Bookmarked Harold Bloom on Cormac McCarthy, True Heir to Melville and Faulkner (Literary Hub)

If there is a pragmatic tradition of the American Sublime, then Cormac McCarthy’s fictions are its culmination. Moby-Dick and Faulkner’s major, early novels are McCarthy’s prime precursors. Melville’s Ahab fuses together Shakespeare’s tragic protagonists—Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth—and crosses them with a quest both Promethean and American. Even as Montaigne’s Plato became Emerson’s, so Melville’s Shakespeare becomes Cormac McCarthy’s. Though critics will go on associating McCarthy with Faulkner, who certainly affected McCarthy’s style in Suttree (1979), the visionary of Blood Meridian (1985) and The Border Trilogy (1992, 1994, 1998) has much less in common with Faulkner, and shares more profoundly in Melville’s debt to Shakespeare.

Harold Bloom discusses Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian. He traces the connections to Shakespeare, Melville and Faulkner.
Bookmarked BBC Radio 4 – In Our Time – Downloads (BBC)

Podcast downloads for In Our Time

I remember listening to Melvyn Bragg and In Our Time when I first got into podcasts ten years ago. For some reason I stopped following. I was however reminded of the podcast recently by Bryan Alexander. There is something about Bragg’s ability to carry the conversation and question the experts.
Replied to On Patrick White, Australia’s Great Unread Novelist (Literary Hub)

When I was 22 I was in love with a man who had a framed photograph of Patrick White hanging above his bed. I had grown up with my father’s used copies of White’s novels, and had studied some of tho…

I have read a few Patrick White novels, even saw one of his plays performed. However, I will never forget growing up listening to Tony Delroy’s Nightlife quiz where if you did not know the answer it was always ‘Patrick White’.
Bookmarked William Blake: The greatest visionary in 200 years by an author (

Freed from the tethers of its own inception, the work opens a conversation with its most obvious precursor, Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man, which celebrates the exquisite proportions of the human body by illustrating the Roman architect Vitruvius’s observation that the anatomical extent of man conforms to a circle created by “a pair of compasses centred at his navel”. But Blake refuses to be trapped by the geometries of a fallen world and dissolves the fetters of the offending compasses by erasing altogether the circle (and square) with which Leonardo ensnares his subject, allowing the young boy to step out unshackled into a limitless world. Always original, always breaking free, Blake’s truest genius lies in his ability to help us dream outside the sphere.

Kelly Grovier discusses William Blake in light of the new retrospective at London’s Tate Britain. For something different, Stephen J. Valentine provides a roadmap to the work of William Blake in response to a post from Austin Kleon. Kleon discusses doing what you are supposed to do
Bookmarked Australian author Morris Gleitzman says adults shouldn’t censor controversial kids’ books (ABC News)

Children’s authors are now writing about dark, complex and controversial issues. But is that what kids should be reading?

Morris Gleitzman and Jo Lampert spoke as part of a panel discussion for Latrobe University’s Bold Thinking series. It was recorded and broadcast by RN’s Big Ideas. In it they discussed the place of literature to tackle complex topics. For Gleitzman, this has included homosexuality, refugees and the holocaust. Lampert explains that one of the challenges with topics that are considered taboo is that they are often heavily mediated before they reach the child,

There’s the author, but there is the publisher and there’s the editor and there’s the publicist and there’s the librarian and there’s the parent and there’s the teacher.

The challenge is that although we can seemingly protect children from such ideas, they are bombarded with them on a daily basis through the media.

Replied to Freud thought philosophers were deluded. But was he one himself? – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

It’s difficult to know where to place Sigmund Freud in the canon of Western thinkers.

This is an interesting discussion David. I Like the idea that Sigmund Freud has contributed to both literature in regards to his particular narrative style:

More significantly, Freud has given us resonant narratives that stretch culturally far beyond the point where we argue the toss over whether or not they’re “true”.

Subconscious desire, ego, death wish, anal retentive: if you’ve ever used these terms — and who hasn’t? — then you’ve referenced stories authored by Freud, stories about the human condition that have burrowed as deep into the collective unconscious (there’s another one) as anything found in Shakespeare or the Bible.

To rate these stories in terms of scientific accuracy seems like a category error, in the same way that it would seem a little off to dismiss the psychological insights of a Jane Austen or an Edith Wharton on the grounds that they’d just made it all up.

And philosophy:

There’s a strong — and perhaps surprising — case to be made that Freud’s most fertile legacy has been a philosophical one.

Surprising, because you might expect that professional philosophers, unkindly cast as delusional psychotics, would be a bit sniffy about admitting Freud into their ranks.

But in fact Freud has been a key figure in the development of what’s been dubbed the “school of suspicion” — a line of philosophical descent that originally linked Freud with Nietzsche with Karl Marx, but has since been expanded into a broader tradition connecting such later figures as Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault.

My question is whether we anchor on the idea of who ‘Sigmund Freud’ was or is? Is there a core truth to Freud’s work? I would argue that his thinking evolved overtime? To talk about Freud (or Marx or Derrida) is to make an assumption about who or what we are in fact talking about. This is what I touched on in my thesis, wondering whether it was useful to read Freud as a text that is continually interpreted overtime?

Liked Inside the archives — and mind — of sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick (Los Angeles Times)

Kaleidoscopic? Yes. Brain-bending? Without question. At the same time, where are we now if not in the world Dick made, a world of social media and virtual reality, screens and simulacra and avatars? Fake news, revisionist histories, internet hoaxes and deepfake videos: Ours is a society defined by its own artifice, which is what Dick was trying to tell us all along.

Liked How “Peanuts” Created a Space for Thinking (The New Yorker)

Charles Schulz’s beloved comic strip invited readers to contemplate the big picture on a small scale.

This essay is drawn from the anthology “The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life,” edited by Andrew Blauner.
Liked From everyteen to annoying: are today’s young readers turning on The Catcher in the Rye? (the Guardian)

I’m closer now to 40 than to 17. I no longer read to find friends in literature – I read for the writing. So when I recently read the book for the fourth time, I saw something brand new and I think closer to what Salinger intended: a perfectly written portrait of an imperfect character. Every syllable sings. Much of what I saw in this fourth reading, I had completely missed before.

Read Brave New World – Wikipedia (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.)

Brave New World is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State of genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific developments in reproductive technologysleep-learningpsychological manipulation, and classical conditioning, that are combined to make a utopian society that goes challenged only by a single outsider. Huxley followed this book with a reassessment in essay form, Brave New World Revisited (1958), and with his final novel, Island (1962), the utopian counterpart. The novel is often compared to George Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).

I was inspired by a recent episode of Future Tense looking at Dystopian futures to read Brave New World. Rather than preferring one over the other, it feels like they both provide a particular tangent, without showing the whole circle. It is interesting to think about how Dave Eggars The Circle combines both of these perspectives.
Listened Prescient Predictions: 1984; Brave New World; and Network from Radio National

The dystopian best-seller 1984 was published exactly seventy years ago. Its influence has been profound. But does it really speak to today’s politico-cultural environment?

The dystopian best-seller 1984 was published exactly seventy years ago. Its influence has been profound. But does it really speak to today’s politico-cultural environment? Broadcaster Scott Stephens believes Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is a closer match.

Also, author and New York Times journalist David Itzoff talks us through another prescient piece of fiction, Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 original screenplay Network.

Antony Funnell leads a discussion into three dystopian predictions. The argument made is that although 1984 captures the challenges to truth and the surveillance state, The Brace New World captures the attention economy.
Bookmarked Oz Lit Teacher by an author
Narissa Leung shares a new project which involves sharing possible mentor texts. The concern is that although educators like Pernille Ripp share various suggestions, using them can overlook the local context. Some other useful sites to support searching for books include Kim Yeomans’ Wild About Books and Bianca Hewes’ Jimmy Reads Books. My only disappointment is that Leung is not collecting these in a central spot on the open web.
Bookmarked Was Shakespeare a Woman? (The Atlantic)

The authorship controversy, almost as old as the works themselves, has yet to surface a compelling alternative to the man buried in Stratford. Perhaps that’s because, until recently, no one was looking in the right place. The case for Emilia Bassano.

Elizabeth Winkler explores the authorship behind the work of William Shakespeare. She puts forward the case for Emilia Bassano. This lengthy piece provides an insight into exploring the past and why history is interpretative.
Liked What Is an Australian National Literature and Who Creates It? (Literary Hub)

Here’s a crazy thought. Could it be that whiteness, for David Malouf, is both blindingness and camouflage? That out of temperament, intuition, reflex, survival and ambition, he has suppressed his brownness—as his father suppressed his Arabic—in order to “pass” as white? This sounds preposterous, I know. And I’ll probably get in trouble for it. But the thought, once thought, is hard to unthink.

This is an extract from Writers on Writers: Nam Le on David Malouf. Published by Black Inc. in partnership with State Library Victoria and the University of Melbourne.