AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

13 July 2016

Happy birthday, Clare.

Hilton, John Clare, 1820


John Clare was born on this day in 1793.

I AM!

            I am—yet what I am none cares or knows; 
My friends forsake me like a memory lost: 
I am the self-consumer of my woes— 
They rise and vanish in oblivious host, 
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes 
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed 

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise, 
Into the living sea of waking dreams, 
Where there is neither sense of life or joys, 
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems; 
Even the dearest that I loved the best 
Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest. 

I long for scenes where man hath never trod 
A place where woman never smiled or wept 
There to abide with my Creator, God, 
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept, 
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.

John Clare

Silence.

12 July 2016

Queen.


On this day, 30 years ago, Queen played Wembley ...

"Hammer to Fall"



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Happy birthday, Hammerstein.


Oscar Hammerstein II was born on this day in 1895.

The greatest team/fan anthem ever, Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone" ...



Thanks, Grandma Chenoweth.

Passing.


A Sufi manual, the Kashf-al-Mahjub, says that towards the end of his journey, the dervish becomes the Way, not the wayfarer; a place over which something is passing, not a traveller following his own free will.

Bruce Chatwin

11 July 2016

Joy.


Has joy any survival value in the operations of evolution? I suspect that it does; I suspect that the morose and fearful are doomed to quick extinction. Where there is no joy there can be no courage; and without courage all other virtues are useless.

Edward Abbey

Happy birthday, Big Ben.

Big Ben, the great bell inside the famous London clock tower, chimed for the first time on this day in 1859.

Now.

Benda, The Earth with The Milky Way and The Moon, 1918


It is eternity now. I am in the midst of it. It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it as the butterfly in the light-laden air.  Nothing has to come; it is now. Now is eternity; now is the immortal life.

Richard Jefferies

10 July 2016

Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Last Train to Amsterdam"

Happy birthday, Proust.


Marcel Proust was born on this day in 1871.

Now there is one thing I can tell you: you will enjoy certain pleasures you would not fathom now. When you still had your mother you often thought of the days when you would have her no longer. Now you will often think of days past when you had her. When you are used to this horrible thing that they will forever be cast into the past, then you will gently feel her revive, returning to take her place, her entire place, beside you. At the present time, this is not yet possible. Let yourself be inert, wait till the incomprehensible power that has broken you restores you a little, I say a little, for henceforth you will always keep something broken about you. Tell yourself this, too, for it is a kind of pleasure to know that you will never love less, that you will never be consoled, that you will constantly remember more and more.

Marcel Proust

09 July 2016

Del McCoury Band, "Mountain Song"

Way up on the mountain
In the sweet southern air
Is where I seem to lose loads I have to bear
Silence of the snow fall and the peacefulness around
I feel so blessed with all that I have found

Holler in the moonlight
Sip the mountain shine
The sound of the music playin’
Everything so fine

Lookin’ up a trail for a sign as I travel there
A liquor still, an old deer trail, or the home of a big old bear
Wouldn't wanna mess with him because it is his home
He's like me he's better left alone

Fishin’ in the river at the bottom of these hills
Helps me find my peace of mind in all these natural frills
These mountains were the first to show their face up to the sky
Lay me to rest here when I die

Jason Carter, fiddle ...

Silence.

van Gogh, Still Life with Scabiosa and Ranunculus, 1886


If I had to prescribe one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I’d start with silence.

Peter Kreeft

08 July 2016

Cheap Trick, "Lookout"

Happy Friday!

Respect.


I didn’t know much about him, but his writing immediately struck me as real—a rarity in today’s MFA-driven literary world—real not only in place but also in character, in emotion, in the human relationship with the outdoors, in the nature of his poignant and epic storytelling and its ability to grab its readers by the shoulders and knee them straight in the guts. I was hooked, spending the next several years reading and rereading his extensive catalog.

His writing is typically set in the wild place he knew and loved: Montana, Mexico, Arizona, Northern Michigan, the Sandhills of Nebraska—and his characters’ lives revolve around the things he himself was passionate about: fly fishing, long hikes in the mountains, good food, philosophies of great poets. His prose and poetry is full of recurring themes likely to infuse themselves in the psyches of anyone passionate about the outdoors, like the idea of small gods inhabiting the natural world around us; they are fish, they are birds, they are fluttering abstractions that he could nearly see with his blind eye, its vision having been snuffed out in a boyhood accident. He, like his characters, relished the beautiful and potent aspects of the world: mountains, streams, rivers, lakes, forests, dogs, birds, fish, food, wine, whiskey, sex.

The connection I’ve felt with him and his work stems not only from the places where his stories are set, so many of which have played intimate roles in my own life, but also from the deep respect given to life, human and otherwise, and to things that were here long before us and will be here long after we’re gone—mountains, forests, rivers. This is not to say that his writing is serene and contrived; it simmers with bold humor and fresh observations on the absurdities of human behavior.

Technique.


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

John Fahey, "Red Pony"

Search.


For a naturalist, traveling into unfamiliar territory is like turning a kaleidoscope ninety degrees. Suddenly, the colors and pieces of glass find a fresh arrangement. The light shifts, and you enter a new landscape in search of the order you know to be there.

Terry Tempest Williams

Typography.

Aware.



In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware. 

John Muir

Transfigure.


What do I suffer from when I suffer from the fate of music? From the fact that music has been stripped of its ability to transfigure and affirm the world, that it is decadent music and no longer the flute of Dionysus.

Friedrich Nietzsche

07 July 2016

Watched.

Become.

Peale, Thomas Jefferson, 1791


The path we have to pursue is so quiet that we have nothing scarcely to propose to our legislature. A noiseless course not meddling with the affairs of others, unattractive of notice, is a market that society is going on in happiness. If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.

Thomas Jefferson

Happy birthday, Mahler.


Gustav Mahler was born on this day in 1860.

It's peculiar, as soon as I am in the midst of nature and by myself, everything that is base and trivial vanishes without trace. On such days nothing scares me; and this helps me again and again.

Gustav Mahler

Claudio Abbado conducts the Lucerne Festival Orchestra performing Mahler's Symphony No. 9 ...

Spin.


When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Today.

1987.


"Readin', Writin', Route 23"

05 July 2016

Listen.

Wings, "Junior's Farm"

Think.

Elevating.


Our whole education system is calculated to produce "feelings" in us, impart them to us, instead of leaving their production to ourselves however they may turn out. Thus stuffed with imparted feelings, we appear before the bar of majority and are 'pronounced of age. 

Our equipment consists of elevating feelings, lofty thoughts, inspiring maxims, eternal principles.

Max Stirner

Strauss, Don Quixote op.35

The Symphony Orchestra of Galacia performs under the direction of Dennis Russell Davies; Pablo Ferrández, violonchelo; Francisco Regozo, viola ...

Buried.


Language has not the power to speak what love indites.
The soul lies buried in the Ink that writes.

John Clare

Spell.


A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age/

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, and civilizations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit.

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

Ah, but we want so much more— something the books on aesthetics take little notice of. But the poets and the mythologies know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses and nymphs and elves—that, though we cannot, yet these projections can, enjoy in themselves that beauty, grace, and power of which Nature is the image. That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods.

In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things — the beauty, the memory of our own past — are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modem philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory 

Climb.


Because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.

Jack Kerouac

Typography.

Beauty.


The first effect of modernism was to make high culture difficult: to surround beauty with a wall of erudition.

Roger Scruton

Webern, Im Sommerwind

WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln performs under the direction of Jukka-Pekka Saraste ...

04 July 2016

Independence.

Sacred.

Sacred trees ...

Mucking.


Our children's days are crammed full with activities: ballet, judo, tennis, piano, sport, art projects. At home they are entertained by giant screens and computers. In between, they are strapped into cars and made to listen to educational tapes. Ambitious mothers force hours of homework on bewildered 10-year-olds, hanging the abstract fear of "future employers" over their heads.

Then they buy them a Nintendo Wii, the absurd, costly gadget that's supposed to bring some element of physicality to computer games. It's only a matter of time before children have their own BlackBerrys.

I think of the New Yorker cartoon of two kids in a playground, each staring at a personal organiser and one saying: "I can fit you in for unscheduled play next Thursday at four." All these activities impose a huge burden of cost and time on the already harried parent. They leave no room for simply mucking about. They have the other unwelcome side effect of making the children incapable of looking after themselves. When they are stimulated by outside agencies, whether that be course leader, computer or television, they lose the ability to create their own games. They forget how to play.

I recall when our eldest child, a victim of chronic over-stimulation by his anxious parents, screamed "I need some entertainment!" during a bored moment. A chilling comment, particularly from a five-year-old. What now? What next? These are the questions our hyper-stimulated kids will ask. What has happened to their own imagination?

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