Adam Zagajewski on poetry in an age of mass culture & popular pseudo-science 🔗📚

The central issue for us is probably the question of whether the mystery at the heart of poetry (and of art in general) can be kept safe against the assaults of an omnipresent talkative and soulless journalism and an equally omnipresent popular science—or pseudo-science.

~Adam Zagajewski, quoted by Cynthia Haven

Joshua Hochschild on communal life & the life of the mind 🔗 📚

Today an authentic intellectual life seems more natural in the flaneur than the professional scholar…. Whether our focus is on the tools of training, a heart for service, or learning from our asynchronous neighbors, the intellectual life is, ironically, a particular kind of political practice, an art of membership…. We can educate in a way that makes us all, despite and even through upheavals of culture, economy, and politics, more intelligible to each other and to ourselves. Today, as in the Greek polis or the Roman villa, the company of readers remains both the most democratic, and the most privileged, of memberships.

~Joshua Hochschild, in his review of three new books offering expansive visions of the life of the mind

Billy Hart Quartet, Live Streaming at the Village Vanguard 🎶

I just caught the Billy Hart quartet live at the Village Vanguard, thanks to the club’s streaming series. (Vijay Iyer’s trio is up next weekend.)

Hart and his conspirators were excellent. All original pieces, I believe. I particularly love Turner’s piece, “Nigeria,” with which they closed their set.


  • Billy Hart, drums
  • Ethan Iverson, piano
  • Ben Street, bass
  • Mark Turner, tenor

Partial set list:

  • ? (I missed the intro & half of the first tune)
  • Aviation (Iverson)
  • Teule’s Redemption (Hart)
  • Showdown (Iverson)
  • Ira (Hart?)
  • Amethyst (Hart)
  • Nigeria (Turner)

Weekend project: building new beds for the boys. All that remains is to add a bed skirt to cover up those screws. 🔨

Morgan Meis on a highly questionable paraphrase of Auden in the NYT: “We must assist one another or die”?

Ahhh… back in the outdoor office at last.

R.I.P., Lee Konitz.

Here’s jazz pianist Ethan Iverson’s tribute to Konitz, insightful as always.

A sure way to establish enduring significance as a thinker is to combine sophistication with carefully constructed ambiguity and, if necessary, outright contradiction.

~ “Can Schmitt’s Political Theology Be Redeemed?”

(But it depends on how you define enduring.)

Today (Mon 6 Apr) at noon CST: “Christian Ethics & Pandemic Ethics”.

My colleague Pilar’s 86-year-old father has been hospitalized with covid-19 in Spain.

His last wish is to find a friend of his from Folkstone, Kent, England. I’m posting an article about his search here just in case anyone can help.

A stunning New York Times photo-essay on how coronavirus has devastated Bergamo, Italy.

In high school, my family hosted an Italian exchange student. His hometown? Bergamo. I never imagined it would return to my mind, or enter the global consciousness, in such a tragic way. 🔗

How Texas supermarket chain H-E-B has prepared better than just about anyone for the pandemic. 🔗

Probably also been reading some Taleb. 📚

I sense a lucrative consulting career in the near future for Justen Noakes, H-E-B’s “director of emergency preparedness.” 💰💰💰

There is no afterwards. 🔗

A profound, honest reflection on COVID-19 and our mortality. Written for Leonard J. DeLorenzo’s students at Notre Dame, but applicable to all:

The call in this season is to throw off the illusion of invulnerability and live together in truth.

The World's Best Virtual Art Galleries

A follow-up to last week’s post: for those who don’t want to sift through 2,000+ options, here are the Financial Times’ picks of the world’s best virtual galleries (the article’s behind a paywall, but here are the links):

Current listening: Pat Metheny, *From This Place* 🎶

I’ve been listening to Pat Metheny’s outstanding new album From This Place.

From the compositions, through the arrangements (Metheny called in Alan Broadbent to help), to the musicianship of drummer Antonio Sanchez, bassist Linda May Han Oh, & pianist Gwilym Simcock.

Highly recommended—& also available on Bandcamp.

Sunday Morning Biscuit-Making

Singers, among many others, have had their livelihoods cancelled or postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19.

But it turns out you can still make beautiful music together virtually. Here’s my sister-in-law singing Mauricio Duruflé’s Ubi Cartas, as part of a virtual octet. 🎶

In my extra reading time these days, I’ve been taking @ayjay‘s suggestion to read essays and short stories to heart by reading Chekhov & Montaigne. Also revisiting an old favorite, The Imitation of Christ. 📚

🔗 2,500 museums you can visit virtually

I’m planning on visiting many museums in this way with my kids in the days & weeks to come. 🎨 🖼

My selections from our trip the Shoreview Public Library today. Looking forward to some reading time over the next few days off… but I may have overestimated just how much time I’ll have. 📚

DL: 270x3 OHP: 102.5x5 🏆

Sq: 225x6 BP: 180x3 🏆

Learning to play the piano without a piano 🔗🎶

This is a remarkable story, though disappointingly brief.

OHP: 110x3 🏆

“Chelsea are back in fashion – but Roman Abramovich is out in the cold” 🔗 ⚽️

Speaking of Chelsea FC, here’s a fascinating essay by David Conn on owner Roman Abramovich’s rise to oligarch status, purchase of the club, & influence on the EPL:

It is a stretch now to remember how alien it was to England’s traditional football culture when Chelsea began to splurge on mostly overseas stars, funded by an owner with no previous connection to the club, to capture the game’s highest prizes. In his second season, after hiring José Mourinho and signing for him Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben, Petr Cech – and Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira and Tiago Mendes, three Portuguese players represented by Jorge Mendes – plus several more stars and the wages to attract them, Chelsea were on their way to acquiring titles and recorded a financial loss of £141m.