AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

29 April 2016

Happy birthday, Ellington.


Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was born on this day in 1899.

If it sounds good, it is good.

Duke Ellington

1951 ...

Love.


The smack and hum of the rich herring, soothed by the pork fat, lifted by the raw onion and capers. The calming structural black bread and the sense of wellbeing imparted by the schnapps. This writes itself. It is true love.

Fergus Henderson

Dog.

Revere.


I revere bears. I had a big male bear that I used to leave extra fish about a hundred yards from my cabin. I'd leave the fish on a stump and the bear would eat them. When I would come home from the bar, sometimes he would stop me and I would roll down the window, and he would set his chin right on the doorjamb and I'd scratch his head—but that's stupid.

Jim Harrison

Ssssssssstones, "Love is Straaaaaaaaawng"

Moves to learn at 1:47 ...

Imagination.


Robinson' Crusoe's diary is in Berlin, lying on a forgotten shelf in the State Library of Prussian Cultural Heritage.  So claims David Caldwell of the National Museum of Scotland.  The library is busy: the same faces have been coming here for a decade.  There they are behind the encyclopedias on the top floor, beneath the terrace with its globes as tall as men.  Each desk is an island kingdom. They come here to write: a page a day when things are going well; half a sentence when they are not.

Caldwell spent a month on this archipelago.  All he found was an angular, pointed piece of bronze, 1.6 centimeters long.  He is certain it must have be part of Alexander Selkirk's dividers, from his navigation equipment.

The diary that the stranded pirate wrote in his solitude ended up in the collection of the Duke of Hamilton but was later auctioned to the nascent German empire.  The first novel in the English language was based on it.  The published confection has as much imagination as truth in it:  Alexander becomes Robinson; the Scottish son of a cobbler became a merchant's son from York who ignores the advice of his father; four years and four months become twenty-eight years, half a lifetime.  The pirate Selkirk becomes the plantation owner Crusoe who constantly struggles with a restless desire to travel to distant lands, but as soon as he achieves this, yearns for his homeland.  

There is an occasional rustling in the magazine section, and in the evening, when the rows are lit up, the blinds at the glass front of the library ar whipped round as if in a little dance, fragmenting the the panoramic view on to an empty square.  In the manuscripts section, they are sifting through the inventory.  On 4 February 2009, a spokeswoman announces, We have searched all the relevant catalogs and have not found what we were looking for.  It is almost certain that Selkirk's diary is not in our collection.

Writers have it much easier than archaeologists.

Judith Schalansky, from Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Visited and Never Will

Happy birthday, Nelson.


Willie Nelson was born on this day in 1933.

Austin City Limits, 1974 ...

28 April 2016

Dreamlife.


THE BEAR

When my propane ran out
when I was gone and the food
thawed in the freezer I grieved
over the five pounds of melted squid,
but then a big gaunt bear arrived
and feasted on the garbage, a few tentacles
left in the grass, purplish white worms.
O bear, now that you've tasted the ocean
I hope your dreamlife contains the whales
I've seen, that the one in the Humboldt current
basking on the surface who seemed to watch
the seabirds wheeling around her head.

Jim Harrison

SuperHeavy, "Miracle Worker"

Today.

1983.

The Flatlanders, "If You Were a Bluebird"

Sight.


All the secrets of the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight.

Robin Sloan, from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore

Typography.

Luka Bloom, "Exploring the Blue"

Ship.

Unattributed, A Ship of War, 1728

27 April 2016

Soul-melting.

Catlin, A Crow Village on the Salmon River, 1869


I often landed my skiff, and mounted the green-carpeted bluffs whose soft grassy tops, invited me to recline, where I was at once lost in contemplation. Soul-melting scenery that was about me! A place where the mind could think volumes; but the tongue must be silent that would speak, and the hand palsied that would write. A place where a Divine would confess he never had fancied Paradise—where the painter's palette would lose its beautiful tints—the blood-stirring notes of eloquence would die in their utterance—and even the soft tones of sweet music would scarcely preserve a spark to light the soul again that had passed this sweet delirium. I mean the prairie, whose enameled plains that lie beneath me, in distance soften into sweetness, like an essence; whose thousand velvet covered hills, (surely never formed by chance, but grouped in one of Nature's sportive moods)—tossing and leaping down with steep or graceful declivities to the river's edge, as if to grace its pictured shores, and make it 'a thing to look upon.' I mean the prairie at sun-set; when the green hill-tops are turned into gold—and their long shadows of melancholy are thrown over the valleys—when all the breathings of day are hushed, and nought but the soft notes of the retiring dove can be heard; or the still softer and more plaintive notes of the wolf, who sneaks through these scenes of enchantment, and mournfully how—l—s, as if lonesome, and lost in the too beautiful quiet and stillness about him. I mean this prairie; where Heaven sheds its purest light, and lends its richest tints—this round-topp'd bluff, where the foot treads soft, and light—whose steep sides, and lofty head, rear me to the skies, overlooking yonder pictured vale of beauty.

George Catlin

Happy birthday, Grant.



Ulysses S. Grant was born on this day in 1822.

I don't underrate the value of military knowledge, but if men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail.

Ulysses S. Grant

The American Experience production, U.S. Grant: Warrior ...

Superimposed.


For your convenience, NASA has superimposed a map of Aldrin and Armstrong's strolls around the Sea of Tranquility onto a standard baseball diamond.

CONNECT

Moon Rotation
By using Wide Angle Camera (WAC) aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (and adjusting brightness), this unique view of the moon has been created.



Tour of the Moon

Although the moon has remained largely unchanged during human history, our understanding of it and how it has evolved over time has evolved dramatically. Thanks to new measurements, we have new and unprecedented views of its surface, along with new insight into how it and other rocky planets in our solar system came to look the way they do.

Clues.

Dr. James William Buffett has the honorary degree of Doctor of Music conferred upon him ...

Some clues for that scavenger hunt of life ...

James McMurtry, "Peter Pan"

Let's go chase tornadoes
Just me and you
You don't often catch 'em,
But, man, when you do ...

Peace.


When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others. Inner peace is not found by staying on the surface of life, or by attempting to escape from life through any means. Inner peace is found by facing life squarely, solving its problems, and delving as far beneath its surface as possible to discover its verities and realities. Inner peace comes through strict adherence to the already quite well known laws of human conduct, such as the law that the means shape the end: that only a good means can ever attain a good end.

Peace Pilgrim

Barometer.


Thanks, Dad.

Andy Goldsworthy, "Two Autumns"

26 April 2016

Sibelius, Violin Concerto, Op. 47

Viktoria Mullova performs with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra led by Min Dmitri Slobodeniouk ...

Smart.


Thank you, Kurtastrophe.

Dignified.

Anderton, Three Bulls, Sitting on an Eagle Tail Feathers, Crowfoot,  and Red Crow at Fort Walsh, 1884


Joy was a word that belonged to the Indians.  Life was rich, and the Indians were only very stoical and sullen in the presence of whites during the war and reservation period.  They were really a happy, delightful people, so ready to laugh an amusing incident or a clever joke that they reminded the early white visitors of children at play.

In his manner and bearing, the Indian is habitually grave and dignified, and in the presence of strangers he is reserved and silent.

Richard Irving Dodge

Ray Wylie Hubbard, "The Messenger"

All the true believers are out on the road tonite
No matter what happens, you know they'll be okay
And to the rock and roll gypsies may the last song you sing
Be by Townes Van Zandt and down in old Santa Fe

Now I have a mission and a small code of honor
To stand and deliver by whatever measures
And the message I give is from this old poet Rilke
He said "Our fears are like dragons guarding our most precious treasures." 

I am not looking for loose diamonds
Or pretty girls with crosses around their necks
I don't want for roses or water, I am not looking for God
I just wanna see what's next

Harrison.

Jim Harrison reads for the Elk River Books fundraising event for the film "Winter in the Blood" on September 7, 2011.

Research is easier than living.  I remember when I researched Dalva, which took a couple of years, I didn’t want to start writing because I didn’t want to stop researching.

Relationships.


The Ravine

Stones, brown tufted grass, but no water,
it is dry to the bottom. A seedy eye
of orange hawkweed blinks in sunlight
stupidly, a mink bumbles away,
a ringnecked snake among stones lifts its head
like a spark, a dead young woodcock --
long dead, the mink will not touch it --
sprawls in the hatchment of its soft plumage
and clutches emptiness with drawn talons.
This is the ravine today. But in spring it
cascaded, in winter it filled with snow
until it lay hidden completely. In time,
geologic time, it will melt away
or deepen beyond recognition, a huge
gorge. These are what I remember and foresee.
These are what I see here every day,
not things but relationships of things,
quick changes and slow. These are my sorrow,
for unlike my bright admonitory friends
I see relationships, I do not see things.
These, such as they are, every day, every
unique day, the first in time and the last,
are my thoughts, the sequences of my mind.
I wonder what they mean. Every day,
day after day, I wonder what they mean.

Hayden Carruth

Alone.

Dürer, The Celestial Map, Northern Hemisphere, 1515


All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems.  But all these stars are silent. You -- You alone will have stars as no one else has them.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Myths.


There are no old myths, only new people.

Jim Harrison

Kernis, "Musica Celestis"

Ensemble Symphonique Neuchâtel performs under the direction of Alexander Mayer ...


Suspended.


As the hours, the days, the weeks, the seasons slip by, you detach yourself from everything. You discover, with something that sometimes almost resembles exhilaration, that you are free. That nothing is weighing you down, nothing pleases or displeases you. You find, in this life exempt from wear and tear and with no thrill in it other than these suspended moments, in almost perfect happiness, fascinating, occasionally swollen by new emotions. You are living in a blessed parenthesis, in a vacuum full of promise, and from which you expect nothing. You are invisible, limpid, transparent. You no longer exist. Across the passing hours, the succession of days, the procession of the seasons, the flow of time, you survive without joy and without sadness. Without a future and without a past. Just like that: simply, self evidently, like a drop of water forming on a drinking tap on a landing.

Georges Perec

Ashore.

Zuniga, Jamestown, 1607


On this day in 1607, an expedition of English colonists went ashore at Cape Henry, Va., to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere, later settled at Jamestown.

CONNECT

Neither.


Interviewer: Can you walk us through an average day in your life?

Most Interesting Man in the World:  I have neither the time nor the proper waivers and legal representation.

Happy birthday, Audubon.

Audubon, Blue Jay, 1830


John James Audubon was born on this day in 1785.

Reader, look at the plate in which are represented three individuals of this beautiful species,--rogues though they be, and thieves, as I would call them, were it fit for me to pass judgment on their actions. See how each is enjoying the fruits of his knavery, sucking the egg which he has pilfered from the nest of some innocent Dove or harmless Partridge! Who could imagine that a form so graceful, arrayed by nature in a garb so resplendent, should harbour so much mischief;--that selfishness, duplicity, and malice should form the moral accompaniments of so much physical perfection! Yet so it is, and how like beings of a much higher order, are these gay deceivers! Aye, I could write you a whole chapter on this subject, were not my task of a different nature. 

John James Audubon

25 April 2016

Dwell.

Unattributed, The Southern Heavens, 1867


Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.

Marcus Aurelius

Thank you, Kurt.

Waylon Jennings, "Just Because You Asked Me To"

Sensuous.

Goldsworthy, Curved Sticks Surrounding a River Boulder, 2006


Realizing that spirit, recognizing my own inner consciousness, the psyche, so clearly, I cannot understand time. 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 floats in the light-laden air. Nothing has to come; it is now. Now is eternity; now is the immortal life. Here this moment, by this tumulus, on earth, now; I exist in it. The years, the centuries, the cycles are absolutely nothing; it is only a moment since this tumulus was raised; in a thousand years more it will still be only a moment. To the soul there is no past and no future; all is and will be ever, in now. For artificial purposes time is mutually agreed on, but there is really no such thing. The shadow goes on upon the dial, the index moves round upon the clock, and what is the difference? None whatever. If the clock had never been set going, what would have been the difference? There may be time for the clock, the clock may make time for itself; there is none for me.

I dip my hand in the brook and feel the stream; in an instant the particles of water which first touched me, have floated yards down the current, my hand remains there. I take my hand away, and the flow — the time — of the brook does not exist for me. The great clock of the firmament, the sun and the stars, the crescent moon, the earth circling two thousand times, is no more to me than the flow of the brook when my hand is withdrawn; my soul has never been, and never can be, dipped in time.

There came to me a delicate, but at the same time a deep, strong and sensuous enjoyment of the beautiful green earth, the beautiful sky and sun; I felt them, they gave me inexpressible delight, as if they embraced and poured out their love upon me. It was I who loved them, for my heart was broader than the earth; it is broader now than even then, more thirsty and desirous. After the sensuous enjoyment always come the thought, the desire: That I might be like this; that I might have the inner meaning of the sun, the light, the earth, the trees and grass, translated into some growth of excellence in myself, both of the body and of mind; greater perfection of physique, greater perfection of mind and soul; that I might be higher in myself.

Richard Jefferies

Leveller.


Sluggish and sedentary peoples, such as the Ancient Egyptians, with their concept of an afterlife journey through the Field of Reeds, project onto the next world the journeys they failed to make in this one.  

As a general rule of biology, migratory species are less aggressive than sedentary ones.  There is one obvious reason why this should be so. The migration itself, like the pilgrimage, is the hard journey: a "leveller" on which the "fit" survive and stragglers fall by the wayside.  The journey thus pre-empts the need for hierarchies and shows of dominance. The "dictators" of the animal kingdom are those who live in an ambience of plenty. The anarchists, as always, are the "gentlemen of the road."

Bruce Chatwin

R.E.M., "Find the River"

Hey now, little speedyhead
The read on the speedmeter says
You have to go to task in the city

Where people drown and people serve
Don't be shy, your just deserve
Is only just light years to go

Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
Ocean storm, bayberry moon
I have got to leave to find my way

Watch the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes
Nothing is going my way

The ocean is the river's goal
A need to leave the water knows
We're closer now than light years to go

I have got to find the river
Bergamot and vetiver
Run through my head and fall away

Leave the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes
Nothing is going my way

There's no one left to take the lead
But I tell you and you can see
We're closer now than light years to go

Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
Fall into the ocean

The river to the ocean goes
A fortune for the undertow
None of this is going my way

There is nothing left to throw
Of Ginger, lemon, indigo
Coriander stem and rose of hay

Strength and courage overrides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naiveté


Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
All of this is coming your way

Greater.

Chatham, Summer Moon Rising, 2007


A greater exposure to all ideas leads to a greater understanding of truth.

Jessica Gutliph Karr

Thank You, Jess!

Bill Miller, "Tumbleweed"

Happy birthday, Tchaikovsky.

Kuznetsov, Tchaikovsky, 1893


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on this day in 1840 (O.S.).

Do not believe those who try to persuade you that composition is only a cold exercise of the intellect. The only music capable of moving and touching us is that which flows from the depths of a composer’s soul when he is stirred by inspiration. There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavoring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.  Had I given way to my disinclination, undoubtedly I should have drifted into a long period of idleness. But my patience and faith did not fail me, and to-day I felt that inexplicable glow of inspiration of which I told you; thanks to which I know beforehand that whatever I write to-day will have power to make an impression, and to touch the hearts of those who hear it. I hope you will not think I am indulging in self-laudation, if I tell you that I very seldom suffer from this disinclination to work. I believe the reason for this is that I am naturally patient. I have learnt to master myself, and I am glad I have not followed in the steps of some of my Russian colleagues, who have no self-confidence and are so impatient that at the least difficulty they are ready to throw up the sponge. This is why, in spite of great gifts, they accomplish so little, and that in an amateur way.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Viktoria Mullova performs the Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 ...

Defiance.

Bock, Surging Water, 1951


To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, and kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something, If we remember those times and places -- and there are so many -- where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however a small way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Howard Zinn

Thank you, Rachel.

24 April 2016

Stevie Ray Vaughan, "Life Without You"

Keep.


Sometimes we live without noticing it.
Overtrying makes it harder.

So far the days keep coming.
Seize the day as if you loved her.

Jim Harrison, from "Carpe Diem"

23 April 2016

Ssssssssstones, "Happy"


Ronnie Wood, lap steel …

See.


The question is not what you look at, but what you see.

Henry David Thoreau

Happy birthday, Turner.

Turner, Study for Sea and Sky, Isle of Wight, 1827


Joseph Mallord William Turner was born on this day in 1775.

Light is therefore color.

Joseph Mallord William Turner

"Painter of Light" from Simon Schama's series, Power of Art ...