Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on Kickstarter!

What I’m Listening to in the Car

Great episode of This American Life, particularly Act II — about Emir Kamenica, the mysterious Miss Ames, and the fascination of how points of view and memories about the same experience can diverge. It’s one of those episodes you sit in the car listening to long after you’ve pulled into the driveway. (Side question: why does sitting in the car in the driveway increase the pleasure of the listening experience?) Plagiarism plays into the tale, and there’s an entertaining personal anecdote on that topic by the interviewer (Michael Lewis: Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Blind Side,) at the outset. Stick with it beyond that into the main story, though. It’s well worth listening until they succeed in tracking down Miss Ames and getting her take on the remembered events.

Sideshow Bob Raises a Fundamental Question…

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More discussion here.

Gerasene Selfie

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Pending

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12 July 2012

A slipper hangs from tiny toes: Our Lord –
A little child – has seen His cross and spear,
Has sped to her whose heart will know a sword.
She holds Him close. Her gaze is dark and clear.
They hang in golden silence…. Twitterings
Of careless birds bring day. Dawn fades the dark.
The clockwork clicks. The hammer hangs, then rings.
The planet turns, and swings along its arc….
The morning sun glides silent up the sky.
The moments pass beneath its sightless ray.
Some few hang solid like an ambered fly;
The rest, like Polaroids, fade fast away….
The noonday sun hangs high. Three things are all:
The point, the palm, the hammer poised to fall.

Selfie of the Self as a Self

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My Email to Garrison Keillor re. Walker Percy

Dear Mr. Keillor,

You and Walker Percy both occupy honored places in my personal constellation of literary stars.

That’s why I was shocked and disappointed by your treatment of Dr. Percy in the May 28, 2014 edition of The Writer’s Almanac. Percy never worked as a psychiatrist. In fact, although he was an M.D., he never really practiced medicine. He contracted tuberculosis while conducting autopsies during a residency in pathology at the end of medical school.

And that synopsis of The Moviegoer (which thankfully only appears in the printed version of TWA) is just as horribly askew. Binx Bolling is a stockbroker who goes to the movies but “in an attempt to get over a nervous breakdown” reeks of having been pulled out of someone’s ass who never read the book and doesn’t really care.

I’m not sure I can trust what you say on TWA anymore.

Maybe what you need is a crusty old librarian who cares about real facts and knows how to dig into reliable sources. Coincidentally, I am just such a librarian (and poor starving poet to boot, having earned $100 from TWA, thank you very much, and about $3.95 in royalties since publishing my book). I would be interested in supplementing my meager poet-librarian’s salary, if you’re hiring.

I didn’t start off this email thinking it would turn into a job application, but the spirit surprises us sometimes.

Let me know what you think. In any case, I’m looking forward to what you come up with for Walker Percy the next time his birthday comes round.

All the best,
Jonathan Potter
Spokane WA

The many selves of Krista – or, things to discuss with ourselves over drinks as we watch a sunset/sunrise on Guemes Island

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I thought this an interesting read, worth some discussion, especially since Walker Percy haunts the margins of the piece but never quite makes an appearance:

The Romantic conception of self-knowledge as a quest for “authenticity,” to some extent a revolt against the rigidity of the Enlightenment model, is still very much with us, particularly in the argot of the New Age and self-help movements. More importantly, one must point to the rich tradition of Christian thought and praxis, which assumes that each person is the unique creation and image of a loving God, a duality of body and soul destined for immortality. There are many variants of the Christian discourse on the self, but none of them has ever posited a purely autonomous paradigm of selfhood. Indeed, one might suggest that the postmodern, decentered self is simply the all but inevitable outcome of a process of secularization that began in the 17th century. Robbed of its metaphysical foundation, the Enlightenment or, later, the Romantic self has grown increasingly attenuated and subject to disintegration.

Art Is a Joke

‘[The Goldfinch] can strike the eye […] from afar [as a true-to-life image of a bird]. [But] Fabritius, he’s making a pun on the genre […]  a masterly riposte to the whole idea of trompe l’oeil […] because in other passages of the work – the head? the wing? – not creaturely or literal in the slightest, he takes the image apart very deliberately to show us how he painted it. Daubs and patches, very shaped and hand-worked, the neckline especially, a solid piece of paint, very abstract. […] There’s a doubleness. You see the mark, you see the paint for the paint, and also the living bird. […]

‘It’s a joke, the Fabritius. It has a joke at its heart. And that’s what all the greatest masters do. Rembrandt. Velazquez. Late Titian. They make jokes. They amuse themselves. They build up the illusion, the trick – but, step closer? it falls apart into brushstrokes. Abstract, unearthly. A different and much deeper sort of beauty altogether. The thing and yet not the thing.’

From a monologue by Horst, an art dealer (of sorts) in The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.

Quite Possibly Funny

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Follow-up to follow-up to follow-up to previous day’s post

Familia Romana - p. 19

From LINGVA LATINA PER SE ILLVSTRATA – PARS I: FAMILIA ROMANA, by Hans H. Ørberg.…