Wallace Stevens. COVID zero fanatics. The Novel is dead. Saint Galgano. Louise Glück. How democracies die. Solzhenitsyn.
Michael Oakeshott, Marina Tsvetaeva, Elena Shvarts, Russian Ark, St Petersburg
This morning I read this poem. "A task" by Czelaw Milosz, chosen randomly from his collected poems. It reminded me of the post I made on reading this poem initially in 2017. It resonated again today amidst so much degraded public discourse. I will add to this repost the closing paragraph of the other poem … Continue reading A task: from Milosz to me
Today I am reposting this reflection on the true heritage of Ezra Pound, Cantos from a cage, which I originally posted in April 2018. I have borrowed from the local library, Daniel Swift The Bughouse: the poetry, politics and madness of Ezra Pound (2017) that tries "to make our peace, as best we can, with … Continue reading Cantos from a cage
I have established several practices for the New Year to make it a more mindful, culturally enriched and satisfying year than the plague year of 2020, now buried in an urn of oblivion. I have begun a bullet journal to record habits, moods, and experiences, and in which to write the plans and dreams of … Continue reading Taking time with Szymborska
I plunged again into my white box of old handwritten index cards today, and pulled from the archive, laid down in my twenties and thirties, a fragment from Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975), the Russian literary critic and philosopher. The text comes from a late work of Bakhtin, Speech Genres, although I took the text from Clark … Continue reading Fragments from the Burning Archive: Mikhail Bakhtin
A tradition that I have embraced on this blog over the last few years has been to write year in review posts in December. In 2019 I reflected on walking through the desert, notes on my reading, the democratic rebuff to progressivism, and walking through the circles of hell. In 2018 I reflected on ambiguous … Continue reading The kaleidoscope of 2020: year in review
Today, I am reposting this response to William Dalrymple's magnificent The Last Mughal: the Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857. I wonder if, over the next 5 to 10 years, we will be conducting sad online mushairas (poetic symposiums) and singing laments for the collapse of the Washington court? Cultural collapse: Delhi 1857 (February 4, … Continue reading Cultural collapse: Delhi 1857
Today I am reposting this post from April 2, 2018 that reflected on some of the literary symbols that formed uncanny fascinators in my mind. *** When I was about fifteen, I found Edmund Wilson's Axel's Castle in a library. It was my introduction to literary modernism, and their progenitors, the French symbolists. Over time … Continue reading Axel’s Castle, a mirror and an encyclopaedia
I am reposting this reflection on the response to political decay in the midst of the constitutional crisis under way in America, which reveals dramatically the rot in America's institutions and elites. Over the next weeks I want to focus on some long-term writing projects outside the blog and so will mostly be reposting some … Continue reading A solution to political decay: the ordinary virtues of governing well
Prophets are despised in their own country, and now and then I am tempted deeply by Cassandra's fate. So in appreciation of true prophets and great writers, who formed my understanding of the world as a young man, here are some brief testimonies of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. "If one is forever cautious, can one remain a … Continue reading An interlude on Solzhenitsyn
https://wp.me/p1YJAa-2xN This interview with Seamus Heaney (vale Seamus) is wonderful. I particularly like the line that poetry is stratification of the need for transcendence.