Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Practically all artists and writers are aware of their destiny and see themselves as actors in a fateful drama. With me, nothing is momentous: obscure youth, glorious old age, fateful coincidences—nothing really matters. I have written a number of good sentences. I have kept free of delusions. I am going to die soon.
Eric Hoffer (notebook, 1977)

Monday, July 25, 2011

What did the crowd of young people shout to Jacques Chirac in 2004, during the first visit by a French president to Algeria since decolonization? "Visas, visas." A malicious wit might say: they drove us out and now they all want to come live with us! That does not cast doubt on the legitimacy of their independence, but it does explain this disturbing truth: Europe got over the loss of its colonies much more quickly than the colonies got over their loss of Europe.
Pascal Bruckner, The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism (translated by Steven Rendall)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Today's "Impromptus" by Jay Nordlinger is an especially good entry in that always-worth-reading series. The anecdote that closes it is charming, with excellent advice. Highly recommended, the whole piece.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Laura Ingraham, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, describes one effect of having children:
They’ve slowed me down. It’s like, we’re going to sit here and make strawberry shortcake and that’s going to be our night. ‘What’d you do tonight, Laura?’ ‘Er, I made strawberry shortcake.’ I used to go out a lot, but that’s how life changes. Right now I’m just hoping and praying I make it through the kids’ teenage years.
A lot of parents say they're hoping and praying to survive their kids' adolescences. It means something different when she says it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Prediction: Andrew Cuomo will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sometimes a man survives a considerable time from an era in which he had his place into one which is strange to him, and then the curious are offered one of the most singular spectacles in the human comedy. Who now, for example, thinks of George Crabbe? He was a famous poet in his day, and the world recognised his genius with a unanimity which the greater complexity of modern life has rendered infrequent. He had learnt his craft at the school of Alexander Pope, and he wrote moral stories in rhymed couplets. Then came the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and the poets sang new songs. Mr. Crabbe continued to write moral stories in rhymed couplets. I think he must have read the verse of these young men who were making so great a stir in the world, and I fancy he found it poor stuff. Of course, much of it was. But the odes of Keats and of Wordsworth, a poem or two by Coleridge, a few more by Shelley, discovered vast realms of the spirit that none had explored before. Mr. Crabbe was as dead as mutton, but Mr. Crabbe continued to write moral stories in rhymed couplets. I have read desultorily the writings of the younger generation. It may be that among them a more fervid Keats, a more ethereal Shelley, has already published numbers the world will willingly remember. I cannot tell. I admire their polish—their youth is already so accomplished that it seems absurd to speak of promise—I marvel at the felicity of their style; but with all their copiousness (their vocabulary suggests that they fingered Roget's Thesaurus in their cradles) they say nothing to me: to my mind they know too much and feel too obviously; I cannot stomach the heartiness with which they slap me on the back or the emotion with which they hurl themselves on my bosom; their passion seems to me a little anaemic and their dreams a trifle dull. I do not like them. I am on the shelf. I will continue to write moral stories in rhymed couplets. But I should be thrice a fool if I did it for aught but my own entertainment.
W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence (1919)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day.

Friday, July 1, 2011

He could see that his father had reverted to his military personality again. His father was still a marvel to him. At various points in Richard's life he had been prompted to ask himself what the hell the navy did to people in four short years to change them so much. His father had been an Oklahoma farm boy until he went in the navy, and he had come out like this, and stayed this way for forty years.
Thomas Perry, Runner