Readers will have to forgive Mr. Cambell his obsessions. He brings race into the book with a dull frequency, sometimes to unintentionally comic effect. We're told that black St. Louisans including Chuck Berry, Miles Davis and Tina Turner "struggled for recognition behind such noted white St. Louisans as Williwam S. Burroughs, Kate Chopin, and T.S.Eliot." This is a double-bankshot of academic claptrap. Burroughs and Eliot barely count as sons of St. Louis, and Kate Chopin--who was she again? Oh, yes: a late-19th-century fiction writer retroactively declared interesting by feminist reputation fabricators. Only a captive of the faculty lounge could be under the impression that Kate Chopin was ever so celebrated that her fame overshadowed the genius behind "Johnny B. Goode."
-- Mark Lasswell, Wall Street Journal review of "The Gateway Arch" by Tracy Campbell (May 25-26, 2013)
I remember boiling 4 "new Potatoes (those are
the small ones others call salt potatoes) making myself a small sauce
pan of melted butter with pepper, and eating the potatoes whole and
scewered on my swiss army blade as I read Williams' Selected poems. I
was 18 years old, and the only one awake in the house at three in the
morning. It is one of the happiest memories of my life. Maybe it was the
linoleum which was torn just under my seat. I scratched an itch on my
bare foot with it. Maybe it was the flourescent light. It could have
been Williams' poems, too, but I know, know beyond all doubt that,
without those 4 potatoes, no happiness would have been as possible.
The eminent historian Walter LaFeber -- author of The American Age: U. S. Foreign Policy At Home and Abroad, from 1750 to the Present, as well as the more recent Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism
(Norton) -- turns out to be a diehard Cubs' fan, the experience of which has to have a chastening effect on the mind and heart. The Clash: U.S.-Japanese Relations Throughout History (1997) won the Bancroft Prize in American History.
The line reminded me of a remark made by Marv Levy, coach of the Buffalo Bills, the team that was always the bridesmaid, never the bride, to use that most curious of all sportscaster's cliches. The Bills would get to the Superbowl and lose it -- not a bad fate, all in all, when you conside the history of teams that have been to the Superbowl once in forty-three years. One week Levy was asked whether the following Sunday's game was "do or die." No, Levy said firmly, putting things in perspective. "D-Day was do or die," he said. Sunday against the Packers or Giants was just another game.
Effort is its own reward.
We are here to do, and through doing to learn; and through learning to know;
and through knowing to experience wonder; and through wonder to attain wisdom;
and through wisdom to find simplicity; and through simplicity to give
attention; and through attention to see what needs to be done.
All political language is alienated. Political language as such is the enemy. (Joseph [Brodsky's] posiiton).
-- Susan Sontag, entry for 12/ 6 / 77, in As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals & Notebooks 1964-1980 (ed. David Rieff, FSG, 2012)
Sontag's journals are extraordinary. It is irresistible to quote from them. as I plan to do in the weeks to come. She had a fabulous mind and was as brave in her self-encounters as she was voracious in approaching a world of intellectual stimulation. Thank you, David Rieff, for this significant accomplishment. -- DL