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 July 2014

Plant.

Robert Plant at the 2014 New Orleans Jazz Fest ...

Moments.

Veronese, Figures Behind the Parapet, 1561


it is at moments after i have dreamed
of the rare entertainment of your eyes,
when(being fool to fancy) i have deemed
with your peculiar mouth my heart made wise;
at moments when the glassy darkness holds
the genuine apparition of your smile
(it was through tears always)and silence moulds
such strangeness as was mine a little while;
moments when my once more illustrious arms
are filled with fascination,when my breast
wears the intolerant brightness of your charms:
one pierced moment whiter than the rest
—turning from the tremendous lie of sleep
i watch the roses of the day grow deep.

e.e. cummings

Tallis, "Spem in Alium

The King's Singers perform ...



CONNECT

Aesthetic.


I think any person with authentic aesthetic interests, who despises politics and believes that it is possible to talk about poems as being good and bad poems strictly on aesthetic grounds and is willing to try to understand why some poems are better than other poems—or who'd even begin to talk about poems or imaginative works as having "a meaning" which is not determined by questions of gender, social class and race—is now automatically a pariah in the profession as a man of letters, so-called, since it nearly has been taken over by this noisy mob of charlatans.

Harold Bloom

Finish.

Kent, Friel bookplate, 1953


Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company and reflection must finish him.

John Locke

Baptism.



After a while, when the music changed to something else, I was mildly aware that while this was going on I had — perhaps for no more than an instant, but there is no measuring this kind of experience — entirely forgotten my own existence. It is the sort of thing that has happened to me a few times in my life, but always before in moments of great excitement and with a kind of incredulity surrounding it like an iron ring. This time there was no iron ring, no excitement, no surprise even, but a serenity so complete that I hardly thought about it just then, I simply took it for granted. Possibly this is what is supposed to take place at baptism — but if baptism if it was, it wasn’t of water, but of light.

By this time it was late afternoon, and with the reflection from the river so bright that you could barely look at it directly, the whole hilltop, the whole world was fairly brimming with radiance. I walked around for a while, looked at the people, and walked to the subway, rather tired, and yet rested too, and pleased with everything.

CONNECT

Infinite.


Given free reign, our imagination can get infinite.

Charpentier, Masses and Motets for The Virgin

Jordi Savall performs and conducts The Concert of Nations.

Full.

Wyeth, Snow Flurries, 1953


I suppose what makes me most glad is that we all recognize each other in this metaphysical space of silence and happening, and get some sense, for a moment, that we are full of paradise without knowing it.

Thomas Merton

30 July 2014

Faith.


You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. If it seems to you that I move in a world of certitudes, you, par contre, must benefit from the great privilege of youth, which is that you move in a world of mysteries. But both must be ruled by faith.  

Anaïs Nin

The Cult, "Wild Flower"

Howlin'.

Universe.

Curtis, The Offering, 1907


A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky. 
I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be as one.
Crazy Horse

Voice.

O'Keeffe, Flower Abstraction, 1924

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy, And the dimpling stream runs laughing by; When the air does laugh with our merry wit, And the green hill laughs with the noise of it.

William Blake

Golden.


You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by. Yes, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip.

J.M. Barrie

Trio Mediaeval.

Performing excerpts from the Worcester Fragments ...

29 July 2014

Morrissey, "Panic"

Burn down the disco
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music that they constantly play

It says nothing to me about my life




Strength.


You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature. Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.
 


Marcus Aurelius

Longbow.

Mike Loades takes us on a fascinating tour of medieval arms and armour, and demonstrates their central role in key events in British history.  As an expert who trains people how to use medieval weapons, Mike is in a unique position to show us how these weapons were made and used and their impact on British society.

The incredible English victory at the Battle of Crecy (part of the Hundred Years War with France) would never have happened without the might of the longbow. Just a simple piece of wood, and yet it could be made into a deadly weapon. At the time of the Hundred Years War the English were superb longbow men, spending long hours practicing and possessing great discipline. It is hard to image now the effect of over 7,000 archers shooting all at once!

The program undertakes a number of experiments to establish how effective longbows would have been -- how far could they shoot and what damage they could do -- particularly against a French knight on horseback in full plate armour. We learn about the 'reflexed bow', a construction style that gave longbows great velocity, and that the Port of London was the centre of the bow-making industry.

Working with a group of inexperienced volunteers, Mike demonstrates that it was possible to train a group of longbow men very quickly and so raise an army at short notice. Some longbow men were part of the cavalry, which gave them a high status. Working a horse and a longbow required great skill and Mike demonstrates some of the maneuvers used.


Mike Loades is indeed a god.

Hidden.

van Gogh, Undergrowth, 1890


'T is the good reader that makes the good book; a good head cannot read amiss: in every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for his ear.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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


Rave On, John Donne

Rave on John Donne, rave on thy Holy fool
Down through the weeks of ages
In the moss borne dark dank pools

Rave on, down through the industrial revolution
Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age
Rave on down through time and space down through the corridors
Rave on words on printed page

Rave on, you left us infinity
And well pressed pages torn to fade
Drive on with wild abandon
Uptempo, frenzied heels

Rave on, Walt Whitman, nose down in wet grass
Rave on fill the senses
On nature's bright green shady path

Rave on Omar Khayyam, Rave on Kahlil Gibran
Oh, what sweet wine we drinketh
The celebration will be held
We will partake the wine and break the Holy bread

Rave on let a man come out of Ireland
Rave on on Mr. Yeats,
Rave on down through the Holy Rosey Cross
Rave on down through theosophy, and the Golden Dawn
Rave on through the writing of "A Vision"
Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on

Rave on John Donne, rave on thy Holy fool
Down through the weeks of ages
In the moss borne dark dank pools

Rave on, down though the industrial revolution
Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age
Rave on words on printed page

Did Ye Get Healed?

I wanna know did you get the feelin'?

Did you get it down in your soul?
I wanna know did you get the feelin'?
And did the feelin' grow?

Sometimes, when the spirit moves me
I can do many wondrous things
I wanna know when the spirit moves you
Did ye get healed?

I began to realise
It manifest in my life
In oh, so many ways
Every day I wanna talk about it
And walk about it
Everyday I wanna be closer

I wanna know did you get the feelin'?
Did you get it down in your soul?
I wanna know did you get the feelin'?
Did ye get healed?

I began to realise
Magic in my life
See it manifest in oh, so many ways
Every day is gettin' better and better
I wanna be daily walking close

It gets stronger when you get the feelin'
When you get it down in your soul
And it makes you feel good
And it makes you feel whole

When the spirit moves you
And it fills you through and through
Every morning and at the break of day

Did ye get healed?

Hit.

Tintoretto, Archer, 1580


Let no one be surprised if, in speaking of entirely new principalities as I shall do, I adduce the highest examples both of prince and of state; because men, walking almost always in paths beaten by others, and following by imitation their deeds, are yet unable to keep entirely to the ways of others or attain to the power of those they imitate. A wise man ought always to follow the paths beaten by great men, and to imitate those who have been supreme, so that if his ability does not equal theirs, at least it will savor of it. Let him act like the clever archers who, designing to hit the mark which yet appears too far distant, and knowing the limits to which the strength of their bow attains, take aim much higher than the mark, not to reach by their strength or arrow to so great a height, but to be able with the aid of so high an aim to hit the mark they wish to reach.

Niccolò Machiavelli

26 July 2014

The Gloaming, "Saoirse"

Own.

Piranesi, Pantheon, 1763


The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?

Oscar Wilde

Take.


I spent uncounted hours sitting at the bow looking at the water and the sky, studying each wave, different from the last, seeing how it caught the light, the air, the wind; watching patterns, the sweep of it all, and letting it take me. The sea.

Bruce Chatwin

25 July 2014

Welcome.

Curtis, Mandan Shaman, 1908


And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophies.


Shakespeare, from Hamlet

Happy birthday, Eakins.

Eakins, Oarsmen on the Schuylkill, 1874


Thomas Eakins was born on this date in 1844.

The big artist does not sit down monkey like & copy a coal scuttle or an ugly old woman like some Dutch painters have done nor a dungpile, but he keeps a sharp eye on Nature & steals her tools. He learns what she does with light the big tool & then colour then form and appropriates them to his own use. Then he's got a canoe of his own smaller than Nature's but big enough for every purpose except to paint the midday sun which is not beautiful at all. It is plenty strong enough though to make midday sunlight or the setting sun if you know how to handle it. With this canoe he can sail parallel to Nature's sailing. He will soon be sailing only where he wants to selecting nice little coves & shady shores or storms to his own liking, but if ever he thinks he can sail another fashion from Nature or make a better shaped boat he'll capsize or stick in the mud & nobody will buy his pictures or sail with him in his old tub.

Thomas Eakins

Gordon Lightfoot, "Sea of Tranquility"

I live in the light of the bright silver moon
I'll take you off sailing from midnight til noon
I'll show the Sea of Tranquility
You can have any flavor you happen see


I live in the shade of a forest of green
In the wildest of woodlands that you've ever seen
There's rabbits and quail and tender young snails
As brown as the seaweed on old rusty nails


There's fireflies dancing in the cool evening breeze
There's love and romancing as nice as you please
There's otters and frogs and spotted ground hogs
And wiley old weasels in rotted out logs


There's rivers of rainbow and grey mountain trout
And little dark holes where the varmints hang out
There's foxes and hares in traps and in snares
And lots of bald eagles so you'd better take care


So if you've got the time and you'd like to pass by
Come down around midnight and give us a try
We'll show you the Sea of Tranquility
You can have any flavor you happen to see



Poets.


We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.

Gaston Bachelard

Between.


These trees are magnificent, but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them, as though with their growth it too increased.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Don't.


Before his death, the poet Seamus Heaney sent a text message to his wife. It said, in Latin, “Don’t be afraid.”

Reverie.


The cosmic reverie is a phenomenon of solitude which has its roots in the soul of the dreamer.

Cosmic reveries separate us from project reveries. They situate us in a world and not in a society. The cosmic reverie possesses a sort of stability or tranquility. It helps us escape time. It is a state. Let us get to the bottom of its essence: it is a state of mind… Poetry supplies us with documents for aphenomenology of the soul. The entire soul is presented in the poetic universe of the poet.

The soul does not live on the edge of time. It finds its rest in the universe imagined by reverie. Cosmic images are possessions of the solitary soul which is the principle of all solitude.

22 July 2014

Intensity.

“I am large. I contain multitudes,” he writes, and it is so. What matters about Whitman? His delicacy, his evasive metaphorical intensity. But we live in an age which is slow to appreciate such subtle qualities; we live in an age of distractions.

Harold Bloom

Professor Bloom lecturing on Uncle Walt …

Sam Bush, "The Old North Woods"

21 July 2014

Stephane Grappelli, "How High The Moon"

Imagination.

Hilton, John Keats, 1822


22 November 1817

My Dear Bailey,
            … O I wish I was as certain of the end of all your troubles as that of your momentary start about the authenticity of the Imagination.  I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of the imagination – What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth – whether it existed before or not – for I have the same Idea of all our Passions as of Love they are all in their sublime, creative of the essential Beauty – In a word, you may know my favorite Speculation by my first Book and the little song I sent in my last  -- which is a representation from the fancy of the probable mode of operating in these Matters – The Imagination may be compared to Adam’s dream – he awoke and found it truth.  I am the more zealous in this affair, because I have never yet been able to perceive how any thing can be known for truth by consequitive reasoning – and yet it must be – Can it be that even the greatest Philosopher ever arrived at his goal without putting aside numerous objections – However it may be , O for a Life of Sensations rather than of Thoughts!  It is “a Vision in the form of Youth” a Shadow of reality to come – and this consideration has further convinced me for it has come as auxiliary to another favorite Speculation of mine, that we shall enjoy ourselves here after by having what we called happiness on Earth repeated in a finer tone and so repeated – And yet such a fate can only befall those who delight in sensation rather than hunger for as you do after Truth – Adam’s dream will do here and seems to be a conviction that Imagination and its empyreal reflection is the same a human Life and its spiritual repetition.  But as I was saying – the simple imaginative Mind may have its rewards in the repetition of its own silent Working coming continually on the spirit with a fine suddenness -- to compare great things with the small – have you never by being surprised with an old Melody – in a delicious place – by a delicious voice, felt over again your very speculations and surmises at the time it first operated on your soul – do you not remember forming to yourself the singer’s face more beautiful for than it was possible and yet with the elevation of the Moment you did not think so – even then you were mounted on the Wings of Imagination so high – that Prototype must be here after – the delicious face you will see – What a time!  I am continually running away from the subject – sure this cannot be exactly the case with a complex Mind – one that is imaginative and at the same time careful of its fruits – who would exist partly on sensation partly on thought – to whom it is necessary that years should bring the philosophic Mind – such as one I consider yours and therefore it is necessary to your eternal Happiness that you not only drink this old Wine of Heaven which I shall call the redigestion of our most ethereal Musings on Earth, but also increase in knowledge and know all things.  I am glad to hear you are in a fair Way for Easter – you will soon get through your unpleasant reading and then! – but the world is full of troubles and I have not much reason to think myself pestered with many – I think Jane or Marianne has a better opinion of me than I deserve – for really and truly I do not think my Brothers illness connected with mine – you know more of the real Cause than they do – nor have I any chance of being rack’d as you have been – you perhaps at one time thought there was such a thing as Worldly Happiness to be arrived at, at certain periods of time marked out – you have of necessity from your disposition been thus led away – I scarcely remember counting upon any Happiness – I look not for it if it be not in the present hour – nothing startles me beyond the Moment.  The setting sun will always set me to rights – or if a Sparrow come before my Window I take part in its existence and pick about the Gravel.  The first thing that strikes me on hearing a Misfortune having befalled another is this.  “Well it cannot be helped – he will have the pleasure of trying the resources of his spirit, and I beg now my dear Bailey that hereafter should you observe any thing cold in me not to but in to the account of heartlessness but abstraction – for I assure you I sometimes feel not the influence of Passion or Affection during a whole week – and so long this sometimes continues I begin to suspect myself and the genuiness of my feelings at other times – thinking them a few barren Tragedy-tears.

Your affectionate friend
John Keats

Notice.

Sloane, Landscape (detail), 1945


The light along the hills in the morning
comes down slowly, naming the trees
white, then coasting the ground for stones to nominate.


Notice what this poem is not doing.

A house, a house, a barn, the old
quarry, where the river shrugs--
how much of this place is yours?

Notice what this poem is not doing.

Every person gone has taken a stone
to hold, and catch the sun. The carving
says, "Not here, but called away."

Notice what this poem is not doing.

The sun, the earth, the sky, all wait.
The crowns and redbirds talk. The light
along the hills has come, has found you.

Notice what this poem has not done. 


William Stafford

Happy birthday, Hemingway.


Ernest Hemingway was born on this date in 1899.

Nick looked at the burned-over stretch of hillside, where he had expected to find the scattered houses of the town and then walked down the railroad track to the bridge over the river. The river was there. It swirled against the log spires of the bridge. Nick looked down into the clear, brown water, colored from the pebbly bottom, and watched the trout keeping themselves steady in the current with wavering fins. As he watched them they changed their again by quick angles, only to hold steady in the fast water again. Nick watched them a long time. 

He watched them holding themselves with their noses into the current, many trout in deep, fast moving water, slightly distorted as he watched far down through the glassy convex surface of the pool its surface pushing and swelling smooth against the resistance of the log-driven piles of the bridge. At the bottom of the pool were the big trout. Nick did not see them at first. Then he saw them at the bottom of the pool, big trout looking to hold themselves on the gravel bottom in a varying mist of gravel and sand, raised in spurts by the current. 

Nick looked down into the pool from the bridge. It was a hot day. A kingfisher flew up the stream. It was a long time since Nick had looked into a stream and seen trout. They were very satisfactory. As the shadow of the kingfisher moved up the stream, a big trout shot upstream in along angle, only his shadow marking the angle, then lost his shadow as he came through the surface of the water, caught the sun, and then, as he went back into the stream under the surface, his shadow seemed to float down the stream with the current unresisting, to his post under thebridge where he tightened facing up into the current. 

Nick's heart tightened as the trout moved. He felt all the old feeling. He turned and looked down the stream. It stretched away, pebbly-bottomed with shallows and big boulders and a deep pool as it curved away around the foot of a bluff. 

16 July 2014

Discovernator.

Lists.

The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists — the shopping list, the will, the menu — that are also cultural achievements in their own right.

Umberto Eco




A good book.

Well.

He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

Happy birthday, Caulfield.


The Catcher in the Rye was published on this date in 1951.


That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "Fuck you" right under your nose.

The Catcher in the Rye, from chapter 25

Haas.


Karl Haas was a distinguished classical music performer and exegetist—a presenter, interpreter, and explainer—who for decades originated a widely-syndicated and highly successful radio program on the subject of classical music. 

CONNECT

The Internet Archive has many Adventures in Good Music archived here, of which one of my all-time favorites, "Bach's Basic Truths," is here.

Hang.

How do you hang a 12 foot portrait? With planning, preparation and precision. This timelapse shows the two days' work that went into hanging just one of the works from the National Portrait Gallery on display at Beningbrough Hall, Gardens and Gallery near York, England.

Study.


INTERVIEWER
Most of your tales are laid in the last century, aren’t they? You never write about modern times.

DINESON
I do, if you consider that the time of our grandparents, that just-out-of-reach time, is so much a part of us. We absorb so much without being aware. Also, I write about characters who together are the tale. I begin, you see, with a flavor of the tale. Then I find the characters, and they take over. They make the design, I simply permit them their liberty. Now, in modern life and in modern fiction there is a kind of atmosphere and above all an interior movement—inside the characters—which is something else again. I feel that in life and in art people have drawn a little apart in this century. Solitude is now the universal theme. But I write about characters within a design, how they act upon one another. Relation with others is important to me, you see, friendship is precious to me, and I have been blessed with heroic friendships. But time in my tales is flexible. I may begin in the eighteenth century and come right up to World War I. Those times have been sorted out, they are clearly visible. Besides, so many novels that we think are contemporary in subject with their date of publication—think of Dickens or Faulkner or Tolstoy or Turgenev—are really set in an earlier period, a generation or so back. The present is always unsettled, no one has had time to contemplate it in tranquillity ... I was a painter before I was a writer ... and a painter never wants the subject right under his nose; he wants to stand back and study a landscape with half-closed eyes.

Billy Joe Shaver, "Love is So Sweet"

Poetry rules.



Poultry rules.

Library.


For all five years of the 1831-1836 scientific voyage of HMS Beagle, young scientist Charles Darwin worked and slept in the same cabin as the ship's library. The 404-volume, multi-language collection was cutting-edge, including the era's top works on natural science, geology, travel and exploration, history and more.

CONNECT

More here

Restoration.

A documentary on the Hungarian National Museum's 1992 restoration of Beethoven's Broadwood grand piano.

Melvyn Tan plays Beethoven's Bagatelles op. 126, numbers four through six.


Episode 1



Episode 2



Epeisode 3



Episode 4



Episode 5

Happy birthday, Reynolds.

Reynolds, Self-portrait, 1749


Sir Joshua Reynolds was born on this date in 1723.

By leaving a student to himself he may... be led to undertake matters above his strength, but the trial will at least have this advantage: it will discover to himself his own deficiencies and this discovery alone is a very considerable acquisition.

Sir Joshua Reynolds