AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

14 September 2019

Jimmie Dale Gilmore, "Howlin' at Midnight"

Above.

Sprick, Sherry, 2012


The CANDLE a SAINT

Green is the night, green kindled and apparelled.
It is she that walks among astronomers.

She strides above the rabbit and the cat,
Like a noble figure, out of the sky,

Moving among the sleepers, the men,
Those that lie chanting green is the night.

Green is the night and out of madness woven,
The self-same madness of the astronomers

And of him that sees, beyond the astronomers,
The topaz rabbit and the emerald cat,

That sees above them, that sees rise up above them,
The noble figure, the essential shadow,

Moving and being, the image at its source,
The abstract, the archaic queen. Green is the night.

Wallace Stevens

Behold.


WONDER and JOY

The things that one grows tired of--O, be sure
They are only foolish artificial things!
Can a bird ever tire of having wings?
And I, so long as life and sense endure,
(Or brief be they!) shall nevermore inure
My heart to the recurrence of the springs,
Of the gray dawns, the gracious evenings,
The infinite wheeling stars. A wonder pure
Must ever well within me to behold
Venus decline; or great Orion, whose belt
Is studded with three nails of burning gold,
Ascend the winter heaven. Who never felt
This wondering joy may yet be good or great:
But envy him not: he is not fortunate.

Robinson Jeffers

Eddie Money, "Everybody Rock and Roll the Place"

Eddie Money, "Gimme Some Water"

Excellent.

Excellent albums ...

Rest In Peace, Money Man

Eddie Money has passed.

"Gamblin' Man" ...



And still, Henley lives.  There is no justice in this world.

13 September 2019

George Jones, "Once You've Had the Best"

The Flatlanders, "Going Away"

Lucinda Williams, "Protection"

James McMurtry, "These Things I've Come to Know"

Realize.


Wonder, as the child of mystery, is a natural source of prayer.  
One of the most beautiful forms of prayer is the prayer of appreciation.
This prayer arises out of the recognition of the gracious kindness of creation.
We have been given so much.  We could never have merited or earned it.
When you appreciate all you are and all you have, 
You can celebrate and enjoy it. 

You realize how fortunate you are. 
Providence is blessing you and inviting you to be generous with your gifts.
You are able to bless life and give thanks to God. 
The prayer of appreciation has no agenda but gracious thanks.
Nothing is given to you for yourself alone.  
When you receive some blessing or gift,
You do it in the name of others;
Through you, they, too, will come to share
In the kindness of Providence.

John O'Donohue

Unbidden.

Bail, Kitchen Boy, 1893


Beauty brings us to a halt: it imposes, if only for a flash, the cessation of activity. (On the lawn in front of the library, seeing a runner in red shorts complete the last flailing strides of a sprint before pitching forward, his fingers caressing soft dirt: I let my book fall.) Indolence and aesthetic experience both involve feelings of unbidden influence, involuntariness or absence of will. But where the experience of beauty is often significant and always pleasurable, idleness is more equivocal in its effects and character. Essentially contentless, idleness obtains its phenomenological shape from the objects around us—the pliancy of a chair, the gloss of an advertisement—and the thoughts and desires within us.

CONNECT

Better.

D-wight Lightnin', "Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose"

WOO-HOO!

HAPPY FRIDAY!


Powerful.


Beef Tartare on Dripping Toast with Bone Marrow, for moments when you are in need of some fortification. The fat soothes, the Dexter beef strengthens, the toast comforts, the cornichons and capers uplift. Powerful magic.

CONNECT

Happy Birthday, Dahl


Roald Dahl was born on this date in 1916.

I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life ... if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.

Roald Dahl

Least.

Kowalski, Isle au Haut - Morning Fogbank, 2018


It was the hour in which objects lose the consistency of shadow that accompanies them during the night and gradually reacquire colors, but seem to cross meanwhile an uncertain limbo, faintly touched, just breathed on by light; the hour in which one is least certain of the world's existence.

Italo Calvino

12 September 2019

The Cars, "Candy-O"

Rub.

Dowland, Lachrimae

Christopher Morrongiello performs ...

Strategy.


Strategy will compensate the talent. The talent will never compensate the strategy. 

Marco Pierre White

Happy Birthday, Mencken


H.L. Mencken was born on this date in 1880.

I believe that it would be rational to argue that the public school, far from combating this immense increase in stupidity, has been very largely responsible for it. For the true aim and purpose of the pedagogue, and especially of the pedagogue who is also a bureaucrat, is never to awaken his victims to independent and logical thought; it is simply to force them into a mold. And that mold is bound to be a cramped and dingy one, for the pedagogue is a cramped and dingy man himself. The office he fills, in its potentialities, is an immensely important one, but in its daily business it is puerile and uninspiring, and so it is seldom filled by a man (or woman) of any genuine force and originality. In all ages pedagogues have been the bitterest enemies of all genuine intellectual enterprise, and in no age have they warred upon it more violently or to sadder effect than in our own. More than any other class of blind leaders of the blind they are responsible for the degrading standardization which now afflicts the American people. They would have done even worse, I believe, if it had been in their power. They failed only because a sufficient number of their victims have always been too intelligent to succumb to them, and because even the stupid majority yet preserves a saving skepticism about their ridiculous arcane. …

The basic trouble with the public schools is that they have fallen into the hands of a well-organized and extremely ambitious bureaucracy, and that machinery for curbing its pretensions has yet to be devised. In every American municipality, though all of them are desperately hard up and many are hopelessly bankrupt, it has resisted every effort to cut down its demands on the public treasury, and in this black year of 1933 it will actually get a larger relative share of the public money than ever before. It has thrown the grotesque mantle of Service about its extortions, and convinced millions of the unthinking that they are essential to the public good. Let any rash fellow challenge it, and he is denounced at once as an enemy to the true, the good and the beautiful.

H.L. Mencken

11 September 2019

Rustic.


Visitors to our system of national parks and monuments seldom pay much attention to park architecture. This is as it should be, for since its founding over 60 years ago, the National Park Service consistently has sought to provide visitor facilities without visually interrupting the natural or historic scene.  Occasionally, however, the park visitor will discover in one of the older parks a structure so highly stylized in its attempt to be non-intrusive that it attracts the immediate attention of those who are accustomed to the simplicity and frequent sterility of contemporary architecture. It may take the form of a pioneer log cabin, or an Indian pueblo, or a New England "salt-box, " or it may be built of over-sized, rough-hewn logs and stones. Whatever its style, its obviously intensive use of hand labor and its clear rejection of the regularity and symmetry of the industrial world, mark it as the work of another age, the product of an attitude far removed from our own.

For lack of a better phrase, these varied styles have long been inadequately lumped together under the term "rustic architecture."  But perhaps a voice from the 1930s can explain the problem more clearly:

"The style of architecture which has been most widely used in our forested National Parks, and other wilderness parks, is generally referred to as "rustic. " It is, or should be, something more than the worn and misused term implies. It is earnestly hoped that a more apt and expressive designation for the style may evolve, but until it appears, "rustic, " in spite of its inaccuracy and inadequacy, must be
resorted to . . . . "
A superior term has never appeared, so "rustic" it remains. 

CONNECT

Remember.

Gratitude.


FDNY Engine 28 Firefighter Mike Kehoe headed up on September 11, 2001.

In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

10 September 2019

Repose.

von Herkomer, The Cornfield, 1887


AT that HOUR

At that hour when all things have repose, 
O lonely watcher of the skies, 
Do you hear the night wind and the sighs 
Of harps playing unto Love to unclose 
The pale gates of sunrise? 

When all things repose, do you alone 
Awake to hear the sweet harps play 
To Love before him on his way, 
And the night wind answering in antiphon 
Till night is overgone? 

Play on, invisible harps, unto Love, 
Whose way in heaven is aglow 
At that hour when soft lights come and go, 
Soft sweet music in the air above 
And in the earth below.

James Joyce

Hurricanes.


160 years of hurricanes recorded on one picture. Pink: Cat. 1, Blue: Cat. 2, Turquoise: Cat. 3, Yellow: Cat. 4, Red: Cat. 5.

Treasured.

Generalists.


What’s the surest route to success? Specializing early, focusing intently, racking up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible? Wrong!

According to bestselling author David Epstein—who has studied the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters, and scientists—it’s the generalists, not specialists, who are primed to excel. 

Epstein discusses his book, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, with Malcolm Gladwell ...

Ritual.

Kent, Roof Tree, 1928


The ritual serves two purposes. One pays homage to all the trees that went into the construction of the house, and to the many hands that built it.  The other symbolizes the establishment of the house’s roots, which will nourish a long and prosperous life.  The young tree is called a “wetting bush”, likely derived from the German tradition of watering it as a sign of the home’s first nourishment.


"Topping Out the World Trade Center," HERE.

Happy Birthday, Soane

Soane, Bank of England's Tivoli Corner, 1805


Sir John Soane was born on this date in 1753.

"A Relationship with Sir John Soane," by Tim Gosling ...


Vigilant.


Learning Objectives
Our learning objectives are straightforward. After taking the course, you should be able to:
  • Remain vigilant for bullshit contaminating your information diet.
  • Recognize said bullshit whenever and wherever you encounter it.
  • Figure out for yourself precisely why a particular bit of bullshit is bullshit.
  • Provide a statistician or fellow scientist with a technical explanation of why a claim is bullshit.
  • Provide your crystals-and-homeopathy aunt or casually racist uncle with an accessible and persuasive explanation of why a claim is bullshit.
  • We will be astonished if these skills do not turn out to be among the most useful and most broadly applicable of those that you acquire during the course of your college education.

09 September 2019

Without.

Peeing.

Infinitely.

Markey, End of the Street at Night, 2011


It takes all time to show eternity,
The longest shine of every perishing spark,
And every word and cry of every tongue
Must form the Word that calls the darkest dark

Of this world to its lasting dawn. Toward
That rising hour we bear our single hearts
Estranged as islands parted in the sea,
Our broken knowledge and our scattered arts.

As separate as fireflies or night windows,
We piece a foredream of the gathered light
Infinitely small and great to shelter all,
Silenced into song, blinded into sight.

Wendell Berry

07 September 2019

Closer.


MOVING FORWARD

The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
that I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can’t reach.
With my sense, as with birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
and in the ponds broken off from the sky
my feeling sinks, as if standing on fishes.

Rainer Maria Rilke

06 September 2019

Son Volt, "Picking Up the Signal"

Spring.


We go on to poetry; we go on to life. And life is, I am sure, made of poetry. Poetry is not alien--poetry is, as we shall see, lurking round the corner. It may spring on us at any moment.

Jorge Luis Borges

Merle Haggard, "Brain Cloudy Blues"

WOO-HOO!

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Still.


Every thirst gets satisfied
Except that of these fish,
The mystics,
Who swim a vast ocean of grace,
Still somehow longing for it.

Rumi

Vigilant.

Turner, The Sun Rising Over Water, 1830


To deliver oneself up, to hand oneself over, entrust oneself completely to the silence of a wide landscape of woods and hills, or sea, or desert; to sit still while the sun comes up over that land and fills its silences with light.  To pray and work in the morning and to labor and rest in the afternoon, and to sit still again in meditation in the evening when night falls up on that land and when the silence fills itself with darkness and with stars… to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into the bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn the very substance of life into a living and vigilant silence.

Thomas Merton

04 September 2019

03 September 2019

Believe.


Call me Mr. Gatto, please. Twenty-six years ago, having nothing better to do at the time, I tried my hand at schoolteaching. The license I hold certifies that I am an instructor of English language and English literature, but that isn't what I do at all. I don't teach English, I teach school -- and I win awards doing it.

Teaching means different things in different places, but seven lessons are universally taught from Harlem to Hollywood Hills. They constitute a national curriculum you pay for in more ways than you can imagine, so you might as well know what it is. You are at liberty, of course, to regard these lessons any way you like, but believe me when I say I intend no irony in this presentation. These are the things I teach, these are the things you pay me to teach. Make of them what you will.

John Taylor Gatto

CONNECT

Happy Birthday, Sullivan

Sullivan, The Old Home Building, 1914


Louis Sullivan was born on this date in 1856.


"How Louis Sullivan Influenced American Design," HERE.

The Licking County Foundation's Lousi Sullivan Building site, HERE.

01 September 2019

Jackson Browne, "Something Fine"

Extends.

Eisenstadt, Children at a Puppet Show, 1963


After having thus taken each individual one by one into its powerful hands, and having molded him as it pleases, the sovereign power extends its arms over the entire society; it covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated, minute, and uniform rules, which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot break through to go beyond the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces action, but it constantly opposes your acting; it does not destroy, it prevents birth; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, it represses, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally it reduces each nation to being nothing more than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

Alexis de Tocqueville, 1840

Paganini, Mosè-fantasia, MS 23

Eve-Marie Caravassilis and Daniel Gardner perform ...

Original.


I've noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my thirty years of teaching: schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don't really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers to care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic -- it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell where he must memorize that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.

Children learn what they live. Put kids in a class and they will live out their lives in an invisible cage, isolated from their chance at community; interrupt kids with bells and horns all the time and they will learn that nothing is important or worth finishing; ridicule them and they will retreat from human association; shame them and they will find a hundred ways to get even. The habits taught in large-scale organizations are deadly.

Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your roadmap through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.

John Taylor Gatto, from Dumbing us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

Away.

Bullock, Child on Forest Road, 1958


The STOLEN CHILD

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake, 
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats; 
There we've hid out faery vats, 
Full of berries
And the reddest stolen cherries. 
Come away, O human child! 
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand, 
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light, 
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night, 
Weaving olden dances, 
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight; 
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles, 
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep. 
Come away, O human child! 
To the waters of the wild
With a faery hand in hand, 
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car, 
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star, 
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams; 
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams. 
Come away, O human child! 
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand, 
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going, 
The solemn-eyed: 
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast, 
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest. 
For he comes, the human child, 
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand,
From a world more full of weeping than he can understand.

W.B. Yeats

Haunting.


Stories you read when you’re the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you’ll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.

Anyway, books are safer than people.

Neil Gaiman

Telemann, Concerto in A minor TWV 52:a1

Bolette Roed performs the Allegro with the Kore Orchestra ...

Childishness.


Critics who treat "adult" s a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

C.S. Lewis