Progress for the Sake of…

As I was driving around LA the other day listening to NPR, two stories run back-to-back caught my attention. The first was a story about the recent Nobel-prize winners John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka, who have uncovered a means for turning any cell into a stem cell from which an organ or even a [Read More…]

Some Poetry with Your Haircut, Sir?

I like vintage barber shops. Ever since I was a boy, they have been part of my life (of course, in those days, they were simply known as regular, run-of-the-mill barber shops). My father would take me to a Cuban barber who had a faint resemblance to Floyd, the barber in the “Andy Griffiths Show.” [Read More…]

Bayard: How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

Pierre Bayard’s 2007 book How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read is a real page turner. The best I can tell, it’s an elaborate joke in which the authorial voice is a kind of fictional character. This character –I’ll call him Bayard while remaining agnostic about how he relates to the historical Bayard who [Read More…]

O Tell Us, Poet, What You Do

A favorite Rilke poem: O tell us, poet, what you do. –I praise. Yes, but the deadly and the monstrous phase, how do you take it, how resist? –I praise. But the anonymous, the nameless maze, how summon it, how call it, poet? –I praise. What right is yours, in all these varied ways, under [Read More…]

Unhelpful Advice from Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson is one of the acknowledged masters of English prose, a fixed star of style. As you might expect from the author of a dictionary, Johnson was master of a vast vocabulary, concatenating his words into characteristically long sentences. Those sentences! They are complex periodic constructions, piled high, triple-knotted, exquisitely balanced, and crafted to lead [Read More…]

A Noble Risk:
The Making of a Wheatstone Conference Theme

Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.  1 Peter 4:19 No sensible man would insist that these things are as I have described them, but I think it is fitting for a man to risk [Read More…]