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Wallace Stevens and the Mandolins of Spring

Wallace Stevens and the Mandolins of Spring

Rod Stewart’s Mandolin Wind   So, I’m up in the mountains again, and I’m reading Wallace Stevens — reading about him, reading his poems. I take music with me, listen to it before and after the readings. It’s very windy on the top of the mountain. Actually, the winds are ferocious at times. Merciless. And because I heard the Rod Stewart song in the car before I went to my place, my perfect spot, near the beautiful jagged rocks and…

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MUNA: Lay Down Your Weapon

MUNA: Lay Down Your Weapon

The young are lucky in so many ways. They haven’t seen too many expressions of youth. They haven’t passed through the labyrinth yet, looked back on their younger years, looked back on it again and again. If they try — better yet, if they don’t — they can be who they are, who they really are inside, without being crushed by the world and the idea that it’s all be done before. It has. Kinda. But not really. It hasn’t…

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More From the Grand Hotel Abyss

More From the Grand Hotel Abyss

Some quick comments upon further reading . . . The author brings in Kafka’s own battle with his father, as I thought he would, discussing both his famous letter to his father and his short story, The Judgment. And he makes the connection work well between this and the family dramas of the rest of the Frankfurt school. But he adds a fascinating twist. Jeffries talks about Eric Fromm’s interest in Bachofen: “As an adult, Fromm became steeped in the…

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Grand Hotel Abyss: by Stuart Jeffries

Grand Hotel Abyss: by Stuart Jeffries

Just beginning this already fascinating group biography of the Frankfurt School. The author, Stuart Jeffries, is sketching out the foundation for this group portrait, primarily through a concentration on one generation’s battle with the previous generation — mostly set in Berlin. I imagine that further reading will see this expand greatly, and that he won’t remain there, in “anxiety of influence” territory. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it would be reductive to base the amazing work of…

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Classic Contrapuntal: Panic at the Disco

Classic Contrapuntal: Panic at the Disco

Some songs follow a course that makes sense, mathematically. As if someone raises a hand, lowers it, raises it higher again, and forms a pattern you can count on, anticipicate. You basically can hear the next movement in your head before it happens, but that’s not a bad thing, or a boring thing, if the music can match emotion with the math. Panic at the Disco, a Vegas band I had not bumped into until this year, does that with…

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Jaded Poems

Jaded Poems

Jaded Aesthetic Hand-Wringing too Soon     The difference between Nature and nature I think is like Woods and woods Rivers and rivers Rocks and rocks It’s like the sun shining down on the green      And making it more green not less Or the river looking back at you in sorrow or joy As if it’s given up and the day has not Begun yet Or it seems proud of its depth and its clarity Of thought and…

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Before the Frost Comes

Before the Frost Comes

The Realist Struggles With Vacation Brochures   The painter who wanted to sing And write and travel And be the incognito ruler of the world Left his apartment that should have been a house Or a mansion In the country not the city Instead of bleakness He wanted lush greens and grounds And stone pools Shining in the sun Years were to be filled With talks and walks And healing of souls Through his words or images The notes coming…

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Alice Kaplan: Looking for the Stranger

Alice Kaplan: Looking for the Stranger

Biographies of writers, artists, musicians and the like fill our libraries to the brim. But in recent years, a new kind of bio has emerged: the “life” of a particular work of art. One very fine example of this sub-genre is Alice Kaplan’s Looking for The Stranger. The book gives us a brief (but continuous) bio of Camus, his birth and early years in Algeria, providing the North African as well as Parisian contexts for his literary output before, during…

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