AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

16 February 2019

Sanctum.


The hard routine is primarily an exercise in mental toughness. As such, it is vital to grasp the component of psychology that permeates the hard routine. In any rigorous endeavor, the bedrock for success lies in the mindset of the individual. I am reminded of the story popular in the business world about burning boats. Alexander the Great, when he sailed into Asia, disembarked his infantry and then set his entire navy ablaze in the harbor. The only way home meant a march across land and through the enemy: victory or death. Total commitment. A potent psychological shift occurs when the possibility of giving up disintegrates into ashes. The hard routine grants the willing participant entry into a hard sanctum located in a lucid place of the mind, free of the “soft” psychological distractions and habits that can hinder sustained changes in action. In short, it boils down to denial of self-indulgence.

The principles of setting up a hard routine are simple. Following them is too, but it takes total commitment. 
  1. Recognize that there is a benefit to not getting everything you want. 
  2. Understand that mental toughness is born of adversity; that it will atrophy if not consistently engaged; and that it carries over to everything you do. 
  3. Objectively scrutinize one or a handful of things in your life that you think you need but could actually do without. 
  4. Deny yourself those things for a specified period of time.

15 February 2019

Long.


I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.

There was no other creature
That saw what I could see--
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.

Sara Teasdale

Whitey Morgan, "Just Got Paid"

WOO-HOO!  HAPPY FRIDAY!

Shining.


SIX SIGNIFICANT LANDSCAPES

I
An old man sits
In the shadow of a pine tree
In China.
He sees larkspur,
Blue and white,
At the edge of the shadow,
Move in the wind.
His beard moves in the wind.
The pine tree moves in the wind.
Thus water flows
Over weeds.

II
The night is of the colour
Of a woman’s arm:
Night, the female,
Obscure,
Fragrant and supple,
Conceals herself.
A pool shines,
Like a bracelet
Shaken in a dance.

III
I measure myself
Against a tall tree.
I find that I am much taller,
For I reach right up to the sun,
With my eye;
And I reach to the shore of the sea
With my ear.
Nevertheless, I dislike
The way ants crawl
In and out of my shadow.

IV
When my dream was near the moon,
The white folds of its gown
Filled with yellow light.
The soles of its feet
Grew red.
Its hair filled
With certain blue crystallizations
From stars,
Not far off.

V
Not all the knives of the lamp-posts,
Nor the chisels of the long streets,
Nor the mallets of the domes
And high towers,
Can carve
What one star can carve,
Shining through the grape-leaves.

VI
Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think, in square rooms,
Looking at the floor,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right-angled triangles.
If they tried rhomboids,
Cones, waving lines, ellipses–
As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon–
Rationalists would wear sombreros.

Wallace Stevens

Humbling.


The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.

Paul Johnson

Thank you, Kurt.

Happy birthday, Praetorius.


Michale Praetorius was born on this day in 1571.

I Cavalieri del Cornetto performs "Le Ballet des Coqs" ...


Bless.

Paradise.


I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

Jorge Luis Borges

14 February 2019

Blest.


To HIS MISTRESS GOING to BED

Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy, 
Until I labour, I in labour lie. 
The foe oft-times having the foe in sight, 
Is tir’d with standing though he never fight. 
Off with that girdle, like heaven’s Zone glistering, 
But a far fairer world encompassing. 
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear, 
That th’eyes of busy fools may be stopped there. 
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime, 
Tells me from you, that now it is bed time. 
Off with that happy busk, which I envy, 
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh. 
Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals, 
As when from flowery meads th’hill’s shadow steals. 
Off with that wiry Coronet and shew 
The hairy Diadem which on you doth grow: 
Now off with those shoes, and then safely tread 
In this love’s hallow’d temple, this soft bed. 
In such white robes, heaven’s Angels used to be 
Received by men; Thou Angel bringst with thee 
A heaven like Mahomet’s Paradise; and though 
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know, 
By this these Angels from an evil sprite, 
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright. 
    Licence my roving hands, and let them go, 
Before, behind, between, above, below. 
O my America! my new-found-land, 
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man mann’d, 
My Mine of precious stones, My Empirie, 
How blest am I in this discovering thee! 
To enter in these bonds, is to be free; 
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be. 
    Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee, 
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth’d must be, 
To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use 
Are like Atlanta’s balls, cast in men’s views, 
That when a fool’s eye lighteth on a Gem, 
His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them. 
Like pictures, or like books’ gay coverings made 
For lay-men, are all women thus array’d; 
Themselves are mystic books, which only we 
(Whom their imputed grace will dignify) 
Must see reveal’d. Then since that I may know; 
As liberally, as to a Midwife, shew 
Thy self: cast all, yea, this white linen hence, 
There is no penance due to innocence. 
    To teach thee, I am naked first; why then 
What needst thou have more covering than a man.

John Donne

Wash.

13 February 2019

Well-tuned.


Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours,
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze
And cups o'erflow with wine;
Let well-tuned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love,
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep's leaden spells remove.

This time doth well dispense

With lovers' long discourse;
Much speech hath some defence,
Though beauty no remorse.
All do not all things well;
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.
The summer hath his joys,
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.

Thomas Campion

12 February 2019

Beethoven, Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93

The Chamber Orchestra of Europe performs, under Nikolaus Harnoncourt ...

Happy birthday, Lincoln.

Gardner, Abraham Lincoln, 1863


Abraham Lincoln was born on this day in 1809.

The democracy of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely nothing, when in conflict with another man's right of property. Republicans, on the contrary, are for both the man and the dollar; but in cases of conflict, the man before the dollar.

I remember once being much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men engage in a fight with their great-coats on, which fight, after a long, and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought himself out of his own coat, and into that of the other. If the two leading parties of this day are really identical with the two in the days of Jefferson and Adams, they have perfomed the same feat as the two drunken men.

But soberly, it is now no child's play to save the principles of Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation.

One would start with great confidence that he could convince any sane child that the simpler propositions of Euclid are true; but, nevertheless, he would fail, utterly, with one who should deny the definitions and axioms. The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free society.

And yet they are denied and evaded, with no small show of success.

One dashingly calls them "glittering generalities"; another bluntly calls them "self evident lies"; and still others insidiously argue that they apply only to "superior races."

These expressions, differing in form, are identical in object and effect--the supplanting the principles of free government, and restoring those of classification, caste, and legitimacy. They would delight a convocation of crowned heads, plotting against the people. They are the van-guard--the miners, and sappers--of returning despotism.

We must repulse them, or they will subjugate us.

This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.

All honor to Jefferson--to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.

Abraham Lincoln, letter to Henry L. Pierce et al., 1859

CONNECT

Thanks to Kurt for finding the wonderful photograph.

11 February 2019

Worshiped.


The dusk rapidly deepened; the glades grew dark; the crackling of the fire and the wash of little waves along the rocky lake shore were the only sounds audible. The wind had dropped with the sun, and in all that vast world of branches nothing stirred. Any moment, it seemed, the woodland gods, who are to be worshiped in silence and loneliness, might stretch their mighty and terrific outlines among the trees.

Algernon Blackwood, from The Wendigo

Respecting.

Mr. Rotten on respecting musical lineage and the danger of diluting the lessons of history ...


Sitting in a room, alone, listening to a CD is to be lonely. Sitting in a room alone with an LP crackling away, or sitting next to the turntable listening to a song at a time via 7-inch single is enjoying the sublime state of solitude.

Henry Rollins

Gotta.

Happy birthday, Edison.


Thomas Edison was born on this day in 1847.

Tom's Mom's Rules ...
  1. Read, read, read … everything not just what you like. Appreciate all literature.
  2. Do not be afraid to fail-learn from it. Keep trying.
  3. Not everything that is valuable comes from books-experience the world.
  4. Never stop learning!

Remember.

10 February 2019

Watch.


No place worth knowing yields itself at sight, and those the least inviting on first view may leave the most haunting pictures upon the walls of memory. Adventures come to the adventurous, and mysterious things fall in the way of those who, with wonder and imagination, are on the watch for them; but the majority of people go past the doors that are half ajar, thinking them closed, and fail to notice the faint stirrings of the great curtain that hangs ever in the form of appearances between them and the world of causes behind.

Algernon Blackwood

Byrd, Ave Verum Corpus

The Tallis Scholars perform ...

Happy birthday, Lamb.

Hazlitt, Charles Lamb, 1804


Charles Lamb was born on this day in 1775.

To operas and balls my cousins take me,
And fond of plays my new-made friend would make me.
In summer season, when the days are fair,
In my godmother's coach I take the air.
My uncle has a stately pleasure barge,
Gilded and gay, adorned with wondrous charge;
The mast is polished, and the sails are fine,
The awnings of white silk like silver shine;
The seats of crimson satin, where the rowers
Keep time to music with their painted oars;
In this on holidays we oft resort
To Richmond, Twickenham, or to Hampton Court.
By turns we play, we sing-one baits the hook,
Another angles-some more idle look
At the small fry that sport beneath the tides,
Or at the swan that on the surface glides.
My married sister says there is no feast
Equal to sight of foreign bird or beast.
With her in search of these I often roam:
My kinder parents make me blest at home.
Tired of excursions, visitings, and sights,
No joys are pleasing to these home delights. 

Charles Lamb

Dog.

09 February 2019

Simple.

Homer, Camp Fire, 1880


Learn to like what doesn’t cost much. Learn to like reading, conversation, music. Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking. Learn to like fields, trees, brooks, hiking, rowing, climbing hills. Learn to like people, even though some of them may be different…different from you. Learn to like to work and enjoy the satisfaction doing your job as well as it can be done. Learn to like the song of birds, the companionship of dogs. Learn to like gardening, puttering around the house, and fixing things. Learn to like the sunrise and sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, and the gentle fall of snow on a winter day. Learn to keep your wants simple and refuse to be controlled by the likes and dislikes of others.

Lowell C. Bennion

Perfect.

I overheard some talk about perfect albums ...

Substance.


Thanks, Kurt.

Tim O'Brien, "Cornbread Nation"

08 February 2019

George Strait, "Milk Cow Blues"

WOO-HOO!  HAPPY FRIDAY!

 

Happy birthday, Ruskin.

Ruskin, Sketch of St. Mark's After Rain, 1846


John Ruskin was born on this day in 1819.

All great and beautiful work has come of first gazing without shrinking into the darkness.

John Ruskin

Remember.

Happy birthday, Il Guercino.

Il Guercino, l'Aurora, 1623


Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, "Il Guercino," was born on this day in 1591.

Thank you, Dr. Richardson.

Stillness.

Goldsworthy, Wall at Guard Hill Road, n/d


Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divinings, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidence than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent.

Rainer Maria Rilke

07 February 2019

The Clash, "(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais"

... They ain't got no roots rock rebel.

Choose.

Luukanen, Chosen, 1984


I won't tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world's voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one's own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!

Oscar Wilde

RUSH, "Freewill"

Bravo.

Indeed.

Genesis, "Watcher of the Skies"

ACϟDC, "Have a Drink on Me"

1980.

Dwarfed.

Grosvenor, A man stands dwarfed under the Ape-Ape leaves of Puohokamoa Gulch in Maui, Hawaii, 1924

Happy birthday, Dickens.


Charles Dickens was born on this day in 1812.

"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me ... why?"
"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it."

Charles Dickens, from A Christmas Carol

Visée, "Prélude et Allemande"

Jonas Nordberg, theorbo ...

06 February 2019

Offenbach, Tales of Hoffmann

Anna Netrebko and Elīna Garanča perform the Barcarolle with Orchestra Prague Philharmonia, directed by Emmanuel Villaume ...


Lofty.


Should not every apartment in which man dwells be lofty enough to create obscurity overhead, where flickering shadows may play at evening about the rafters?

Henry David Thoreau

Valuable.

Gubarev, Last Flight, 1996


To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.

Aldo Leopold

Alan Parsons Project, "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You"

Yes, "Looking Around"

Except.

Rodin, Jean d'Aire, Tête Colossale, 1909


Where did I learn to understand sculpture? In the woods by looking at the trees, along roads by observing the formation of clouds, in the studio by studying the model, everywhere except in the schools. 

Auguste Rodin

Unleashed.

From President Ronald Reagan's 1981 Inaugural Address ...

Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it. If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before.

Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price.

It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of Government.

It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We're not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.

So with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope. We have every right to dream heroic dreams.