Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blog watcher, blog watcher, oh,
We're gonna kill this pretty thing...

The Agitator: More on informant abuse.

The Reason Foundation: "Do you want to be a fortune teller in Maryland? Your future better include a license from the state. How about being a hair braider in Mississippi? You'll need 300 to 1,500 hours of training and government permission. Want to sell flowers in Louisiana? Only licensed florists can do that. And almost every state requires certification if you want to move furniture and hang art while calling yourself an interior designer." (more) Via the Club for Growth.

Associated Press:

One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

Or worse.

more (via... Unqualified Offerings, maybe?)
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.
--Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle

This was so, so satisfying. I wasn't sure it could possibly live up to that opening paragraph; it completely did. Fantastic reading for the humid dregs of summertime.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What effect is this relationship having on my community relationships? If my needs are being met in my friendship, I will be more loving toward others and more tolerant of them. On the other hand, if I am merely seeking ego gratification, I will find others boring. I will resent spending time on community projects and refuse to listen to my community as a whole or to specific individuals. If I am in a position of authority, this is a particularly grave situation.
--Teresita Scully, "Discernment of Friendships"--very much reminds me of the discussions of friendship serving vs. detracting from leadership, in my college debating society....

Monday, August 20, 2007

...It is pursuing a mirage to look for "spiritual" love as if it did not involve the same feelings as any other human love. Said Teresa of Avila about celibates, "Do you think that such souls will love less? No, I tell you they will love their friends more, with more affections, and a greater passion."

Teresa was in an excellent position to recognize both healthy and unhealthy friendships. She spent the first twenty years of her religious life giving time to frivolous friendships. Even after her conversion experience, it took some time for her to rid herself of these shackles. She admitted, "For more than eighteen years, I suffered this battle and conflict between friendship with God and friendship with the world."

We might expect that she would have completely renounced friendship, since it had been such an occasion of temptation for her, but the opposite occurred. She soon invested her intense affections in new friendships that she would defend as being almost as powerful as her mystical experiences in drawing her soul to God. Teresa wrote, in her Way of Perfection, "I say once again that spiritual love seems to be imitating that love which the good lover Jesus had for us... [and] a good means to having God is to speak with his friends, for one always gains very much from this. I know from experience."

--Teresita Scully, "Discernment of Friendships," Human Development vol 6 no. 1 (Spring 1985)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

If you loved the BBC recording, you should check out the Naxos version of The Tempest with McKellen as Prospero. And not just for McKellen, the whole cast is great. And, yes, Ariel is a man.

--Man Who Is Thursday
The issue is not loneliness, which is a universal human experience; nor is it solitude, which the praying celibate has presumably found to be a positive dimension of life.
--Fr Bernard R. Bonnot, "Stages in a Celibate's Life," Human Development v. 16 no. 3 (Fall 1995)

A Jesuit friend very kindly sent me a packet of articles from the "Catholic seminary trade publications," on various aspects of celibacy and homosexuality. This particular line struck me not so much because of its context, but because of the idea that solitude can be presumed to have deeply positive aspects because of its support of one's prayer life. That's a perspective I needed. (And especially fascinating to me as I work on the novel, Intimacy, with its varying portrayals of divergent human solitudes.) ...Will likely post a longer excerpt from a different piece tomorrow, about friendship.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

SHAKE IT LIKE A MILKSHAKE, AND DO THE BEST YOU CAN: (...Yeah, don't even, it could've been much worse.)

So I listened to this very fantastic Royal Shakespeare Company CD set. These are some exceptionally scattered notes:

1. If you think you need this thing, you probably do.

2. On the other hand, you'll get much, much more out of the segments you already have memorized; the segments are way too short, and of course out of context; and, in general, this is no way to figure out what you think of the biting Swan of Avon, let alone of his plays or his players. This is for obsessives. I loved it!

3. People who went way up in my estimation: Peggy Ashcroft, Donald Sinden. People who stayed in my estimo-stratosphere: Alan Rickman. (Yes, I know it! I can't help it!) People who went slightly up: Laurence Olivier (of whom more presently), Ian McKellen.

(I'm always surprised to find that McKellen is actually very good. It's sort of like when I watched Endgame and found that Dumbledore and Lupin were phenomenal actors.)

4. I'm still not convinced that Lear can be acted. But the gems from the lesser plays are generally very well-chosen; The Comedy of Errors and The Merry Wives of Windsor stand out in this respect.

5. I'm totally in favor of Ariel as a man. I'm totally anti Ariel as a boy. Ariel needs to be elusive and somehow older than anything Prospero can understand--making Prospero's merely human exhaustion seem small. So the Derek Jacobi vs. Mark Rylance segment was more or less the opposite of what I would have done with that bit of The Tempest--"Graves, at my command" needs to be softer and more horror-movie and frightening, while "...and drown my book" needs to be quicker and harder and a hundred percent less hissy. They happened to record a scene I feel very, very strongly about, and get it wrong, and... I can't let it go. Sorry.
OOH OOH, THEY'RE OBSESSED WITH JEWS!: Because they're watching Jews!

Michael Rubin notes:
Amidst the dozens of university presidents declaring their opposition to the academic boycott of Israeli professors and universities, the absence of Yale president Richard Levin and Duke president Richard Brodhead is curious (Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust sent a separate letter). Levin has, throughout his tenure, been more of a fundraiser than a leader and may feel supporting such principles may put Yale in a difficult position with regard to its fundraising in the United Arab Emirates. And Brodhead's refusal to sign is curious given how outspoken he was on public issues surrounding the Duke lacrosse case and, before that, how staunch his defense was of Duke's willingness to host the 2004 national convention of the Palestinian Solidarity Movement, whose members had endorsed suicide bombing.


For some inexplicable reason, this reminds me of the exchange from a memorable game of tennis with several Yalien life forms. (Tennis the game from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, not tennis the game from Henry V.)

she: Unleavened.
he: Dickless.
Hey hey, Cripple Creek Blogwatch,
Going through the overhanging trees...

The Agitator: Another battlefield conversion in the Drug War. (More here.)

Balkinization: Which you should read. (Yeah, I'm cheating--I need to read this stuff too, for work, but am putting it off. So this is a link from all of me, to all of you.)

Claw of the Conciliator:
We are here to save your life:
The fool, the drunk, the child, and his wife.

Intentional Disciples: Ways of prayer. (Via... maybe Disputations?) Might be especially helpful to read if you're feeling like you have no access to the ways of prayer that are most lauded and understood by the people around you.

John Heard: Maximilian Kolbe, from Nagasaki to Auschwitz.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I was lying in the gutter, I was covered up with beer,
Pretzels in my blogwatch, I thought the end was near--

Alias Clio: Sloth.

Paleo-Future: This is the kind of Paleo-Future post I live for. And Jamaican paleofuturist food.

Warren Peace discovers the absolute awesomeness of Jaime Hernandez... and the dark(er) side of Gilbert. It's so much fun to read someone's first reactions to my absolute favorite comics. Can't wait to see what he makes of Chester Square or Poison River. Via Journalista.

I was H-A-P-P-Y to be S-A-V-E-D,
S-A-V-E-D from the bonds of S-I-N....

Thursday, August 09, 2007

...OR IS IT JUST ME?: It's way too hot to think, here. I'm hoping to have interesting things to say soon, but for the moment, I'll just tell you that I've been eating a lot of fresh sorrel, and it's fantastic! It's got such a cool taste--not sure how to describe it--very bright, not quite peppery or citrusy but somewhere in that area. I've just been shredding it up and putting it in pasta sauce at the last minute of cooking, but last night I had it on a hamburger in place of lettuce, and that was faboo. Buttered toasted roll, medium-rare hamburger, maybe three big crisp sorrel leaves... mmmm. Sorrelicious.

Monday, August 06, 2007

IF YOU'VE NOTHING TO HIDE, YOU'VE GOT NOTHING TO FEAR: So last week I finished the rough draft of a novel. It's... I guess maybe kind of fantasy-of-manners? It's about the discovery of telepathy. The working title is Intimacy.

It has college libraries and class resentment! It has revolutionary lady's-maids and kawaii manticores! Friendship, familial loyalty, complicity, social change, newspapers, vodoun, and telepathy done as an homage to Degas. It is desperately awesome, and also completely ramshackle.

If this interests you, email me, with "intimacy" somewhere in the subject header.
WHAT KEEPS MANKIND ALIVE?: This past week, I read Octavia Butler's short story, "Asylum." [eta: Yeah, it might help to get the story's title right, you know? It's "Amnesty." SORRY.] You can find my review of her story collection Bloodchild here. "Amnesty" isn't included in that collection.

I can see why. It's just not as well-crafted as the stories in Bloodchild. It's clunky; you can see the duct tape on the girders. There are speeches and the pacing is off and the metaphors are too abstract. In the stories in Bloodchild, the characters and imagery are almost transparent--they're metaphorical, in the weird "twelve connotations at once" way of the best science fiction, but they feel real. The connotation feels like it has a denotation, a real person or image or moment there, and "Amnesty" lacks that shock of recognition.

Oh, it has other shocks, though. Like the other Butler stories I've read, it portrays the world as a collage of complicity and need. And of course that's true. (The fact that I think there are other true narratives of the world--which Butler in "Amnesty" seems to deny pretty strenuously--doesn't make the complicity-need narrative untrue. The fact that the complicity-need narrative, in isolation from any uncompromising love or hope, does always end up with a lot of powerless people dead [if you can articulate your powerlessness, someone else is more powerless than you, almost by definition, so there's someone for you to hurt or sacrifice] doesn't make the complicity-need narrative untrue.)

I've spent a significant fraction of this week reading about torture; and all kinds of details in "Amnesty" could have been taken from this week's ACLU press release. This is the real world.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Interview with Josh Rushing, of Control Room fame. He's an Al-Jazeera correspondent now. No joke. Completely, 100% worth your time.

Via Rattus.