Divergence

O’Connor versus Hemingway:

The fact that our gal Flannery is repeatedly castigated and critiqued for “racism” when….hoo boy ….have you read Hemingway lately?

Let me put it this way. I would have no problem teaching any work of O’Connor – even a story with a title like “The Artificial Nigger” to any group of students, while I would give serious pause to teaching something like The Killers or The Battler.

What’s the difference? Well, if you are agonizing over whether or not O’Connor was racist, you should take a look at those two stories, compare and contrast. In Hemingway, his narrators regularly describe and characterize Black characters by the n-word, and describe their characteristics in those terms – as qualities or quirks specific to Black people – but not called Black. In O’Connor, her characters may think racist thoughts and treat Black people poorly…because that’s what those characters would do. And racist characters are there, not just because they were in her world and she was committed to accuracy, but because they are, and are ultimately understood as, one more specimen of that thing called Pride.

It doesn’t make it super-easy to have students encounter these words and descriptions and views, but at least in O’Connor they are presented as expressions of specific characters living in a specific place. Hemingway, being a bit more abstracted from time and place in many of his stories, has his mostly objective narrators describe Black characters in racist, stereotypical terms.

In O’Connor’s world, racism exists in the world, but it is obviously a damaged part of a fallen world. In Hemingway, racist attitudes are just The Way It Is, no problem, no argument, no tension.

Rehashed, reheated

The authoritative fall-of-civilization end-of-the-year roundup is Dave Barry’s, but there are others worth reading.

Titania McGrath:

The world finally accepted that there are more than 400 genders, and that all of these have been persecuted throughout history. Even the ones we invented last week.

Intersectional feminism triumphed over transphobia. All of a sudden, major companies were using phrases such as “menstruators”, “vulva owners” and “people with a cervix”. All of which is far more respectful to women: or, as I like to call them, bipedal gestation units.

David Thompson:

As the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip, we learned, via an immensely woke Brooklynite podcaster named Billy, “What it’s like to isolate with your girlfriend and her other boyfriend.” And in the pages of The Atlantic, we were told, by Natan Last, a Brooklynite and graduate of Columbia, that crossword puzzles are one of “the systemic forces that threaten women.”

Comforting thought

David Deavel:

One friend told me a couple years ago that her persistent fears about the collapse of civilization had eased once she had realized that it had collapsed already.

***

Unrelated: what’s going on with John C. Wright’s website?

Update: The site is back, at least for now. Apparently there was some site migration issue.

Update two: Sometimes it’s back, sometimes not.

End of the year drivel

Gee, what a thrill it’s been. Not every generation has the privilege of living the prologue to a dystopian novel.

A year ago, I didn’t think I could possibly ever have a lower opinion of the intelligentsia; I was wrong. To all the petty tyrants and their toadies, all the experts, all the journalists and pundits, all the criminals in office, all the profiteering oligarchs, all the sanctimonious scolds and everyone else who has made this such a remarkable year, I have one thing to say: go to hell.

Enough of that. On to the stuff that mattered in 2020.

Music

The non-classical album I found most interesting this year was Atomic Ape’s Swarm (2014). The tunes range from quasi-surf to near-Klezmer, plus a quirky Django Reinhardt cover; if I had to name a genre, it would be the conveniently vague “cinematic.”

Gryphon’s Reinvention (2018) was a pleasant surprise but ultimately a disappointment. Three of the original quartet reformed a few years ago and drafted another trio of musicians to fill out the ensemble. However, the missing fourth member, Richard Harvey, was the best composer of the bunch, and he is missed. It’s pleasant music, nicely arranged and well-performed, but the melodies don’t remain in my ears after listening, and there’s nothing comparable to “Midnight Mushrumps,” “Estampie” or “Ethelion.”

Otherwise, I mostly listened to classical keyboard music: Bach’s forty-eight, Beethoven’s thirty-two, Alkan, Debussy, Szymanowski and Scott Joplin.

There was no Winfield this year, and no concerts worth attending in the area. There were frequent outdoor luncheon performances of lukewarm jazz during the warmer part of the year at the coffeehouse on the corner, which I did not appreciate.

Anime

I didn’t watch anything released this year, and watched very little overall. I did sample several episodes of Irresponsible Captain Tylor, which I’d been meaning to investigate for years. Amiable flake Justy Ueki Tylor joins the space force seeking the easy life, and through a bizarre sequence of events gets command of a battleship. It’s not clear whether he’s a genius or an idiot (probably the latter), but he survives and prospers by being luckier than Milfeulle Sakuraba. It’s a funny show, but Tylor remains a flake, and I lost interest.

Other arts

Nothing worth mentioning.

I’ll write about books later.

Wordplay

Winter thus far has been mild here, with little snow and ice. Nevertheless, I’m in the mood for an old favorite by the lunatic from Idaho.

Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.

Goddamm, Goddamm, ’tis why I am, Goddamm,
So ‘gainst the winter’s balm.

Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

I particularly like how Pound exploits the rhymes to make the pleasant word “balm” sound like an obscenity.

Another nice word that sounds like an obscenity to me nowadays, for other reasons: “safe.”

A bit early for the Holy Day

Here are some Christmas carols that might not be over-familiar. The tunes are mostly Czech and Bohemian, plus a couple Polish and Hungarian. Ideally, I should wait until December 25 before posting them, but by then most people will be tired of Christmas music.

Quem Pastores Laudavere
Nesem Van Noviny
Menyböl ar Angyal
Lulajze Jezuniu
Dziasiaj w Betlejem
Pochvalen Bud’, Jezis Kristus

For the morbidly curious: The fiddle is the budget version of Embertone’s Joshua Bell Violin, and the harp is Modartt’s Concert Harp. For what I paid for it (I got it on sale for half-price), the fiddle’s pretty good, but it’s a bit awkward to work with and it’s sometimes difficult to get the sounds I want. I’m looking at this alternative, but that will have to wait until I can budget it.

Odds and ends

While the point of the Hololive phenomenon eludes me, I do like the video of marching VTubers that Pixy found. In particular, I enjoy the tune, “みっちりねこマーチ,” or “MitchiriNeko March,”1 by one Chiemi Takano (Joedown). It reminds me of the Kuricorder Quartet in a playful mood. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a recording of it in the USA. The video is based on an earlier one featuring cartoon cats.

***

Today’s useful phrase: “platitudinal capacity.”

Though he hailed from the dusty plains of Oklahoma, Kendall himself was certainly no rube. He worked his way onto the faculty of Yale, where he profoundly influenced Bill Buckley among others. But while he had the intellect to work at the highest academic levels, he had neither the temperament nor the platitudinal capacity. Yale eventually paid him to forfeit his tenure.

***

Years ago, when I finally had a computer at home with Photoshop, I thought that I would at last be able to make color prints of the pictures I take. Ha. Thanks to the machinations of printer manufacturers, the final destination for all my photography is digital files. The article focuses on HP, but I can state that Epson and Canon are no better. I print maybe a dozen pages a year, and those are rarely pictures.

(Via American Digest.)

Continue reading “Odds and ends”

Notes and a word

Joseph Moore:

I think genius is as common as dirt, but needs proper conditions to flower. I think this because of the recurring historical phenomenon of little nothing cities or cultures reaching insane flowerings over short periods of time with small populations – how does one explain Athens or Florence? The density of true genius over a few centuries or even a few decades in those places surpasses the genius of, say, the entire Islamic world over a millennium. Genius has to be lurking, and thwarted, everywhere.

Altitude Zero:

The more levelheaded ones, like Obama and Biden (back when he was more or less sentient) and Hillary most certainly want power for power’s sake, but that’s not true of the Antifa types, and the Junior Volunteer Thought Police, and the BLM types. I mean, look at these people; they are, almost to a man (or woman) stunningly ugly, obviously mentally ill, or twisted in some odd sexual way. These are the people who were made fun of,who didn’t get asked to the prom, who never had a date in their lives, who got locked up for being a bit too friendly with the kiddies, or with the sheep…

These people want revenge, not just on the normal, well adjusted people they had no hope of being, but on the Universe itself. Edmund Wilson, himself a leftist, noted uneasily that almost everyone he met at his first Communist Party meeting was ugly or deformed in some way. Things haven’t changed, it seems.

Moore, again:

In the fevered imaginations of the Left, the Spanish Inquisition looms large. Yet, over its whole centuries long existence, the Inquisition didn’t kill or torture as many people as Pol Pot, Mao, or Stalin did in a routine day. And that was centuries ago. Unless we want to consider Communism and its conjoined twin National Socialism as religions – I would be down with that – religious persecutions in the West are ancient, comparatively minor (e.g., Salem witch trials), or both.

Today’s useful term: FAUXVID.

Notes from all over

Here’s a motive for one of great crimes of the 21st century:

Wealth increase in the pandemic for founder/CEOs of
Amazon: $91 billion
Walmart: $38B
Google: $37B
Microsoft: $33B
Facebook: $28B
Nike: $8B
Apple: $8B

Small businesses: collectively lost over $200 billion

We’re witnessing a record wealth transfer

Amazon: profit up 100%
Walmart: profit up 80%
Target: profit up 80%
Lowe’s: profit up 74%
Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Google: stock at record high

Small businesses: 21% closed; revenue for rest down 30%. They’re gonna go extinct in the lockdown without help.

(Via Clarissa.)

Continue reading “Notes from all over”