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 January 2013

Silence.


All Profound things, and emotions of things are preceded and attended by Silence…Silence is the general consecration of the Universe. Silence is the invisible laying on of the Divine Pontiff’s hands upon the world. Silence is at once the most harmless and the most awful thing in all Nature. It speaks of the Reserved Forces of Fate. Silence is the only Voice of our God.

- Hermann Melville

Bear by Vincent Munier.

Dialogue.


Seated by my fireside, solitary & sad, the following dialogue took place between my Head & my Heart ...

Tao.


The Tao of Harrison ... the outdoors, serious meals, admirable bottoms, humor, good books.

Read the rest here.

Martin Hayes: From Clare to Here

One of my favorite fiddlers ...

Part 1



Part 2



Part 3



Part 4



Martin's site is here.

29 January 2013

David Gilmour, "Smile"

Elated.

Kent, Hail and Farewell, 1930


In A Glass of Cider

It seemed I was a mite of sediment
That waited for the bottom to ferment
So I could catch a bubble in ascent.
I rode up on one till the bubble burst,
And when that left me to sink back reversed
I was no worse off than I was at first.
I'd catch another bubble if I waited.
The thing was to get now and then elated.


- Robert Frost

Innovation.

Sir Ken Robinson's new, insightful, and entertaining talk to educators entitled "Building a Culture of Innovation" ...

Habits.

Curtis, Fishing, 1908


How to Create Habit Investments
It’s a fairly simple process that you can repeat with various types of habit investments:
  1. Pick something desirable. If you repeatedly do this activity, what will it grow into? Is that what you want?
  2. Do just a minute or two of it. You can’t build it all up in the next few days. That’s a good recipe for failure. Just do 1-2 minutes of it today. Smile as you do it.
  3. Set a daily reminder. Let’s say you want to do it every day at about 6:30 a.m. Set a reminder for that time, and make it a priority to do it each day, just for a minute or two.
  4. Watch it grow. If you just do it repeatedly, it will grow. Don’t force it. Keep the repeated activity as small as possible for as long as you can if you want it to grow (it sounds paradoxical, but it works).
Read the rest at zenhabits.

Tahquamenon.

Marcelo Galizio kayaks over the U.P.'s Tahquamenon Falls. As a kid, I almost did this ... involuntarily. 

Pretty neat ...



Thanks, Yooper Steez.

28 January 2013

Gary Wright, "Love is Alive"

Colin Hay and Billy Squier, backing vocals ... all skate.

Happy birthday, Pollock.

Pollock, White Light (detail), 1954


Jackson Pollock was born on this date in 1912.

There is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end.

- Jackson Pollock



Thank you, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

27 January 2013

Beirut, "The Rip Tide"

Soon the waves and I found the rolling tide ...



Thank you, Jess.

Excite.

Friedrich, Monk by the Sea, 1810


What is required is sight and insight -- then, you might add one more: excite.

- Robert Frost

Hope.


Mozart is as good an excuse for mankind's existence as we shall ever encounter and is perhaps, after all, a still small hope for our ultimate survival.

- H.C. Robbins Landon

David Macaulay: Make It Clear and Make It Matter

The Way David Macaulay Works: Finding Ideas, Making Books, and Visualizing Our World

Francis D.K. Ching: Seeing. Thinking. Drawing.

Mozart, Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra in E-flat major, K. 364 (320d)

Itzhak Perlman (violin) and Pinchas Zukerman (viola) perform with the Israel Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta ...

Mozart, "The Magic Flute"

James Levine conducts the Metropolitan Opera ...

Mozart Mystique.

Peter Ustinov narrates this documentary from 1990 ...

Happy birthday, Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on this date in 1756.

Mitsuko Uchida performs and conducts the piece that first attracted me to Mozart, the "Romanze" from the 20th Piano Concerto ...

Possible.


Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. 

- Thich Nhat Hanh

26 January 2013

Full.

Thin Lizzy, "Dancing In The Moonlight"

Paul Winter Consort, "North Fork Wolves"

Relation.

Bierstadt, Yosemite Campfire, 1873


No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of æsthetic, not merely historical, criticism. The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not one-sided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art toward the whole are readjusted; and this is conformity between the old and the new. Whoever has approved this idea of order, of the form of European, of English literature, will not find it preposterous that the past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past. And the poet who is aware of this will be aware of great difficulties and responsibilities.

- T.S. Eliot

Primal.


Patent and ingrained cultural associations aside, there is something primal and arresting about the moon.  By turns an eye, mirror, portal, skull, floodlight, face, mask, sickle, cradle, the moon has a potent hold on us.  For one thing, by absorbing and then reflecting light originating from a distant source, the moon allows us to gaze directly into an elsewhere in a way that would otherwise be unavailable to us.  This contributes to a sense of immensity, sublimity, and mystery. 

Read the rest at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Starbuck, "Moonlight Feels Right"

All skate, all skate ...

Journey.

The Rosebery.

April Bloomfield.

Bloomfield, Beef & Stilton Pie, Undated


April's website is here.

Her Tumblr is here.

Jess, I believe we need to add another stump around the fire.

Appetite.

Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver discuss the virtuous circle of appetite.  Don't miss Fergus discussing ritual at the 9:30 mark ...

Praise.


The Clean Plater

Some singers sing of ladies' eyes,
And some of ladies lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And course ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English Verse
Is lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or less
Preoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.
Food,
Yes, food,
Just any old kind of food.
Pheasant is pleasant, of course,
And terrapin, too, is tasty,
Lobster I freely endorse,
In pate or patty or pasty.
But there's nothing the matter with butter,
And nothing the matter with jam,
And the warmest greetings I utter
To the ham and the yam and the clam.
For they're food,
All food,
And I think very fondly of food.
Through I'm broody at times
When bothered by rhymes,
I brood
On food.
Some painters paint the sapphire sea,
And some the gathering storm.
Others portray young lambs at play,
But most, the female form.
“Twas trite in that primeval dawn
When painting got its start,
That a lady with her garments on
Is Life, but is she Art?
By undraped nymphs
I am not wooed;
I'd rather painters painted food.
Food,
Just food,
Just any old kind of food.
Go purloin a sirloin, my pet,
If you'd win a devotion incredible;
And asparagus tips vinaigrette,
Or anything else that is edible.
Bring salad or sausage or scrapple,
A berry or even a beet.
Bring an oyster, an egg, or an apple,
As long as it's something to eat.
If it's food,
It's food;
Never mind what kind of food.
When I ponder my mind
I consistently find
It is glued
On food.


- Ogden Nash

Knows.


The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

- William Shakespeare

Source.

Hiroshige II, Kites of Fukuroi, 1859


I am proud of my heart alone, it is the sole source of everything, all strength, happiness, and misery.  All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


For Zuzu.

Happy birthday, MacArthur.


Douglas MacArthur was born on this date in 1880.


Youth is not entirely a time of life it is a state of mind. It is not wholly a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips or supple knees. It is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life. It means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair — these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust. Whatever your years, there is in every being's heart the love of wonder, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite for what next, and the joy and the game of life. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only are you grown old.

- Douglas MacArthur

25 January 2013

Patient.


It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, - is already in our bloodstream. And we don't know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can't say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Puccini, La Bohème, "Quando m'en vo' soletta"

Anna Netrebko performs with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra ...

Scavenger.


Another masterpiece from Keri Smith ...

Within the pages of The Pocket Scavenger, you’ll be instructed to go on an unusual scavenger hunt, collecting a spectrum of random items: something that is miniature, a stain that is green, something from the year you were born, a used envelope, and more. Once your quarry is in hand, you’ll apply an alteration dictated solely by chance: create a funny character, make it into a building, conceal it, add polkadots, remove a section, add stripes, scribble on top, fold, turn into an article of clothing, make it “pretty,” and so on.

The results: you’ll be forced out of habitual ways of thinking or acting, discover new connections, and try things you might not have done on your own, creating a version of The Pocket Scavenger that is unique, dependent on time, place, experience, and you.


Coming in May from Penguin.

Happy birthday, Harwell.



Ernie Harwell was born on this date in 1918.

Happy Birthday, Burns.


Robert Burns was born on this date in 1759.

The Burns Supper is an institution of Scottish life: a night to celebrate the life and works of the national Bard. Suppers can range from an informal gathering of friends to a huge, formal dinner full of pomp and circumstance.

Read the rest about Burns Night at BBC.

Jim Malcolm does Burns' "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose" ...


24 January 2013

Strategy.


Strategy will compensate the talent. The talent will never compensate the strategy.

- Marco Pierre White

Certainties.


Like other Americans who are unsure who they are, I take a firm hold of the certainties of where I am from.  I can say that a good part of my private and social character, the kinds of scenery and weather and people and humor I respond to, the prejudices I wear like dishonorable scars, the affections that sometimes waken me from middle-aged sleep with a rush of undiminished love, the virtues I respect and the weaknesses I condemn, the code I try to live by, the special ways I fail at it and the kind of shame I feel when I do, the models and heroes I follow, the colors and shapes that evoke my deepest pleasure, the way I adjudicate between personal desire and personal responsibility, have been in good part scored into me by that little womb-village and the lovely, lonely exposed prairie of the homestead.

- Wallace Stegner

A million thanks, Jess.  I love this!

23 January 2013

Courage.

Rinehart, Omaha Dance Bonnet & Scalp Lock, 1898


When you are in doubt, be still, and wait; when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage. So long as mists envelop you, be still; be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists -- as it surely will. Then act with courage.

- White Eagle

ZZ TOP, "Blue Jean Blues"

I could tell that they was mine from the oil and the gasoline ...

Stare.



It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. 
Pry, listen eavesdrop. 
Die knowing something. 
You are not here long. 

- Walker Evans

Thank you, Lorna.

Inquiry.


Faith in the possibilities of continued and rigorous inquiry does not limit access to truth to any channel or scheme of things. It does not first say that truth is universal and then add there is but one road to it.

- John Dewey

Fight.


What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me … is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

- Ira Glass

22 January 2013

Rough.


Another charm this room has, that through its south window you not only catch a glimpse of the Thames clover meadows and the pretty little elm-crowned hill over in Berkshire, but if you sit in the proper place, you can see not only the barn aforesaid with its beautiful sharp gable, the grey stone sheds, and the dove cot, but also the flank of the earlier house and its little gables and grey-scaled roofs, and this is a beautiful outlook indeed. Mr. New will, I am sure, give you a good idea of this - at least as much of it as the limits of his drawing will admit. The chimney-piece of this room is of stone, and of the date of the later work; again it is good after its rough country fashion; and in the middle of it, surrounded by a mantling by no means in-elegant, is the coat-armour of the Turners, argent, a cross ermine, four mill-rhinds sable. A mill-rhind by the way is that thing in which the spindle turns: hence the charge, which makes a piece of `canting heraldry,' as `tis called in French, armes parlantes.

- William Morris

Read the rest of "Gossip About An Old House On The Upper Thames" here.

Retrace.

Journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is undertaking an ambitious expedition to retrace on foot the path our ancient ancestors traveled as they migrated across the world. Equipped only with what he can carry in his backpack, Paul's goal is to cover the major global stories of our time by walking alongside the people who live them on a daily basis: cattle nomads, artists, traders, villagers, farmers, and scientists. The end result? A global mosaic of stories, faces, sounds and landscapes that highlight the pathways that connect us to each other.



The official Out of Eden website is here.

Thanks, Jess.

Brahms, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, Op. 77

Viktoria Mullova performs with the Russian National Orchestra, beginning at 4:49 ...



I think the best thing about this is that it is so good to see that Todd Cleary has made something of himself ... conducting the RNO.

Opportunity.

Karr, Milkweed Spiral, 2013


I passed so many vacant acres and looked past them to so many more vacant acres and looked ahead and behind at the empty road and up at the empty sky; the sheer bigness of the world made me feel lonely to the bone.  The world is so huge that people are always getting lost in it. There are too many ideas and things and people, too many directions to go.  I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageble size.  It makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility.  If I had been an orchid hunter I would have seen it as acres of opportunity where the things I loved were waiting to be found.  

Susan Orlean

Thank you, Jess.

Jack London, "To Build A Fire"


He plunged in among the big spruce trees. The trail was faint. A foot of snow had fallen since the last sled had passed over, and he was glad he was without a sled, travelling light. In fact, he carried nothing but the lunch wrapped in the handkerchief. He was surprised, however, at the cold. It certainly was cold, he concluded, as he rubbed his numb nose and cheek-bones with his mittened hand. He was a warm-whiskered man, but the hair on his face did not protect the high cheek-bones and the eager nose that thrust itself aggressively into the frosty air.


At the man's heels trotted a dog, a big native husky, the proper wolf-dog, gray-coated and without any visible or temperamental difference from its brother, the wild wolf. The animal was depressed by the tremendous cold. It knew that it was no time for travelling. Its instinct told it a truer tale than was told to the man by the man's judgment. In reality, it was not merely colder than fifty below zero; it was colder than sixty below, than seventy below. It was seventy-five below zero. Since the freezing-point is thirty-two above zero, it meant that one hundred and seven degrees of frost obtained. The dog did not know anything about thermometers. Possibly in its brain there was no sharp consciousness of a condition of very cold such as was in the man's brain. But the brute had its instinct. It experienced a vague but menacing apprehension that subdued it and made it slink along at the man's heels, and that made it question eagerly every unwonted movement of the man as if expecting him to go into camp or to seek shelter somewhere and build a fire. The dog had learned fire, and it wanted fire, or else to burrow under the snow and cuddle its warmth away from the air.

Read the rest here.
An adaptation, narrated by Orson Welles ...

Great.


The Joy of Little Things

It's good the great green earth to roam,
Where sights of awe the soul inspire;
But oh, it's best, the coming home,
The crackle of one's own hearth-fire!
You've hob-nobbed with the solemn Past;
You've seen the pageantry of kings;
Yet oh, how sweet to gain at last
The peace and rest of Little Things!

Perhaps you're counted with the Great;
You strain and strive with mighty men;
Your hand is on the helm of State;
Colossus-like you stride . . . and then
There comes a pause, a shining hour,
A dog that leaps, a hand that clings:
O Titan, turn from pomp and power;
Give all your heart to Little Things.

Go couch you childwise in the grass,
Believing it's some jungle strange,
Where mighty monsters peer and pass,
Where beetles roam and spiders range.
'Mid gloom and gleam of leaf and blade,
What dragons rasp their painted wings!
O magic world of shine and shade!
O beauty land of Little Things!

I sometimes wonder, after all,
Amid this tangled web of fate,
If what is great may not be small,
And what is small may not be great.
So wondering I go my way,
Yet in my heart contentment sings . . .
O may I ever see, I pray,
God's grace and love in Little Things.

So give to me, I only beg,
A little roof to call my own,
A little cider in the keg,
A little meat upon the bone;
A little garden by the sea,
A little boat that dips and swings . . .
Take wealth, take fame, but leave to me,
O Lord of Life, just Little Things.


- Robert W. Service

Patterns.



Perhaps what most distinguishes us humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ravenous desire to find structure in the information we pick up in the world. We cannot help actively searching for patterns — any hook in the data that will aid our performance and understanding. We constantly look for regularities in every facet of our lives, and there are few limits to what we can learn and improve on as we make these discoveries. 

Read the rest at Brain Pickings.

Get a copy of Daniel Bor's book, The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning, here.

Bor's site is here.

21 January 2013

Nifty.

Damien Brunner lights the lamp with a nifty move in the overtime shootout to give the Wings a 4-3 win over Stinger ...

Michigan.

For in their interflowing aggregate, those grand fresh-water seas of ours,--Erie, and Ontario, and Huron, and Superior, and Michigan,--possess an ocean-like expansiveness, with many of the ocean's noblest traits; with many of its rimmed varieties of races and climes. They contain round archipelagoes of romantic isles, even as the Polynesian water do; in large part, are shored by two great contrasting nations, as the Atlantic is; they furnish long maritime approaches to our numerous territorial colonies from the East, dotted all round their banks; here and there are frowned upon by batteries, and by the goat-like craggy guns of Mackinaw; they have heard the fleet thunderings of naval victories; at intervals, they have yield their beaches to wild barbarians, whose red painted faces flash from out their pelty wigwams; for leagues and leagues are flanked by ancient and unentered forests, where the gaunt pines stand like serried lines of kings in Gothic genealogies; those same woods harboring wild Afric beasts of prey, and silken creatures whose exported furs gives robes to Tartar Emperors; they mirror the paved capitals of Buffalo and Cleveland, as well as Winnebago villages; they float alike the full-rigged merchant ship, the armed cruiser of the State, the steamer, and the birch canoe; they are swept by Borean and dismasting blasts as direful as any that lash the salted wave; they know what shipwrecks are, for out of sight of land, however inland, they have drowned full many a midnight ship with all its shrieking crew.

- Herman Melville