AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

30 April 2019

Happy Birthday, Thompson

Thompson, Map of British North America, 1814


David Thompson was born on this date in 1770.

David Thompson’s experiences as an explorer and surveyor have earned him the reputation as a pioneer geographer in North America. Thompson mapped almost half of North America between the Great Lakes and the Pacific coast.

Uncharted Territory: David Thompson on the Columbia Plateau ...



Shadows of David Thompson, HERE.

29 April 2019

Unknown.

Chatham, Dark Woods, 1995


Today I know there is nothing beyond
the farthest of far ridges
except a signpost
to unknown places.

Edward Thomas

Space.


My way is in the sand flowing
between the shingle and the dune
the summer rain rains on my life,
on me my life harrying fleeing
to its beginning to its end

My peace is there in the receding mist
when I may cease from treading 
these long shifting thresholds
and live the space of a door
that opens and shuts

Samuel Beckett

Alexi Murdoch, "Someday Soon"

28 April 2019

Awareness.

Carravaggio, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, 1602


Then the voice says, "They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

There they are. There "we" are - the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life's tribulations, but through it all clung to faith. 

My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.

When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, "A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God."

The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. It obliterates the two-class citizenship theory operative in many American churches. For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours not by right but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. While there is much we may have earned--our degree and our salary, our home and garden, a Miller Lite and a good night's sleep--all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer. Even our fidelity is a gift, "If we but turn to God," said St. Augustine, "that itself is a gift of God." 

My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.

Brennan Manning, from The Ragamuffin Gospel

Hummel, Bassoon Concerto in F major, WoO 23, S. 63

Mathis Kaspar Stier performs with the Komorní Filharmonií Pardubice, Marko Ivanovič director ...

27 April 2019

Priest, "Heading Out to the Highway"

Colin Hay, "Dear Father"

Bad Co., "Burnin' Sky"

Thin Lizzy, "Waiting for an Alibi"

Belong.


The wild, often dismissed as savage and chaotic by "civilized" thinkers, is actually impartially, relentlessly, and beautifully formal and free. Its expression -- the richness of plant and animal life on the globe including us, the rainstorms, windstorms, and calm spring mornings -- is the real world, to which we belong.  In the Western Hemisphere we have only the tiniest number of buildings that can be called temples or shrines. The temples of our hemisphere will be some of the planet's remaining wilderness areas.

All too many people in power in the governments and universities of the world seem to carry a prejudice against the natural world -- and also against the past, against history. It seems Americans would live by a Chamber-of-Commerce Creationism that declares itself satisfied with a divinely presented Shopping Mall. The integrity and character of our own ancestors is dismissed with "I couldn't live like that" by people who barely know how to live at all. An ancient forest is seen as a kind of overripe garbage, not unlike the embarrassing elderly.

Gary Snyder, from The Practice of the Wild

Sam Bush, "Watson Allman"

Compagnons.


When the world’s most delicate historic sites need expert attention, it’s often the same group at the end of the line: the Compagnons du Devoir.

CONNECT


Les Compagnons du Devoir ... HERE.

Happy Birthday, Grant


Ulysses S. Grant was born on this date in 1822.

General Orders, War Department 
No. 108 Adjutant General's Office
Washington, D.C. June 2, 1865

Soldiers of the Armies of the United States: 
By your patriotic devotion to your country in the hour of danger and alarm—your magnificent fighting, bravery, and endurance—you have maintained the supremacy of the Union and the Constitution, overthrown all armed opposition to the enforcement of the laws, and of the Proclamation forever abolishing Slavery—the cause and pretext of the Rebellion—and opened the way to the rightful authorities to restore order and inaugurate peace on a permanent and enduring basis on every foot of American soil.

Your marches, sieges, and battles, in distance, duration, resolution, and brilliancy of result, dim the lustre of the world's past military achievements, and will be the Patriot's precedent, in defense of Liberty and Right, in all time to come.

In obedience to your country's call, you left your homes and families and volunteered in its defense. Victory has crowned your valor and secured the purpose of your patriotic hearts; and with the gratitude of your countrymen, and the highest honors a great and free nation can accord, you will soon be permitted to return to your homes and families, conscious of having discharged the highest duty of American citizens.

To achieve these glorious triumphs, and secure to yourselves, your fellow-countrymen, and posterity, the blessings of free institutions, tens of thousands of your gallant comrades have fallen, and sealed the priceless legacy with their lives. The graves of these a grateful nation bedews with tears, honors their memories, and will ever cherish and support their stricken families.

U.S. Grant 
Lieutenant General

CONNECT

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

24 April 2019

The Waterboys, "The Pan Within"

Steve Wickham, fiddle ...

Not.

Ian McCulloch, "Candleland"

Celebrate.

Wyeth, Cat Spruce, 1954


FOREST MUSIC

There’s a sad loneliness about my heart, –
A deep, deep solitude the spirit feels
Amid this multitude. The things of art
Pall on the senses – from its pageantry,
Loathing, my eye turns off; and my ear shrinks
From the harsh dissonance that fills the air.

My soul is growing sick – I will away
And gather balm from a sweet forest walk!
There, as the breezes through the branches sweep,
Is heard aerial minstrelsy, like harps
Untouched, unseen, that on the spirit’s ear
Pour out their numbers till they lull to peace
The tumult of the bosom. There’s a voice
Of music in the rustling of the leaves;
And the green boughs are hung with living lutes,
Whose strings will only vibrate to his hand
Who made them, while they sound his untaught praise!

The whole wild wood is one vast instrument
Of thousand, thousand keys; and all its notes
Come in sweet harmony, while Nature plays
To celebrate the presence of her God!

Hannah Flagg Gould

Staple.


Silent, deadly and accurate at close range, the American Indian’s handmade bow was capable of rapid fire. Because the archer’s bow threw a projectile, it could easily be considered the predecessor to the gun. In the early days of the frontier, it was even superior to the settler’s firearms.

While the bow predates recorded history, some historians feel the weapon did not make its first appearance in North America until around AD 1000, when early Viking explorers introduced it to northeastern North America. Others believe indigenous peoples of the continent knew about the bow as early as 500 BC, although it reportedly began spreading from Alaska down through North America around 2000 BC. Regardless, by the time settlers made contact with frontier Indians, the bow had become a staple for hunting or war.

CONNECT

Out.


Cultural Offering has exceptional news.

Renewal.

Veronese, The Resurrection of Christ, 1570


Leaving aside all learned theology, but taking inspiration from the poets, painters and composers who have treated this subject, I would say that Christ’s resurrection, like his death, is an event in eternity. It occurs in me and in you, just so long as we put our trust in the possibility of renewal. It is a re-affirmation of the creative principle, and of the love that brought about Christ’s death. The darkness that came over the world on that first Easter Saturday could be dispelled only by a renewal of this love, and this renewal comes through us. The Cross is a display of supreme forgiveness, which invites us to forgive in our turn.

Sir Roger Scruton

CONNECT

Colin Hay, "Maggie"

Inheritance.


Sir Roger Scruton's thoughts on Notre-Dame ...

We have a national cathedral – Westminster Abbey – where our poets and monarchs are buried. But it is not national as Notre Dame is national. Our heroes are stacked away there, revered for things that are vaguely remembered. In the mysterious interior of Notre-Dame, however, something is celebrated that is far more durable than the deeds of heroes: what is revered is an idea. The Englishman, looking up at those gargoyles from the square below, is made aware of the God-given idea that can reveal itself, now in a King, now in an artist or playwright, now in the peasant girl whom we, the English, martyred in our greatest crime.

We are awe-struck by the presence of this idea, fixed forever in stone, because it is not unique to the cathedral but is embodied in the city all around. We in Britain have destroyed our cities, shovelling away the stone and replacing it with steel and glass. We have done to London what Le Corbusier wished to do to Paris, and what one of our architects, invited by President Pompidou, did to the Marais. We have replaced built form by childish bubbles of steel and glass. Our churches stand in concrete deserts, and it is hardly surprising if nobody visits them or enters them for a time of prayer.

As the angel on the roof has promised, Notre Dame will be resurrected. It will be resurrected because its city, unique among modern capitals, has remained continually itself, from the time when it was the spiritual heart of Europe, through the time when it turned the world upside down, to our present time, when it reminds our troubled continent of the spiritual inheritance that it must not deny.

CONNECT

Kurt offers thoughts on Notre-Dame and expressions of transcendence.

22 April 2019

Uniformity.

Unknown, Thomas Jackson, 1847


Let your conduct toward men have some uniformity.

Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

Colin Hay, "Where the Sky is Blue"



It's sandwich time.

Magic.


Sometimes since I've been in the garden I've looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden - in all the places.

Frances Hodgson Burnett, from The Secret Garden

Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends, "No Hopers, Jokers, and Rogues"

21 April 2019

Dog.

Paul Desmond, "Emily"

Excellent.

Excellent albums ...

Sandwiches.

Woodward/Wood, "This Joyful Eastertide"

The Kings College Choir performs ...

Contact.

Wyeth, Cordwood, 1968



The world of men has forgotten the joys of silence, the peace of solitude which is necessary, to some extent, for the fullness of human living.  Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally.  When that inner voice is not heard, when man cannot attain to the spiritual peace that comes from being perfectly at one with his own true self, his life is always miserable and exhausting.  For he cannot go on happily for long unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life which are hidden in the depths of his own soul.  If man is constantly exiled from his own home, locked out of his own spiritual solitude, he ceases to be a true person.  He no longer lives as a man.  He becomes a kind of automaton, living without joy because he has lost his spontaneity.  He is no longer moved from within, but only from outside himself.

Thomas Merton

Happy Birthday, Carracci

Carracci, Bargellini Madonna, 1588


Ludovico Carracci was born on this date in 1555.

Murmuring.


Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.

Umberto Eco, from The Name of the Rose

Happy Birthday, Muir


John Muir was born on this date in 1838.

Toward midday, after a long, tingling scramble through copses of hazel and ceanothus, I gained the summit of the highest ridge in the neighborhood; and then it occurred to me that it would be a fine thing to climb one of the trees to obtain a wider outlook and get my ear close to the Æolian music of its topmost needles. But under the circumstances the choice of a tree was a serious matter. One whose instep was not very strong seemed in danger of being blown down, or of being struck by others in case they should fall; another was branchless to a considerable height above the ground, and at the same time too large to be grasped with arms and legs in climbing; while others were not favorably situated for clear views. After cautiously casting about, I made choice of the tallest of a group of Douglas Spruces that were growing close together like a tuft of grass, no one of which seemed likely to fall unless all the rest fell with it. Though comparatively young, they were about 100 feet high, and their lithe, brushy tops were rocking and swirling in wild ecstasy. Being accustomed to climb trees in making botanical studies, I experienced no difficulty in reaching the top of this one, and never before did I enjoy so noble an exhilaration of motion. The slender tops fairly flapped and swished in the passionate torrent, bending and swirling backward and forward, round and round, tracing indescribable combinations of vertical and horizontal curves, while I clung with muscles firm braced, like a bobo-link on a reed.

In its widest sweeps my tree-top described an arc of from twenty to thirty degrees, but I felt sure of its elastic temper, having seen others of the same species still more severely tried--bent almost to the ground indeed, in heavy snows--without breaking a fiber. I was therefore safe, and free to take the wind into my pulses and enjoy the excited forest from my superb outlook. The view from here must be extremely beautiful in any weather. Now my eye roved over the piny hills and dales as over fields of waving grain, and felt the light running in ripples and broad swelling undulations across the valleys from ridge to ridge, as the shining foliage was stirred by corresponding waves of air. Oftentimes these waves of reflected light would break up suddenly into a kind of beaten foam, and again, after chasing one another in regular order, they would seem to bend forward in concentric curves, and disappear on some hillside, like sea-waves on a shelving shore. The quantity of light reflected from the bent needles was so great as to make whole groves appear as if covered with snow, while the black shadows beneath the trees greatly enhanced the effect of the silvery splendor.

Excepting only the shadows there was nothing somber in all this wild sea of pines. On the contrary, notwithstanding this was the winter season, the colors were remarkably beautiful. The shafts of the pine and libocedrus were brown and purple, and most of the foliage was well tinged with yellow; the laurel groves, with the pale undersides of their leaves turned upward, made masses of gray; and then there was many a dash of chocolate color from clumps of manzanita, and jet of vivid crimson from the bark of the madroños, while the ground on the hillsides, appearing here and there through openings between the groves, displayed masses of pale purple and brown.

The sounds of the storm corresponded gloriously with this wild exuberance of light and motion. The profound bass of the naked branches and boles booming like waterfalls; the quick, tense vibrations of the pine-needles, now rising to a shrill, whistling hiss, now falling to a silky murmur; the rustling of laurel groves in the dells, and the keen metallic click of leaf on leaf--all this was heard in easy analysis when the attention was calmly bent.

The varied gestures of the multitude were seen to fine advantage, so that one could recognize the different species at a distance of several miles by this means alone, as well as by their forms and colors, and the way they reflected the light. All seemed strong and comfortable, as if really enjoying the storm, while responding to its most enthusiastic greetings. We hear much nowadays concerning the universal struggle for existence, but no struggle in the common meaning of the word was manifest here; no recognition of danger by any tree; no deprecation; but rather an invincible gladness as remote from exultation as from fear.

I kept my lofty perch for hours, frequently closing my eyes to enjoy the music by itself, or to feast quietly on the delicious fragrance that was streaming past. The fragrance of the woods was less marked than that produced during warm rain, when so many balsamic buds and leaves are steeped like tea; but, from the chafing of resiny branches against each other, and the incessant attrition of myriads of needles, the gale was spiced to a very tonic degree. And besides the fragrance from these local sources there were traces of scents brought from afar. For this wind came first from the sea, rubbing against its fresh, briny waves, then distilled through the redwoods, threading rich ferny gulches, and spreading itself in broad undulating currents over many a flower-enameled ridge of the coast mountains, then across the golden plains, up the purple foot-hills, and into these piny woods with the varied incense gathered by the way.

John Muir, from "A Wind-Storm in the Forests"

Handel,The Resurrection, HWV 47

Václav Luks leads Collegium 1704 ...

Realize.

Francesca, Resurrection, 1465


Lent has summoned us to change our hearts, to effect in ourselves the Christian metanoia. But at the same time Lent has reminded us perhaps all too clearly of our own powerlessness to change our lives in any way. Lent in the liturgical year plays the role of the Law, the pedagogue, who convinces us of sin and inflicts upon us the crushing evidence of our own nothingness. Hence it disquiets and sobers us, awakening in us perhaps some sense of that existential “dread” of the creature whose freedom suspends him over an abyss which may be an infinite meaninglessness, an unbounded despair. This is the fruit of that Law which judges our freedom together with its powerlessness to impose full meaning on our lives merely by conforming to a moral code. Is there nothing more than this?

But now the power of Easter has burst upon us with the resurrection of Christ. Now we find in ourselves a strength which is not our own, and which is freely given to us whenever we need it, raising us above the Law, giving us a new law which is hidden in Christ: the law of His merciful love for us. Now we no longer strive to be good because we have to, because it is a duty, but because our joy is to please Him who has given all His love to us! Now our life is full of meaning!

Easter is the hour of our own deliverance— from what? Precisely from Lent and from its hard Law which accuses and judges our infirmity. We are no longer under the Law. We are delivered from the harsh judgment! Here is all the greatness and all the unimaginable splendor of the Easter mystery— here is the “grace” of Easter which we fail to lay hands on because we are afraid to understand its full meaning. To understand Easter and live it, we must renounce our dread of newness and of freedom!

Death exercises a twofold power in our lives: it holds us by sin, and it holds us by the Law. To die to death and live a new life in Christ we must die not only to sin but also to the Law.

Every Christian knows that he must die to sin. But the great truth that St Paul exhausted himself to preach in season and out is a truth that we Christians have barely grasped, a truth that has got away from us, that constantly eludes us and has continued to do so for twenty centuries. We cannot get it into our heads what it means to be no longer slaves of the Law. And the reason is that we do not have the courage to face this truth which contains in itself the crucial challenge of our Christian faith, the great reality that makes Christianity different from every other religion.

In all other religions men seek justification, salvation, escape from “the wheel of birth and death” by ritual acts, or by religious observances, or by ascetic and contemplative techniques. These are means devised by men to enable them to liberate and justify themselves. All the other religions impose upon man rigid and complicated laws, subject him more or less completely to prescribed exterior forms, or to what St Paul calls “elementary notions.”

But Christianity is precisely a liberation from every rigid legal and religious system. This is asserted with such categorical force by St Paul, that we cease to be Christians the moment our religion becomes slavery to “the Law” rather than a free personal adherence by loving faith, to the risen and living Christ; “Do you seek justification by the Law . . . you are fallen from grace . . . In fact, in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor its absence is of any avail. What counts is faith that expresses itself in love” (Gal. 5: 4,6).

. . . This gift, this mercy, this unbounded love of God for us has been lavished upon us as a result of Christ’s victory. To taste this love is to share in His victory. To realize our freedom, to exult in our liberation from death, from sin and from the Law, is to sing the Alleluia which truly glorifies God in this world and in the world to come.

This joy in God, this freedom which raises us in faith and in hope above the bitter struggle that is the lot of man caught between the flesh and the Law, this is the new canticle in which we join with the blessed angels and the saints in praising God.

God who is rich in mercy, was moved by the intense love with which he loved us, and when we were dead by reason of our transgressions, he made us live with the life of Christ . . . Together with Christ Jesus and in him he raised us up and enthroned us in the heavenly realm . . . It is by grace that you have been saved through faith; it is the gift of God, it is not the result of anything you did, so that no one has any grounds for boasting. (Eph. 2: 4– 9)

Let us not then darken the joy of Christ’s victory by remaining in captivity and in darkness, but let us declare His power, by living as free men who have been called by Him out of darkness into his admirable light.

Thomas Merton

Bach, Easter Oratorio, BWV 249

John Eliot Gardiner conducts the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists featuring Hannah Morrison, soprano, Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano, Nicholas Mulroy, tenor, and Peter Harvey, bass ...



20 April 2019

Van Morrison, "So Quiet in Here"

Progress.

Cole, The Architect's Dream, 1840


Forget calling it Western civilization for a moment. Instead think of a kind of party platform with a bunch of planks:
  • Support for human rights
  • Belief in the rule of law
  • Dedication to democracy
  • Free speech
  • Freedom of conscience
  • Admiration for science and the scientific method
  • Curiosity about other cultures
  • Property rights
  • Tolerance or celebration of technological and/or cultural innovation
I’ll be generous and stipulate that 90 percent of the people who are offended by pride in Western civilization actually believe — or think they believe — in most or all of these things. They just have a problem connecting the dots, so I’ll try.

Where do they think most of these ideas come from? Where were they most successfully put into action? What civilization today or in some bygone era manifests these values more? Chinese civilization? Islamic civilization? Aztec? African? Indian? Persian? Turkish?


I’m not trying to belittle any of those cultures, nor deny their contributions to human history. I’m not even trying to argue – here, at least — that Western civilization is objectively superior in some scientific or God’s-eye-view sense. As with the debates over nationalism, there’s no arguing — and no reason to argue — with a French patriot about whether or not America is “better” than France. I would think less of a Spaniard who didn’t love Spain more than he or she loves France. It’s like arguing whose family is better, we love what is ours. As Bill Buckley liked to say, De gustibus non est disputandum.


Western civilization is a work in progress because that’s what civilization means. If you want a Cliff’s Notes version of what my book was about it’s simply this: Every generation, humans start from scratch. As Hannah Arendt said, every generation Western civilization is invaded by barbarians — we call them “children.” As babies we come into the world with the same programming as Viking, Hun or caveman babies. These barbarians need to be civilized and that’s a job primarily done by families, which is why the days are long and the years are short. We teach barbarians how to be citizens in the broadest sense of the word, through formal education, religious teaching, social norms and the modeling of proper behavior. In other words, we assimilate people into a culture.

As Alan Wolfe writes in his discussion of Immanuel Kant:

As cultivating a field yields a better product, the arts and sciences cultivate us by improving the quality of who we are. No wonder, then, that when we look for a term that expresses the way we improve upon nature, we use “culture,” which has the same root as “cultivate.” And civilization—expressed in German not only as Zivilisation but also as Kultur — far from corrupting our soul, makes it possible for us to bring good out of evil.
The way you sustain and improve upon a culture is by fostering a sense of gratitude for what is best about it. You celebrate the good in your story while putting the bad in the correct context. Conservatism is gratitude, and as I noted on Fox the other night, one of the most compelling things in reaction the fire of Notre Dame was seeing how many people recognized their own ingratitude for this jewel of their own civilization. The Church was in peril because the French took it for granted. But, like that feeling one gets deep in the soul when a loved one in peril, millions were overcome with a sense of what they might lose. And now France is devoting itself to restoring what was almost lost.

Has Western civilization made mistakes? Sure (cue the Monty Python skit about Rome). Terrible things have been done in its name, a statement one can make about every civilization that has ever existed. But to say that the mistakes define us more than the accomplishments is suicidally stupid. And if you subscribe to those planks I mentioned above, I’d like to suggest that telling people they’re bigots for taking pride in the civilization that brought them forth better than any other is like taking a sledgehammer to the soapbox you’re standing on.


And to do it in the name of virtue tweeting is one of the purer forms of asininity.


CONNECT

Happy Birthday, Lloyd.


Harold Lloyd was born on this date in 1893.

Bach, "Christ lag in Todesbanden," BWV 4

Laurent Gendre leads the Ensemble Orlando Fribourg, choir and orchestra, featuring Lucy De Butts, soprano, Valerio Contaldo, tenor, Lisandro Abadie, bass ...

19 April 2019

Bach, St. John's Passion, BWV 245

Nikolaus Harnoncourt leads the soloists of the Tolzer Knabenchor and Concentus Musicus Wien ...

Bees.


Several types of creatures make themselves at home on the tippy-tops of buildings. You have your gargoyles, their stone gazes fixed forever on the horizon, and pigeons, their poop splattered in putrid white polka dots. And, on some urban rooftops, you have bees.

Beekeepers tend to hives atop several Paris landmarks, including the Opéra Garnier, Musée d’Orsay, and Notre Dame. More than 180,000 honeybees were said to flit around the hives atop the sacristy, their honey doled out among cathedral staff. So when a blaze recently torched Notre Dame’s wood roof and demolished the spire, apiarists were eager to know how the colonies had fared.

CONNECT

Le site officiel est ICI.

Happy birthday, Maddux.


Greg Maddox was born this week (14th) in 1966.

The whif ...



It's sandwich time.

Remember.

Pergolesi. Stabat Mater, P.77

Nathalie Stutzmann conducts Orfeo 55 with Emöke Barath, soprano, and Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor ...

Spirit.


The American War for Independence began on this day in 1775.

CONCORD HYMN

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
  Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
  And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
  Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
  Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
  We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
  When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
  To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
  The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

18 April 2019

Ride.

Wood, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, 1931


On this date, at this hour, in 1775, Paul Revere began his portion of the famous ride.

PAUL REVERE'S RIDE

Listen, my children, and you shall hear 
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, 
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; 
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year. 

He said to his friend, "If the British march 
By land or sea from the town to-night, 
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch 
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,— 
One, if by land, and two, if by sea; 
And I on the opposite shore will be, 
Ready to ride and spread the alarm 
Through every Middlesex village and farm, 
For the country folk to be up and to arm." 
Then he said, "Good night!" and with muffled oar 
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore, 
Just as the moon rose over the bay, 
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay 
The Somerset, British man-of-war; 
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar 
Across the moon like a prison bar, 
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified 
By its own reflection in the tide. 

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street, 
Wanders and watches with eager ears, 
Till in the silence around him he hears 
The muster of men at the barrack door, 
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet, 
And the measured tread of the grenadiers, 
Marching down to their boats on the shore. 

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church, 
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread, 
To the belfry-chamber overhead, 
And startled the pigeons from their perch 
On the sombre rafters, that round him made 
Masses and moving shapes of shade, — 
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall, 
To the highest window in the wall, 
Where he paused to listen and look down 
A moment on the roofs of the town, 
And the moonlight flowing over all. 
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead, 
In their night-encampment on the hill, 
Wrapped in silence so deep and still 
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread, 
The watchful night-wind, as it went 
Creeping along from tent to tent, 
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!" 
A moment only he feels the spell 
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread 
Of the lonely belfry and the dead; 
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent 
On a shadowy something far away, 
Where the river widens to meet the bay, — 
A line of black that bends and floats 
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats. 

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride, 
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride 
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere. 
Now he patted his horse's side, 
Now gazed at the landscape far and near, 
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth, 
And turned and tightened his saddle girth; 
But mostly he watched with eager search 
The belfry-tower of the Old North Church, 
As it rose above the graves on the hill, 
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still. 
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height 
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light! 
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns, 
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight 
A second lamp in the belfry burns! 
A hurry of hoofs in a village street, 
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark, 
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark 
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet: 
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light, 
The fate of a nation was riding that night; 
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight, 
Kindled the land into flame with its heat. 
He has left the village and mounted the steep, 
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep, 
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides; 
And under the alders, that skirt its edge, 
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge, 
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides. 

It was twelve by the village clock, 
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town. 
He heard the crowing of the cock, 
And the barking of the farmer's dog, 
And felt the damp of the river fog, 
That rises after the sun goes down. 

It was one by the village clock, 
When he galloped into Lexington. 
He saw the gilded weathercock 
Swim in the moonlight as he passed, 
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare, 
Gaze at him with a spectral glare, 
As if they already stood aghast 
At the bloody work they would look upon. 

It was two by the village clock, 
When he came to the bridge in Concord town. 
He heard the bleating of the flock, 
And the twitter of birds among the trees, 
And felt the breath of the morning breeze 
Blowing over the meadows brown. 
And one was safe and asleep in his bed 
Who at the bridge would be first to fall, 
Who that day would be lying dead, 
Pierced by a British musket-ball. 

You know the rest. In the books you have read, 
How the British Regulars fired and fled, — 
How the farmers gave them ball for ball, 
From behind each fence and farm-yard wall, 
Chasing the red-coats down the lane, 
Then crossing the fields to emerge again 
Under the trees at the turn of the road, 
And only pausing to fire and load. 

So through the night rode Paul Revere; 
And so through the night went his cry of alarm 
To every Middlesex village and farm, — 
A cry of defiance and not of fear, 
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, 
And a word that shall echo forevermore! 
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, 
Through all our history, to the last, 
In the hour of darkness and peril and need, 
The people will waken and listen to hear 
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, 
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

CONNECT

Bach, Mass in B Minor, BWV 232

The Dona Nobis Pacem performed by the English Baroque Soloists & Monteverdi Choir, directed by John Eliot Gardiner  ...

Into.


Let’s think of the steeple and the gargoyle. The steeple is this beautiful thing reaching up into the sky admitting as it were, its own inadequacy–attempting something utterly impossible–to climb to heaven through a steeple. The gargoyle is this little man grinning and laughing at the absurd behaviour of men on earth, and those two things both built into this building to the glory of God… [The gargoyle] is laughing at the inadequacy of man, the pretensions of man, the absolute preposterous gap–disparity–between his aspirations and his performance, which is the eternal comedy of human life. It will be so until the end of time you see…Mystical ecstasy and laughter are the two great delights of living, and saints and clowns their purveyors, the only two categories of human being who can be relied on to tell the truth; hence, steeples and gargoyles side by side on the great cathedrals.

Malcolm Muggeridge

Thank you, Kurt.

Reconstruction.


The president says it must be rebuilt more beautiful than before. What an arrogant man. And he says you must do it five years. It's impossible. When you begin such work, you can't tell it would be five, six, seven years. You don't know. And you must take the time, or you will do it badly.

Didier Ryner

For nearly nine centuries, Notre-Dame has stood at the epicenter of Paris, capital of France.The blaze struck much more than a place of worship. How much do you invest in a national treasure, that's owned not by the church but by the state. Who pays for the renovation; taxpayers, philanthropists, fund drives? What kind of renovation? Can the project meet that five-year deadline set by France's president? Our panel discusses the questions surrounding the reconstruction of Notre-Dame ...

Eternities.

Carus, Moon Rising Behind Pines, N/D


Pray, let us live without being drawn by dogs, Esquimaux-fashion, tearing over hill and dale, and biting each other's ears.

Not without a slight shudder at the danger, I often perceive how near I had come to admitting into my mind the details of some trivial affair- the news of the street; and I am astonished to observe how willing men are to lumber their minds with such rubbish- to permit idle rumors and incidents of the most insignificant kind to intrude on ground which should be sacred to thought. Shall the mind be a public arena, where the affairs of the street and the gossip of the tea-table chiefly are discussed? Or shall it be a quarter of heaven itself- an hypaethral temple, consecrated to the service of the gods? I find it so difficult to dispose of the few facts which to me are significant, that I hesitate to burden my attention with those which are insignificant, which only a divine mind could illustrate. Such is, for the most part, the news in newspapers and conversation. It is important to preserve the mind's chastity in this respect. Think of admitting the details of a single case of the criminal court into our thoughts, to stalk profanely through their very sanctum sanctorum for an hour, ay, for many hours! to make a very bar-room of the mind's inmost apartment, as if for so long the dust of the street had occupied us- the very street itself, with all its travel, its bustle, and filth, had passed through our thoughts' shrine! Would it not be an intellectual and moral suicide? When I have been compelled to sit spectator and auditor in a court-room for some hours, and have seen my neighbors, who were not compelled, stealing in from time to time, and tiptoeing about with washed hands and faces, it has appeared to my mind's eye, that, when they took off their hats, their ears suddenly expanded into vast hoppers for sound, between which even their narrow heads were crowded. Like the vanes of windmills, they caught the broad but shallow stream of sound, which, after a few titillating gyrations in their coggy brains, passed out the other side. I wondered if, when they got home, they were as careful to wash their ears as before their hands and faces. It has seemed to me, at such a time, that the auditors and the witnesses, the jury and the counsel, the judge and the criminal at the bar- if I may presume him guilty before he is convicted- were all equally criminal, and a thunderbolt might be expected to descend and consume them all together.


By all kinds of traps and signboards, threatening the extreme penalty of the divine law, exclude such trespassers from the only ground which can be sacred to you. It is so hard to forget what it is worse than useless to remember! If I am to be a thoroughfare, I prefer that it be of the mountain brooks, the Parnassian streams, and not the town sewers. There is inspiration, that gossip which comes to the ear of the attentive mind from the courts of heaven. There is the profane and stale revelation of the bar-room and the police court. The same ear is fitted to receive both communications. Only the character of the hearer determines to which it shall be open, and to which closed. I believe that the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to trivial things, so that all our thoughts shall be tinged with triviality. Our very intellect shall be macadamized, as it were- its foundation broken into fragments for the wheels of travel to roll over; and if you would know what will make the most durable pavement, surpassing rolled stones, spruce blocks, and asphaltum, you have only to look into some of our minds which have been subjected to this treatment so long.


If we have thus desecrated ourselves- as who has not?- the remedy will be by wariness and devotion to reconsecrate ourselves, and make once more a fane of the mind. We should treat our minds, that is, ourselves, as innocent and ingenuous children, whose guardians we are, and be careful what objects and what subjects we thrust on their attention. Read not the Times. Read the Eternities. Conventionalities are at length as had as impurities. Even the facts of science may dust the mind by their dryness, unless they are in a sense effaced each morning, or rather rendered fertile by the dews of fresh and living truth. Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven. Yes, every thought that passes through the mind helps to wear and tear it, and to deepen the ruts, which, as in the streets of Pompeii, evince how much it has been used. How many things there are concerning which we might well deliberate whether we had better know them- had better let their peddling-carts be driven, even at the slowest trot or walk, over that bride of glorious span by which we trust to pass at last from the farthest brink of time to the nearest shore of eternity! Have we no culture, no refinement- but skill only to live coarsely and serve the Devil?- to acquire a little worldly wealth, or fame, or liberty, and make a false show with it, as if we were all husk and shell, with no tender and living kernel to us? Shall our institutions be like those chestnut burs which contain abortive nuts, perfect only to prick the fingers?


Henry David Thoreau

CONNECT