I’m scheduling this for the usual Monday morning time, but – and here I’m quoting from a recent blog post – I’m off for a brief writing retreat, to see if I can finish a complete draft of my “biography” of Paradise Lost … which has been fun to write but also immensely challenging. It occurred to me the other day that if I had to rewrite the book using nothing I have used so far — none of the facts about Milton’s life, none of the quotations from Paradise Lost, none of the references to later readers and writers — I could easily do it. That’s how much material there is to draw on. And I have to keep the whole thing to 50,000 words!
Wendell Berry, from Life Is a Miracle:
The language we use to speak of the world and its creatures, including ourselves, has gained a certain analytical power (along with a lot of expertish pomp) but has lost much of its power to designate what is being analyzed or to convey any respect or care or affection or devotion toward it. As a result we have a lot of genuinely concerned people calling upon us to “save” a world which their language simultaneously reduces to an assemblage of perfectly featureless and dispirited “ecosystems,” “organisms,” “environments,” “mechanisms,” and the like. It is impossible to prefigure the salvation of the world in the same language by which the world has been dismembered and defaced.
Emphasis mine. It’s noteworthy how this point converges with Audre Lorde’s famous line – famous among a rather different audience than Berry’s – “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
Here’s an excellent post by Carl Johnson – a long, digressive one – on Adam Roberts’s The This, Twitter, history, Moloch, and back to The This again.
And another fine piece, this one by my friend Noah Millman, on how missing out on a Big News cycle can be a good thing – even for a political commentator.
In Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece, Michael Benson describes the complicated but gratifying relationship between Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke – a relationship in which Kubrick took more credit and kept more money than he deserved, despite his real affection for Clarke. Some years after the movie’s completion, Clarke happened to see a documentary about Kubrick which featured a photograph in which Kubrick was sitting before a television, holding a microphone up to its speaker:
Apart from providing another example of the director’s familiar intensity — Kubrick’s lifelong determination to absorb and record everything important, without missing an implication or word — it revealed that his microphone was, in fact, recording none other than his old ally and intellectual sparring partner Arthur Clarke, who, in turn, was being featured in a BBC documentary. “In those days, you couldn’t record television very easily, and so he sat there throughout the film,” Christiane recalled of her husband, who was most likely recording a 1979 broadcast of Time out of Mind, a program focusing on science fiction. “Stanley really admired Arthur and valued his opinions on everything and had great respect for him.” A scene, then, of an aging science fiction writer watching a screen, seeing an aging film director also watching a screen and recording that writer’s every word. Taking it all in, Clarke blinked owlishly behind his glasses several times and burst into tears.
I’ve blogged a lot lately and keep forgetting to tell y’all. Here are some posts (as always, there are more that you can find by looking around, especially the photos and artworks):
There are also some posts queued up for the coming week, though none of them are big ones.
And for you newer readers, I have a micro.blog page where I mainly post photos and record the books I’m reading. In fact, that’s pretty much all I post there, but I do so with some regularity, and it’s possible to subscribe to an email digest of the posts – it goes out every Friday. For those of you subscribing here, that would mean hearing from me twice a week, but hey, I’m not responsible for your poor decision-making.