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I formerly blogged at In May 2011, after graduating college, I shuttered that site and opened this new one, with a more impersonal tone and a more restricted focus on literature and philosophy.

The title is a quotation from the final chapter of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick; the epigraph a line from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves; my pseudonym remains a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. I explain these choices in this post. In brief, Melville, Hopkins, and Tolkien are the most important of my tutelary spirits; even when I do not frequently discuss them, they are always lurking in the background.

I use tags to group my posts according to content and categories to group them according to form. I use many tags, and often introduce new ones; those used most often can be seen in the tag cloud in the sidebar. I have fewer categories, and they’re more or less fixed:

  • Reviews: about everything from academic writing to literary fiction to television. They will be more analytic and less evaluative, but they should give some idea of whether I liked the work or not.
  • Commentaries: when a poem or piece of prose demands of me a close reading, I will provide one, along with the text to be closely read.
  • Quotations: when a poem or piece of prose strikes me, but I have nothing to say about it, I will post it with little or no explanation.
  • Definitions: new ideas bring with them new meanings for old words.
  • Links: to one or many online articles, along with a statement of what I find significant about it or them.
  • Series: some times require more than one post, and will be labeled as such.
  • General: the category for posts that do not fit into one of the above categories.

Note also that “Joseph Simmons is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to” When I talk about books or movies and link to them on Amazon, I’ll get a cut of the proceeds if you follow the link and buy the item. I only make such links when I like the book/movie enough to think it worth buying.

Thanks for visiting.