Wednesday, October 30, 2019

at all costs

"The children come first," Mr. A. said to me at the time. "You understand that. We have to protect the children at all costs."

~~ from A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

"minimizing participles to the extreme"


~~ from One StoryKate Folk on writing

Monday, October 21, 2019

the intellectual life

"I once heard my friend Edward Shils say that the intellectual life was the most passionate life a human being could lead; I think of this when I consider what a man like [Elie] Kedourie does and ask myself whether I could bear the excitement and danger of his sort of career--the emotional danger and the mental responsibilities, I mean."

~~ from Saul Bellow's To Jerusalem and Back

Saturday, October 19, 2019

"Oriental Jews"

"We go into a Yemenite synagogue. The early arrivals have left their shoes at the door, Arab style. Bearded, dark-faced, they sit along the wall. You see their stockinged feet on the footrests of their lecterns. It is traditional on Friday afternoons to read the Song of Songs aloud, and they are reciting or chanting it now, in long lines, un-European in intonation. This chanting resembles the collective recitations you hear when passing Arab school rooms.

"Ben-David knows a lot about the lives of Jews from the Arab countries. He often makes the point that they, too, are refugees who fled from persecution and whose property was confiscated. World opinion concentrates on the Palestinian refugees while these Oriental Jews--nearly a million of them--are given no consideration. It is inevitable that he and I should turn to politics. Sightseeing is all very well, but our heads are full of news, omens, and speculations."

~~ from Saul Bellow's To Jerusalem and Back

Friday, October 18, 2019

I can't say that he looked at me

"In the late forties, I used to go down to the Pont Royal bar to look at [Jean-Paul] Sartre; I can't say that he looked at me. Americans were not popular with him. Matters were different sixty years ago. When John Dos Passos and E. E. Cummings came to France, it was to drive the ambulances in the Great War and they were warmly greeted, or thought they were. Eager young Americans who hurried to Paris after World War II got icy treatment. But then I think of someone like Kafu Nagai, a writer of genius who read Maupassant and other French novelists in Tokyo early in the 1890s, and, falling in love with them, set out to see them. It took Kafu a long time to cross the American Continent. He stopped in Chicago. He spent more than a year at Ypsilanti State Teacher's College, in Michigan. When at last he reached Paris, he could find no French writers who would talk to him. Those of us who arrived from America in the late forties were not the first to experience pangs of unrequited love."

~~ from Saul Bellow's To Jerusalem and Back

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Hemon on Handke; Hsu on Yang

Although I find the Asian-American politician in Chang Rae Lee's Native Speaker a far more compelling figure, I enjoyed Hua Hsu on Andrew Yang and his presidential candidacy. Also, Aleksander Hemon on Peter Handke's Nobel Prize in Literature is one you don't want to miss. Hemon, who had rich words after Bob Dylan's win, is fast becoming a leading commentator on the Swedish literary prize in addition to writing engrossing fiction. In local news, Saul Bellow's To Jerusalem and Back continues to impress me while a literary friend sent strong praise for "Over Fifty Billion Kafkas Served."

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Before I left Chicago. . .

"Before I left Chicago, the art critic Harold Rosenberg said to me, 'Going to Jerusalem? And wondering whether people will talk freely? You've got to be kidding, they'll talk your head off.'"

~~ from Saul Bellow's To Jerusalem and Back

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Every TEDx Talk Ever

Joshua Spodek delivers every TEDx Talk ever.

To Jerusalem and Back

"An old Mormon missionary in Nauvoo once gripped my knee hard as we sat side by side, and he put his arm about me and called me 'Brother.' We'd only met ten minutes before. He took me to his good bosom. His eyes began to mist. I was a prospect, an exotic prospect in old tennis shoes and a sweatshirt. His heart opened to me. It opened like a cuckoo clock. But it did not give me the time of day."

~~ from Saul Bellow's To Jerusalem and Back

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