Sunday, July 31, 2016

Jerusha Spider: All's Fair in Love and War

Two Can Play That Game!

Judy (aka Jerusha) is a spider learning the ropes:
The accompanying illustration is hereby reproduced for the first time. It looks like a spider on the end of a string, but it isn't at all; it's a picture of me learning to swim in the tank in the gymnasium. The instructor hooks a rope into a ring in the back of my belt, and runs it through a pulley in the ceiling. It would be a beautiful system if one had perfect confidence in the probity of one's instructor. I'm always afraid, though, that she will let the rope get slack, so I keep one anxious eye on her and swim with the other, and with this divided interest I do not make the progress that I otherwise might.
We see that Jerusha can be just as much (or just as little) a spider as Daddy-Long-Legs. Is a reversal of roles in progress? Appearances take on reality?


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Equal Opportunity Disgust!

In "Homelessness, Party Style" (First Things, July 27, 2016), George Weigel speaks of being left behind by political parties, and he might as well be wishing a plague on both their houses in speaking of the Democrats and the Republicans, for he was once upon a time a Democrat, but journeyed away when it left him behind:
I now wonder whether I'm about to make that journey again: not, of course, to revert to a Democratic Party that has ever more mindlessly arranged its affairs around an absolutist commitment to the sexual revolution and its relentless assault on traditional culture, but to declare myself the twenty-first-century equivalent, in party terms, of a stateless-person. The Democratic Party once left me. Now, the Republican Party has left me by embracing Donald Trump, a man utterly unfit by experience, intellect, or character to be President of the United States (a trifecta of disqualifiers, I hasten to add, that I would also apply to Mrs. Clinton).
I can empathize, but as an American abroad, I find my thoughts drawn more to the issues of foreign policy, and on these, Trump has already done damage by publicly questioning America's commitment to protecting its allies. Hillary Clinton has shown poor judgment in particular instances, but Trump's off-the-cuff remarks call basic principles into question.

Maybe I'll just have to write myself in as a candidate . . .


Friday, July 29, 2016

'Spy-Dear' Man, 'Spy-Dear' Man . . .

Jerusha Abbott, author of "When the Sophomores Won the Game," discovers her 'Spy-Dear' is displeased that she wishes to accept a scholarship from the college rather than continue receiving money from him:
September 26th

Dear Daddy-Long-Legs . . .

I found your letter waiting for me - pardon - I mean your secretary's.

Will you kindly convey to me a comprehensible reason why I should not accept that scholarship? I don't understand your objection in the least. But anyway, it won't do the slightest good for you to object, for I've already accepted it - and I am not going to change! That sounds a little impertinent, but I don't mean it so. I suppose you feel that when you set out to educate me, you'd like to finish the work, and put a neat period, in the shape of a diploma, at the end. But look at it just a second from my point of view. I shall owe my education to you just as much as though I let you pay for the whole of it, but I won't be quite so much indebted. I know that you don't want me to return the money, but nevertheless, I am going to want to do it, if I possibly can; and winning this scholarship makes it so much easier. I was expecting to spend the rest of my life in paying my debts, but now I shall only have to spend one-half of the rest of it. I hope you understand my position and won't be cross. The allowance I shall still most gratefully accept. It requires an allowance to live up to Julia and her furniture! I wish that she had been reared to simpler tastes, or else that she were not my room-mate.

Good night, Daddy dear, and don't be annoyed because your chick is wanting to scratch for herself. She's growing up into an awfully energetic little hen - with a very determined cluck and lots of beautiful feathers (all due to you).


As we see, the 'Spy-Dear' wants to keep Judy (Jerusha) in his clutches, dependent on him, but she sounds determined to fly off on her own!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The 'Spy-Dear' won't like this news!

Judy Abbott is about to announce some good news that dear Daddy-Long-Legs won't like to hear:
10th September

Dear Daddy,
This abbreviation of "Daddy-Long-Legs" to "Daddy" begins to sound incestuous! But only because we have some inkling of the romance ahead, given her fondness for Master Jervie (who is secretly Daddy-Long-Legs). Meanwhile, she has written some stories and shown them to Master Jervie for his opinion:
[T]he last one I did - just a little sketch laid in college - he said wasn't bad; and he had it typewritten, and I sent it to a magazine. They've had it two weeks; maybe they're thinking it over.
Thursday brings good news:
Daddy! Daddy! What do you think? The postman has just come with two letters.

1st. My story is accepted. $50. ALORS! I'm an AUTHOR.

2nd. A letter from the college secretary. I'm to have a scholarship for two years that will cover board and tuition. It was founded for 'marked proficiency in English with general excellency in other lines.' And I've won it! I applied for it before I left, but I didn't have an idea I'd get it, on account of my Freshman bad work in maths and Latin. But it seems I've made it up. I am awfully glad, Daddy, because now I won't be such a burden to you. The monthly allowance will be all I'll need, and maybe I can earn that with writing or tutoring or something . . .
This could undo the web Daddy-Long-Legs has woven to catch her in . . . yeah, I know he's not really a spider, but he is a "spy-dear," keeping an eye on his cherished little Jerusha (aka "Judy"). Anyway, we'll see his reaction soon.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

More on Outmoded Islamic Jurisprudence

More Muslims are speaking out concerning Islamic texts at the core of Islam that legitimate exactly what the Islamic State has been doing in the name of Islam.

D. Hazan draws our attention to Report No. 1261 of the Memri Inquiry and Analysis Series, which informs us that "Following [Recent] ISIS Attacks, Arab Journalists [Have] Call[ed On Muslims] To Acknowledge Existence Of Muslim Extremism . . . [And To] Reexamine Religious Texts" (July 25, 2016). Below are the general points:
The large number of terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS in Western countries over the past year . . . . has sparked a wave of harsh criticism in the Arab and Islamic world . . . . [T]here have been an increasing number of articles in the Arab media calling to acknowledge that Islam, and the obsolete interpretations of it that are still applied today, are indeed related to the wave of global terrorism. Writers called on Muslims to be honest and admit the existence of Muslim religious extremism instead of blaming others, and to uproot it . . . . [This] requires fundamental reforms in Islamic interpretations alongside reforms in cultural, governmental and education patterns in Arab countries, which, they say, cause many Muslims to harbor covert sympathy for ISIS . . . . [Therefore, many] writers argued that most of ISIS's religious practices are drawn from the most important Islamic law books, while stressing that these laws do not reflect explicit Koranic dictates, but rather the opinion of jurisprudents that lived in a certain reality that is no longer relevant today. Therefore, they explained that in order to rescue the universal values of Islam from the culture of ignorance, backwardness, and violence, the Islamic jurisprudents of today must critically and rationally review the history of Islam and its religious texts, and adapt Islamic interpretations and laws to the spirit of the times, while taking into account the current circumstances and the greater good. In their opinion, some Islamic dictates should even be cancelled altogether to conform with universal progressive values such as liberties and human rights . . . . The writers also pointed to the confusion afflicting the common Muslims today, whether due to the refusal of Islamic religious institution[s] to accuse ISIS and its ilk of apostasy, or whether because matters that were once uncontroversial in Islam - such as offensive jihad and slavery for prisoners of war - are currently forbidden according to modern world norms . . . . [Now, the] writers stated that changing the religious discourse was a vital and urgent step, since the ongoing political and cultural situation in the Arab and Muslim world is "a wonderful recipe for extremism and backwardness," and that preserving and sanctifying ancient Islamic heritage would [give] birth [to] groups even more extreme than ISIS and lead Muslims to their doom.
Again, I say, we need more of such calls to reform! Maybe the reform of Islam is now really coming. At least Muslims themselves are beginning to admit that Islam has serious problems. But the process won't be easy. We'll see what comes of this . . .


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

O Magic Mirror on the Wall, Deliver Us from This World's Thrall

Martin Seay

I recently came across this old poem of mine from the mid-1980s and wondered if two of the main characters in Martin Seay's novel The Mirror Thief - Stanley Glass and Vettor Crivano - would suspect a secret message within:
You look upon the world with antique eyes,
through intense lens, with more than innocence,
but only in this moment circumscribed
by shelves and shelves of other people's lives.
Let's peer into this mirror, you and I,
clear through the old and darkened glass. What past
perhaps reflects obscurely back on one
behind the silver-surfaced other side,
who gazes here with solemn, antique eyes?
Maybe it holds the answer to their question, the object of their quest, the conjunction in their que. But probably none of these. The poem's only about a moment in San Francisco when a friend and I were looking through shelves of items in an antique store, and my friend tried on a pair of old glasses and gazed into a nearby antique mirror.

I stood back in appreciation and watched her looking at her antique self, and this poem came to me . . .


Monday, July 25, 2016

Sheikh Khaled Al-Mulla: "The Times of Slavery Are Over"

Sunni Iraqi Cleric Sheikh Khaled Al-Mulla
Head of the Iraqi Scholars Association

According to Memri Clip No. 5571 (July 1, 2016), a "Leading Sunni Iraqi Cleric Khaled Al-Mulla Criticizes ISIS Practices," but acknowledges the difficulties due to controversial texts that seem to allow what ISIS does:
Khaled Al-Mulla: "Why do we always blame others for our problems? One says 'America,' another says 'Iran,' yet another says 'Zionist plan,' and so on . . . We constantly hear it in the media. But who are the ones carrying out these [so-called foreign] agendas? It is unacceptable to blame others for our problems. The pawns on the ground are us. We are killing one another ourselves" . . . .

Program Host: "How do you view the taking of Yazidi women as slave girls by ISIS? Are there religious texts that permit this action? Some people who wish to aggravate the situation say that what ISIS brought with them to Mosul is the same as what the Prophet Muhammad brought with him to the places that he conquered, liberated, and declared as the Islamic state."

Khaled Al-Mulla: "This issue is one of the most complicated issues. Why is that? First of all, because not all the things that happened back then can be implemented in our days. Secondly, ISIS has 'hijacked' the controversial texts. Today, we cannot take a Yazidi woman, a Christian woman, or any other woman belonging to another religion . . . The shari'a does not allow us to capture women as [slave girls]. The times of taking captives, the times of slavery, are over."

Host: "But there are religious texts that permit all these things."

Khaled Al-Mulla: "That's correct. It exists in the texts of jurisprudence. Therefore, the biggest mistake of the religious institution is not being able to get rid of these texts. The religious institution does not have the courage to say, at the very least, that these texts are unsuitable for the world today.
At last, some Muslim experts are starting to acknowledge these problematic texts and challenge these very sources that motivate such barbaric conduct among Islamists. This, I think, is one of the ways forward.

More of this please!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Gregory C. Eaves Reviews our Translations of Jang Jung-il and Yi Kwang-Su

Gregory C. Eaves?
Image from Google Images

Gregory C. Eaves has a new site dedicated to book reviews, and I mention this because - as you might have noted from the heading above - Mr. Eaves talks about a couple of books translated by my wife and me. Let's note the Jang Jung-il novel first. Eaves deals with the book When Adam Opens His Eyes (1990, t. 2013) by Jang Jung-il (아담이 눈뜰 때 (1990) 글 장정일), summarizing it as:
"Holden Caulfield romps around Seoul in the late 1980s."
I have to admit I would never have made a connection between Jang Jung-il's character "Adam" and J. D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield! Are they really alike? Anyway, Eaves goes on to address our translation:
When Adam Opens His Eyes was translated into English in 2013 by Hwang Sun-Ae and Horace J. Hodges. It was published in English as part of Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature and is available at Amazon.
So much for our translation of that - neither great nor terrible, I guess - and much the same for our translation of The Soil (1932-1933), by Yi Kwang-Su (1892-1950), for we are again simply mentioned:
It was translated by the husband-wife team of Horace J. Hodges and Hwang Sun-Ae.
Should I note that I go by "Jeffery"? At any rate, the reviews are otherwise informative, so those of you with interest in Korean literature - get thee hence and read!

Just a quick click on the links: When Adam Opens His Eyes and The Soil.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Daddy-Long-Legs: Jealous Lover!

Jean Webster
All in Her Mind!
Google Images

I've noted before that the character "Daddy-Long-Legs" (aka John Smith) in the novel of the same name is a rather manipulative person. In the letters below, he is shown to be manipulating Judy (Jerusha) into staying at a place where he has access to her as "Master Jervie" without her knowing that this friend Jervie is also Daddy-Long-Legs and thus also without her knowing that jealousy is the motive behind the unreasonable demand imposed on her, as we shall see. Judy begins in a state of excitement in a letter dated June 2nd:
Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

You will never guess the nice thing that has happened.

The McBrides have asked me to spend the summer at their camp in the Adirondacks! They belong to a sort of club on a lovely little lake in the middle of the woods. The different members have houses made of logs dotted about among the trees, and they go canoeing on the lake, and take long walks through trails to other camps, and have dances once a week in the club house - Jimmie McBride is going to have a college friend visiting him part of the summer, so you see we shall have plenty of men to dance with.

Wasn't it sweet of Mrs. McBride to ask me? It appears that she liked me when I was there for Christmas.

Please excuse this being short. It isn't a real letter; it's just to let you know that I'm disposed of for the summer.


In a VERY contented frame of mind,

But then comes a rude - truly discourteous - shock in a message that she refers to in a letter of June 5th, and she protests vociferously:
Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

Your secretary man has just written to me saying that Mr. Smith prefers that I should not accept Mrs. McBride's invitation, but should return to Lock Willow the same as last summer.

Why, why, WHY, Daddy?

You don't understand about it. Mrs. McBride does want me, really and truly. I'm not the least bit of trouble in the house. I'm a help. They don't take up many servants, and Sallie an I can do lots of useful things. It's a fine chance for me to learn housekeeping. Every woman ought to understand it, and I only know asylum-keeping.

There aren't any girls our age at the camp, and Mrs. McBride wants me for a companion for Sallie. We are planning to do a lot of reading together. We are going to read all of the books for next year's English and sociology. The Professor said it would be a great help if we would get our reading finished in the summer; and it's so much easier to remember it if we read together and talk it over.

Just to live in the same house with Sallie's mother is an education. She's the most interesting, entertaining, companionable, charming woman in the world; she knows everything. Think how many summers I've spent with Mrs. Lippett and how I'll appreciate the contrast. You needn't be afraid that I'll be crowding them, for their house is made of rubber. When they have a lot of company, they just sprinkle tents about in the woods and turn the boys outside. It's going to be such a nice, healthy summer exercising out of doors every minute. Jimmie McBride is going to teach me how to ride horseback and paddle a canoe, and how to shoot and - oh, lots of things I ought to know. It's the kind of nice, jolly, care-free time that I've never had; and I think every girl deserves it once in her life. Of course I'll do exactly as you say, but please, PLEASE let me go, Daddy. I've never wanted anything so much.

This isn't Jerusha Abbott, the future great author, writing to you. It's just Judy - a girl.
But the protests are of no avail, as Judy's letter of June 9th shows:
Mr. John Smith,

SIR: Yours of the 7th inst. at hand. In compliance with the instructions received through your secretary, I leave on Friday next to spend the summer at Lock Willow Farm.

I hope always to remain,

(Miss) Jerusha Abbott
Judy's disappointment is palpable. From her perspective, no good reason is discernable for the command to spend the summer at Lock Willow Farm and thereby miss out on a summer of fun at a camp in the Adirondacks. Future knowledge will clarify the reason for the demand by Daddy-Long-Legs, but will she accept his jealous love?

Should she?


Friday, July 22, 2016

Melania Trump - Daughter of Barack and Michelle Obama?

Melania and Michelle
Remarkable Similarity
CNN Image on Google

As I noted yesterday, the only honest explanation - IF Melania did not plagiarize a couple of paragraphs from Michelle Obama on the moral lessons learned from her mother - is that Melania's mother is Michelle!

Of course Melania didn't plagiarize if she was just repeating what she'd learned from her mother. Naturally, their words would sound remarkably similar!

I am therefore deeply disappointed that my elegant solution to this serious problem has been picked up by neither the mainstream media nor the alternative  media! I therefore repeat my evidence and add more:
My solution explains Melania's insistence that she did not plagiarize.

My solution explains Donald Trump's obsession with Barack Obama's birth certificate.

My solution explains the name "Melania," which clearly derives from the word "melanin."
These are three powerful points in support of my position. I and others who think alike on this issue therefore demand to see Melania Trump's birth certificate!

We want the truth!

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Proof that Melania Trump Did NOT Plagiarize

Comparing Melania's Speech with Michelle's Speech

Admittedly, the synoptic presentation above makes Melania look like a plagiarist, but let us look more closely at what Melania really said. For convenience, here are Michelle's words from her speech of August 25, 2008:
And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and to pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children -- and all children in this nation -- to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
Compare now Melania's actual words from her speech of July 18, 2016:
From a young age, my parents [Barack and Michelle] impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son, and we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
You see? A source for the words that mirror Michelle's words so closely is provided by Melania: "my parents." Clearly, Melania means that her parents are Barack and Michelle, so I have added this clarifying point in brackets. Melania is thus NOT plagiarizing Michelle's speech! Rather, she is repeating nearly verbatim the moral lessons learned so well from her parents Barack and Michelle, and of these lessons, the principal one is honesty.

The beauty of my hypothesis is that it also explains Donald Trump's otherwise inexplicable obsession with Barack Obama's birth certificate!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

EWIS Course Finished!

I started this EWIS course with sixteen students but lost six within a week - four of them after two days. They wanted a faster pace, apparently. After two weeks of the course, another four no longer came, though I later learned that they remained enrolled, which usually bespeakes an intention to attend.

My class attracts mostly graduate students, who often find that their graduate duties - for example, caring for white rats or doing somesuch similar labwork - dominate their time and bring them to attend only sporadically.

Anyhow, I had six who attended regularly, though two of them couldn't make our last day Tuesday, so I needed treat only four to coffee, as the photo below indicates (the hidden photographer being a Writing Clinic TA):

The four students - clockwise from upper left - are Set-Byul, Kamila, Bora, and Eun Young, and they're flashing the typical peace through victory sign so beloved here in Korea . . . though Bora appears to be enforcing the victory with pistols.

In the second picture, we are shown standing our ground, guarding the peace won through hard victory(,  which Eun Young continues to signal), and you can probably figure our identities out by now:

Same goes for the third photograph below:

Except that Eun Young no longer shows the sign so beloved by Koreans . . .

I suppose I should add a few words concerning a decision I've reached. This was the last time I'll teach EWIS. My style of teaching doesn't fit the expectations of about half of the class at the onset, so they withdraw. I've come to see that many Koreans really expect to be inundated with exercises from the first class on. They understand the "I" in EWIS - which stands for "Intensive" - to mean "Inundated," whereas I take the "I" to mean "In-depth." Mine is thus an English Writing 'In-Depth' Seminar. I might (and often do) therefore have a student write and rewrite a thesis statement several times. Or a paragraph. About half the students appreciate this approach. The work isn't fast-paced, but it's effective . . . for those who remain. Anyway, I've come to realize that I'll never retain an entire class with my 'slow-down-and-think' method, so I made the decision to stop teaching EWIS.

Farewell, EWIS, you've been a learning experience for me.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Really No Racial Bias in Police Shootings?

Roland G. Fryer Jr.

Quoctrung Bui and Amanda Cox recently reported on "Surprising New Evidence [that] Shows [No] Bias in Police . . . in Shootings" (New York Times, July 11, 2016):
[W]hen it comes to the most lethal form of force - police shootings - the study finds no racial bias[, a finding that surprises everyone] . . . . "It is the most surprising result of my career," said Roland G. Fryer Jr., the author of the study and a professor of economics at Harvard. The study examined more than 1,000 shootings in 10 major police departments . . . . The result contradicts the image of police shootings that many Americans hold . . . . The counterintuitive results provoked debate after the study was posted on Monday, mostly about the volume of police encounters and the scope of the data. Mr. Fryer emphasizes that the work is not the definitive analysis of police shootings, and that more data would be needed to understand the country as a whole . . . . Mr. Fryer . . . . decided . . . to collect a bunch of data and try to understand what really is going on . . . . He and student researchers spent about 3,000 hours assembling detailed data from police reports . . . . They examined 1,332 shootings between 2000 and 2015, coding police narratives to answer questions such as: How old was the suspect? How many police officers were at the scene? Were they mostly white? Was the officer at the scene for a robbery, violent activity, a traffic stop or something else? Was it nighttime? Did the officer shoot after being attacked or before a possible attack? One goal was to determine if police officers were quicker to fire at black suspects . . . . [I]n these 10 cities involving officers, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white . . . . [These] results undercut the idea of racial bias in police use of lethal force.
As already noted, this study has surprised everyone - not least of all me. For more surprises, read the entire, nuanced article. But just one point before you go. Note the following statement:
[Police] officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white.
This does not mean that there is no "racial bias in police use of lethal force. Rather, it means that there is racial bias against whites.

That is the surprising thing.


Monday, July 18, 2016


NTNU Administration Building, Gløshaugen

In hunting down literary-critical articles on the Jean Webster novel Daddy-Long-Legs, I came across a May 2014 feminist analysis titled "Breaking and Catching Feminism: Female Roles in Literature for Young Adults, a master's thesis in English literature by Hanne Gyløien for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in the Faculty of Humanities, Department of Language and Literature, under the supervisor Domhnall Mitchell. The thesis manuscript is a bit careless, but it offers some useful points. Recall that Jerusha's benefactor keeps his name secret, so Jerusha gives him one herself, as Gyløien relates:
Jerusha names him Daddy-Long-Legs in memory of an insect of that name she observed in a corner the same day he visited. Lacking a description of the man, the only associations are those of the daddy-long-legs spider living in dark places trying to catch his prey through shaking his web making escape nearly impossible. Is this the future for Jerusha? His secretary explains to her that the benefactor "desires you" to write because "he wishes to keep track of your progress" and that these "obligatory" letters should be "respectful in tone" (p. 10). His explanation is like a manual explaining how Jerusha should behave; this is what is expected of her. (page 13)
The Daddy-Long-Legs intended by Jean Webster is certainly not an insect, which has merely six legs, and almost certainly not a true spider, but a related eight-legged creature also of the class Arachnida, and Jerusha did not see a Daddy-Long-Legs the same day that her benefactor visited. Nevertheless, the two eight-legged creatures are often conflated, a tendency that Webster might be making use of, for the spider known as a daddy long legs does spin a web and does shake the web to catch unwary prey.

One can easily see how this Cinderella story could have become a Gothic novel - or even a horror tale! These aspects of different genres need some attention . . .


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Something to do with Islam . . .

Maajid Nawaz

Maajid Nawaz, founder of the counter-extremism think tank known as the Quilliam Foundation, expresses his impatience with non-Muslim public figures who point to Islamist terrorist attacks like the recent atrocity in Nice and say that this has nothing to do with Islam:
In the wake of the Nice attacks people are already saying: "But the terrorist wasn't pious. See! It has nothing to do with Islam." Please stop. Your good intentions towards us Muslims are only making the problem worse. This is as dangerous as saying it is everything to do with Islam.

The Crusaders weren't pious. But they had something to do with Christianity, right? Right? That something was the desire impious religious peasants had for martyrdom and the religious promise of redemption that Pope Urban II gave them. Now switch out white Christians with brown Muslims and kindly cease with this bigotry of low expectations. This has something to do with Islam.
I agree. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the Nice attack had rather quite a lot to do with Islam, which is why I call Islamism "radicalism at the core of Islam." And a jihadist need not have been previously pious, for the act of jihad resulting in martyrdom cleanses from a multitude of sins, a cleansing extended even to distant family members, as the jihadi martyr, the shahid, can intercede on behalf of seventy relatives! But back to Nawaz:
So please stop denying the nature of jihadism. Please stop ignoring the narratives which drive these attacks. Instead of aiding extremists who insist Islam today is perfect, perhaps you should aid us beleaguered reformist Muslims who are attempting to address this crisis within Islam against all the odds. (Maajid Nawaz, "Please stop saying the Nice attacks have nothing to do with Islam," The Telegraph, July 15, 2016)
I'd like to know those narratives, for we need to understand why some Muslims radicalize while others do not.

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Robert Parigi Joins the Williamsburg Circle

Terrence Lindall informs us that Robert Parigi has joined the Williamsburg Circle:
Robert Parigi joins the distinguished membership of outstanding artists, scholars, composers and leaders in the arts and humanities. Robert has worked on many famous TV titles such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (TV Series), Beavis and Butt-Head (TV Series), Neighbors from Hell (TV Series), King of the Hill (TV Series), Night Stalker (TV Series) and Tales from the Crypt (TV Series). He also produces illustrated books. Robert brings an energetic imagination to the Circle.
Robert was invited, of course. In  his own words:
Many thanks for your very kind invitation! I am very happy to accept, and greatly honored to be included in such company. I am touched by your kind offer.
And he signed on with "Mille grazie," which - if I recall my Latin - means, "Mill the grass," the term "grass" being another word for "wheat." I interpret this to mean that we should mill our wheat to make flour and bake bread, in other words, that we must rebuild our civilization, the West!

Well, maybe not quite all that, but he did say, "A Thousand Thanks!"


Friday, July 15, 2016

Slang for those who want to slum it!

Sling, Slang, Slung

According to itself, The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, edited by Tom Dalzell and ‎Terry Victor (Routledge, 2015), says that it itself is:
The heir and successor to Eric Partridge's brilliant magnum opus, The Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, this two-volume New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English is the definitive record of post WWII slang.
Nothing could be more definite than definitive, so let's check out a certain definition of "spider's legs":
spider's legs, noun, the p*bic hair that can be seen outside the confines of a girl's bikini or underwear (UK), see: Chris E. Lewis, The Dictionary of Playground Slang (2003)
Hmm . . . so they got it from another dictionary. Was it also definitive in its definition?


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Still Think Daddy Long Legs Doesn't Look Like the Hair Down There?

Finally! Living proof that daddy long legs do look like p*bic hair . . . or at least like the enormous great 'public hair' of a Nietzschean moustache!


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

More on Karl Abraham's 'Spider'

George Devereux, writing in Dreams in Greek Tragedy: An Ethno-Psycho-Analytical Study (1976), says:
Citing striking clinical data, Abraham (/) shows that, at times, the longlegged spider's legs are seen as female p*bic hair and the spider's body as the "female p*nis." If, however, the spider lurks inside its web, the cobweb is both the female p*bic hair and the v*gina, while the spider itself (in its net) is the "hidden" female p*nis. (p. 336)
Much of this is clearly nonsense - Freudianism gone hogwild! But I need only show that such links exist - in the minds of some - between spiders and female genitalia, just to make my academic point.

Update: Yes, I've bowdlerized the quote since some might object that kids could too easily stumble upon this brief passage.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"a pet black spider"

I'm still following the silken ribbon of spiderweb to see if it leads to women, and here's a little bit that came up.

Paula Graham, in "Girl's Camp? The Politics of Parody" (in Tamsin Wilton, Immortal, Invisible: Lesbians and the Moving Image, 1995, 2005), writes of the play Red Sonja, in which the lesbian queen Gedren is associated "with the female genitals" and "has a pet black spider" signifying "voracious female sexuality" (p. 140).

This is far along from Jean Webster's time, but the association of a spider with the female sex is intriguing.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Again, the spider!

In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, by Sigmund Freud and ‎James Strachey (1923, 2014), Freud writes:
According to Abraham (1922) a spider in dreams is a symbol of the mother, but of the phallic mother, of whom we are afraid; so that the fear of spiders expresses dread of mother-incest and horror of the female genitals.
The "Abraham" here refers to Karl Abraham, who published a 1922 paper, "The Spider as a Dream Symbol," in which he expresses the view that Freud ascribes to him.

I'm not one to take Freudian symbolism as all that persuasive, but I would expect that identifying a spider as a symbol of female genitalia, if valid, would tend to show up in such psychological systems of symbolism, and we have just that here.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sex and Jean Webster

Here's a source for details on Jean Webster's love life:
Jean Webster's life after 1907 was a post-graduate education in adversity. She fell in love with Glen Ford McKinney, a wealthy sportsman eleven years her senior and the brother of her close friend Ethelyn McKinney, one of the four women with whom she had traveled around the world. The love affair began shortly after Jean's return but remained a secret for seven years because Glenn was married. (John D. Seelye, Jane Eyre's American Daughters: From The Wide, Wide World to Anne of Green Gables, 2005)
For such a long affair followed by marriage, sex must surely play a powerful role in the bonding process, but everything sexual must remain hidden from the public eye. The secret, however, shows through in Webster's writing and illustrations, whether intended or not. We see this, for example, in the daddy-long-legs that Webster draws, ostensibly to designate Jerusha's long-legged benefactor, but also - even if inadvertently - to represent her own or Jerusha's genitals, for note the hair-like legs surrounding a centrally situated hole, a hole whose center need not have been left hollow, and could have been shaded in.

Speculative? Yes, but intriguing, no?


Saturday, July 09, 2016

Blue Wednesday

Kotex Ad for Sanitary Pad, 1920

Another intriguing line from Jean Webster's novel Daddy-Long-Legs, this one from the opening section, titled "Blue Wednesday":
The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day — a day to be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste.
That day was the depressing day - a "blue" day - for cleaning the entire orphanage, primarily the duty of the novel's protagonist, Jerusha Abbott. Could this perhaps be a subtle double entendre to a woman's monthly period? This "Perfectly Awful Day" — this PAD? That depends on when the menstrual cloth was first called a "pad." Does any reader know the answer to this question? The advertisement above dates to 1920, only eight years after publication of Webster's novel in 1912.

Also relevant would be the question of the double entendre's point. At the very least, it would be a complaint. But evidently also a humorous aside. And even an indicator of growing up, for Jerusha is about to embark on her way toward maturity, a destination signified by menstruation.


Friday, July 08, 2016

Jean Webster: Storytelling Storyteller

For the information below, Wikipedia cites Mary and Alan Simpson's biography of Webster, Jean Webster: Storyteller:
Jean Webster began an affair (apparently in 1907 or 1908) with Glenn Ford McKinney, the brother of her friend Ethelyn McKinney. Mr. McKinney separated from his wife, Annette Reynaud, in 1909, and after their separation, he traveled to Ireland with Webster, Ethelyn McKinney, and Lena Weinstein. He only managed to divorce his wife in 1915, and he and Webster were then married in Washington, Connecticut. (Paraphrased from Wikipedia, which cited the above book.)
Webster had an affair! With a married man! Prior to the First World War! Perhaps such bold initiative on her part would give her an ear for the possible double entendres that I've suggested on certain expressions noted in recent blog entries.

And just now, I've come across a scholarly source that confirms what I've cited from Wikipedia, so take a look.


Thursday, July 07, 2016

Trustee June Bug

Jerusha Abbott, the protagonist in Jean Webster's novel Daddy-Long-Legs, draws a trustee and adds some words:
I never talked to a man before (except occasional Trustees, and they don't count). Pardon, Daddy, I don't mean to hurt your feelings when I abuse Trustees. I don't consider that you really belong among them. You just tumbled on to the Board by chance. The Trustee, as such, is fat and pompous and benevolent. He pats one on the head and wears a gold watch chain.

That looks like a June bug, but is meant to be a portrait of any Trustee except you.
The 'Daddy' referred to in the passage above is "Daddy-Long-Legs" - Jerusha's 'pet' name for her benefactor - and let us recall that daddy long legs prey upon June bugs . . . though this fact depends upon allowing a rather expanded population to be covered by the name "daddy long legs," namely, opiliones, an order of arachnids also known as harvestmen that are not true spiders, and pholcidae, a family of spiders also known as cellar spiders.


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A sex devoid of logic?

Jean Webster

Out of curiosity and my hermeneutic of suspicion, I ran a search for the word "sex" through Jean Webster's novel Daddy-Long-Legs and came up with one instance:
You belong, Mr. Smith, to a sex devoid of a sense of logic.
The word "sex" seems to mean "gender" here, but the sentence offers a witty reversal of gender stereotypes - and this back in 1912!

I wonder what the results would be of a search through Dear Enemy . . .


Tuesday, July 05, 2016

A little context, please!

Yesterday, I mused on the sexual tension 'eisegetically' possible in a hermeneutic of suspicion foisted on this line uttered by Judy (Jerusha) Abbott, the protagonist of Jean Webster's novel Daddy-Long-Legs:
"If you just want a thing hard enough and keep on trying, you do get it in the end."
I don't think the girl Judy recognized any sexual overtones in her own words, but as for Webster, the author, I can imagine some low chuckles . . . but you'll want context, so here's the letter from Judy to her unknown benefactor, whom she calls "Daddy-Long-Legs," or just "Daddy":
4th April
Dear Daddy,

Do you observe the postmark? Sallie and I are embellishing Lock Willow [Farm] with our presence during the Easter Vacation. We decided that the best thing we could do with our ten days was to come where it is quiet. Our nerves had got to the point where they wouldn't stand another meal in Fergussen [Hall]. Dining in a room with four hundred girls is an ordeal when you are tired. There is so much noise that you can't hear the girls across the table speak unless they make their hands into a megaphone and shout. That is the truth.

We are tramping over the hills and reading and writing, and having a nice, restful time. We climbed to the top of 'Sky Hill' this morning where Master Jervie and I once cooked supper - it doesn't seem possible that it was nearly two years ago. I could still see the place where the smoke of our fire blackened the rock. It is funny how certain places get connected with certain people, and you never go back without thinking of them. I was quite lonely without him - for two minutes.

What do you think is my latest activity, Daddy? You will begin to believe that I am incorrigible - I am writing a book. I started it three weeks ago and am eating it up in chunks. I've caught the secret. Master Jervie and that editor man were right; you are most convincing when you write about the things you know. And this time it is about something that I do know - exhaustively. Guess where it's laid? In the John Grier Home! And it's good, Daddy, I actually believe it is - just about the tiny little things that happened every day. I'm a realist now. I've abandoned romanticism; I shall go back to it later though, when my own adventurous future begins.

This new book is going to get itself finished - and published! You see if it doesn't. If you just want a thing hard enough and keep on trying, you do get it in the end. I've been trying for four years to get a letter from you - and I haven't given up hope yet.

Goodbye, Daddy dear,

(I like to call you Daddy dear; it's so alliterative.)


This is a broad context, but we see that the sentence in question ("If you just want a thing hard enough and keep on trying, you do get it in the end") is followed immediately by Judy's expression of desire directed toward her benefactor: "I've been trying for four years to get a letter from you - and I haven't given up hope yet." The irony is that she has had contact with him, for he is "Master Jervie"!


Monday, July 04, 2016

Well . . . the thing is . . .

Find the thing in nothing!
Google Images

Some of you will recall that I - relying on my hermeneutic of suspicion - posted some speculations about a line in one of the letters (in Jean Webster's novel Daddy-Long-Legs) that Jerusha wrote to her benefactor, about whom she knew almost nothing:
I don't know a single thing about you. I don't even know your name. It is very uninspiring writing to a Thing.
My speculations were centered on the remote possibility that there is an authorial pun here on "Thing" as a slang term for the male sexual organ. The thought occurs to me to quote all other expressions of "a thing." First:
I am having sublingual gland swelling. And I've been studying physiology all the year without ever hearing of sublingual glands. How futile a thing is education!
Hmm. Glands. A thing. Second:
I don't know what kind of a thing a farm is. I've never been on one in my life.
Hmm. Never been on a thing. Third:
If you just want a thing hard enough and keep on trying, you do get it in the end.
Ahem. No comment. Fourth:
Amasai, who used to be so obliging about beating rugs and carrying wood, grumbles if you suggest such a thing.
Hmm. Beating.Wood. A thing.

Well, these are all out of context, but the "No comment" line is the stand-out here.


Sunday, July 03, 2016

Yesterday . . .

Professor Martin Kuester

No, not Paul McCartney, but John . . . John Milton, I mean.

Milton was the topic of my blog entry yesterday because he was the subject of a June 21st column by Simon Heffer in the British newspaper The Telegraph - a column that I only yesterday became aware of. Unlike most of what I post here on this blog, my link to Heffer's remarks proved useful, for a German scholar on Milton, Martin Kuester, commented:
Thanks, Jeffery! I'll send both links[, i.e., the newspaper column and the blog entry,] to the students in my "Milton as Writer and Literary Figure" class.
I replied that I was glad to be of service, and to bolster that support, I hereby link to another site with Terrance's Milton illustrations: the WAH Center. For a few other illustrations from Lindall's Milton-inspired art, a preview is possible here!

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Saturday, July 02, 2016

Terrance Makes The Telegraph

Lindall's Scroll

Writing about John Milton for The Telegraph ("The marvels of Milton's back catalogue," June 21, 2016), Simon Heffer informs us that his "purpose . . . [in this Telegraph column] is to describe the achievement of John Milton, . . . the finest poet in . . . [the English] language, and [explain] how . . . [his achievement] extends beyond his famed Paradise Lost."

Of interest, then, is Heffer's choice of Lindall's artwork to illustrate his point about Milton's status as the finest poet in the English language.

Update: Here's a link to my follow-up blog entry.

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Friday, July 01, 2016

Hey Zeus! Your nachos are ready!

Kinky Friedman
Kinky's Website

That's closer to the correct pronunciation, anyway, as I knew from listening to baseball talk about Jesús Alou, but some uninformed Anglo servers would call out:
"Jesus, your nachos are ready."
My college buddies and I would always find that so hilarious! Which reminds me of a joke by the inimitable Kinky Friedman:
"You know, the words 'Jesus loves you' can be very comforting to hear - unless you happen to hear them in a Mexican jail!"
A blast from the past! Kinky Friedman, folks!