When I was in high school, yearbook was a course, not an extracurricular activity. Ostensibly, we were supposed to learn layout and design, editing, basic photography, project management, etc. A few of us did; the rest enjoyed a forty-minute free period. Anyway. When selecting photos for each spread, we differentiated between posed shots and “candids.” Because so few of us were experienced photographers, “candids” became shorthand for “kinda crappy photos.” Candid photography is, of course, about capturing life as it really is — the shot before or after the team is exhorted to look at the camera, for example; or the shot of your lab partner grimacing at a dissection. In other words, the photo that isn’t “staged.” For our tiny team, that sort of shot was often a hot mess of graininess, over- or under-exposure, and blur.

Today’s picture embraces both of those definitions of candid, then. It’s a kinda crappy photo that definitely wasn’t staged. (After all, who can tell a cat what to do?)

Reading notes

A few new books.

A number of my reading projects have recently concluded. 100 Days of Dante wrapped up over Easter weekend; Moby-Dick (with a A Public Space and with the Catherine Project), earlier this week. (Earlier this month, I also participated in the Catherine Project’s spring seminar on Plato’s Apology.) The course I took with Night School Bar on Caliban and the Witch finished while I was in Michigan; and the W.G. Sebald seminar I am taking through the Newberry will end this coming Wednesday. The Readers Karamazov‘s third season began this month, but I’ve already devoured their key selection, The Name of the Rose.

p. 183
The day before, Benno had said he would be prepared to sin in order to procure a rare book. He was not lying and not joking. A monk should surely love his books with humility, wishing their good and not the glory of his own curiosity; but what the temptation of adultery is for laymen and the yearning for riches is for secular ecclesiastics, the seduction of knowledge is for monks.

Each of these programs has expanded my TBR list by many volumes, but right now I’m focusing on When We Cease to Understand the World (Benjamín Labatut), which I had begun before I learning how much Sebald influenced Labatut. (What a neat bit of readerly synchronicity / serendipity / synthesis!)

Earlier this month, I set aside the bible-in-a-year endeavor to ensure I was keeping pace with my other projects. Because I was one month ahead of the daily schedule, I’m still positioned to finish in a year when I return to it on May 1.  I’ve identified a few resources, too, including two from The Great Courses.

I’m also thinking about tackling some of my personal challenges next month, which include reading from my shelves at least two books from each of the following categories: Shakespeare (about and/or retold; the plays will not satisfy this category), poetry, NYRB, Kurt Vonnegut (by or about), Joyce Carol Oates, philosophy, art, and children’s / YA; and at least one book about my bird of the year (American Crow).

With Dante’s Purgatorio and Paradiso, I have already covered poetry, but I also just finished Margaret Atwood’s Morning in the Burned House. “A Sad Child” is my favorite poem in the volume, but “Bored” will stick with me, too:

I could hardly wait to get
the hell out of there to
anywhere else. Perhaps though
boredom is happier. It is for dogs or
groundhogs. Now I wouldn’t be bored.
Now I would know too much.
Now I would know.

What have you been reading?

Art in Bloom

On Thursday, we attended Art in Bloom at the Milwaukee Art Museum. If you read me regularly, you probably know how much I admire Anselm Kiefer’s painting, “Midgard.” The arrangement inspired by that painting easily secured my “people’s choice” vote.

Appointments to keep in the past

It seems to me then as if all of the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed and were only waiting for us to find our way to them at last, just as when we have accepted an invitation we duly arrive in a certain house at a given time. And might it not be, continued Austerlitz, that we also have appointments to keep in the past, in what has gone before and is for the most part extinguished, and must go there in search of places and people who have some connection with us on the far side of time, so to speak?

For the Newberry course, “Under the Sign of Saturn: The Enigmatic Work of W.G. Sebald,” I’ve read The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, and Austerlitz, as well as Carole Angier’s biography of Sebald. (The Readers Karamazov hosted a terrific episode on The Rings of Saturn.) Next up is After Nature.