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Archives for January 2010

File under: nobody cares about your stupid grammar.

I just got an email from Wine Enthusiast, which sells glasses and openers and such. Apparently, they’re selling a new sort of glass for Port, and they have decided to use the first line of a customer review as a pitchline:

Subject: ‘You haven’t really drank port until you drink it from these glasses.’
Date: January 28, 2010 7:41:45 AM PST

But, I wonder: Can you say you haven’t really drunk Port until you’ve drunk it from these glasses?

Or is it dranken?

Or maybe I’m just drunken?

Must be something I drank.

Outer space?

Or dirty roasting pan?

So good.

Ibraheem Youssef designs posters for Quentin Tarantino movies. Design is not dead. It’s just working the edges.

[Via Gorilla Mask]


“Tarrou has some comments on the sermon preached by Paneloux: ‘I can understand that type of fervor and find it not displeasing. At the beginning of a pestilence and when it ends, there’s always a propensity for rhetoric. In the first case, habits have not yet been lost; in the second, they’re returning. It is in the thick of a calamity that one gets hardened to the truth – in other words, to silence.'”

The Plague, Albert Camus

Some days are harder on faith than others.

This collection of people trying to contact Mel Gibson via the comments section of a guy’s blog post makes me very sad. It’s not just people with screenplays. It’s people with messages from God, people with troubled marriages, people who need money, people who want jobs, people who want a Noah’s Ark movie with dragons and giants, people who have a strange spiritual connection to Mr. Gibson that they cannot explain, people who want help suing a hospital, people who want him to speak at their church, and on and on. Possibly the most heartbreaking: “take me seriously, please.”

In other news, the guy played Hamlet. I think now he may be ready for Lear.

Updike’s Personal Rules for Literary Criticism

The previous post led me to the Wikipedia page for John Updike in my search for my favorite novel of his (and I’m not so sure it really is Beauty of the Lilies), where I found his personal guide for Literary Criticism. It strikes me as eminently sound, perhaps even conservative:

1. Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.
2. Give enough direct quotation—- at least one extended passage—- of the book’s prose so the review’s reader can form his own impression, can get his own taste.
3. Confirm your description of the book with quotation from the book, if only phrase-long, rather than proceeding by fuzzy précis.
4. Go easy on plot summary, and do not give away the ending.
5. If the book is judged deficient, cite a successful example along the same lines, from the author’s oeuvre or elsewhere. Try to understand the failure. Sure it’s his and not yours?
To these concrete five might be added a vaguer sixth, having to do with maintaining a chemical purity in the reaction between product and appraiser. Do not accept for review a book you are predisposed to dislike, or committed by friendship to like. Do not imagine yourself a caretaker of any tradition, an enforcer of any party standards, a warrior in any ideological battle, a corrections officer of any kind. Never, never… try to put the author “in his place,” making of him a pawn in a contest with other reviewers. Review the book, not the reputation. Submit to whatever spell, weak or strong, is being cast. Better to praise and share than blame and ban. The communion between reviewer and his public is based upon the presumption of certain possible joys of reading, and all our discriminations should curve toward that end.

What a writer.

Percy’s Thanatos Syndrome is #5

… on National Review’s “list of ten great conservative novels, written by Americans since the 1950s.” John Miller has written an article for the latest issues on these novels, including a short review of each one. A discussion leading to the formation of the list can be found at Miller’s own website.

I count myself as a fairly serious reader, and I hadn’t even heard of two of the novels, The Time It Never Rained, by Elmer Kelton, and Shelley’s Heart, by Charles McCarry, but the Kanton looks especially good and I’m putting it in the queue. And I never did get around to John Dos Passos’ Midcentury or Mark Helprin’s Freddy and Fredericka. And I won’t be too unhappy if I never do.

On Miller’s website there is a fair amount of discussion as to whether Percy should be considered a “conservative” novelist at all, which of course depends on your discussion of conservative. I suppose so, or at least I think a good case can be made that he was conservative by the time he wrote Thanatos Syndrome. Trying to extrapolate from this whether Percy would have voted for McCain or Obama in the ’08 election was a kind of floating around this website in the runup to the vote, with fairly dismal results (in my estimation).

I think a clearer case for conservatism can be discerned in the novels of Tom Wolfe and Dos Passos, but the real problem with the list is that it leaves out so many great novels … Gravity’s Rainbow, Operation Shylock, Beauty of the Lilies … the list goes on and on. And why politicize novels that aren’t intended to be political? I recall reading in NR, numerous times, that the disinclination to politicize everything under the sun was a conservative position. Which may well be true, making such a list as this unacceptably liberal. Don’t even read it, or your mind will be poisoned.

I cannot believe, that in today’s society, with record numbers of people taking record numbers of anti-depressants…

…and with the general admixture of helplessness and hopelessness that hangs like a fog about modernity, that no one has snapped up

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