990 when I was working on my masters' degree and decided to take the CPA and CMA exams. It's a fun article and covers much more than the slice I relayed. Check it out!

The first time Ken Bethea, guitarist for the Old 97’s, went to Deep Ellum was in the fall of 1987. He’d just graduated from the University of Texas. In Austin, he had been indoctrinated to believe that everything in Dallas was lame, but his favorite band, the Butthole Surfers, was playing at Club Clearview on Main Street, just off of Elm. “I thought, ‘I bet that’s in the Deep Ellum place they talk about. Elm? Ellum?”

He left the show with a black eye and a notion that there was something special about the area. “I went there on a Wednesday night and had the best time that I’d ever had in my life going somewhere solo,” Bethea said.

Poster at Jeffrey Liles' "Concert poster art" Pinterest page

Friday, August 21, 2020

College Marketing


I don't think I have mentioned I have been receiving material from several universities' and colleges' admissions departments, marketing their college to names of people that do not live at our house. At first I laughed at them, but then I was concerned. What if there really was a kid out there that wasn't getting contacted from the college of his choice because they had the wrong address? So I contacted the colleges and universities regarding the various names through whom we were receiving information to let them know that either (a) they had the wrong contact info for the addressee, or (b) there was no person out there by that name.

A couple of the propaganda marketing mailings stopped, but a few have stuck with "us" from our move from California to Idaho. So I'm really enjoying reading and analyzing the material we're getting, and for the most part I'm really impressed. If you have ever wondered what the various fees and tuition actually pay for beyond salaries of professors and administrators, rest assured they are spending it on hiring very good marketing firms.

I don't mean for this to sound mean-spirited. I'm not to going to show anything from inside the booklet I received, but I will quote from the letter that was enclosed with it:
The Life of the Mind is more than numbers, anecdotes, and fun facts. It is a window into the rich texture and color of life at UChicago. It follows students, scene by scene, as they engage in our holistic education, where activities of the brain and the body, the academic and the extracurricular, and even the studious and the frivolous, are inseparable.

I have to hand it to them. As I read through this I was thinking how much this would have appealed to the 16/17-year-old me. I would have been "all in" after reading this. (Although I'm sure it's going to be a little harder sell with virtual classes in a hysterical COVID setting. Not to mention Chicago's recent history of ... well, I'm not going there.) It's an admirably done product that conveys what those that want to have the "college experience" hope to have. As I mentioned, it's what I hoped to experience in going off to college at 17.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The New Criterion, September 2020

The New Criterion September 2020 edition is available online. I want to highlight four articles, the first two behind a paywall, alas. If you’re interested in those articles, be sure to find access to a copy of the magazine. Also note, the other articles currently accessible may not stay available once the October edition is available online.

The first article is “True Lies” by Andrew Stuttaford, detailing the complicated career of Curzio Malaparte and focuses on his recently released Diary of a Foreigner in Paris (translated by Stephen Twilley) by New York Review Books Classics. I’ve been an admirer of Malaparte’s prose, if not his personal history.
Malaparte described the Diary as being, in part, “a portrait of a moment in the history of the French nation, of French civilization.” And so it is. Amid interminable rambling about the malign impact of Cartesian thinking on the French, a vivid picture emerges of a France still broken by the German occupation. Malaparte, referring to the foreign occupations of other peoples—including his own—over the centuries, sees this as an exercise in self-abasement: an unsympathetic observation so soon after the Panzers had been driven out, but a reflection, possibly, of the disappointment felt by this lifelong Francophile, and lifelong narcissist, that France appeared to be disappointed by him.

One more quote:
Even as he publicly moved to the left, Malaparte’s break with fascism never seemed entirely clear cut, an impression, if inadvertently, bolstered by the Diary. Malaparte stresses that his opposition to fascism predated the fall of Mussolini, a claim backed up by tales of imprisonment and exile that were at best exaggerated, at worst fictitious, and, with the exception of one failed intrigue, had little or nothing to do with politics. While the Diary is by no means a complete account of Malaparte’s time in Paris (it contains almost nothing on his literary or—a new detour—theatrical activities), it may be telling that there is nothing on his sending funds to Louis-Ferdinand Céline, a brilliant writer, disgraced by anti-Semitism and collaboration, then skulking in prudent, if impecunious, exile in Denmark. That said, Malaparte does reveal that at least some of his socializing was with individuals sullied by the war years.

As Stuttaford notes, this may not be the best place to start if you’re interested in reading Malaparte. “For the most part, this diary is a work for Malaparte completists who will pass over the fatuous philosophizing to savor again the dropping of aristocratic names, the wildly un-reliable gossip, the unexpected erotic tangents (armpits!), and of course the old lies, so many of them, sometimes with extra embellishment, sometimes pristine.” The notes I have on some of Malaparte’s books in translation can be found at these links: The second article is “Forests of Arden” by Paul Dean, a celebration of the completion of the Arden Shakespeare Third Series. The Arden series has long been my favorite “go to” for the plays and I enjoy their introductions. Dean goes through the history of each series, detailing the work involved as well as noting some of the changes in each series. He also provides an abundant amount of information (critical and praising) about some of the choices made.
Textual theories and critical fashions come and go, but annotation is probably the feature of the Ardens which students and actors have valued most highly. In this respect, too, there have been changes, notably in what earlier editors felt they could assume was general knowledge, and which they therefore left unremarked.

One more quote to highlight what the literary landscape looked like at the start of the first series, as well as the length of time each series took to complete and the time between each series' completion:
When Arden 1 began in 1899, the major critical authorities were still Dryden, Johnson, Lamb, Coleridge, and Hazlitt, and of these, only Coleridge went much beyond thinking of Shakespeare in terms of character and morality, to consider dramatic structure and poetic texture. Keats’s insights in his letters are irreplaceable, but they are not systematic. Swinburne, and one or two German scholars such as Gervinus, represented (then) contemporary criticism. By 1924, when Arden 1 came to an end—with Much Ado About Nothing, rather delightfully—there was little to add to the belles-lettrists, apart from A. C. Bradley and T. S. Eliot. By contrast, Arden 2, appearing from 1951 to 1982, could profit from the work of a galaxy of distinguished names on both sides of the Atlantic, following the rise of the New Criticism, the proliferation of academic writing (and academic journals), and the first phase of literary theory imported from continental Europe.

The third article is “Gray Mists & Ancient Stones,” an excerpt from the forthcoming translation of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s memoir Between Two Millstones, Book 2: Exile in America, 1978–1994. “These pages, written in 1987 but published here for the first time in English, describe portions of Solzhenitsyn’s 1983 trip to the United Kingdom: his visit to the western highlands of Scotland, speech at Eton, and meeting with Prince Charles and Princess Diana.”
I’m no confirmed monarchist, to sympathize wholeheartedly with each and every crown, and, in addition, I gravely reproach the British throne: frightened of public opinion, George V refused to offer basic shelter to his deposed cousin, Nikolai II. None of the past was forgotten, yet there prevailed in me that bittersweet sympathy for this amiable young couple [Charles and Diana] in the stifling calm before the storm.

The last article is “Hildebrand’s Aesthetics of the Universal” by Gerald J. Russello, a reflection on Dietrich von Hildebrand’s philosophy. This interested me because I have lined up his recently translated Aesthetics to read but haven’t worked up the courage to tackle it yet. Other books included in the discussion are Graven Images, My Battle with Hitler, and Morality and Situation Ethics.
In his monumental two-volume Aesthetics, the German philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889–1977) rejects the notion that beauty is unimportant to nurturing civilization or is somehow reserved only for the elite or privileged: “One should not make the mistake of assuming that because many people today apparently lack any sensitivity to beauty, beauty is not a fundamental source of happiness, even for the simplest people. . . . The atrophy of this sensitivity is a terrible loss, and this ought not to be interpreted as a progress that modern man has made in the industrialized world.” As a consequence of our rejection of beauty, we have confused our understanding of aesthetic experience. Now everything is “art” if it expresses some feeling, no matter how vulgar or ugly, and it seems we must promote—and pay for—anything designated as art.

One of Hildebrand’s quotes from Graven Images struck me as extremely relevant today, and heightens my interest in reading his writings:

Moral goodness is identified with broad-mindedness, desire of progress, tolerance. Several fundamental amoral values such as purity, reverence, humility are not included in morality. Other moral values such as justice, veracity, generosity are seen in the light of the open-minded liberalism, erroneously interpreted as consequences of this morality.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Stanford Continuing Studies, Fall Courses


I want to highlight the enrollment period of Stanford University's Continuing Studies fall courses. I took Christopher Krebs' spring 2020 course on Tacitus and enjoyed it. I wanted to take several courses over the years, but the money hurdle and the commute time (when I was living in the Bay Area) was more than I could commit to spending. With the switch to online meetings, part of that unfavorable equation evaporated. The money part hasn't disappeared, but I can still dream of taking courses in the future.

One thing I've started doing is looking through the courses and browsing the recommended texts. Based on the one course I've taken, they will change and the instructor will provide additional articles and texts. Even so, if you're like me and want to add to your ToBeRead list/stack, this is a great resource. And there are other continuing studies courses at many colleges and universities that you can take advantage of in the same manner. Don't dismiss or disparage your ability to create a learning plan/course!


Sunday, August 16, 2020


If you enjoy watching out of the ordinary movies and haven't watched the MUBI streaming service, I highly recommend checking it out. I really enjoyed watching Werner Herzog's Family Romance, LLC and several other movies over the past couple of weeks. One film I wanted to highlight is The Portugese Woman, based on a Robert Musil story, which will leave the site in a few days. I'll include a quote from The Hollywood Reporter, which I found fairly faithful to my reaction.
For her latest lavish literary adaptation, Portuguese writer-director Rita Azevedo Gomes revisits a 1924 novella by Robert Musil, the Austrian modernist author most famous for The Man Without Qualities. With its painterly visuals and highbrow pedigree, The Portuguese Woman disguises its lightly surreal and experimental elements beneath sumptuous period-drama trappings. Perhaps too successfully, as it often plods even during its most potentially gripping moments.

... The Portuguese Woman is a classy piece of work, but too traditionally art house to appeal beyond film festivals and specialist connoisseur circles. Despite its high-caliber polish and some inspired casting choices, including Fassbinder veteran and cult screen icon Ingrid Caven, this sluggish historical pageant never quite coalesces into a persuasive, engrossing narrative.

I enjoyed watching it nonetheless (and despite some of the changes from Musil's story), and fancied several other movies which I probably would have not found on other platforms. There are around 30 movies available at one time, with a new movie added each day and the oldest movie dropped from the rotation. The site also has a library, with movies to rent (which I haven't a chance to check out yet) and a Notebook page that has information on the movies selected and films they have produced. If you've checked out MUBI, let me know what you think of it.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Fourth of July, X (1986 Farm Aid)

2020 strikes again. We were go rafting in Hell's Canyon this coming week, but a rockslide closed the only direct road to it (from our direction). I've already been to Hell (Grand Caymans) and the Gates of Hell (Stanford campus), so I was looking forward to Hell's Canyon. Hopefully later this year.

On that note, I'll leave you with a song of independence that is a little different from most, but one of my favorites. The lineup has Dave Alvin on guitar and, if I remember correctly, Tony Gilkyson from Lone Justice (both replacing Billy Zoom). This is the lineup the second time I saw them. Which remind me, I have a quote from John Doe's follow-up to Under the Big Black Sun I want to share (and saw a reference to the other evening, strangely enough). One of these days I'll be able to get back to semi-full time blogging...