Friday, June 22, 2012

Two Bits From Poetry

The July/August 2012 number of Poetry has recently arrived in the mail.  This bit, the beginning of an essay by Robyn Schiff, may not be the best thing in the magazine this time 'round, but it's sure to please the Whappingites:
It's 7:08 AM and I just watched the "cold open" of yesterday's episode of Days of Our Lives online. The episode has been loosened from its forty-seven-year-old programmed slot by what the television industry calls "time shifting." Every age gets the science fiction it deserves. There's a tight one-beat shot of a sealed manila envelope. It has an anachronistic black wax stamp. Standard-issue inter-office mustard against the jet of the wax makes for a disorienting prop, giving the apparent secret concealed within the impression of having been documented by a hooded procurement specialist sent from the Renaissance to buy envelopes at Office Depot.
The essay, titled "Hell Mouth" is not yet available on the web, but I imagine it will be soon.

Second, a May 31 blog post by Lindsay Garbutt, the magazine's editorial assistant, calls our attention back to the fabulous May 1932 "Southern Number" of Poetry. It was edited by Allen Tate and is available in full on the Poetry Foundation web site.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Paris Review Interview: Evelyn Waugh

I've been reading some of the archived Paris Review interviews on their web site.  I've been focused mostly on the Art of Poetry ones, but this one from the Art of Fiction, with Evelyn Waugh, also caught my eye.

Pretty much the whole thing is great, but there are two parts I want to highlight here. First Waugh talks about politics and art or, more specifically, why the artist is, he thinks a reactionary:

Do you think it just to describe you as a reactionary?


An artist must be a reactionary. He has to stand out against the tenor of the age and not go flopping along; he must offer some little opposition. Even the great Victorian artists were all anti-Victorian, despite the pressures to conform.


But what about Dickens? Although he preached social reform he also sought a public image.


Oh, that's quite different. He liked adulation and he liked showing off. But he was still deeply antagonistic to Victorianism.
Secondly, Waugh had something to say about a question in the philosophy of mind that a friend and I have been batting around. Waugh claims to think in words instead of images or concepts:

I gather from what you said earlier that you don't find the act of writing difficult.


I don't find it easy. You see, there are always words going round in my head: Some people think in pictures, some in ideas. I think entirely in words. By the time I come to stick my pen in my inkpot these words have reached a stage of order which is fairly presentable.


Perhaps that explains why Gilbert Pinfold was haunted by voices—by disembodied words.


Yes, that's true—the word made manifest.
The interview doesn't develop the topic beyond that... but there it is.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Brooklyn Ecumenism

The New York City Council is considering a plan to "Legalize Brunch," that is to allow sidewalk cafe service before noon on Sundays. This is currently forbidden by an obscure city rule.

I've often said (though I probably wasn't the first) that Catholicism and Brunch are New York City's largest religions. That makes Msgr. Joseph Calise, pastor of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Brooklyn one of the city's leaders in ecumenical dialogue:
"'There'd really be no reason not to support them as long as they're not blocking free passage of anybody else.'

"Anyway, he said, church and brunch can co-exist.

"'If someone comes to an 8 a.m. Mass here, they go to a 10 o'clock brunch, it's not an either/or proposition,' he said."