My favorite responses:
is the pic on black velvet? that makes a huge difference. only pix of dogs playing poker or Elvis should be on black velvet.
This is about thomistic and Aristotlean Asthetics. Maybe Teleology.
is the pic on black velvet? that makes a huge difference. only pix of dogs playing poker or Elvis should be on black velvet.
This is about thomistic and Aristotlean Asthetics. Maybe Teleology.
Josef Pieper quotes from a translation of Hesiod by Cardinal Newman in which this thought is expressed with inimitable elegance and accuracy:
“Being wise with someone else’s head … is, to be sure, inferior to being wise oneself, but it is infinitely superior to the sterile pride of one who does not achieve the independence of being wise himself, yet at the same time despises the dependence of one who believes on the word of another.”The same line of thought can be detected in Newman’s own comment on man’s basic relationship to truth. Men are all too inclined—the great philosopher of religion opines—to wait placidly for proofs of the reality of revelation, to seek them out as if they were in the position of judge, not suppliant.
"They have decided to put the Almighty to the proof—with controlled passion, a total freedom from bias, and a clear head.” But the individual who thus makes himself lord of the truth deceives himself, for truth shuns the arrogant and reveals itself only to those who approach it in an attitude of reverence, of respectful humility.
From: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Auf Christus schauen, pp. 21–23
Luther was the last shearer standing. Younger men wanted nothing to do with such hard work, preferring to drive some rig or gaze at a screen.*
Dovey observed to Dellarobia that there was no end to the amount of effort a man would put into saving himself some work.
His bewildered sexual gratitude, as near a thing to religious awe as a girl of her station could likely inspire. These boyish things had made him lovable. But you could run out of gas on boyish, that was the thing.
Here we go, she thought, into the quicksands of stupid.
everything living now seemed to yearn for sun with the anguish of the unloved.
Four wings, with the symmetry of a bow-tied shoelace. Preston had spent all of a recent morning trying to tie a bow, biting his lower lip in concentration, but here was perfection without effort.
A movement of clouds altered the light, and all across the valley, the butterfly skin of the world transfigured in response, opening all the wings at once to the sun.
It did get her out, among people. Whether friend or foe hardly mattered; they ate with their mouths closed and wore shoes without Velcro...being a stay-at-home mom was the loneliest kind of lonely, in which she was always and never by herself. Days and days, hours and hours within them, and days within weeks, at the end of which she might not ever have gotten completely dressed or read any word longer than Chex...Just motherhood, with its routine costs of providing a largesse that outstripped her physical dimensions. She’d seen ewes in the pasture whose sixty-pound twins would run underneath together and bunt the udders to release the milk with sharp upward thrusts, jolting the mother’s hindquarters off the ground. That was the picture, overdrawn. A gut-twisting life of love, consecrated by the roof and walls that contained her and the air she was given to breathe.
An hour in the café, the slake of a tall cup of coffee, and stillness, and wearing shoes, a clean tile floor, time off for good behavior.
She was what Hester called a 911 Christian: in the event of an emergency, call the Lord. Unlike all those who called on Jesus daily, rain or shine, to discuss their day and feel the love. Once upon a time she’d had her mother for that. Jesus was a more reliable backer, evidently, less likely to drink himself unconscious or get liver cancer. No wonder people chose Him as their number-one friend. But if the chemistry wasn’t there, what could you do?
For a year she’d gone with Cub to Wednesday Bible group and loved the sense of being back in school, but her many questions did not make her the teacher’s pet. Right out of the gate, in Genesis, she identified two completely different versions of how it all got started. The verses could be a listen-and-feel kind of thing, like music, she’d suggested, not like the instruction booklet that comes with a darn appliance.
Pastor Ogle had lured Hester over from a harder line of Baptists, and Dellarobia knew some marital compromise was involved. Bear had stopped attending over there. Here he could sit out the service in Men’s Fellowship, which had checkers and country music pitched low enough you could still hear the sermon on the closed-circuit if you so desired. Bobby had found the key to modern believers: that many preferred their salvation experience to come with a remote.
Dovey liked to text her on Sunday mornings for her own entertainment. There was one waiting now: COME YE FISHERS OF MEN: YOU CATCH, GOD WILL CLEAN. Dovey’s fondness for one-liners-in-Christ was bottomless, she collected them off church marquees.
He gave us this eternal SpringOh May, like Mae West when you're good…you're very good. And today is magical, another pluperfectly minted day fresh off the factory line. I'm in my hammock now, avoiding the “laying versus lying” confusion. Just “in” it. And watching a gold sun still pleasantly high in the sky at 5:45pm. Bask now I do in this especial moment, gazing at the dewey wax of plants plump with rain. Oh the shimmer-play of light through the back patio pine! How I underestimate this magic spot on the hammock, this rich topography of sun before me while I rest in dappled shade. In the mid-distance I see the fountain and the St. Francis statue, in the foreground the richly landscaped vicinity.
Which here enamels everything. --Andrew Marvell
No white nor red was ever seen*
So amorous as this lovely green,
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
Cut in these trees their mistress' name:
Little, alas! They know or heed
How far these beauties hers exceed! - Andrew Marvell
Thus shut out from their neighbours by mountains, the Greeks were naturally attracted to the sea, and became a maritime people. Hence they possessed the love of freedom and the spirit of adventure, which have always characterised, more or less the inhabitants of maritime districts. - A Smaller History of GreeceRuffled by want of a cigar, I made a special trip to Kroger's for one. It feels earned and I'd been pining for one ever since catching a whiff of Dad's cigar last weekend.
Writing in 1939, I am at a loss what to do with a fashion of morose disparagement; of sneering at things long by catholic consent accounted beautiful; of scorning at 'Man's unconquerable mind' and hanging up (without benefit of laundry) our common humanity as a rag on a clothes-line. Be it allowed that these present times are dark. Yet what are our poets of use - what are they for - if they cannot hearten the crew with auspices of daylight?*
The chosen people was constituted by God as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” But within the people of Israel, God chose one of the twelve tribes, that of Levi, and set it apart for liturgical service.It's interesting to me that in Wills's systematic attempts to dismantle the Church he began with producing a book he called “papal lies”. In other words, let's look at the words of popes and refute them. But now he goes “one better” by trying to undermine the whole institution of the priesthood. It's as if he first said, “Oh don't listen to those out-of-touch Catholic prelates, especially on birth control!” Then, without achieving noticeable success he decided to say, “And another reason not to listen to them is that the whole schema lacks credibility!” If you can't undermine the popes by their actions then do so by the office itself. It seems childish, like saying, “I don't like cops because they are often in the wrong” and then saying, “I hereby question the whole need and justification for cops.” Methinks he protests too much. It really feels like he's doing Satan's bidding.
Pascal observed the problem in seventeenth-century France when he saw the obsession with entertainment as the offspring of the fallen human desire to be distracted from any thought of mortality. “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.”Sounds similar to Homer Simpson's claim that alcohol is the cause and solution to all life's problems. Quote above is from an article in First Things about how tragic the author finds the lack of tragedy in current church services. Death is the thing we constantly hold at arm's length. Very provocative to say that the problem with church is that it isn't entertaining enough - because there's no addressing the reality of death in current services. He wonders if it didn't start when cemeteries were separated from church grounds. He also makes the dubious claim that Joseph Conrad was a better writer than Charles Dickens because the former dealt in tragedy. He makes the much less dubious claim that Shakespeare's best plays were the tragedies. The author adds:
Today tragedy has, with few exceptions, dropped from popular entertainment. Whether it is the sentimentalism of the Hallmark Channel, the pyrotechnics of action movies, or the banal idiocy of reality TV, the tragic sensibility is all but lost.The news is depressing enough it seems it's no wonder most people don't want to dwell on the tragic even if it is said to be cathartic. Besides, even back in the “golden age” of the '40s and '50s there weren't too many tragic films by my recollection.
With corruption, it's never personal until it's.... personal.You know a scandal is bad when I can point you to the Huffington Post's summary, because it can't collect any more outrage than I can:Journalists reacted with shock and outrage at the news that the Justice Department had secretly obtained months of phone records of Associated Press journalists.The AP broke the news on Monday about what it called an "unprecedented intrusion" into its operation. It said that the DOJ had obtained detailed phone records from over 20 different lines, potentially monitoring hundreds of different journalists without notifying the organization. The wire service's president, Gary Pruitt, wrote a blistering letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, accusing the DOJ of violating the AP's constitutional rights.Reporters and commentators outside the AP professed themselves to be equally angered. "The Nixon comparisons write themselves," BuzzFeed's Ben Smith tweeted. Margaret Sullivan, the public editor for the New York Times, called the story "disturbing." Washington Post editor Martin Baron called it "shocking." CNN's John King described it as "very chilling."Speaking to the Washington Post's Erik Wemple, a lawyer for the AP called the DOJ's actions "outrageous," saying they were "a dagger to the heart of AP's newsgathering activity."BuzzFeed's Kate Nocera was perhaps more pithy, writing simply, "what in the f--k."
One of the few Cathedral Basilica Minors outside of Rome, it has the largest stain glass window in a church in the world. The inside of it is absolutely breathtaking and I find myself staring at the different stain glass windows or mosaics while attending service there.Another writes:
Cathedral Basilica is home to some of the most beautiful architecture in the tri-state. Located in the heart of Covington, the grand church can be seen from highrises in Cincinnati. Once inside, the view becomes even more breathtaking.
Cathedral Basilica is home to the World's Largest Stained Glass Window, measuring 67 x 24 feet. The facility was erected in 1894 and ended in 1915, unfinished. Near the front door, you can notice some empty pedestals which were meant to house statues. The church ran out of money, and never added them in. The Cathedral is also lacking a steeple because it would be too heavy for the foundation to support.
Some notable architecture:
Outside, one can find a lush garden, complete with path, benches and fountain. It's an enjoyable piece of serenity for Downtown Covington.
- 26 gargoyles on the building exterior
- murals by 1903 Covington artist, Frank Duveneck
- two beautiful, stained glass rose windows
- ornate statues of religious figures
- marble flooring, sanctuary, and Baptismal
- two gigantic organs, one dating back to 1859
- 82 stained glass windows made in Munich, Germany
- mosaics of the stations of the cross, made out of 80,000 tiles
The inside of the church is modeled almost exactly after St. Denis just north of Paris, where the remains of Marie Antoinette reside in the crypts. St. Denis in Paris was very dark, moody and medieval. It was a gorgeous church, but was in a sad state. It's replica in Covington, KY is more beautiful in my opinion. After a recent renovation, they moved the altar and added some of the most beautiful woodwork I've seen. The stained glass and the rosary are astounding! This is a place not to be missed.
The Obama White House sees every event as a political event. Really, every event, even an attack on a consulate and the killing of an ambassador.
Because of that, it could not tolerate the idea that the armed assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political implications, and demand certain actions. And the American presidential election was only eight weeks away. They wanted this problem to go away, or at least to bleed the meaning from it.
Because the White House could not tolerate the idea of Benghazi as a planned and deliberate terrorist assault, it had to be made into something else. So they said it was a spontaneous street demonstration over an anti-Muhammad YouTube video made by a nutty California con man. After all, that had happened earlier in the day, in Cairo. It sounded plausible. And maybe they believed it at first. Maybe they wanted to believe it. But the message was out: Provocative video plus primitive street Arabs equals sparky explosion. Not our fault. Blame the producer! Who was promptly jailed.
If what happened in Benghazi was not a planned and prolonged terrorist assault, if it was merely a street demonstration gone bad, the administration could not take military action to protect Americans there. You take military action in response to a planned and coordinated attack by armed combatants. You don't if it's an essentially meaningless street demonstration that came and went.
Why couldn't the administration tolerate the idea that Benghazi was a planned terrorist event? Because they didn't want this attack dominating the headline with an election coming.
...if the administration was to play down the nature of the attack it would have to play down the response—that is, if you want something to be a nonstory you have to have a nonresponse. So you don't launch a military rescue operation, you don't scramble jets, and you have a rationalization—they're too far away, they'll never make it in time. This was probably true, but why not take the chance when American lives are at stake?
* * *
From the day of the attack until this week, the White House spin was too clever by half. In the weeks and months after the attack White House spokesmen said they were investigating the story, an internal review was under way. When the story blew open again, last week, they said it was too far in the past: "Benghazi happened a long time ago." Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, really said that.
Think of that. They can't give answers when the story's fresh because it just happened, they're looking into it. Eight months later they don't have anything to say because it all happened so long ago.
Think of how low your opinion of the American people has to be to think you can get away, forever, with that.
Will this story ever be completely told? Maybe not. But it's not going to go away, either. It's a prime example of the stupidity of all-politics-all-the-time. You make some bad moves for political reasons. And then you suffer politically because you made bad moves.
It has long been observed that while historians date the fall of the Roman Empire to A.D. 376, the imperial implosion would have been news to Roman authorities and Roman subjects for a century after that—the empire didn’t know that it had fallen. (Politicians: always the last to know.) A similar dynamic is at work today: The edifice of government looks as imposing as ever, perhaps more so. But something has changed.
The Declaration of Independence is a statement of our aspirations, not a description of our reality. Good poetry makes bad politics.
What makes good politics? The question itself is a problem, because to ask the question assumes that good politics is possible. It is not, and the main reason for that is not ethical but technical: Political rhetoric aside, politics as an institution fails first and foremost because it cannot manage the complex processes of modern life, because doing so would require politicians to be able to gather and process amounts of information so vast that they are literally incalculable.
Second, politics fails because people do not cease to be self-interested economic actors once elected to political office or hired by a government agency; the profit-maximizing forces that operate in the marketplace operate in politics, too, whether “profit” is measured in conventional economic terms or in power, prestige, or some other commodity.
Big Business isn’t what it used to be. Twenty-first-century corporations are more like temporary associations of people and capital lucky to survive for a few decades, and, if present trends continue, the future corporation will be an even more ad hoc tissue of tenuous short-term relationships...a successful twenty-first-century corporation is really more like an unusually enjoyable dinner party: a happy coincidence that is in part the product of careful forethought and execution, but also the product of the spontaneous interactions among people and events.
An important difference between the early twentieth century and the early twenty-first century is that businesses have become more specialized and the division of labor radically more precise, so the corporate life cycle runs more quickly. The corporate lifetime is shortening because the pace of social learning is accelerating. More complex economic entities develop adaptive strategies more quickly. We recognize our economic mistakes more quickly and develop alternatives in great number and at high speed. Understood properly, bankruptcy and business failure are pedagogical tools: They are an important part of how individuals, businesses, and industries learn—and the global marketplace is an exercise in collective social learning.
We often see only the unpleasant side of such developments: the laid-off workers, the shuttered mills, the declining steel towns. Those are very powerful images because they are discrete and specific. The pain is concentrated, but the benefits are widely dispersed.
It is remarkable that we speak and think about commerce as though competitiveness were its most important feature. There is, as noted, a certain Darwinian aspect to economic competition—and of course we humans do in fact compete over scarce resources. But what is remarkable about human action is not its competitiveness but its almost limitless cooperativeness...Competition is only one of the ways that we learn how best to cooperate with one another—competition is a means to the higher end of social cooperation.
The size and complexity of our brains evolved in parallel to the size and complexity of our social groups. The argument for cooperative human action is not just economics, but biology. Our social institutions are just as much a product of evolutionary processes as our bodies are. And it is through our social institutions, not through our individual brains, that we learn to deal with the problem of complexity.
So, how do private companies know what to produce for public use?... How do we learn how to cooperate? As Read noted about his beloved No. 2 pencil, nobody is in charge of the process, which is the result of a spontaneous order. The CEO of the pencil company understands only a small part of how his business works, and the pencil company collectively understands only a small part of the process. The system works because the underlying spontaneous order, even though its vast complexity is beyond our understanding, has a built-in mechanism for getting less wrong over time, mostly through trial and error—which is to say, mostly through failure.
The radical advances in quality of life that have characterized human society since the Industrial Revolution are by no means limited to profit-seeking enterprises: There was nothing like Wikipedia even a few years ago, and that extraordinarily valuable collection of knowledge was assembled independent of the profit motive...The people who contribute to Wikipedia have little or no conventional profit-oriented motive for methodically working to improve one another’s work, yet they’ve discovered that the value of cooperating is greater than the cost... similarly banks, car loan companies, and other consumer finance businesses universally share consumer credit information across the industry at considerable cost to themselves, even though each individual bank would be better off simply cutting off its bad-risk borrowers in the hope that they would go down the street to a competitor and cause them losses...Scientists and entrepreneurs may be individually arrogant, but both of their underlying models of operation depend upon openness to discovering that one’s beliefs are wrong and taking action to correct them.
Teach me mortality, frighten me into the present. Help me to find the heft of these days. --Jack GilbertMy favorite of the rosary mysteries are the sorrowful ones because of the love displayed for us. I read the passages in Scripture that refer to each of the mysteries and was struck by Jesus quoting Psalm 31 when He said, “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” I hadn't realized that, and it made me hunger for more commentary on the Psalms. It seems like Scripture rarely stands alone for me, I need to hear what everyone else and their brother has to say about it.
I have a basic preference for believing we constantly overestimate the quality of our [biblical] scholarship just as our predecessors did. Of course, my measure of language competency is that you don't know a language until it becomes bathroom reading. More seriously, as long as we use dual language dictionaries, I am uncomfortable saying we know a language. And, to the best of my knowledge, Logos is short of completely Hebrew (or Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, Latin, Ugaritic, Coptic ...) dictionaries. There is a big difference between reading a foreign language to translate it into your native tongue and reading a foreign language and understanding it in that language ... what we nicknamed the dream test.
I don't disagree that multiple translations serve as pointers towards the original language meaning as each translation gives us additional clues of the constraints on the original text. Another thread offered a link to a journal article that I find apropos - BaxterBiblicalWords.pdf
My translation pet peeve is people having a pet peeve rather than recognizing translators have to make compromises in order to best meet the need of their ideal intended audience which I not me. I much prefer to have my pet translations such as Psalm 4 in the Jerusalem Bible ... I measure all other translations against it even though i know the grammatical argument against the translation.
David A: Textual Criticism ASSUMES that all versions have the same chances of being found.
MJ Smith: Really? That is odd because it is so unlikely to be true. It could only be a simplifying assumption to make the data manageable. How many ancient manuscripts do we have from the Mar Thoma church in India? [Trick question - use of banana leaves as a writing surface has seriously limited the number of old manuscripts in a bug infested environment.]
Dean053: ...with the moral brigade always trying to shut down legitimate questions or concerns about the product.
MJ Smith: While I have seen this accusation made frequently, I have seen the shutting down of legitimate questions only occasionally. As in a face-to-face community, there are particular people who by reasons of upbringing, culture, age or mental health need to be given a broader leeway than others.
There are also many excellent graphics for the liturgical year. My (very simple) favorite also captures the sense of a spiral i.e. movement towards the end of time:
I'd set two rules for myself when I offered to create the [following] list - non-Catholic Logos resources. As you can see, I ignored the Logos part when I tried to tailor the list to what L.S. seemed to need - enjoyable, non-confrontational reading that raises the important issues. Getting people to ask the question is more important than giving an answer to a question not asked.
and cheating to add one Catholic convert book:
- Prayer by Richard Foster - a good introduction to liturgical prayer
- Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster - a good introduction to spiritual disciplines
- Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - a good introduction to logic and what words mean
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - a study in social ethics
- The Way of the Pilgrim by Olga Savin and Father Thomas Hopko - a study in Christian growth
- The Psalms through Three Thousand Years by William Holliday - use of psalms in worship, Jewish and Christian
- To Pray As A Jew: A Guide To The Prayer Book by Hayim H. Donin - liturgy as way of life
- Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture and Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture by Jaroslav Pelikan- church history made enjoyable
- Soul Making: The Desert Way of Spirituality by Alan W. Jones - not really introductory but presents a very catholic spirituality in a contemporary way
- The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn to explore the heavenly liturgy as described in Revelation
I find a lot of this scary. We’re entering a world that increasingly rewards individual aspiration and persistence and can measure precisely who is contributing and who is not. This is not going away, so we better think how we help every citizen benefit from it.That last sentence is kind of humorous on the face of it: “let's think about how we can help every citizen be aspirational and motivated” (dream on, lib Friedman). I'm thinking he means: “let's think about how everyone can be in the top twenty percent in terms of contribution” - a mathematical impossibility of course.
When I think of how the Father looks at you, Jesus, I am speechless. I can try to imagine the Father gazing on you with deep pleasure and joy, but words fail me. And then to think that you, Jesus, look at me with the same love, seeing the goodness I was created to have in your image, seeing your approval of every step I take toward you—I can only bask in this love, filled with wonder and awe.Yes, the Word Among Us seems the right tonic for pessimists like me!
She told me: “Father [Bergoglio], I can’t believe it, you make me feel important. . . .” I replied, “But Señora, where do I come in? Jesus is the one who makes you important.”Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
Why don’t you take the plane? the Georgian had asked me. Because—I thought when I was in the corner seat of my railway compartment—airplanes are a distortion of time and space. And you get frisked..
Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live by Marlene ZukThe predictable regularity of humdrum domesticity is perfect for writing: monotony is the writer’s friend. People said to me, “You’re always away!” But it wasn’t true. I loved being home, waking in my own bed beside my wife, watching the news on TV, spending half the day writing, and then cooking, reading, swimming, riding my bike, seeing friends. Home is bliss.Travel means living among strangers, their characteristic stinks and sour perfumes, eating their food, listening to their dramas, enduring their opinions, often with no language in common, being always on the move towards an uncertain destination, creating an itinerary that is continually shifting, sleeping alone, inventing the trip,
One of the biggest bones of contention, so to speak, about hunter-gatherers versus agriculturalists is that the latter work too hard, in terms of both the time spent on subsistence and the intensity of the labor required, or at least they work harder than people who do not farm. Wells puts it this way: “As hunter-gatherers, we were a species that lived in much the same way as any other, relying on the whims of nature to provide us with our food and water.”14 And the whims of nature are presumably easier to cajole than the rocky soil or recalcitrant cattle of the farm. Agriculture, then, is sometimes seen as bad because it is just plain too difficult. It is true that at least some hunter-gatherers spend less of their day “working,” defined as engaging in activities necessary for subsistence, than do many farmers. Richard Lee’s classic 1960s studies of the Kalahari desert people found that they needed two and a half days per week to collect enough food;
the apes, spend even less time foraging? Should we be yearning for the days before tool use? And how do we balance time against effort? Is it better to mindlessly munch grass, which requires little effort but takes a lot of time to down, one determined mouthful after another, or to spend less of the day fashioning a complex fish trap that may yield no catch? Choosing agriculture as the point at which we all started to go downhill because we began to work too hard is simply not defensible.
one of the clearly undesirable effects of agriculture is the proliferation of new diseases, both infectious and noninfectious. Here, then, we can point to an unmitigated downside to settling down and farming: infectious diseases,
Regardless of whether the people existing after agriculture were happier, healthier, or neither, it is undeniable that there were more of them.
more people means more kinds of diseases, particularly when those people are sedentary. When those groups of people can also store food for long periods, the opportunity arises for sequestering that food, creating in turn a society with haves and have-nots.
neither the benefits of human population growth, such as the flowering of genetic potential or cultural complexity, nor the more dismal consequences of agriculture, were directed. Spencer Wells looks at the advent of farming as akin to humanity diving off a cliff. Humans, he says, “divorced themselves—and us—from millions of years of evolutionary history, charting a new course into the future without a map to guide them through the pitfalls that would appear over the subsequent ten millennia.”27 He rues the “unintended consequences” of the establishment of agriculture. The problem is, all of evolution’s consequences are unintended, and there are never any maps. Arguably, apes, by moving from trees to plains, made their world spin just as out of control as we did when we began to grow crops. Either way, no one was aiming anywhere.
Evolution is continuous, but it is not goal-oriented. It is not as if we were on a predestined path toward enlightenment when agriculture suddenly threw a plow into the works and made us deviate into obesity and disease.Burning the Page: The eBook revolution and the future of reading by Jason Merkoski
Your brain is used to having a dialogue, if you will, with the typographer and page layout artist of the book you’re reading. That’s why the occasional use of a new font or a drop-cap—or heck, even an italicized word—helps you stay focused. It keeps your brain from yawning and switching to something else. With e-readers, though, this dialogue often stutters. The digital page is often bereft of nuance, of any anchor besides a list of monotonously formatted words, like plain black beads on an invisible string. When you talk to neuroscientists about how the brain works, they’ll tell you that a book is meaningless if you don’t actively engage with it. That’s why poets use unexpected word combinations, or why Friedrich Nietzsche used irony, or why David Foster Wallace used footnotes. These touches disorient you as you read, forcing you to put 10.5 watts of energy into the reading process to actually focus on what you’re reading. Why did I say 10.5 watts?
It’s so much easier to tweet a passage in an ebook we read than to call someone up and talk about it. Digital books are in some ways hastening the lazy, solipsistic narcissism of our culture. We use our gadgets as proxies for other people and genuine human interaction.NW: A Novel by Zadie Smith
Years too disconnected from everything else to feel real. Edinburgh’s dour hill-climb and unexpected-alley, castle-shadow and fifty pence whisky chaser, WalterScottStone and student loan shopping.
Sweet stink of the hookah, couscous, kebab, exhaust fumes of a bus deadlock.
Leaflets, call abroad 4 less, learn English, eyebrow wax, Falun Gong, have you accepted Jesus as your personal call plan?
A hundred and one ways to take cover: the complete black tent, the facial grid, back of the head, Louis Vuitton–stamped, Gucci-stamped, yellow lace, attached to sunglasses, hardly on at all, striped, candy pink; paired with tracksuits, skin-tight jeans, summer dresses, blouses, vests, gypsy skirts, flares. Bearing no relation to the debates in the papers, in parliament. Everybody loves sandals. Everybody. Birdsong! Lowdown dirty shopping arcade to mansion flats to an Englishman’s home is his castle.Harvard Square: A Novel by André Aciman
Leah mounts a mild defense, thinking of the smell of the censer, the voluptuous putti babies, the gold sunburst, cold marble floor, dark wood carved and plaited, women kneeling whispering lighting candles InterRailing nineteen ninety-three.
I wanted to share with him and bring back all of my old postcard moments: the day I crossed the bridge in the snow while friends ran across the frozen Charles and I thought how reckless; the first time I entered my beloved Houghton Library and sat waiting for the librarian to hand over my very first rare book written by Mademoiselle de Gournay, Montaigne’s adopted stepdaughter; the aging face of my long-gone Robert Fitzgerald who taught me so much in so very few words; my last drink at the Harvest bar; down to the stifling reluctance to head out to class on a cold November afternoon when all I’d rather do was curl up with a book somewhere and let my mind wander. I wanted to walk the cobbled lanes leading up to the river with him and, in a spellbound instant, seize the beauty of this sheltered world that had promised me so much and in the end delivered much more. The buildings, the feel of early fall, the sound of students thronging to class every morning—I couldn’t wait for him to heed their call and their promise.
For now, it was the magical after love I wished to convey. It had stayed with me all those years and yanked me back to days I missed a great deal but knew I would never for a minute wish to relive again.
How to explain this to a seventeen-year-old without destroying the carousel of images I’d shared with him since his preschool days? Cambridge on quiet Sunday evenings; Cambridge on rainy afternoons with friends, or in a blizzard when things went on as usual and the days seemed shorter and festive and all you wanted to imagine was tethered horses waiting to take you to Ethan Frome places; the Square abuzz on Friday nights; Harvard during reading period in mid-January—coffee, more coffee, and the perpetual patter of typewriters everywhere; or Lowell House on the last days of reading period in the spring, when students lounged about for hours on the grass, speaking softly, their voices muffled by the sounds of early summer.