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 November 2013

Existence.

 Dürer, Hands of an Apostle, 1508


I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite - only a sense of existence.

Henry David Thoreau

26 November 2013

Living.

Wyeth, The Big Oak, Undated


In honor of the release of the latest collection of Brown Dog novellas, it's fitting to review Harrison's "Five Rules for Zestful Living" ...


1. Eat well, of course, avoiding the ninny diets and mincing cuisines that demonize appetite and make unthinkable a tasty snack of hog jowls. We're all going to die. Might as well enjoy a little fat along the way. 
2. Pursue love and sex, no matter discrepancies of desire and age. Romance is worth the humbling. Doing it outdoors on stumps, in clearings and even swarmed by mosquitoes is particularly recommended.
3. Welcome animals, especially bears, ravens and wolves, into your waking and dream life. An acceptance of our common creaturedom is essential not just to the health of the planet but to our ordinary happiness. We are mere participants in natural cycles, not the kings of them.
4. Rather than lighting out for territory, we ought to try living in it.
5. And finally, love the detour. Take the longest route between two points, since the journey is the thing, a notion to which, contaminated by the Zen-fascist slogans of advertising, we all pay lip service but few of us indulge.

25 November 2013

Alive.

Wyeth, Airborne, 1996


... all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see ...

Jack Kerouac

Flavour.

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, "Yalla Yalla"

Virtuosity.



A new photographic campaign has been undertaken, enabling the smallest details to be reproduced on a large scale for the first time. They reveal all the more clearly Caravaggio’s virtuosity and his enormous ability to capture the viewer’s attention and to build a communicative bridge between the worlds of picture and viewer. Sequences of spectacular details grouped by subject allow us to experience Caravaggio’s ingenious rhetoric of looks and gestures and their theatrical staging in paint.

24 November 2013

Stones, "Thief In The Night"

Fly.


I Ask You

What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?

It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside--
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.

But beyond this table
there is nothing that I need,
not even a job that would allow me to row to work,
or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4
with cracked green leather seats.

No, it's all here,
the clear ovals of a glass of water,
a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin,
not to mention the odd snarling fish
in a frame on the wall,
and the way these three candles--
each a different height--
are singing in perfect harmony.

So forgive me
if I lower my head now and listen
to the short bass candle as he takes a solo
while my heart
thrums under my shirt--
frog at the edge of a pond--
and my thoughts fly off to a province
made of one enormous sky
and about a million empty branches. 


Billy Collins


Questo dovrebbe essere perfetto, ma ...

Robert Earl Keen, "Play A Train Song"

Gnudi.

April Bloomfield prepares gnudi for Marcella Hazan.

Learn.


Learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.

T.H. White

Happy birthday, WFB.


William F. Buckley, Jr. was born on this date in 1925.

... solid reason for rejoicing.

Mind.

Piero della Francesca, Blind Cupid, 1466


Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Colour.


Do you know Isaac Newton’s Theory of Colour? Or maybe Goethe’s? We present you with a total of 59 easy-to-understand, richly illustrated colour theories from the Antiquity to modern times: in short, a complete cultural history of colour ...

Grace.


Age Sixty-nine

I keep waiting without knowing 

what I'm waiting for. 
I saw the setting moon at dawn 

roll over the mountain 

and perhaps into the dragon's mouth 

until tomorrow evening.

There is this circle I walk 

that I have learned to love. 
I hope one day to be a spiral 

but to the birds I'm a circle.

A thousand Spaniards died looking 

for gold in a swamp when it was 

in the mountains in clear sight beyond.

Here, though, on local earth my heart 

is at rest as a groundling, letting 

my mind take flight as it will, 

no longer waiting for good or bad news.

Often, lately, the night is a cold maw 

and stars the scattered white teeth of the gods, 

which spare none of us. At dawn I have birds, 

clearly divine messengers that I don't understand 

yet day by day feel the grace of their intentions.

Jim Harrison

Bach, Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041

Ottavio Dantone conducts Accademia Bizantina with Viktoria Mullova, fiddle ...

Merry.


PUCK
How now, spirit! whither wander you?

FAIRY    
Over hill, over dale,
 Thorough bush, thorough brier,
 Over park, over pale,
 Thorough flood, thorough fire,
 I do wander everywhere,
 Swifter than the moon's sphere;
 And I serve the fairy queen,
 To dew her orbs upon the green.
 The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
 In their gold coats spots you see;
 Those be rubies, fairy favours,
 In those freckles live their savours:
 I must go seek some dewdrops here
 And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
 Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I'll be gone:
 Our queen and all our elves come here anon.

PUCK
The king doth keep his revels here to-night:
 Take heed the queen come not within his sight;
 For Oberon is passing fell and wrath,
 Because that she as her attendant hath
 A lovely boy, stolen from an Indian king;
 She never had so sweet a changeling;
 And jealous Oberon would have the child
 Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild;
 But she perforce withholds the loved boy,
 Crowns him with flowers and makes him all her joy:
 And now they never meet in grove or green,
 By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,
 But, they do square, that all their elves for fear
 Creep into acorn-cups and hide them there.

FAIRY
Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
 Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
 Call'd Robin Goodfellow: are not you he
 That frights the maidens of the villagery;
 Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern
 And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
 And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
 Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
 Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
 You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
 Are not you he?

PUCK                  
Thou speak'st aright;
 I am that merry wanderer of the night.
 I jest to Oberon and make him smile
 When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
 Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
 And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
 In very likeness of a roasted crab,
 And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
 And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale.
 The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
 Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
 Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
 And 'tailor' cries, and falls into a cough;
 And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
 And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
 A merrier hour was never wasted there.
 But, room, fairy! here comes Oberon ...

CONNECT

Chance.


... a metaphor for the order we establish in our lives, and how the element of chance enters in to shape the result -- regardless of how much we attempt to structure it.

Jerry Douglas.

22 November 2013

Happy birthday, Carmichael.

Hoagy Carmichael was born on this date in 1899.

From To Have and Have Not ...

Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in D major, RV 208

Giovanni Antonini directs Il Giardino Armonico with Enrico Onofri, fiddle ...

All.

Kuindzhi, Wild Grass, 1875


Today outside your prison I stand
and rattle my walking stick: Prisoners, listen;
you have relatives outside. And there are
thousands of ways to escape.

Years ago I bent my skill to keep my
cell locked, had chains smuggled to me in pies,
and shouted my plans to jailers;
but always new plans occurred to me,
or the new heavy locks bent hinges off,
or some stupid jailer would forget
and leave the keys.

Inside, I dreamed of constellations—
those feeding creatures outlined by stars,
their skeletons a darkness between jewels,
heroes that exist only where they are not.

Thus freedom always came nibbling my thought,
just as—often, in light, on the open hills—
you can pass an antelope and not know
and look back, and then—even before you see—
there is something wrong about the grass.
And then you see.

That’s the way everything in the world is waiting.

Now—these few more words, and then I’m
gone: Tell everyone just to remember
their names, and remind others, later, when we
find each other. Tell the little ones
to cry and then go to sleep, curled up
where they can. And if any of us get lost,
if any of us cannot come all the way—
remember: there will come a time when
all we have said and all we have hoped
will be all right.

There will be that form in the grass.

William E. Stafford

21 November 2013

Montserrat.

Montserrat Figueras performs music from the Borgia Dynasty ...

Shutter.

With each snap of the shutter, our world is increasingly being catalogued by the hordes of photographers roaming the globe ...



CONNECT

Sailor.


You’re a sailor, whose ship has been blown off course. You might have been saved, but you’re bad with birds and shot the magic albatross that was making the winds blow. To the chagrin of your crew, you're stuck again.

CONNECT

Give.


Bear

Bear died standing up,
paws on log,
howling.  Shot
right through the heart.


The hunter only wanted the head,
the hide.  I ate her
so she wouldn't go to waste,
dumped naked in a dump,
skinless, looking like ourselves
if we had been flayed,
red as death.


Now there are bear dreams
again for the bear-eater: O god,
the bears have come down the hill,
bears from everywhere on earth,
all colors, sizes, filtering
out of the woods behind the cabin.


A half-mile up
I plummeted toward the river to die,
pushed there.  Then pinions creaked;
I flew downstream until I clutched
a white pine, the mind stepping back
to see half-bird, half-bear,
waking in the tree to wet
fur and feathers.


Hotei and bear
sitting side by side,
disappear into each other.
Who is to say
which of us is one?


We loaded the thousand-pound logs
by hand, the truck swaying.
Paused to caress my friend and helper,
the bear beside me, eye to eye,
breath breathing breath.


And now tonight, a big blue
November moon.  Startled to find myself
wandering the edge of a foggy
tamarack marsh, scenting the cold
wet air, delicious in the moonglow.
Scratched against swart hemlock,
an itch to give it all up, shuffling
empty-bellied toward home, the yellow
square of cabin light between trees,
the human shape of yellow light,
to turn around,
to give up again this human shape.


Jim Harrison

Stones, "You Got Me Rocking"

Lives.

Botticelli, Smeralda Bandinelli (detail), 1480


The only artists I have ever known who are perfectly delightful are bad artists. Good artists exist in simply what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry they dare not realize.

Oscar Wilde

20 November 2013

Full.


Wolfram|Alpha’s new databases full of fine arts knowledge provide profiles of nearly 33,000 works of art—and they are now immediately available to you, from Artemesia Gentileschi to Banksy.

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Delight.

Holy prophets and scholars immersed in the sea of arts both human and divine, dreamt up a multitude of instruments to delight the soul.

Hildegard von Bingen



CONNECT

Romanticize.


Sacrifice of the self is the source of all humiliation, as also on the contrary is the foundation of all true exaltation. The first step will be an inward gaze—an isolating contemplation of ourselves. Whoever stops here has come only halfway. The second step must be an active outward gaze—autonomous, constant observation of the external world.

To romanticize the world is to make us aware of the magic, mystery and wonder of the world; it is to educate the senses to see the ordinary as extraordinary, the familiar as strange, the mundane as sacred, the finite as infinite.

Novalis

Image by Dmitry Kochanovich.

Happy birthday, Walsh.

The greatest bunch of guys you'll ever meet, Joe Walsh, was born on this date in 1947. 

Life of Illusion 

Sometimes, I can't help but feeling that I'm,
Living a life of illusion.
And oh, why can't we let it be,
And see thru the hole in this wall of confusion.
I just can't help the feeling I'm
Living a life of illusion.

Pow, right between the eyes,
Oh, how nature loves her little surprises.
Wow, it all seems so logical now,
It's just one of her better disguises.
And it comes with no warning,
Nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis.

Hey, don't you know it's a waste of the day,
Caught up in endless solutions...
That have no meaning, just another hunch,
Based upon jumping conclusions.
Caught up in endless solutions,
Backed up against a wall of confusion.
Living a life of illusion.

19 November 2013

Daydream.

O'Keeffe, In The Patio, VIII, 1956


An average daydream is about fourteen seconds long and that we have about two thousand of them per day. In other words, we spend about half of our waking hours — one-third of our lives on earth — spinning fantasies. We daydream about the past: things we should have said or done, working through our victories and failures. We daydream about mundane stuff such as imagining different ways of handling conflict at work. But we also daydream in a much more intense, storylike way.

Requisite.


The fact that going off the deep end appears
to be a requisite to doing anything of consequence
in this life has not escaped me. 


Jim Harrison

18 November 2013

Noticing.

Kandinsky, Forest Edge, 1903


There are lots of reasons to take a walk in the woods. To get away from it all, clear your head, smell the fresh air. The problem, of course, is that even if we get ourselves into a park or a forest, we might still be so lost in our heads that we miss what's right in front of us. Practicing noticing, like a scientist, can change that by binding us to experience in ways that are thrilling, even in their ordinariness.

CONNECT

Defiance.


The man’s name was Horace Greasley. He was a British POW famous for escaping over 200 times to visit his girlfriend, a local Jewish girl. Why did he keep going back? Loyalty. He returned every time with extra food or other contraband to share with his fellow captives. Greasley spent 5 years as a prisoner of war, during which time he served as camp barber and worked in the marble quarries.

Following capture, the men were forced to march for ten weeks from France to Poland. The men suffered deplorable conditions and spent a winter, in temperatures as low as -40C, lodged in an old horse stable. Those who survived the march and train transfer were beaten, tortured, and starved. Greasley was once beaten so badly he lay unconscious for 2 days. In 2008, his biography, “Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell?” was published. Two years after its release, he died at age 91.



When I see this photo, I always admire the defiance in his face. He refused to be broken. Be that guy.



Oh and by the way, the German officer he’s staring down is Heinrich Himmler.

We all must be like Horace Greasley, or remain a slave to the system, changing times coming, be conscious now make up.

Thank you, Mme. Scherzo.

17 November 2013

John Tavener, R.I.P.

John Tavener has passed.

The Royal Danish Academy of Music performs Tavener's The Protecting Veil, with Jacob Shaw, cello ...

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, "Cheek to Cheek"

Happy birthday, Lightfoot.

Gordon Lightfoot was born on this date in 1938.

"Carefree Highway"

Stand.

Kevolic, Acorn, 2008


To stand despite all possibilities to fall.

Paul Klee

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Drift.

Cezanne, The Kiss of the Muse, 1870


The words of my book nothing—the drift of it everything ...


Walt Whitman, from "Shut Not Your Doors"

There.

van Gogh, Green Wheat Field with Cypress, 1889


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.  I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.


Rumi

16 November 2013

Peter Rowan, "The First Whippoorwill"

Awakened.

Bernini, Fountain of the Four Rivers (detail), 1651


The life of one day is enough to rejoice. Even though you live for just one day, if you can be awakened, that one day is vastly superior to one endless life of sleep. If this day in the lifetime of a hundred years is lost, will you ever touch it with your hands again? 

Dogen

Simplicity.


The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.

Walt Whitman

David Francey, "A Star Above"

15 November 2013

Sail.


Every now and then it happens that ships are so light that they begin to sail through the clouds. Maybe you’ve seen it in a drawing, a movie or maybe even in a dream. We were more fortunate and we have managed to witness it with our own eyes. 


Thank you, Poetessa.

Happy birthday, O'Keeffe.

O'Keeffe, Sunrise, 1916


Georgia O'Keeffe was born on this date in 1887.

The unexplainable thing in nature that makes me feel the world is big fat beyond my understanding – to understand maybe by trying to put it into form. To find the feeling of infinity on the horizon line or just over the next hill.

Georgia O'Keeffe

Snow-water.

Francis, Gary Snyder at Sourdough Mountain, 1953


Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.

I cannot remember things I once read

A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

Gary Snyder

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