Linked links

March 15, 2018

Today a set of items sewn together by threads firm and flimsy:

  • Some of us read not so much for plot as for style, but what is style? At The New Criterion Dominic Green has some ideas about it, expressed with style. It’s a splendid essay.
  • Joseph Epstein has written a nice appreciation of that delightful stylist P.G. Wodehouse. It led me to Roger Kimball’s older essay in a similar vein. And that led me to Christopher Hitchens’ thoughts on the subject. Wodehouse has been an obsession of mine of late; I’ve nearly completed all the Jeeves and Wooster novels. As displays of wit they are hard to beat.
  • And what about displays of Whit?
  • The film that won the Best Picture Oscar this year was del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which Ross Douthat sees as a rather unsubtle example of liberal myth-making. I’ve not seen it myself.
  • Neither have I seen — it was a strictly auditory affair — a recent debate between Jordan Peterson and philosophy’s own Angel of Death, David Benatar. At issue is anti-natalism, a view that holds that sentient life is an evil. (Peterson’s against it; so am I.)
  • I’m more likely to throw my support behind a proposition implicit in the novels of our great English moralist Charles Dickens: that coffee is an evil.
  • You have to wonder what the dickens the consciousness deniers are thinking. (Technical answer: nothing.) The linked essay is a good one, but over contented with its preferred solution, and not quite grappling with the scope of the problem. Most educated Westerners today are committed to a metaphysics that leads where the consciousness deniers have ended up. Do I hear someone whistling past this graveyard?
  • I think so, and I think I know the tune. Didn’t Ian Bostridge mention it in his reflections on the English choral tradition?

As an envoi, let’s hear something from that tradition. Here is Herbert Howells’ A Spotless Rose, sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.

3 Responses to “Linked links”

  1. Rob G Says:

    Re: coffee as an evil, see Mark Helprin’s very funny Munchausen-esque novel Memoir From Antproof Case. One of the narrator’s driving oddities is that he believes coffee is one of the great evils of the modern world.

  2. cburrell Says:

    Heh. It sounds like it will suit me to a tea. 8)

    Rob, have you read Helprin’s A Winter’s Tale? I’ve been picking it off the shelf, handling it, paging through it, and then putting it back because of its length. But I really enjoyed his A Soldier of the Great War. Should I take the plunge?

  3. Rob G Says:

    Oh, yes indeed! It’s excellent, but much more of a fantasy/magical realist thing than ASOTGW, so you just have to be a little prepared for that.


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