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 September 2014

Everything.


How to be Perfect

Everything is perfect, dear friend.
                                                  —KEROUAC
Get some sleep.

Don't give advice.

Take care of your teeth and gums.

Don't be afraid of anything beyond your control. Don't be afraid, for
instance, that the building will collapse as you sleep, or that someone
you love will suddenly drop dead.

Eat an orange every morning.

Be friendly. It will help make you happy.

Raise your pulse rate to 120 beats per minute for 20 straight minutes
four or five times a week doing anything you enjoy.

Hope for everything. Expect nothing.

Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room
before you save the world. Then save the world.

Know that the desire to be perfect is probably the veiled expression
of another desire—to be loved, perhaps, or not to die.

Make eye contact with a tree.

Be skeptical about all opinions, but try to see some value in each of
them.

Dress in a way that pleases both you and those around you.

Do not speak quickly.

Learn something every day. (Dzien dobre!)

Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.

Don't stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don't
forget what made you angry. Hold your anger out at arm's length
and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass ball
collection.

Be loyal.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Design your activities so that they show a pleasing balance
and variety.

Be kind to old people, even when they are obnoxious. When you
become old, be kind to young people. Do not throw your cane at
them when they call you Grandpa. They are your grandchildren!

Live with an animal.

Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.

If you need help, ask for it.

Cultivate good posture until it becomes natural.

If someone murders your child, get a shotgun and blow his head off.

Plan your day so you never have to rush.

Show your appreciation to people who do things for you, even if you
have paid them, even if they do favors you don't want.

Do not waste money you could be giving to those who need it.

Expect society to be defective. Then weep when you find that it is far
more defective than you imagined.

When you borrow something, return it in an even better condition.

As much as possible, use wooden objects instead of plastic or metal
ones.

Look at that bird over there.

After dinner, wash the dishes.

Calm down.

Visit foreign countries, except those whose inhabitants have
expressed a desire to kill you.

Don't expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want to.

Meditate on the spiritual. Then go a little further, if you feel like it.
What is out (in) there?

Sing, every once in a while.

Be on time, but if you are late do not give a detailed and lengthy
excuse.

Don't be too self-critical or too self-congratulatory.

Don't think that progress exists. It doesn't.

"Walk upstairs.

Do not practice cannibalism.

Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don't do
anything to make it impossible.

Take your phone off the hook at least twice a week.

Keep your windows clean.

Extirpate all traces of personal ambitiousness.

Don't use the word extirpate too often.

Forgive your country every once in a while. If that is not possible, go
to another one.

If you feel tired, rest.

Grow something.

Do not wander through train stations muttering, "We're all going to
die!"

Count among your true friends people of various stations of life.

Appreciate simple pleasures, such as the pleasure of chewing, the
pleasure of warm water running down your back, the pleasure of a
cool breeze, the pleasure of falling asleep.

Do not exclaim, "Isn't technology wonderful!"

Learn how to stretch your muscles. Stretch them every day.

Don't be depressed about growing older. It will make you feel even
older. Which is depressing.

Do one thing at a time.

If you burn your finger, put it in cold water immediately. If you bang
your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for twenty
minutes. You will be surprised by the curative powers of coldness and
gravity.

Learn how to whistle at earsplitting volume.

Be calm in a crisis. The more critical the situation, the calmer you
should be.

Enjoy sex, but don't become obsessed with it. Except for brief periods
in your adolescence, youth, middle age, and old age.

Contemplate everything's opposite.

If you're struck with the fear that you've swum out too far in the
ocean, turn around and go back to the lifeboat.

Keep your childish self alive.

Answer letters promptly. Use attractive stamps, like the one with a
tornado on it.

Cry every once in a while, but only when alone. Then appreciate
how much better you feel. Don't be embarrassed about feeling better.

Do not inhale smoke.

Take a deep breath.

Do not smart off to a policeman.

Do not step off the curb until you can walk all the way across the
street. From the curb you can study the pedestrians who are trapped
in the middle of the crazed and roaring traffic.

Be good.

Walk down different streets.

Backwards.

Remember beauty, which exists, and truth, which does not. Notice
that the idea of truth is just as powerful as the idea of beauty.

Stay out of jail.

In later life, become a mystic.

Use Colgate toothpaste in the new Tartar Control formula.

Visit friends and acquaintances in the hospital. When you feel it is
time to leave, do so.

Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.

Do not go crazy a lot. It's a waste of time.

Read and reread great books.

Dig a hole with a shovel.

In winter, before you go to bed, humidify your bedroom.

Know that the only perfect things are a 300 game in bowling and a
27-batter, 27-out game in baseball.

Drink plenty of water. When asked what you would like to drink,
say, "Water, please."

Ask "Where is the loo?" but not "Where can I urinate?"

Be kind to physical objects.

Beginning at age forty, get a complete "physical" every few years
from a doctor you trust and feel comfortable with.

Don't read the newspaper more than once a year.

Learn how to say "hello," "thank you," and "chopsticks"
in Mandarin.

Belch and fart, but quietly.

Be especially cordial to foreigners.

See shadow puppet plays and imagine that you are one of the
characters. Or all of them.

Take out the trash.

Love life.

Use exact change.

When there's shooting in the street, don't go near the window.

Ron Padgett

29 September 2014

"Easy."

On this day in 1954, Willie Mays made this "easy" catch in Game One of the World Series …

Happy birthday, Caravaggio.

Caravaggio, Bacchus, 1571


Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was born on this date in 1571.


There was art before him and art after him, and they were not the same.

Robert Hughes

"Caravaggio," from Simon Schama's documentary, The Power of Art




Vaudry de Saizenay, "Prélude"

Xavier Díaz-Latorre performs …

Perspective.

The circumstances of our lives may actually matter less to our happiness than the sense of control we feel over our lives.

Rory Sutherland's TED Talk on Perspective …

Life.


In every part and corner of our life, to lose oneself is to be the gainer; to forget oneself is to be happy.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Neil Young, "Forever Young"

26 September 2014

Toumani & Sidiki Diabaté, "Rachid Ouiguini"

Tinkering.

Gever Tulley uses engaging photos and footage to demonstrate the valuable lessons kids learn at his Tinkering School. When given tools, materials and guidance, these young imaginations run wild and creative problem-solving takes over to build unique boats, bridges and even a rollercoaster!

Beautiful.

Truly beautiful music consists in singing to the accompaniment of the viol.

Baldassare Castiglione, 1528 



CONNECT

25 September 2014

New Order, "Ceremony"

Victoria, "O Magnum Mysterium"

Harry Christophers conducts The Sixteen …

Reflect.


From a small farmhouse in Leelanau County, Jim Harrison built one of America’s iconic literary lives. Harrison lived, wrote, hunted and fished in Leelanau County and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula until 2002 when he moved to Montana.  Now 76, and splitting time between Montana and Arizona, Harrison continues to write timeless and potent work. We asked fellow Northern Michigan author Jerry Dennis to catch up with Harrison, one of his original inspirations, to reflect on life present and past.



Kurt has another offering … here. Thanks, bud.

Musician.


Seated in a studio lounge after his rehearsal, Browne gave a nonchalant laugh when asked how he came to spend so much of his time jamming around town with up-and-comers such as Jonathan Wilson, Jenny Lewis and the folk-rock band Dawes.

"You mean why don't I spend it on golf?" he replied. "I'm a musician — it's what I do."

24 September 2014

Hankering.


Got a hankering for a smoked meat sandwich? Look no further …

Potentiality.

Magritte, The False Mirror, 1928


An artist is only an ordinary man with a greater potentiality -- same stuff, same make up, only more force. And the strong driving force usually finds his weak spot, and he goes cranked, or goes under.

D.H. Lawrence

23 September 2014

Thee.

Wyeth, Autumn Cornfield, 1950


To Autumn     

   Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
            To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
        Until they think warm days will never cease,
            For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

                                           
    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
        Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
        Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
        Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
            Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
        Steady thy laden head across a brook;
        Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
            Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

                                            
    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
        Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
        Among the river sallows, borne aloft
            Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
        Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
        The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
           And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


John Keats

Led Zeppelin, "Kashmir"

My Shangri-la beneath the summer moon,
I will return again …

22 September 2014

Seeking.


The curious mind is constantly alert and exploring, seeking material for thought, as a vigorous and healthy body is on the qui vive for nutriment. Eagerness for experience, for new and varied contacts, is found where wonder is found. Such curiosity is the only sure guarantee of the acquisition of the primary facts upon which inference must base itself. To the open mind, nature and social experience are full of varied and subtle challenges to look further.

John Dewey

Just.


I am standing on the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her
until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle
with each other.
Then someone at my side says: 'There! She's gone.'

Gone where? Gone from my sight that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she
was when she left my side,
and just as able to bear her load of living
freight to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her;

and just at the moment when someone at my side says:
'There! She's gone,'
there are others watching her coming,
and voices ready to take up the glad shout
'There she comes!'

Charles Henry Brent

Understand.


From the big bang to alien worlds, from dark matter to dark energy, from the origins of the universe to its destiny, The Edge of the Sky is a tale of the great discoveries and outstanding mysteries in modern cosmology — with a twist. Astrophysicist Roberto Trotta has used only the 1,000 most common words in the English language to talk about difficult concepts in cosmology in beautifully simple terms that everybody can understand.

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Dr. Trotta's Ted Talk, Our Place in the Multiverse

21 September 2014

Language.


The Language of Beer.

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Passione.

Giovanni Antonini and Il Giardino Armonico will release their latest, La Passione, in October …



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Spirit.



The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.

Joseph Campbell

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Photograph by Robert Doisneau

Modesty.


Learning new skills is another sure way to promote cognitive modesty: it’s useful to feel yourself an inept beginner again, especially if you’ve gotten too used to being competent.

CONNECT

Happy birthday, Holst.

Gustav Holst was born on this date in 1874.

Here's The Planets, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, under the direction of Eugene Ormandy …

19 September 2014

Nourished.


Just like a cared-for garden will grow and reproduce, your creativity will flourish when nourished. If you want better creative ideas, you need better input. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Take the time to inspire yourself.

Advice.

Advice from Captain Keith on Talk Like a Pirate Day …

18 September 2014

Keith.

Appreciative.

At 6 a.m. workers are inspecting shipments of gleaming ice-packed fish at IMP Foods, a company in San Mateo, California, that supplies sushi-grade specimens to Japanese restaurants and a coterie of some of the most famous—and famously picky—American chefs. Harold McGee is in his element. “Look at that, with that schnoz, and a whip coming out of its tail,” he says, stooping over what turns out to be acornet fish, a long, bony creature with a fluted tube for a snout, a strange rear end, and an altogether alarming red color. “In Japan we call it aka-yagara, which means ‘red arrow,’” says Glenn Sakata, IMP’s general manager. “It makes wonderful broth.”
A golden threadfin bream, itoyoriin Japanese, also catches McGee’s eye. Favored for sashimi, it’s quite lovely, with silver skin, luminous yellow stripes, a tail that blushes deep pink. Sakata mentions in passing that both fish are bought by the French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s four-star temple to cuisine in Napa Valley. The sea bream shimmers with freshness in its box of shaved ice. McGee, who is wearing a regulation-issue hairnet, bows over it and draws a deep, appreciative breath.
More here.

Care.


“How works of art were looked after and protected in the past reveals how they were seen and valued,” Lowe says. “The same is true about the way we care for things now. To future generations it will reveal a lot about us – assuming we have not destroyed most of the things we inherited.”

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Factum Arte is commissioned to produce facsimiles of three paintings by Caravagio which originally are at the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome.

15 September 2014

Led Zeppelin, "The Song Remains the Same"

Same.

van Gogh, Couple Dancing, 1885



The Pond

Night covers the pond with its wing.
Under the ringed moon I can make out
your face swimming among minnows and the small
echoing stars. In the night air
the surface of the pond is metal.

Within, your eyes are open. They contain
a memory I recognize, as though
we had been children together. Our ponies
grazed on the hill, they were gray
with white markings. Now they graze
with the dead who wait
like children under their granite breastplates,
lucid and helpless:

The hills are far away. They rise up
blacker than childhood.
What do you think of, lying so quietly
by the water? When you look that way I want
to touch you, but do not, seeing
as in another life we were of the same blood.


Louise Glück

Happy birthday, Cooper.

Wyeth, Last of the Mohicans, 1919



James Fenimore Cooper was born on this date in 1789.

Individuality is the aim of political liberty. By leaving the citizen as much freedom of action and of being as comports with order and the rights of others, the institutions render him truly a freeman. He is left to pursue his means of happiness in his own manner.  All greatness of character is dependent on individuality. The man who has no other existence than that which he partakes in common with all around him, will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity.


James Fenimore Cooper

11 September 2014

08 September 2014

Yearning.

Eakins, In Arcadia, 1883


Oxford

It is well that there are palaces of peace
And discipline and dreaming and desire,
Lest we forget our heritage and cease
The Spirit’s work — to hunger and aspire:

Lest we forget that we were born divine,
Now tangled in red battle’s animal net,
Murder the work and lust the anodyne,
Pains of the beast 'gainst bestial solace set.

But this shall never be: to us remains
One city that has nothing of the beast,
That was not built for gross, material gains,
Sharp, wolfish power or empire’s glutted feast.

We are not wholly brute. To us remains
A clean, sweet city lulled by ancient streams,
A place of visions and of loosening chains,
A refuge of the elect, a tower of dreams.

She was not builded out of common stone
But out of all men’s yearning and all prayer
That she might live, eternally our own,
The Spirit’s stronghold — barred against despair.

C.S. Lewis

Transcendence.

Subtle glimpses of beauty in the ordinary. Transcendence in the seemingly mundane. These are vistas that many of us seek, though we may not always recognize it within ourselves.



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07 September 2014

Optimist.


For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use to be anything else.

Winston Churchill

Thanks, Kurt.  More here.

Marlene Dietrich, "Johnny"

I've read that this was on high rotation on Georgia O'Keeffe's Victrola …



Hem was a fan, too.

Belong.


"I've seen you beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for… you belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil."

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Lost.

What's going on here, I can only guess, but here's what you're about to see: In the video below, the great musician Glenn Gould, supreme interpreter of Bach, is sitting at his living room piano on a low, low chair, his nose close to the keys. He's at his Canadian country house in his bathrobe.

Through the window, you catch snatches of his back yard. It's a windy day and he's got a coffee cup sitting on the piano top. He's working on a Bach partita, not just playing it, but singing along in his swinging baritone. As he plays, he gets so totally, totally lost in the music that suddenly (1:57 from the top), smack in the middle of a passage, with no warning, for no apparent reason, his left hand flips up, touches his head; he stands up, and walks in what looks like a trance to the window. There's an eerie silence. Then, in the quiet, you hear the Bach leaking out of him. He's still playing it, but in his head, he's scatting the beats. Then he turns, wanders back, sits down, and his fingers pick up right where his voice left off, but now with new energy, like he's found a switch and switched it.

What just happened? I'm not sure. But I think this is a rare vision of what it's like to be so in your head you leave your body, or at least the moving parts of your body, totally behind.



Thank You, Poetessa.

Happy birthday, Mercury.

Farrokh Bulsara, Freddie Mercury, was born last Thursday, in 1946.

Live life. Sing along …

04 September 2014

Old-fashioned.



His own name sounds like one of the old-fashioned apple varieties he cultivates. Ezekiel Goodband, Vermont's foremost heirloom apple expert, is the main mover and shaker behind the bushels of Belle de Boskoop, Pitmason Pine Apple, D'Arcy Spice and Newtown Pippin now on display at your local co-op.
Although more and more local apple farmers are discovering the economic and gastronomic benefits of varietal diversification, 53-year-old Goodband was the area's pomological pioneer, with decades of orchard experience in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. A recent Burlington Free Press story described him as New England's "heirloom apple guru."