Saturday, March 21, 2015

Writing and Prosody

I have started a new blog on prosody, Ne'er So Well Express'd.

Prosody is the analysis of the technical elements of poetry, particularly meter and rhyme.

While that will seem a limited subset of the field of writing to some, I show in the posts on prosody that a knowledge of it enriches the writing of prose.

To look at the blog on prosody, click here or go to

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The intersession passed, Winter knocked down all our pieces from the semester gameboard calendar, but this morning, yellow light is warm on melting snow and ice. There is a breath of Spring in the air.

The Ides of March is nigh. "Ides" is a Latin word meaning the middle day of the month (or so). It was the 15th of March, May, July, and October, and the thirteenth day of the other months.

The Romans had names for days of the month. "Nones" was the eighth day prior to the ides. The word for the first day of the month was "calends". Hmmmm. I wonder if there is a familiar word in English that is derived from "calends"?...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Mathematician's Apology by G.H. Hardy

One of the great autobiographies, and one of the greatest presentations of the mind of a mathematician for non-mathematicians in literature, is A Mathematician's Apology by the great English mathematician, G.H. Hardy.

I provide a link to a free online copy of the book above, but try to get the book from a library or borrow it from a friend. For those of us who have an aversion to math, or who have the disdain for reason that many of us in the humanities exhibit, this book will provide a window into the joy and pleasure and creativity of the mathematical life of the mind.

This wonderful book is a must-read for those with an interest in the history of math/science, the intersection of math and culture, or the life of the mind overall. Some people might find it a revelation.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Literature for the Millions (?)

Simon Loekle
On Saturday mornings, from 6:00 A.M. to 8:00 A.M., on WBAI, 99.5 FM, Simon Loekle presents readings from great literature (and recordings of classic old jazz performances). His program is titled "As I Please". Simon is a great scholar and performer of literature. He is one of the best readers you could ever hear. He is an "independent scholar", i.e., unaffiliated with any academic institution, but he is known by all of the major James Joyce scholars and has a regular scholarly cartoon addressing some aspect of Joyce studies in the James Joyce Quarterly, the premier publication devoted to Joyce scholarship. I can vouch from my own knowledge of the field, that he is also one of the most insightful experts on the poetry of Ezra Pound of our time.

If you are interested in literature, particular the more challenging masterpieces, one of the best introductions that you can have to the work of James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Basil Bunting, Dante, Villon, and other Modernists and their masters is by listening to Simon's readings. There are archived recordings of broadcasts of Simon's program at the WBAI archives page; just search for "As I Please" and play. Broadcasts are only available for a few weeks, so treat your ears and brain to what Simon Loekle can provide in the way of nourishment for the intellect and soul while they are available.

Simon has a Web page that provides a wealth of information and literary and musical delicacies. There is much to be learned there, and much enjoyment to be had: "As I Please: Simon Loekle." As Frances Steloff used to say of her now-gone bookstore, the old Gotham Book Mart, which was once the greatest book store in the Western Hemisphere: "WISE MEN FISH HERE". Simon will enrich your life to come, if you let him.

Simon also reads at Swift Hibernian Lounge on the fourth Monday of every month, February through November. Readings at Swift are presented from a pulpit imported from Dublin, from the very cathedral in which Jonathan Swift presented sermons. It is a wonderful experience to be at Swift for one of Simon's incomparable performances. Simon's commentaries on his readings are peerless. He is brilliant. Simon is a world-class scholar and a great performer of literature.


The Drunken Odyssey
An excellent podcast about "the writerly life" is the weekly orgy of literary delectation, "The Drunken Odyssey." "The Drunken Odyssey" is the brainchild of writer, boon companion, and charismatic professor John King, who teaches at Full Sail University in Florida. John has a particularly good reader in his stable of performers who record for him, so...lend John your ear and attend to words, the pleasure they can provide, and what it means to be a writer. Given my personal literary taste, I find last June's Bloomsday podcast particularly useful as an intro to the masterpiece of the master of the masters. :-)


Books in the library at Trinity College in Dublin.
If any of you are interested in attending poetry in the area, there is a Facebook page that announces many events in the area: Voices of Poetry. These events are usually, at least in part, open readings, so you might enjoy the opportunity to step up to read your own work. That can be a good experience.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Words matter, and learning about things not already in your frame of reference matters. Here is an example:
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin

And, in the spirit of the season, as Gov. Walker sees it, let me wish all of you Molotov!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

In case some of you adhere to a traditional misunderstanding, science can be profoundly touching and poetic. Here is one of my all-time favorite cartoons, and my favorite from the series of science-based commentaries, "xkcd":

This is a combination of image, idea, and words. The effect is deeply touching and thought-provoking. There is less to the world without your "philosophy", Horatio!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Viewing a degree as a commodity to be bought with minimal effort and negligible mental fatigue can reward a person with an M.A., a J.D., a career as a lawyer, then as a judge, and then as a long-time member of Congress. But Louie Gohmert is not a good role model, kids.