Archives for November 2013

‘How to read Tolkien’

Michael Drout’s superb lecture, ‘How to Read Tolkien’, is now available on YouTube, and by the magic of the Intertubes, it’s available on this tube too:

C. S. L. on slavery

Fifty years and a couple of days after he departed from the Shadowlands.

Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

—C. S. Lewis, ‘Equality’ (collected in Present Concerns)

John Ciardi defines a man

A man is what he does with his attention
and mine is not for sale, though I’ll take cash—
and gladly—for whatever my attention
turns to for its own sake, when I’m finished with it.

Let this be my leave offering to the ghost
of J. T. Marshall, and of twenty others
who bought me cheap, and couldn’t afford me now,
because I can’t afford to be afforded
by anyone but myself, or I’d lose the ghost
of how I live, however I make my living.

And so to my last bonus, which is the first.
Any man can learn to learn from the wise
once he can find them: but learn to learn from a fool
and all the world’s your faculty.

—John Ciardi, from the Postscript to ‘Cal Coolidge and the Co’


To tide my 3.6 Loyal Readers over until The Grey Death is ready for release, and to keep the flag (as it were) flying, I’ve prepared a short collection of essais under the title, Death Carries a Camcorder. There will be six pieces in the collection, and those of you who have been following this blog will be relieved to know that you needn’t buy it – everything in the collection has been previously published here.

However, since I don’t have a tip jar and do have bills to pay, I shan’t take it amiss if some of you voluntarily shell out the $2.99 (or equivalent in your local dosh) as a token of appreciation or encouragement. (You can make it a token of whatever you want; I’m not proud that way. Just make sure to send me an email clarifying what it’s a token of, or I may persist in feeling appreciated and encouraged; and that would be a bad thing, assuming arguendo that you want me to feel differently.)

Sarah Huntrods has just delivered the cover design for the new book, as you can see in the attached image.

I think the old boy looks rather cheerful today, don’t you? Either he’s well pleased with his new technological toy, or that Karen Carpenter diet really works.

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Told by an idiot, No. 7

In 1916, after extensive study, French writer Georges Polti announced that all the stories in classical and modern literature could be reduced to 36 essential situations.

Futility Closet

Au contraire! There are only two possible stories in the whole of literature:

1. Something happens.

2. Nothing happens.

All True Literature is, of course, in the second camp. The other kind is vile pulp for the kiddies, and we turn up our noses at it to prove that we are Cultured People.

    H. Smiggy McStudge