AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

28 August 2015

Think.


When I wake up, the first thing I think of is lunch. What would I like to cook today? It could be kidneys—it could be fish pie. Upon waking, a dish will talk to you.

Fergus Henderson

Happy birthday, Goethe.


Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe was born on this date in 1749.

POET

Speak not to me of yonder motley masses,
Whom but to see, puts out the fire of Song!
Hide from my view the surging crowd that passes,
And in its whirlpool forces us along!
No, lead me where some heavenly silence glasses
The purer joys that round the Poet throng,—
Where Love and Friendship still divinely fashion
The bonds that bless, the wreaths that crown his passion!
Ah, every utterance from the depths of feeling
The timid lips have stammeringly expressed,—
Now failing, now, perchance, success revealing,—
Gulps the wild Moment in its greedy breast;
Or oft, reluctant years its warrant sealing,
Its perfect stature stands at last confessed!
What dazzles, for the Moment spends its spirit:
What's genuine, shall Posterity inherit.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, from Faust

27 August 2015

Sound.


The moon shone in the rocking horse’s eye, and in the mouse’s eye too, when Tolly fetched it out from under his pillow to see. The clock went tick-tock, and in the stillness he thought he heard little bare feet running across the floor, then laughter and whispering, and a sound like the pages of a big book being turned over. 

L. M. Boston

Celebrate.


His life was not confining and the delight he took in this observation could not be explained by its suggestion of escape. He seemed to see, with a cartographer’s eye, that string of swimming pools, that quasi-subterranean stream that curved across the county. He had made a discovery, a contribution to modern geography; he would name the stream Lucinda after his wife. He was not a practical joker nor was he a fool but he was determinedly original and had a vague and modest idea of himself as a legendary figure. The day was beautiful and it seemed to him that a long swim might enlarge and celebrate its beauty.

Apply.


There’s a little known fact about Kevin Kelly, co-founder of the magazine WIRED: he hangs out with the Amish a lot. If you think a tech industry leader socializing with folks who prefer the horse to a car and don’t have the internet is a little different, you’re right… but Kevin Kelly actually looks at the Amish as innovators and even calls them “hackers."

Today we explore three smart ways the Amish use technology and how to apply their 
knowledge to our modern tech world.

Beyond.


Suddenly, black was everywhere. It caked the flesh of miners and ironworkers; it streaked the walls and windows of industrial towns; it thickened the smoky air above. Proprietors donned black clothing to indicate their status and respectability. New black dyes and pigments created in factories and chemical laboratories entered painters’ studios, enabling a new expression for the new themes of the industrial age: factory work and revolt, technology and warfare, urbanity and pollution, and a rejection of the old status quo. A new class of citizen, later to be dubbed the “proletariat,” began to appear in illustrations under darkened smokestacks. The industrial revolution had found its color.

Black is technically an absence: the visual experience of a lack of light. A perfect black dye absorbs all of the light that impinges on it, leaving nothing behind. This ideal is remarkably difficult to manufacture. The industrialization of the 18th and 19th centuries made it easier, providing chemists and paint-makers with a growing palette of black—and altering the subjects that the color would come to represent. “These things are intimately connected,” says science writer Philip Ball, author of Bright Earth: The Invention of Color. The reinvention of black, in other words, went far beyond the color.

Telemann, Bassoon Sonata in F Minor

Jeffrey Lyman, bassoon, and Brandon Straub, harpsichord (damn clanging), perform the Allegro ...

26 August 2015

Omnivorous.

Doisneau, Children Playing, 1956


The artist is by necessity a collector; he accumulates things with the same ardor and curiosity [with which] a boy stuffs his pockets. He borrows from the sea and from the scrap heap; he takes snapshots, makes mental notes, and records impressions on tablecloths and newspapers—why one particular thing and not another, he may not know at the time, but he is omnivorous. He has a taste for children’s wall scrawling as appreciative as that for prehistoric cave painting.

Paul Rand

Strandbeest.



For the past 20 years, Dutch artist Theo Jansen has been perfecting a new form of life—the “Strandbeest.” 

 Like a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci, Jansen has applied both artistic and engineering skills to create the giant mechanical creatures that can walk on their own, powered only by the wind.

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The Strandbeest evolution ...



The Peabody Essex Museum site for the 2015 exhibition of Strandbeest.

Theo Jansen's site.

See.


Daily Overview ... Showing Earth from above to inspire the Overview Effect, highlight human impact, and change the way you see our planet.

25 August 2015

Key.


What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes?  Herein lies the key to your Earthly pursuits.

Carl Jung

24 August 2015

Happy birthday, Stubbs.

Stubbs, Portrait of a Hound, 1790



George Stubbs was born on this date in 1724.


Cultivate an ever-continuous power of observation. Wherever you are, be always ready to make slight notes of postures, groups and incidents. Store up in the mind ... a continuous stream of observations from which to make selections later. Above all things get abroad; see the sunlight and everything that is to be seen. 

John Singer Sargent

21 August 2015

The Cars, "Just What I Needed"

Happy Friday ...

Answers.


Hammering a dent out of a bucket
      a woodpecker
              answers from the woods

Gary Snyder

Reading.


Marginalia, the Anti-Library, and Other Ways to Master the Lost Art of Reading.

Proportion.


There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion.

Edgar Allan Poe

Shape.


Long live the weeds that overwhelm
My narrow vegetable realm! –
The bitter rock, the barren soil
That force the son of man to toil;
All things unholy, marked by curse,
The ugly of the universe.
The rough, the wicked and the wild
That keep the spirit undefiled.
With these I match my little wit
And earn the right to stand or sit,
Hope, look, create, or drink and die:
These shape the creature that is I.

Theodore Roethke

For my students.

Blank.


The Present

The cost of flight is landing.
On this warm winter day in the southwest,
down here on the edge of the border I want
to go to France where we all came from
where the Occident was born near the ancient
caves near Lascaux. At home I’m only
sitting on the lip of this black hole, a well
that descends to the center of the earth.
With a big telescope aimed straight down
I see a red dot of fire and hear the beast howling.
My back is suppurating with disease,
the heart lurches left and right,
the brain sings its ditties.
Everywhere blank white movies wait to be seen.
The skylark dove within inches of the rocks
before it stopped and rose again.
God’s toes are buried deep in the earth.
He’s ready to run. But where?

Jim Harrison

19 August 2015

Scaring the Children, "Two Djinn"



Thanks, Jessica ... that was fun.

Legend.


For most people, Doug Peacock is best known as the character, or caricature, that the writer Edward Abbey created out of the raw materials of the man’s life. Peacock grew up in Alma, Michigan, but during his three tours as a Green Beret medic in Vietnam he dreamed of the American West, clinging to a map of Montana like a secret and a promise. When he finally got home, he headed out into the western backcountry to try to make something out of the remains of his life. Shaken by all he had seen, numb but at the same time full of unnamed rage, he turned to a new hobby, to monkey-wrenching, or environmental sabotage, cutting down billboards, putting sugar in the tanks of bulldozers, and using more explosive means to disarm the machines that were despoiling the land he loved. It was a hobby that he shared with a new friend named Ed Abbey, who would eventually transform Peacock into a fictional character, the heroic but primitive George Washington Hayduke, the central figure and driving force in Abbey’s novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang."

But Peacock’s own life would take a turn that Hayduke’s did not. He would come to spend time deep in the Wyoming and Montana wildernesses, passing months living with grizzly bears. A gun-lover, he refused to carry firearms when among the bears. At first he didn’t study the animals so much as get to know them, learning their ways. Meanwhile, his fictional alter ego was growing into a legend around the West. That legend still grows. Earlier in our trip, looking out at Monument Valley from the Muley Point overlook in Utah, I had seen, painted in big black letters on the concrete barrier, the words “Hayduke Lives!"

I was nervous about meeting Peacock. All I had to go on at that point was a curt email that read: “If you’re around come on by.” Well, I would be around, I’d make sure of it, even if it required driving 800 miles out of my way. That morning he had given me directions to his house in Emigrant, along the Yellowstone River about an hour north of the park, and we had agreed to meet at 5. I looked at the map and figured the mileage, but what I hadn’t counted on was winding our way through Yellowstone and stopping every mile or two for an elk or buffalo. There was an irony, of course, in bombing through one of America’s most beautiful parks to go and meet a wild man.

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Master.


In these modern times, writing by hand is fast becoming a dying art form. People are communicating more and more electronically, whether it’s by email, cell phone, messenger apps, and so on, rather than by taking a pen to paper. Schools in America are even phasing out teaching cursive to students, national standards do not require such instruction, and it’s viewed as an unnecessary waste of time that will soon be obsolete.

One simple fact highlights how much the art form has died; there are now only 12 people left in the entire world who currently hold the title of ‘Master Penman.’ Jake Weidmann, from Colorado, is one of them and the youngest by far. From early on he was consumed by handwriting and would often choose to work on it rather than play outside or go to recess with all the other children. His whole life has revolved around working at, and perfecting, his penmanship. All of his time, energy, practice, and dedication to the art has paid off because he has since earned the title of Master Penman. Everything he does in his work, down to the pens and tools he uses, is in the old school way of writing and drawing. Oftentimes a piece he is working on will take well over a year to completely finish. If it’s not to his exact standards, he scraps it and starts over. All of this preciseness and the need for perfection is what earned him recognition and has helped make him a master at the art of penmanship.

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Haydn, Symphony No. 22 in E flat major, "The Philosopher"

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra performs under the direction Marc Minkowski  ...

On.

Lepcke, Female Archer, 1905


Fight ever on: this Earthly stuff
If used God’s way will be enough.
Face to the firing line, O friend,
Fight out life’s battle to the end.

One soldier, when the fight was red,
Threw down his broken sword and fled.
Another snatched it, won the day,
With what his comrade flung away. 

Edwin Markham

Another.


Understand me.  I'm not like an ordinary world.  I have my madness, I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things that have no soul.

Charles Bukowski

Thinking.


An expert is one who has stopped thinking because he "knows."

Frank Lloyd Wright

Dance.


Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance.

Carl Sandburg

Process.


The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.

Chuck Close

18 August 2015

Change.


The world below the brine,
Forests at the bottom of the sea, the branches and leaves,
Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds, the thick tangle, openings, and pink turf,
Different colors, pale gray and green, purple, white, and gold, the play of light through the water,
Dumb swimmers there among the rocks, coral, gluten, grass, rushes, and the aliment of the swimmers,
Sluggish existences grazing there suspended, or slowly crawling close to the bottom,
The sperm-whale at the surface blowing air and spray, or disporting with his flukes,
The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, the hairy sea-leopard, and the sting-ray,
Passions there, wars, pursuits, tribes, sight in those ocean-depths, breathing that thick-breathing air, as so many do,
The change thence to the sight here, and to the subtle air breathed by beings like us who walk this sphere,
The change onward from ours to that of beings who walk other spheres.

Walt Whitman

Unobservable.

The San Diego Studies is a series of short videos that manipulate time to reveal otherwise unobservable rhythms and movement in the city. There are no CG elements, these are all real kites that have been separated from their original shots and compiled together.



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Learning.


I have always had a curious nature ... I enjoy learning, but I dislike being taught.

Winston Churchill

17 August 2015

Ray Davies, "I'm Not Like Everybody Else"

School starts today!

I won't take all that they hand me down,
And make out a smile, though I wear a frown,
And I won't take it all lying down,
'Cause once I get started I go to town.

Live.


If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge. You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. 

Rainer Maria Rilke

13 August 2015

Richard Thompson, "Cooksferry Queen"

Well, she's got every rare perfection
All her looks beyond compare
She's got dresses that seem to float in the wind
Pre-Raphaelite curls in her hair

She could get the lame to walking
She could get the blind to see
She could make wine out of Thames river water
She could make a believer out of me

Upon.

Moll, Twilight, 1900


The Twilight Turns from Amethyst

The twilight turns from amethyst
To deep and deeper blue,
The lamp fills with a pale green glow
The trees of the avenue.

The old piano plays an air,
Sedate and slow and gay;
She bends upon the yellow keys,
Her head inclines this way.

Shy thought and grave wide eyes and hands
That wander as they list -- -
The twilight turns to darker blue
With lights of amethyst. 

James Joyce

Glories.


To Imagination 

When weary with the long day's care,
And earthly change from pain to pain,
And lost, and ready to despair,
Thy kind voice calls me back again:
Oh, my true friend! I am not lone,
While then canst speak with such a tone!

So hopeless is the world without;
The world within I doubly prize;
Thy world, where guile, and hate, and doubt,
And cold suspicion never rise;
Where thou, and I, and Liberty,
Have undisputed sovereignty.

What matters it, that all around
Danger, and guilt, and darkness lie,
If but within our bosom's bound
We hold a bright, untroubled sky,
Warm with ten thousand mingled rays
Of suns that know no winter days?

Reason, indeed, may oft complain
For Nature's sad reality,
And tell the suffering heart how vain
Its cherished dreams must always be;
And Truth may rudely trample down
The flowers of Fancy, newly-blown:

But thou art ever there, to bring
The hovering vision back, and breathe
New glories o'er the blighted spring,
And call a lovelier Life from Death.
And whisper, with a voice divine,
Of real worlds, as bright as thine.

I trust not to thy phantom bliss,
Yet, still, in evening's quiet hour,
With never-failing thankfulness,
I welcome thee, Benignant Power;
Sure solacer of human cares,
And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!

Emily Brontë 

Easy.

Jackson Browne.

October 15, 1976 ...

Successful..

A successful day … often I go to a place and I have no idea what to make. And I just start picking things up and then I see something, and it leads to something else, and then it leads and it’s like this little journey the work goes on and then the work appears ...

It may be a balance work or ice work and I make it, and it’s finished, and I photograph, and it falls down. And that I really enjoy.

Andy Goldsworthy

Mozart, Bassoon Concerto in B flat major, K. 191/186e


Eberhard Marschall performs with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis, conductor ...

12 August 2015

Glorious.

On the occasion of the Glorious Twelfth, aka the first day of grouse hunting season in the United Kingdom, Hugh Hayden and Zach Heinzerling's short film, Hugh the Hunter ...

Stones, "Bob Wills is Still the King"

Ronnie Wood, pedal steel ...

Soon.

Chagall, Blue Landscape, 1958


In the Orchard

Leave go my hands, let me catch breath and see;
Let the dew-fall drench either side of me;
    Clear apple-leaves are soft upon that moon
Seen sidelong like a blossom in the tree;
    And God, ah God, that day should be so soon.

The grass is thick and cool, it lets us lie.
Kissed upon either cheek and either eye,
    I turn to thee as some green afternoon
Turns toward sunset, and is loth to die;
    Ah God, ah God, that day should be so soon.

Lie closer, lean your face upon my side,
Feel where the dew fell that has hardly dried,
    Hear how the blood beats that went nigh to swoon;
The pleasure lives there when the sense has died,
    Ah God, ah God, that day should be so soon.

O my fair lord, I charge you leave me this:
It is not sweeter than a foolish kiss?
    Nay take it then, my flower, my first in June,
My rose, so like a tender mouth it is:
    Ah God, ah God, that day should be so soon.

Love, till dawn sunder night from day with fire
Dividing my delight and my desire,
    The crescent life and love the plenilune,
Love me though dusk begin and dark retire;
    Ah God, ah God, that day should be so soon.

Ah, my heart fails, my blood draws back; I know,
When life runs over, life is near to go;
    And with the slain of love love’s ways are strewn,
And with their blood, if love will have it so;
    Ah God, ah God, that day should be so soon.

Ah, do thy will now; slay me if thou wilt;
There is no building now the walls are built,
    No quarrying now the corner-stone is hewn,
No drinking now the vine’s whole blood is spilt;
    Ah God, ah God, that day should be so soon.

Nay, slay me now; nay, for I will be slain;
Pluck thy red pleasure from the teeth of pain,
    Break down thy vine ere yet grape-gatherers prune,
Slay me 'ere day can slay desire again;
    Ah God, ah God, that day should be so soon.

Yea, with thy sweet lips, with thy sweet sword; yea
Take life and all, for I will die, I say;
    Love, I gave love, is life a better boon?
For sweet night’s sake I will not live till day;
    Ah God, ah God, that day should be so soon.

Nay, I will sleep then only; nay, but go.
Ah sweet, too sweet to me, my sweet, I know
    Love, sleep, and death go to the sweet same tune;
Hold my hair fast, and kiss me through it soon.
    Ah God, ah God, that day should be so soon.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

Emmylou Harris.

"Rose of Cimarron"



"Wheels"



"Shenandoah"



"Pancho & Lefty"

Reveals.


The wonderful title evokes the rural hinterland of New England, away from the Boston society and economy. It is a region of isolated farms and lonely roads, and it is in writing about that landscape that Frost merges the traditional with the modern to become a writer who is simultaneously terrifying and comfortable. Frost’s technique is to take a familiar, even homey scene – describing a wall, birch trees, two roads – and then undermine or fracture the sense of comfort that those scenes evoke by exposing the capriciousness of modern life. Frost always draws you in, and then reveals that where you are isn’t at all what you expected.

Marvel.

Leonardo, Vitruvian Man, 1490


When properly conceived and taught, the liberal arts do not by themselves make us “better people” or (God knows) more “human.” They don’t exist to make us more “liberal,” at least in the contemporary political sense. But the liberal arts can do something no less wonderful: They can open our eyes. 

They show us how to look at the world and the works of civilization in serious and important and even delightful ways. They hold out the possibility that we will know better the truth about many of the most important things. They are the vehicle that carries the amazing things that mankind has made—and the memory of the horrors that mankind has perpetrated—from one age to the next. They teach us how to marvel.

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Thanks, Kurt.

Happy birthday, Bellows.

Bellows, Churn and Break, 1913


George Bellows was born on this date in 1882. 

The artist is the person who makes life more interesting or beautiful, more understandable or mysterious, or probably, in the best sense, more wonderful. The ideal artist is he who knows everything, feels everything, experiences everything, and retains his experience in a spirit of wonder and feeds upon it with creative lust.

George Bellows

Eagles, "How Long"

I'll be doin' fine and then some ...

Mukwa.

Craft.


His table is draped in a white cloth and topped with countless books and papers, a water cup, an ashtray, a lamp with a yellowed shade. Light pours from the windows and tumbles over potted cactuses and family ephemera — everything in the house belongs to the Bergiers, with the exception of Harrison’s supplies. Though the author doesn’t “want to think about how much time” he’s spent in that room, he does acknowledge its effect on his craft.

“This feels like the right place,” he says. “Writers worry that they’re not in the right space, but I don’t. Not here. There’s so much wild country, and I have my ideal neighbors. No one.”

So he writes and he smokes — American Spirits, one right after another. They’ve turned his voice to silt and his skin the color of an old catcher’s mitt, yet he lights them with the longing of a man consumed.

09 August 2015

Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047

Here's the Allegro assai, featuring Maurice Andre (in ink), trumpet, and some guy's moustache playing the oboe ...