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 March 2017

Heroic.


In modern civilization everything tends to suffocate the heroic sense of life. Everything is more or less mechanized, spiritually impoverished, and reduced to a prudent and regulated association of beings who are needy and have lost their self-sufficiency. The contact between man's deep and free powers and the powers of things and of nature has been cut off; metropolitan life petrifies everything, syncopates every breath, and contaminates every spiritual "well."

Julius Evola, Meditations on Peaks

Ben Webster, "Stardust"

Cherish.


The ability to cherish the “little joy” is intimately connected with the habit of moderation. For this ability, originally natural to every man, presupposes certain things which in modern daily life have largely become obscured or lost, mainly a measure of cheerfulness, of love, and of poesy. These little joys are so inconspicuous and scattered so liberally throughout our daily lives that the dull minds of countless workers hardly notice them. They are not outstanding, they are not advertised, they cost no money!

Herman Hesse

Technique.


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

Frank Sinatra, "Night and Day"

Change.


Thanks, Harvey.

James Brown, "Papa Don't Take No Mess/My Thang"

Nice.


Nice try, car dealership.

Repainted.


For the first time in its 60-year history, one of the Mackinac Bridge’s iconic ivory towers will be stripped down to bare metal and repainted.

Happy birthday, Young.


Angus Young was born on this day in 1955.

"Shoot to Thrill"



HAPPY FRIDAY!

Gravy.

Startling.

O'Keeffe, Blue, Black and Gray, 1960


To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.

Emily Dickinson

Happy birthday, Haydn.

Hoppner, Franz Joseph Haydn, 1791


Franz Joseph Haydn was born on this day in 1732.

Il Giardino Armonico, under the enthusiastic flailings of Giovanni Antonini, performs the Symphony No.22 in E-flat major, Hob.I:22, "The Philosopher"...

Because.

Bernelmans, In Rain, 1939


As the falling rain
trickles among the stones
memories come bubbling out.
It’s as if the rain
had pierced my temples.
Streaming
streaming chaotically
come memories:
the reedy voice
of the servant
telling me tales
of ghosts. They sat beside me
the ghosts
and the bed creaked
that purple-dark afternoon
when I learned you were leaving forever,
a gleaming pebble
from constant rubbing
becomes a comet. Rain is falling
falling
and memories keep flooding by
they show me a senseless
world 
a voracious
world—abyss
ambush
whirlwind
spur
but I keep loving it
because I do
because of my five senses
because of my amazement
because every morning, 
because forever,
I have loved it without knowing why.

Claribel Alegria

Superior.

Rossini, The Thieving Magpie

Claudio Abbado conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in performing the Overture ...

Replaced.


Thanks, Charlie.

30 March 2017

Sam Bush, "Little Girl of Mine in Tennessee"

With Béla Fleck and Jerry Douglas ...

Happy birthday, Clapton.


Eric Clapton was born on this day in 1945.

"Five Long Years"

Santana, "Changes"

Dixie.

Al Stewart, "Time Passages"

Chicken nachos ...

Optimistic.


A man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will's freedom after it.

Aldus Huxley

Joy.


Joy prompts courage.

Hans Christian Anderson

Handel, Suite in D minor, HWV 437

Violinist Rodion Zamuruev and the Mobilis Ensemble perform the Sarabande ...

Understood.

Constable, A Cottage in a Cornfield, 1817


Our most beautiful towns were not the work of architects, but of modest builders, working with materials that they understood.

Roger Scruton

CONNECT

Depeche Mode, "I Feel You"

Happy birthday, van Gogh.

van Gogh, Self-portrait (detail), 1889


Vincent van Gogh was born on this day in 1853.

As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.  I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate.

Vincent van Gogh

29 March 2017

World.


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

e.e. cummings

Journey.


The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Lao Tzu

Obata.



Thanks, Jess.

Peter Rowan, "The Raven"

With The Accomplices, featuring fiddler Colleen Heine ...

Welcome.


... while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn throws up a steamy column, and the cups that cheer but not inebriate wait on each, so let us welcome peaceful evening in. 

Winston Churchill

Stan Getz, "Slow Boat to China"

Kenny Barron, piano ...

Marcus King Band, "Plant Your Corn Early"

Nothing.

People.


I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks — no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.

James Madison

Bluepoint.

Churchill.

This summer.

Featuring Brian Cox.

Imagination.


To the Eyes of the Man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself. As a man is, so he sees. As the eye is formed, such are its powers.

William Blake

Tribute.

Listen carefully ... The Grand Library's tribute to Harrison ....

Statements.


The activity we call building creates the physical order of the world, constantly, unendingly, day after day. Our world is dominated by the order we create.  Although we are responsible for the creation of order on this enormous scale, we hardly even know what the word "order" means. Issues which were straightforward in other ages – such as spirit, for example, or the life that can exist in stone – are inadmissible for us.

The Nature of the Universe:
(i) all space and matter, organic or inorganic, has some degree of life in it, and the matter/space is more alive or less alive according to its structure or arrangement.
(ii) all matter/space has some degree of "self" in it, and that this self, or anyway some aspect of the personal, is something which infuses all matter/space, and everything we know as matter but now think to be mechanical.

I have come to believe that architecture is so agonizingly disturbed because we – the architects of our time – are struggling with a conception of the world, a world-picture, that essentially makes it impossible to make buildings well. This worldview is the mechanist-rationalist worldview.

More precisely, I believe that the mistake and confusion in our picture of the art of building has come from our conception of what matter is.

Our idea of matter is essentially governed by our idea of order.  Our impression of matter is governed by our idea of how space can be arranged; and that in turn is governed by our idea of how orderly arrangement in space creates matter.  So it is the nature of order which lies at the root of the problem of architecture.

Although science gives us a way of seeing order as a producer of effects – in particular because the scientific view of things shows us the geometry of matter as if it were part of a machine, a machine which can do certain things – we still do not have a way of seeing the order of a thing which simply exists.

With this mechanistic viewpoint, the picture of the world as a machine doesn't have an "I" in it.  Of course it is still there in our experience.  But it isn't part of the picture we have of how things are.  Also, The picture of the world we have from physics, because it is built only out of mental machines, no longer has any definite feeling of value in it; value has become sidelined as a matter of opinion, not intrinsic to the nature of the world at all.

The real nature of this deep order hinges on a simple and fundamental question: What kinds of statements do we recognize as being true or false?

Christopher Alexander, from The Phenomenon of Life: The Nature of Order

Mozart, Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra in E-flat major, K. 364 (320d)

Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducts the Vienna Philharmonic ...

Read.


A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t.

Mark Twain

Attention.


A teacher who is paying attention will never need to administer a test.

Alfie Kohn

CONNECT

First.

Jimmy Buffett, "If The Phone Doesn't Ring It's Me"

Doyle Gresham, pedal steel ...

28 March 2017

Mind.

Connection.


At a formal banquet, Simonides of Ceos sang a poem in praise of the Gods and his host. Afterwards, the host, the nobleman Scopas, berated Simonides for the poem, saying he would only pay half of the agreed-upon wages because only half the poem was for Scopas. Let the Gods pay the other half, intended for them. Shortly after this encounter, a messenger came into the banquet and informed Simonides that two men on horseback were waiting for him outside. But when he went outside there was no one there. Upon returning to the banquet, he found everyone dead. In his absence, the hall had collapsed into rubble. When the relatives of the deceased came, they could not identify their dead. And so Simonides of Ceos restored the banquet in his mind and, walking past each table setting, remembered the guest who had dined there.

The method of loci (or the memory palace technique) grew out of this myth about memory. According to this mnemonic device, someone can remember a list of things by placing each item, via a strong image, in a distinct, familiar location (whether it’s a series of rooms in a building or a route through a city) and then simply walk through this location to recall the items. Historical accounts record Seneca the Elder retaining 2,000 words in the exact order he received them. An orator could also recite a text backward by simply reversing the direction he walked through his memory palace. St. Augustine writes of his friend Simplicius being able to recite Virgil line by line backward.

Both the method and the myth speak to the latent connection between poetry and architecture. There’s the obvious connection that many poems rely on the built environment as memorable, resonant backdrops for their narratives and lyrics. But the more powerful, subtle connection relates more to structure. In Chinese, the character for poetry is composed of two symbols: “word” and “temple.”

Words are the stones, precisely chiseled and laid, to create the sacred, culturally resonant whole. Both poems and buildings achieve their effects through attention to detail, texture, and structure; awareness of cultural and historic resonance; and spatial and temporal (not to mention emotional and conceptual) development.

CONNECT

Salieri, Les Danaïdes

Technique.


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

Imagination.


You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period - I am addressing myself to the School - surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.

Winston Churchill, from his speech at the Harrow School, October 29, 1941

Hot Rize, "Sky Rider"

Michigan.

Elf.


The Mushroom is the Elf of Plants - 
At Evening, it is not
At Morning, in a Truffled Hut
It stop opon a Spot

As if it tarried always
And yet it’s whole Career
Is shorter than a Snake’s Delay - 
And fleeter than a Tare - 

’Tis Vegetation’s Juggler - 
The Germ of Alibi - 
Doth like a Bubble antedate
And like a Bubble, hie - 

I feel as if the Grass was pleased
To have it intermit - 
This surreptitious Scion
Of Summer’s circumspect.

Had Nature any supple Face
Or could she one contemn - 
Had Nature an Apostate - 
That Mushroom - it is Him!

Emily Dickinson 

John Fahey, "How Green was My Valley"

Off.


ENDLESS STREAMS and MOUNTAINS

Clearing the mind and sliding in
          to that created space,
a web of waters steaming over rocks,
air misty but not raining,
          seeing this land from a boat on a lake
          or a broad slow river,
          coasting by.
The path comes down along a lowland stream
slips behind boulders and leafy hardwoods,
reappears in a pine grove,
no farms around, just tidy cottages and shelters,
gateways, rest stops, roofed but unwalled work space,
          —a warm damp climate;
a trail of climbing stairsteps forks upstream.
Big ranges lurk behind these rugged little outcrops—
these spits of low ground rocky uplifts
          layered pinnacles aslant,
flurries of brushy cliffs receding,
far back and high above, vague peaks.
A man hunched over, sitting on a log
          another stands above him, lifts a staff,
a third, with a roll of mats or a lute, looks on;
a bit offshore two people in a boat.
The trail goes far inland,
          somewhere back around a bay,
lost in distant foothill slopes
                   & back again
at a village on the beach, and someone’s fishing.
Rider and walker cross a bridge
above a frothy braided torrent
that descends from a flurry of roofs like flowers
          temples tucked between cliffs,
                    a side trail goes there;
a jumble of cliffs above,
ridge tops edged with bushes,
valley fog below a hazy canyon.
A man with a shoulder load leans into the grade.
Another horse and a hiker,
the trail goes up along cascading streambed
no bridge in sight—
comes back through chinquapin or
liquidambars; another group of travelers.
Trail’s end at the edge of an inlet
below a heavy set of dark rock hills.
Two moored boats with basket roofing,
          a boatman in the bow looks
                    lost in thought.
                    Hills beyond rivers, willows in a swamp,
                    a gentle valley reaching far inland.
                    The watching boat has floated off the page.

Gary Snyder

Clarence White, "Listen to the Mockingbird"

Happy birthday, Schoolcraft.


Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was born on this day in 1793.

CONNECT

Unroll.

Canaletto, A View of Walton Bridge (detail), 1754


The BOOK of a MONK’S LIFE

I live my life in circles that grow wide
And endlessly unroll,
I may not reach the last, but on I glide
Strong pinioned toward my goal.
About the old tower, dark against the sky,
The beat of my wings hums,
I circle about God, sweep far and high
On through milleniums.
Am I a bird that skims the clouds along,
Or am I a wild storm, or a great song?

Many have painted her. But there was one
Who drew his radiant colours from the sun.
Mysteriously glowing through a background dim
When he was suffering she came to him,
And all the heavy pain within his heart
Rose in his hands and stole into his art.
His canvas is the beautiful bright veil
Through which her sorrow shines. There where the frail
Texture o'er her sad lips is closely drawn
A trembling smile softly begins to dawn . . .
Though angels with seven candles light the place
You cannot read the secret of her face.

In cassocks clad I have had many brothers
In southern cloisters where the laurel grows,
They paint Madonnas like fair human mothers
And I dream of young Titians and of others
In which the God with shining radiance glows.
But though my vigil constantly I keep
My God is dark—like woven texture flowing,
A hundred drinking roots, all intertwined;
I only know that from His warmth I'm growing.
More I know not: my roots lie hidden deep
My branches only are swayed by the wind.

Thou Anxious One! And dost thou then not hear
Against thee all my surging senses sing?
About thy face in circles drawing near
My thought floats like a fluttering white wing.
Dost thou not see, before thee stands my soul
In silence wrapt my Springtime's prayer to pray?
But when thy glance rests on me then my whole
Being quickens and blooms like trees in May.
When thou art dreaming then I am thy Dream,
But when thou art awake I am thy Will
Potent with splendour, radiant and sublime,
Expanding like far space star-lit and still
Into the distant mystic realm of Time.

I love my life's dark hours
In which my senses quicken and grow deep,
While, as from faint incense of faded flowers
Or letters old, I magically steep
Myself in days gone by: again I give
Myself unto the past:—again I live.
Out of my dark hours wisdom dawns apace,
Infinite Life unrolls its boundless space . . .
Then I am shaken as a sweeping storm
Shakes a ripe tree that grows above a grave
'Round whose cold clay the roots twine fast and warm—
And Youth's fair visions that glowed bright and brave,
Dreams that were closely cherished and for long,
Are lost once more in sadness and in song.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Thanks to Mme. Scherzo for the clouds.

Today.

1973.


"Over the Hills and Far Away"

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