AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

12 July 2018

Queen, "Somebody to Love"

Difference.

Happy birthday, Boudin

Boudin, Clouds over Sea, 1865


Eugene Boudin was born on this day in 1824.

Everything that is painted directly and on the spot has always a strength, a power, a vivacity of touch which one cannot recover in the studio. Three strokes of a brush in front of nature are worth more than two days of work at the easel.

Eugen Boudin

11 July 2018

Gonzo.

Gray.

Cox, Gray and Gold, 1942

Beppe Gambetta, "Pane, Olio, e Sale"

Girded.


I myself can occasionally summon the courage to complain, but I cannot, as I have intimated, complain softly. My own instinct is so strong to let the thing ride, to forget about it -- to expect that someone will take the matter up, when the grievance is collective, in my behalf -- that it is only when the provocation is at a very special key, whose vibrations touch simultaneously a complex of nerves, allergies, and passions, that I catch fire and find the reserves of courage and assertiveness to speak up. When that happens, I get quite carried away. My blood gets hot, my brow wet, I become unbearably and unconscionably sarcastic and bellicose; I am girded for a total showdown.

William F. Buckley Jr, from "Why Don't We Complain?"

C.P.E. Bach, Flute Concerto in D Minor, Wq 22

Anna Bresson performs the Un poco andante with the Kore Orchestra ...

Germinated.

Hawksmoor, Pathway to Black Manor's Woodland Garden, Castle Howard, Yorkshire, England, 1701


But now a spiritual life germinated in this cultural soil grown old, scholars and artists, painters and poets were born into the dying city. The descendants of those who had once built the first houses on this new ground spent their days smilingly amid a quiet late flowering of the arts. They painted the melancholy splendor of old moss-covered gardens with their weather-beaten statues and green ponds, or wrote sensitive verses about the remote tumult of the old heroic age or the silent dreams of tired men in old palaces.

Herman Hesse

Become.


There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he looked upon and received with wonder or pity or love or dread, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day . . . . or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morningglories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phœbe-bird,
And the March-born lambs, and the sow’s pink-faint litter, and the mare’s foal, and the cow’s calf, and the noisy brood of the barn-yard or by the mire of the pond-side . . and the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there . . . and the beautiful curious liquid . . and the water-plants with their graceful flat heads . . all became part of him.

And the field-sprouts of April and May became part of him . . . . wintergrain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and of the esculent roots of the garden,
And the appletrees covered with blossoms, and the fruit afterward . . . . and woodberries . . and the commonest weeds by the road;
And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the tavern whence he had lately risen,
And the schoolmistress that passed on her way to the school . . and the friendly boys that passed . . and the quarrelsome boys . . and the tidy and fresh-cheeked girls . . and the barefoot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country wherever he went.

His own parents . . he that had propelled the fatherstuff at night, and fathered him . . and she that conceived him in her womb and birthed him . . . . they gave this child more of themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day . . . . they and of them became part of him.
The mother at home quietly placing the dishes on the suppertable,
The mother with mild words . . . . clean her cap and gown . . . . a wholesome odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by:
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, angered, unjust,
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture . . . . the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsayed . . . . The sense of what is real . . . . the thought if after all it should prove unreal,
The doubts of daytime and the doubts of nighttime . . . . the curious whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so . . . . Or is it all flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets . . if they are not flashes and specks what are they?
The streets themselves, and the façades of houses. . . . the goods in the windows,
Vehicles . . teams . . the tiered wharves, and the huge crossing at the ferries;
The village on the highland seen from afar at sunset . . . . the river between,
Shadows . . aureola and mist . . light falling on roofs and gables of white or brown, three miles off,
The schooner near by sleepily dropping down the tide . . the little boat slacktowed astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves and quickbroken crests and slapping;
The strata of colored clouds . . . . the long bar of maroontint away solitary by itself . . . . the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon’s edge, the flying seacrow, the fragrance of saltmarsh and shoremud;
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes and will always go forth every day,
And these become of him or her that peruses them now.

Walt Whitman

Mozart, Oboe Quartet in F major, K. 370

Heinz Holliger performs with the Swiss Chamber Soloists ...

Own.

Wyeth, Robinson Crusoe, 1920


Who would wave a flag to be rescued if they had a desert island of their own? That was the thing that spoilt Robinson Crusoe. In the end he came home. There never ought to be an end.

Arthur Ransome

Typical.


“It is typical of our time,” Chesterton wrote in the Illustrated London News in 1907, “that the more doubtful we are about the value of philosophy, the more certain we are about the value of education. That is to say, the more doubtful we are about whether we have any truth, the more certain we are (apparently) that we can teach it to children. The smaller our faith in doctrine, the larger our faith in doctors …”

The absence of theology and philosophy from the core of the modern academy leads inevitably, in Chesterton’s view, to two mutually incompatible educational concepts attempting to co-exist, and this, in turn, constitutes a schism or schizophrenia at the very heart of the academy itself. He explains in The Common Man:

The truth is that the modern world has committed itself to two totally different and inconsistent conceptions about education. It is always trying to expand the scope of education; and always trying to exclude from it all religion and philosophy. But this is sheer nonsense. You can have an education that teaches atheism because atheism is true, and it can be, from its own point of view, a complete education. But you cannot have an education claiming to teach all truth, and then refusing to discuss whether atheism is true.

The absurdity of the modern academy’s attempt to build a university in the absence of universals was a topic to which Chesterton would return often. “Take away the supernatural,” says Chesterton, “and what remains is the unnatural. Education is only the truth in a state of transmission,” he wrote in What’s Wrong with the World, “and how can we pass on truth if it has never come into our hand?”

CONNECT

Fluidity.


The rigidity of a bottle's form does not affect the fluidity of the liquid it contains.

Leon Krier

Telemann, Paris Quartet No. 6, Suite II, TWV 43:h1

Nevermind performs the Chaconne ...

Dales.

Byatt, Yorkshire Dales, 1940

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Power.

Parrish, Errant Pan, 1910


I have remarked, from my earliest days, that if, under any circumstances, the attention is energetically braced up to an act of steady observation, or of steady expectation, then, if this intense condition of vigilance should suddenly relax, at that moment any beautiful, any impressive visual object, or collection of objects, falling upon the eye, is carried to the heart with a power not known under other circumstances.

Thomas de Quincey

Standardization.


The danger of standardization by a low standard seems to me to be the chief danger confronting us on the artistic and cultural side and generally on the intellectual side at this moment.

G.K. Chesterton

Lully, Chaconne des Scaramouches

Jordi Savall performs with The Concert of Nations ...

10 July 2018

This.


I do not affirm that what you see beyond is futile, I do not advise
you to stop,
I do not say leadings you thought great are not great,
But I say that none lead to greater than these lead to.

Will you seek afar off? you surely come back at last,
In things best known to you finding the best, or as good as the
best,
In folks nearest to you finding the sweetest, strongest, lovingest,
Happiness, knowledge, not in another place but this place, not for
another hour but this hour ...

Walt Whitman, from "A Song for Occupations"

W. Lee O'Daniel & His Hillbilly Boys, "Please Pass the Biscuits, Pappy"

Lovely.


It's sandwich time.

Glimpses.


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

Happy birthday, Proust.


Marcel Proust was born on this day in 1871.

We are at times too ready to believe that the present is the only possible state of things.  The great quality of true art is that it rediscovers, grasps and reveals to us that reality far from where we live, from which we get farther and farther away as the conventional knowledge we substitute for it becomes thicker and more impermeable.  The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

Justice.


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

A work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line. And art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect.

Joseph Conrad

Proper sandwich construction technique from Bon Appétit, Serious Eats, Epicurious, Saveur, and Food & Wine.

(Pictured above, Katzinger's Reuben)

Beethoven, Piano Trio in G major, Op.1 No.2

Eugene Istomin, piano, Isaac Stern, violín, and Leonard Rose, cello, performing ...

All.

Excellent.

An excellent book ...

Elgar, Sospiri, Op. 70

Sol Gabetta performs with the Radio Denmark Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Stéphane Denève ...

Island.

Rosa, Rose Island, 1967

Ildefonso.


Flag flown from the Spanish man of war, San Ildefonso, at the Battle of Trafalgar, 1805.

Entranced.


A work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line. And art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect. It is an attempt to find in its forms, in its colours, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspects of matter and in the facts of life what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential—their one illuminating and convincing quality—the very truth of their existence. The artist, then, like the thinker or the scientist, seeks the truth and makes his appeal. Impressed by the aspect of the world the thinker plunges into ideas, the scientist into facts—whence, presently, emerging they make their appeal to those qualities of our being that fit us best for the hazardous enterprise of living. They speak authoritatively to our common-sense, to our intelligence, to our desire of peace or to our desire of unrest; not seldom to our prejudices, sometimes to our fears, often to our egoism—but always to our credulity. And their words are heard with reverence, for their concern is with weighty matters: with the cultivation of our minds and the proper care of our bodies, with the attainment of our ambitions, with the perfection of the means and the glorification of our precious aims.

It is otherwise with the artist.

Confronted by the same enigmatical spectacle the artist descends within himself, and in that lonely region of stress and strife, if he be deserving and fortunate, he finds the terms of his appeal. His appeal is made to our less obvious capacities: to that part of our nature which, because of the warlike conditions of existence, is necessarily kept out of sight within the more resisting and hard qualities—like the vulnerable body within a steel armour. His appeal is less loud, more profound, less distinct, more stirring—and sooner forgotten. Yet its effect endures forever. The changing wisdom of successive generations discards ideas, questions facts, demolishes theories. But the artist appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom; to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition—and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain; to the latent feeling of fellowship with all creation—and to the subtle but invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts, to the solidarity in dreams, in joy, in sorrow, in aspirations, in illusions, in hope, in fear, which binds men to each other, which binds together all humanity—the dead to the living and the living to the unborn.

It is only some such train of thought, or rather of feeling, that can in a measure explain the aim of the attempt, made in the tale which follows, to present an unrestful episode in the obscure lives of a few individuals out of all the disregarded multitude of the bewildered, the simple and the voiceless. For, if any part of truth dwells in the belief confessed above, it becomes evident that there is not a place of splendour or a dark corner of the earth that does not deserve, if only a passing glance of wonder and pity. The motive then, may be held to justify the matter of the work; but this preface, which is simply an avowal of endeavour, cannot end here—for the avowal is not yet complete. Fiction—if it at all aspires to be art—appeals to temperament. And in truth it must be, like painting, like music, like all art, the appeal of one temperament to all the other innumerable temperaments whose subtle and resistless power endows passing events with their true meaning, and creates the moral, the emotional atmosphere of the place and time. Such an appeal to be effective must be an impression conveyed through the senses; and, in fact, it cannot be made in any other way, because temperament, whether individual or collective, is not amenable to persuasion. All art, therefore, appeals primarily to the senses, and the artistic aim when expressing itself in written words must also make its appeal through the senses, if its highest desire is to reach the secret spring of responsive emotions. It must strenuously aspire to the plasticity of sculpture, to the colour of painting, and to the magic suggestiveness of music—which is the art of arts. And it is only through complete, unswerving devotion to the perfect blending of form and substance; it is only through an unremitting never-discouraged care for the shape and ring of sentences that an approach can be made to plasticity, to colour, and that the light of magic suggestiveness may be brought to play for an evanescent instant over the commonplace surface of words: of the old, old words, worn thin, defaced by ages of careless usage.

The sincere endeavour to accomplish that creative task, to go as far on that road as his strength will carry him, to go undeterred by faltering, weariness or reproach, is the only valid justification for the worker in prose. And if his conscience is clear, his answer to those who in the fullness of a wisdom which looks for immediate profit, demand specifically to be edified, consoled, amused; who demand to be promptly improved, or encouraged, or frightened, or shocked, or charmed, must run thus:—My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see. That—and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm—all you demand—and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask. To snatch in a moment of courage, from the remorseless rush of time, a passing phase of life, is only the beginning of the task. The task approached in tenderness and faith is to hold up unquestioningly, without choice and without fear, the rescued fragment before all eyes in the light of a sincere mood. It is to show its vibration, its colour, its form; and through its movement, its form, and its colour, reveal the substance of its truth—disclose its inspiring secret: the stress and passion within the core of each convincing moment. In a single-minded attempt of that kind, if one be deserving and fortunate, one may perchance attain to such clearness of sincerity that at last the presented vision of regret or pity, of terror or mirth, shall awaken in the hearts of the beholders that feeling of unavoidable solidarity; of the solidarity in mysterious origin, in toil, in joy, in hope, in uncertain fate, which binds men to each other and all mankind to the visible world. It is evident that he who, rightly or wrongly, holds by the convictions expressed above cannot be faithful to any one of the temporary formulas of his craft. The enduring part of them—the truth which each only imperfectly veils—should abide with him as the most precious of his possessions, but they all: Realism, Romanticism, Naturalism, even the unofficial sentimentalism (which like the poor, is exceedingly difficult to get rid of,) all these gods must, after a short period of fellowship, abandon him—even on the very threshold of the temple—to the stammerings of his conscience and to the outspoken consciousness of the difficulties of his work. In that uneasy solitude the supreme cry of Art for Art itself, loses the exciting ring of its apparent immorality. It sounds far off. It has ceased to be a cry, and is heard only as a whisper, often incomprehensible, but at times and faintly encouraging.

Sometimes, stretched at ease in the shade of a roadside tree, we watch the motions of a labourer in a distant field, and after a time, begin to wonder languidly as to what the fellow may be at. We watch the movements of his body, the waving of his arms, we see him bend down, stand up, hesitate, begin again. It may add to the charm of an idle hour to be told the purpose of his exertions. If we know he is trying to lift a stone, to dig a ditch, to uproot a stump, we look with a more real interest at his efforts; we are disposed to condone the jar of his agitation upon the restfulness of the landscape; and even, if in a brotherly frame of mind, we may bring ourselves to forgive his failure. We understood his object, and, after all, the fellow has tried, and perhaps he had not the strength—and perhaps he had not the knowledge. We forgive, go on our way—and forget.

And so it is with the workman of art. Art is long and life is short, and success is very far off. And thus, doubtful of strength to travel so far, we talk a little about the aim—the aim of art, which, like life itself, is inspiring, difficult—obscured by mists; it is not in the clear logic of a triumphant conclusion; it is not in the unveiling of one of those heartless secrets which are called the Laws of Nature. It is not less great, but only more difficult.

To arrest, for the space of a breath, the hands busy about the work of the earth, and compel men entranced by the sight of distant goals to glance for a moment at the surrounding vision of form and colour, of sunshine and shadows; to make them pause for a look, for a sigh, for a smile—such is the aim, difficult and evanescent, and reserved only for a very few to achieve. But sometimes, by the deserving and the fortunate, even that task is accomplished. And when it is accomplished—behold!—all the truth of life is there: a moment of vision, a sigh, a smile—and the return to an eternal rest.

Joseph Conrad

Happy birthday, Pissarro.

Pissarro, The Artist's Garden at Eragny, 1898


Camille Pissarro was born on this day in 1830.


Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.


Camille Pissarro

09 July 2018

Relish.

Hunters.

Innes, Sunset in the Woods, 1891


The woods are for the hunters of dreams.

Sam Walter Foss

Curiosity.

Wyeth, Next Morning, 2000


I've begun to believe that some of us are not as evolved as we may think.  Up in the country, in my prolonged childhood, I liked best to walk, fish, and hunt where there were few, if any, people.  After a ten-year hiatus for college and trying to be Rimbaud, Dostoevsky, and James Joyce, not to speak of William Faulkner, in New York, Boston, and San Francisco, I found myself back in northern Michigan walking, fishing, and hunting.  There are a lot more people now, but there are still plenty of places where they aren't.  Tennis, golf, and drugs didn't work for me, so for the past thirty years my abiding passions are still centered on upland game birds, fish, and idling around fields, mountains, and woods on foot, studying habitat, but mostly wandering and looking things over.

On the surface and maybe underneath, this may be regarded by some as an idiot's life.  In the very long struggle to find out your own true character there is the real possibility you'll discover a simpleton beneath the skin, or at least something deeply peculiar.  But when you slowly arrive at a point where you accept your comfortable idiosyncrasies,  aided in part by the study of your sporting friends, who are capable of no less strange behavior.  A few years back I tried to explain to a long table of studio executives the pleasures of walking around wild country in the moonlight.  They nodded evasively, but I could tell they thought I was daft.  The same tale told to two or three of my favorite hunting or fishing companions would be received as utterly ordinary, say on the level of drinking too much good wine.  It's simply the kind of thing you do when your curiosity arouses you.

Jim Harrison, from the Introduction to For a Handful of Feathers

After.

Wyeth, Study of River Valley, n/d


And you will go where crows go
and you will know what the crows know.

After you have learned all their secrets

and think the way they do and your love
caresses their feathers like the walls
of a midnight clock, they will fly away
and take you with them.

And you will go where crows go

and you will know what the crows know.

Richard Brautigan, from "Crow Maiden"

Remember.

Chatham, Summer on Marshall Ridge, n/d


To remember
the soft bellies of fish
the furred animals that were part of your youth
not for their novelty
but as fellow creatures ...

With my head on the table
I write,
my arm outstretched, in another field,
of richer grain ...

Between the snow and grass,
somewhere into the ground with the rain
a long year has gone.

Jim Harrison, from "February Suite"

Live.

Curtis, Offering the Buffalo Skull, 1908


In the time of your life, live—so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding-place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart. Be the inferior of no man, nor of any man be the superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle, but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret. In the time of your life, live—so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.

William Saroyan, from the Preface to The Time of Your Life

Happy birthday, Respighi.


Ottorino Respighi was born on this day in 1879.

The Spanish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, directed by Carlos Kalmar, performs The Boutique Fatasque Suite ...

Comet.

Philae, Comet 67P, 2014