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 February 2017

Purpose.


HUGO: Monsieur Labisse gave me a book the other night.  He's always doing that, sending books to a good home.  That's what he calls it.

He's got real ... purpose.

ISABELLE: What do you mean?

HUGO: Everything has a purpose, even machines.  Clocks tell the time and trains take you places.  They do what they're meant to do.  Like Monsieur Labisse.

Maybe that's why  broken machines make me so sad.  They can't do what they're meant to do.  Maybe it's the same with people.  If you lose your purpose, it's like you're broken.

ISABELLE: Like Papa Georges. 

HUGO: Maybe we can fix him.

ISABELLE:  Is that your purpose, fixing things?

HUGO:  I don't know.  It's what my father did. 

ISABELLE:  I wonder what my purpose is. 

HUGO:  I don't know. 

ISABELLE
Maybe if I had known my parents ... I would know.

HUGO
Come with me.

Right after my father died, I would come up here a lot.  I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine.  Machines never come with any extra parts, you know.  They always come with the exact amount they need.  So I figured if the entire world was one big machine ... I couldn't be an extra part.  I had to be here for some reason.

From the movie adaptation of Brian Selznick's novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Mozart, Piano Sonata No.13 in B-flat major, K.333/315c

Vladimir Horowitz performs ...

Typography.

26 February 2017

Chris, Wall, "Wild Bill and The Montana Kid"

Hat.

Nice hat!

Ed Gerhard, "Rye Wihskey Mash"

Eats.


EVERYBODY EATS WHEN THEY COME to MY HOUSE

Have a banana, Hannah,
Try the salami, Tommy,
Give with the gravy, Davy,
Everybody eats when they come to my house!

Try a tomato, Plato,
Here's cacciatore, Dory,
Taste the baloney, Tony,
Everybody eats when they come to my house!

I fix your favorite dishes,
Hopin' this good food fills ya!
Work my hands to the bone in the kitchen alone,
You better eat if it kills ya!

Pass me a pancake, Mandrake,
Have an hors-d'oeuvre-y, Irvy,
Look in the fendel, Mendel,
Everybody eats when they come to my house!

Hannah! Davy! Tommy! Dora! Mandrake!
Everybody eats when they come to my house!

Pasta e fagiol-a, Tallulah!
Oh, do have a bagel, Fagel,
Now, don't be so bashful, Nashville,
Everybody eats when they come to my house!

Hey, this is a party, Marty,
Here, you get the cherry, Jerry,
Now, look, don't be so picky, Micky,
'Cause everybody eats when they come to my house!

All of my friends are welcome,
Don't make me coax you, Mosch-u,
Eat the tables, the chairs, the napkins, who cares?
You gotta eat if it chokes you!

Oh, do have a knish, Nishia,
Pass me the latke, Macky,
Chile con carne for Barney,
Everybody eats when they come to my house!

Jeanne Burns

Between.

Carlson, Stillness in Moonlight, 2012


The DAVENPORT LUNAR ECLIPSE

Overlooking the Mississippi
I never thought I'd get this old.
It was mostly my confusion about time
and the moon, and seeing the lovely way
homely old men treat their homely old women
in Nebraska and Iowa, the lunch time
touch over green Jell-O with pineapple
and fried "fish rectangles" for $2.95.
When I passed Des Moines the radio said
there were long lines to see the entire cow
sculpted out of butter. The earth is right smack
between the sun and the moon, the black waitress
told me at the Salty Pelican on the waterfront,
home from wild Houston to nurse her sick dad.
My good eye is burning up from fatigue
as it squints up above the Mississippi
where the moon is losing its edge to black.
It likely doesn't know what's happening to it,
I thought, pressed down to my meal and wine
by a fresh load of incomprehension.
My grandma lived in Davenport in the 1890s
just after Wounded Knee, a signal event,
the beginning of America's Sickness unto Death.
I'd like to nurse my father back to health
he's been dead thirty years, I said
to the waitress who agreed. That's why she
came home, she said, you only got one.
Now I find myself at fifty-one in Davenport
and drop the issue right into the Mississippi
where it is free to swim with the moon's reflection.
At the bar there are two girls of incomprehensible beauty
for the time being, as Swedish as my Grandma,
speaking in bad grammar as they listen to a band
of middle-aged Swede saxophonists braying
"Bye-Bye Blackbird" over and over, with a clumsy
but specific charm. The girls fail to notice me -
perhaps I should give them the thousand dollars
in my wallet but I've forgotten just how.
I feel pleasantly old and stupid, deciding
not to worry about who I am but how I spend
my days, until I tear in the weak places
like a thin, worn sheet. Back in my room
I can't hear the river passing like time,
or the moon emerging from the shadow of earth,
but I can see the water that never repeats itself.
It's very difficult to look at the World
and into your heart at the same time.
In between, a life has passed.

Jim Harrison

Fly.

Blake, Teach These Souls to Fly, 1796


Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.  Art is the tree of life. Science is the tree of death.

William Blake

Rameau, Orchestral Suites

Jordi Savall leads Le Concert des Nations ...


Thinking.

Metaphor and Metacognition: The Mind When Pushed to Invention

Alise Shafer is the founder and director of Evergreen Community School in Santa Monica, California. Her work with children over the last 30 years sheds light on not only how children think, but also explores the ways in which the thinking of children generates, illuminates, and inspires dialogue and creativity in adults. Recognizing children as vital contributors to culture, Alise shares how children's unfettered perceptions have the power to jump-start the adult mind with refreshing and novel points of view.



How Thinking Works

Dr. Derek Cabrera is an internationally recognized expert in metacognition (thinking about thinking), epistemology (the study of knowledge), human and organizational learning, and education. He completed his PhD and post doctoral studies at Cornell University and served as faculty at Cornell and researcher at the Santa Fe Institute. He leads the Cabrera Research Lab, is the author of five books, numerous journal articles, and a US patent. Derek discovered DSRP Theory and in this talk he explains its benefits and the imperative for making it part of every students' life.

25 February 2017

Willie Nelson, "Stardust"

Feast.

Leon Redbone, "Walking Stick"

Magic.


Ah, music ... a magic beyond all we do here!

Albus Dumbledore

Thank you, Quinn.

Crowded House, "Weather with You"

Thinking.


By thinking about what a thing or event is, you will find things like it or related to it that you never considered or simply did not know existed.

Thanks to Kurt at Cultural Offering.

Debussy, Prelude No. 8, "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair"


David Oistrakh performs, with Frida Bauer accompanying ...

Cultivated.

Carlson, Fading Twilight, 2016


If George Carlson had been keeping field notes in his shirt pocket — hand scrawled in pencil, referencing variations in color, tone, value, light and pattern — his method when hiking solo into the “channeled scablands” of the Pacific Northwest — the morning in question, which unfolded from the doorway of his red Swedish-style farmhouse in Idaho, might have been described like this: 

5:30 am: Carlson, by habit, has risen like a crepuscular animal. Suffusing the indoor human space behind him is another Invention by J.S. Bach. Ahead, as he steps outside, an advancing sun, still dim, seeping forward into a sky holding a muted moon. The twilight fills rapidly with live dulcet birdsong, amping up slowly to mezzo-forte; whitetail deer, closer and pensive, have just emerged from the backwoods; farther out, an elk mother and her yearling extend the sightline into middle ground; the wapiti, holding cautious in profile, are well aware, as Carlson is, of mountain lion and bear presence, the cryptic big cats and bruins never far away, though for now, unseen.

The Bach piano piece flows through Carlson, spilling out toward a distant horizon as he interprets what he absorbs. Fading night has not yet yielded to morning; the artist’s cultivated space is edged by real tooth and claw wildness; tranquility is charged with expectation. 

Carlson is listening to the composer and translating sonic notes into his own repertoire, visual ideas gelling in his head. He is too humble to draw a direct parallel between himself and Bach, though if an outsider delves deeper, pressing Carlson, one soon discovers that the same kind of structure Bach mastered in classical music informs Carlson’s approach to composition.

At age 68, nine years ago, Carlson returned to his original love — painting — four-and-a-half decades after he had become sidetracked by sculpture and acclaimed for it, believing his diversionary foray into three dimensions wouldn’t last as long as it did.

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Stare.

Schiele, Small Tree in Late Autumn, 1911


Every day the body works in the fields of the world
Mending a stone wall
Or swinging a sickle through the tall grass -
The grass of civics, the grass of money -
And every night the body curls around itself
And listens for the soft bells of sleep.

But the heart is restless and rises
From the body in the middle of the night,
Leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
With its thick, pictureless walls
To sit by herself at the kitchen table
And heat some milk in a pan.

And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
And goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
And opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
And roams from room to room in the dark,
Darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.

And the soul is up on the roof
In her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
Singing a song about the wildness of the sea
Until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
The way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,

Resuming their daily colloquy,
Talking to each other or themselves
Even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body - the house of voices -
Sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
To stare into the distance,

To listen to all its names being called
Before bending again to its labor.

Billy Collins

Happy birthday, Renoir.

Renoir, Strong Wind, 1872


They tell you that a tree is only a combination of chemical elements. I prefer to believe that God created it, and that it is inhabited by a nymph. 

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Bach, The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080

Glenn Gould performs Contrapunctus I ...

Saturday.

It's Saturday ...

24 February 2017

Jimmy Buffett, "Last Mango in Paris"



Only visiting this planet.

Jerry Jeff Walker, "The Man with the Big Hat"

Sounds good to me ...

Vivid.


What happened was this: I got an image in my head that never got out. We see a great many things and can remember a great many things, but that is different. We get very few of the true images in our heads of the kind I am talking about, the kind which become more and more vivid for us as if the passage of the years did not obscure their reality but, year by year, drew off another veil to expose a meaning which we had only dimly surmised at first. 

Robert Penn Warren

Not.

Robert Plant & Band of Joy, "Houses of the Holy"

Darrell Scott, pedal steel ...



Happy Friday!

Benefits.


 A one-ounce shot delivers all the benefits of a three-ounce shot. A couple of the latter turn one into a spit-dribbler. Spit-dribblers frighten children and make everyone else nervous.

Jim Harrison

Gratitude.

Excellent.

An excellent movie ...


Watch your topknot, pilgrim.

Colin Hay, "A Thousand Million Reasons"

Technique.


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

Change.

An excellent book ...


Most of us will freely admit that we are obsessed with our devices. We pride ourselves on our ability to multitask—read work email, reply to a text, check Facebook, watch a video clip. Talk on the phone, send a text, drive a car. Enjoy family dinner with a glowing smartphone next to our plates. We can do it all, 24/7! Never mind the errors in the email, the near-miss on the road, and the unheard conversation at the table. In The Distracted Mind, Adam Gazzaley and Larry Rosen—a neuroscientist and a psychologist—explain why our brains aren’t built for multitasking, and suggest better ways to live in a high-tech world without giving up our modern technology.

The authors explain that our brains are limited in their ability to pay attention. We don’t really multitask but rather switch rapidly between tasks. Distractions and interruptions, often technology-related—referred to by the authors as “interference”—collide with our goal-setting abilities. We want to finish this paper/spreadsheet/sentence, but our phone signals an incoming message and we drop everything. Even without an alert, we decide that we “must” check in on social media immediately.

Gazzaley and Rosen offer practical strategies, backed by science, to fight distraction. We can change our brains with meditation, video games, and physical exercise; we can change our behavior by planning our accessibility and recognizing our anxiety about being out of touch even briefly. They don’t suggest that we give up our devices, but that we use them in a more balanced way.

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Adam Gazzaley shares the result of his lab's research into how new technologies, such as video games, might be used to enhance the functioning of the brain. He shows how within ten years, doctors may be prescribing video games and other technologies to treat such conditions as Parkinson's Disease, Schizophrenia, or Addiction.

Happy birthday, Homer.

Homer, Dad's Coming!, 1873


Winslow Homer was born on this day in 1836.

What they call talent is nothing but the capacity for doing continuous work in the right way. 

Winslow Homer

Thank you, Mom!

Today.

1975.


"Kashmir"


23 February 2017

Meteor.

New.


Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today.

1980.


"Too Much Pressure"

Dreaming.


Dreaming, we are the mad
who swear by the blood of trees
and speak with the tongues of streams
through props of steel and sawdust,
a colony of souls
ravaged by visions, bound
to some wild, secret cove
not yet possessed, a place
still innocent of us.

Lisel Mueller, from "The Lonesome Dream"

Happy birthday, Handel.

Denner, Handel, 1727


George Frideric Handel was born on this day in 1685.

Sonata in A, Op.1, No. 4, performed by Frans Brüggen ...

22 February 2017

Nice.

Schilder, Nightfall, 1917


G@d d@#n it, there are nice things in the world -- and I mean nice things.  We're all such morons to get so sidetracked.

J.D. Salinger

Thanks, hopeleslie.

Desireless.

Heyn, Little Horse, 1899


Let’s ask God to help us to self-control:
for one who lacks it, lacks His Grace.

The undisciplined person doesn’t wrong himself alone—
but sets fire to the whole world.

Discipline enabled Heaven to be filled with light;
discipline enabled the angels to be immaculate and holy.

The peacock’s plumage is his enemy.

The world is the mountain,
and each action, the shout that echoes back.

This discipline and rough treatment are a furnace
to extract the silver from the dross
The spiritual path wrecks the body
and afterwards restores it to health.

Anger and lust make a man squint;
When self-interest appears, virtue hides:
Fortunate is he who does not carry envy as a companion.

If ten lamps are present in one place,
each differs in form from another;
yet you can’t distinguish whose radiance is whose
when you focus on the light.

In the field of spirit there is no division;
no individuals exist.

The idol of your self is the mother of all idols.

To regard the self as easy to subdue is a mistake.

If you wish mercy, show mercy to the weak.

The stoppered jar, though in rough water,
floated because of its empty heart.

When the wind of poverty is in anyone,
she floats in peace on the waters of this world.

As long as desires are fresh, faith is not;
for it is these desires that lock that gate.

The tongue of mutual understanding is quite special:
to be one of heart is better than to have a common tongue.

If you dig a pit for others to fall into,
you will fall into it yourself.

Many of the faults you see in others, dear reader,
are your own nature reflected in them.

With will, fire becomes sweet water.

The lion who breaks the enemy’s ranks
is a minor hero
compared to the lion who overcomes himself.

O son, only those whose spiritual eye has been opened
know how compulsive we are.

Whoever gives reverence receives reverence.

The intellectual quest,
though fine as pearl or coral,
is not the spiritual search.

The intelligent desire self-control;
children want candy.

Since in order to speak, one must first listen,
learn to speak by listening.

When, with just a taste, envy and deceit arise,
and ignorance and forgetfulness are born,
know you have tasted the unlawful.

Know that a word suddenly shot from the tongue
is like an arrow shot from the bow.

O tongue, you are an endless treasure.

O tongue, you are also an endless disease.

I am burning.

If any one lacks tinder,
let him set his rubbish ablaze with my fire.

Although your desire tastes sweet,
doesn’t the Beloved desire you
to be desireless?

The world’s flattery and hypocrisy is a sweet morsel:
eat less of it, for it is full of fire.

Forgetfulness of God, beloved,
is the support of this world;
spiritual intelligence its ruin.

For Intelligence belongs to that other world,
and when it prevails, this material world is overthrown.

Were there no men of vision,
all who are blind would be dead.

All these griefs within our hearts
arise from the smoke and dust
of our existence and vain desires.

Whoever lives sweetly dies painfully:
whoever serves his body doesn’t nourish his soul.

Your thinking is like a camel driver,
and you are the camel:
it drives you in every direction under its bitter control.

If you are wholly perplexed and in straits,
have patience, for patience is the key to joy.

Fast from thoughts, fast:
thoughts are like the lion and the wild ass;
men’s hearts are the thickets they haunt.

If you are irritated by every rub,
how will your mirror be polished?

Anyone in whom the troublemaking self has died,
sun and cloud obey.

If you wish to shine like day,
burn up the night of self-existence.

Dissolve in the Being who is everything.

There is no worse sickness for the soul,
O you who are proud, than this pretense of perfection.

The heart and eyes must bleed a lot
before self-complacency falls away.

Can the water of a polluted stream
clear out the dung?

Can human knowledge sweep away
the ignorance of the sensual self?

How does a sword fashion its own hilt?

Go, entrust the cure of this wound to a surgeon,
Many are the unbelievers who long for submission,
but their stumbling block
is reputation and pride and continual desires.

I’m the devoted slave
of anyone who doesn’t claim
to have attained dining with God
at every way station.

Rumi

Trust.


Build your house on granite. By granite I mean your nature that you are torturing to death, the love in your child's body, your wife's dream of love, your own dream of life when you were sixteen. Exchange your illusions for a bit of truth. Throw out your politicians and diplomats! Take your destiny into your own hands and build your life on rock. Forget about your neighbor and look inside yourself! Your neighbor, too, will be grateful. Tell you're fellow workers all over the world that you're no longer willing to work for death but only for life. Instead of flocking to executions and shouting hurrah, hurrah, make a law for the protection of human life and its blessings. Such a law will be part of the granite foundation your house rests on. Protect your small children's love against the assaults of lascivious, frustrated men and women. Stop the mouth of the malignant old maid; expose her publicly or send her to a reform school instead of young people who are longing for love. Don't try to outdo your exploiter in exploitation if you have a chance to become a boss. Throw away your swallowtails and top hat, and stop applying for a license to embrace your woman. Join forces with your kind in all countries; they are like you, for better or worse. Let your child grow up as God intended. Don't try to improve on nature. Learn to understand it and protect it. Go to the library instead of the prizefight, go to foreign countries rather than to Coney Island. And first and foremost, think straight, trust the quiet inner voice inside you that tells you what to do. You hold your life in your hands, don't entrust it to anyone else, least of all to your chosen leaders. BE YOURSELF! Any number of great men have told you that.

Wilhelm Reich

Choices.


It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Aldus Dumbledore

Doing.

Chardin, Young Student Drawing, 1739


Art resides in the quality of doing; process is not magic. 

Charles Eames

Happy birthday, Peale.

Peale, R., Self-portrait, 1928


Rembrandt Peale was born on this day in 1778.

Men at Work, "Down by the Sea"

Listen to your heart
Screamin' at the sky
Can't you feel it tremble?
Don't you wonder why?

Today.

1976.


"Run with the Pack"


Rescue.


“Percy Manning was very interested in collecting disappearing ways of life and customs, and objects that were going out of use,” said curator of the display, Michael Heaney, a former staff member of the Bodleian Libraries. “The display features prints, drawings, photographs, sketches, plans, brass rubbings and documentary material on the people and places of the county ranging from the halls of academia to rural communities.  He pursued this kind of ‘rescue archaeology’ before it became popular and his collections provide unique insights into social history and everyday life. Manning collected items from more than 400 localities in the county; I doubt there's a community in Oxfordshire not represented in his collections.”

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