AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

30 January 2014

Fill.

Arbo, Night, 1871


Hymn to the Night

Aspasie, trillistos.

I heard the trailing garments of the Night
      Sweep through her marble halls!
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
      From the celestial walls!

I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
      Stoop o'er me from above;
The calm, majestic presence of the Night,
      As of the one I love.

I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,
      The manifold, soft chimes,
That fill the haunted chambers of the Night,
      Like some old poet's rhymes.

From the cool cisterns of the midnight air
      My spirit drank repose;
The fountain of perpetual peace flows there, —
      From those deep cisterns flows.

O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear
      What man has borne before!
Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,
      And they complain no more.

Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!
      Descend with broad-winged flight,
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,
      The best-beloved Night!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Francesco, Fantasies 67, 90, 7, & "De mon triste desplaisir"

Luca Pianca, lute ...

Understanding.

Kent, The Mast-Head, 1930




The body is a way of understanding the universe and so the universe must be a way of understanding the body. In either case, the deepest thinking about either is less as a scientist and more as a poet.


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Attention.


One day a layman said to Ikkyu, “Master, will you please write for me some maxims of the highest wisdom?” Ikkyu immediately took his brush and wrote the word Attention. “Is that all?” asked the man. “Will you not add something more?” Ikkyu then wrote Attention Attention. “Well,” remarked the man rather irritably, “I really don't see much subtlety in what you've just written.” Then Ikkyu wrote the same word three times: Attention Attention Attention. Half angered, the man demanded, “What does that word attention mean anyway?” Ikkyu answered, “Attention means attention.”

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29 January 2014

Communion.


One of the most fascinating ideas that is generated for me in the study of myth is the concept of the between spaces. All cultures seem to have some concept of a way to negotiate the feeling of infinite possibility that can come over anyone who gets lost in a particular (mostly creative) space. The Greeks spoke of being visited by the Muses. The Aboriginal tribes of Australia refer to the "Dreamtime" in their mythic system. The Christian mystics spoke of communion with the Holy Spirit. All of these very different ideas try to capture the same sensation of being in communion with something greater than ourselves, something divine. This communion allows for connection with God (however that is understood in each culture. I also believe that artists find the sources of inspiration here. This is where the stories live.

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Natural.


The historian William Cronon writes about this sense shared by many of the Romantics that we “aren’t nature.” He writes that this underlies our creation of national parks as a space almost quarantined off from civilization, in a false dichotomy. One of the things that happened just before industrialism, I mean it was already there, was this anxiety creeping in about the connection with nature. Up until then, the natural world is taken for granted, even in spite of Christianity and Hebraism and all of that, the Book of Genesis, the Western assumption—which I think is deadly. There’s this idea that comes up—and is reinforced in the Renaissance—of the animism underlying mythology, with the nymphs and dryads and all that. I mean, they overbeat the drum until it was corny, but that’s what it was. You were not separate from it. They understood that. Shakespeare certainly understood it. Look at As You Like It. And you know, a figure like Prospero, in The Tempest, is a sort of summary of all that. The magic is all there. It’s not something spooky that is supernatural. It’s natural. 

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Happy birthday, Dukenfield.

Juggler William Claude Dukenfield was born on this date in 1880.

... I thought I'd lost it.

Kit.


The outdoorsy lifestyle existed before synthetic base layers, REI, or even Fred Beckey. In fact, prehistoric humans spent pretty much all their time in nature, if you can believe that. Case in point: Ötzi, a 45-year-old dude whose preserved body was found in a jerky-like state high in the Alps more than five-thousand years after his death. The bearded, five-foot-two inch tall nature-boy made a habit of running up and down the mountains in what is today the border between Italy and Austria. No ultimate roadtrip-mobile, Whole Foods, or Mountain Athlete Training for Ötzi. But just like the climbers, hunters, and thru-hikers of today, outdoorspeople of old loved their gear. Ötzi was found surrounded by all kinds of sweet kit for his time in the outdoors ...

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Power.


Thomas Merton wisely told us that "Technology is made for man, not man for technology". There is a school of thought, and it is one I have considerable sympathy for, that says that classical music should not be changed to accommodate new audiences; particularly as well-intentioned changes may drive away the all-important core audience. But it is important to gaze into the crystal ball occasionally, even if we do not like what we see there.n And, at this point, let's dismiss the suggestion that what is being discussed in this post is dumbing down. Dumbing down is diluting without changing. What is being discussed here is evolutionary change without diluting the power of the music.

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Vivid.

Naples, Oyster Trio, 2013



The taste of a perfect oyster can recall vivid memories of a summer vacation, a taste of home, or a memorable meal.


Jimmy Buffett tells the story of people asking him, "Where in the hell is Margaritaville?" 

His reply ... "It's anywhere you want it to be, buddy."  

The best place to eat oysters is wherever We are.

28 January 2014

True.


It is not down on any map; true places never are.

Herman Melville

Imaginary.


[A]s a contribution to science or as a representation of nature, these pictures are of course worthless. Their imaginary value, however, is an entirely different question. 

 

Certainly, the photographs often look like nocturnal celestial scenes. But you could just as easily see gravel or dust, a close-ups of worn asphalt, or a patch of dark soil. Actually, the pictures are not totally unlike the topographical earth studies that much later, in the 1950s, engaged Jean Dubuffet, which he named texturologies. The greatness of Strindberg's photographs lies precisely in that they offer this double view, where starry sky and earthly matter seem to move within and through one another. 

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Happy birthday, Pollock.

Pollock, Blue Poles, 1953


Jackson Pollock was born on this date in 1912.

When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It's only after a get acquainted period that I see what I've been about.  

Jackson Pollock

The Pollock documentary, '51 ...

27 January 2014

Happy birthday, Mozart.

Lange, Mozart, 1790


Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born on this date in 1756.

Mozart, Violin Concerto No. 3 G major, K. 216 

Nikoloaus Harnoncourt conducts the Vienna Philharmonic with Gidon Kremer, fiddle ...



The BBC's The Genius of Mozart ...

"Miracle of Nature"



"A Passion for the Stage"



"The First Romantic"

Esperanza Spaulding, "Wild is the Wind"

Hand-painted.

Loving Vincent will be the first feature-length animated film made solely through hand-painted canvases.


26 January 2014

Happy birthday, Michigan.

Bradford, Michigan, 1835


The state of Michigan was admitted to The Union on this day in 1835.

25 January 2014

Simply.


Just look at life with more playful eyes. Don’t be serious. Seriousness becomes like a blindness. Don’t pretend to be a thinker, a philosopher. Just simply be a human being. The whole world is showering its joy on you in so many ways, but if you are too serious, you cannot open your heart.

Osho

Interpretation.


No map can be a perfect representation of reality; every map is an interpretation, which may be why writers are so drawn to them.

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Thanks, Arts & Letters Daily

Visée, "La grotte de Versailles"

Il Giardino Armonico's Luca Pianca performs ...

Magnify.

Prospered.

Martin, Marsh Wren Nest, undated


A Wren's Nest

Among the dwellings framed by birds
In field or forest with nice care,
Is none that with the little Wren's
In snugness may compare.

No door the tenement requires,
And seldom needs a laboured roof;
Yet is it to the fiercest sun
Impervious, and storm-proof.

So warm, so beautiful withal,
In perfect fitness for its aim,
That to the Kind by special grace
Their instinct surely came.

And when for their abodes they seek
An opportune recess,
The hermit has no finer eye
For shadowy quietness.

These find, 'mid ivied abbey-walls,
A canopy in some still nook;
Others are pent-housed by a brae
That overhangs a brook.

There to the brooding bird her mate
Warbles by fits his low clear song;
And by the busy streamlet both
Are sung to all day long.

Or in sequestered lanes they build,
Where, till the flitting bird's return,
Her eggs within the nest repose,
Like relics in an urn.

But still, where general choice is good,
There is a better and a best;
And, among fairest objects, some
Are fairer than the rest;

This, one of those small builders proved
In a green covert, where, from out
The forehead of a pollard oak,
The leafy antlers sprout;

For She who planned the mossy lodge,
Mistrusting her evasive skill,
Had to a Primrose looked for aid
Her wishes to fulfill.

High on the trunk's projecting brow,
And fixed an infant's span above
The budding flowers, peeped forth the nest
The prettiest of the grove!

The treasure proudly did I show
To some whose minds without disdain
Can turn to little things; but once
Looked up for it in vain:

'Tis gone---a ruthless spoiler's prey,
Who heeds not beauty, love, or song,
'Tis gone! (so seemed it) and we grieved
Indignant at the wrong.

Just three days after, passing by
In clearer light the moss-built cell
I saw, espied its shaded mouth;
And felt that all was well.

The Primrose for a veil had spread
The largest of her upright leaves;
And thus, for purposes benign,
A simple flower deceives.

Concealed from friends who might disturb
Thy quiet with no ill intent,
Secure from evil eyes and hands
On barbarous plunder bent,

Rest, Mother-bird! and when thy young
Take flight, and thou art free to roam,
When withered is the guardian Flower,
And empty thy late home,

Think how ye prospered, thou and thine,
Amid the unviolated grove
Housed near the growing Primrose-tuft
In foresight, or in love. 

William Wordsworth

Mackinac.


Mackinac Bridge Cam.

24 January 2014

Happy birthday, Zevon.


Warren Zevon was born on this date in 1947.

I'm insane. I'm fucked up. I have problems. But I don't get depressed and I don't get bored.

Warren Zevon

"Splendid Isolation"

Happy birthday, Motherwell.

Motherwell, unknown, undated


Robert Motherwell was born on this date in 1915.

What could be more interesting, or in the end, more ecstatic, than in those rare moments when you see another person look at something you've made, and realize that they got it exactly, that your heart jumped to their heart with nothing in between. Art is an experience, not an object.

Robert Motherwell

23 January 2014

Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"

Happy birthday, Manet.

Manet, The Boat Studio, 1876


Edouard Manet was born on this date in 1832.

It is not enough to know your craft – you have to have feeling. Science is all very well, but for us imagination is worth far more. When you've got it, you've got it. When you haven't, you begin again. All the rest is humbug.

Edouard Manet

Visioning.


Hardly a day passes without someone asking me for business advice. It might be a student or a struggling entrepreneur or an up-and-comer at a larger company. I'm sure most successful entrepreneurs experience the same thing. As often as not, people want that "one top tip," that single piece of advice that can put a person on the path to success. Lo, if only things were so simple. On the other hand, there is one thing I wish I had understood more clearly from the get-go: the power of visioning.

Become.

Raphael, The Fire in the Borgo, 1517


Some beans found inside a small hole in the fresco of the Fire in the Borgo, painted from 1514 to 1517, suggests that it didn't take long for these legumes, indigenous to the Americas and imported by Columbus some 20 years earlier, to become part of the common man's diet in Europe.

22 January 2014

Mike Scott & Steve Wickham, "Sweet Dancer"

Recreate.


A poem’s rhythm shouldn’t read like the ticking of a box. But people thought Longfellow would be good for teaching children English, so people push that piece of shit on their kids even now.

Good poetry’s appeal is more mysterious. I can remember whole lines of Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake, just because of the beauty of Joyce’s use of language. Roethke’s the same way. These lines stick with you for aesthetic reasons. It’s like you remember songs. You recreate their music in your mind.

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Beyond.


Birds Again

A secret came a week ago though I already

knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.

The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds

are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.

I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite –
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation

and now they’re roosting within me, recalling

how I had watched them at night

in fall and spring passing across earth moons,

little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing

on their way north or south. Now in my dreams 

I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,

the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying

me rather than me carrying them. Next winter

I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado

and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching

on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye

and I’ll return my dreams to earth.


Jim Harrison

20 January 2014

Paths.

Artist Dennis Hlynsky, a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, wondered what would happen if he could better trace the flight paths of individual birds, what kinds of patterns would emerge from these flying social networks?

Retreat.


The Birds

He. Where thou dwellest, in what grove,
Tell me Fair One, tell me Love;
Where thou thy charming nest dost build,
O thou pride of every field!
She. Yonder stands a lonely tree,
There I live and mourn for thee;
Morning drinks my silent tear,
And evening winds my sorrow bear.

He. O thou summer's harmony,
I have liv'd and mourn'd for thee;
Each day I mourn along the wood,
And night hath heard my sorrows loud.

She. Dost thou truly long for me?
And am I thus sweet to thee?
Sorrow now is at an end,
O my Lover and my Friend!

He. Come, on wings of joy we'll fly
To where my bower hangs on high;
Come, and make thy calm retreat
Among green leaves and blossoms sweet. 


William Blake

Unforeseen.

Popescu, On the River Shore, 1933


He had not lived long enough to have discovered that nothing is more close at hand than the impossible, and what must be looked for is the unforeseen.

Victor Hugo

John Prine, "You Got Gold"

19 January 2014

Goodbye.


Say goodbye to a man addicted to the spotlight and its perks (enumerated by then-agent Scott Boras in A-Rod's first go at free agency, in 2000)-- a private office at Shea Stadium, his own marketing staff, his own merchandise tent at spring training, a luxury box, the use of a private jet, and billboards galore—perks that former Mets GM Steve Phillips rightly said would lead to a roster of “24-plus-1.”

Jason Isbell, "Cover Me Up"

Happy birthday, Cezanne.

Cezanne, Madame Cezanne with Hortensias, 1885


Paul Cezanne was born on this date in 1839.

What I am trying to translate to you is more mysterious; it is entwined in the very roots of being, in the implacable source of sensations.

Paul Cezanne

18 January 2014

Lucinda Williams, "Essence"

Joy.

I LOVE the sound at 1:19 ...

Hold.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Rudyard Kipling

Visualization.

Leonardo, La Belle Ferronière (detail), 1496



Creative visualization refers to the practice of seeking to affect the outer world by changing one's thoughts and expectations. Dr. William Fezler, in his book Creative Imagery: How to Visualize in All Five Senses, suggests creating a detailed schema of what one desires and then visualizing it over and over again with all of the senses (i.e., what do you see? what do you feel? what do you hear? what does it smell like?).Visualizing interconnected dots in our minds requires us to be deeply 'awake' or 'mindful'. Perhaps there is no greater example than Leonardo da Vinci's ability to repeatedly visualize and then architect his innovative future. It was da Vinci's observations and belief that "everything connects" that made him the 15th-century Italian Renaissance man that we all admire today. Beginning as a painter before he became a sculptor, an engineer, an anatomist, and a painter again, Leonardo proclaimed:

"Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses -- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else."

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Romantics.

World changing events in the late 18th century - from the French Revolution via American Independence - instigated a new movement in the art, literature and thinking of Britain: The Romantics.

"Liberty"



"Nature"



"Eternity"



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Stretching.

Rothko, No. 61 (Rust and Blue), 1953


Silence is so accurate.  It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing and stretching one's arms again.

Mark Rothko

Mozart, Piano Sonata No. 9 in D major, K. 311

Friedrich Gulda performs ...

Sentimental.


At the end of the 18th century, miniatures showing only the eye of a loved one became a popular form of sentimental keepsake.

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Tricky.


Math can be a bit tricky sometimes.

OK, stop your uproarious laughter. I know, most normal people cringe in fear when math pops up in their lives. Of course it can be a bit tricky. But I’m not talking about word problems, or algebra, or trying to figure out compound interest (or balancing a checkbook, my own personal unscalable mountain).
I mean math itself. You can sit down and write out a few simple things and wind up with an answer so bizarre, so counterintuitive, that you figure it must be wrong.

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