Jan 12, 2009

today's literary links

1. He discovered a document that quoted inflammatory passages from the Secret Gospel of Mark. Or did he forge it?
One way to arrive at certainty seems obvious: study the manuscript pages, using scientific methods to date paper and ink, and assess the script, drawing on the less scientific, but still elaborate, methods of paleography. But if the scholarly disputes over Secret Mark resemble the caucus race from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the manuscript plays the role of the Cheshire cat.
2. Reading is up.
According to "Reading on the Rise," being issued Monday by the National Endowment for the Arts, just over half of the people surveyed 18 or older read some kind of literature in 2008, up from 46.7 percent in 2002, when the number had dropped by seven percentage points over the previous decade. NEA chairman Dana Gioia called the results "astonishing" and an "important new cultural trend."
That is, until you subtract required reading.

3. Sleep deprivation makes you paranoid. Call it Macbeth's curse.

4. Blagojevich: the corrupt litterateur.
Later, at a news conference following the Illinois House's vote to impeach, he quoted a few verses of "Ulysses," a poem by the 19th Century poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.

" 'We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are: one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,' " Blagojevich said.

The governor's identification with Tennyson's hero might also raise eyebrows: In Greek mythology, Ulysses was less noted for honor than for craftiness, the ancient equivalent of wink-and-nod politics. Of him, Tennyson wrote: "I mete and dole/unequal laws unto a savage race."

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