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 April 2016

Silence.

Curtis, Prayer to the Great Mystery, 1908


Let the person I serve express his thanks according to his own bringing up and his sense of honor. Each soul must meet the morning sun, the new sweet earth, and the Great Silence alone! What is Silence? It is the Great Mystery! The Holy Silence is His voice!

Charles Alexander Eastman

Soul.

Hansen, Sunset, 2000


A CULTURE IS NO BETTER THAN ITS WOODS

Sylvan meant savage in those primal woods
Piero di Cosimo so loved to draw,
Where nudes, bears, lions, sows with women's heads,
Mounted and murdered and ate each other raw,
Nor thought the lightning-kindled bush to tame  
But, flabbergasted, fled the useful flame.

Reduced to patches owned by hunting squires
Of villages with ovens and a stocks,
They whispered still of most unsocial fires,
Though Crown and Mitre warned their silly flocks  
The pasture’s humdrum rhythms to approve
And to abhor the license of the grove.

Guilty intention still looks for a hotel
That wants no details and surrenders none;
A wood is that, and throws in charm as well,  
And many a semi-innocent, undone,
Has blamed its nightingales who round the deed
Sang with such sweetness of a happy greed.

Those birds, of course, did nothing of the sort,
And, as for sylvan nature, if you take  
A snapshot at a picnic, O how short
And lower-ordersy the Gang will look
By those vast lives that never took another
And are not scared of gods, ghosts, or stepmother.

Among these coffins of its by-and-by  
The Public can (it cannot on a coast)
Bridle its skirt-and-bargain-chasing eye,
And where should an austere philologist
Relax but in the very world of shade
From which the matter of his field was made.  

Old sounds re-educate an ear grown coarse,
As Pan’s green father suddenly raps out
A burst of undecipherable Morse,
And cuckoos mock in Welsh, and doves create
In rustic English over all they do  
To rear their modern family of two.

Now here, now there, some loosened element,
A fruit in vigor or a dying leaf,
Utters its private idiom for descent,
And late man, listening through his latter grief,  
Hears, close or far, the oldest of his joys,
Exactly as it was, the water noise.

A well-kempt forest begs Our Lady's grace;
Someone is not disgusted, or at least
Is laying bets upon the human race  
Retaining enough decency to last;
The trees encountered on a country stroll
Reveal a lot about a country's soul.

A small grove massacred to the last ash,
An oak with heart-rot, give away the show:  
This great society is going to smash;
They cannot fool us with how fast they go,
How much they cost each other and the gods.
A culture is no better than its woods.

W.H. Auden

Seeks.


Psychogeography seeks to overcome the process of "banalization' by which the everyday experience of our surroundings becomes one of drab monotony.

Merlin Coverley

Work.


There’s never an excuse not to do your work.

Jim Harrison

Think.


No dressing up.  No rubber chicken.  No sitting at a table for eight trying to create stimulating conversation.  No silent auction.  No requirement other than that the time be used to relax and enjoy an evening without obligation.  “Think about us…for a second or two,” the solicitation might suggest.


Thank you, Kurt.

Spoke.


My soul melted when my beloved spoke.

Thomas Aquinas

Rolling Stones, "The Nearness of You"

For my Poetessa ...



Thank you, Grandma Firchau.

Gold rings on you all.

Converged.

van Gogh,  Wheat Field with a Lark (detail), 1887


VALLEY CANDLE

My candle burned alone in an immense valley.
Beams of the huge night converged upon it,
Until the wind blew.
Then beams of the huge night
Converged upon its image,
Until the wind blew.

Wallace Stevens

Pleasant.

Collins, River Vista, 2009


THANATOPSIS

     To him who in the love of Nature holds   
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks   
A various language; for his gayer hours   
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile   
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides   
Into his darker musings, with a mild   
And healing sympathy, that steals away   
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts   
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight   
Over thy spirit, and sad images   
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,   
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,   
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;—   
Go forth, under the open sky, and list   
To Nature’s teachings, while from all around— 
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air— 
Comes a still voice— 
                                       Yet a few days, and thee   
The all-beholding sun shall see no more   
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,   
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,   
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist   
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim   
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again, 
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up   
Thine individual being, shalt thou go   
To mix for ever with the elements,   
To be a brother to the insensible rock   
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain   
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak   
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.   
     Yet not to thine eternal resting-place   
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish   
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down   
With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings,   
The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good,   
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,   
All in one mighty sepulchre.   The hills   
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales   
Stretching in pensive quietness between;   
The venerable woods—rivers that move   
In majesty, and the complaining brooks   
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,   
Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,—   
Are but the solemn decorations all   
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,   
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,   
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,   
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread   
The globe are but a handful to the tribes   
That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings   
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,   
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods   
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,   
Save his own dashings—yet the dead are there:   
And millions in those solitudes, since first   
The flight of years began, have laid them down   
In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone. 
So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw   
In silence from the living, and no friend   
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe   
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh 
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care   
Plod on, and each one as before will chase   
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave   
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come 
And make their bed with thee. As the long train   
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,   
The youth in life’s green spring, and he who goes   
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,   
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man—   
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,   
By those, who in their turn shall follow them.   
     So live, that when thy summons comes to join   
The innumerable caravan, which moves   
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take   
His chamber in the silent halls of death,   
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,   
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed   
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,   
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

William Cullen Bryant

Forever.

Chinnery, Untitled, Undated


And every day these twinges of pain in my heart, that muscle
         unenvisionable,
Draining me downward like the ‘flow of atoms’ into cool organic
         earth,
The quicksand,
Downward in this strange new fluidity, this impersonal dissolution,
Drawn by an energy somehow inside me and yet not mine—
How stunning the methodical magnitudes of force!—
Make me wonder, somewhat abstractedly, about the pulverization
         of the soul,
About vast windy wastes of crumbled joys and drifting knowledge,
         about what becomes
Of all the disjuncted dregs of consciousness:

This song is a wave forever rolling among
         the stars.

Hayden Carruth

Dig.

Permeate.



Lakes below the mountains
Flow into the sea
Like oils applied to canvas
How they permeate through me

And there's that one particular harbor
Sheltered from the wind
Where the children play on the shore each day
And all are safe within

Most mysterious calling harbour
So far but yet so near
I can see the day when my hair's full gray
And I finally disappear ...

Jimmy Buffett, "One Particular Harbor," featuring Robert Greenidge on the pans ...

Looking.


Casey Walker:  In your own work, whether from day to day to in its general arc, what does it look like to you? Where is your curiosity?

Jim Harrison:  Well, you can go through it to the point you see not just what is in front of you, but can look at yourself walking away. I see more of the same work I’ve done before, I don’t change gears in quantum leaps. I do find myself reading more and more about botany and anthropology, which reminds me of Erik Erickson saying reality is mankind’s greatest illusion. We are overwhelmed by the perception of how short life is, as in the old Don Juan thing about the whining man who is always whining and whining about hoeing corn and then you hear a dog barking in the distance and the screen door slams and suddenly it’s evening. You have to be very aware of that sensation. Time is one of our great illusions too. In “The Beige Dolorosa,” there’s a man who wants to rename the birds of North America, and he’s created a calendar in which there are only three days a month, which gives him these great open spaces: three 200-hour days. Natives know this kind of thing—how to renew oneself. The interesting thing about being in a rut is that the only think you see are the sides of the rut. You don’t see out. The frogs who fell into the well now think that’s the universe. It’s the perfect metaphor for people rich or poor.

I’m working on the second chapter of a novel where I’ve moved from a seventy-one-year-old man to a thirty-year-old grandson. He’s questioning how, if we primates are mapped for anything that moves, do we discriminate between the spiritual caffeine of TV or movies and what lies mostly still outside the window? Occasionally a bird goes by, the sun goes down and then comes up. But people crave movement and forget that the movement seen on TV and in movies is not part of a living process, that it’s coming out of a tube. Life is subtle and complex. There are no easy, fast answers. There aren’t even any easy questions, let alone answers. In America this affects us in the environmental movement—the idea, the illusion, that every question has an answer. It’s our Calvinist upbringing to believe that everything is solvable. It’s sheer hubris.

CW:  How do you describe the core, the spirit, of your work?

JH:  This consciousness, I would say. Otherness. Otherness to remind ourselves of the bedrock of life, and death, and love, and suffering. Back to Lorca, what is poetry but love, suffering, and death? Or, the idea of making a heap of all that you have met. I haven’t been nearly as unflinching as I’d hoped to be, no. But, that’s part of my makeup. Early on, my inability to face certain horrors as directly as I should have contributed to that. But, then I’m always looking for the song I could make out of it, too. I can’t quarrel with the limitations which are part of me—everybody has the severest of limitations. You are ultimately what you collectively wish to be. When someone says they could be so much more, I say, well you better get started right now, who’s stopping you?  Face it, there’s an anchor tied to your ass.

Bathtub.

Bear Bathtub, a colloquial name given to Yellowstone's own version of a natural swimming hole, can be a busy place for the national park's wildlife to drink and cool off. Camera traps rigged to document the comings and goings at the backcountry spring uncovered new insights into bear behavior.

29 April 2016

The Cars, "Good Times Roll"

Happy Friday!

Happy birthday, Ellington.


Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was born on this day in 1899.

If it sounds good, it is good.

Duke Ellington

1951 ...

Love.


The smack and hum of the rich herring, soothed by the pork fat, lifted by the raw onion and capers. The calming structural black bread and the sense of wellbeing imparted by the schnapps. This writes itself. It is true love.

Fergus Henderson

Dog.

Revere.


I revere bears. I had a big male bear that I used to leave extra fish about a hundred yards from my cabin. I'd leave the fish on a stump and the bear would eat them. When I would come home from the bar, sometimes he would stop me and I would roll down the window, and he would set his chin right on the doorjamb and I'd scratch his head—but that's stupid.

Jim Harrison

Ssssssssstones, "Love is Straaaaaaaaawng"

Moves to learn at 1:47 ...

Imagination.


Robinson' Crusoe's diary is in Berlin, lying on a forgotten shelf in the State Library of Prussian Cultural Heritage.  So claims David Caldwell of the National Museum of Scotland.  The library is busy: the same faces have been coming here for a decade.  There they are behind the encyclopedias on the top floor, beneath the terrace with its globes as tall as men.  Each desk is an island kingdom. They come here to write: a page a day when things are going well; half a sentence when they are not.

Caldwell spent a month on this archipelago.  All he found was an angular, pointed piece of bronze, 1.6 centimeters long.  He is certain it must have be part of Alexander Selkirk's dividers, from his navigation equipment.

The diary that the stranded pirate wrote in his solitude ended up in the collection of the Duke of Hamilton but was later auctioned to the nascent German empire.  The first novel in the English language was based on it.  The published confection has as much imagination as truth in it:  Alexander becomes Robinson; the Scottish son of a cobbler became a merchant's son from York who ignores the advice of his father; four years and four months become twenty-eight years, half a lifetime.  The pirate Selkirk becomes the plantation owner Crusoe who constantly struggles with a restless desire to travel to distant lands, but as soon as he achieves this, yearns for his homeland.  

There is an occasional rustling in the magazine section, and in the evening, when the rows are lit up, the blinds at the glass front of the library ar whipped round as if in a little dance, fragmenting the the panoramic view on to an empty square.  In the manuscripts section, they are sifting through the inventory.  On 4 February 2009, a spokeswoman announces, We have searched all the relevant catalogs and have not found what we were looking for.  It is almost certain that Selkirk's diary is not in our collection.

Writers have it much easier than archaeologists.

Judith Schalansky, from Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Visited and Never Will

Happy birthday, Nelson.


Willie Nelson was born on this day in 1933.

Austin City Limits, 1974 ...

28 April 2016

Jeff Tweedy, "Remember the Mountain Bed"


Thank You, Jessica.

Jackson Browne, "Late for the Sky"

David Lindley on guitar and in a great shirt ...

Dreamlife.


THE BEAR

When my propane ran out
when I was gone and the food
thawed in the freezer I grieved
over the five pounds of melted squid,
but then a big gaunt bear arrived
and feasted on the garbage, a few tentacles
left in the grass, purplish white worms.
O bear, now that you've tasted the ocean
I hope your dreamlife contains the whales
I've seen, that the one in the Humboldt current
basking on the surface who seemed to watch
the seabirds wheeling around her head.

Jim Harrison

SuperHeavy, "Miracle Worker"

Today.

1983.

The Flatlanders, "If You Were a Bluebird"

Sight.


All the secrets of the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight.

Robin Sloan, from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore

Typography.

Luka Bloom, "Exploring the Blue"

Ship.

Unattributed, A Ship of War, 1728

27 April 2016

Soul-melting.

Catlin, A Crow Village on the Salmon River, 1869


I often landed my skiff, and mounted the green-carpeted bluffs whose soft grassy tops, invited me to recline, where I was at once lost in contemplation. Soul-melting scenery that was about me! A place where the mind could think volumes; but the tongue must be silent that would speak, and the hand palsied that would write. A place where a Divine would confess he never had fancied Paradise—where the painter's palette would lose its beautiful tints—the blood-stirring notes of eloquence would die in their utterance—and even the soft tones of sweet music would scarcely preserve a spark to light the soul again that had passed this sweet delirium. I mean the prairie, whose enameled plains that lie beneath me, in distance soften into sweetness, like an essence; whose thousand velvet covered hills, (surely never formed by chance, but grouped in one of Nature's sportive moods)—tossing and leaping down with steep or graceful declivities to the river's edge, as if to grace its pictured shores, and make it 'a thing to look upon.' I mean the prairie at sun-set; when the green hill-tops are turned into gold—and their long shadows of melancholy are thrown over the valleys—when all the breathings of day are hushed, and nought but the soft notes of the retiring dove can be heard; or the still softer and more plaintive notes of the wolf, who sneaks through these scenes of enchantment, and mournfully how—l—s, as if lonesome, and lost in the too beautiful quiet and stillness about him. I mean this prairie; where Heaven sheds its purest light, and lends its richest tints—this round-topp'd bluff, where the foot treads soft, and light—whose steep sides, and lofty head, rear me to the skies, overlooking yonder pictured vale of beauty.

George Catlin

Happy birthday, Grant.



Ulysses S. Grant was born on this day in 1822.

I don't underrate the value of military knowledge, but if men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail.

Ulysses S. Grant

The American Experience production, U.S. Grant: Warrior ...

Superimposed.


For your convenience, NASA has superimposed a map of Aldrin and Armstrong's strolls around the Sea of Tranquility onto a standard baseball diamond.

CONNECT

Moon Rotation
By using Wide Angle Camera (WAC) aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (and adjusting brightness), this unique view of the moon has been created.



Tour of the Moon

Although the moon has remained largely unchanged during human history, our understanding of it and how it has evolved over time has evolved dramatically. Thanks to new measurements, we have new and unprecedented views of its surface, along with new insight into how it and other rocky planets in our solar system came to look the way they do.

Clues.

Dr. James William Buffett has the honorary degree of Doctor of Music conferred upon him ...

Some clues for that scavenger hunt of life ...

James McMurtry, "Peter Pan"

Let's go chase tornadoes
Just me and you
You don't often catch 'em,
But, man, when you do ...

Peace.


When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others. Inner peace is not found by staying on the surface of life, or by attempting to escape from life through any means. Inner peace is found by facing life squarely, solving its problems, and delving as far beneath its surface as possible to discover its verities and realities. Inner peace comes through strict adherence to the already quite well known laws of human conduct, such as the law that the means shape the end: that only a good means can ever attain a good end.

Peace Pilgrim

Barometer.


Thanks, Dad.

Andy Goldsworthy, "Two Autumns"

26 April 2016

Sibelius, Violin Concerto, Op. 47

Viktoria Mullova performs with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra led by Min Dmitri Slobodeniouk ...

Smart.


Thank you, Kurtastrophe.

Dignified.

Anderton, Three Bulls, Sitting on an Eagle Tail Feathers, Crowfoot,  and Red Crow at Fort Walsh, 1884


Joy was a word that belonged to the Indians.  Life was rich, and the Indians were only very stoical and sullen in the presence of whites during the war and reservation period.  They were really a happy, delightful people, so ready to laugh an amusing incident or a clever joke that they reminded the early white visitors of children at play.

In his manner and bearing, the Indian is habitually grave and dignified, and in the presence of strangers he is reserved and silent.

Richard Irving Dodge

Ray Wylie Hubbard, "The Messenger"

All the true believers are out on the road tonite
No matter what happens, you know they'll be okay
And to the rock and roll gypsies may the last song you sing
Be by Townes Van Zandt and down in old Santa Fe

Now I have a mission and a small code of honor
To stand and deliver by whatever measures
And the message I give is from this old poet Rilke
He said "Our fears are like dragons guarding our most precious treasures." 

I am not looking for loose diamonds
Or pretty girls with crosses around their necks
I don't want for roses or water, I am not looking for God
I just wanna see what's next

Harrison.

Jim Harrison reads for the Elk River Books fundraising event for the film "Winter in the Blood" on September 7, 2011.

Research is easier than living.  I remember when I researched Dalva, which took a couple of years, I didn’t want to start writing because I didn’t want to stop researching.

Relationships.


The Ravine

Stones, brown tufted grass, but no water,
it is dry to the bottom. A seedy eye
of orange hawkweed blinks in sunlight
stupidly, a mink bumbles away,
a ringnecked snake among stones lifts its head
like a spark, a dead young woodcock --
long dead, the mink will not touch it --
sprawls in the hatchment of its soft plumage
and clutches emptiness with drawn talons.
This is the ravine today. But in spring it
cascaded, in winter it filled with snow
until it lay hidden completely. In time,
geologic time, it will melt away
or deepen beyond recognition, a huge
gorge. These are what I remember and foresee.
These are what I see here every day,
not things but relationships of things,
quick changes and slow. These are my sorrow,
for unlike my bright admonitory friends
I see relationships, I do not see things.
These, such as they are, every day, every
unique day, the first in time and the last,
are my thoughts, the sequences of my mind.
I wonder what they mean. Every day,
day after day, I wonder what they mean.

Hayden Carruth

Alone.

Dürer, The Celestial Map, Northern Hemisphere, 1515


All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems.  But all these stars are silent. You -- You alone will have stars as no one else has them.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Myths.


There are no old myths, only new people.

Jim Harrison

Kernis, "Musica Celestis"

Ensemble Symphonique Neuchâtel performs under the direction of Alexander Mayer ...


Suspended.


As the hours, the days, the weeks, the seasons slip by, you detach yourself from everything. You discover, with something that sometimes almost resembles exhilaration, that you are free. That nothing is weighing you down, nothing pleases or displeases you. You find, in this life exempt from wear and tear and with no thrill in it other than these suspended moments, in almost perfect happiness, fascinating, occasionally swollen by new emotions. You are living in a blessed parenthesis, in a vacuum full of promise, and from which you expect nothing. You are invisible, limpid, transparent. You no longer exist. Across the passing hours, the succession of days, the procession of the seasons, the flow of time, you survive without joy and without sadness. Without a future and without a past. Just like that: simply, self evidently, like a drop of water forming on a drinking tap on a landing.

Georges Perec

Ashore.

Zuniga, Jamestown, 1607


On this day in 1607, an expedition of English colonists went ashore at Cape Henry, Va., to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere, later settled at Jamestown.

CONNECT

Neither.


Interviewer: Can you walk us through an average day in your life?

Most Interesting Man in the World:  I have neither the time nor the proper waivers and legal representation.

Happy birthday, Audubon.

Audubon, Blue Jay, 1830


John James Audubon was born on this day in 1785.

Reader, look at the plate in which are represented three individuals of this beautiful species,--rogues though they be, and thieves, as I would call them, were it fit for me to pass judgment on their actions. See how each is enjoying the fruits of his knavery, sucking the egg which he has pilfered from the nest of some innocent Dove or harmless Partridge! Who could imagine that a form so graceful, arrayed by nature in a garb so resplendent, should harbour so much mischief;--that selfishness, duplicity, and malice should form the moral accompaniments of so much physical perfection! Yet so it is, and how like beings of a much higher order, are these gay deceivers! Aye, I could write you a whole chapter on this subject, were not my task of a different nature. 

John James Audubon

25 April 2016

Dwell.

Unattributed, The Southern Heavens, 1867


Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.

Marcus Aurelius

Thank you, Kurt.

Waylon Jennings, "Just Because You Asked Me To"

Sensuous.

Goldsworthy, Curved Sticks Surrounding a River Boulder, 2006


Realizing that spirit, recognizing my own inner consciousness, the psyche, so clearly, I cannot understand time. It is eternity now. I am in the midst of it. It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it, as the butterfly floats in the light-laden air. Nothing has to come; it is now. Now is eternity; now is the immortal life. Here this moment, by this tumulus, on earth, now; I exist in it. The years, the centuries, the cycles are absolutely nothing; it is only a moment since this tumulus was raised; in a thousand years more it will still be only a moment. To the soul there is no past and no future; all is and will be ever, in now. For artificial purposes time is mutually agreed on, but there is really no such thing. The shadow goes on upon the dial, the index moves round upon the clock, and what is the difference? None whatever. If the clock had never been set going, what would have been the difference? There may be time for the clock, the clock may make time for itself; there is none for me.

I dip my hand in the brook and feel the stream; in an instant the particles of water which first touched me, have floated yards down the current, my hand remains there. I take my hand away, and the flow — the time — of the brook does not exist for me. The great clock of the firmament, the sun and the stars, the crescent moon, the earth circling two thousand times, is no more to me than the flow of the brook when my hand is withdrawn; my soul has never been, and never can be, dipped in time.

There came to me a delicate, but at the same time a deep, strong and sensuous enjoyment of the beautiful green earth, the beautiful sky and sun; I felt them, they gave me inexpressible delight, as if they embraced and poured out their love upon me. It was I who loved them, for my heart was broader than the earth; it is broader now than even then, more thirsty and desirous. After the sensuous enjoyment always come the thought, the desire: That I might be like this; that I might have the inner meaning of the sun, the light, the earth, the trees and grass, translated into some growth of excellence in myself, both of the body and of mind; greater perfection of physique, greater perfection of mind and soul; that I might be higher in myself.

Richard Jefferies

Leveller.


Sluggish and sedentary peoples, such as the Ancient Egyptians, with their concept of an afterlife journey through the Field of Reeds, project onto the next world the journeys they failed to make in this one.  

As a general rule of biology, migratory species are less aggressive than sedentary ones.  There is one obvious reason why this should be so. The migration itself, like the pilgrimage, is the hard journey: a "leveller" on which the "fit" survive and stragglers fall by the wayside.  The journey thus pre-empts the need for hierarchies and shows of dominance. The "dictators" of the animal kingdom are those who live in an ambience of plenty. The anarchists, as always, are the "gentlemen of the road."

Bruce Chatwin

R.E.M., "Find the River"

Hey now, little speedyhead
The read on the speedmeter says
You have to go to task in the city

Where people drown and people serve
Don't be shy, your just deserve
Is only just light years to go

Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
Ocean storm, bayberry moon
I have got to leave to find my way

Watch the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes
Nothing is going my way

The ocean is the river's goal
A need to leave the water knows
We're closer now than light years to go

I have got to find the river
Bergamot and vetiver
Run through my head and fall away

Leave the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes
Nothing is going my way

There's no one left to take the lead
But I tell you and you can see
We're closer now than light years to go

Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
Fall into the ocean

The river to the ocean goes
A fortune for the undertow
None of this is going my way

There is nothing left to throw
Of Ginger, lemon, indigo
Coriander stem and rose of hay

Strength and courage overrides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naiveté


Pick up here and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
All of this is coming your way

Greater.

Chatham, Summer Moon Rising, 2007


A greater exposure to all ideas leads to a greater understanding of truth.

Jessica Gutliph Karr

Thank You, Jess!

Bill Miller, "Tumbleweed"

Happy birthday, Tchaikovsky.

Kuznetsov, Tchaikovsky, 1893


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on this day in 1840 (O.S.).

Do not believe those who try to persuade you that composition is only a cold exercise of the intellect. The only music capable of moving and touching us is that which flows from the depths of a composer’s soul when he is stirred by inspiration. There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavoring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.  Had I given way to my disinclination, undoubtedly I should have drifted into a long period of idleness. But my patience and faith did not fail me, and to-day I felt that inexplicable glow of inspiration of which I told you; thanks to which I know beforehand that whatever I write to-day will have power to make an impression, and to touch the hearts of those who hear it. I hope you will not think I am indulging in self-laudation, if I tell you that I very seldom suffer from this disinclination to work. I believe the reason for this is that I am naturally patient. I have learnt to master myself, and I am glad I have not followed in the steps of some of my Russian colleagues, who have no self-confidence and are so impatient that at the least difficulty they are ready to throw up the sponge. This is why, in spite of great gifts, they accomplish so little, and that in an amateur way.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Viktoria Mullova performs the Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 ...

Defiance.

Bock, Surging Water, 1951


To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, and kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something, If we remember those times and places -- and there are so many -- where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however a small way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Howard Zinn

Thank you, Rachel.