AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

27 March 2017

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Learn.

From Big Night ...



If you give people time, they learn.

Illusion.


An audio illusion that brings to life the sounds of a Tudor Lady Mass has been unveiled at The Vyne, where Henry VIII would have heard it almost 500 years ago. This unique National Trust soundscape immerses listeners in the prayers, chants, even movements of choristers and clergy.

You’ll hear the subtle change in volume of the priest’s voice as he turns from the altar, the clink of the thurible chain as incense is blessed, even the faint rustle of clothing. These details have been captured to enhance the sense of reality in The Vyne’s 16th-century chapel.

Judgement.


When it comes to beauty, our view of its status is radically affected by whether we see it as a form of self-expression, or as a form of self-denial. If we see it in this second way, then the assumption that it is merely subjective begins to fall away. Instead beauty begins to take on another character, as one of the instruments in our consensus-building strategies, one of the values through which we construct and belong to a shared and mutually consoling world. In short, it is part of building a home.

We can see this clearly if we look at the rituals and customs of family life. Consider what happens when you lay the table for a meal. This is not just a utilitarian event. If you treat it as such, the ritual will disintegrate, and the family members will end up grabbing individual portions to eat on their own. The table is laid according to precise rules of symmetry, choosing the right cutlery, the right plates, the right jugs and glasses. Everything is meticulously controlled by aesthetic norms, and those norms convey some of the meaning of family life. The pattern on a willow-pattern plate, for example, has been fixed over centuries, and speaks of tranquillity, of gentleness and of things that remain forever the same. Very many ordinary objects on the table have been, as it were, polished by domestic affection. Their edges have been rubbed off, and they speak in subdued, unpretentious tones of belonging. Serving the food is ritualized too, and you witness in the family meal the continuity of manners and aesthetic values. You witness another continuity too, between aesthetic values and the emotion that the Romans knew as piety—the recognition that the world is in other than human hands. Hence the gods are present at mealtimes, and Christians precede their eating with a grace, inviting God to sit down among them before they sit down themselves.

That example tells us a lot about aesthetic judgement and the pursuit of beauty. In particular, it shows the centrality of beauty to home-building, and therefore to establishing a shared environment. When the motive of sharing arises, we look for norms and conventions that we can all accept. We leave behind our private appetites and subjective preferences, in order to achieve a consensus that will provide a public background to what we are and what we do. In such circumstances aesthetic disagreements are not comfortable disagreements like disagreements over taste in food (which are not so much disagreements as differences). When it comes to the built environment we should not be surprised that aesthetic disagreements are the subjects of fierce litigation and legislative enforcement—even here in America, where each person is sovereign in his land.

We can reject the assumption that beauty is merely subjective without embracing the view that it is objective. The distinction between subjective and objective is neither clear nor exhaustive. I prefer to say that judgements of beauty express rational preferences, about matters in which the agreement of others is both sought and valued. They are not so very different, in those respects, from moral judgements, and often concern similar themes—as when we criticize works of art for their obscenity, cruelty, or sentimentality. Just how far we can go down the path of rational discussion depends upon what we think of the second assumption, namely, that beauty doesn’t matter.

Roger Scruton, from "The High Cost of Ignoring Beauty"

Discover.


A VARIATION on MACHADO

I worry much about the suffering
of Machado. I was only one when he carried
his mother across the border from Spain to France
in a rainstorm. She died and so did he
a few days later in a rooming house along a dry canal.
To carry Mother he abandoned a satchel
holding his last few years of poetry.
I've traveled to Collioure several times
to search for Machado's lost satchel.
The French fed him but couldn't save him.
There's no true path to a death —
we discover the path by walking.
We turn a corner on no road
and there's a house on a green hill
with a thousand colorful birds sweeping in a circle.
Are the poems in the basement of the house on the hill?
We'll find out if we remember earth at all.

Jim Harrison

Lemonade.

From The Marx Brothers, Duck Soup ... a nice, cold glass of lemonade ...

Happy birthday, Vaughan.


Sarah Vaughan was born on this day in 1924.

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

Today.

26 March 2017

Los Lobos, "Lovelight/Not Fade Away/Bertha"

Restore.


If you wish to restore your health, take out your largest iron pot and put in two pounds of pork shoulder, Serrano and pasilla (fresh chiles), onions, cumin, lots of garlic, ground Chimayo chile, chopped cilantro, and water. Bring to heat on stove, then put in the oven at 300° F for four hours, after which you jerk the pork and remove the bones. Serve on tortilla chips or Fritos with condiments of chopped onions, cilantro, and grated cheese. Eat a lot and then nap.

CONNECT


Thank you, Megan and Kurt.

Aware.


Probably the most significant thing that I could learn from Jim Harrison is when you walked through the forest or went fishing or hunting with him. He was hyper aware of all the sounds of nature to the point that he could pinpoint and capture one little kind of bird that you would not even have noticed while you were walking with him, or the way that the brook babbled at a particular kind of outcrop of rocks or going over a log. The way he understood and had all of that audio filed was something so remarkable. You can hear it when he writes. You can hear his voice in every sentence, but you can also hear his entire audio world which is a rich, amazing tapestry.

Los Lobos, "Mas Y Mas"

Own.


A poet must discover that it’s his own story that is true, even if the truth is small indeed.

Jim Harrison

Bill Evans, "My Foolish Heart"

Personally.

Bird.

Jeeves.

Purcell, "Sound the Trumpet/Come, Ye Sons of Art"

Pursuing.


When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses, for art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstones of our judgement. The artists, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state. The great artist is thus a solitary figure. He has, as Frost said, "a lover's quarrel with the world." In pursuing his perceptions of reality he must often sail against the currents of his time. This is not a popular role.


CONNECT

Mozart, Quartet in F major, K. 370/368b

Heinz Holliger performs with the Swiss Chamber Soloists ...

Fight.

Nothing.


Nothing in the universe is truly hidden.

Dogen

Happy birthday, Frankl.


Victor Frankl was born on this day in 1905.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

Vikor Frankl

CONNECT 

Happy birthday, Frost.


Robert Frost was born on this day in 1874.

A PRAYER in SPRING

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.


Robert Frost

Today.

1997.


"Next thing I know, Mac is dragging Lemieux over to our bench, as if to say, 'I told you I'd get him, boys.'"


CONNECT

Harrison.


Jim Harrison passed away on this day last year.

BARKING

The moon comes up. 
The moon goes down. 
This is to inform you 
that I didn’t die young. 
Age swept past me 
but I caught up. 
Spring has begun here and each day 
brings new birds up from Mexico. 
Yesterday I got a call from the outside 
world but I said no in thunder. 
I was a dog on a short chain 
and now there’s no chain.

Jim Harrison

23 March 2017

21 March 2017

Seen.

Obata, Evening Moon, 1930


II

I have seen in my solitude
very clear things
that are not true.

Antonio Machado

Technique.


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

Gordon Lightfoot, "Shadows"

Won't you reach out love and touch me
Let me hold you for awhile
I've been all around the world
Oh how I long to see you smile
There's a shadow on the moon
And the waters here below
Do not shine the way they should
And I love you, just in case you didn't know

Moved.


Monasteries of the mind are an effort to reconnect with the past and disengage psychologically from the present. For millions of Americans, their music, their movies, their sports, and their media are not current fare. Instead, they have mentally moved to mountaintops or inaccessible valleys, where they can live in the past or dream of the future, but certainly not dwell in the here and now.


Thank you, Execupundit.

Propriety.

Vanderlyn, James Madison, 1816


I, sir, have always conceived - I believe those who proposed the constitution conceived,and it is still more fully known, and more material to observe, those who ratified the constitution conceived, that this is not an indefinite government deriving its powers from the general terms prefixed to the specified powers - but, a limited government tied down to the specified powers, which explain and define the general terms.

James Madison, speech before Congress, February 6, 1792

I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shape and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject. What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. And that the language of our Constitution is already undergoing interpretations unknown to its founder, will I believe appear to all unbiased Enquirers into the history of its origin and adoption.

James Madison, letter to Henry Lee, June 25, 1824

The best reason to be assigned, in this case, for not having made the Constitution more free from a charge of uncertainty in its meaning, is believed to be, that it was not suspected that any such charge would ever take place; and it appears that no such charge did take place, during the early period of the Constitution, when the meaning of its authors could be best ascertained, nor until many of the contemporary lights had in the lapse of time been extinguished. How often does it happen, that a notoriety of intention diminishes the caution against its being misunderstood or doubted!

James Madison, letter to Joseph Cabell, October 30, 1828

Maestra.

Today.

1994.


"The Calling"

Sam Bush, "Girl from the North Country"

Freedom.

Obata, Upper Lyell Fork, near Lyell Glacier, 1930


Although my grandmother lived out her long life in the shadow of Rainy Mountain, the immense landscape of the continental interior lay like memory in her blood. She could tell of the Crows, whom she had never seen, and of the Black Hills, where she had never been. I wanted to see in reality what she had seen more perfectly in the mind's eye, and traveled fifteen hundred miles to begin my pilgrimage.

Yellowstone, it seemed to me, was the top of the world, a region of deep lakes and dark timber, canyons and waterfalls. But, beautiful as it is, one might have the sense of confinement there. The skyline in all directions is close at hand, the high wall of the woods and deep cleavages of shade. There is a perfect freedom in the mountains, but it belongs to the eagle and the elk, the badger and the bear. The Kiowas reckoned their stature by the distance they could see, and they were bent and blind in the wilderness.

Descending eastward, the highland meadows are a stairway to the plain. In July the inland slope of the Rockies is luxuriant with flax and buckwheat, stonecrop and larkspur. The earth unfolds and the limit of the land recedes. Clusters of trees, and animals grazing far in the distance, cause the vision to reach away and wonder to build upon the mind. The sun follows a longer course in the day, and the sky is immense beyond all comparison. The great billowing clouds that sail upon it are shadows that move upon the grain like water, dividing light. Farther down, in the land of the Crows and Blackfeet, the plain is yellow. Sweet clover takes hold of the hills and bends upon itself to cover and seal the soil. There the Kiowas paused on their way; they had come to the place where they must change their lives. The sun is at home on the plains. Precisely there does it have the certain character of a god. When the Kiowas came to the land of the Crows, they could see the darklees of the hills at dawn across the Bighorn River, the profusion of light on the grain shelves, the oldest deity ranging after the solstices. Not yet would they veer southward to the caldron of the land that lay below; they must wean their blood from the northern winter and hold the mountains a while longer in their view. They bore Tai-me in procession to the east.

N. Scott Momaday, from "The Way to Rainy Mountain"

Show.


Thank you, Megan.

Matters.

Over the weekend, coach Geno Auriemma provided some sage advice -- body language matters ...

Live.

Glenn Miller Orchestra, "(I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo"

Resting.


The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring- cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said 'Bother!' and 'O blow!' and also 'Hang spring-cleaning!' and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, 'Up we go! Up we go!' till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

'This is fine!' he said to himself. `This is better than whitewashing!' The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.

'Hold up!' said an elderly rabbit at the gap. 'Sixpence for the privilege of passing by the private road!' He was bowled over in an instant by the impatient and contemptuous Mole, who trotted along the side of the hedge chaffing the other rabbits as they peeped hurriedly from their holes to see what the row was about. 'Onion-sauce! Onion-sauce!' he remarked jeeringly, and was gone before they could think of a thoroughly satisfactory reply. Then they all started grumbling at each other. 

'How stupid you are! Why didn't you tell him ——' 'Well, why didn't you say ——' 'You might have reminded him——' and so on, in the usual way; but, of course, it was then much too late, as is always the case.

It all seemed too good to be true. Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting— everything happy, and progressive, and occupied. And instead of having an uneasy conscience pricking him and whispering 'whitewash!' he somehow could only feel how jolly it was to be the only idle dog among all these busy citizens. After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.

Kenneth Grahame, from The Wind in the Willows

Exquisite.


Thanks, hopeleslie.

Tee.



Paul Shaffer with Bill Murray, "Happy Street"

No.

Dog.

Happy birthday, Bach.

Haussmann, Bach, 1748


Johann Sebastian Bach was born on this day in 1685.

What I have achieved by industry and practice, anyone else with tolerable natural gift and ability can also achieve.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Pablo Casals performs one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, Bach's Cello Suite No.1 in G major, BWV 1007 (the Sarabande is at 8:09) ...



Bach: A Passionate Life ...

Pleasure.


Do not be afraid of cooking as your ingredients will know, and misbehave. Enjoy your cooking and the food will behave; moreover it will pass your pleasure on to those who eat it.

Fergus Henderson

Happy birthday, Dad.


My Dad was born on this day in 1937.

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.

Umberto Eco

Happy birthday, Dad. I Love you!

20 March 2017

Passing.

Curtis, Cheyenne, 1900


I devoted thirty-three years to gathering text material and pictures for The North American Indian. I did this as a contribution; without salary, direct or indirect financial returns. When I was done with the last volume, I did not possess enough money to buy a ham sandwich; yet the books will remain the outstanding story of the Indian.

The passing of every old man or woman means the passing of some tradition, some knowledge of sacred rites possessed by no other...consequently the information that is to be gathered, for the benefit of future generations, respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost for all time.

The thought which these pictures are meant to convey is that Indians as a race, already shorn of their tribal strength and stripped of their primitive dress, are passing into the darkness of an unknown future.

Edward Sheriff Curtis

Dirk Powell, "Waterbound"

With Jerry Douglas, Tim O'Brien, and Bruce Molsky ...

Siesta.

Once.


AS FOR POETS

As for poets
The Earth Poets
Who write small poems,
Need help from no man.

The Air Poets
Play out the swiftest gales
And sometimes loll in the eddies.
Poem after poem,
Curling back on the same thrust.

At fifty below
Fuel oil won't flow
And propane stays in the tank.
Fire Poets
Burn at absolute zero
Fossil love pumped backup

The first
Water Poet
Stayed down six years.
He was covered with seaweed.
The life in his poem
Left millions of tiny
Different tracks
Criss-crossing through the mud.

With the Sun and Moon
In his belly,
The Space Poet
Sleeps.
No end to the sky-
But his poems,
Like wild geese,
Fly off the edge.


A Mind Poet
Stays in the house.
The house is empty
And it has no walls.
The poem
Is seen from all sides,
Everywhere,
At once.

Gary Snyder

Transformed.


Nature, the things we associate with and use, are provisional and perishable; but, so long as we are here, they are our possession and our friendship; sharers in our trouble and gladness, just as they have been the confidants of our ancestors. Therefore, not only must all that is here not be vilified or degraded, but, just because of that very provisionality they share with us, all these appearances and things should be, in the most fervent sense, comprehended by us and transformed. Transformed? Yes, for our task is to stamp this provisional, perishing earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its being may rise again, ‘invisibly’ in us. We are the bees of the invisible.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Fromages.

Hummel, Trumpet Concerto in E major, S.49

Wynton Marsalis performs the Rondo with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Raymond Leppard ...

Success.


I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening, and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when people start getting corrupted by life. Let him or her be the only judge; not your reputation, not your wealth, not your standing in the community, not the decorations on your lapel. If you do not feel ashamed, you are successful. All other definitions of success are modern constructions; fragile modern constructions.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Happy birthday, Bingham.

Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Mississippi, 1845


George Caleb Bingham was born on this day in 1811.

To the beautiful belongs an endless variety. It is seen not only in symmetry and elegance of form, in youth and health, but is often quite as fully apparent in decrepit old age. It is found in the cottage of the peasant as well as the palace of kings.

George Caleb Bingham

19 March 2017

Pärt, "Summa"

The Dublin Guitar Quartet performs ...

Need.


Beauty matters. 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. There is a deep human need for beauty and if you ignore that need in architecture your buildings will not last. The skill of the true artist is to show the real in the light of the ideal and so transfigure it.

Roger Scruton