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 March 2013

Vital.


How does life build the vital currents that we live from? Where does the magnetic force that pulls me toward this friend's house originate? What are the essential moments that made this presence into a vital pole for me? What are the secret events that mold particular affections and, through them, love of country? How little stir the real miracles cause! How simple are the most vital events! There is so little to say about the instant I want to recall that I have to relive it in a dream and speak to this friend.

- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Grace.


All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by laws analogous to those of physical gravity. Grace is the only exception. Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void. The imagination is continually at work filling up all the fissures through which grace might pass.

The man who has known pure joy, if only for a moment, is the only man for whom affliction is something devastating. At the same time he is the only man who has not deserved the punishment. But, after all, for him it is no punishment; it is God holding his hand and pressing rather hard. For, if he remains constant, what he will discover buried deep under the sound of his own lamentations is the pearl of the silence of God.

Simone Weil

Händel, Messiah

Händel's Messiah was originally an Easter tradition: the work was conceived as a sacred oratorio so that it could be performed during Lent, during which there was a papal ban on "spectacles" (opera). In 1743, Händel gave the London premiere of Messiah at Covent Garden Theatre, establishing a springtime (Lenten) concert series that he would hold annually until the end of his life.

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen ...

Part 1 ...


Part 2 ...


Resurrected.

Caravaggio, Christ Resurrected, 1620


John 20

1: Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2: So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." 3: Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 4: They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; 5: and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6: Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, 7: and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8: Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9: for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10: Then the disciples went back to their homes.

11: But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; 12: and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13: They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." 14: Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15: Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 16: Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rab-bo'ni!" (which means Teacher). 17: Jesus said to her, "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." 18: Mary Mag'dalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

30 March 2013

Everlastingly

Waterhouse, Study for Boreas, 1902


It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;
The gentleness of heaven broods o'er the Sea;
Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder—everlastingly.
Dear child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year;
And worshipp'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.

- William Wordsworth

Happy birthday, Clapton.

Eric Clapton was born on this date in 1945.

"Same Old Blues"



Still ...?



Yup.

Bruce Molsky, "Drunkard's Hiccups/Picking The Devil's Eye"

Gonna eat when I'm hungry
Gonna drink when I'm dry
Get to feelin' much better
Gonna sprout wings and fly 


Happy birthday, van Gogh.

van Gogh, Self-portrait, 1887


Vincent van Gogh was born on this date in 1853.

You can't be at the Pole and at the Equator at the same time. You must choose your own line, as I hope to do. I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate. 

- Vincent van Gogh

Freedom.

Rien Poortvliet, Morning Field, 1975



Imagination sees the complete reality, it is where past, present and future meet. Imagination is limited neither to the reality which is apparent, nor to one place. It lives everywhere. It is at a centre and feels the vibrations of all the circles within which east and west are virtually included. Imagination is the life of mental freedom. It realizes what everything is in its many aspects. Imagination does not uplift: we don't want to be uplifted, we want to be more completely aware.

- Kahlil Gibran

29 March 2013

Van Morrison, "Rave On, John Donne/Did Ye Get Healed?"

Verlander.


Justin Verlander casually mentioned in January how cool it would be to spend his entire career in a Tigers uniform. He took one big step toward doing that on Friday.
The Tigers, meanwhile, took care of their biggest contract question for the rest of the decade. With a five-year contract extension, they can keep Verlander in a Detroit uniform through at least 2019, and perhaps through 2020.
Terms of the contract were not revealed by the Tigers. ESPN's Buster Olney reported that Verlander will make $28 million each season from 2015-2019, the years of the extension. A vesting option for 2020 is reportedly worth $22 million.
Aerosmith, "Train Kept A Rollin'"

Grace.

Lambardos, Christ Crucified, 1613


Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward


Let mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,
The intelligence that moves, devotion is,
And as the other Spheares, by being growne
Subject to forraigne motion, lose their owne,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a yeare their naturall forme obey:
Pleasure or businesse, so, our Soules admit
For their first mover, and are whirld by it.
Hence is't, that I am carryed towards the West
This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.
There I should see a Sunne, by rising set,
And by that setting endlesse day beget;
But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,
Sinne had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for mee.
Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;
What a death were it then to see God dye?
It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,
It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.
Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,
And tune all spheares at once peirc'd with those holes?
Could I behold that endlesse height which is
Zenith to us, and our Antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood which is
The seat of all our Soules, if not of his,
Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worne
By God, for his apparell, rag'd, and torne?
If on these things I durst not looke, durst I
Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye,
Who was Gods partner here, and furnish'd thus
Halfe of that Sacrifice, which ransom'd us?
Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye,
They'are present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them; and thou look'st towards mee,
O Saviour, as thou hang'st upon the tree;
I turne my backe to thee, but to receive
Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.
O thinke mee worth thine anger, punish mee,
Burne off my rusts, and my deformity,
Restore thine Image, so much, by thy grace,
That thou may'st know mee, and I'll turne my face.

- John Donne

Connections.

Leonardo, Codex Atlanticus (detail), 1503


I first learned of this “connecting the unconnected” thinking process from Leonardo Da Vinci who wrote how he “connected the unconnected” to get his creative inspiration in his notebooks. He wrote about this strategy in a mirror-image reversed script secret handwriting which he taught himself. To read his handwriting, you have to use a mirror. It was his way of protecting his thinking strategy from prying eyes. He suggested that you will find inspiration for marvelous ideas if you look into the stains of walls, or ashes of a fire, or the shape of clouds or patterns in mud or in similar places. He would imagine seeing trees, battles, landscapes, figures with lively movements, etc… and then excite his mind by forcing connections between the subjects and events he imagined and his subject.

Da Vinci would even sometimes throw a paint-filled sponge against the wall and contemplate the stains. Once while thinking of new ways to transport people, he threw a paint-filled sponge against the wall which produced a scattering of irregular shapes. Trying to make sense out of the meaningless shapes, he imagined one group of shapes to resemble a rider on a horse. He perceived the bottom half of the horse’s feet as resembling two wheels. Thinking of a horse on wheels, then of a structure that resembles a horse on wheels he realized people could be transported on two wheels and a frame that resembles a horse. Hence, the bicycle which he invented.

The metaphors that Leonardo formed by forcing connections between two totally unrelated subjects moved his imagination with a vengeance. Once he was standing by a well and noticed a stone hit the water at the same moment that a bell went off in a nearby church tower. He noticed the stone caused circles until they spread and disappeared. By simultaneously concentrating on the circles in the water and the sound of the bell, he made the connection that led to his discovery that sound travels in waves. This kind of tremendous insight could only happen through a connection between sight and sound made by the imagination.

Da Vinci’s knack to make remote connections was certainly at the basis of Leonardo’s genius to form analogies between totally different systems. He associated the movement of water with the movement of human hair, thus becoming the first person to illustrate in extraordinary detail the many invisible subtleties of water in motion. His observations led to the discovery of a fact of nature which came to be called the Law of Continuity.
When your attention is focused on a subject, a few patterns are highly activated in your brain and dominate your thinking. These patterns produce only predictable ideas no matter how hard you try. In fact, the harder you try, the stronger the same patterns become. If, however, you change your focus and think about something that is not related, different, unusual patterns are activated.
Da Vinci discovered that the human brain cannot deliberately concentrate on two separate objects or ideas, no matter how dissimilar, without eventually forming a connection between them. No two inputs can remain separate in your mind no matter how remote they are from each other. In tetherball, a ball is fastened to a slender cord suspended from the top of a pole. Players bat the ball around the pole, attempting to wind its cord around the pole above a certain point. Obviously, a tethered ball on a long string is able to move in many different directions, but it cannot get away from the pole. If you whack at it long enough, eventually you will wind the cord around the pole. This is a closed system. Like the tetherball, if you focus on two subjects for a period of time, you will see relationships and connections that will trigger new ideas and thoughts that you cannot get using your usual way of thinking.

Perceptions.

O'Keeffe, Shell and Old Shingle, No. VII, 1926


All our knowledge has its origin in our perceptions.

- Leonardo da Vinci

Observation.


Powers of observation can be developed by cultivating the habit of watching things with an active, enquiring mind. It is no exaggeration to say that well developed habits of observation are more important in research than large accumulations of academic learning.

CONNECT.

Serpent.

Singing.


A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, A Loaf of Bread—and Thou
   Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

- Omar Khayyám

Thanks, Jess, Will, and John.

Wildness.

In wildness is the preservation of the world.

- Henry David Thoreau

28 March 2013

Billy Bragg, "No One Knows Nothing Anymore"

Coyote.

Thompson, Their Evening Song, 1900


A Zuni Legend

Coyote is a bad hunter who never kills anything. Once he watched Eagle hunting rabbits, catching one after another - more rabbits than he could eat.

Coyote thought, "I'll team up with Eagle so I can have enough meat." Coyote is always up to something.

"Friend," Coyote said to Eagle, "we should hunt together. Two can catch more than one."

"Why not?" Eagle said, and so they began to hunt in partnership. Eagle caught many rabbits, but all Coyote caught was some little bugs.

At this time the world was still dark; the sun and moon had not yet been put in the sky.

"Friend," Coyote said to Eagle, "no wonder I can't catch anything; I can't see. Do you know where we can get some light?"

"You're right, friend, there should be some light," Eagle said. "I think there's a little toward the West. Let's try and find it."

And so they went looking for the sun and moon. They came to a big river, which Eagle flew over. Coyote swam, and swallowed so much water that he almost drowned.

He crawled out with his fur full of mud, and Eagle asked, "Why don't you fly like me?"

"You have wings, I just have hair," Coyote said. "I can't fly without feathers."

At last they came to a pueblo, where the Kachinas happened to be dancing. The people invited Eagle and Coyote to sit down and have something to eat while they watched the sacred dances.

Seeing the power of the Kachinas, Eagle said, "I believe these are the people who have light."

Coyote, who had been looking all around, pointed out two boxes, one large and one small, that the people opened whenever they wanted light. To produce a lot of light, they opened the lid of the big box, which contained the sun. For less light they opened the small box, which held the moon.

Coyote nudged Eagle. "Friend, did you see that? They have all the light we need in the big box. Let's steal it."

"You always want to steal and rob. I say we should just borrow it."

"They won't lend it to us."

"You may be right," said Eagle. "Let's wait till they finish dancing and then steal it."

After a while the Kachinas went home to sleep, and Eagle scooped up the large box and flew off. Coyote ran along trying to keep up, panting, his tongue hanging out.

Soon he yelled up to Eagle, "Ho, friend, let me carry the box a little way."

"No, no," said Eagle, "you never do anything right."

He flew on, and Coyote ran after him.

After a while Coyote shouted again: "Friend, you're my chief, and it's not right for you to carry the box; people will call me lazy. Let me have it."

"No, no, you always mess everything up."

And Eagle flew on and Coyote ran along.

So it went for a stretch, and then Coyote started again.

"Ho, friend, it isn't right for you to do this. What will people think of you and me?"

"I don't care what people think. I'm going to carry this box."

Again Eagle flew on and again Coyote ran after him.

Finally Coyote begged for the fourth time: "Let me carry it. You're the chief, and I'm just Coyote. Let me carry it."

Eagle couldn't stand any more pestering. Also, Coyote had asked him four times, and if someone asks four times, you better give him what he wants.
Eagle said, "Since you won't let up on me, go ahead and carry the box for a while. But promise not to open it."

"Oh, sure, oh yes, I promise."

They went on as before, but now Coyote had the box. Soon Eagle was far ahead, and Coyote lagged behind a hill where Eagle couldn't see him.

"I wonder what the light looks like, inside there," he said to himself. "Why shouldn't I take a peek? Probably there's something extra in the box, something good that Eagle wants to keep to himself."

And Coyote opened the lid. Now, not only was the sun inside, but the moon also. Eagle had put them both together, thinking that it would be easier to carry one box than two.

As soon as Coyote opened the lid, the moon escaped, flying high into the sky. At once all the plants shriveled up and turned brown. Just as quickly, all the leaves fell off the trees, and it was winter.

Trying to catch the moon and put it back in the box, Coyote ran in pursuit as it skipped away from him.

Meanwhile the sun flew out and rose into the sky. It drifted far away, and the peaches, squashes, and melons shriveled up with cold.

Eagle turned and flew back to see what had delayed Coyote.

"You fool! Look what you've done!" he said. "You let the sun and moon escape, and now it's cold."

Indeed, it began to snow, and Coyote shivered.

"Now your teeth are chattering," Eagle said. "and it's your fault that cold has come into the world."

It's true. If it weren't for Coyote's curiosity and mischief making, we wouldn't have winter; we could enjoy summer all the time.

Thank you, Coyote.

Vastness.

Piccolomini, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, 1579


Now in the West the slender moon lies low,
And now Orion glimmers through the trees,
Clearing the earth with even pace and slow,
And now the stately-moving Pleiades,
In that soft infinite darkness overhead
Hang jewel-wise upon a silver thread.

And all the lonelier stars that have their place,
Calm lamps within the distant southern sky,
And planet-dust upon the edge of space,
Look down upon the fretful world, and I
Look up to outer vastness unafraid
And see the stars which sang when earth was made.

- Marjorie Pickthall

Dreams.


In my sky at twilight you are like a cloud
and your form and colour are the way I love them.
You are mine, mine, woman with sweet lips
and in your life my infinite dreams live.

The lamp of my soul dyes your feet,
the sour wine is sweeter on your lips,
oh reaper of my evening song,
how solitary dreams believe you to be mine!

You are mine, mine, I go shouting it to the afternoon's
wind, and the wind hauls on my widowed voice.
Huntress of the depth of my eyes, your plunder
stills your nocturnal regard as though it were water.

You are taken in the net of my music, my love,
and my nets of music are wide as the sky.
My soul is born on the shore of your eyes of mourning.
In your eyes of mourning the land of dreams begin.


- Pablo Neruda

Still.


Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
         Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
         Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
         Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
         Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
         Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
         Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

- John Keats

Express.

Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1918


I don't see why we ever think of what others think of what we do -- no matter who they are. Isn't it enough just to express yourself?

- Georgia O'Keeffe

27 March 2013

Bing Crosby, "I Wished On The Moon"

"It's Hardly Ever Like That"

Jazz & Fly Fishing's latest ...

Without.


The deepest, creative insights usually occur when we relax and let go.

The worst thing we can do as artists is to try too hard. We try too hard in all sorts of ridiculous ways–we set unrealistic goals and deadlines, we set out to make the ultimate “masterpiece,” we compare ourselves to others, and we chastise ourselves when we fail to live up to these lofty standards. In order to make our best work, we have to leave all of this mental baggage at the door and approach the work empty-handed without expectations.

CONNECT.

Prezi.

George Lowe, R.I.P.


George Lowe, the last surviving member of the first successful assault on Mt. Everest, has died at the age of 89.

CONNECT.

Filled.

Shishkin, Forest Landscape, 1890


When I am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

- Mary Oliver

Thanks, Corrine.

Depeche Mode, "Angel"

Hovering,


Italian graffiti writer, painter and sculptor Manuel Di Rita (aka Peeta) lives and works in Venice where since 2000 he has risen to international fame for his unique 3D graffiti style. Using a variety of shading, gradients and shadows his work often appears to be hovering just off the surface on which it is painted. 

CONNECT.

Free.


The Skylark

The rolls and harrows lie at rest beside
The battered road; and spreading far and wide
Above the russet clods, the corn is seen
Sprouting its spiry points of tender green,
Where squats the hare, to terrors wide awake,
Like some brown clod the harrows failed to break.
Opening their golden caskets to the sun,
The buttercups make schoolboys eager run,
To see who shall be first to pluck the prize—
Up from their hurry, see, the skylark flies,
And o'er her half-formed nest, with happy wings
Winnows the air, till in the cloud she sings,
Then hangs a dust-spot in the sunny skies,
And drops, and drops, till in her nest she lies,
Which they unheeded passed—not dreaming then
That birds which flew so high would drop agen
To nests upon the ground, which anything
May come at to destroy. Had they the wing
Like such a bird, themselves would be too proud,
And build on nothing but a passing cloud!
As free from danger as the heavens are free
From pain and toil, there would they build and be,
And sail about the world to scenes unheard
Of and unseen—Oh, were they but a bird!
So think they, while they listen to its song,
And smile and fancy and so pass along;
While its low nest, moist with the dews of morn,
Lies safely, with the leveret, in the corn.

- John Clare

26 March 2013

Possibilities.


Kent, Leaving Nantucket, 1932


Storytelling plays a big role in the process of development. As we tell stories about the lives of others, we learn how to imagine what another creature might feel in response to various events. At the same time, we identify with the other creature and learn something about ourselves. As we grow older, we encounter more and more complex stories — in literature, film, visual art, music — that give us a richer and more subtle grasp of human emotions and of our own inner world. So my second piece of advice, closely related to the first, is: Read a lot of stories, listen to a lot of music, and think about what the stories you encounter mean for your own life and lives of those you love. In that way, you will not be alone with an empty self; you will have a newly rich life with yourself, and enhanced possibilities of real communication with others.

- Martha Nussbaum

CONNECT.

Athrill.

Happy birthday, Frost.



Robert Frost was born on this date in 1874.

Reluctance

Out through the fields and the woods
   And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
   And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
   And lo, it is ended.
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
   Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
   And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
   When others are sleeping.
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
   No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
   The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
   But the feet question ‘Whither?’
Ah, when to the heart of man
   Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
   To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
   Of a love or a season?


- Robert Frost