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 December 2016

Jethro Tull, "Cheerio"

Along the coast road, by the headland
the early lights of winter glow.
I'll pour a cup to you, my darling,
And raise it up, say Cheerio.

Five.

Five is right out ...

Give.


I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not ever complete the last one,
But I give myself to it…
I have been circling for thousands of years,
And I still don't know:
Am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Jethro Tull, "Life's a Long Song"

Happy New Year!

30 December 2016

Restful.

Grieg, Lyric Suite, Op. 54

Neža Torkar performs ...

Divine.

Sedlacek, Winterlandschaft, 1925



Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four o'clock, warm hearth rugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.

Thomas de Quincey

Vision.


Someone else's vision will never be as good as your own vision of yourself. Live and die with it because in the end it’s all you have. Lose it and you lose yourself and everything else. I should have listened to myself.

Georgia O'Keeffe

Led Zeppelin, "Celebration Day"

Happy Friday!

Poetry.


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

Purcell, Ode for the Birthday of Queen Mary

Jean Tubery conducts La Fenice in "Celebrate this Festival" ...

Never.

Peter Rowan, "The Old, Old House"

Knowing.

Typography.

Today.

1975.


"Hold Out Your Hand"

Mind.



Not everything in life can or should be explained. Part of every painting should be incomplete and completed in the mind of the viewer.

Russell Chatham

Escaping.


A local Navajo woman and Bears Ears supporter cooked vats of mutton stew, made piles of fry bread, and we all listened to stories at the Mexican Water Chapter House and heard again why the Bears Ears landscape is so important to the people.

We listened to stories about Headman Manuelito. He was born at the “Bears Ears” that sit atop the deep and convoluted red rock canyons above the Colorado River. We know these places as Dark Canyon, White Canyon, and Cedar Mesa today, but Native people have been hunting, gathering and occupying these vast, wild landscapes for millennia. Diné call this area "Náhonidzó," or “the escaping place.” Manuelito guided hundreds of Navajo into this maze-like refuge to save them from the Long Walk of 1864, when Navajos were forced by the U.S. army to march from Arizona and Utah into a new reservation in New Mexico. Those who stayed in hiding in these canyons were spared the trauma and death of the Long Walk. Diné were allowed to return home in 1868 and Utah Navajo People joined them to re-occupy what is now the Navajo reservation.

Metallica, "Atlas, Rise!"

Mukwa.


Bear medicine.

Willie Nelson, "Me and Bobby McGee"



Thank You, Jessica.

Strangeness.


You must give birth to your images. 
They are the future waiting to be born... 
Fear not the strangeness you feel. 
The future must enter you long before it happens. 
Just wait for the birth, for the hour of new clarity.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Happy birthday, Kipling.


Rudyard Kipling was born on this day in 1865.

Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.

Rudyard Kipling

A Sahib in South Africa ...

RUSH, "By-Tor & The Snow Dog"

Weave.



Spider Woman instructed the Navajo women how to weave on a loom, which Spider Man told them how to make. The cross poles were made of sky and earth cords, the warp sticks of sunrays, the heads of rock crystal and sheet lightning. The batten was a sun halo, white shell made the comb. There were four spindles: one a stick of zigzag lightning with a whorl of cannel coal; one a stick of flash lightning with a whorl of turquoise; a third had a stick of sheet lightning with a whorl of abalone; a rain streamer formed the stick of the fourth spindle, and its whorl was white shell.

Winter.

I'm Geddy Lee ... and I love winter.

Seriously.

Face.

Hall, Gibbon Meadow, Yellowstone, undated


The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Eclipse.

On August 21, 2017 a total eclipse of the sun will be visible from a narrow corridor crossing the United States. It will be the first total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous U.S. since 1979. The path of the moon’s umbral shadow starts in the northern Pacific and moves east through parts of Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. The moon’s penumbral shadow produces a partial eclipse that’s visible from a much larger region covering most of North America.



Thank You, Jess.

Bach, Partitia in A minor, BWV 1013

Andrea Mogavero performs the Sarabande ...

Individual.


To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. He is proud of a common heritage and loyal to common traditions. But he regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served. He recognizes no national goal except as it is the consensus of the goals that the citizens severally serve. He recognizes no national purpose except as it is the consensus of the purposes for which the citizens severally strive.

The free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather “What can I and my compatriots do through government” to help us discharge our individual responsibilities, to achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom?  And he will accompany this question with another: How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect?

Milton Friedman

Machine.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer, Mark Rober, walks us through the construction of a snowball machine gun ... 

Enlarge.


Your memories enlarge in ways proportionally to how willing you are to allow them to enlarge.

Jim Harrison

Weiss, Partita in G minor

Nigel North plays the Sarabande ...

Technique.


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

Dog.

Telemann, Don Quixote Suite

The Camerata Cambrensis, under the direction of Caroline Collier, performs "His Attack on the Windmills" ...

29 December 2016

More.

Doig, Milky Way, 1990


LOST in the MILKY WAY

Some of us are like trees that grow with a spiral grain
as if prepared for the path of the spirit’s journey
to the world of all souls.

It is not an easy path.
A dog stands at the opening constellation
past the great helping hand.

The dog wants to know,
did you ever harm an animal, hurt any creature,
did you take a life you didn’t eat?

This is the first on your map. There is another
my people made of the great beyond
that lies farther away than this galaxy.

It is a world that can’t be imagined by ordinary means.
After this first one,
the next could be a map of forever.

It could be a cartography
shining only at some times of the year
like a great web of finery

some spider pulled from herself
to help you recall your true following
your first white breath in the cold.

The next door opens and Old Woman
counts your scars. She is interested in how you have been
hurt and not in anything akin to sin.

From between stars are the words we now refuse;
loneliness, longing, whatever suffering
might follow your life into the sky.

Once those are gone, the life you had
against your own will, the hope, even the prayers
take you one more bend around the river of sky.

Linda Hogan

Today.

1971.


"A Horse with No Name"



Thanks, Buff.

Unworldly.

Eddie Heywood, "Canadian Sunset"

Monuments.


The White House declared two new national monuments in Utah and Nevada on Wednesday, setting aside 1.65 million acres of desert that includes landscapes sacred to several Native American groups, ancient rock art, and rare species’ habitat.

Happy birthday, Casals.


Pablo Casals was born on this day in 1876.

The Maestro performing the Bach Cello Suite No.1, BWV 1007 ...



Sanctify the house ...

24 December 2016

Ringing.


Each year on Christmas Eve, [Karl] Haas dedicated his show to the distinctive sounds of church bells throughout Europe and the Middle East. He provided a fascinating documentation of the unique bell sound of each city, along with a brief history of bell ringing. Listening to these programs, I was always struck by the continuity of tradition at the heart of European bell ringing. In most cases, these are sounds which have been heard for centuries.
The Story of the Bells must have been one of Haas’ most popular programs, because it’s one of the few episodes which can be found on CD. Last year, The Listeners’ Club continued the tradition with two bell-related posts, Europe’s Age Old Bells and Change Ringing in England. Now, in honor of Karl Haas, here are a few more. Listen to the way the sound builds gradually, sometimes starting with a single bell and ending in a glorious cacophony. Notice the rich overtones and distinct timbre of each cathedral.

CONNECT

A Festival of Lessons and Carols.

From 1954, the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, performs under the direction of Boris Ord ...

23 December 2016

Claude Thornhill, "Snowfall"

Manhattan Transfer performs ...



Don't miss THIS.

Need.


I think we are losing beauty and there is a danger that with it we will lose the meaning of life. I’m Roger Scruton, philosopher and writer. My trade is to ask questions. During the last few years I have been asking questions about beauty. Beauty has been central to our civilization for over 2000 years. From its beginnings in ancient Greece philosophy has reflected on the place of beauty in art, poetry, music, architecture and everyday life. Philosophers have argued that through the pursuit of beauty we shape the world as a home. We also come to understand our own nature as spiritual beings. But our world has turned its back on beauty and because of that we find ourselves surrounded by ugliness and alienation.

I want to persuade you that beauty matters; that it is not just a subjective thing, but a universal need of human beings. If we ignore this need we find ourselves in a spiritual desert. I want to show you the path out of that desert. It is a path that leads to home.

Roger Scruton

Of Beauty and Consolation ...



Scruton's documentary, Why Beauty Matters ...


Today.

1976.

22 December 2016

Bookbindery.


“I’m always in a good mood,” Henry tells me, with a jaunty, almost a rakish smile. His beard and sidelocks are gray, but there’s a nimbleness to his movements. His sleeves are rolled, and his shirt hangs open one or two buttons below what you might expect. Despite the long hours and the heavy lifting, he still enjoys the work. “Every morning I wake up and thank God.”

Henry’s workshop is five steps below street level, in the basement of the Congregation Sons of Moses synagogue. There are no windows and yet it’s a cheerful place, primarily because of Henry, but also because of the instruments he uses—the oversewing machine with its web of thread, the presses that are tightened by wheel crank, the hand guillotine and the foot guillotine. Some are wickedly efficient, others possessed of a Rube Goldberg charm. Grease is needed to keep these machines in working order, and there’s a sweetness in the air, from the lubricant oils, the leather polish and Elmer’s glue, all of it underlined by the nutty scent of paper recently cut.

Two rows of tables span the room. Their tops are covered in newspapers, discarded covers, fabric, brushes, pots of glue. A tinkerer’s chaos prevails, and as you pass through it, Henry watches and warns where you are most at risk of losing a finger, or of succumbing to schmutz.

135 Henry Street has been a bookbindery as long as anyone alive can remember. As a young man, Henry worked briefly as a sofer, transcribing the Torah and other holy writings by hand, then heard that his brother’s father-in-law, the bookbinder, needed help, and went to work in the shop. It was a bustling place. There were many others in the trade back then. One of Henry’s former colleagues, Moshe, was hanging around the day I went by to visit. Moshe is 86 now and a little stooped, but Henry assured me that in his day Moshe was the strongest of the bookbinders and did the work of ten men, or ten horses, even. Moshe nodded sagely. “I was strong,” he acknowledged. “Once I danced with six women in one night. September 17th, 1953.”

CONNECT

Thank You, Jessica.

Beyond.

Hall, East across the Madison Valley, undated


Living without mystery means knowing nothing of the mystery of our own life, nothing of the mystery of another person, nothing of the mystery of the world; it means passing over our own hidden qualities and those of others and the world. It means remaining on the surface, taking the world seriously only to the extent that it can be calculated and exploited, and not going beyond the world of calculation and exploitation. Living without mystery means not seeing the crucial processes of life at all and even denying them.

Dietrich Bonoeffer

Delivered.


With only a drawing of a map for guidance, a piece of mail was delivered to a farm in West Iceland.

Cheer.


It’s been a good year for map lovers. Whether you’re into old maps, new maps, or new ways of interacting with old maps, there was much to cheer about in 2016.

Happy birthday, Puccini.


Giacomo Puccini was born on this day in 1858.

Inspiration is an awakening, a quickening of all man's faculties, and it is manifested in all high artistic achievements.

Giacomo Puccini

La Bohème performed by the Milan La Scala Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of Herbert von Karajan ...

20 December 2016

Beethoven, String Quartet No. 7 in F major, Op. 59 No. 1

The Alban Berg Quartet performs ...

Trying.


The OLD DAYS

In the old days it stayed light until midnight
and rain and snow came up from the ground
rather than down from the sky. Women were easy.
Every time you'd see one, two more would appear,
walking toward you backwards as their clothes dropped.
Money didn't grow in the leaves of trees but around
the trunks in calf's leather money belts
though you could only take twenty bucks a day.
Certain men flew as well as crows while others ran
up trees like chipmunks. Seven Nebraska women
were clocked swimming upstream in the Missouri
faster than the local spotted dolphins. Basenjis
could talk Spanish but all of them chose not to.
A few political leaders were executed for betraying
the public trust and poets were rationed a gallon
of Burgundy a day. People only died on one day
a year and lovely choruses funneled out
of hospital chimneys where every room had a field
stone fireplace. Some fishermen learned to walk
on water and as a boy I trotted down rivers,
my flyrod at the ready. Women who wanted love
needed only to wear pig's ear slippers or garlic
earrings. All dogs and people in free concourse
became medium sized and brown, and on Christmas
everyone won the hundred dollar lottery. God and Jesus
didn't need to come down to earth because they were
already here riding wild horses every night
and children were allowed to stay up late to hear
them galloping by. The best restaurants were churches
with Episcopalians serving Provençal, the Methodists Tuscan,
and so on. In those days the country was an extra
two thousand miles wider, and an additional thousand
miles deep. There were many undiscovered valleys
to walk in where Indian tribes lived undisturbed
though some tribes chose to found new nations
in the heretofore unknown areas between the black
boundary cracks between states. I was married
to a Pawnee girl in a ceremony behind the usual waterfall.
Courts were manned by sleeping bears and birds sang
lucid tales of ancient bird ancestors who now fly
in other worlds. Certain rivers ran too fast
to be usable but were allowed to do so when they consented
not to flood at the Des Moines Conference.
Airliners were similar to airborne ships with multiple
fluttering wings that played a kind of chamber music
in the sky. Pistol barrels grew delphiniums
and everyone was able to select seven days a year
they were free to repeat but this wasn't a popular
program. In those days the void whirled
with flowers and unknown wild animals attended
country funerals. All the rooftops in cities were flower
and vegetable gardens. The Hudson River was drinkable
and a humpback whale was seen near the 42nd Street
pier, its head full of the blue blood of the sea,
its voice lifting the steps of people
in their traditional anti-march, their harmless disarray.
I could go on but won't. All my evidence
was lost in a fire but not before it was chewed
on by all the dogs that inhabit memory.
One by one they bark at the sun, moon and stars
trying to draw them closer again.

Jim Harrison

19 December 2016

Glimpses.

Böcklin, Triton and Nereid, 1877


The WORLD is TOO MUCH with US

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

William Wordsworth

Telemann, Concerto for Traverse Flute and Recorder in E minor, TWV 52:e1

The Bremer Baroque Orchestra performs, featuring Anninka Fohgrub, recorder, and Felipe Egaña, traverso ...

Vienna Boys' Choir, "Still, Still, Still"

17 December 2016

Warmth.


CHRISTMAS

I don’t have the will
to dive
into a tangle
of streets

I have so much
weariness
on my shoulders

Leave me
like a
thing
placed
in a
corner
and forgotten

Here
one feels nothing
other
than the good warmth

I’ll stay
with the four
somersaults of smoke
from the hearth.

Giuseppe Ungaretti