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Monday, September 08, 2014

Books-and-words gallimaufry


I have updated the Glimmerglass page, cutting and adding and tweaking, and wouldn't mind a bit any comments to improve it. Launch events will start later in the month. Right now I'm working on the final stages of a manuscript...

The Uses of Tolkien

I've noticed a growing number of slight mentions of of Tolkien in the context of current events. Victor Davis Hansen has just dug into that vein of comparison. Here Hansen analyzes the state of the world, launching off from The Lord of the Rings.

"10 books"

I'm loving all these facebook lists of books that affected people and stuck with them. Every now and then I bump into one of mine--so far I've seen A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, Thaliad, Ingledove, and Catherwood on lists. Catherwood is out ahead of the rest. Considering that people can dive back more than a thousand years through English language books alone, I am tickled.

 "10 books" from that lovely poet and man, Dave Favier

The King of Elfland's Daughter, Lord Dunsany
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt
Marx's 1844 manuscripts
A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, Marly Youmans
All the Strange Hours, Loren Eisley
Leaves of Grass, Whitman
William Blake's lyric poetry
Juan Luna's Revolver, Luisa A. Igloria*
William Butler Yeats' lyric poetry
The Walls Do Not Fall, H.D.
History of the Civil War, Shelby Foote
Vanity Fair, Wm Thackeray
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Debt: the first 5,000 years, David Graeber

*Note: Luisa and I will be reading together this month! See here. I'll also be reading from Glimmerglass with Philip Lee Williams, Lev Grossman, Kelly Link (and Raymond-Atkins-if-we-work-it-out...)

Bill Knight commented, "I had Marly Youmans on my list as well, but it was "The Thaliad", not "A Death", which I have not read." So that's the first I've seen for Thaliad.

Free speech (h/t @prufrocknews)

Wordsmiths rely on free speech. Academics ought to know what it means. But in our time, is it any surprise that the chancellor of Berkeley gets it wrong? Administrators have a weird challenge; they tend to be tugged toward a Babel of obfuscation, sophistry, word-inflation, falsehood, and jargon. It's evidently hard to resist. Go here for an interesting takedown and analysis of the chancellor's letter to the university. Here's a sample:
First, observe the hidden premise Chancellor Dirks is presenting — that free speech must have "meaning." This implies that speech that does not have "meaning" — as defined, one presumes, by Chancellor Dirks or a committee of people like him — then it is not "free speech," and perhaps is not entitled to protection. Dirks is smuggling a vague and easily malleable precondition to free speech. There is no such precondition. Our rights are not limited by some free-floating test of merit or meaning.
It gets tougher from there...


  1. Was the letter from the UC-Berkeley chancellor a response to any particular incident? If not, it's even more troubling than that line-by-line critique suggests. The chancellor is lecturing to incoming students who didn't ask for his opinion, obliquely warning them that they ought not cross over into what he considers incivility, which he only vaguely defines. He cites Berkeley's free-speech history, but again, only vaguely, like one who stands in front of a cross or a flag and hopes that combining the symbol with an office will grant the authority that his words cannot.

    I actually laughed at this: "we can only exercise our right to free speech insofar as we feel safe and respected in doing so." If that's really Berkeley's policy, then its implications are far worse than college kids being (dearie me!) ungracious to each other.

    1. Yep, they need a good kick from Tom Paine! And I don't think there was an incident (a "triggering" incident?)

  2. You're reading with Lev Grossman? I wish I could be there. Of course I'd love to be there when you read with Luisa too! We were supposed to, but I ended up not going to VA this summer.

    1. I'm doing more dual readings that usual, so that will be different and interesting, I hope! I expect you're doing plenty of readings where you are--many more opportunities out that way... and that's good.

  3. Wonderful list Dale! I should have put up a Marly title too.
    And a Luisa one.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.