Happened to be reading this this weekend.
The ugly old aviator:
Dropped dead four days after the Japanese surrender.
our Chicago correspondent sends us this find:
reprinting this 2013 classic because can’t find my copy of this book, wondering if I loaned it to one of you.
Nice work boys.
Wilson got his start doing a survey of all the ants in Alabama.
There’s the question of, why did I pick ants, you know? Why not butterflies or whatever? And the answer is that they’re so abundant, they’re easy to find, and they’re easy to study, and they’re so interesting. They have social habits that differ from one kind of ant to the next. You know, each kind of ant has almost the equivalent of a different human culture. So each species is a wonderful object to study in itself. In fact, I honestly can’t…cannot understand why most people don’t study ants.
Somewhere else I think I heard Wilson say something like “once you start to study ants it’s hard to be interested in anything else.”
Look at the wild coolness on Bert Hölldobler:
We’ve been thinking a lot about the glow of some of your poems, the visionary language seeping through parts of Angels, and the electric way in which the border between Fuckhead’s consciousness and the outside world is always being dissolved throughout Jesus’ Son. Could you talk a bit more about Whitman’s influence in your poetry and prose?
I’m not sure I could trace the lines of his influence on my language, particularly, or the way his work affects the strategies in my work, or anything like that. His expansive spirit, his generosity, his eagerness to love – those are the things that influence me, not just as a writer, but as a person. His introduction to LEAVES OF GRASS I take as a sort of personal manifesto, especially the passage:
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body. . . .
found in this interview with Denis Johnson. Oddly or presciently or synchronistically enough I’d been looking for Denis Johnson materials as I did ever so often. How did this guy know this stuff? was what I was looking for as usual.
May I please recommend to you you have actor Will Patton read you the audiobook of:
I loved the experience so much I got into the full unabridged 23+ hours of:
Will Patton is such a gifted, subtle performer of audiobooks.
Let’s give the last word to DJ:
I love McDonald’s double cheeseburgers and I don’t care if they’re made of pink slime and ammonia, I eat them all the time because they’re delicious.
One of the local branches of the LA Public Library, the one on Sunset across from Wendy’s, is named after Will and Ariel Durant.
David Brooks grows wistful as he considers the Will and Ariel Durant project:
Between 1935 and 1975, Will and Ariel Durant published a series of volumes that together were known as “The Story of Civilization.” They basically told human history (mostly Western history) as an accumulation of great ideas and innovations, from the Egyptians, through Athens, Magna Carta, the Age of Faith, the Renaissance and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The series was phenomenally successful, selling over two million copies.
I’ve taken a look at the first volume of the series,
and was astounded, amused, and delighted by what I found there. Here’s an example.
When Will met Ariel Durant, her name was Ida, she was fourteen, and she was his student.
She was 15 at her marriage on Oct. 31, 1913, and came to the ceremony with her roller skates slung over her shoulder. Her husband was just about to turn 28. He called her Ariel, after the the imp in Shakespeare’s ”The Tempest,” and she later had her name legally changed.
(from Will’s NYT obituary). In Our Oriental Civilization, Will makes the case for himself:
It’s pretty funny that we named the library after a pair of lovers whose romance would get the man arrested today.
On the other hand, that’s the kind of paradox of historical and civilizational change that Will Durant took so much joy in teaching about.
More from the NYT:
Dr. Durant consistently took a generally optimistic view of civilization, despite a growing belief that ”the world situation is all fouled up.”
”Civilization is a stream with banks,” he said in his precise voice. ”The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues.
”The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.”
Will and Ariel, from Wikipedia:
Some real talk from Larry McMurtry
One of these days I’m going to rank all of McMurtry’s non-fiction books. They’re all chatty and great. This is the single best one.
Either Film Flam or Hollywood tells what it’s like to be friends with Diane Keaton and her mom.
McMurtry has really meant a lot to me. Here are some other posts about him:
My copy is pre-owned and comes already highlighted:
I’ve always hated Hugo’s. On acting technique:
How about this one, about Australian historians?
Geoffrey Blainey’s recipe for peach-tin eggs:
Graeme Davison on the wrong side of the law in Melbourne:
There are no wasted humans:
from the boss Thomas Cleary:
And finally, some Daily Drucker: