Monthly Archives: March 2017

Wyndham Lewis on Joyce’s “Ulysses,” 1927

Bracing counter-mainstream stuff from a premier critic of the last century, in his Time and Western Man:

Ulysses is “the sardonic catafalque of the Victorian world . . . like a record diarrhea,” without “romanticizing,” unlike Proust in his Recherche.

In it Joyce was a trickster: “The mere name suggests a romantic predilection for guile.” (92)

It features a “merging of analects,” selections from various sources (or here styles?). In his early years as a writer, Joyce had been “rather unenterprising and stationary” in this respect. Dubliners, his story collection, was written in one style, Ulysses “in a hundred or so.”

In fact, Joyce’s “ability to be influenced by all sorts of people and things” remained undiminished as he kept growing “more susceptible to new influences, of a technical order.” Thus the merging of analects as above.

The style made the man, says Lewis. He was “a craftsman pure and simple,” nothing more, “has practiced sabotage where his intellect was concerned.” Indeed, Joyce’s mind was of “extreme conventionality,” his characters “walking cliches . . . ready-made and well-worn dummies,” to which his “intelligence was so alive.”

He’s the equivalent “in music [of] the supreme instrumentalist.” (This is the summit of Lewis’ praise for Joyce.) His characters are “the material of broad comedy, not that of a subtle or average reality at all.” (Which makes for hard reading. I know I found it so.)

Throughout Ulysses he betrays a “radical conventionality of outlook,” in all of which he is “a craftsman not a creator.” A virtuoso at the typewriter, he is no great thinker, hanging “a mass of dead stuff” on “lay-figures” (mannequins, nonentities) “without a life of their own.”

More to come of this all-in-all thrashing of a literary favorite . . .



Democrats Propose “Comeback Agenda” to Oppose Rauner | Peoria Public Radio

Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park brings out several Democrat oldies [and] baddies:

“We wanted to be for something. We wanted to outline a vision of where Illinois could go.”

The agenda includes a higher minimum wage . . . and a graduated income tax — where people with higher incomes pay a higher tax rate.

“A fair tax would allow us to cut taxes on most Illinois families.” [Besides, it’s what we Dems do

He sang the fair-tax song almost four years ago in a series of town halls leading up to the 2014 primary and general elections. You can read about it in my Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters (Lulu, 2016).

Good news for people who know they should floss but don’t

It may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

NBC 5 Chicago (not) on the news

Happened last night, 10 pm news, reporting on MSNBC’s Maddow breaking story of Trump’s 2005 tax returns — of which she had two pages.

Fine, but nothing about White House pushing back, which is usually the stuff of a story, namely how does the subject respond? No comment, not available at deadline, etc., at least that much.

But this time the subject had responded, calling Maddow’s behavior  “totally illegal ” and an example of “dishonest media.”

Why couldn’t NBC 5 include that snippet in its show last night?

Scholar expert Skyping about South Korea regime change? Yes and no. There was an interruption . . .

He explains:

This is my life, man!

(He forgot to lock the door.)

What some are nay-saying about Pope Francis

1. Antipope Francis’ Recent Heresies – Catholic Church 

A laundry list, leaving no stone unthrown. Site rejects 2nd Vatican council, also lists heresies of the four previous “popes,” whom it also says are antipopes. Site belongs to a monastery in upstate New York in a very small town named after President Millard Fillmore.

2. Top philosopher: Pope must revoke ‘objectively heretical’ statements to avoid schism | News | LifeSite

Seifert stressed that he was not calling the pope a heretic, simply pointing out that he made heretical statements [in Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love, about marriage] that should be corrected.

Small consolation that.

3. Cardinal Burke: “No, I am not saying that Pope Francis is in heresy.” | Catholic World Report – Global Church news and views

During the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, held in Rome in October 2014, Cardinal Burke strongly criticized the mid-term report . . . stating . . . that it “gives the impression of inventing a totally new … revolutionary, teaching on marriage and the family.” He added that he thought a statement of clarification from Pope Francis “is long overdue.” . . . .

. . . . More recently, in September of this year, Cardinal Burke and three other cardinals . . .  sent a request for clarification to Pope Francis regarding sections of . . .  Amoris Laetitia  . . . [asking him] to resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity…”  . . .

. . . In a November 15, 2016 interview . . . Cardinal Burke explained that the “five critical points” in the dubia submitted to Pope Francis “have to do with irreformable moral principles” and that if there was “no response to these questions, then I would say that it would be a question of taking a formal act of correction of a serious error.”

From there the Catholic World Report interviewer digs and digs, Burke responds and responds. It’s grimly interesting, gripping, seductive in its laying out of an argument that resembles an oncoming train crash. God bless all concerned, I don’t want to watch.

4. Is Pope Francis a Heretic? Part I | Catholic Answers — Much-debated allowing of communion to the divorced and remarried is a matter of practice not doctrine, writer says, getting into some very tall weeds in the process, and facile, to boot.  Approval of practice that overturns doctrine, anyone?

Pope Francis is not talking about changing, or even making “exceptions” to, the sixth commandment or the Sermon on the Mount; he is talking about whether or not individuals can break a commandment while not being fully culpable for it. And the answer is: yes they can.   . . . .

. . . . The operative word here is “practice.” There is not even a question as to divine law here, as we said above. Pope Francis is not denying divine law. It is the “practice” of the Church that Pope Francis is changing. [!] This is a matter of [whose?prudential judgment in a juridical matter, not doctrine. . . . .

. . . . [T]o be frank with you, I do not think Pope Francis’s decision is the most prudent. . . . .  At the same time, I fear that in making that statement I may be standing in opposition to the heart of the Good Shepherd. Could it be [that] differing times require differing prudential judgments? Is it providential that this decision comes in the midst of this extraordinary year of divine mercy (see AL309)? . . . .

Is or isn’t it? He’s afraid he might be standing opposed to “the heart of the Good Shepherd.” Oh boy. Among his other fears is that he may be insufficiently dismissive of all this legal Eagle talk, and insufficiently reliant on lead-from-the-heart talk.

I submit that this fellow’s response does little to bridge the impasse. For one thing, he argues that Francis is not doing such and such because he says he isn’t. Where and how does that work?

Great has the loser risen: McCain to the media barricades

His home state newspaper site features him as baiting his enemy Trump and being verrrry popular.

Oh what a rise from his weak campaign and verrry hurtful loss in 2008.

He’s “influential” now — vs. has been? With whom?

When is a standoff not a standoff?

When someone says on one day that he won’t resign and on the next day is fired, like U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

After being notified on Friday of the Justice Department demand, Mr. Bharara, who has been a staunch public advocate for the independence of his office and of the Justice Department, had refused to submit his resignation to the Trump administration, setting up a standoff between himself and the president.

I don’t get that, which is one of the many reasons why I am not a Wall Street Journal reporter.

Blah, blah, blah . . . How DOES one please CNN?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked for the resignations of 46 US attorneys, igniting anger from officials who say they were given no warning about their dismissal.

The Justice Department announced the firings on Friday afternoon, and many prosecutors had not been formally notified or even told before they were fired, according to a law enforcement source.

Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente was in the beginning stages of calling each US attorney individually to tell them they had to resign when the DOJ issued the statement.

A law enforcement source charged that “this could not have been handled any worse,” because there was little warning. Many prosecutors found out through media reports that they had to resign today.

Woe is us, from the Democrat press. Obama’s people have to pack up and go. For shame.

Jacob at Ritual Coffee House on Irving asked me my favorite music . . .

. . . I had nothing immediately to say, often finding myself unable or unwilling to pronounce my favorite anything on short notice — fellow asked me once my favorite poet! Shakespeare, I muttered after a pause, not liking the question at all. He named Blake, about whom I had recently read in Yvor Winters that he was profoundly anti-Christian. This stopped my interlocutor cold, he being profoundly Christian himself while loving Blake. See? you can get in fights over anything if you pay attention.

As for Jacob, standing at his vintage platter-player (!) and stack of vinyls, I finally remembered, yes, my favorite was big-band swing — In the Mood, Begin the Beguine, Night and Day, Frenesi and the like, Betty Grable’s husband Harry James, Glenn M., Eddy Duchin, Artie Shaw, Benny G., even Xavier Cugat, whom I danced the night away to at the Edgewater Beach Beachwalk. We could stroll out the pier on a summer night and look at the moon. Before it got all filled in, you know. And who trademarked “Roomful of Roses“? I heard him too.

As for Jacob and his new place (1821 W Irving), who got me thinking about all this, go there for a cup on your way to the Irving Brown Line stop a few steps away, except it’s on the other side of Irving! So what? Go there anyhow, and order up your coffee and a platter of your favorite music. If you can come up with one.


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