Category: Uncategorized


Trivializing Literature, Virtualizing Reality, Part One

According to librarians, reading is a good thing, and it hardly matters what you read.  On that principle, bad books are shoved off on unsuspecting children with goodness knows what deleterious effects.  I half expect to see, before I depart, comic versions of Sade’s Justine and Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly.  In general most of us read many too many books.  I don’t mean simply that we read junk–I have read thousands of mystery novels, without a single blush.  I mean we read too many books about books rather than books that are themselves a kind of reality.


Wednesday’s Child: Natural Hypochondria

The weather’s changed, we are now into the rainy season, and the crowds in pharmacies are out of control.  The British equivalent of the Italian drugstore is the local post office branch, because there, too, people socialize while waiting in the interminable queue, with the dispatch of a parcel a mere cover story not unlike the quest for advice regarding a cold sore.  The gum-chewing, nose-pierced, orange-haired girl in the window, however, is nothing like the patrician figure of the pharmacist – always male, and portly enough to exude authority – a single word from whose august mouth can make...


A brief conversation on the origins of Western thought

Allen Wilson The Greek search for universal order and principles doubtlessly also led them to make the innovation which they are known to have made with the alphabet, the vowel letter. It made logical sense to make such an innovation, and I wonder if their development of it was connected with their development of grammar and logic. Hesiod’s moral understanding of the universe seems to indicate a mindset which in future times would be capable of adopting the Christian moral understanding, and also refine that understanding using the tools which that mindset had already produced: logic, rhetoric, and philosophy. Ken...


Poems: Songs by Thomas Campion

Campion was a practicing physician and was among the finest song-writers of the elizabethan-Jacobean era.  He was both a poet and a composer, who in later years was known primarily as a music theorist.   The first poem is a song loosely based on a Horatian ode.  The second is a translation from Catullus.  I have provided links to for recordings.


Welcome, Happy Morning

This great Easter hymn was composed by Venantius Fortunatus, an Italian who lived roughly from 530 to  600 or some time thereafter. Born in Venezia, near Treviso, he was educated in the then still-civilized Ravenna some time after Justinian’s reconquest of Italy.  He made his way to the Frankish court in Metz, where he established himself as court poet.  Moving to Tour and Poitiers, he was befriended by Radegunde, one of the numerous wives of King Clotaire and became a friend of Bishop Gregory of Tours, the chronicler of Frankish history.  Venantius, who was eventually was made Bishop of Poitiers,...