Desert Solitaire – Edward Abbey

I do not recall if Abbey studied zen. It appears to me that inherent in his craft is the idea that what he does not say is as important as what he does. Each sentence zigs and zags around, over and under so many norms of American society, and he does so with nary a …

In Putin’s Nationalist Russia, a Tolstoy as Cultural Diplomat

It is not a surprise that literature aids all countries in showing a human face in the midst of hard-edge politics and ideology.This piece is from The New York Times. Follwing the NYT piece is aninterview with Putin and Tolstoy concerning the culture policy document. RLW CreditJames Hill for The New York Times By RACHEL …

Garry Wills – American Thinker & Iconoclast

Photograph by Gasper Tringale.   (photo - Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune) Mr. Wills is the foremost literary journalist and thinker of our time. This article is a tribute to this iconoclast, one who has followed his own path to understanding America with intelligence, tenacity and grace. The American Mind The historian Garry Wills has written …

New Yorker Article – MARCEL REICH-RANICKI (1920-2013) – German Literary Critic – by Sally McGrane

  On the cover of this weekend’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s feuilleton, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Germany’s “Literary Pope,” gazes out from the center of the page. The table at which he sits, alone, is set for a formal dinner; his silk tie is rakishly askew. His expression is sovereign but kind, thoughtful, knowing. Below the photo—taken three years ago, …

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – Artist & Advocate

A literary man of immense importance in the twentieth century. Many consider his address to Harvard graduates to be his masterpiece. The speech surprised many in the West since it took aim at Western culture's fundamental problems. Reading this speech today, it remains a dramatic probe into the West's psyche, both conscious and unconscious, and …

The Underside of Silicon Valley – Rebecca Solnit

Solnit is a San Francisco native and has written about the town from many perspectives including art, photography and geography. This article appears in "Tom Dispatch" and is part of a dark take on the current explosion of revelations on government spying and recently the FBI's admission that it is using drones domestically. From both …

Saul Bellow: Letters

Excellent writing about a master of fiction and American life. Saul Bellow: Letters In the newly published collected correspondence of Saul Bellow... BY LEO ROBSON PUBLISHED 11 NOVEMBER 2010 Letters Saul Bellow, edited by Benjamin Taylor Penguin, 571pp, £30 "Of course I am not a Freudian," Saul Bellow wrote to Philip Roth in 1974. "For one fierce …

Scattered

Scattered an ability to go with the natural flow of life and interests of the moment. the feeling of moments flowing in time - it is the feeling of time - it is what time is. it is interactive, time engaging and the mind responding and showing and then the reverse takes hold. it is …

Wind In Sun

heavy wind in sun in the trees wind moving living trees each against the other in their reach upwards just at the end of their tolerance swaying with the form they had built, not yet crafted by the wind but the sun.

Going To The Sun

The Stranger by Albert Camus - Impressions 1942 Prose that is crisp and spare and precise. Fragments of humanity that are turned this way and that to develop a character in time and place. Meursault is detached and self-sufficient. His social needs are minimal. He is authentic and sure of his senses and is comfortable …

Theodore Roethke In Seattle

_____________________________________________ From The Univesity of Washington Archives ____________________________________________________ From - The Stranger - Seattle Weekly Publication TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2012 BOOKS Heather McHugh Is Giving the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Reading at UW on Thursday posted by CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE on TUE, MAY 15, 2012 at 4:18 PM DAVID BELISLE Heather McHugh, the certified genius—by The Stranger and then, a few months later, …

Poetics of Imagination – Northrop Frye

Frye stumbles on the idea of archetypal structure in literature. It resonates with Jungian thought, Gaston Bachelard, James Hillman and others in that poetics comes before philosophy or psychology. It seems to me that there is biological, deep structure, integration of the image and poetics, a structure that cannot be deconstructed but is elemental to human …

Italo Calvino – Mr Palomar’s Philosophical Book of Mental Illustrations, Or Poets, Take Back The World.

Mr Palomar is an accomplished practitioner of zen buddhism. He is astute at seeing what is before him as it is. Where he gets into trouble is when seeing, or being, is not enough and he needs to develop his strategies and plans together with his angst at trying to do the right thing in …

Gary Synder – A Curse

Volcano Woman - Wayne Young - Northwest Coast (Nisga’a / Haida) acrylic on paper 30" x 23" 2005 ----------------------------------------- He Who Hunted Birds in His Father's Village The Dimensions of a Haida Myth Gary Synder The Curse From the Foreward: "A curse on monocultural industrial civilization and its almost deified economic and political systems that compete, exploit, an …

David Ferry’s Beautiful Theft – Dan Chiasson

Poetry is innately related to theft. The lyre was invented, the Greeks tell us, by Hermes, who then gave the instrument to Apollo as compensation for stealing cattle. One reason people’s aversion to poetry sometimes passes over into strong annoyance, or even resentment, is that poems steal our very language out from under us and …

Sensing a Path

If genius is profuse, never ending - stuck in the middle of a work is - the wrong track, Genius is the track seen. Once seen it is impossible to keep from it. The superficial definitions, such as "genius is industry, genius is hard work, etc. " are nonsense. It is to see the track, …

Impressions of “Dispatches” by Michael Herr

Leading Image: The Desire and the Satisfaction, 1893 (pastel on card), by Jan Theodore Toorop (1858–1928) Impressions of "Dispatches" by Michael Herr I am a long way into Dispatches and I remember the experience like I do my own dreams. Herr's book is poetic in force: showing the inside of Herr's brain more than most authors …

Literary Estimations – Gore Vidal on Italo Calvino

Gore Vidal has always been highly intelligent, disciplined and cranky, and as this video shows, has left himself open to being dismantled due to his use of crude attacks on literary colleagues -  not only attacks, but outright belittlement. No one can relish the idea of going up against his sharp tongue. However, by doing …

Czeslaw Milosz – Biography – The Wilno Poet Under California Skies

Czeslaw Milosz - The Wilno Poet Under California Skies November 2012 It is not an anomaly to be transformed by the breadth and scope of the Northern California landscape. To stand on a mountain and look over the rocky shore and the expanse of the blue Pacific is a powerful sensation. While one's awe eventually …

Poem – Now It Is

Now It Is motions today are real,  and yet they house   potentialities   that are full.  They are not present   and yet the scent of them is.  it is the mystery of their  unfolding   that draws me in.

Carmel Point – Robinson Jeffers Tor House

Carmel Point BY ROBINSON JEFFERS The extraordinary patience of things! This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses— How beautiful when we first beheld it, Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs; No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing, Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop …

The American – Henry James – A Critical Review

The American - Henry James

The American - Henry James

This novel is one of James's early works. We are reminded that he was educated in both Europe and America by tutors and private schools and then attended Harvard Law School briefly. He was a member of the American James dynasty, along with his brother William James the preeminent psychologist, begun by his father, Henry James, Sr., a Swedenborgian lecturer and writer. Henry James, Sr. was made independently wealthy by his father who worked real estate deals in upstate New York and was involved in the development of the Erie Canal project.

James was thirty-four when he wrote this novel and had been out of school for fifteen years. He lived in London at the time of its publication. He left America in 1875 to remain in Europe for the rest of his life.

It is a story of an American who travels to France to expand his life apart from business and finds and loses the woman that he sought with much effort and romance. The book is a character study, one that James holds up as representative of sturdy American stock.

Christopher Newman is a successful American business man in 1868, shortly after the end of the American Civil War. He conducts manufacturing and banking businesses in the United States ( at the time there are still several territories in the Rocky Mountain West) and presumably amasses his own wealth. He is in his mid-thirties when he departs for France.

Newman's travels lead him to Paris and he meets the French woman that fulfills his idea of a suitable mate: cultured, intelligent and beautiful. Newman sets out, therefore, to acquire her through marriage as James makes the relationship feel like a business transaction, albeit a very personal one.

Newman is the quintessential American - self-made, driven, polite, respectful and follows his own path. James shows in the closing pages that he is good too, not one to act out revenge such that the effects will destroy his opposer.

We are shown how an American behaves in a social setting giving value to personal desires and circumstances, contrasted with the French bluebloods, who ultimately respect heritage above all else, even money.

The novel's drama is developed in Newman's struggle and drive to woo Madame de Cintre and to overcome her domineering family. When he is very close to consummation, the plug is pulled and the family retracts its approval, sending Newman into a set of actions fraught with obstacles and French deceptions. The final obstacle is that Madame de Cintre elects to enter the monastic life to resolve the dual circumstances that her culture will not resolve: her desire to be Newman's wife and her desire to obey her mother.

Along the way we are shown the formality of French old world nobility including a dramatic pistol dual between two men to resolve an insult that appears trivial in its nature.

We are given the final impression that Newman is at peace with his personal resolutions to leave the family stew in its own juices only to be stirred to second thoughts by a friend who points out the notion that he has been beat at his own game and that is ultimately, very un-American in that the relationship is brought back into the realm of business and in business it is the deal that rocks.

While the James's rigid stylistic control over language is dated, the story line and characters are well developed.