AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

27 September 2016

Yours.

ParkeHarrison, Precipice, First of May, 2015


It sounds simple, I know. But it’s not. Listen, there are a million worlds you could make for yourself. Everyone you know has a completely different one — the woman in 5G, that cab driver over there, you. Sure, there are overlaps, but only in the details. Some people make their worlds around what they think reality is like. They convince themselves that they had nothing to do with their worlds’ creations or continuations. Some make their worlds without knowing it. Their universes are just sesame seeds and three-day weekends and dial tones and skinned knees and physics and driftwood and emerald earrings and books dropped in bathtubs and holes in guitars and plastic and empathy and hardwood and heavy water and high black stockings and the history of the Vikings and brass and obsolescence and burnt hair and collapsed souffl├ęs and the impossibility of not falling in love in an art museum with the person standing next to you looking at the same painting and all the other things that just happen and are. But you want to make for yourself a world that is deliberately and meticulously personalized. A theater for your life, if I could put it like that. Don’t live an accident. Don’t call a knife a knife. Live a life that has never been lived before, in which everything you experience is yours and only yours. Make accidents on purpose. Call a knife a name by which only you will recognize it. Now I’m not a very smart man, but I’m not a dumb one, either. So listen: If you can manage what I’ve told you, as I was never able to, you will give your life meaning.

Jonathon Safran Foer

Today.

2005.


"Prairie Wind"

Feel.


Everything was possessed of personality, only differing from us in form. Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks, and the birds and animals that shared, alike with us, the storms and blessings of earth. We learned to do what only the student of nature learns, and that was to feel beauty. We never railed at the storms, the furious winds, and the biting frosts and snows. To do so intensified human futility, so whatever came we adjusted ourselves, by more effort and energy if necessary, but without complaint.

Luther Standing Bear

Happy birthday, Adams.

Copley, Samuel Adams, 1772


Samuel Adams was born on this day in 1722.

It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.

Samuel Adams

26 September 2016

Darrell Scott, "Lone Pine"

Mapless.


NECESSITIES

1
A map of the world. Not the one in the atlas,
but the one in our heads, the one we keep coloring in.
With the blue thread of the river by which we grew up.
The green smear of the woods we first made love in.
The yellow city we thought was our future.
The red highways not traveled, the green ones
with their missed exits, the black side roads
which took us where we had not meant to go.
The high peaks, recorded by relatives,
though we prefer certain unmarked elevations,
the private alps no one knows we have climbed.
The careful boundaries we draw and erase.
And always, around the edges,
the opaque wash of blue, concealing
the drop-off they have stepped into before us,
singly, mapless, not looking back.


2
The illusion of progress. Imagine our lives without it:
tape measures rolled back, yardsticks chopped off.
Wheels turning but going nowhere.
Paintings flat, with no vanishing point.
The plots of all novels circular;
page numbers reversing themselves past the middle.
The mountaintop no longer a goal,
merely the point between ascent and descent.
All streets looping back on themselves;
life as a beckoning road an absurd idea.
Our children refusing to grow out of their childhoods;
the years refusing to drag themselves
toward the new century.
And hope, the puppy that bounds ahead,
no longer a household animal.


3
Answers to questions, an endless supply.
New ones that startle, old ones that reassure us.
All of them wrong perhaps, but for the moment
solutions, like kisses or surgery.
Rising inflections countered by level voices,
words beginning with w hushed
by declarative sentences. The small, bold sphere
of the period chasing after the hook,
the doubter that walks on water
and treads air and refuses to go away.


4
Evidence that we matter. The crash of the plane
which, at the last moment, we did not take.
The involuntary turn of the head,
which caused the bullet to miss us.
The obscene caller who wakes us at midnight
to the smell of gas. The moon's
full blessing when we fell in love,
its black mood when it was all over.
Confirm us, we say to the world,
with your weather, your gifts, your warnings,
your ringing telephones, your long, bleak silences.


5
Even now, the old things first things,
which taught us language. Things of day and of night.
Irrational lightning, fickle clouds, the incorruptible moon.
Fire as revolution, grass as the heir
to all revolutions. Snow
as the alphabet of the dead, subtle, undeciphered.
The river as what we wish it to be.
Trees in their humanness, animals in their otherness.
Summits. Chasms. Clearings.
And stars, which gave us the word distance,

so we could name our deepest sadness.

Lisel Mueller 

Wynton Marsalis & The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, "Perdido"

Desire.

Feeble.


When my stuff is done it always disappoints me — never quite presenting the fulness of the picture I have in mind — but since a crude fixation of the image is better than nothing, I plug along & do the feeble best I can.

H.P. Lovecraft

Today.

1989.


"Under A Stormy Sky"

Record.

Howard, A Cirrocumulus Cloud Study, 1811


The clouds in many 19th-century European paintings look drastically different than those in the 18th century. There are layers to their texture, with whisps of cirrus clouds flying over billowing cumulus, and stratus hovering low. Clouds weren’t classified by type until 1802, and their subsequent study influenced artists from John Constable to J. M. W. Turner.

Luke Howard, a pharmacist by profession and an amateur cloud enthusiast, was born in London in 1772. By 1802, when he presented his Essay on the Modification of Clouds to the Askesian Society, he’d spent years monitoring the skies over his home city, and sketching their changing shapes to record their patterns. 

Frolicksome.

Degas, Sky Study, 1869


The WIND

1
The frolicksome wind through the trees and the bushes
Keeps sueing and sobbing and waiving all day
Frighting magpies from trees and from white thorns the thrushes
And waving the river in wrinkles and spray
The unresting wind is a frolicksome thing
O'er hedges in floods and green fields of the spring.

2
It plays in the smoke of the chimney at morn
Curling this way and that i' the morns dewy light
It curls from the twitch heap among the green corn
Like the smoke from the cannon i' the' midst of a fight
But report there is none to create any alarm
From the smoke an old ground full hiding meadow & farm.

3
How sweet curls the smoke oer the green o' the field
How majestic it rolls o'er the face o' the grass
And from the low cottage the elm timbers shield
In the calm o' the evening how sweet the curls pass
I' the sunset how sweet to behold the cot smoke
From the low red brick chimney beneath the dark oak.

4
How sweet the wind wispers o' midsummers eves
And fans the winged elder leaves o'er the old pales
While the cottage smoke o'er them a bright pillar leaves
Rising up and turns clouds by the strength of the gales
O' sweet is the cot neath its colums of smoke
While dewy eve brings home the labouring folk. 


John Clare 

Scriabin, The Poem of Ecstacy, Op. 54

Performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen ...

Snap.

Keep reminding me ...

25 September 2016

Brave.

Vividness.


I can speak these words and perhaps you can see these things clearly because you are using your imagination. But I cannot imagine these things because I lived them, and to remember them with the vividness I know they should have is impossible. They are lost to me.

Robert Olen Butler

Beethoven, Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60

Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra getting work done ...


Power.

Houghton, Blue Coast, undated


I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

24 September 2016

Nit-picking.

That's nit-picking, isn't it.

Ssssssssstones, "Can't You Hear Me Knocking"

Technique.


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

Perfectly.


They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.


Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.

Rudyard Kipling

Gipsy Kings, "Bamboleo"

Crosby, Stills, and Nash, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes"

Bruce Molsky's Mountain Drifters, "Free a Little Bird"

23 September 2016

Typography.

Vast.

Earle, Memories of Santa Ynez, 1974


And so I come to the fields and vast palaces of memory, where are stored the innumerable images of material things brought to it by the senses. Further there is stored in the memory the thoughts we think, by adding or taking from or otherwise modifying the things that sense has made contact with and all other things that have been entrusted to and laid up in memory … when I turn to memory I ask it to bring forth what I want.

St. Augustine

Remember.

Remember, it's the same color as the tricycle ...



Thanks, Casey.

Cheap Trick, "Just Got Back"

Happy Friday!

Punchcutter.

Manutius, De Aetna, 1496.


Francesco Griffo, son of the goldsmith and engraver Cesare, was probably born in Bologna or in the countryside surrounding the city in the mid-fifteenth century. During the nineteenth century it was established that the printer Francesco da Bologna and the goldsmith, engraver, coiner and painter Francesco Raibolini, called ‘Francia’, who had been considered the same person, were as a matter of fact two different persons.

Today few documents are left to recreate the life and the activity of one the protagonists of book history.  It is highly likely that Griffo undertook the career of engraver of printing types (‘punchcutter’) and typefounder for the printers of Bologna, famous for the typographical elegance of their books. 

CONNECT

Start.

Please don’t make the mistake of thinking the arts and sciences are at odds with one another. That is a recent, stupid, and damaging idea. You don’t have to be unscientific to make beautiful art, to write beautiful things.

If you need proof: Twain, Adams, Vonnegut, McEwen, Sagan, Shakespeare, Dickens. For a start.

You don’t need to be superstitious to be a poet. You don’t need to hate GM technology to care about the beauty of the planet. You don’t have to claim a soul to promote compassion.

Science is not a body of knowledge nor a system of belief; it is just a term which describes humankind’s incremental acquisition of understanding through observation. Science is awesome.

Tim Minchin's 2013 commencement address at the University of western Australia ...


Thanks, Buff.

22 September 2016

Intravenus.

Keith Jarrett Trio, "On Green Dolphin Street"

Homeward.


THE AUTUMNAL

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace 
         As I have seen in one autumnal face. 
Young beauties force our love, and that's a rape, 
         This doth but counsel, yet you cannot scape. 
If 'twere a shame to love, here 'twere no shame; 
         Affection here takes reverence's name. 
Were her first years the golden age? That's true, 
         But now she's gold oft tried and ever new. 
That was her torrid and inflaming time, 
         This is her tolerable tropic clime. 
Fair eyes, who asks more heat than comes from hence, 
         He in a fever wishes pestilence. 
Call not these wrinkles, graves; if graves they were, 
         They were Love's graves, for else he is no where. 
Yet lies not Love dead here, but here doth sit 
         Vow'd to this trench, like an anachorit; 
And here till hers, which must be his death, come, 
         He doth not dig a grave, but build a tomb. 
Here dwells he; though he sojourn ev'rywhere 
         In progress, yet his standing house is here: 
Here where still evening is, not noon nor night, 
         Where no voluptuousness, yet all delight. 
In all her words, unto all hearers fit, 
         You may at revels, you at council, sit. 
This is Love's timber, youth his underwood; 
         There he, as wine in June, enrages blood, 
Which then comes seasonabliest when our taste 
         And appetite to other things is past. 
Xerxes' strange Lydian love, the platan tree, 
         Was lov'd for age, none being so large as she, 
Or else because, being young, nature did bless 
         Her youth with age's glory, barrenness. 
If we love things long sought, age is a thing 
         Which we are fifty years in compassing; 
If transitory things, which soon decay, 
         Age must be loveliest at the latest day. 
But name not winter faces, whose skin's slack, 
         Lank as an unthrift's purse, but a soul's sack; 
Whose eyes seek light within, for all here's shade; 
         Whose mouths are holes, rather worn out than made; 
Whose every tooth to a several place is gone, 
         To vex their souls at resurrection: 
Name not these living death's-heads unto me, 
         For these, not ancient, but antique be. 
I hate extremes, yet I had rather stay 
         With tombs than cradles, to wear out a day. 
Since such love's natural lation is, may still 
         My love descend, and journey down the hill, 
Not panting after growing beauties. So,
         I shall ebb on with them who homeward go. 

John Donne

Primal Scream, "Rocks"

With Paul Weller ...

Real.


EAGLE FEATHER FAN

The eagle is my power,
And my fan is an eagle.
It is strong and beautiful
In my hand. And it is real.
My fingers hold upon it
As if the beaded handle
Were the twist of bristlecone.
The bones of my hand are fine
And hollow; the fan bears them.
My hand veers in the thin air
Of the summits. All morning
It scuds on the cold currents;
All afternoon it circles
To the singing, to the drums. 

Navarre Scott Momaday

Autumn.


'T is autumn.

Now.


Well, the sun's not so hot in the sky today
You know I can see summertime slipping on away.
A few more geese are gone, a few more leaves turning red,
But the grass is as soft as a feather in a featherbed.

So I'll be king and you'll be queen, 
Our kingdom's gonna be this little patch of green.
Won't you lie down here right now in this September grass?
Won't you lie down with me now, September grass.

John Sheldon, from "September Grass"

William Ackerman, "Last Day at the Beach"

Wonder.

Wyeth, Autumn Cornfield, 1950


THE BEAUTIFUL CHANGES

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides   
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies 
On water; it glides 
So from the walker, it turns 
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you   
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes. 

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed   
By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;   
As a mantis, arranged 
On a green leaf, grows 
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves   
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows. 

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says   
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes   
In such kind ways,   
Wishing ever to sunder 
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

Richard Wilbur

21 September 2016

John Moreland, "Hang Me in the Tulsa County Stars"

Fun.

Mell, Eye of the Storm, undated


Goodbye, Summer.  It was fun.

Happy birthday, Hobbit.


J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, was published on this day in 1937.

Chapter I

AN UNEXPECTED PARTY

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats—the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill—The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it—and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained—well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.

Circle.



The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.

C.S. Lewis

Wagner, Lohengrin

Mariss Jansons leads the Berlin Philharmonic in Act Three's Prelude ...



Good morning!

Ho.

What ho?!

20 September 2016

Richest.


Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of -- for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.

Socrates

Linguistic.

Major Native Linguistic Groups.

Today.

1976.


1982.


1982.

Beauty.

In a way you want to stretch yourself into other people’s hearts. You want to plant yourself there, or at least get a resonance, where other people become a bigger instrument than the one you’re playing. It becomes almost an obsession to touch other people. 


To write a song that is remembered and taken to heart is a connection, a touching of bases. A thread that runs through all of us. A stab to the heart. Sometimes I think songwriting is about tightening the heartstrings as much as possible without bringing on a heart attack.


And you listen to some of that meticulous Mozart stuff and Vivaldi and you realize that they knew that too. They knew when to leave one note just hanging up there where it illegally belongs and let it dangle in the wind and turn a dead body into a living beauty.

Keith Richards