All posts by mallagher

John Ashbery and the Surrealists

John Ashbery, who passed away just last September,  was widely considered to be an important American poet. And Ashbery was more than a poet. He was also an active journalist, writing on artistic matters for various publications for decades. He claimed that the discipline required to write these articles on a regular basis  made him a better poet.

His journalistic efforts from 1957 to 1987 are collected in a book “Reported Sightings“.  Here is a review of the book from Publishers Weekly

Ashbery’s art reviews for the Paris Herald Tribune , ARTNews , New York and Newsweek go beyond journalism. Generous, astute, never dull and possessed of catholic taste, this poet-critic shows us what is special about a Bonnard or a Grandma Moses. He especially admires artists who have undertaken individualistic, spiritual pilgrimages, like Marsden Hartley, Odilon Redon (“a kind of Cezanne of the unconscious”), Belgian fantasist Leon Spilliaert and undervalued American still-life painter John F. Peto. Nearly 100 reviews and essays are gathered here, amplified by 35 color and black-and-white reproductions. Topics range from Frank Lloyd Wright to Japanese folk art, from Jean Baptiste Simieon Chardin’s timeless simplicity to Red Grooms’s zany urban caricatures. Ashbery gets past art-world hoopla to reveal the substance, or lack thereof, in works and reputations discussed.

I will be sampling his essays over the next several weeks and post on them here.

Stay tuned!


The Galizia Case is Opened

This blurb from NYT tells you what you need to know about recently assassinated Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Daphne Caruana Galizia enraged dozens of powerful people with investigations that exposed corruption. Virtually nobody expects her killing to be solved.

Wikipedia offers more detail

This was her last blog post

, “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate

She didn’t realize how correct she was.  A very short time later, she was killed when a car bomb under her car was remotely detonated. BTW, that is the 5th car bombing this year in Malta.


The Sixers Disaster

You have to take the bad with the good. -The good was the opening game. The new look Sixers looked like something worth following.

Then came the game against the Celtics. The Sixers were not able to shoot the ball. Despite that, they led going into the fourth quarter and up until around the last 5 minutes. Then the Celtics had a spurt and the Sixers folded.  BTW, Embiid had a dreadful shooting night. The Sixers lost, and while the game was not the much fun to watch, it was still a contest.

Last night the Sixers played the Raptors. _Due to a computer glitch, I could only tune into the game late in second quarter. Around 3 minutes was enough to decide that the game was not worth watching. You can get the gist of it from Liberty Ballers.

(the reasons that justify this poor performance) really don’t explain how badly the Sixers got run out of the Air Canada Centre. The scoreboard said 128-94 at the end of the game, but the 48 minutes of basketball that occurred was a lot uglier than the final score indicated.

The team is collectively exhausted. And without Embiid on the court, they look out of synch. Let’s hope that Brett Brown can pull them out of this funk.

If you think things have only recently gone a bit nuts …

Lewis Lapham is an American writer and editor, who commented widely on American society and politics in the 1980’s. Here he is looking rather dapper

Image result for Lewis Lapham

This paragraph is from a sermon he delivered in 1988 called “!Fin de Siecle”. Stripped to the essentials, Lapham blasts those who think them know more than they realistically could.  Enjoy!

Unhappily, (the) egoism (of the Ayatollah) has a familiar sound. In the United States for the past twenty years, spokesmen for various agencies of the higher consciousness have located the world’s wickedness in the personae of oil companies, media syndicates, big business, black men, white men, the federal government, homosexuals, and real estate developers. During the heyday of what was known as”The New Left”, Susan _Sontag identified the white race as the cause of the world’s sorrow. The triumph of the neoconservative right shifted the blame to black welfare mothers and Columbian drug dealer. Attorney General Edwin Meese wishes to search the American electorate for impurities in its blood, its urine, and its speech. The Reverend Pat Robertson promises the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire that if elected President, he will purge the State Department of diplomats stained with the sins of the eastern establishment. As a defense against AIDS, Mayor Koch exhorts the people of New York to swear the vows of monastic celibacy, and the Reverend Jerry Falwell goes about the country, accompanied by a choir and a battery of American flags, assuring the faithful that “Jesus was not a pacifist” and inciting them to rise up against “the infidels” in the public schools who teach Satan’s doctrine of “secular humanism”.

Ah, the memories!

Philip Pullman Revisited

Are you a Pullman fan? They tend to be like this (by Lisa O’Kelly)

A young woman on the tube practically hyperventilated when she spotted me reading an advance copy and confided that she had named her daughter Lyra after the brave heroine of Pullman’s bestselling trilogy, His Dark Materials. The book is no run-of-the-mill publication (but then, nor is anything he writes): it is the long-awaited first volume of The Book of Dust, a new fantasy trilogy intended to stand alongside His Dark Materials. Fans of all ages have been waiting 17 years for him to return to the magical world of Northern LightsThe Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, which have together sold more than 17.5m copies around the world and been translated into 40 languages.

And who is this dude?

Pullman has established himself not just as a world-class writer but an outspoken public figure, a paid-up member of the great and the good. As president of the Royal Society of Authors he has campaigned for payment for authors appearing at literary festivals and for ebook library loans. He has battled against the closure of libraries and opposed the labelling of books according to age and gender. Only last week he scandalised the Daily Mail by dismissing Winnie the Pooh as “sickly nostalgia”, saying he has no time for its author, AA Milne. “I can’t stand the man”, he told Sunday Times interviewer Bryan Appleyard.

He hates Winnie the Pooh? That is a position that I would not have thought worth the effort. But then again, I am not a fantabulist.