AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

17 July 2017

15 July 2017

WINDQUEST.

Still.


Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solenm main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Beyond.


Beyond the wall of the unreal city, there is another world waiting for you. It is the old true world of the deserts, the mountains, the forests, the islands, the shores, the open plains. Go there. Be there. Walk gently and quietly deep within it.

Edward Abbey

13 July 2017

Fauré, Requiem, op. 48

Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Broadcasting Choir perform, directed by James Gaffigan ...

Wrenched.

Misunderstood.

Constable, Spring Cloud Study, 1822


I am but too conscious of the fact that we are born in an age when only the dull are treated seriously, and I live in terror of not being misunderstood. Don't degrade me into the position of giving you useful information. Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

Oscar Wilde

Judgment.


The addictive ear, dulled by repetition, is shut tight as a clam around its pointless treasures. But you can pry it open with musical instruments. Put a young person in a position to make music and not just to hear it and immediately the ear begins to recover from its lethargy. By teaching children to play musical instruments, we acquaint them with the roots of music in human life.

The next step is to introduce the idea of judgment. The belief that there is a difference between good and bad, meaningful and meaningless, profound and vapid, exciting and banal - this belief was once fundamental to musical education. But it offends against political correctness. Today there is only my taste and yours. The suggestion that my taste is better than yours is elitist, an offence against equality. But unless we teach children to judge, to discriminate, to recognise the difference between music of lasting value and mere ephemera, we give up on the task of education. Judgment is the precondition of true enjoyment, and the prelude to understanding art in all its forms.

The good news is that, in their hearts, people are aware of this. All who have had the experience of teaching music appreciation know it to be so. The first step is to introduce the precious commodity of silence, so that your students are listening with open ears to the cosmos, and are beginning to forget their addictive pleasures. Then you play to them the things that you love. They will be bewildered at first. After all, how can this old geezer sit still for 50 minutes listening to something that hasn't got a beat or a tune?

Roger Scruton

CONNECT

Artie Shaw, ¨Concerto for Clarinet¨

Institution.


Purveyors of the highest quality smoked fish, caviar, baked goods, and specialty foods, Russ & Daughters is New York City's premier appetizing shop. Since 1914, this landmark New York City institution has been owned and operated by four generations of the Russ family. Russ & Daughters has continued to provide the tastes and traditions of a true New York experience from the same spot on East Houston Street for more than a century.

The Sturgeon Queens ... HERE.

Depend.


Nothing about reading, or listening to Mozart sonatas, or viewing paintings by Raphael necessarily transforms or even improves someone's character. As the eighteenth-century scientist G. C. Lichtenberg once wrote, "A book is like a mirror: if an ass looks in, you can't expect an apostle to look out." Nevertheless, I am going to argue that if you really want to become a better person, there are ways in which reading can help. But the degree to which that happens will depend not just on what you read, but also why and how.

Alan Jacobs, from The Pleasures of Reading in a Age of Distraction

Whisper.



The EXPLORER

There's no sense in going further -- it's the edge of cultivation,"
 So they said, and I believed it -- broke my land and sowed my crop --
Built my barns and strung my fences in the little border station
 Tucked away below the foothills where the trails run out and stop:

Till a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
 On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated -- so:
"Something hidden.  Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges --
 "Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and wating for you. Go!"

So I went, worn out of patience; never told my nearest neighbours --
 Stole away with pack and ponies -- left 'em drinking in the town;
And the faith that moveth mountains didn't seem to help my labours
 As I faced the sheer main-ranges, whipping up and leading down.

March by march I puzzled through 'em, turning flanks and dodging shoulders,
 Hurried on in hope of water, headed back for lack of grass;
Till I camped above the tree-line -- drifted snow and naked boulders --
 Felt free air astir to windward -- knew I'd stumbled on the Pass.

'Thought to name it for the finder: but that night the Norther found me --
 Froze and killed the plains-bred ponies; so I called the camp Despair
(It's the Railway Gap to-day, though). Then my Whisper waked to hound me: --
 "Something lost behind the Ranges.  Over yonder! Go you there!"

Then I knew, the while I doubted -- knew His Hand was certain o'er me.
 Still -- it might be self-delusion -- scores of better men had died --
I could reach the township living, but....e knows what terror tore me...
 But I didn't... but I didn't. I went down the other side.

Till the snow ran out in flowers, and the flowers turned to aloes,
 And the aloes sprung to thickets and a brimming stream ran by;
But the thickets dwined to thorn-scrub, and the water drained to shallows,
 And I dropped again on desert -- blasted earth, and blasting sky....

I remember lighting fires; I remember sitting by 'em;
 I remember seeing faces, hearing voices, through the smoke;
I remember they were fancy -- for I threw a stone to try 'em.
 "Something lost behind the Ranges" was the only word they spoke.

I remember going crazy. I remember that I knew it
When I heard myself hallooing to the funny folk I saw.
'Very full of dreams that desert, but my two legs took me through it...
And I used to watch 'em moving with the toes all black and raw.

But at last the country altered -- White Man's country past disputing --
 Rolling grass and open timber, with a hint of hills behind --
There I found me food and water, and I lay a week recruiting.
 Got my strength and lost my nightmares.  Then I entered on my find.

Thence I ran my first rough survey -- chose my trees and blazed and ringed 'em --
 Week by week I pried and sampled -- week by week my findings grew.
Saul he went to look for donkeys, and by God he found a kingdom!
 But by God, who sent His Whisper, I had struck the worth of two!

Up along the hostile mountains, where the hair-poised snowslide shivers --
 Down and through the big fat marshes that the virgin ore-bed stains,
Till I heard the mile-wide mutterings of unimagined rivers,
 And beyond the nameless timber saw illimitable plains!

'Plotted sites of future cities, traced the easy grades between 'em;
 Watched unharnessed rapids wasting fifty thousand head an hour;
Counted leagues of water-frontage through the axe-ripe woods that screen 'em --
 Saw the plant to feed a people -- up and waiting for the power!

Well, I know who'll take the credit -- all the clever chaps that followed --
 Came, a dozen men together -- never knew my desert-fears;
Tracked me by the camps I'd quitted, used the water-holes I hollowed.
 They'll go back and do the talking. They'll be called the Pioneers!

They will find my sites of townships -- not the cities that I set there.
 They will rediscover rivers -- not my rivers heard at night.
By my own old marks and bearings they will show me how to get there,
 By the lonely cairns I builded they will guide my feet aright.

Have I named one single river? Have I claimed one single acre?
 Have I kept one single nugget -- (barring samples)? No, not I!
Because my price was paid me ten times over by my Maker.
 But you wouldn't understand it. You go up and occupy.

Ores you'll find there; wood and cattle; water-transit sure and steady
 (That should keep the railway rates down), coal and iron at your doors.
God took care to hide that country till He judged His people ready,
 Then He chose me for His Whisper, and I've found it, and it's yours!

Yes, your "Never-never country" -- yes, your "edge of cultivation"
 And "no sense in going further" -- till I crossed the range to see.
God forgive me! No, I didn't. It's God's present to our nation.
Anybody might have found it, but -- His Whisper came to Me!

Rudyard Kipling

Stephane Grappelli, ¨Honeysuckle Rose¨

Transforms.

Harold Bloom on reading, memory, and thinking ...



Unless you read deeply, and in our own interest, unless you explore what is most profound in what has come before you, then you will never get down to the recesses of your own self. You'll never learn what Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly called self-trust and self-reliance. Most deeply, you will never heal the self. In a culture which has all the peculiar difficulties, there is nothing more profoundly healing than the act of solitary reading, providing what is being read is indeed permanent, deep, lasting work. Work that calls for all of your faculties in response. Work that calls you out of your own depth. Work that transforms you.

Harold Bloom


Bloom reads and comments on How to Read and Why ... HERE.

Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer, ¨Why Only One¨

12 July 2017

Wild.

Terry Tempest Williams on why wild lands matter to the soul of America ...

Dream-state.


One of the great pleasures of reading poetry is to feel words mean what they usually do in everyday life, and also start to move into a more charged, activated realm. In poetry our familiar language can start to feel resonant with significance, more alive, even noble. The words we use in our everyday lives carry along with them deep reservoirs of history (personal and collective) that can, through a poem, be activated.

In a poem, language remains itself yet is also made to feel different, even sacred, like a spell. How this happens is the mystery of each poem, and maybe its deepest meaning. Coming upon a word, having it rise up out of the preconscious, intuitive dream-state and into the poem, either to begin or somewhere along the way or even, blissfully, at the end, is the special reward of being a poet, and a reader of poetry. By being placed into the machine of a poem, language can become alive again. It is both what it is and what it means, but also something that is greater than the ordinary.

Still.


The higher its type, always the seldomer doth a thing succeed. Ye higher men here, have ye not all—been failures?

Be of good cheer; what doth it matter? How much is still possible! Learn to laugh at yourselves, as ye ought to laugh!

What wonder even that ye have failed and only half-succeeded, ye half-shattered ones! Doth not—man's future strive and struggle in you?

Man's furthest, profoundest, star-highest issues, his prodigious powers—do not all these foam through one another in your vessel?

What wonder that many a vessel shattereth! Learn to laugh at yourselves, as ye ought to laugh! Ye higher men, Oh, how much is still possible!

Friedrich Nietzsche

Remembered.

Dahl, Cloud Study, 1837


This is the way in which the poet did his work: he used to go out with a pencil and a tablet and note what struck him and make a picture out of it. But Nature does not allow an inventory to be made of her charms! He should have left his pencil behind, and gone forth in a meditative spirit; and, on a later day, he should have embodied in verse not all that he had noted but what he best remembered of the scene; and he would have then presented us with its soul, and not with the mere visual aspect of it.

William Wordsworth

Marvels.


A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like the Delicate Arch has the curious ability to remind us--like rock and sunlight and wind and wilderness--that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours, a world which surrounds and sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. For a little while we are again able to see, as a child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible and mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures.

Edward Abbey

Happy birthday, Thoreau.


Henry David Thoreau was born on this day in 1817.

When I was four years old, as I well remember, I was brought from Boston to this my native town, through these very woods and this field, to the pond. It is one of the oldest scenes stamped on my memory. And now to-night my flute has waked the echoes over that very water. The pines still stand here older than I; or, if some have fallen, I have cooked my supper with their stumps, and a new growth is rising all around, preparing another aspect for new infant eyes. Almost the same johnswort springs from the same perennial root in this pasture, and even I have at length helped to clothe that fabulous landscape of my infant dreams, and one of the results of my presence and influence is seen in these bean leaves, corn blades, and potato vines.

Henry David Thoreau

Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros, ¨Bankrobber¨


Fire.

Francis Mallmann teaches fire ...



From The Splendid Table ...

Judge.



The purpose of compulsory education is to deprive the common people of their common sense. The only real object of all education should be to teach people the proportions of things, that they may see what things are large and what small: we seem bent on teaching people to prefer in everything what is small to what is great, what is doubtful to what is certain, and what is trivial to what is eternal. The point is that it should give a man abstract and eternal standards by which he can judge material and fugitive standards. There is a whole truth of things, and that in knowing it and speaking it we are happy.

G.K. Chesterton

John Doe, ¨I Will Dare¨

Happy birthday, Neruda.


Pablo Neruda was born on this day in 1904.

Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

Pablo Neruda