Sunday, August 29, 2021

Clicks & Colluders: stromata

And they spoke gleefully of the legendary Monday morning when Mr White arrived late and hungover, ordered the class to write an essay on the dangers of the demon drink, put his feet on his desk, and fell fast asleep.

Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk

In the early 1980s, the Australian philosopher Frank Jackson (b. August 31, 1943) set out to explore how knowable that mystery is with his knowledge argument — a thought experiment, also known as Mary’s Room or Mary the Super-scientist, probing the unfathomed regions of consciousness and the limits of what is knowable with the proboscis of our rational inquiry.

Mary’s Room: An Animated Inquiry into the Limits of Knowledge and the Mystery of Consciousness

The Grandmaster Diet

How to lose weight while barely moving.

Interior Designer Restyles A Cramped New York City Living Room In 2.5 Hours. Here's What The Room Looked Like Before And After

Denis Donoghue, 1928–2021

Today there is a tendency to see literary authority figures like Donoghue as beneficiaries of various kinds of privilege. So it’s worth remembering that Donoghue was the son of a Catholic policeman in Protestant Northern Ireland, born a long way from the mandarinate. The same is true of Leavis, whose father was a Cambridge shopkeeper, and Trilling, the son of an immigrant tailor in New York. All were outsiders to the academic-literary establishment. That may be why they were so serious about literature, which for them wasn’t an heirloom or pastime but a deeply democratic experience of beauty and truth. Let’s hope that this idea, of which Donoghue is now a “symbol perfected in death,” can never be finally defeated.

 I stumble, uncertain of everything, especially tomorrow, but ineffably I remain reassured by my daily prayerful reading of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. Her poems and her biography will be my exclusive focus here until I am silenced when the storm arrives, the windows fail, and I finally hear the interposing Fly.

I heard a Fly buzz - when I died - (591)

I heard a Fly buzz - when I died -
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air -
Between the Heaves of Storm -

The Eyes around - had wrung them dry -
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset - when the King
Be witnessed - in the Room -

I willed my Keepsakes - Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable - and then it was
There interposed a Fly -

With Blue - uncertain - stumbling Buzz -
Between the light - and me -
And then the Windows failed - and then
I could not see to see -

What A New Netflix Comedy Gets So Right About Academia

Ask academic and writer Nancy Wang Yuen: "As minorities, women of color often occupy precarious positions in universities, particularly in leadership. Ji-Yoon describes this when she says to Yaz, 'I don’t feel like I inherited an English Department; I feel like someone handed me a ticking time bomb...

The Mysterious Phisher Haunting The Publishing World

For four years, someone has been impersonating dozens of agents, editors, translators, and others in the book business to get early copies of new manuscripts. Attempts to find the culprit end up going in circles, and the manuscripts never get publicly leaked. What's going on? - New York Magazine

Quick Study: Drawing and Brain Plasticity

For this entry, I’m sharing the latest episode of the NEA’s research podcast, Quick Study. This month, we discuss brain functional changes that Auburn...

A Few Words About Stromata

Years ago, I started this blog, intending it as a receptacle for such thoughts as I might have on current events and other matters. Eventually, after 1,600 or so posts, I grew tired and stopped posting. Now I’ve resumed activity, with no promises to continue for any particular length of time.

My intention is to post on Wednesdays and Sundays – perhaps early in the day, perhaps late, perhaps the evening before. One must try not to fall into ruts. If you find my commentary interesting or entertaining, thank you. If you loathe and despise it, you may tell me so in the Comments, or you may look for enlightenment elsewhere.

BTW, while I’m not pushing it, I won’t mind if you buy my short novel, Clicks & Colluders (only $1.99!), an alternative history, serio-comic take on Hillary Clinton’s razor-thin election victory in 2016 and its surreal aftermath.

In case you’re wondering, stromata in koiné Greek meant “miscellany”. In modern Greek, it means “mattress”. Take you choice.

Now feel free to scroll down and read my latest effusions.

LESSONS FROM MOTHER NATURE:  Study shows tiger sharks ‘didn’t even flinch’ during a hurricane, while other sharks fled. “Tiger sharks appear to hunker down and weather a hurricane as if nothing happened, while other less-brave sharks evacuate shallow waters, according to a recent study. . . . ‘We suspect tiger sharks were probably taking advantage of all the new scavenging opportunities from dead animals that were churned up in the storm.'”

In the depths of Winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
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Albert Camus

French Algerian writer Albert Camus grappled with many philosophical questions, including the meaning of life and how to weather its difficulties. In novels, plays, and essays, the Nobel Prize winner explored the depths, heights, and wonders of our existence. This quote was penned in a series of essays published in 1968, in which Camus urged humankind to persevere through adversity. In this volume, he wrote about recovering from World War II: “We must mend what has been torn apart” and “give happiness a meaning once more.” While Camus’ words on resilience were inspired by the specific struggles of his era, his hopefulness and belief that light outlives the dark is timeless.