AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

21 September 2021

First.


On this night, at about this time forty years ago, I was walking into Vets' Memorial to see my first concert: The Kinks, supporting one of their best, Give the People What They Want.

The Lantern's review.

"Around the Dial" ...

Jubilee.


That old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air.  Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year's mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.

Wallace Stegner, from Angle of Repose

Released.


Cheap Trick released Dream Police on this day in 1979.
Ambition? ha!
If all I've heard is true,
There's nothin' much I can do
To change the world, it's irreversible.
But in what it lacks,
It's got a taste that smacks
Of somethin' irresistible.

Gonna raise hell ...

Rick Nielsen, from "Gonna Raise Hell"
"I'll Be With You Tonight"" ...

20 September 2021

Chopin, 12 Études, Op. 25

 Beatrice Rana performs No. 1 in A-flat major ...

Light.

New.

Waterhouse, Ophelia, 1889


Unbind my hair, she says. The night is white and warm,
the snow on the mountains absorbing the moon.
We have to get there before the music begins, scattered,
elliptical, needing to be drawn together and sung.
They have dark green voices and listening, there are birds,
coal shovels, the glazed hysteria of the soon-to- be-dead.
I suspect Jesus will return and the surprise will be
fatal. I'll ride the equator on a whale, a giraffe on land.
Even stone when inscribed bears the ecstatic. Pressed to
some new wall, ungiving, the screams become thinner.
Let us have the tambourine and guitars and forests, fruit,
and a new sun to guide us, a holy book, tracked in new blood.

Jim Harrison

On to the Oyster Months ...

Move.


Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. 

Rosa Luxemburg

19 September 2021

Responsibilities.


Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is cheifly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents. This is a truth of great importance, but not yet sufficiently attended to: and is probably more strongly impressed on my mind by facts, and reflections suggested by them, than on yours which has contemplated abuses of power issuing from a very different quarter. 

Wherever there is an interest and power to do wrong, wrong will generally be done, and not less readily by a powerful and interested party than by a powerful and interested prince.

James Madison, from a letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788

Corrupt.


Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.

Samuel Adams

Thanks for the video, Kurt.

Jackson Browne, "Looking into You"

David Lindley, fiddle ...

Imagination.


Nothing can be more limiting to the imagination than only writing about what you know.

John Gardner

Released.


Triumph released Allied Forces on this day in 1981.
Nothing is easy, nothing good is free ...

Rik Emmett, Gil Moore, Mike Levine, from Fight the Good Fight

Connection.


I think rituals help. A psychoanalyst pointed out that cultures that hold rituals around food have less eating disorders than cultures that don’t. And our culture is a good example. Do you eat standing up? Do you eat in your car? Do you eat walking down the street? Or do you actually sit down and have a few moments of silence? Do you say a prayer and bless the food? Do you have some intention of receiving the preciousness of the food into your body and being? When you do, then you start to sense a connection because you are actually practicing the act of showing up and being present for something.

Edward Espe Brown

Wise.

On Thursday, Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the 2021 Tocqueville Lecture at Notre Dame; a comforting voice among and for the voiceless.  Listen to this noble man's wise words and be renewed ...
We may fall short, but our imperfection does not relieve us of our obligation.

Don't miss the Q & A afterward.


Thanks, Kurt.

Happy Birthday, Golding


William Golding was born on this day in 1911.
“I know there isn't no beast—not with claws and all that, I mean—but I know there isn't no fear, either." Piggy paused.  "Unless—" 
Ralph moved restlessly.  "Unless what?"
"Unless we get frightened of people.”

William Golding, from Lord of the Flies 

Schumann, Träumerei

Viktoria Mullova & Misha Mullov-Abbado perform ...

18 September 2021

Enterprise.


Cultural Offering asks the funny-because-it's-true question, "Have the Clintons been declared a criminal enterprise yet?"

Pete(r) Rowan(s), "Before the Streets Were Paved"

Oh Grandfather tell me how it was when you were young
Was the world so very old when your life had just begun?
Oh Grandfather tell me is it true you worked the land
And the tools that you used you made with your own hands

Before time was only money and machines made man a slave
Was the world all milk and honey before all the streets were paved?

Joy.


Thank you, Sarah.

Concentrates.

Watson, Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1770


Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

Samuel Johnson 

Loyalty.


True loyalty is that quality of service that grows under adversity and expands in defeat. Any street urchin can shout applause in victory, but it takes character to stand fast in defeat. One is noise - the other, loyalty.

Fielding H. Yost, Michigan football coach, 1901 - 1923, 1925 - 1926

Michigan.


GO BLUE!

Smug.


Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes". When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

Abraham Lincoln, from a letter to Joshua Speed, August 24, 1855

The hypocrisy of the smug.

Thanks, Kurt.

Covers.


The species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world.  It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood. It every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things; the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

Alexis de Tocqueville, from Democracy in America

Plunge.

Wyeth, N.C., The Giant, 1923


I can breathe easier now that the appointments are behind me.
I missed them all, through deliberate negligence,
Having waited for the urge to go, which I knew wouldn’t come.
I’m free, and against organized, clothed society.
I’m naked and plunge into the water of my imagination.

Fernando Pessoa

Happy Birthday, Johnson

Reynolds, Samuel Johnson, 1756


Samuel Johnson was born on this day in 1709.

The fountain of content must spring up in the mind, and he who hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief he proposes to remove.

Samuel Johnson

Must.

17 September 2021

Idiot-Proof.

Chains.


If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Samuel Adams

Mislead.


Look at ME, everybody!

Thanks, Kurt.

People.


On this day in 1787, the United States Constitution was completed and signed by the delegates of the Continental Congress.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Given.


It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Charles M. Province

15 September 2021

Translated.


But the quality of the imagination is to flow, and not to freeze. 


The poet did not stop at the color, or the form, but read their meaning; neither may he rest in this meaning, but he makes the same objects exponents of his new thought.  


For all symbols are fluxional; all language is vehicular and transitive, and is good, as ferries and horses are, for conveyance, not as farms and houses are, for homestead.  

The morning-redness happens to be the favorite meteor to the eyes of Jacob Behmen, and comes to stand to him for truth and faith; and he believes should stand for the same realities to every reader. But the first reader prefers as naturally the symbol of a mother and child, or a gardener and his bulb, or a jeweller polishing a gem. Either of these, or of a myriad more, are equally good to the person to whom they are significant. Only they must be held lightly, and be very willingly translated into the equivalent terms which others use… 


Let us have a little algebra, instead of this trite rhetoric, – universal signs, instead of these village symbols, – and we shall both be gainers. The history of hierarchies seems to show, that all religious error consisted in making the symbol too stark and solid, and, at last, nothing but an excess of the organ of language.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Poet” 

14 September 2021

Done.


Done and done.

Medical.

Norm MacDonald, Rest In Peace

Norm MacDonald has passed, now nothing is funny ...

Released.


Genesis released Abacab in this day in 1981.
Words lost in the wind.
The tide was rising,
But there we stayed,
We had no fear of dying
We weren't afraid.

Anthony Banks, from "Me and Sarah Jane"

Not-Quite-Weightless.


A secret came a week ago though I already
knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds
are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.
I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite-
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation
and now they’re roosting within me, recalling
how I had watched them at night
in fall and spring passing across earth moons,
little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing
on their way north or south. Now in my dreams
I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,
the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying
me rather than me carrying them. Next winter
I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado
and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching
on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye
and I’ll return my dreams to earth.

Jim Harrison

Barbarians, "Shirley"

Contention.



Mencken on "Giants at the Bar" ...
In the year 1904, when the Herald office was destroyed in the great Baltimore fire and we had to print the paper for five weeks in Philadelphia, I was sent ahead to look for accommodations for the printers. I found them in one of those old-fashioned dollar-a-day hotels that were all bar on the first floor. The proprietor, a German with goat whiskers, was somewhat reluctant to come to terms, for he had heard that printers were wild fellows who might be expected to break up his furniture and rough his chambermaids, but when I told him that a beer champion was among them he showed a friendly interest, and when I began to brag about Bill’s extraordinary talents he proposed amiably that some Philadelphia foam jumpers be invited in to make it a race.

The first heat was run the very next night, and Bill won hands down. In fact, he won so easily that he offered grandly to go on until he had drunk twice as much as the next-best entry. We restrained him and got him to bed, for there had been some ominous whispering among the other starters and it was plain that they were planning to call in help.

The next night it appeared in the shape of a tall, thin man from Allentown, Pennsylvania, who was introduced as the champion of the Lehigh Valley. He claimed to be not only a beer-drinker of high gifts but also a member of the Bach Choir at Bethlehem, and when he got down his first dozen mugs—the boys were drinking from the wood—he cut loose with an exultant yodel that he said was one of Bach’s forgotten minor works. But he might very well have saved his wind, for Bill soon had him, and at the end of the setting he was four or five mugs behind and in a state resembling suffocation. The next afternoon I saw his fans taking him home, a sadder and a much less melodious man.

On the first two nights there were only slim galleries, but on the third the bar was jammed, and anyone could see that something desperate was afoot. It turned out to be the introduction of two super-champions, the one a short, saturnine Welshman from Wilkes-Barre and the other a hearty, blond young fellow from one of the Philadelphia suburbs, who said that he was half German and half Irish. The Welshman was presented as the man who had twice drunk Otto the Brewery Horse under the table, and we were supposed to know who Otto was, though we didn’t. The Celto-Teutonic mongrel had a committee with him, and the chairman thereof offered to lay twenty-five dollars on him at even money. The printers in Bill’s corner made up the money at once, and it had grown to fifty dollars in forty minutes by the clock, for the hybrid took only that long to blow up. The Welshman lasted much better, and there were some uneasy moments when he seemed destined to make history again by adding Bill to Otto, but in the end he succumbed so suddenly that it seemed like a bang, and his friends laid him out on the floor and began fanning him with bar towels.

Bill was very cocky after that and talked grandiosely of taking on two champions at a time, in a marathon series. There were no takers for several nights, but then they began to filter in from the remotest wilds of the Pennsylvania-Dutch country, and the whole Herald staff was kept busy guarding Bill by day, to make sure that he did not waste any energy on malt liquor in the afternoons. He knocked off twenty or thirty challengers during the ensuing month, including another alleged member of the Bach Choir, two more Welshmen from the hard-coal country, a Scotsman with an ear missing, and a bearded Dunkard from Lancaster County. They were mainly pushovers, but now and then there was a tough one. Bill did not let this heavy going interfere with the practice of his profession. He set type every night from 6 p.m. to midnight in the office of the Evening Telegraph, where we were printing the Herald, and never began his combats until twelve-thirty. By two o’clock he was commonly in bed, with another wreath of laurels hanging on the gas jet.

To ease your suspense, I’ll tell you at once that he was never beaten. Germans, Irishmen, Welshmen, and Scotsmen went down before him like so many Sunday-school superintendents, and he bowled over everyday Americans with such facility that only two of them ever lasted more than half an hour. But I should in candor add that he was out of service during the last week of our stay in Philadelphia. What fetched him is still a bone of contention among the pathologists at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, to whom the facts were presented officially on our return to our rehabilitated printing plant in Baltimore ...

Sing.


In the middle of this century we turned to each other
With half faces and full eyes
like an ancient Egyptian picture
And for a short while.

I stroked your hair
In the opposite direction to your journey,
We called to each other,
Like calling out the names of towns
Where nobody stops
Along the route.

Lovely is the world rising early to evil,
Lovely is the world falling asleep to sin and pity,
In the mingling of ourselves, you and I,
Lovely is the world.

The earth drinks men and their loves
Like wine,
To forget.
It can’t.
And like the contours of the Judean hills,
We shall never find peace.

In the middle of this century we turned to each other,
I saw your body, throwing shade, waiting for me,
The leather straps for a long journey
Already tightening across my chest.
I spoke in praise of your mortal hips,
You spoke in praise of my passing face,
I stroked your hair in the direction of your journey,
I touched your flesh, prophet of your end,
I touched your hand which has never slept,
I touched your mouth which may yet sing.

Dust from the desert covered the table
At which we did not eat
But with my finger I wrote on it
The letters of your name.

Yehuda Amichai

Thank you, Veerle.

Abnormal.

Colville, Dog, Boy, and St. John River, 1958 


"Why aren't you in school? I see you every day wandering around."

"Oh, they don't miss me," she said. "I'm antisocial, they say. I don't mix. It's so strange. I'm very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn't it? Social to me means talking to you about things like this." She rattled some chestnuts that had fallen off the tree in the front yard. "Or talking about how strange the world is. Being with people is nice. But I don't think it's social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk, do you? An hour of TV class, an hour of basketball or baseball or running, another hour of transcription history or painting pictures, and more sports, but do you know, we never ask questions, or at least most don't; they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film-teacher. That's not social to me at all. It's a lot of funnels and lot of water poured down the spout and out the bottom, and them telling us it's wine when it's not. They run us so ragged by the end of the day we can't do anything but go to bed or head for a Fun Park to bully people around, break windowpanes in the Window Smasher place or wreck cars in the Car Wrecker place with the big steel ball. Or go out in the cars and race on the streets, trying to see how close you can get to lampposts, playing 'chicken' and 'knock hubcaps.' I guess I'm everything they say I am, all right. I haven't any friends. That's supposed to prove I'm abnormal. But everyone I know is either shouting or dancing around like wild or beating up one another. Do you notice how people hurt each other nowadays?”

Ray Bradbury, from Fahrenheit 451

Thank you, Violet.

Remember.

von Menzel, Dr. Puhlmann’s Bookcase, 1844


Our daily life has fallen among prosaic things and ignoble things, but our dreams remember the enchanted valleys.

W.B Yeats

Wisely.

Tiepolo, Armida and Rinaldo, 1753


LOVE'S PROGRESS

Who ever loves, if he do not propose
The right true end of love, he's one that goes
To sea for nothing but to make him sick.
Love is a bear-whelp born: if we o'erlick
Our love, and force it new strange shapes to take,
We err, and of a lump a monster make.
Were not a calf a monster that were grown
Faced like a man, though better than his own?
Perfection is in unity: prefer
One woman first, and then one thing in her.
I, when I value gold, may think upon
The ductileness, the application,
The wholsomeness, the ingenuity,
From rust, from soil, from fire ever free;
But if I love it, 'tis because 'tis made
By our new nature (Use) the soul of trade.
All these in women we might think upon
(If women had them) and yet love but one.
Can men more injure women than to say
They love them for that by which they're not they?
Makes virtue woman? Must I cool my blood
Till I both be, and find one, wise and good?
May barren angels love so! But if we
Make love to woman, virtue is not she,
As beauty's not, nor wealth. He that strays thus
From her to hers is more adulterous
Than if he took her maid. Search every sphere
And firmament, our Cupid is not there;
He's an infernal god, and under ground
With Pluto dwells, where gold and fire abound:
Men to such gods their sacrificing coals
Did not in altars lay, but pits and holes.
Although we see celestial bodies move
Above the earth, the earth we till and love:
So we her airs contemplate, words and heart
And virtues, but we love the centric part.
Nor is the soul more worthy, or more fit,
For love than this, as infinite is it.
But in attaining this desired place
How much they err that set out at the face.
The hair a forest is of ambushes,
Of springs, snares, fetters and manacles;
The brow becalms us when 'tis smooth and plain,
And when 'tis wrinkled shipwrecks us again—
Smooth, 'tis a paradise where we would have
Immortal stay, and wrinkled 'tis our grave.
The nose (like to the first meridian) runs
Not ‘twixt an East and West, but ‘twixt two suns;
It leaves a cheek, a rosy hemisphere,
On either side, and then directs us where
Upon the Islands Fortunate we fall,
(Not faint Canaries, but Ambrosial)
Her swelling lips; to which when we are come,
We anchor there, and think ourselves at home,
For they seem all: there Sirens' songs, and there
Wise Delphic oracles do fill the ear;
There in a creek where chosen pearls do swell,
The remora, her cleaving tongue doth dwell.
These, and the glorious promontory, her chin,
O'erpassed, and the straight Hellespont between
The Sestos and Abydos of her breasts,
(Not of two lovers, but two loves the nests)
Succeeds a boundless sea, but yet thine eye
Some island moles may scattered there descry;
And sailing towards her India, in that way
Shall at her fair Atlantic navel stay;
Though thence the current be thy pilot made,
Yet ere thou be where thou wouldst be embayed
Thou shalt upon another forest set,
Where many shipwreck and no further get.
When thou art there, consider what this chase
Misspent by thy beginning at the face.
Rather set out below; practise my art.
Some symetry the foot hath with that part
Which thou dost seek, and is thy map for that,
Lovely enough to stop, but not stay at;
Least subject to disguise and change it is—
Men say the devil never can change his.
It is the emblem that hath figured
Firmness; 'tis the first part that comes to bed.
Civility we see refined; the kiss
Which at the face began, transplanted is,
Since to the hand, since to the imperial knee,
Now at the papal foot delights to be:
If kings think that the nearer way, and do
Rise from the foot, lovers may do so too;
For as free spheres move faster far than can
Birds, whom the air resists, so may that man
Which goes this empty and ethereal way,
Than if at beauty's elements he stay.
Rich nature hath in women wisely made
Two purses, and their mouths aversely laid:
They then which to the lower tribute owe
That way which that exchequer looks must go:
He which doth not, his error is as great
As who by clyster gave the stomach meat.

John Donne

Limit.


The aim of science is not to open the door to infinite wisdom, but to set a limit to infinite error.

Bertolt Brecht

Announcing.


Smithsonian tells the story of how the flag that flew proudly over Fort McHenry inspired an anthem and made its way to the museum ...
On a rainy September 13, 1814, British warships sent a downpour of shells and rockets onto Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor, relentlessly pounding the American fort for 25 hours. The bombardment, known as the Battle of Baltimore, came only weeks after the British had attacked Washington, D.C., burning the Capitol, the Treasury and the President's house. It was another chapter in the ongoing War of 1812.

A week earlier, Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old American lawyer, had boarded the flagship of the British fleet on the Chesapeake Bay in hopes of persuading the British to release a friend who had recently been arrested. Key's tactics were successful, but because he and his companions had gained knowledge of the impending attack on Baltimore, the British did not let them go. They allowed the Americans to return to their own vessel but continued guarding them. Under their scrutiny, Key watched on September 13 as the barrage of Fort McHenry began eight miles away.

"It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone," Key wrote later. But when darkness arrived, Key saw only red erupting in the night sky. Given the scale of the attack, he was certain the British would win. The hours passed slowly, but in the clearing smoke of "the dawn's early light" on September 14, he saw the American flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory.

Undissected.


It is precisely the colouring, the atmosphere, the unclassifiable individual details of a story, and above all the general purport that informs with life the undissected bones of the plot, that really count.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Released.


Jethro Tull released Stormwatch on this day in 1979.
I'll be coming again like an old dog in pain
Blown through the eye of the hurricane
Down to the stones where old ghosts play.

Ian Anderson, from "Old Ghosts"

Black.

13 September 2021

Released.


Ronnie Wood released I've Got My Own Album to Do on this day in 1974.
I can hear you calling me
Prettiest girl that I've ever seen

Ronald David Wood, from "I Can Feel the Fire"