Here’s a September update for my Buy Me a Coffee supporters.
My career as a fabulist.
Thirty years ago, one of the great achievements of Western culture appeared. And we have documentary evidence of its making. (Large version here.)
Ted Gioia: “Taylor Swift, you are the one person who can make this happen. I believe this is your destiny.”
This week I’m teaching Austen’s Mansfield Park and, honestly, I don’t know of any other novel I’d rather teach. A few are equally interesting in the classroom, but none more so. What a great and delightful book.
This seems miraculous: I actually need to wear waterproof shoes today.
Here’s a shortish essay from me on the literature classroom as a place for “the deepening and sharpening of emotional powers.”
A brief post about Auden and Ischia.
A fascinating little fact in this article on declining interest in studying Mandarin: On Duolingo, Korean is more popular than Mandarin.
I often think about this Brent Simmons post on “Mac-assed Mac apps” — especially when I’m using apps that fit that description. Case in point: Transmit. I use it almost every day, and it’s a joy to use, in part because it’s an app than which a more Mac-assed cannot be conceived.
Sometimes I actually have to do scholarship.
The palatial Granada Theatre in Chicago, from a book about America’s lost architectural treasures. Full-size photo here.
I wrote up a kind of summation of my posts on the desperate-times-require-desperate-measures Christians.
It’s a great blessing to me that my parish church does Choral Evensong on Sunday evenings, and tonight our women’s choir sang a glorious setting of Ubi caritas et amor by Roxanna Panufnik. You can listen to a performance of that piece here.
Bertrand Russell, in his Autobiography: “As an undergraduate I was persuaded that the dons were a wholly unnecessary part of the university. I derived no benefits from lectures, and I made a vow to myself that when in due course I became a lecturer I would not suppose that lecturing did any good. I have kept this vow.”
Not everyone is interested in the Oxyrhynchus papyri — IYKYK — but for those who are, this article by Candida Moss is an excellent summary of recent work by my friend and colleague Jeff Fish and his collaborators. Also: commentary by Brent Nongbri.
When Paul Schrader was asked to do a Criterion Collection Top 10, he gave a great response: “As a longtime cinephile I’m familiar with most of the Criterion catalogue. Rather than select ten favorites I’ll choose ten films that I was able to see because of Criterion, films I previously did not know about or were not available.”
I haven’t really used Twitter for several years, but now I’m deleting my account.
Joseph Horowitz: “So unnoticed are the American arts that a major American historian, Jill Lepore, can produce a wonderfully readable 900-page historical overview — These Truths: A History of the United States (2018) — without devoting so much as a sentence to the arts. No one could possibly dispute her emphasis on present-day issues and needs — the urgency of pondering American race relations and inequality. But it does not follow that there should be no consideration of Walt Whitman or Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson or William Faulkner, Charles Ives or George Gershwin, Duke Ellington or Billie Holiday.”
Here I wonder: When do competent writers turn to AI for help in writing?
We see so many tributes when great artists die, but we should do a better job of praising them while they’re still around. So let’s acknowledge a home truth: there ain’t nobody who can sing like Gladys Knight.
Ronald W. Dworkin: “AI without the ballast of intuition represents the tyranny of pure analysis.”
Oh boy am I excited about what Robin Sloan is up to.