I can’t be the only one. I can’t be the only one who has these moments when I consider how I spend my days, reflecting on the poetry, art, literature, and music that I immerse myself in and ask, what is the point of all this anyway?
We live in a sexually saturated age. Anyone can see that. From deodorant advertisements to children’s clothing, our culture has become shockingly sexualized. Even people who have fully embraced the Sexual Revolution express concern that we may have gone too far. Not surprisingly, Christians have observed this frightening trend and tried to respond to it. Often at the heart of this response is a conversation about modesty.
Sometimes the Internet is just glorious.
I recently stumbled upon a rare recording of Flannery O'Connor reading her own story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find." What an amazing find!
I'm going to admit something rather embarassing: her very thick Georgia accent totally surprised me! Writers are supposed to speak the King's English, right? Even Southern writers. Now I'm going to have to read all her stories with that drawl.
In Larry Benson’s very fine work, Art and Tradition in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, he makes some interesting observations about the role of the poet in the Classical and Medieval world.
The classical epic poet draws his material from the oral tradition. He is not the originator of the work. He is simply passing along an older tale. There may be room for innovation and variation, but the source of the poet’s authority comes from the oral tradition.
Wendell Berry very rarely gives television interviews, but in 2013 he agreed to sit down with Bill Moyers as part of a conference at St. Catharine's College. Take 40 minutes to watch this. Berry speaks on topics close to his heart, and he reads several poems aloud. It's worth the watch just for that! My favorite moment is when he is moved to tears reading one of his own poems. Beautiful.
I’ve been reading Larry Benson’s (famed editor of the Riverside Chaucer) 1965 book, Art and Tradition in Sir Gawain in the Green Knight in preparation for my online intensive class on Sir Gawain.
I was recently talking with a new friend of mine about art and tradition and the role of the poet—like I do—and he recommended to me an essay that had influenced his understanding of all of those things, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1921) by TS Eliot.
I am rereading Peter Leithart's book on Jane Austen, Miniatures and Morals. In the introduction he says this,
"The moral philosopher Alsadair MacIntyre discerns an Aristotelian trait in Austen's recognition that virtues are formed, tested, and manifested within community. As Aristotle pointed out, this makes ethics a subdivision of politics--that is, it makes the question 'What should I do?' a sub-question under 'What kind of community do I wish to live in, and what is my place in it?'
An interesting discussion popped up on my Facebook about some of the ideas we’ve been talking about on Close Reads as we work our way through Berry’s Jayber Crow. Here are some highlights.