AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

26 September 2020

25 September 2020

Feel.

Important.


It's important not to get caught short.

Jim Harrison

Excellent.

 An excellent book ...

Nemo.

Wyeth, N.C., Captain Nemo, 1918

Precious.

Sisley, Autumn in Louveciennes, 1873


I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Lifelong.


The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but rather the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.

Glenn Gould

Excellent.

 An excellent album ...

Happy Birthday, Gould


Glenn Gould was born on this date in 1932.

My moods are inversely related to the clarity of the sky.

Glenn Gould

Glenn Gould: On the Record ...



Glenn Gould: Off the Record ...

Happy Birthday, Borromini

 Borromini, Palazzo Spada Gallery, 1652


Francesco Borromini was born on this day in 1599.

It has been said that idleness is the parent of mischief, which is very true; but mischief itself is merely an attempt to escape from the dreary vacuum of idleness.

Francesco Borromini

24 September 2020

Priest, "Diamonds and Rust"

Heard.

Chatham, Fall Moon Rising, n/d


GOING for WATER

The well was dry beside the door,
And so we went with pail and can
Across the fields behind the house
To seek the brook if still it ran;

Not loth to have excuse to go,
Because the autumn eve was fair
(Though chill) because the fields were ours,
And by the brook our woods were there.

We ran as if to meet the moon
That slowly dawned behind the trees,
The barren boughs without the leaves,
Without the birds, without the breeze.

But once within the wood, we paused
Like gnomes that hid us from the moon,
Ready to run to hiding new
With laughter when she found us soon.

Each laid on other a staying hand
To listen ere we dared to look,
And in the hush we joined to make
We heard—we knew we heard—the brook.

A note as from a single place,
A slender tinkling fall that made
Now drops that floated on the pool
Like pearls, and now a silver blade.

Robert Frost

The Kings, "All the Way"

Observing.


Don’t let athletics run away with you as you may see in nine cases out of ten.  It doesn’t amount to a row of pins.  What you want to do is slowly but steadily get ahold of the simple facts of nature by reading and observing and also get all you can from Grandpapa, who can probably give you more practical knowledge than lots of professors, and then when you come to the science part it will come easy.  This is also true in art.  I’ve lived in the country, closer to nature, among animals, etc., and have learned and observed lots of little, seemingly little, things that have helped me in my final scientific study.  Write compositions and stories of your wanderings in the woods and when you can, send one to me.  Do as John Burroughs does.  If you can get some of his books and read them they are wonderful.

You've got a most interesting future before you if you wish to make it so and I wish you all possible success.

N.C. Wyeth, from a letter to his brother Edwin, May 25, 1903

Voice.


Everything comes from Neil Young and his song, "Are You Ready for the Country?", which has caused us considerable harm. After listening to her, a lot of people left town for the countryside. For my part, I already knew life in the countryside. But all these city dwellers came back, they tried to cultivate gardens and to grow grass which they smoked until getting sick. The designs of these people make me laugh. There is no man on one side and nature on the other. The two merge. This is why I find the position of environmental activists absurd. Empty and wild nature never existed: before the white man, there were the Indians and, before them, perhaps still other men. We must stop romanticizing nature. Having said that, I have nothing against Neil Young. I listened to his music a lot when I spent my time in Key West, just before I left to work for Hollywood. We find in his music the same thing as in Dalva: the desire for mystery, the romanticism in life, avoid shit, banality, the media and the noise of motorcycles which prevent me from speaking to you correctly since the beginning of this interview.

Interesting people often write down their thoughts in a notebook. I am very attracted by this literary genre which is the diary, or even more prosaically scattered notes written from day to day. As if things were no longer related to each other, there are only almost surreal notations left. I feel very close to this writing style today; I now realize that things never stick together and that it is up to us to pick up the pieces of a reality that constantly eludes us. When I wrote my Dalva Notebooks, I couldn't count on anything except on earth, the sun, the moon and the stars. That’s all I have. You can never count on a city. On the other hand, a tree or a river will never let you down. In Howl, Allen Ginsberg speaks of “this incredible street music”, I think that if you put aside your personality, you will be more receptive to this music. The most important thing I’ve done in seven years - my life is moving in cycles of seven years - is to have abandoned my personality. Only your voice counts and, if you manage to preserve it, you have a chance to escape the torments and lamentations of everyday life. As long as I keep my voice, I know that I will never be one of those lost guys who don't know what to do with their lives.

Jim Harrison

23 September 2020

Wander.

 McCoy, Brandywine at Twin Bridges, 1953


Upon the hearth the fire is red,
Beneath the roof there is a bed;
But not yet weary are our feet,
Still round the corner we may meet
A sudden tree or standing stone
That none have seen but we alone.
  Tree and flower and leaf and grass,
  Let them pass! Let them pass!
  Hill and water under sky,
  Pass them by! Pass them by!

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though we pass them by today,
Tomorrow we may come this way
And take the hidden paths that run
Towards the Moon or to the Sun.
  Apple, thorn, and nut and sloe,
  Let them go! Let them go!
  Sand and stone and pool and dell,
  Fare you well! Fare you well!

Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight.
Then world behind and home ahead,
We'll wander back to home and bed.
  Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
  Away shall fade! Away shall fade!
  Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
  And then to bed! And then to bed!

J.R.R. Tolkien

22 September 2020

Sheep-like.


The sheep-like tendency of human society soon makes inroads on a child's unsophistications, and then popular education completes the dastardly work with its systematic formulas, and away goes the individual, hurtling through space into that hateful oblivion of mediocrity. We are pruned into stumps, one resembling another, without character or grace.

N. C. Wyeth

Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109

Claudio Arrau performs ...

Restore.

Sketch a plan, grab some wood, and get to work.

The Hardens restore an historic monument.

CONNECT

Eternity.

Wyeth, N.C. Farmer with a Pumpkin, 1910 


AUTUMN

The thistledown's flying, though the winds are all still,
On the green grass now lying, now mounting the hill,
The spring from the fountain now boils like a pot;
Through stones past the counting it bubbles red-hot.

The ground parched and cracked is like overbaked bread,
The greensward all wracked is, bents dried up and dead.
The fallow fields glitter like water indeed,
And gossamers twitter, flung from weed unto weed.

Hill-tops like hot iron glitter bright in the sun,
And the rivers we're eying burn to gold as they run;
Burning hot is the ground, liquid gold is the air;
Whoever looks round sees Eternity there.

John Clare

Mellow.

20 September 2020

Phantom.


Bagels.


Q: Why do seagulls fly over the sea?

A: Because if they flew over the bay they’d be bagels.

Stop.


Stop saying, "I'm all in."

Excellent.

 An excellent book ...

Chatham.

In 1975, while Jimmy Buffett was visiting him in Livingston, Montana, Russell Chatham embellished one of Jimmy's guitars.

Sibelius, The Trees, Op. 75, No. 5

Clare Hammond performs "The Spruce" ...

Difference.

We believe that if the argument for equality has merit, it does so because it protects difference. Equality used to allow those who differ not to subsume themselves under another's identity but to claim equity for their distinction and the State's protection in maintaining and even defending it. Now, however, equality is being used to erase difference, destroy institutional distinction and remove proper and plural provision for different groups, faiths and organisations.  What is needed here is equity that respects difference not equality that destroys it.

Sir Roger Scruton

17 September 2020

Happy Birthday, Von Steuben

Peale, Major General Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus, Baron von Steuben, 1780


Friedrich von Steuben was born on this day in 1730.

A letter to George Washington ...

From Steuben
Portsmouth, N.H., 6 December 1777
Honorable Sir,

The inclosed Copy of a Letter whose Original I Shall have the honor to present to your Excellency, will instruct you of the motives that brought me over to this Land. I shall add only to it that the Object of my greatest Ambition is to render your Country all the Services in my Power, and to deserve the title of a Citizen of America by fighting for the Cause of your Liberty.1

If the distinguished Ranks I have Served in in Europe Should be an Obstacle, I had rather Serve under Your Excellency as a Volunteer, than to be a Subject of Discontent to Such deserving Officers as have already distinguished themselves amongst you.

Such being the Sentiments I always profest, I dare hope that the respectable Congress of the United States of America, will accept my Services. I could Say moreover (Were it not for the fear of offending your Modesty) that your Excellency is the only Person under whom (after having Served under the King of Prussia) I could wish to pursue an Art to which I have Wholly given up my Self.

I intend to go to Boston in a few Days where I shall present my Letters to the Honble John Hancock Esqr. Member of Congress, and there I shall wait for your Excellency’s Orders, according to which I shall take convenient Measures. I have the honor to be with respect Honorable Sir Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble servant

Steuben

ACϞDC, "Touch Too Much"

16 September 2020

Camp.

McClintock, Blackfoot Camp at Night, Montana, 1903

Beside.


In Basho's house
there are no walls,
no roof, floors
or pathway -
nothing to show

where it is,
yet you can enter
from any direction
through a door
that's always open.

You hear voices
though no one
is near you -
you'll listen without
knowing you do.

Time and time
you get up to greet
a stranger coming
towards you.
No one ever appears.

Hours and seasons
lose their names -
as do passing clouds.
Rising moon and setting sun
no longer cast shadows.

Sounds drift in
like effortless breathing -
frogsplash, birdsong,
echoes of your
own footsteps.

It all ceases
to exist in Basho's house -
the place you've entered
without knowing
you've taken a step.

Sit down. Breathe
in, breathe out.
Close your tired eyes.
Basho is sitting beside you -
a guest in his own house.


Peter Skyzynecki

Search.


The poet must work with brush and paper,
but this is not what makes the poem.
A man doesn't go in search of a poem -- 
the poem comes in search of him.

Yang Wan-Li

13 September 2020

Ian McCulloch, "September Song"

Bach, Partita in A minor, BWV 1013

Álvaro Canales Albert performs ...

Happy Birthday, Dahl


Roal Dahl was born on this day in 1916.

I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that 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

As near as you will find to a twentieth-century renaissance man -- and inside that head there's a controlled kaleidoscope of riotous imagination, immense literary skill, and, most important of all to him, the sheer enjoyment of living ...

Judgment.


For many artists and critics beauty is a discredited idea. The modernist message, that art must show life as it is, suggests to many people that, if you aim for beauty, you will end up with kitsch. This is a mistake, however. Kitsch tells you how nice you are: it offers easy feelings on the cheap. Beauty tells you to stop thinking about yourself, and to wake up to the world of others. It says, look at this, listen to this, study this - for here is something more important than you. Kitsch is a means to cheap emotion; beauty is an end in itself. We reach beauty through setting our interests aside and letting the world dawn on us. There are many ways of doing this, but art is undeniably the most important, since it presents us with the image of human life - our own life and all that life means to us - and asks us to look on it directly, not for what we can take from it but for what we can give to it. Through beauty art cleans the world of our self-obsession. Our human need for beauty is not something that could lack and still be fulfilled as people. It is a need arising from our moral nature. We can wander through this world, alienated, resentful, full of suspicion and distrust. Or we can find our home here, coming to rest in harmony with others and with ourselves. And the experience of beauty guides us along this second path: it tells us that we are at home in the world, that the world is already ordered in our perceptions as a place fit for the lives of beings like us. That is what we see in Corot’s landscapes, Cézanne’s apples, or Van Gogh’s unlaced boots.

One cure for the pain of desecration is the move towards total PROFANATION: in other words, to wipe out all vestiges of sanctity from the once worshipped object, to make it merely a thing OF the world, and not just a thing IN the world, something that is nothing over and above the substitutes that can at any time replace it.

A university does not exist simply to convey information or expertise. The university is a society in which the student absorbs the graces and accomplishments of a higher form of life. In the university, according to Newman, the pursuit of truth and the active discussion of its meaning are integrated into a wider culture, in which the ideal of the gentleman is acknowledged as the standard. The gentleman does not merely know things; he is receptive to the tone, the meaning, the lived reality of what he knows.

The magical encounter with the Beethoven quartet, the Bach suite, the Brahms symphony, in which your whole being is gripped by melodic and harmonic ideas and taken on a journey through the imaginary space of music - that experience which lies at the heart of our civilisation and which is an incomparable source of joy and consolation to all those who know it - is no longer a universal resource. It has become a private eccentricity, something that a dwindling body of oldies cling to, but which is regarded by many of the young as irrelevant. Increasingly young ears cannot reach out to this enchanted world, and therefore turn away from it. The loss is theirs, but you cannot explain that to them, any more than you can explain the beauty of colours to someone who is congenitally blind.

The belief that there is a difference between good and bad, meaningful and meaningless, profound and vapid, exciting and banal - this belief was once fundamental to musical education. But it offends against political correctness. Today there is only my taste and yours. The suggestion that my taste is better than yours is elitist, an offence against equality. But unless we teach children to judge, to discriminate, to recognise the difference between music of lasting value and mere ephemera, we give up on the task of education. Judgment is the precondition of true enjoyment, and the prelude to understanding art in all its forms.

Sir Roger Scruton

CONNECT

Excellent.

An excellent book ...

Escape.

Thoughts.

Hansen, September Sunset, 1980


ODE: INTIMATIONS of IMMORTALITY from RECOLLECTIONS of EARLY CHILDHOOD

   The child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
   Bound each to each by natural piety.

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
       The earth, and every common sight,
                          To me did seem
                      Apparelled in celestial light,
            The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
                      Turn wheresoe'er I may,
                          By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

                      The Rainbow comes and goes,
                      And lovely is the Rose,
                      The Moon doth with delight
       Look round her when the heavens are bare,
                      Waters on a starry night
                      Are beautiful and fair;
       The sunshine is a glorious birth;
       But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
       And while the young lambs bound
                      As to the tabor's sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief:
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
                      And I again am strong:
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
       The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
                      And all the earth is gay;
                           Land and sea
                Give themselves up to jollity,
                      And with the heart of May
                 Doth every Beast keep holiday;—
                      Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy Shepherd-boy.

Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call
      Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
      My heart is at your festival,
            My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.
                      Oh evil day! if I were sullen
                      While Earth herself is adorning,
                         This sweet May-morning,
                      And the Children are culling
                         On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
                      Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother's arm:—
                      I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
                      —But there's a Tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone;
                      The Pansy at my feet
                      Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
                      Hath had elsewhere its setting,
                         And cometh from afar:
                      Not in entire forgetfulness,
                      And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
                      From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
                      Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
                      He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
                      Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,
                      And by the vision splendid
                      Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
                      And, even with something of a Mother's mind,
                      And no unworthy aim,
The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,
                      Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.

Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
A six years' Darling of a pigmy size!
See, where 'mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother's kisses,
With light upon him from his father's eyes!
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learn{e}d art
                      A wedding or a festival,
                      A mourning or a funeral;
                         And this hath now his heart,
                      And unto this he frames his song:
                         Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;
                      But it will not be long
                      Ere this be thrown aside,
                      And with new joy and pride
The little Actor cons another part;
Filling from time to time his "humorous stage"
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,
That Life brings with her in her equipage;
                      As if his whole vocation
                      Were endless imitation.

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
                      Thy Soul's immensity;
Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,—
                      Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
                      On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;
Thou, over whom thy Immortality
Broods like the Day, a Master o'er a Slave,
A Presence which is not to be put by;
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!

                      O joy! that in our embers
                      Is something that doth live,
                      That Nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction: not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest;
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:—
                      Not for these I raise
                      The song of thanks and praise
                But for those obstinate questionings
                Of sense and outward things,
                Fallings from us, vanishings;
                Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised,
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:
                      But for those first affections,
                      Those shadowy recollections,
                Which, be they what they may
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
                Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,
                To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
                      Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
                Hence in a season of calm weather
                      Though inland far we be,
Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea
                      Which brought us hither,
                Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
                      And let the young Lambs bound
                      As to the tabor's sound!
We in thought will join your throng,
                      Ye that pipe and ye that play,
                      Ye that through your hearts to-day
                      Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
                Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
                      We will grieve not, rather find
                      Strength in what remains behind;
                      In the primal sympathy
                      Which having been must ever be;
                      In the soothing thoughts that spring
                      Out of human suffering;
                      In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripped lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
                      Is lovely yet;
The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

William Wordsworth

Excellent.

An excellent documentary ...



Don't miss this discussion that Ethan Hawke and Seymour Bernstein have about the documentary Seymour: An Introduction ...


All serious artists begin by devoting their lives to a passion because they love it. Music isn’t a way of life for me, it is my life. So when I practice, I’m integrating my emotional, intellectual and physical worlds. Now if artists were conscious of doing that, they would direct that integration into their social world. Musicians train themselves to listen to what is coming out of their instrument, so that it matches what their inner world is experiencing. That teaches them to listen to people speaking in a very intense and involved fashion. There’s a correlation there. I think artists get into trouble or become neurotic when they don’t carry the hard-earned discipline from their art into the social world. Many try to do just the opposite by bringing the social world into their art. I don’t think that works because the social world is very unpredictable, but our art is very predictable. 

Seymour Bernstein