Quote of The Week

“All sorts of allowances are made for the illusions of youth; and none for the disenchantments of age.”

Robert Louis Stevenson



If a web site can ever be described as old-fashioned, this one would fit the description. There are a lot of words, but no tweets, beeps, squeaks, or videos. Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Telegram, Snapchat and all the rest of what I call the anti-social media do not appear on these pages. Be warned, there are sometimes complete sentences here.

In this sense it is a nineteenth or even an eighteenth century artifact, concerned with such arcane matters as language and ideas, whimsical humor and (sometimes) serious reflections – an electronic hangover from another age.

Reading is a lost cause, but those are the causes I love. My whole life has been dedicated to them: book selling, print publishing, face-to-face teaching, radio, personal essays, and classical music. They are all doomed, and that’s why I love them. At a certain age, I find, we not only want to live in the past, we have to live in the past because it is the only place where we feel even slightly at home. Added to that, for people of my age the future is so short that it is scarcely worth worrying about. The past is the place to be.

Every week or two you will find here a ‘Featured Essay’ about almost any subject from my vast archive. Under the heading ‘Writing Life’ are thoughts about some aspect of this antique occupation.

A new addition from September 2019 is the ‘Rediscoveries’ page which will feature authors and fragments of writing that I have “rediscovered” by searching the odd corners and hidden places on my own dusty bookshelves, or that have been recalled to mind by something I have read, or by one of my smart friends.

A vulgar commercial catalog of my books appears under Books and Audio, plus various present and future activities listed under ‘Courses and Events’ and (in season) ‘Music.’ My weekly public radio essays can be read and heard at www.wshu.org and heard again at the podcast “A Few Well-Chosen Words.”

Topics of the Week

The Featured Essay: In “Bird Brains” David argues that backyard birds often have more sense than the people who feed them.

Writing Life: “The Intellectual and the Clown” reflects on the birth anniversary of Doctor Samuel Johnson.


All my broadcasts are now available as podcasts on iTunes and Google. Just enter my name in the Search box.