Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What I got from it

So my experience reading Robert Penn Warren's Jefferson Davis Gets His Citizenship Back was one of basically mentally adding the word "SLAVERY" after every sentence. I've never read such a gloss job. I mean he does mention it: mentions that Jefferson Davis owned slaves and that he apparently treated them well - you know, as slaves. But towards the end Warren starts to wonder how Davis would feel having his citizenship restored to him, asking: "...suppose Lincoln or Grant should have citizenship thrust upon him by the America of today. Would either happily accept citizenship in a nation that sometimes seems technologically and philosophically devoted to the depersonalization of men?"

Um...wasn't that what the South did to every person of African descent that was brought to this country from its inception to the end (and some would argue well past) of the Civil War? Are the people condemned to slavery, then, not "men"?

But other than that question, which makes me scream quite a bit in frustration, I did find an answer to another question I have - the question of what is this Southern "heritage" that so many white people of a certain stripe make reference to and try to defend. Here:

It is true that in France as well as in England there was strong sentiment against slavery, but when the idea of offering emancipation as a bribe for recognition was finally beginning to be put forward in the Confederacy it was too late to be of any use, besides striking paradoxically at a necessary, if not sufficient, reason for the war: slavery. And a parallel instance appeared when the idea of enlisting blacks for Confederate armies (with the implied promise of freedom) was successfully brought forward - a paradox best formulated by the politician Howell Cobb, of Georgia, who opposed the idea: "If slaves will make good soldiers, our whole theory of slavery is wrong." Actually, some blacks were enlisted and wore the gray, but only toward the end of the war.

So, with states' rights obviously bringing disaster [states in the Confederacy were withholding troops and supplies cause that didn't feel obligated to supply them], King Cotton dethroned [the world started getting cotton from India and other countries], and blacks wearing Confederate gray, little was left of the ideas that had made the Confederacy - only secession, in fact. But with the armies of Sherman and Grant closing in and defeatism stalking the land, what would become of that notion - a notion that for many eminent Southerners, including Davis and Lee, had been from the first dubious or rueful? Merely some notion of Southern identity remained, however hazy or fuddled; it was not until after Appomattox that the conception of Southern identity truly bloomed - a mystical conception, vague but bright, floating high beyond the criticism of brutal circumstances.

The emphasis is mine and is, to my mind, that Southern heritage which like concepts of God is so vague as to be both inexplicable and untouchable. Even Warren's "brutal circumstances" while pointed obviously at the institution of slavery is so vague that it could just as likely be about cholera or not having enough mint for the tea.

Basically, I feel that Warren shows his entitled whiteness, and overall I was left for the desire of a biography on Jefferson Davis (whom by the end of the book I felt...something for...during his imprisonment, abolitionists came forward (albeit white abolitionists) to express their desire for him to be released) written by an African American author. Because till then, his biographies I think will only get bogged down in concepts of Southern "chivalry" and "honor."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Something From Something Else I've Read Recently

When I was in the 3rd grade, we were having one of those paperback book sales at our school library that now always makes me a little misty with nostalgia. At this particular sale, there was available a boxset of C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. I'm sure by this point I'd seen the animated (and by far much better) version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And I pined for the boxset. I pined and I protected. I allowed no other student near that collection, knowing full well that someone else, someone who wouldn't love the books as much as I would, would rip it away from me, and I'd never see these rare and precious books ever again.

I asked Ms. Dossett if I could call my Mom and begged Momma to come, to come quickly, because these had to be purchased - even if they were about $10 - which in my 3rd grade mind was more money than I had a right to ask from my parents.

Momma came, she bought, and just a few months shy of 40, I still have those same books.

Just recently I picked up The Horse and His Boy, book 5 in this version of the series (not in chronological order - which IS THE WAY IT SHOULD BE READ - what do you have to be spoon-fed everything?). I've been kinda depressed and dealing with anxiety issues, so I've been reading kids books.

And "Horse" I remembered as my favorite of the books: a boy brought up by someone who didn't love him, escapes with a horse who is secretly a talking, Narnian horse and they escape through the hot desert make it to Narnia, avert an invasion, and lo and behold, the boy is discovered to be long lost royalty. It was everything I wish my life was.

Needless to say, the story has not survived well over the years. The racism is fairly blatant (just as in Lewis's buddy Tolkien's Lord of the Rings), but what can you do.

But I did read something that touched me in my current depressed, unhappy-with-everything state. In this scene, the talking horse Bree is feeling poorly because while he ran away from a lion (it ends up being the lion Aslan), Shasta (the boy/prince) stands his ground against the lion's attack, and the hermit, who is caring for the characters while Shasta is away averting an invasion, says the following:

My good Horse, you've lost nothing but your self-conceit. No, no, cousin. Don't put back your ears and shake your mane at me. If you are really so humbled as you sounded a minute ago, you must learn to listen to sense. You're not quite the great horse you had come to think, from living among poor dumb horses. Of course you were braver and cleverer than them. You could hardly help being that. It doesn't follow that you'll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you're nobody special, you'll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole, and taking one thing with another.

There's obviously not been enough porn on here lately...

...do forgive me.

Via Sex, Love, and More Sex

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Un-American Chronicles now available

Hey, y'all!

I'd like to draw your attention to fellow blog Arion's Archaic Art where you can find that blogger's comic Un-American Chronicles available via ComiXology. This looks amazing! And apparently there is a sweepstakes that will allow you to win other comics.

Hey, Arion! If you see this, tell us what the comic is about in the comments section.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Currently Reading

In 1979 Robert Penn Warren returned to his native Todd Country, Kentucky, to attend ceremonies in honor of another native son, Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, whose United States citizenship had just been restored, ninety years after his death, by a special act of Congress. From that nostalgic journey grew this reflective essay on the tragic career of Jefferson Davis -- "not a modern man in any sense of the word but a conservative called to manage what was, in one sense, a revolution." "Jefferson Davis Gets His Citizenship Back" is also a meditation by one of our most respected men of letters on the ironies of American history and the paradoxes of the modern South.

With "The South" being so much in the news lately, I (re) picked up this book (I'd read it several years ago and don't remember much of it.). This is actually the only book by Warren that I've ever read but I know enough about him - Kentucky author, Todd County is just south of my own Muhlenberg, poet - that I think I trust his view of the world and the world he comes from.

Someone that I respect went on a "the Confederate flag is a matter of heritage" tirade on Facebook, so I "unfollowed" him, but I understand where the tirade comes from. You really have to get away from the world that reared you to see the falseness of some of the things that are held dear. It's a matter of perspective. So in this instance I'm turning (as I typically turn to Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken) to Robert Penn Warren for perspective.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tony's 1981

While looking for something else in the June 1981 Lexington Leader I found this picture from that year's Tony Awards.

From left: Kevin Kline, Jane Lapotaire, Lauren Bacall, and hot as fuck Ian McKellan.

Source: The Lexington Leader, 8 June 1981.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

I've been away

Hey, boys and girls.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ahhh. Is this the wee beastie?

Via Telegraph: Has Google Found the Loch Ness Monster?

Toni Morrison on NPR

Image and quote via NPR

"When I'm not creating or focusing on something I can imagine or invent, I think I go back over my life — I don't recommend this, by the way — and you pick up, 'Oh, what did you do that for? Why didn't you understand this?' Not just with children, as a parent, but with other people, with friends. ... It's not profound regret; it's just a wiping up of tiny little messes that you didn't recognize as mess when they were going on."

I love today's Google Doodle

As a kid, the 001 and 133 sections of the card catalog were my favorite: vampires, UFOs, Atlantis, Bigfoot and Nessie were some of my favorite reads.

In maturing, I've upgraded to the 398 section: fairy tales and folklore.

Or haven't. Depending on your perspective.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

And the spoiler shall come upon every city...

Via Slate's You're not afraid of spoilers; you're afraid of the future

Game of Thrones presents a particularly striking example of the complicated interplay between time and spoilers. Because the television series has hewn unusually closely to the books on which it’s based (though that may be changing), those who’ve read its source material come to each episode with a great deal of knowledge about what to expect. This threatens to layer spoilers on top of spoilers in discussions of the show, as readers gleefully anticipate events that mere viewers could never predict. Before long, that situation will be reversed, as the show will surpass the plot of the novels. Because the show’s creators claim they’ll be working from George R.R. Martin’s plot outlines, this means those who prefer the books may have the subsequent volumes spoiled years before they have the opportunity to read them. Their less well-read siblings, however, will be safer than ever before, finally watching the story as it unfolds.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tove Jansson is the Best Person Ever

Via A Different Stripe where you can also read the 2015 PEN Literary Awards Longlist

Oyster Review: 100 Best Books of the Decade...

...so far.

The Trolls of the Hugo Awards

So apparently a bunch of straight, white, conservative guys came up out of their parents' basements and decided to take over the Hugo Awards.

Read about it via Slate - also that's where the image comes from too.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Conservatives in the Stacks

Image via Brick Row Book Shop

Via American Libraries

If we would stop condemning conservatives and begin talking to them, I am confident that we can convince them that libraries fit very nicely into their political agenda:

  • Conservatives say they are into self improvement—the great American pastime of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps. The library is probably the number one self-help institution in America. It’s where immigrants go to learn how to assimilate and succeed.
  • Conservatives say they believe strongly in family values. What institution in America does more to serve families than libraries? We cater to the needs of everyone in the extended family from infants to great-grandparents. Go to any (open) public library on a Saturday morning, and you will see that it is filled with families.
  • Conservatives say that they believe in fiscal responsibility. What American institution does more with less than the library? What government agency serves more people? What city department gives you more bang for the buck?
  • Conservatives say they believe in the Bill of Rights and in particular the protection of their religious liberties afforded by the First Amendment. What profession does more to protect First Amendment rights than the library profession? Our profession’s First Amendment emphasis may differ from the conservative movement’s emphasis, but here at least is a place to start a constructive give and take of views.
  • Conservatives say they believe strongly in the importance of religion. What institution does more to provide a wide range of information about all the world’s religions than the library?

In related news, this is what so-called conservatives aren't happy about when it comes to Kentucky libraries: KY Appeals Court: Library Taxes Legal

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

After such a long day of such serious blogging...

...I'll leave this right here.

Younger's Nico Tortorella via Buzzfeed

If you click over, just skip all the questions and go for the gifs.

So, Trevor Noah is gorgeous

Image via The Times

So this should be interesting.

Pedal backwards faster, PEDAL BACKWARDS FASTER

Image of Mike Pence doing a crossword puzzle poorly from The Daily Beast

Facing a national uproar over a religious freedom law, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana said Tuesday that he wanted the measure changed by week’s end, even as he stepped up a vigorous defense of the law, rejecting claims that it would allow business to deny services to gays and lesbians.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses the right to discriminate against anyone,” Mr. Pence, a Republican, said at a news conference in Indianapolis.

He acknowledged that the law, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, had become a threat to the state’s reputation and economy, with companies and organizations signaling that they would avoid Indiana in response to it. Mr. Pence said he had been on the phone with business leaders from around the country, adding, “We want to make it clear that Indiana’s open for business.”

But the governor, clearly exasperated and sighing audibly in response to questions, seemed concerned mostly with defending the law and the intent behind it, saying, “We’ve got a perception problem,” not one of substance. He referred to “gross mischaracterizations,” “reckless reporting by some in the media,” “completely false and baseless” accounts of the law, and “the smear that’s been leveled against this law and against the people of Indiana.”

“Don’t leave us. Stay with us until we get past this thing.”

Via the New York Times

More than 80 people [in a community of about 4200] in Scott County have tested positive for H.I.V. since December, mostly in the last few weeks. They range in age from 20 to 56, and health officials say almost all of them live in Austin, which sits along Interstate 65 about 80 miles south of Indianapolis, surrounded by rural space. The outbreak, the worst in Indiana’s history, stems largely from the intravenous use of the prescription painkiller Opana, which everyone from the police to pastors to the owner of the city’s sole grocery recognizes as a plague on one ragged neighborhood in particular.