This review in the New York Times, by Vivan Gornick of Adam Gopnik’s “At The Strangers’ Gate” caught my attention.
‘The day any of these people write anything even remotely as fine and intelligent as Adam Gopnik will be a cold day in hell.'”
The key to this memoir might be when the author reveals he graduated high school at age fourteen. He’s a boy genius.
This is kind of Young Sheldon the book.
The book has some good stories in it. Adam Gopnik tells about how a guy who came to one of his lectures on Van Gogh. This guy had an axe to grind and it was this: why did Vincent never paint his brother Theo?
My favorite part of the book was Gopnik’s discussion of Jeff Koons. Gopnik is illuminating on the topic of Jeff Koons. Here is Koons talking to Gopnik at a party.
(I added the potato because while it may not be strictly legal to electronically reproduce pages of books, if I include them in an original work of art, that’s gotta be allowed, right?)
The news and whatnot got me thinking about how a theme/promise in both the Bible and Quran is that anything hidden will be revealed. Surah 69:18 there above.
Thomas Cleary’s version goes:
On that day you will be exposed;
no secret of yours will be hidden
Luke hits us with this again in 12:2:
The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.
Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!
Way out near the border to Arizona are the Blythe Intaglios, California’s answer to the Nazca lines.
You can see them easily on Google Maps.
Intaglio comes from an Italian word: to engrave.
What was the point of these things?
Some researchers hypothesize that the intaglios are stopping points on a keruk pilgrimage or simply the practice of the keruk ceremony at various places. The keruk was a mourning ceremony that was practiced by various Native Americans in southern California. The keruk included the reenactment of the creator’s death and the recognition of the people who had died since the last keruk. Warfare has been offered a possible explanation as to the spread along the Colorado River of ceremonies such as the keruk and the similar style of desert intaglios.
They were first “discovered” by pilots in the ’30s.
I keep meaning to go out there and have a look but it’s like four hours away.
The source of that photo is Tasmanian sheep farmer Charlie Mackinnon, who said of the dog:
She was an absolute legend, worked all day.
Funny story told in Jay McInerney Paris Review interview:
I felt like I had really arrived because—well, it was The New Yorker. But it was the fact-checking department. I wanted to be in the fiction pages, but still. It actually paid pretty well, and I was seeing great writers like John McPhee and John Updike coming to visit William Shawn. J. D. Salinger was still calling on the phone. There was a terrific buzz about the place. But it was also a little depressing. There were all these unwritten rules. Like, for instance, if you were a fact-checker, you didn’t speak to an editor or writer in the hall—it just wasn’t done. Also, it turned out I wasn’t very good at it. And ten months after I got there, I was fired, and left ingloriously with my tail between my legs.
How bad were you?
My biggest mistake was to have lied on my résumé and said that I was fluent in French, which I wasn’t. So when the time came to check a Jane Kramer piece on the French elections, it was assigned to me, and I had to call France and talk to a lot of people who didn’t speak English. That was really my downfall. And of course I couldn’t admit to anyone that I had this problem. Jane Kramer discovered factual errors just before publication. Nothing earth shattering, but you would think that I had . . .
Bracing for Amis too is a late essay of Bellow’s, ‘Wit Irony Fun Games’ – ‘quite possibly the last thing he ever wrote’ – that insists that ‘most novels have been written by ironists, satirists, and comedians’. Amis concludes, ‘The novel is comic because life is comic.’
So I says, let’s get a copy of this late essay of Bellow’s and see what he has to say. I’ve never read much Saul Bellow.
Sure enough it’s pretty good! Here in “Wit Irony Fun Games” he talks about Lincoln’s humor:
This, in an essay about FDR, gives backstory I didn’t know to the story of the attempted assassination:
In this essay, Bellow says his famously controversial comment about “who’s the Tolstoy of the Zulus” was all a misunderstanding:
He likes Zulus, and Papuans as well:
Papuans probably have a better grasp of their myths than most educated Americans have of their own literature. But without years of study we can’t begin to understand a culture very different from our own. The fair thing,, therefore, is to make allowance for what we outsiders cannot hope to fathom in another society and grant that, as members of the same species, primitive men are as mysterious or as monstrous as any other branch of humankind.