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 2016

George Strait, "Amarillo by Morning"

Gene Elders, fiddle ...

James Taylor, "Riding on a Railroad"

It's lunch time.

All.

Examine.

Marshall Tucker Band, "Desert Sky"

Just listen to the wind blow
Let it blow, let it blow
Sand over my trail
I got my saddle on the ground
And that ol' moon, he can still be found
Hidin' in the desert sky

Joy.


Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.

Terry Tempest Williams

Thank You, Poetessa.

Appear.


If you’re walking through Boston during a downpour, make sure to keep your eyes on the pavement: you might just see a poem appear before your eyes. For the last few months, Bostonians wandering the city streets in the rain may have come across poems written on the sidewalk.

Opportunity.

Losing Ourselves is a student-directed documentary about how an expectation for perfection and a status-driven definition of success undermines students’ love of learning and creativity, gets in the way of our ability to use high school as an opportunity to figure out what we love and who we are, and turns our intrinsic motivation extrinsic.

Grinned.


‘Brunch?’ He shuddered again. ‘Brunch is the terrible work of the — ‘ he did not quite say devil. ‘It’s neither one thing nor another thing.’ ‘But elevenses?’ I replied. ‘Ah yes, elevenses,’ he grinned. ‘That’s what keeps you going until lunch.’ Mid morning, he usually partakes of a slice of seed cake and Madeira. He ordered some for us now. The caraway seed cake was pound cake, not too dry, with a crunchy crust. ‘A little dour,’ said Fergus, ‘but good.’ A sip of the amber Madeira, sweet and thick, wetted the tongue and warmed the palate.

30 July 2016

D-wight Lightnin', "The Grand Tour"

Orthodox.

Beauty.

Curtis, God of Harvest, Fringe Mouth, and Talking God, 1907


HOUSE MADE OF DAWN
Navajo Night Chant

In Tse'gihi
In the house made of the dawn,
In the house made of the evening twilight,
In the house made of the dark cloud,
In the house made of the he-rain,
In the house made of the dark mist,
In the house made of the she-rain,
In the house made of pollen,
In the house made of grasshoppers,
Where the dark mist curtains the doorway,
The path to which is on the rainbow,
Where the zigzag lightning stands high on top,
Where the he-rain stands high on top,
Oh, male divinity!
With your moccasins of dark cloud, come to us.
With your leggings of dark cloud, come to us.
With your shirt of dark cloud, come to us.
With your head-dress of dark cloud, come to us.
With your mind enveloped in dark cloud, come to us.
With the dark thunder above you, come to us soaring.
With the shapen cloud at your feet, come to us soaring.
With the far darkness made of the dark cloud over your head, come to us soaring.
With the far darkness made of the he-rain over your head, come to us soaring..
With the far darkness made of the dark mist over your head, come to us soaring.
With the far darkness made of the she-rain over your head, come to us soaring.
With the zigzag lightning flung out on high over your head, come to us soaring.
With the rainbow hanging high over your head, come to us soaring.
With the far darkness made of the he-rain on the ends of your wings, come to us soaring.
With the far darkness made of the dark mist on the ends of your wings, come to us soaring.
With the far darkness made of the she-rain on the ends of your wings, come to us soaring.
With the zigzag lightning flung out on high on the ends of your wings, come to us soaring.
With the rainbow hanging high on the ends of your wings, come to us soaring.
With the near darkness made of the dark cloud, of the he-rain, of the dark mist and of the she-rain, come to us.
With the darkness of the earth, come to us.
With these I wish the foam floating on the flowing water over the roots of the great corn.
I have made your sacrifice.
I have prepared a smoke for you.
My feet restore for me.
My limbs restore for me.
My body restore for me.
Mt mind restore for me.
My voice restore for me.
Today, take out your spell for me.
Today, take away your spell for me.
Away from me you have taken it.
Far off from me, it is taken.
Far off you have done it.
Happily I recover.
Happily my interior becomes cool.
Happily my eyes regain their power.
Happily my head becomes cool.
Happily my limbs regain their power.
Happily I hear again.
Happily for me is taken off.
Happily I walk.
Impervious to pain, I walk.
Feeling light within, I walk.
With lively feelings, I walk.
Happily abundant dark clouds I desire.
Happily abundant dark mists I desire.
Happily abundant passing showers I desire.
Happily an abundance of vegetation I desire.
Happily an abundance of pollen I desire.
Happily abundant dew I desire.
Happily may fair white corn, to the ends of the earth, come with you.
Happily may fair yellow corn, to the ends of the earth, come with you.
Happily may fair blue corn, to the ends of the earth, come with you.
Happily may fair plants of all kinds, to the ends of the earth, come with you.
Happily may fair goods of all kinds, to the ends of the earth, come with you.
Happily may fair jewels of all kinds, to the ends of the earth, come with you.
With these before you, happily may they come with you.
With these behind you, happily may they come with you.
With these below you, happily may they come with you.
With these abovee you, happily may they come with you.
With these all around you, happily may they come with you.
Thus happily you accomplish your tasks.
Happily the old men will regard you.
Happily the old women will regard you.
Happily the young men will regard you.
Happily the young women will regard you.
Happily the boys will regard you.
Happily the girls will regard you.
Happily the children will regard you.
Happily the chiefs will regard you.
Happily, as they scatter in different directions, they will regard you.
Happily, as they approach their homes, they will regard you.
Happily may their roads back home be on the trail of pollen.
Happily may they all get back.
In beauty I walk.
With beauty before me, I walk.
With beauty behind me, I walk.
With beauty below me, I walk.
With beauty above me, I walk.
With beauty all around me, I walk.
It is finished in beauty,
It is finished in beauty,
It is finished in beauty,

It is finished in beauty.

Thank You, Jessica.

Fly.


WHERE EVERYTHING IS MUSIC

Don’t worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn’t matter.
We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.
The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world’s harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.
So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.
This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.
Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!
They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can’t see.
Stop the words now.
Open the window in the centre of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.

Rumi 

Yearning.


What if the place that we are in the midst of is different from the physical space that we currently inhabit? What if the things we yearn for are located elsewhere, in another place or in a remembered past, and all we now carry within us is an image of this place. We may remember only elements or impressions of it: there may be certain objects, smells, a smile or expression, particular acts or occasions, a word, all of which come out in a manner that we cannot control or understand. Yet any of these elements or impressions makes us feel ‘‘at home’’ in a way that we cannot find in the physical space where we are now stuck. This is the problem of exile, of being displaced and yet capable of remembering the particularity of place: it is the state of being dislocated yet able to discern what it is that locates us. We have a great yearning, but we cannot fulfill it with anything but memory.

Peter King

Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton, "Can't Find My Way Home"

Kept.

Ruess, Two Burros, undated


Always I shall be one who loves the wilderness:
Swaggers and softly creeps between the mountain peaks;
I shall listen long to the sea’s brave music;
I shall sing my song above the shriek of desert winds.

When I go I leave no trace.
The beauty of the country is becoming a part of me.
Now the aspen trunks are tall and white in the moonlight.
A wind croons in the pines, the mountain sleeps.

Say that I starved, that I was lost and weary;
That I was burned and blinded by the desert sun;
Footsore, thirsty, sick with strange diseases;
Lonely and wet and cold, but that I kept my dream!

Everett Ruess

CONNECT

Thanks, Jess!

Up.


There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing — for the same reason that we stand, hour after hour, gazing at the distant swell of the open ocean. There is something like an ancient wisdom, encoded and tucked away in our DNA, that knows its point of origin as surely as a salmon knows its creek. Intellectually, we may not want to return there, but the genes know, and long for their origins — their home in the salty depths. But if the seas are our immediate source, the penultimate source is certainly the heavens.

The spectacular truth is—and this is something that your DNA has known all along — the very atoms of your body — the iron, calcium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and on and on — were initially forged in long-dead stars. This is why, when you stand outside under a moonless, country sky, you feel some ineffable tugging at your innards. We are star stuff. Keep looking up.

Jerry Waxman

Mahler, Symphony No. 10

The Adagio performed by the Cleveland Orchestra, under the direction of Pierre Boulez ...

Eternal.


Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.

William Blake

Joe Strummer, "Global a Go-Go"

World service bulletin 
From the nightshift DJ
To all wavebands on earth
Reconnoiter on the kilohertz

This tune is going out to Marconi
To all corners of the globe
There ain't no hut in the Serengeti
Where my wavelengths do not probe

If a rocket went to Saturn
We sure hope a DJ is on board
For some anti-gravity mixing
With two dub plates of U-Roy

Throwdown 

Stray Cat strut in Bulawayo
Buddy Rich in Burundi
Quadrophenia in Armenia
Armenia City In The Sky
Big Youth booming in Djakarta
Nina Simone over Sierra Leone
Wild sound of Joujouka in Nevada
Everywhere, everywhere Bob's bringing it all back home

Yeah, I let the boogie-woogie rumble
In the back of Bangalore
I get complaints from Bondi Beach
What, no longboard surf hardcore
Oh, send the rock steady out to Freddy
Who juggles plates in Tsing Tao City

'Cause tonight Bo Diddley's in Finland Station
Sun Ra's in Omaha
The Skatalites in New York City
The Stooges rule over Habana
The Bhundu Boys rock Acapulco
Good hip hop in Islamabad
Ali Farke Toure's in Oaxaca
And Baaba Maal's all over Stalingrad

Yeah, while some are waking, some are sleeping
From Kamchatka to the Gabon
Above the trade wind, wingtips beating
We calling out for Ronnie and da-do Ron, Ron, Ron

We call the Cumbria to tumble
From the peak of the Himalayas
We send the funk into the jungle
To the last outpost of the bass player

Interesting.





Burning Spear, "The Youth"

Ambition.


When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to be a steamboatman. We had transient ambitions of other sorts, but they were only transient. When a circus came and went, it left us all burning to become clowns; the first negro minstrel show that came to our section left us all suffering to try that kind of life; now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates. These ambitions faded out, each in its turn; but the ambition to be a steamboatman always remained.

Mark Twain, from Life on the Mississippi

Bring.


Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

William Blake, "Jerusalem"

UB40, "Food for Thought"

Continuous.


The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.

John Dewey

Possibilities.


You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.

Thomas Merton

U-Roy, "Soul Rebel"

Happy birthday, Penguin.


On this day in 1935, the first Penguin paperbacks were published.

Bat.

I love the echo of the ball off the bat ...



Baseball, I love you.

Paradise.

Old Library, Oxford


I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

Jorge Luis Borges

... an idea store.

Jessica Karr

Happy birthday, Vasari.

Vasari, Self-portrait, 1567


Giorgio Vasari was born on this day in 1511.

Art owes its origin to Nature herself... this beautiful creation, the world, supplied the first model, while the original teacher was that divine intelligence which has not only made us superior to the other animals, but like God Himself, if I may venture to say it. 

Giorgio Vasari

Andrew Graham-Dixon's BBC production, Travels with Vasari ...

Part One


Part Two

Open.


It is not your business to determine
How good it is, nor how valuable,
Nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours,
Clearly and directly,
To stay open and aware
To the urges that motivate you.
Keep the channel open.

Martha Graham

Medicines.


In 2013, an influential study published in Science found that reading literary fiction (rather than popular fiction or literary nonfiction) improved participants’ results on tests that measured social perception and empathy, which are crucial to “theory of mind”: the ability to guess with accuracy what another human being might be thinking or feeling, a skill humans only start to develop around the age of four.

But not everybody agrees with this characterization of fiction reading as having the ability to make us behave better in real life. In her 2007 book, Empathy and the Novel, Suzanne Keen takes issue with this “empathy-altruism hypothesis,” and is skeptical about whether empathetic connections made while reading fiction really translate into altruistic, prosocial behavior in the world. She also points out how hard it is to really prove such a hypothesis. “Books can’t make change by themselves—and not everyone feels certain that they ought to,” Keen writes. “As any bookworm knows, readers can also seem antisocial and indolent. Novel reading is not a team sport.” Instead, she urges, we should enjoy what fiction does give us, which is a release from the moral obligation to feel something for invented characters—as you would for a real, live human being in pain or suffering—which paradoxically means readers sometimes “respond with greater empathy to an unreal situation and characters because of the protective fictionality.” And she wholeheartedly supports the personal health benefits of an immersive experience like reading, which “allows a refreshing escape from ordinary, everyday pressures.”

So even if you don’t agree that reading fiction makes us treat others better, it is a way of treating ourselves better. Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers. “Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines,” the author Jeanette Winterson has written. “What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination.”

Wanderings.

Homer, The Guide, 1895


We fish rest quietly, on all sides supported, within an element which all the time accurately and unfailingly evens itself out. An element which may be said to have taken over our personal experience, regardless of individual shape and whether we be flat fish or round fish, our weight and body and calculated according to the quantity of our surroundings which we displace.  We run no risks. For our changing of place in existence never creates, or leaves after it, what man calls a way, upon which phenomenon -- in reality no phenomenon but an illusion -- he will waste inexplicable passionate deliberation. Man, in the end, is alarmed by the idea of time, and unbalanced by incessant wanderings between past and future.

Karen Blixen

Map.

Map of James River, Virginia.

John Denver, "Windsong"

The wind is the whisper of our mother the earth. 
The wind is the hand of our father the sky.
The wind watches over our struggles and pleasures.
The wind is the goddess who first learned to fly.

The wind is the bearer of bad and good tidings, 
The weaver of darkness, the bringer of dawn.
The wind gives the rain, then builds us a rainbow, 
The wind is the singer who sang the first song.

The wind is a twister of anger and warning, 
The wind brings the fragrance of freshly mown hay.
The wind is a racer, a wild stallion running 
And the sweet taste of love on a slow summer's day.

The wind knows the songs of cities and canyons, 
The thunder of mountains, the roar of the sea.
The wind is the taker and giver of mornings, 
The wind is the symbol of all that is free.


So welcome the wind and the wisdom she offers, 
Follow her summons when she calls again.
In your heart and your spirit, let the breezes surround you.
Lift up your voice then and sing with the wind.

Resource.


A writer -– and, I believe, generally all persons -– must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.

Jorge Luis Borges

Dog.

Beethoven/Liszt, 6th Symphony, Op. 68, "Pastoral"

Cyprien Katsaris performs the transcription for piano ...

29 July 2016

Aspire.


When a man loves a woman he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.

Fulton J. Sheen

Jay Ferguson, "Thunder Island"

Happy Friday!



Waiter, please bring another order of crab balls.

And.

Leave.


Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: 'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.

Doris Lessing

Beloved.

In tribute to the beloved staple food, baking master Peter Reinhart reflects on the cordial couplings (wheat and yeast, starch and heat) that give us our daily bread.

Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, "Emperor"

Glenn Gould performs with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Karel Ančerl ...

Beauty.

Lyle Lovett, "Step Inside This House"

Step inside my house, girl
I'll sing for you a song
I'll tell you 'bout where I've been
It shouldn't take too long
I'll show you all the things I own
My treasures you might say
Couldn't be more'n ten dollars worth
But they brighten up my day


"Praise the" Lloyd Maines, pedal steel ...

28 July 2016

Turn'd.

Shishkin, Way in Rye, 1866


GARDEN OF LOVE

I went to the Garden of Love, 
And saw what I never had seen: 
A Chapel was built in the midst, 
Where I used to play on the green. 

And the gates of this Chapel were shut, 
And Thou shalt not. writ over the door; 
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love, 
That so many sweet flowers bore. 

And I saw it was filled with graves, 
And tomb-stones where flowers should be: 
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.

William Blake

Reclaim.

Wild.


The wild. I have drunk it, deep and raw, and heard it's primal, unforgettable roar. We know it in our dreams, when our mind is off the leash, running wild. "Outwardly, the equivalent of the unconscious is the wilderness: both of these terms meet, one step even further on, as one," wrote Gary Snyder. "It is in vain to dream of a wildness distinct from ourselves. There is none such," wrote Thoreau. "It is the bog in our brains and bowls, the primitive vigor of Nature in us, that inspires the dream."

And as dreams are essential to the psyche, wildness is to life.

We are animal in our blood and in our skin. We were not born for pavements and escalators but for thunder and mud. More. We are animal not only in body but in spirit. Our minds are the minds of wild animals. Artists, who remember their wildness better than most, are animal artists, lifting their heads to sniff a quick wild scent in the air, and they know it unmistakably, they know the tug of wildness to be followed through your life is buckled by that strange and absolute obedience. ("You must have chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star," wrote Nietzsche.) Children know it as magic and timeless play. Shamans of all sorts and inveterate misbehavers know it; those who cannot trammel themselves into a sensible job and life in the suburbs know it.

What is wild cannot be bought or sold, borrowed or copied. It is. Unmistakeable, unforgettable, unshamable, elemental as earth and ice, water, fire and air, a quitessence, pure spirit, resolving into no contituents. Don't waste your wildness: it is precious and necessary.

Jay Griffiths

Taught.


There is a charming tale of Tchekov’s about a man who tried to teach a kitten to catch mice. When it wouldn’t run after them, he beat it, with the result that even as an adult cat it cowered with terror in the presence of a mouse. This is the man, Tchekov adds, who taught me Latin.

Bertrand Russell

Happy birthday, Potter.


Beatrix Potter was born on this day in 1866.

Believe there is a great power silently working for all things good, behave yourself, and never mind the rest.

Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Beatrix Potter

One



Two



Three



Four

Protect.


Roger Scruton says we should protect the English countryside by making beauty our priority when we build new houses while in towns we should reverse the damage done in previous decades.

"Surely the time has come to tear down the post-war estates, and to recover the old street lines that they extinguished."

Listen to this.  CONNECT

13 July 2016

Happy birthday, Clare.

Hilton, John Clare, 1820


John Clare was born on this day in 1793.

I AM!

            I am—yet what I am none cares or knows; 
My friends forsake me like a memory lost: 
I am the self-consumer of my woes— 
They rise and vanish in oblivious host, 
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes 
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed 

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise, 
Into the living sea of waking dreams, 
Where there is neither sense of life or joys, 
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems; 
Even the dearest that I loved the best 
Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest. 

I long for scenes where man hath never trod 
A place where woman never smiled or wept 
There to abide with my Creator, God, 
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept, 
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.

John Clare

Silence.

12 July 2016

Queen.


On this day, 30 years ago, Queen played Wembley ...

"Hammer to Fall"



CONNECT

Happy birthday, Hammerstein.


Oscar Hammerstein II was born on this day in 1895.

The greatest team/fan anthem ever, Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone" ...



Thanks, Grandma Chenoweth.

Passing.


A Sufi manual, the Kashf-al-Mahjub, says that towards the end of his journey, the dervish becomes the Way, not the wayfarer; a place over which something is passing, not a traveller following his own free will.

Bruce Chatwin

11 July 2016

Joy.


Has joy any survival value in the operations of evolution? I suspect that it does; I suspect that the morose and fearful are doomed to quick extinction. Where there is no joy there can be no courage; and without courage all other virtues are useless.

Edward Abbey

Happy birthday, Big Ben.

Big Ben, the great bell inside the famous London clock tower, chimed for the first time on this day in 1859.

Now.

Benda, The Earth with The Milky Way and The Moon, 1918


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 in the light-laden air.  Nothing has to come; it is now. Now is eternity; now is the immortal life.

Richard Jefferies

10 July 2016

Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Last Train to Amsterdam"

Happy birthday, Proust.


Marcel Proust was born on this day in 1871.

Now there is one thing I can tell you: you will enjoy certain pleasures you would not fathom now. When you still had your mother you often thought of the days when you would have her no longer. Now you will often think of days past when you had her. When you are used to this horrible thing that they will forever be cast into the past, then you will gently feel her revive, returning to take her place, her entire place, beside you. At the present time, this is not yet possible. Let yourself be inert, wait till the incomprehensible power that has broken you restores you a little, I say a little, for henceforth you will always keep something broken about you. Tell yourself this, too, for it is a kind of pleasure to know that you will never love less, that you will never be consoled, that you will constantly remember more and more.

Marcel Proust