So You Think You Know The Bible?
My score was lame. I scored particularly badly on the later prophetic books--I mean, c'mon, who gets into Micah?--and on the Pauline letters.
Trying to make sense of things. Art, Religion, Books, Politics, And So Forth.
(This is one place in "The Intellectual Situation" where the anonymity seems problematic. R. "speaks" in his--I'm assuming--own words, yet the whole section is quoted from his own words. R. should just have written his own damned piece, yet if he had done so, in this entirely anonymous section, it would have seemed as though the editors were all also inheritors. Yet R. seems to represent something general than just his particular story; the disavowing starts to seem protective, disingenuous. The editors deserve kudos for talking about money--and not just abstract capital out there but the real capital needed to support intellectual work--but I still wish this section hadn't been so baroquely disavowed.)
Fixated on negativity--tellingly, they note only the negative pieces, never the laudatory ones--the Editors accuse the books page of the New Republic of "taking down" writers like Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, and Don Delillo. I detest that verb. For one thing, no review ever does "take down" a writer: the writer has a way of popping up very punctually, three or four years later, with another offering. For another, a serious critique, of the kind I have written of Underworld or Paradise of White Teeth, takes nothing down; it takes something seriously, as Zadie Smith has herself often acknowledged, publicly and privately. In what way can my review of The Corrections, a book I praised at length for its humane and moving rewriting of Delillo yet criticized for its residual and contradictory enthrallement to a DeLilloian idea of the paranoid "social novel," be seen as a "takedown"? To argue, for two thousand words, with the argument of Jonathan Franzen's Harper's essay (to argue that it is intelligent, suggestive, and finally illogical, seeking refuge in a thin aestheticism--the consolation of the "sentence"--which I doubt Franzen himself even believes in); to then argue for a further three thousand words with The Corrections itself, is to take Franzen seriously. To call the Harper's essay "elegant, infamous" and nothing more, to call The Corrections "a marvelous novel, more than deserving of its laurels," and little more, as Chad Harbach did in the first issue of N+1, is merely to take Franzen for granted.I cannot concur strongly enough. The professional critic's role is to take artistic production very seriously indeed, to attempt an understanding of its deep logic, and to hold it against contemporary understandings. The critic's job is not to be a book reviewer, really; you shouldn't ask the serious critics to tell you whether or not to read a book, even though so few of us read all the books whose reviews we've read. To get a review in a major publication is already an indication of some status; to get a mixed review is to be taken seriously.
Tony Cape’s A Cambridge Theorem, first issued in 1980, has been picked up and reissued this year by the Felony and Mayhem Mystery Press. Prices are high in this reprint market, but so far I’ve every reason to believe that the editors are savvy.
Cape’s mystery starts with the apparent suicide of a Cambridge fellow, Simon Bowles. Bowles earned his way into the college with his mathematics brilliance, yet he was known to friends to have pursued seemingly insoluble mysteries on the side.
>Having once been interned for a suicide attempt, the victim’s death--an upper vertebrae fracture consistent with hanging--would seem to be an open and shut case.
One Cambridge cop has his doubts.
A policeman who has never quite fit into the local police culture, in part because of his fascination with America, Sergeant Smailes takes an interest in Bowles’s suicide primarily because the latter’s earlier research into Kennedy’s assassination seems so authoritative and believable.
Once this threshold of conspiratorial believability has sunk in, Smailes gradually becomes willing to suspect that Bowles’s more recent research into the theorized fifth member of the Cambridge spy group might indeed reveal a long-term mole.
I'm putting the rest beneath the fold because I don't really think I've managed to describe the point of this novel. I don't give away the ending or any significent secrets maybe that's the problem, but I doubt it.
What intrigues me about this novel, in its success and lack thereof, is that it manages to straddle quite perfectly the country-house-murder genre and the espionage genre.
The novel begins with the characterization of a lower-level, local cop and never quite abandons that point of view, despite the national implications of what this lower-level cop discovers. Of course, anyone who has an interest, even a passing one, in the Cambridge spy ring should check this novel out: it’s very smart and very careful with the historical record as it presents the clues towards the author’s pet conclusions.
Even even you don’t already have an interest in the Cambrige spy rings, Sergeant Smailes’s sense and humanity might suggest enough humanity to interest you in his hobbies.
As the novel gets going, Smailes begins to realise that his passively chosen career demands some further committment: he must face the memory of his father, a powerful policeman, and he must negotiate these memories and his (more hackneyed) outsider status with his superiors.
And when the novel verges into noir, Smailes still seems credible, although his future, after the novel, becomes unimaginable. Recommended, with qualifications (price, special interest).
--The Talk Like A Pirate site.
--An automated English-Pirate translator.
--The Pirate Ring, linkin' to o'er 100 piratical sites!
--Where to get yer pirate name. Ye can be startin' on callin' me Mad Mary Flint, an ye please.
--Jim "Pirate Macon the Staggering Drunk" MacDonald at Makin' Light has more.]
While I don't feel any warm fuzzies about the "Mike Bloomberg asked me to call you" part, I do have a great deal of respect for the "single quick question" part that turned out to be true. This young operative indeed had one quick question, and he didn't extend his welcome, despite my stated ambivalence.
"Mike Bloomberg asked me to call you with a single, quick question."
"Can he count on your vote in the mayoral election?"
"We spend a large proportion of our taxes rescuing women from prostitution. But at the same time we officially encourage carers to help contact with prostitutes."(From the CIA Factbook I learn that the Feb 2005 elections put the Liberal Party at 29% and the Social Democrats at 25%, meaning that the PM, Anders Fogh Rasmussen is likely a Liberal under Social Dem breakaway pressure.)
There were contracts-in-place with major vendors across the country and prestaging areas were already determined (I'll have more to say about this later, but this is one reason FEMA has rejected large donation and turned back freelance shipments of water, medical supplies, food, etc: they have contracts in place to purchase those items, and accepting the same product from another source could be construed as breach of contract, and could lead to contract cancellation, thus removing a reliable source of product from the pool of available resources.I understand how such contracts make sense in the abstract, but the idea of a public emergency should give one pause before entering into private and restricted contracts for potentially limited resources.
The signs—both large and small—of the reversal in the flow of aspiration are everywhere. Recently, a member of the royal family, a granddaughter of the queen, had a metal stud inserted into her tongue and proudly displayed it to the press. Such body piercing began as a strictly underclass fashion, though it has spread widely to the popular culture industry—into a branch of which, of course, the monarchy is fast being transformed. [...]See how seamless the transition from the pseudo-sociological terms "underclass" and "regional" to the almost quaintly moralizing "superiors" and "inferiors"! Marvel at how this Dalrymple uses the language of class without talking about money! And finally, wonder at how well he ties the trend into hatred for the pointy-headed! I'm only going to take topic sentences, for this Dalrymple seems to have had rigid paragraph structure spanked into him at some point in his past.
Advertising now glamorizes the underclass way of life and its attitude toward the world. [...]
Diction in Britain has always been an important marker, to some extent even a determinant, of a person's place in the social hierarchy. Whether this is a healthy phenomenon may be debated, but it is an indisputable fact. Even today, social psychologists find that the British almost universally associate what is known as received pronunciation with high intelligence, good education, and a cultured way of life. Rightly or wrongly, they see it as a marker of self-confidence, wealth, honesty, even cleanliness. Regional accents are generally held to signify the opposite qualities, even by people who speak with them.
So it is a development worthy of remark that, for the first time in our modern history, people who would, by upbringing, use received pronunciation as a matter of course, now seek to suppress it. In other words, they are anxious not to appear intelligent, well educated, and cultured to their fellow countrymen, as if such attributes were in some way shameful or disadvantageous. Where once the aspiring might have aped the diction of their social superiors, the upper classes now ape the diction of their inferiors. Those who send their children to expensive private schools, for example, now regularly report that they emerge with diction and vocabulary little different from the argot of the local state school.
Like so many modern ills, the coarseness of spirit and behavior grows out of ideas brewed up in the academy and among intellectuals—ideas that have seeped outward and are now having their practical effect on the rest of society. [...] British society and culture were additionally vulnerable to attack from the intellectuals, for historically they were openly elitist and therefore supposedly undemocratic. [... skip one] The combination of relativism and antipathy to traditional culture has played a large part in creating the underclass, thus turning Britain from a class into a caste society. [...] Having in large part created this underclass, the British intelligentsia, guilty about its own allegedly undemocratic antecedents, feels obliged to flatter it by imitation and has persuaded the rest of the middle class to do likewise.And then of course he cops out and wonders, so disingenuously, whether it must ever be so?
In some ways, I find this screed almost endearing in its stupidity. These are the thoughts of a genuine Dalrymple! yearning for a Wodehousian paradise! condemning the aesthetics of people who don't give a shit about him!
Enough of one that the above essay was hosted at the Manhattan Institute, whose "about" page headlines a plug by Giuliani and claims that its goals are to win "new respect for market-oriented policies and help[...] make reform a reality." Reform, in the interest of the market, combined with a hosted essay condemning the accents and habits of "social inferiors." Does anyone else smell what I do?
I wouldn't have expected that there was much of an ideological overlap between New York market-conservativism and English nostaglic aristocratic twaddle, but then, I tend towards innocence and optimism. Still, Dalrymple's pseudo-earnest worry about the deleterious message on young people of the Blair-Oasis detente seems so readily translatable, but since contempt for popular culture is filtered here through Englishness, American conservatives can cite Oasis as a completely metaphysical reason to hate gansta rap. After all, our Dalrymple never once mentions race.
And that's why I find myself losing my sense of humor; this silly Edwardian has found an audience in modern-day America, where racial inequality has been one of the most hyped topics of the last three decades, obscuring almost totally economic class structures. And this literary charicature finds an American venue to lecture about the decadent diction of the British upper classes? Are you people daft to host such a loon?
President Conlin had also developed a warning system and evacuation plan for the New Orleans stake which was put into place this past weekend. This stake has an automated phone system so that the stake president put in a prerecorded message on Saturday and again on Sunday morning that rang into 1700 homes. The message was to evacuate the city. If they weren’t leaving their homes, they were given an 800 number so they could report where they were going to me.This sort of centralized planning should have been going on, on some level, in the government. Whether a centralized plan from government could have commanded respect and trust as the Church did is another matter.]
The evacuation plan called for people to go to three different stake centers—two in Mississippi and one in Lousiana that were near the three major arteries that lead out of the city. A member knew which one to go based on the highway that was closest to him."