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Aesthetics

“The Invisible Avant-Garde”

May 28, 2010
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Excerpt from The Book of Tea: “V. Art Appreciation”

May 14, 2010
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V. Art Appreciation Have you heard the Taoist tale of the Taming of the Harp? Once in the hoary ages in the Ravine of Lungmen stood a Kiri tree, a veritable king of the forest. It reared its head to talk to the stars; its roots struck deep into the earth, mingling their bronzed coils […]

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100 Chimes at Midnight

April 10, 2010
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FALSTAFF:
My king! my Jove! I speak to thee, my heart!

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Reciting your own poems from memory is for supernerds, or the worst project of my life

March 30, 2010
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Concerning all the recent discussions about memory, recitation, etc, I thought I would try it in my own way. I should disclose that I never recite my own poems from memory at readings. I think it is corny, weird, it makes me uncomfortable, and frankly, to spend that much time memorizing your own work is kind of sick.

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The Problem of Style

March 27, 2010
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Do you remember that Eliot was billed as giving a talk on ‘Scylla and Charybdis’ and he’d realized that they’d simply misunderstood. That is, when he was asked what he was going to talk about, he’d said that these things were always a matter of Scylla and Charybdis and so forth, and this became the title of the talk so that we got a talk on this subject because they’d slightly misunderstood what he was saying. But it’s true to him.

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Do Movie Critics Matter?

March 25, 2010
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Journalistic standards have changed so drastically that, when I took the podium at the film circle’s dinner and quoted Pauline Kael’s 1974 alarm, “Criticism is all that stands between the public and advertising,” the gala’s audience responded with an audible hush—not applause.

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THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, ABRIDGED

March 24, 2010
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Ben Luzzatto’s THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, ABRIDGED (UDP, 2010) is one of those rare artifacts that transfers its own actual magic—and it is real magic—until the possessed begins to lift a bit toward the sky.

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As If She Were a Symbol of Something

March 17, 2010
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Before I post my regularly scheduled post, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I give you an excerpt from James Joyce’s “The Dead.”

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The Flaming Poodle of the Mind: Poetry Readings, Vaudeville & Louise Gluck’s Legs

March 16, 2010
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If I am anything at all, I am a vaudevillian. Considering that vaudville has been stone dead the last 80 years, that’s a hard thing to be, but wouldn’t you want to attend a reading where, first, someone read Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” beautifully, followed by a white poodle jumping through a fiery hula hoop, then a great tap dancer, and then a good torch singer doing “Strange Fruit,” topped off by a rousing version of Etheridge Knight’s “All Fucked Up”?

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On Memorization: Some Thoughts on “Owning” Your Own Work

March 16, 2010
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When I was 19 I interned at The Bowery Poetry Club. I can tell you that I didn’t get much done in the way of writing press releases; I was there to experience poetry. I was there to meet the real live poets who didn’t seem to exist on my college campus. I attended a private Long Island university where writing poetry meant none of the business student boys wanted to date me and most of the frat guys thought a stanza was a complicated version of the keg stand. Therefore, at The Bowery Poetry Club, I thought I was going to find what I was looking for: Poets Who Took Poetry Seriously.

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To Make Bach the Grund of Grundrisse and the Chaconne of a Shocked Shack

March 15, 2010
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Today I thought I should add my secret voice to your evaluations.
Your intelligence may be genius, but remember as my mother saids also always to be nice.
A seventh grade teacher consoled me when I was teased:
You can always tell the genius by the enemies who surround him.

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An Annotated ‘Some Enchanted Evening’

March 12, 2010

The Temptations sing ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ and you can read along with an annotated lyric sheet

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Roger Scruton on Beauty

March 9, 2010
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I’m planning on doing another entry today about Grossman, but I’m at work and I forgot my copy of Singer. In the meantime, I wanted to share a BBC series that is available on YouTube. A professor I know shared this with me, after I shared a link to Simon Schama’s Power of Art episode […]

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