"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

14 July 2024


It was a big night on Big Blue ...


Sir Roger on human duties ...
We have been taught that we must forgive and that and we have an obligation to forgive.  This doesn't come from any contract, it doesn't come from anything that we've undertaken.  It lies there in the nature of things and it's what is necessary, I think, if we are to live in the easygoing way that we hope for, but it does suggest that all human beings have a need for sacred things, a need for something which, as it were, cannot be spoiled, something which must be treasured and as which has an absolute authority and all our institutions in which our membership is a real value.  All these institutions in which membership is presupposed and rehearsed, are as a result of this endowed with a certain aura.  We are naturally beings that live in a sanctified or consecrated world.  We don't necessarily put it in that way, but we feel it whenever we encounter something which is calling upon us to be more than just the self-centered contract-making thing that we are in day-to-day life.  For instance all these things that are associated with your national membership, the flag, the oath, the parade, and so on, people, ordinary people, at least not obviously Princeton intellectuals, but ordinary people, when observing such a thing, their hair prickles and they stand to attention, maybe their eyes water, and so on.  This is a recognition that they're in the presence of something that cannot be spoiled, that is greater than them, and of which they are a part. I think this is something we feel also through our sense of beauty, which endows the whole world with an aura or can do. 


van Gogh, Self-Portrait, 1887

Knowing how to suffer without complaining is the only practical thing, it's the great science, the lesson to learn, the solution to the problem of life.

Vincent van Gogh, from a letter to Theo van Gogh, 19 March 1889

Guðnadóttir, Composition for Halldorophone, No. 5

The composer performs ...


Yeats, J.B., Portrait of William Yeats, 1900

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned. 

W.B. Yeats

Happy Birthday, Whistler

Whistler, Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach, 1878

James McNeill Whistler was born on this day in 1834.

Happy Birthday, Stone

My motto is, "Let no girl, no gun, no cards, no violins, no dress, no tobacco, no laziness keep you from your books."

Irving Stone, born on this day in 1903, from Those Who Love

Stone edited one of my all-time favorite books, a collection of Vincent van Gogh's letters titled Dear Theo.


Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.

George Bernard Shaw


We need to restore the full meaning of that old word, duty. It is the other side of rights. 

Pearl S. Buck

Krommer, Partita for Harmonie in B-flat major, Op.78

Camerata Cantilly performs ...

Happy Birthday, Klimt

Klimt, Forester’s House in Weissenbach II (Garden), 1914

Gustav Klimt was born on this day in 1862.

13 July 2024


Responsibility.  Noun.  A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star. 

Ambrose Bierce


I am quite certain that some day we will take a subject such as Einstein’s theory of relativity, and with the “Einstein” of the subject and his colleagues working on it for a year, we will finally get it reduced down to what is “net” in the subject and enthusiastically approved by the “Einstein” who gave the original lecture. What is net will become communicated so well that any child can turn on a documentary device, a TV, and get the Einstein lucidity of thinking and get it quickly and firmly. I am quite sure that we are going to get research and development laboratories of education where the faculty will become producers of extraordinary moving-picture documentaries. That is going to be the big, new educational trend.

Buckminster Fuller, born yesterday in 1895, from Education Automation: Freeing the Scholar to Return to His Studies (1961)

Whatley warned that a man unaware of his ignorance will be led astray by his knowledge.  The public education model is like this, it's passive.  But, learning is infinitely active.  YouTube culture has created a shallow sense of expertise in kids who are seeking increasingly smaller soundbites ([sixth-grader moaning] "Mr. Firchau, too many words.")

Betrand Russel said, "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision."

Stay curious, my friends.


When school is out and all the students and teachers have left, imagine roaming these halls and polishing the blackboards in classrooms that taught Voltaire, Balzac, Jean Paul Sartre, Marie Curie and T.S Eliot ...


Hänisch, Rural Landscape, 1906

Those who are willing to be vulnerable move among mysteries.

Super Mac

The 2024 Super Mac begins today. 

Follow the boats HERE.


There is no better teacher than history in determining the future. There are answers worth billions of dollars in a $30 history book.

Charlie Munger

Thank you, Farnam Street.  Thank you, Steve.

12 July 2024

Jimmy Buffett, "The Wino and I Know"

I'm livin' on things that excite me,
Be they pastries, or lobsters, or love ...


Sometimes it was biscuits, sometimes a Tunnocks caramel wafer, and sometimes he made banana sandwiches on brown bread. He mashed up the bananas with a lot of sugar. I imagine he had a cup of tea with this little feast.

“Elevenses, elevenses!” he said, grinning and clearly relishing the sound of the word itself. There’s something comical in it, isn’t there? It sounds almost like a baby word, like an affectionate nickname.

Even today, though he is nearly 80 and lives an ascetic lifestyle on a meditation retreat near Oxford, he still loves stuffing his face with biscuits at 11, or, more likely, ten to.
[T]hose divine and raptorous joys of which through the poem, or through the music, we attain to but brief and indeterminate glimpses.

Edgar Allan Poe, from "The Poetic Principle"

Thanks, Mum and Grandma Chenoweth.


Steve points to Farnam Street's 98/2 rule ...
The 98/2 Rule: people spend 98% of their time talking about flashy things that contribute only 2% to the results, while overlooking the fact that 98% of the results come from consistently doing the boring basics that few notice.

Ask yourself: "Does the attention you give to something truly reflect its true importance?”

Happy Birthday, Modigliani

Modigliani, Portrait of Madame Reynouard,  1916

I want to be a tuneswept fiddle string that feels the master melody -- and snaps.

Amedeo Modigliani, born on this day in 1884


The only thing I'm afraid of about this country is that its government will someday become so monstrous that the smallest person in it will be trampled under¬foot, and then it wouldn’t be worth living in. The only thing in America that is still unique in this tired world is that a man can go as far as his brains will take him or he can go to hell if he wants to, but it won’t be that way much longer.

Harper Lee, from Go Set a Watchman

Happy Birthday, Boudin

Eugene Boudin was born on this day in 1824.

Thank you, Dr. Richardson

Happy Birthday, Thoreau

It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know. I do not get nearer by a hair’s breadth to any natural object so long as I presume that I have an introduction to it from some learned man.

Henry David Thoreau, born on this day in 1817, from his Journal, October 4, 1859



Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.

Been on probation most of my life. And
the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
count for a lot—peace, you know.

Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.

This is what the whole thing is about.

William Stafford


Don’t be afraid of cooking, as your ingredients will know and misbehave. 

Enjoy your cooking and the food will behave ...

... moreover it will pass your pleasure on to those who eat it.

Fergus Henderson, Nose to Tail


Myat, Reading Man, n/d


Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You've all that the greatest of men have had,
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes
And a brain to use if you would be wise.
With this equipment they all began,
So start for the top and say, "I can."

Look them over, the wise and great
They take their food from a common plate,
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes.
The world considers them brave and smart,
But you've all they had when they made their start.

You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if you only will.
You're well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
And the man who has risen great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.

You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place,
You must say where you want to go,
How much you will study the truth to know.
God has equipped you for life, but He
Lets you decide what you want to be.

Courage must come from the soul within,
The man must furnish the will to win.
So figure it out for yourself, my lad.
You were born with all that the great have had,
With your equipment they all began,
Get hold of yourself and say: "I can."

Edgar A. Guest

Happy Birthday, Carver

Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses. 

George Washington Carver, born on this day in 1864

11 July 2024

Jimmy Buffett, "Life Short Call Now"

I love it when a cover is better than the original.

Happy Birthday, Murphy

Peter Murphy was born on this day in 1957.

"Final Solution" (this song cracks me up) ...


God doesn't need to come down upon a mountain, for the mountain itself is the revelation. We only have to look at it and we will know how we should live.

John Moriarty

Thanks to Julian Summerhayes for pointing me in this direction.


The thing itself is one; the images are many. What leads to a perceptive understanding of the thing is not the focus on one image, but the viewing of many images together. 

Rudolf Steiner


Give me oysters and beer for dinner every day of the year,
And I'll feel fine

Jimmy Buffett


When we hear the sound of the pine trees on a windy day, perhaps the wind is just blowing, and the pine tree is just standing in the wind. That is all they are doing. But the people who will listen to the wind in the tree will write a poem, or will feel something unusual. That is, I think, the way everything is.

Shunryu Suzuki


The men of letters who have rendered the greatest services to the small number of thinking beings spread over the world, are the isolated writers, the true scholars shut in their studies, who have neither argued on the benches of the universities, nor told half-truths in the academies; and almost all of them have been persecuted. Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.



Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence?
I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds.
Open your doors and look abroad.

From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before.
In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across an hundred years.

Rabindranath Tagore

Smyth (after Bach), Komm süsser Tod

The Marian Consort, directed by Rory McCleery, performs ...


An overcast morning in July. A taste of ashes flies through the air; - an odor of sweating wood on the hearth, - dew-ret flowers, - devastation along the promenades, - the mist of the canals over the fields - why not incense and toys already?

I have stretched ropes from steeple to steeple; garlands from window to window; golden chains from star to star, and I dance.

The upland pond smokes continuously. What witch will rise against the white west sky? What violet frondescence fall?

While public funds evaporate in feasts of fraternity, a bell of rosy fire rings in the clouds.

Reviving a pleasant taste of India ink, a black powder rains on my vigil. I lower the jets of the chandelier, I throw myself on my bed, and turning my face towards the darkness, I see you, my daughters! my queens!

Arthur Rimbaud, from "Phrases"


They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.

Harper Lee, from To Kill a Mockingbird, published on this day in 1960

Jimmy Buffett, "A Pirate Looks at Forty"

With Jerry Jeff and Fingers ...
"Oh, that's why."

10 July 2024


Happy Birthday, Dio

Ronnie James Dio was born on this day in 1942.

With Sabbath doing 1980's "Neon Knights"...

Victor Feldman Trio, "Summer Love"

Lisa Stansfield, "Ain't Nobody's Business"



I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.

All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.

I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.

John O'Donohue


Thanks to Kurt for recommending this excellent book ...

This evening at 7:00, Brookhiser's talk from last week will air ...

In the meantime (if for nothing else, take a peak just for a look at his tie) ...


Walker's Arms inspired me to go wondering about the East Banqueting House at Chipping Campden, imagining the combination of a banqueting hall and a library on that top level ...
In the seventeenth century, Sir Baptist’s guests would have retired to these houses for their "banquet" (or dessert course) at the end of the meal, to drink rare wines, eat dried fruit and sweetmeats and admire his domain. 

On the following morning, the sun darted his beams from over the hills through the low lattice window. I rose at an early hour, and looked out between the branches of eglantine which overhung the casement. To my surprise Scott was already up and forth, seated on a fragment of stone, and chatting with the workmen employed on the new building. I had supposed, after the time he had wasted upon me yesterday, he would be closely occupied this morning, but he appeared like a man of leisure, who had nothing to do but bask in the sunshine and amuse himself.

I soon dressed myself and joined him. He talked about his proposed plans of Abbotsford; happy would it have been for him could he have contented himself with his delightful little vine-covered cottage, and the simple, yet hearty and hospitable style, in which he lived at the time of my visit. The great pile of Abbotsford, with the huge expense it entailed upon him, of servants, retainers, guests, and baronial style, was a drain upon his purse, a tax upon his exertions, and a weight upon his mind, that finally crushed him.

As yet, however, all was in embryo and perspective, and Scott pleased himself with picturing out his future residence, as he would one of the fanciful creations of his own romances. "It was one of his air castles," he said, "which he was reducing to solid stone and mortar." About the place were strewed various morsels from the ruins of Melrose Abbey, which were to be incorporated in his mansion. He had already constructed out of similar materials a kind of Gothic shrine over a spring, and had surmounted it by a small stone cross.

Among the relics from the Abbey which lay scattered before us, was a most quaint and antique little lion, either of red stone, or painted red, which hit my fancy. I forgot whose cognizance it was; but I shall never forget the delightful observations concerning old Melrose to which it accidentally gave rise. The Abbey was evidently a pile that called up all Scott's poetic and romantic feelings; and one to which he was enthusiastically attached by the most fanciful and delightful of his early associations. He spoke of it, I may say, with affection. "There is no telling," said he, "what treasures are hid in that glorious old pile. It is a famous place for antiquarian plunder; there are such rich bits of old time sculpture for the architect, and old time story for the poet. There is as rare picking in it as a Stilton cheese, and in the same taste—the mouldier the better."

Washington Irving, from "Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey"


There is a voice that doesn’t use words — listen!



If you understand real practice, then archery or other activities can be zen. If you don't understand how to practice archery in its true sense, then even though you practice very hard, what you acquire is just technique. It won't help you through and through. Perhaps you can hit the mark without trying, but without a bow and arrow you cannot do anything. If you understand the point of practice, then even without a bow and arrow the archery will help you. How you get that kind of power or ability is only through right practice.