Sunday, March 29, 2020

Bohemian Experience

  • Almanac: Logan Pearsall Smith on professionalism

    “The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.” Logan Pearsall Smith, Afterthoughts Continue reading Almanac: Logan Pearsall Smith on professionalism at... [read more]
    AJBlog: About Last Night Published: 2020-03-23

    “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies”.

    “Happiness for those unused to it is like food for the starving–a little too much can be fatal.”

     Bob Dylan Releases New Song About JFK, And Other News

    They change their sky, not their soul, who rush across the sea. Horace

    Heresies of our time: that children should be taught to read music

    Richard Morrison is the music critic of the Times and writes for BBC Musicmagazine. A man at the heart of the arts establishment, one might reasonably think. But he had an unsettling experience not long ago:
    Do I talk rubbish? The thought crosses my mind frequently, but with particular force as I chaired a discussion at the annual conference of the people who run Britain’s orchestras. The talk turned to education and I expressed my fervent belief that teaching children to read music is the key that opens up everything.
    First jolt: the music director of Arts Council England (ACE), no less, vehemently disagreed with me. Musical literacy doesn’t matter much, she declared. Second jolt: in the ensuing discussion not a single person spoke in my favour. More than 100 people were in the room, all engaged in running orchestras that depend on instrumentalists who can sight-read to an incredible level, and not one agreed that teaching children to read music was a good idea.
    After the event I had coffee with someone in the audience. “Of course nobody sided with you,” she claimed. “Everyone here depends on ACE subsidy. Nobody will contradict publicly what the ACE music director says.”

    When I was younger, I used to yearn for a warmer place to live. But I’m too old now to move anywhere and my lifelong spouse has no interest in taking leave of the city where we have lived for the past 50 years.

    Still, when the days are dark and the rain is pouring down, I begin to yearn for that elusive place once again. However, in his poem The City C. P. Cavafy reminds me that no matter where I might find a warmer place to live, I will never be able to escape myself.

    The City
    You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
    find another city better than this one.
    Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
    and my heart lies buried as though it were something dead.
    How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
    Wherever I turn, wherever I happen to look,
    I see the black ruins of my life, here,
    where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”

    You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
    This city will always pursue you. You will walk
    the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods,
    will turn gray in these same houses.
    You will always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
    there is no ship for you, there is no road.
    As you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
    you’ve destroyed it everywhere else in the world.

    Cavafy was born in Alexandria in 1863 to a Greek family of some wealth and at various times in his life he lived in England and Istanbul. He returned in Alexandria after the collapse of the family business where he died in 1933 at the age of 70.

    In a comment about Cavafy’s poem The City, Orhan Pamuk wrote: I have read [it] again and again in Turkish and in English translation. There is no other city to go to: The city that makes us is the one within us. Reading Cavafy’s The City has changed the way I look at my own Istanbul.
    Every now and then I read one of Cavafy’s poems that have been translated and published on the Web or in one of the volumes of his poems. He wrote only 154 that can be found here

    From the Archives this is one I especially like for reasons that are not at all obscure:

    An Old Man

    At the noisy end of the café, head bent
    over the table, an old man sits alone,
    a newspaper in front of him.

    And in the miserable banality of old age
    he thinks how little he enjoyed the years
    when he had strength, eloquence, and looks.

    He knows he’s aged a lot: he sees it, feels it.
    Yet it seems he was young just yesterday.
    So brief an interval, so very brief.

    And he thinks of Prudence, how it fooled him,
    how he always believed—what madness—
    that cheat who said: “Tomorrow. You have plenty of time.”

    He remembers impulses bridled, the joy
    he sacrificed. Every chance he lost
    now mocks his senseless caution.

    But so much thinking, so much remembering
    makes the old man dizzy. He falls asleep,
    his head resting on the café table.

    Unless you’re living under a rock in a cave wearing earplugs, you already know Amazon. But you might not yet know about Amazon Handmade, the site’s online store where makers sell quality handcrafted goods. It also has the quick shipping on thousands of items that you’ve come to expect from Amazon, which is not typically found on other handmade platforms.

    Blind fear of death should not guide policy | Catholic Culture… certainly there are some things worth taking a risk for. As much as we admire bravery in the face of danger, we despise timidity. No doubt you would be safer if you spent your life cowering at home, but what could you accomplish? “A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once,” Shakespeare tells us. To risk nothing is to accomplish nothing

    Little Free Libraries share food and paper goods with neighbors - Mental Floss – via LitHub: “Across the nation, people are stocking theirLittle Free Libraries with food, toilet paper, and other necessities as a creative way to lend a helping hand to neighbors in need without breaking the rules of social distancing. Many of the makeshift pantries encourage people to pay it forward with handwritten messages like “Take what you need, share what you can,” and other similar adaptations of Little Free Library’s “Take a book, leave a book” motto. Some people have completely emptied the books from their libraries to make room for non-perishables like peanut butter, canned soup, and pasta, while others still have a little space devoted to reading material—which, although it might not be quite as important as a hearty meal, can keep you relaxed and entertained during quarantine…”

What Would Freud Make of the Toilet-Paper Panic?

Unlike hand sanitizer or test kits, toilet tissue is not subject to increased need in the coronavirus crisis. Nevertheless, shoppers continue to express a siege mentality.

Freud and the T.P. panic

During the 16 months Einstein spent in Bohemia, he did nothing much. But the banality of his experience there is itself worth consideration 
Bohemian Experience 

From the Sator Square to anti-riddles, word games have a long and delightful history. Crosswords weren’t invented until 1913 Cross Words  

Freud was a social philosopher, using a scientific guise to lend his ideas more authority. Or so argues a New Book 

“In all the creative occupations, there’s no stability unless you’re a superstar of some sort.” Barbara Ehrenreich reckons with success 

Liberalism after Rawls
Solace in tragic times
Small talk in a pandemic
Lessons from Camus
Pandemic journal
History and epidemics
Literature for a lockdown
Splendor of "The Simpsons"
Coronavirus and postmodernism
Library thefts
H.G. Wells and the 20th century
Audiobook snobbery
Krugman on Piketty
Unwoke cuisine
Talking to Jan Morris
Hardcovers v. paperbacks
Jewish writers
Writers' secret
Freeman Dyson, R.I.P.
Polanski affair
"Bad" English as heritage
Future of MeTooLit
Class system in jails
Trump and architecture
Relationship with books
Doomer lit
Ancient brothels
Bohemian Einstein
A. E. Hotchner, R.I.P.
Rousseau and Twitter
Black English matters
Smashed piano
Regarding Gabriel Matzneff
Conspiracy theories
Criticizing critics
Exclamation point!
On public knitting
Why women read fiction
George Steiner, R.I.P.
Professor as conman
Mary Higgins Clark, R.I.P.
Controversy over American Dirt
To read or reread?
Carver and Bukowsky
Boycott over comma
Missing Howard Zinn
Fair for steer and painting
Book murderer
Is a lifetime too long?
Banksy and banality
Greatness of Beethoven
Plagiarism in Russia
Emporium of pirated e-books
LBGTQ fantasy novels
Reading Airbnb Magazine
Book toilets
Roger Scruton, R.I.P.
Fox News theory of art
The Real John Simon
Against cheerfulness
How to write a memoir
John Baldessari, R.I.P.
Eliot's love letters
Lipstick and resistance
Gertrude Himmelfarb, R.I.P