Conrad never claimed that his writings would change the nature of humankind or society. He wasn't interested either in spinning adventure stories set on the high seas, in the manner of Captain Marryat, R.M. Ballantyne, or John Masefield. Nor did he believe in the type described by Herman Melville as the "Handsome Sailor," that nautical beau ideal whom his messmates loved and admired, the ancestor of Captain Horatio Hornblower or Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey. Conrad had scant faith in the idealized man and the abstract idea, in the generalized theory. Rather, he believed in the form and substance of things; in the visible, the measurable, the job to be performed, all of it limned by that ethical cipher which flickers like a spectre in and out of the stories, the novels, the sketches.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The Japanese Threadleaf Maple (acer palmatum dissectum) is one of the most beautiful plants ever developed by humans. I never noticed these trees until I was in my early 30s - and then I noticed that they are everywhere, and rightly so.
You can see samples of the leaves above, but from a distance the tree looks like it consists of a beautifully gnarled trunk supporting puffy green or purple or red clouds. Like this:
The Brooklyn Botanical Garden, which I hope to visit soon, has a Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden with fantastic examples.
The Japanese really know how to do gardens - the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, which I visited ten years ago, is so beautiful it blew my mind.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
There are all kinds of video recordings of people doing Shakespeare, INCLUDING 151...
An "enactment" of sorts that is bizarre and rather unsavory...
Since this year marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare's sonnets, I think there needs to be a recording of all of them - by talented, attractive actors... hmmm... I'll have to think about taking on that project...
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
As those whose beauties proudly make them cruel;
For well thou know'st to my dear doting heart
Thou art the fairest and most precious jewel.
The rest of 131
Yesterday is the date on which Shakespeare's birthday is traditionally observed...
Ooh, Sonnet Sleuth!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
This year marks the two-hundredth anniversary of Poe’s birth and the publication of two collections of gothic tales produced by the Mystery Writers of America. “On a Raven’s Wing: New Tales in Honor of Edgar Allan Poe” (Harper; $14.99) contains stories by twenty mystery writers, including Mary Higgins Clark. “In the Shadow of the Master: Classic Tales by Edgar Allan Poe” (William Morrow; $25.99) pairs Poe’s best-known stories with modern commentaries; Stephen King muses on “The Genius of ‘The Tell-Tale Heart.’ ” There’s also a sensitive and haunting brief biography, Peter Ackroyd’s “Poe: A Life Cut Short” (Doubleday; $21.95), that offers a fitting tribute to Poe’s begin-at-the-end philosophy by opening with his horrible and mysterious death, in October of 1849. Poe, drunk and delirious, seems to have been dragged around Baltimore to cast votes, precinct after precinct, in one of that city’s infamously corrupt congressional elections, until he finally collapsed. From Ryan’s tavern, a polling place in the Fourth Ward, Poe was carried, like a corpse, to a hospital. He died four days later. He was forty years old.More in the New Yorker
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
I hate that term of course - it means a woman in her 30s-40s who likes 20-something guys. I hate it because a 30-40-something guy who is into 20-something women is called... "a guy."
But more, I hate the fact that I am so hung up on love & affection. It's so much easier if you are just about the physical.
It's a curse.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Sonnet cycles: 6
* Sonnets in G
* Bitterest Bliss & Gregorian Chants
* Secret Sonnets
* NY Sonnets
* Goddam Sonnets
* Poetry Month Sonnets
Total Sonnets: 50
* Sonnets in G - 10
* Bitterest Bliss & Gregorian Chants - 6
* Secret Sonnets - 14
* NY Sonnets - 5
* Goddam Sonnets - 10
* Poetry Month Sonnets - 5 (so far)
more sonnet stuff soon...
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Late last month, the New York Times published an op-ed by Daphne Merkin, a contributing writer to the Times Magazine, on the Bernie Madoff mess. The curious premise of the piece seemed to be that Madoff's "victims" (the quote marks are Merkin's) aren't really blameless, since "no one was holding a gun to anyone's head, saying sign up with Mr. Madoff or else."
The argument seemed tendentious at best -- but there was a bigger problem. As numerous bloggers quickly pointed out, Merkin's parenthetical disclosure -- "I did not know Mr. Madoff nor did I invest with his firm, but have a sibling who did business with him" -- didn't come anywhere close to fully informing readers about her personal tie to the case.
That sibling is Ezra Merkin, the financier and former chairman of GMAC, who was the second-largest institutional investor in Madoff's funds, losing billions of other people's money. In a civil suit filed this week by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Ezra Merkin, who collected over $40 million from Madoff's funds, was charged with "betraying hundreds of investors" by lying to them about how much of their money he had invested with Madoff, and by failing to disclose conflicts of interest.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I have nothing against writing plays about Jesus, I'm just saying they won't work, unless the play is all about Jesus. It can't be about human stuff. Unless your Jesus is the non-god version. But that leads to other problems.
If you have a play with a god in it, it changes things. Just ask the Greeks - they used to have their plays end with the deus ex machina (God in a machine) - they actually had an actor in a contraption to make them look god-like. The god would make everything come out alright in the end. Nowadays deus ex machina is not considered a satisfying method of ending a play. Although even Shakespeare pulled that one, in As You Like It. But Shakespeare always gets some slack of which contemporary writers are not cut.
Lately my writers group has been plagued by plays about prostitutes and plays containing Jesus. I have problems with the prostitute plays too but that's another essay.
The authors of the Jesus plays insist on writing what they consider realistic stories about humans that just happen to have Jesus in it. This flat out does not work, because even though many of the writers are not devout Christians, their view of Jesus comes directly from the Bible. And the Bible considers Jesus a god. That throws everything off. That's like writing a kitchen-sink drama and one of the characters reveals that the wise teacher in her school is in fact Superman. There is no way that the play cannot become about Superman. Ain't nobody care about yo kitchen sink when Kal-El from Krypton is in town. (Kal and Jesus were both sent to Earth by their fathers - did you ever notice that? For an even better connection between God and superheroes, see Tom the Dancing Bug's God-Man series.
The Trouble with Jesus essay continued here