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 November 2017

Guy Clark, "Waltzing Fool"

Sunset.

Marin, Sunset, Casco Bay, 1919

Friday.

Heyn, Chief Bone Necklace, Oglala, 1899


Happy Friday!

Wearer.

Guy Clark, "Rita Ballou"

Happy Friday!

Time.


INVITATION

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
melodiously
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude–
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

Mary Oliver

16 November 2017

Yes.

"Starship Trooper"



"Yours is No Disgrace"



"Roundabout"



"I've Seen All Good People"



Glad.


The VOYAGE

Whichever way the wind doth blow,
Some heart is glad to have it so;
Then blow it east or blow it west,
The wind that blows, that wind is best.

My little craft sails not alone:
A thousand fleets from every zone
Are out upon a thousand seas;
And what for me were favoring breeze
Might dash another, with the shock
Of doom, upon some hidden rock.

And so I do not dare to pray
For winds to waft me on my way,
But leave it to a Higher Will
To stay or speed me; trusting still
That all is well, and sure that He
Who launched my bark will sail with me
Through storm and calm, and will not fail,
Whatever breezes may prevail,
To land me, every peril past,
Within his sheltering heaven at last.

Then, whatsoever wind doth blow,
My heart is glad to have it so;
And blow it east or blow it west,
The wind that blows, that wind is best.

Caroline Atherton Mason

Vermiculate.


Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

Cormac McCarthy, from The Road

Intoxicating.


He who indulges habitually in the intoxicating pleasures of imagination, for the very reason that he reaps a greater pleasure than others, must resign himself to a keener pain, a more intolerable and utter prostration.

Robert Louis Stevenson

RUSH, "Ghost Rider"

Jack.

Belden, Jack Creek, Nevada, 1923


I'll take it.

Jethro Tull, "Velvet Green"

The sun has set ...

Before.


It is the spot I came to seek,--
My fathers' ancient burial-place
Ere from these vales, ashamed and weak,
Withdrew our wasted race.
It is the spot--I know it well--
Of which our old traditions tell.

For here the upland bank sends out
A ridge toward the river-side;
I know the shaggy hills about,
The meadows smooth and wide,--
The plains, that, toward the southern sky,
Fenced east and west by mountains lie.

A white man, gazing on the scene,
Would say a lovely spot was here,
And praise the lawns, so fresh and green,
Between the hills so sheer.
I like it not--I would the plain
Lay in its tall old groves again.

The sheep are on the slopes around,
The cattle in the meadows feed,
And labourers turn the crumbling ground,
Or drop the yellow seed,
And prancing steeds, in trappings gay,
Whirl the bright chariot o'er the way.

Methinks it were a nobler sight
To see these vales in woods arrayed,
Their summits in the golden light,
Their trunks in grateful shade,
And herds of deer, that bounding go
O'er hills and prostrate trees below.

And then to mark the lord of all,
The forest hero, trained to wars,
Quivered and plumed, and lithe and tall,
And seamed with glorious scars,
Walk forth, amid his reign, to dare
The wolf, and grapple with the bear.

This bank, in which the dead were laid,
Was sacred when its soil was ours;
Hither the artless Indian maid
Brought wreaths of beads and flowers,
And the gray chief and gifted seer
Worshipped the god of thunders here.

But now the wheat is green and high
On clods that hid the warrior's breast,
And scattered in the furrows lie
The weapons of his rest;
And there, in the loose sand, is thrown
Of his large arm the mouldering bone.

Ah, little thought the strong and brave
Who bore their lifeless chieftain forth--
Or the young wife, that weeping gave
Her first-born to the earth,
That the pale race, who waste us now,
Among their bones should guide the plough.

They waste us--ay--like April snow
In the warm noon, we shrink away;
And fast they follow, as we go
Towards the setting day,--
Till they shall fill the land, and we
Are driven into the western sea.

But I behold a fearful sign,
To which the white men's eyes are blind;
Their race may vanish hence, like mine,
And leave no trace behind,
Save ruins o'er the region spread,
And the white stones above the dead.

Before these fields were shorn and tilled,
Full to the brim our rivers flowed;
The melody of waters filled
The fresh and boundless wood;
And torrents dashed and rivulets played,
And fountains spouted in the shade.

Those grateful sounds are heard no more,
The springs are silent in the sun;
The rivers, by the blackened shore,
With lessening current run;
The realm our tribes are crushed to get
May be a barren desert yet.

William Cullen Bryant

Maynard Ferguson, "Sesame Street"

15 November 2017

Defending.

Blake, Self-portrait, 1802


When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do.

William Blake

8:59

Medicine.


Execupundit points the way to an important Harold Bloom interview ...

MICHAEL SKAFIDAS: You’ve said that, “At 84, I lie awake at night, after a first sleep, and murmur Crane, Whitman and Shakespeare to myself, seeking comfort through continuity, as grand voices somehow hold off the permanent darkness that gathers though it does not fall.” Is poetry your elixir for longevity?

HAROLD BLOOM: Absolutely! Poetry is my medicine. At 85, one is a very bad sleeper. Last night in fact, I could not fall asleep again because of my health’s failures, and I found myself reciting poetry. Since I was a little one, I have a remarkable memory in terms of recalling poetic texts. So last night, I found myself chanting not Whitman directly, but Wallace Stevens’ magnificent complex vision of Whitman. I think I know it by heart so if you don’t mind, I’ll put it in the picture right now [Bloom recites by heart Stevens’ “Tea at the Palace of Hoon,” in which the speaker is Walt Whitman himself.] So, poetry is a cure.

CONNECT

Friendly.

Frank Sinatra, "Autumn Leaves"

Harry Klee, flute ...

Originality.


Literature is not merely language.  It is also will to figuration, the motive for metaphor that Nietzsche once defined as the desire to be different, the desire to be elsewhere. This partly means to be different from oneself, but primarily, I think, to be different from the metaphors and images of the contingent works that are one's heritage: the desire to write greatly is the is the desire to be elsewhere, in a time and a place of one's own, in an originality that must compound with inheritance, with the anxiety of influence.

Harold Bloom

Dutch.

Happy birthday, O'Keeffe.

O'Keeffe, Red Hills and Pedernal, 1936


Georgia O'Keeffe was born on this day in 1887.

It is breathtaking as one rises up over the world one has been living in, looking out at and looks down at it stretching away and away. The Rio Grande, the mountains, then the pattern of rivers, ridges, washes, roads, fields, water holes, wet and dry. Then little lakes, a brown pattern, then after a while as we go over the Amarillo country, a fascinating restrained pattern of different greens and cooler browns on the square and on the bias with a few curved shades and many lakes. It is very handsome way off into the level distance, fantastically handsome - like marvelous rug patterns of maybe "abstract paintings."

The world all simplified and beautiful and clear cut in patterns like time and history will simplify and straighten out these times of ours. What one sees from the air is so simple and so beautiful I cannot help feeling that it would do something wonderful for the human race, rid it of much smallness and pettishness if more people flew. However, I am probably wrong because I will probably not really be very different when I get my feet on the earth than I was when they left it.

Georgia O'Keeffe

Guy Clark, "My Favorite Picture of You"

Traviamento.

Adams, Moon and Clouds, 1959


Everyone goes through a period of traviamento – when we take, say, a different turn in life, the other via. Dante himself did. Some recover, some pretend to recover, some never come back, some chicken out before even starting, and some, for fear of taking any turns, find themselves leading the wrong life all along.

Andrè Aciman

Determined.


William Tecumseh Sherman´s ¨March to the Sea¨ began on this day in 1864.

The North can make a steam engine, locomotive or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or a pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical and determined people on earth -- right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with.

William Tecumseh Sherman

When Georgia Howled: Sherman on the March ...

14 November 2017

Everything.

DürerMelencolia I (detail), 1514


Revolution itself is too much of a system; liberty itself is too much of a restraint. We will have no generalizations. Mr. Bernard Shaw has put the view in a perfect epigram: 'The golden rule is that there is no golden rule.' We are more and more to discuss details in art, politics, literature. A man's opinion on tramcars matters; his opinion on Botticelli matters; his opinion on all things does not matter. He may turn over and explore a million objects, but he must not find that strange object, the universe; for if he does he will have a religion, and be lost. Everything matters -- except everything.

G.K. Chesterton

Happy birthday, Monet.

Monet, Cloud Reflection on the Water Lily Pond, 1903


Claude Monet was born on this day in 1840.

I can't begin to describe a day as wonderful as this. One marvel after another, each lasting less than five minutes, it was enough to drive one mad. No country could be more extraordinary for a painter.

Claude Monet

Happy birthday, Moby-Dick.

Herman Melville's Moby-Dick was published on this day in 1851.


The edition illustrated by Rockwell Kent is indispensable, but as an electronic text, Lit2Go is great, too ... HERE.

13 November 2017

London.

Joy.


This hearth was built for thy delight,
For thee the logs were sawn,
For thee the largest chair, at night,
Is to the chimney drawn.
For thee, dear lass, the match was lit
To yield the ruddy blaze--
May Jack Frost give us joy of it
For many, many days.

Christopher Morley

Back.

The Cure, "A Forest"

Guy Clark, "The Cape"

Eight years old with a floursack cape
Tied all around his neck
He climbed up on the garage
Figurin' what the heck
He screwed his courage up so tight
The whole thing came unwound
He got a runnin' start and bless his heart
He headed for the ground

He's one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
Always trust your cape
All grown up with a floursack cape
Tied around his dreams
He was full of spit and vinegar
He was bustin' at the seams
He licked his finger and he checked the wind
It was gonna be do or die
He wasn't scared of nothin' boys
And he was pretty sure he could fly

He's one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
Always trust your cape
Old and grey with a floursack cape
Tied all around his head
He's still jumpin' off the garage
Will be till he's dead
All these years the people said
He's actin' like a kid
He did not know he could not fly
So he did

He's one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
Always trust your cape