From the Proceedings of the Society for the Naming of Bands After Small Flying Creatures, Chicagoland Chapter
Cuter Than a Shoe Phone, For Sure, and With Better Manners

Monday Morning Quoterback

Quotable items from Elsewhere:

  • John Heilpern in the New York Observer, on Simon Russell Beale stepping into the role of King Arthur in Monty Python's Spamalot:

He understands that redeeming British specialty and safety valve of stuffiness everywhere -- the supreme art of being silly.

[Link via George Hunka's Superfluities; read on for an appreciation of what makes British acting what it is -- no surprise, Cambridge is involved -- and to learn John Gielgud's secret unfulfilled ambition.]

  • Peter Nicholson at 3quarksdaily, ostensibly writing on great sopranos Birgit Nilsson and Dame Joan Sutherland:

Nevertheless, there still remains the question of beauty, where it comes from.  It will always remain a rhetorical question, since there can be no answers to it. Keats was wise: '"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," -- that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'  However, ‘Ode On A Grecian Urn’ is not nearly good enough for our latter-day rationalists who think everything can be explained.  Beauty is going to turn out an adaptive Darwinian mechanism for them.  The human is a mutation of the gene pool in a dress, or suit.  These people will tell me about vocal training, using the diaphragm correctly, scale practise, hard yakka as we Australians might call it.  Necessary, but not an explanation.  There are no explanations for Tristan, the statue of David or the taste of Australian shiraz.  Don’t tell me about harmonic progression, quarrying marble in Carrara or the terroir of Western Australian soil.  These are banal explanations for wonders, just as when we fall in love we realign the universe on inexplicable principles.  And who would ever try to explain love?  Only a very foolish person.

  • The New Yorker's Dana Goodyear, in Sunday's Los Angeles Times Book Review, on the Collected Poems of Objectivist Charles Reznikoff and the New and Collected poems of Harvey Shapiro:

In a poem called 'For Charles Reznikoff' in his 1994 collection, 'A Day's Portion,' he [Shapiro] writes of '. . . putting words to the page,/ not as carefully as you placed them there —/ I haven't the patience or the art.' It is a show of humility that this reviewer isn't tempted to refute.



I was really struck by your Nicholson quote, and it got me to think about analysis in general. I am an English professor by profession and so analysis is sort of an occupational hazard, and yet I didn’t disagree with Nicholson’s essential point. I wonder, in fact, if the overuse of analysis hasn’t gotten worse as we have entered the digital, information age. Suddenly we have access to far more information than we ever have before. Even something as straightforward as a video can be taken apart, the film speed slowed to the point where each and every frame becomes a potential point of analysis. I heard a tennis announcer once talk about how much analysis is done of a player’s swing trying to sort out what went wrong on a single shot – it gets in the way of actually playing. On the other hand, if we throw out analysis entirely and begin to talk purely about the effect a work of art has on the soul, then art becomes something purely subjective and subject to the whims of each individual soul. Sometimes I think that might be the best world to live in, but at others I wonder.

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