Monday, January 29, 2018

A Czech translation in one hand and an Irish coffee in the other

"One path to happiness is to want exactly what you have."

I am the man
Whose name is mud
But what’s in a name
To shame one who knows
Mud does not stain
Clay he’s made of
Dust Adam became—
The dust he was—
Was he his name

In the end, no amount of market research, anecdotal evidence, kaffee klatsches, or cocktail parties can never replace common sense ...

Senior Appointments – have we missed the point? by Jacqui Curtis 

Thinking differently about recruitment to attract the right people  

LICENSE TO KILLJOY: As Tom Wolfe wrote, paraphrasing Malcolm Muggeridge, “We live in an age in which it is no longer possible to be funny. There is nothing you can imagine, no matter how ludicrous, that will not promptly be enacted before your very eyes, probably by someone well known.” Back in October, while Harvey Weinstein was being defenestrated near-daily in the news, Rob Long, as part of his “The Long View” column in the dead tree edition of National Review, wrote up a satiric lawsuit featuring a dozen Bond girls suing the living daylights (sorry) out of Her Majesty’s swinging secret agent.
The above-named plaintiffs — and others to be included at a later date — allege that in separate instances the above-named defendant, James Bond, repeatedly made unwanted advances upon their persons, in locations including public areas, private hotel rooms, corporate-jet interiors, ski slopes, and hollowed-out volcano hideaways. Further, plaintiffs claim that defendant refused to accept their demurrals, would not take “No” for an answer, and in some instances used his considerable latitude vis-à-vis License to Kill etc. to coerce, intimidate, blackmail, and relentlessly pursue the plaintiffs into unwanted situations.

Half the article is behind the NR subscriber paywall, but you get the gist of it: how could James Bond survive in the Weinstein-inspired #Metoo era? It turns out that maybe he can’t.

To call out falseness is to risk being accused of condescension. So there are reasons to hold your tongue, some more legitimate than others Holding and Biting tongues  

Statistical outcomes of first marriages, both positive and negative.

In an homage to his youth, artist Andrew Glazebrook creates a miniature 1980s video rental store.

↩︎ Atlas Obscura         Máirtín Ó Cadhain's Irish classic Cré na Cille has been translated twice into English in recent years -- both volumes out from Yale University Press, and one of them under review at the complete review (The Dirty Dust) -- but now it's also  
been translated into Czech (!), as Hřbitovní hlína (see the  Argo publicity page) and at Radio Praha David Vaughan has a Q & A with Czech translator Radvan Markus. 

       Bohumil Hrabal (Vita Nuova, etc.) is among the most revered modern Czech authors, and there have been quite a few fictional tribute-works to the master, such as Esterházy Péter's The Book of Hrabal and Paweł Huelle's Mercedes-Benz-- and now there's also an opera ! by Miloš Orson Štědroň:Don Hrabal, playing at the Prague National Theatre; see theirinformation page or, for example, the Prague TV report 

       The idea behind the Prix Mémorable is a pretty good one: basically, it's a prize for forgotten books, or overdue translations -- i.e. a worthy book translated into French for the first time (e.g. 2011 winner Stoner, by John Williams), or a long-forgotten but now re-issued French classic (e.g. 2016 winner My Friends, by Emmanuel Bove). 
       They've now announced the 2017 winner, and it's Czech author Ota Pavel's How I Came to Know Fish -- published in English as a Penguin Classic in 2010 (and by New Directionsin 1991); get your copy at or 

The Distraction Factor  (Good And Bad)

"The dichotomy between good attention and bad distraction is so fundamental that it is written into the very language we use to talk about attending. Consider the phrase “I pay attention.” It implies that attention is valuable, a type of currency we deliberately and consciously invest in. When I pay attention, I am in control of my action, and I am aware of its value. Now compare this with the phrase “I am distracted.” Suddenly we are dealing with a passive and vulnerable subject who suffers an experience without doing much to contribute to it." … Read More

A professor weighs in on 'speculative journalism'

Christy Wampole, an associate professor of French at Princeton, weighs in on a seeming increase in "speculative journalism" for The New York Times online "The Stone," a forum for philosophers and other (hopefully) deep thinkers. In part, Wampole argues:
"The media, which seems to be repenting for having misread or misrepresented polls that showed a sure Hillary Clinton win, now atones by constantly hedging — offering us a tree of all possible outcomes and a range of fairly noncommittal speculations that can be backed away from if their conjectures prove false."
"This leads us to a third possible reason speculative journalism thrives today: its mitigation of risk. What the speculative journalist has in common with the gamblers of Las Vegas and Wall Street is the willingness to take risks, but the stakes in this game are relatively low. When the future materializes, there will certainly be winners and losers. Someone will have gotten it right, and this certainty reassures us somehow. But given the superabundance of speculations clouding the mediascape, will anyone remember or care exactly who got it wrong? Those who were right will trumpet their prophetic insight and ascend as soothsayers; those who were wrong will simply keep quiet. One has little to lose but much to gain from this wager."
Story image for blog libraries from The Guardian (blog)

10 beautiful Australian libraries – in pictures


“The Creature Gazing into a Pool.” Artist: Lynd Ward. Provided by the Estate of Lynd Ward  

Amid media sex harassment scandals, a legendary novelist opines

In Sunday's New York Times Book Review, Charles McGrath interviewed Philip Roth, 84, about what he makes of this moment with so many very high-profile men accused of harassment and abuse.
"I am, as you indicate, no stranger as a novelist to the erotic furies. Men enveloped by sexual temptation is one of the aspects of men’s lives that I’ve written about in some of my books. Men responsive to the insistent call of sexual pleasure, beset by shameful desires and the undauntedness of obsessive lusts, beguiled even by the lure of the taboo — over the decades," 
"I have imagined a small coterie of unsettled men possessed by just such inflammatory forces they must negotiate and contend with. I’ve tried to be uncompromising in depicting these men each as he is, each as he behaves, aroused, stimulated, hungry in the grip of carnal fervor and facing the array of psychological and ethical quandaries the exigencies of desire present. "
"I haven’t shunned the hard facts in these fictions of why and how and when tumescent men do what they do, even when these have not been in harmony with the portrayal that a masculine public-relations campaign — if there were such a thing — might prefer. I’ve stepped not just inside the male head but into the reality of those urges whose obstinate pressure by its persistence can menace one’s rationality, urges sometimes so intense they may even be experienced as a form of lunacy. Consequently, none of the more extreme conduct I have been reading about in the newspapers lately has astonished me."

  • What Are We Doing Here? (“A society is moving toward dangerous ground when loyalty to the truth is seen as disloyalty to some supposedly higher interest.”)

Give in to destiny

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Destiny or fate (sud’ba in Russian) is a convenient excuse for all kinds of bad behaviour (especially adultery in this novel); and it is also an excellent way to move the plot along, particularly when your hero is banished 700 miles from Moscow and his mistress just happens to end up in exactly the same spot. This is a continuation of Tolstoy’s favourite theme. Someone more important than you (God) has decided your fate, so don’t fight it.

The bloody rise and shocking fall of a US spymaster in Cold War Korea Asia Times

Gone is the century of the self. Now we inhabit the century of the crowd. What will it do to literature? Early  indications are not promising... Will the Internet Destroy Us All? On Franklin Foer’s ‘World Without Mind’

The provocative Colombian writer Fernando Vallejo ensures that overpopulation is the great tragedy of humanity and that politics is a gangster system...
Read More

There were the rich and the poor and the good and the indifferent. There was a man worth thirty million dollars, and another, a gaunt moonshiner from Jerkumtight Hollow, come on a Saturday night to look at the neon signs, who did not possess thirty. There were the housewives, the merchants, the lawyers, the schoolteachers, the filling-station attendants, the college girls, the golf players on one scale and the pool players on another. There were the churchgoers and the radio listeners and the ne’er-do-wells and the drinkers of cheap wine. On a Sunday night there were a dinner party at the country club and a tryst at a roadside tourist cabin and a prayer meeting at the Lutheran Church and three drunks telling lies in the men’s room of the bus depot and a Negro child dying f leukemia on Jitney Street and a young couple getting married and a thousand women preparing supper and an esthetic girl at the Seminary writing what she believed to be a sonnet or a song.