AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

31 October 2010

Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah"

Cohen.

It's the notion that there is no perfection ~ that this is a broken world and we live with broken hearts and broken lives but still that is no alibi for anything. On the contrary, you have to stand up and say hallelujah under those circumstances.
- Leonard Cohen

There are so many, K.D.'s is chilling, but I like the quiet of Jeff Buckley's shot ...

Il Duomo

Many whom Nature creates small and insignificant in appearance have their souls filled with such greatness and their hearts with such boundless courage that they cannot rest unless they undertake things of almost impossible difficulty, and bring them to completion to the wonder of all beholders, and no matter how vile and base things may be, they become in their hands valuable and lofty. Thus we should never turn up our noses when we meet persons who do not possess that grace and bearing which Nature might be expected to give to distinguished men when they come into the world, for clods of earth hide veins of gold. It frequently happens that men of insignificant appearance possess great generosity of spirit and sincerity of heart, and when nobility of soul is joined to these characteristics the greatest marvels may be expected, for they endeavour to overcome the defects of their body by the virtues of their mind. This appears in Filippo di ser Brunellesco, as well as in Messer Forese da Rabatta and Giotto, who were all of mean appearance, but their minds were lofty, and of Filippo it may be said that he was given by Heaven to invest architecture with new forms, after it had wandered astray for many centuries, during which the men of the time had expended much treasure to bad purpose in erecting buildings devoid of arrangement, in bad style, of sorry design, with the queerest notions, most ungraceful grace, and worse ornament. It was Heaven's decree, after the earth had been so many years without a master mind and divine spirit, that Filippo should leave to the world the greatest and loftiest building, the finest of all the achievements of ancient and modem times, proving that the ability of the Tuscan artists though lost was not dead.

Read the rest here.

Il Duomo


Thinking of Brunelleschi ... Palestrina's Nunc Dimittis .

Saint-Saëns, "Danse Macabre"

For All Hallow's Eve ...

Zig, zig, zig, Death in a cadence,
Striking with his heel a tomb,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zig, on his violin.
The winter wind blows and the night is dark;
Moans are heard in the linden trees.
Through the gloom, white skeletons pass,
Running and leaping in their shrouds.
Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking,
The bones of the dancers are heard to crack—
But hist! of a sudden they quit the round,
They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.

- Henri Cazalis

Happy Birthday, Keats.


Born, this day, in 1795.

Dedication: To Leigh Hunt, Esq

Glory and loveliness have passed away;
For if we wander out in early morn,
No wreathed incense do we see upborne
Into the east, to meet the smiling day:
No crowd of nymphs soft voic’d and young, and gay,
In woven baskets bringing ears of corn,
Roses, and pinks, and violets, to adorn
The shrine of Flora in her early May.
But there are left delights as high as these,
And I shall ever bless my destiny,
That in a time, when under pleasant trees
Pan is no longer sought, I feel a free
A leafy luxury, seeing I could please
With these poor offerings, a man like thee.


- John Keats

To Keats ... cheers!

Release.


October
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.


- Robert Frost

Happy Halloween.

Fires at midnight.

Breathe deep the scent of Jack's lantern.

Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"


The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the revolutionary war; and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper, having been buried in the church-yard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head; and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the church-yard before daybreak.

Put the kettle on, light a fire, and read the rest here.

As a kid I loved this ... still do. Here's Disney's interpretation with Bingo narrating ...






The old country wives, however, who are the best judges of these matters, maintain to this day that Ichabod was spirited away by supernatural means; and it is a favorite story often told about the neighborhood round the winter evening fire. The bridge became more than ever an object of superstitious awe, and that may be the reason why the road has been altered of late years, so as to approach the church by the border of the mill-pond. The school-house being deserted, soon fell to decay, and was reported to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate pedagogue; and the ploughboy, loitering homeward of a still summer evening, has often fancied his voice at a distance, chanting a melancholy psalm tune among the tranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow.

30 October 2010

Indispensable.


If a book truly interests me, I cannot follow it for more than a few lines before my mind, having seized on a thought that the text suggests to it, or a feeling, or a question, or an image, goes off on a tangent and springs from thought to thought, from image to image, in an itinerary of reasonings and fantasies that I feel the need to pursue to the end, moving away from the book until I have lost sight of it. The stimulus of reading is indispensable to me, and of meaty reading, even if, of every book, I manage to read no more than a few pages. But those few pages already enclose for me whole universes, which I can never exhaust.
- Italo Calvino

Time.


Spend My Time

How can we know how far,
The long way can be?
Looking from where we are,
It never seemed that long to me.
I've many miles behind me,
Maybe not so much ahead.
It seems I made good time,
With the directions I misread.

So I'm gonna spend my time,
Like it's going out of style.
I'm moving the bottom line,
Farther than a country mile.
I still have hills to climb,
Before I hit that wall.
No matter how much time I buy,
I can never spend it all.

Funny thing, that time:
We're always running out.
I'm always losing mine,
There's not enough of it about.
An' though it's always here,
It will always come and go.
The days become the years,
That'll be gone before you know.

So I'm gonna spend my time,
Like it's going out of style.
I'm moving the bottom line,
Better than a country mile.
I still have hills to climb,
Before I hit that wall.
I won't go quietly into that dark night.
There'll be no more burnin' daylight.
I'll be living in,
Every moment that I'm in.

Oh, I'm gonna spend my time,
Like it's going out of style.
I'll only use what's mine,
I've been savin' for a while.
I still have hills to climb,
Before I hit that wall.

No matter how much time I buy,
I can never spend it all.
No matter how much time we buy,
We can never spend it all.


- Clint Black/Hayden Nicholas

Happy Birthday, Adams.


There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live. Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.
- John Adams


David McCullough's biography of Adams is superb. Read the quote above, then do yourself a favor.

Thanks, Mom.

Whistling.


The Wind In A Frolic

The wind one morning sprang up from sleep,
Saying, “Now for a frolic! now for a leap!
Now for a madcap, galloping chase!
I’ll make a commotion in every place!”
So it swept with a bustle right through a great town,
Creaking the signs, and scattering down
The shutters, and whisking, with merciless squalls,
Old women’s bonnets and gingerbread stalls.
There never was heard a much lustier shout
As the apples and oranges tumbled about;
And urchins, that stand with their thievish eyes
Forever on watch, ran off each with a prize.

Then away to the fields it went blustering and humming,
And the cattle all wondered whatever was coming.
It plucked by their tails the grave matronly cows,
And tossed the colts’ manes all about their brows,
Till offended at such a familiar salute,
They all turned their backs and stood silently mute.

So on it went, capering and playing its pranks;
Whistling with reeds on the broad river banks;
Puffing the birds, as they sat on a spray,
Or the travelers grave on the king’s highway.
It was not too nice to bustle the bags
Of the beggar, and flutter his dirty rags.
’Twas so bold that it feared not to play its joke
With the doctor’s wig, and the gentleman’s cloak.
Through the forest it roared, and cried gayly, “Now,
You sturdy old oaks, I’ll make you bow!”
And it made them bow without more ado,
Or it cracked their great branches through and through.

Then it rushed like a monster o’er cottage and farm,
Striking their inmates with sudden alarm;
And they ran out like bees in a midsummer swarm.
There were dames with kerchiefs tied over their caps,
To see if their poultry were free from mishaps.
The turkeys they gobbled, the geese screamed aloud,
And the hens crept to roost in a terrified crowd;
There was rearing of ladders, and logs laying on,
Where the thatch from the roof threatened soon to be gone.
But the wind had passed on, and had met in a lane
With a schoolboy, who panted and struggled in vain,
For it tossed him, and twirled him, then passed, and he stood
With his hat in a pool and his shoe in the mud.


- William Howitt

Beckoning.


Revolution. Secrets. An Unforgettable Adventure.

America is on the brink of war with England, and Fin Button is about to come undone. She’s had it with the dull life of the orphanage, and she’s ready to marry Peter and get away from rules, chores, and a life looked after by the ever-watchful Sister Hilde. But an unexpected friendship forms between Fin and the fiddle-playing cook, Bartimaeus, which sets her on a course for revolution.

With Bart’s beloved fiddle and haunting blunderbuss as her only possessions, Fin discovers her first taste of freedom as a sailor aboard the Rattlesnake. She’s hiding some dark secrets, but there are bigger problems for the crew—they are on the run from the Royal Navy, and whispers of mutiny are turning the captain into a tyrant.

When Fin finally returns home, will she find Peter still waiting, or will she find that she’s lost everything she once held dear?


Read the rest here.

More here ...

... and here.

Thank you, Abigail.

The Bears.

As I made my way home the other night, I was given the gift of driving into the Big Dipper. From Granville to Appleton on Loudon Street, the constellation was largely looming about 20 degrees above the northern horizon. I was heading right for it. Neat.

Here's a fun way to locate Ursa Major.

The Big and Little Dippers are opposed in the sky, so once you have located Polaris, you will have an easy time locating "The Bears."

Where is the Big Dipper at nightfall and early evening? At this time of year, the most famous star pattern visible from this hemisphere – the Big Dipper – lurks low in the north during the evening hours. To find the Big Dipper’s place in the sky, remember the phrase: spring up and fall down. That’s because the Big Dipper shines way high in the sky on spring evenings but close to the horizon in autumn.

Earth & Sky has more here.

Professor Black continues our education below ...

Blazes.

Autumn Fires

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!


Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.


Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!


- Robert Louis Stevenson

29 October 2010

Willing.

Holbein, Erasmus

It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is.
- Erasmus

Startled.


All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks.

Winslow Homer, Casting A Rise

The Sun will not rise or set without my notice and thanks. I thank the Lord for the opportunity for reflection.
- Winslow Homer

27 October 2010

500 years.

Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do. Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.
- Edgar Degas

25 October 2010

22 October 2010

Connected.


The liberal arts model treats all areas of study as leading toward wisdom. Thus, all subject areas (not just Business Ethics 101) address the questions “How should I live my life?” and “What are my obligations toward my fellow man and how can I fulfill them?” Many of the world’s problems (poverty, disease, the environment) are not a single problem, but a complex web of factors. The liberal arts offer the Millennials a systematic, yet intertwined, approach to the social ills they long to solve.

Furthermore, this approach to knowledge is inherently relational—it treats areas of knowledge as interrelated, rather than sharply divided into unrelated disciplines. It also encourages application of knowledge to human relationships. Thus, it lends itself to dialogue in the classroom.


Read the rest here.

Thank you, Cultural Offering.

Barn.

Happy Birthday, D-wight Lightnin'.

Lost.


Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That's where the most important things come from, where you came from, and where you will go ... The things we want are transformative, and we don't know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration -- how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of self into unknown territory. How do you calculate upon the unforeseen? It seems to be an art of recognizing the role of the unforeseen, of keeping balance amid surprises, of collaborating with chance, of recognizing that there are essential mysteries in the world and thereby a limit to calculation, to plan, to control. To calculate on the unforeseen is perhaps exactly the paradoxical operation that life requires of us.

That thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost.

- Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Conquerors of the useless.

The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life ... it's so easy to make it complex.
- Yvon Chouinard

More from Woodshed Films here.

Lynd Ward, "Evening"

Into the peace of these wild things.

I've seen this ...

Lynd Ward


Ward was not only a printer but a bookmaker with "an abiding love for the book as an object" ... What's odd and paradoxical about this booklover is that he does not seem to love words. He doesn't play around with them, and the few words he actually allows in his wordless novels.

Read the rest here.

As a kid, Ward's work captivated me in Esther Forbe's Johnny Tremain.

The Rockwell Kent-illustrated volume of Melville's Moby Dick should be on your shelf.

Brilliancy.



Thanks, Jess.

Unexplainable.


Fairy tales challenge the reader to imagine magical worlds different from our own. We are reminded by the fairy tale of the thing we never should have forgotten — that our world might have been different and is magical the way it is: unexplainable, unpredictable, wild, and surprising. With our imaginations awakened, we can see with new eyes our own world filled with wonder once again.

Abigail provides further Chesterton insight here.

Here she wanders about with Silas ...

Time.

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can't see what's 'round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend



Pacing The Cage

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it's pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I've proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip's worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It's as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you'll wind up
Pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can't see what's round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage

- Bruce Cockburn

20 October 2010

Phraseless.


From The Wind, by Emily Dickinson

Of all the sounds dispatched abroad,
There's not a charge to me
Like that old measure in the boughs,
That phraseless melody

The wind does, working like a hand
Whose fingers brush the sky,
Then quiver down, with tufts of tune
Permitted gods and me.


It's howlin' like a banshee out there ... what a night.

Robert Plant, "Song To The Siren"

One of my all-time favorites ... singer and song. Plant's interpretation is sublime. Bryan Ferry's new release features this poetry with an incredible line up.

Long afloat on shipless oceans
I did all my best to smile
'til your singing eyes and fingers
Drew me loving to your isle
And you sang
Sail to me
Sail to me
Let me enfold you
Here I am
Here I am
Waiting to hold you

Did I dream you dreamed about me?
Were you hare when I was fox?
Now my foolish boat is leaning
Broken lovelorn on your rocks,
For you sing, 'touch me not, touch me not, come back tomorrow:
O my heart, o my heart shies from the sorrow'

I am puzzled as the newborn child
I am troubled at the tide:
Should I stand amid the breakers?
Should I lie with death my bride?
Hear me sing, 'swim to me, swim to me, let me enfold you:
Here I am, here I am, waiting to hold you'

- Tim Buckley

Romance of the Unusual.


Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the Unusual.
- Ernest Hemingway

Feel small.


The scale of the universe ... and we are here ... now.

Happy Birthday, Wren.

The architect of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Christopher Wren, was born on this day in 1632.

A sense of scale is appreciated in the illustration below, in comparing St. Paul's with Wren's other London works.

The architect issued the following order prohibiting swearing among the laborers of the cathedral. I believe that I'll nail a copy of this to the tree on our school's playground ... ok, and leave one in my car.
It is ordered, that customary swearing shall be a sufficient crime to dismiss any laborer that comes to the call; and the clerk of the works, upon sufficient proof, shall dismiss them accordingly. And if any master, working by task, shall not, upon admonition, reform this profanation among his apprentices, servants, and laborers, it shall be construed his fault; and he shall be liable to be censured by the commissioners.

Wren also designed beehives.

Wren’s choice of an octagonal shape for his wooden hive was intended to create an environment similar to what the bees naturally preferred. Wild bees tended to inhabit hollow trees, and the octagonal hive was thought to be the closest approximation to a hollow tree trunk that could be made from boards. Moreover, bees cluster in a ball around the queen bee during the winter to keep her warm, and the shape of an octagonal hive was believed a better fit for the cluster.

For more, buzz on here to one of my favorite sites, Wonders & Marvels.

Steve has more here.

Look.

The BBC has done it again ...