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 2017

Leonard Cohen, ¨Anthem¨

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.

But they've summoned, they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Dream.

Chardin, Young Student Drawing, 1738



ART


In placid hours well-pleased we dream
Of many a brave unbodied scheme.
But form to lend, pulsed life create,
What unlike things must meet and mate:
A flame to melt–a wind to freeze;
Sad patience–joyous energies;
Humility–yet pride and scorn;
Instinct and study; love and hate;
Audacity–reverence. These must mate,
And fuse with Jacob’s mystic heart,
To wrestle with the angel – Art.

Herman Melville

Expelling.

Gifford, Pen-Pen-Mox-Mox, Nex Perce, 1908


The Dreamers, among other pernicious doctrines, teach that the earth being created by God complete, should not be disturbed by man; and any cultivation of the soil or other improvements to interfere with its natural productions; any voluntary submission to the Control of the Government, any improvement in the way of schools, churches, etc., are crimes from which they shrink. This fanaticism is kept alive by the superstition of these Dreamers, who industriously teach that if they continue steadfast in their present belief a leader will be raised up (in the East) who will restore all the dead Indians to life, who will unite with them in expelling the whites from their country, when they will again enter upon and repossess the lands of their ancestors.

Nez Perce prophecy

RUSH, ¨The Pass¨

All of us get lost in the darkness
Dreamers learn to steer by the stars

Exploration.

Dawg Yawp, ¨I Wanna Be a Dawg¨

Dog.

Another.


There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!
Emily Dickinson

Questions.

Endure.


The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.

Italo Calvino

Sibelius, Realm of Tapio, Op. 112

Summertime sandwich-making music ...



CONNECT

Mysteries.



I do not think that more information always makes a richer poem. The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem could be made in this vocabulary. It is analogous to the unseen for example, to the power of ruins, to works of art either damaged or incomplete. Such works inevitably allude to larger contexts; they haunt because they are not whole, though wholeness is implied: another time, a world in which they were whole, or were to have been whole, is implied. There is no moment in which their first home is felt to be the museum. It seems to me that what is wanted, in art, is to harness the power of the unfinished. All earthly experience is partial. Not simply because it is subjective, but because that which we do not know, of the universe, of mortality, is so much more vast than that which we do know. What is unfinished or has been destroyed participates in these mysteries. The problem is to make a whole that does not forfeit this power.


Louise Glück

Excellent.

An excellent book ...


Perhaps it is more generally true that in order to learn from tradition, one has to be able to push against it, and not be bowed by a surfeit of reverence. The point isn’t to replicate the conclusions of tradition, but rather to enter into the same problems as the ancients and make them one’s own. That is how a tradition remains alive.

In Calvin’s time, one might have had a hereditary occupation. And as recently as the 1970s, it was possible to compose a working life centered around the steady accumulation of experience, and be valued in the workplace for that experience; for what you have become. But, as the sociologist Richard Sennett has shown in his studies of contemporary work, it has become difficult to experience the repose of any such settled identity. The ideal of being experienced has given way to the ideal of being flexible. What is demanded is an all-purpose intelligence, the kind one is certified to have by admission to an elite university, not anything in particular that you might have learned along the way. You have to be ready to reinvent yourself at any time, like a good democratic Übermensch. And while in Calvin’s time the threat of damnation might have been dismissed by some as a mere superstition, with our winner-take-all economy the risk of damnation has acquired real teeth. There is a real chance that you may get stuck at the bottom.


The appeal of magic is that it promises to render objects plastic to the will without one’s getting too entangled with them. Treated from arm’s length, the object can issue no challenge to the self. According to Freud, this is precisely the condition of the narcissist: he treats objects as props for his fragile ego and has an uncertain grasp of them as having a reality of their own. The clearest contrast to the narcissist that I can think of is the repairman, who must subordinate himself to the broken washing machine, listen to it with patience, notice its symptoms, and then act accordingly. He cannot treat it abstractly; the kind of agency he exhibits is not at all magical.

Matthew B. Crawford, from The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction

Steely Dan, ¨Don´t Take Me Alive¨

Strongly.


If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows, and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them.

Ernest Hemingway

Imagined.


The things that the novel does not say are necessarily more numerous than those it does say and only a special halo around what is written can give the illusion that you are reading also what is not written. Reading is going toward something that is about to be, and no one yet knows what it will be. Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combinatoria of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined?

Italo Calvino

Into.

Haydn, Symphony No.6 in D major, Hob.I:6, ¨The Morning¨

The Geneva Camerata performs, Simos Papanas, concertmaster ...

Woodswimmer.

30 July 2017

Out.


I think we need not to be so pedantic and academic and strict about what we consider wilderness. It’s whatever in undisturbed nature that can stir the innate wild in men and women. Wildness lives in all of us; wilderness is whatever it takes to wake it up. And some people can get it watching birds and squirrels in their backyard, and other people are like me, they need endless hunks of tundra with big bears and jaguars, tigers, polar bears. That whole formula of going back into the wilderness to heal your wounds, it works. It’s amazing. Hemingway in his Nick Adams stories…after the war, Nick fishes his way towards the swamps of the Big Two Hearted River to save his sanity — it’s the same story. The wilderness is a great place to go to do your healing.

I went out to Rockford, Illinois to give a talk. They have a 369 acre — not very big by Western standards — nature preserve along a river, called Severson Dells. Man, does that magical place transform not just the character of that country, but it’s an inspiration to countless people who go there, canoe, walk around and connect with nature. That kind of experience can be had in Europe where civilization has been marching along with whatever Pleistocene remnants, even if the areas are not very big, and animals like wolves and brown bears that live there are few, people draw inspiration from their survival. That’s a source of hope.

Beware of the corporate lawyer, inside approach; paper monkeywrenching is not going to affect real change. The system is now the enemy and all that’s a sideshow. Am I saying: Go out and make yourself a spear and sharpen it over the fire? Possibly. I think activists need to know the wild, get out into it as much as feasible. Much of our job is still to go out and save a bear or a prairie dog or a bird or a goddamn forest.

Doug Peacock

Excellent.

An excellent album ...


Respect.


You shall promise and swear in the presence of almightie God, that whensoever you shall repaire to the publique Librarie of this Universitie, you will conforme to your self to studie with modestie and silence, and use both the bookes and everything els appertaining to their furniture, with a careful respect to their longest conservation; and that neither yourself in person, nor any other whosoever, by your procurement or privitie, shall either openly or underhand, by way of embezeling, changing, razing, defacing, tearing, cutting, noting, interlining, or by voluntarie corrupting, blotting, slurring or any other manner of mangling, or misusing, any one or more of the saied bookes, either wholly or in part, make any alteration: but shall hinder and impeache, so much as lieth in yow, all and every offendour or offendours, by detecting their demeanour unto the Vice-chancellour, or to his Deputie then in place, within the next three daies after it shall com to your knowledge, so help you God by Christian merites, according to the doctrine of his holy Evangelistes.

Thomas Bodley’s Oath, pledged by all who were given a Reader’s Card for the Oxford University Bodleian Libraries.

Sacred.

Bach, Partita No.6 in E Minor, BWV 830

Glenn Gould performs the Corrente ...

Scruton.

Roger Scruton on architecture and aesthetic education ...



Scruton debating the resolution, Prince Charles Was Right: Modern Architecture is Still All Glass Stumps and Carbuncles ...




The May 1984 speech given by HRH The Prince of Wales at the 150th anniversary of the Royal Institute of British Architects ... HERE.

Accessible.


MAP

Flat as the table
it’s placed on.
Nothing moves beneath it
and it seeks no outlet.

Above — my human breath
creates no stirring air
and leaves its total surface
Undisturbed.

Its plains, valleys are always green,
uplands, mountains are yellow and brown,
while seas, oceans remain a kindly blue
beside the tattered shores.

Everything here is small, near, accessible.
I can press volcanoes with my fingertip,
stroke the poles without thick mittens,
I can with a single glance
encompass every desert
with the river lying just beside it.

A few trees stand for ancient forests,
you couldn’t lose your way among them.

In the east and west,
above and below the equator—
quiet like pins dropping,
and in every black pinprick
people keep on living.

Mass graves and sudden ruins
are out of the picture.

Nations’ borders are barely visible
as if they wavered — to be or not.

I like maps, because they lie.
Because they give no access to the vicious truth.
Because great-heartedly, good-naturedly
they spread before me a world
not of this world.

Wisława Szymborska

29 July 2017

Sturgeon..

A sturgeon is a doctor who cuts you open when you're sick ...

Merle Haggard, ¨Natural High¨

Changed.

What do Italian tomato sauce, Florida oranges and Thai chili peppers have in common? All are products that are not native to those lands. Every American knows that 1492 was when Columbus “discovered” the New World. It was also the moment when, biologically, the world changed.

In his previous bestselling book, 1491, Charles C. Mann gave the history of the Americas before Columbus. With 1493, he tells a biological detective story in which the transplanting of life forms to new regions -- rats, grasses, beetles and bugs -- is seen as the secret force behind a great deal of history and upheaval, from the rise of Europe to today’s culture wars.

Rising Appalachia, ¨Cluck Old Hen¨

Always.


Why are the librarians' personal conversations always the loudest sounds in the library these days? How has this happened?

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Relatives.


The whole concept of ¨wild¨ was decidedly European, one not shared by the original inhabitants of this continent. What we called ¨wilderness¨ was to the Indian a homeland, ¨abiding loveliness¨ in Salish or Piegan. The land was not something to be feared or conquered, and ¨wildlife¨ were neither wild nor alien; they were relatives.

Doug Peacock

28 July 2017

Bruce Springsteen, ¨If I Should Fall Behind¨

Struggle.


People have, with the help of so many conventions, resolved everything the easy way, on the easiest side of easy. But it is clear that we must embrace struggle. Every living thing conforms to it. Everything in nature grows and struggles in its own way, establishing its own identity, insisting on it at all costs, against all resistance. We can be sure of very little, but the need to court struggle is a surety that will not leave us.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Question.


Roger Scruton on what makes us human and the questions that have no answers ...

If I ask myself what makes us human, one answer jumps out at me straight away – it is not the only answer but it is the one suggested by the question. What makes us human is that we ask questions. All the animals have interests, instincts and conceptions. All the animals frame for themselves an idea of the world in which they live. But we alone question our surroundings. We alone refuse to be defined by the world in which we live but instead try to define our nature for ourselves.

The intellectual history of our species is to a great extent defined by this attempt. Are we animals like the others? Do we have souls as well as bodies? Are we related, in the order of things, to angels, to demons and to gods? All science, all art, all religion and all philosophy worth the name begins in a question. And it is because we have questions that human life is so deeply satisfying and so deeply troubling, too.

Search.


A romantic is basically a person who feels that the world is full of hidden meanings -- that discovery and adventure lie around every corner. This seems to me a broader, and therefore truer, attitude than that of the pessimist who feels that human life is short, brutal and pointless. The romantic recognizes that the problem lies in our own limitations, in the narrowness of our senses. So when a romantic also happens to be a realist, he is likely to devote a great deal of his life to a search for meaning -- which is synonymous with self-transformation.

Carl Jung

Joe Ely, ¨Settle for Love¨

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Diet.


Wonder and awe ... the diet of the artist.

Roger Scruton

Wellspring.

Bierstadt, Turbulent Clouds, White Mountains, New Hampshire, 1858


The magnificent beauty of the natural world is a manifestation of the mysterious natural laws that will be forever obscured from us. Truly all is remarkable and a wellspring of amazement and wonder.

Albert Bierstadt

Schubert, ¨An die Musik¨

You, noble Art, in how many grey hours,
When life's mad tumult wraps around me,


Have you kindled my heart to warm love,
Have you transported me into a better world,
Transported into a better world!
Often has a sigh flowing out from your harp,
A sweet, divine harmony from you


Unlocked to me the heaven of better times,
You, noble Art, I thank you for it,
You, noble Art, I thank you!

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf sings, accompanied by Gerald Moore ...