AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

12 April 2021

11 April 2021

Excellent.

An excellent book ...
When does something's destiny finally come to fruition? Is the plant complete when it flowers? When it goes to seed? When the seeds sprout? When everything turns into compost?

Things are either devolving toward, or evolving from, nothingness. As dusk approaches in the hinterlands, a traveler ponders shelter for the night. He notices tall rushes growing everywhere, so he bundles an armful together as they stand in the field, and knots them at the top. Presto, a living grass hut. The next morning, before embarking on another day's journey, he unknots the rushes and presto, the hut de-constructs, disappears, and becomes a virtually indistinguishable part of the larger field of rushes once again. The original wilderness seems to be restored, but minute traces of the shelter remain. A slight twist or bend in a reed here and there. There is also the memory of the hut in the mind of the traveler — and in the mind of the reader reading this description. Wabi-sabi, in its purest, most idealized form, is precisely about these delicate traces, this faint evidence, at the borders of nothingness ...

Get rid of all that is unnecessary. Wabi-sabi means treading lightly on the planet and knowing how to appreciate whatever is encountered, no matter how trifling, whenever it is encountered. [...] In other words, wabi-sabi tells us to stop our preoccupation with success--wealth, status, power, and luxury--and enjoy the unencumbered life. Obviously, leading the simple wabi-sabi life requires some effort and will and also some tough decisions. Wabi-sabi acknowledges that just as it is important to know when to make choices, it is also important to know when not to make choices: to let things be. Even at the most austere level of material existence, we still live in a world of things. Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom of things.
Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

Tireless.

Teniers, The Younger, Philosopher Reading, 1666


RIME

O scholar grey, with quiet eyes,
Reading the charactered pages, bright
With one tall candle’s flickering light,
In a turret chamber under the skies;
O scholar, learned in gramarye,
Have you seen the manifold things I see?

Have you seen the forms of tracèd towers
Whence clamorous voices challenge the hours:
Gaunt tree-branches, pitchy black
Against the long, wind-driven wrack
Of scurrying, shuddering clouds, that race
Ever across the pale moon’s face?

Have you heard the tramp of hurrying feet.
There beneath, in the shadowy street,
Have you heard sharp cries, and seen the flame
Of silvery steel, in a perilous game,
A perilous game for men to play,
Hid from the searching eyes of day?

Have you heard the great awakening breath,
Like trump that summons the saints from death,
Of the wild, majestical wind, which blows
Loud and splendid, that each man knows
Far, O far away is the sea,
Breaking, murmuring, stark and free?

All these things I hear and see,
I, a scholar of gramarye:
All are writ in the ancient books
Clear, exactly, and he that looks
Finds the night and the changing sea,
The years gone by, and the years to be:
(He that searches, with tireless eyes
In a turret-chamber under the skies)
Passion and joy, and sorrow and laughter,
Life and death, and the things thereafter.

Geoffrey Bache Smith

Pärt, "The Deer's Cry"

The once-yearly standardized madness that is the Ohio State Test begins this week for our district.  

From the Ohio Department of Education  ...
State achievement tests tell us how well our students are growing in the knowledge and skills outlined in Ohio’s Learning Standards. These tests help guide and strengthen future teaching so we can be sure that we are preparing our students for long-term success in school, college, careers and life. Test results also allow citizens to know how their local schools are performing compared to others around the state. 
Accordingly, I thought it appropriate that prayers for battle were in order. 

From the Arvo Pärt Center ...
There is a legend about The Deer’s Cry, the holy lorica or the breastplate prayer, telling the story of Saint Patrick who, knowing that he and his accompanying monks were being ambushed and likely killed, led his men through the woods reciting that prayer. The enemies saw them in the woods as a mother deer with calves, and Saint Patrick and his men were thus saved.
Voces8 perform ...

Prince Philip, Rest In Peace.

 The Duke of Edinburgh has passed.


Thanks, Mum.

10 April 2021

Men at Work, "Down by the Sea"

Listen to your heart
Screamin' at the sky
Can't you feel it tremble?
Don't you wonder why?

Beppe Gambetta, "Acadian Dream"


It's sandwich time.

Thinking.

Colin Hay, "Hold Me"

Excellent.

Excellent books ...

Colin Hay, "Dear Father"

In my wandering mind
I stumble through time ...

Hip-hip, hooray ...

Outbound.

Firchau, Outbound, 1985


Thanks, Pop.

Bach, Partita in E major, BWV 1006

Itzhak Perlman performs ...

Harkening.

Rubens, Child with Bird, 1616


LEGEND

Grey, ancient abbeys, you may see them yet,
In that high plain above the western sea:
A broken arch or two, a few worn stones
Piled one upon another, and for paving
Uneven fragments with tall grass between:
Grass that is always green, winter and summer,
The grass that grows on long-forgotten graves.

It was a springtime morning long ago,
A morning of blue skies and whitest clouds,
And singing birds, and singing streams, and woods
That shone like silver, yet untouched with green:
The brethren of an abbey of the plain
—Whereof what now is ruin yet was whole—
Were labouring as holy brethren must,
Quietly, and in peace: and elder ones
Paced in the cloister, and some, older still,
Too old to work or dream, sat in the sunlight,
The sunlight which they soon should see no more.

And there came from the wood upon the hill
One clothed in the sere habit of a monk,
That passed in at the portal of the abbey:
Brighter his face than is the face of spring,
And joy was in his tread, as in his soul.

And some that paced the cloister paused to glance
    at him,
And one that went upon an errand stayed,
And some that laboured left their work, and came
Gathering round him, and he spake, and said:

    “Very fair the golden morning
        As in yonder wood I strayed,
    And I heard diviner music
        Than the greatest harpers made,

    For a sweet bird sang before me
        Songs of laughter, and of tears.
    All that I have loved and longed for,
        As I measured out my years.

    Sang of blessed shores and golden
        Where the old, dim heroes be,
    Distant isles of sunset glory,
        Set beyond the western sea.

    Sang of Christ and Mary Mother
        Hearkening unto angels seven
    Playing on their golden harp-strings
        In the far courts of high Heaven.”

So they stood by, and listened to his speech,
Rhythmic, for that great joy was in his soul:
But while they wondered whence he was, and who,
He cast his eyes around, and, shuddering, cried:
“Who are ye, that I thought to be my brothers?
Strangers and sons of strangers! Where are they
I left behind me but an hour ago?”
Then was there whispering among the throng,
And wonder not a little, and some scorn;
Till he that spake, with anguish in his eye,
Cried: “Take me to a cell, that I may pray.”
’Twas done, and in the golden afternoon
A brother entered, and found none within,
Only a sere monk’s habit, and much dust,
As of a body crumbled in the grave.

And while they wondered what these things might be,
At last spake forth the oldest of them all,
Burdened with hundred winters in his soul:
“I can remember, when my years were young,
Hearing the old monks say, one went from here
When spring was on the earth, as it is now,
Some five-score years ago, and was not seen
Again, though search was made in all the land.”

And some believed this was the same, and all
Forgot it in a sennight’s silent toil.
Save one, that saw, and seeing understood,
And for the greater glory of High God
Wrote down the story in a mighty book,
And limned the old saint hearkening to the bird
With bright hues, and you still may read and see.

Geoffrey Bache Smith

08 April 2021

Hang.

"Hang care!" exclaimed he. "This is a delicious evening; the wine has a finer relish here than in the house, and the song is more exciting and melodious under the tranquil sky than in the close room, where the sound is stifled. Come, let us have a bacchanalian chant—let us, with old Sir Toby, make the welkin dance and rouse the night-owl with a catch! I am right merry. Pass the bottle, and tune your voices—a catch, a catch! The lights will be here anon."

Charles Ollier, from "The Haunted Manor-House of Paddington" 

Foreigner, "Headknocker" ...


The euphony transformed me and inundated my soul in a roguish countenance, the likes of which I had know well in younger days. Such impishness soon drove out the complaints of the day. 

Umberto Limongiello

Art.


Habit destroys art.

Jim Harrison

07 April 2021

Happy Birthday, Holiday


Billie Holiday was born on this day in 1915.

"These 'n' That 'n' Those" ...

Only.

Happy Birthday, Wordsworth

Boxall, William Wordsworth, 1831


William Wordsworth was born on this day in  1770.

The PRELUDE

When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude;
How potent a mere image of her sway;
Most potent when impressed upon the mind
With an appropriate human centre—hermit, 
Deep in the bosom of the wilderness;
Votary (in vast cathedral, where no foot
Is treading, where no other face is seen)
Kneeling at prayers; or watchman on the top
Of lighthouse, beaten by Atlantic waves;
Or as the soul of that great Power is met
Sometimes embodied on a public road,
When, for the night deserted, it assumes
A character of quiet more profound
Than pathless wastes.

William Wordsworth

It shouldn't be a surprise that Wordsworth was born in the Spring.

05 April 2021

Spies.


The Revolutionary War was not fought by proclamations and battles alone.  A major component of the war was the challenge of organizing military strategies over thousands of miles of battlefield.  From the very beginning of the war, a complex network of spies, double agents, and traitors began to emerge in an effort to learn the plans of the enemy before they were enacted.  The preservation and availability of the Sir Henry Clinton collection at the Clements Library provides an amazingly complete look at the everyday intelligence operations of both the British and American armies.  

Hemingway.

Tonight ...


Understand.


Baseball is like church; many attend, few understand.

Leo Durocher

Incognito.


We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with him. He walks everywhere incognito.

C.S. Lewis

Thank you, Mr. Wade.

04 April 2021

Connectedness.


Kurt remembers a sermon given by a great man, the likes of which are hard to find these days, his father-in-law, the Reverend John Baker ...
Exercising faithfulness doesn’t come at the cost of our connectedness to the world.  We are not of the world…but we are not to be out of it either.  The world is the place God-incarnate visited…it is the world he died for…that’s how much he loves it and us.

CONNECT 

Always.

Ge, Harbingers of the Resurrection, 1867


28 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Biber, Sonata XI, "The Resurrection"

Aparla performing ...

03 April 2021

Alive.


This is how the newness of God appears to the women, the disciples, and all of us: as victory over sin, evil, and death - over everything that crushes life and makes it seem less human. And this is a message meant for me and for you, dear sister, you, dear brother. How often does Love have to tell us, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive!

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Trust.


The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of the pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.

Ruthless trust is an unerring sense, way deep down, that beneath the surface agitation, boredom, and insecurity of life, it's gonna be all right. Ill winds may blow, more character defects may surface, sickness may visit, and friends will surely die; but a stubborn, irrefutable certainty persists that God is with us and loves us in our struggle to be faithful.

Brennan Manning, from Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

02 April 2021

Strives.


Yet there is one experience which most sincere ex-Communists share, whether or not they go only part way to the end of the question it poses. The daughter of a former German diplomat in Moscow was trying to explain to me why her father, who, as an enlightened modern man, had been extremely pro-Communist, had become an implacable anti-Communist. It was hard for her because, as an enlightened modern girl, she shared the Communist vision without being a Communist. But she loved her father and the irrationality of his defection embarrassed her. "He was immensely pro-Soviet," he said, "and then -- you will laugh at me -- but you must not laugh at my father -- and then -- one night -- in Moscow -- he heard screams. That's all. Simply one night he heard screams."

A child of Reason and the 20th century, she knew that there is a logic of the mind. She did not know that the soul has a logic that may be more compelling than the mind's. She did not know at all that she had swept away the logic of the mind, the logic of history, the logic of politics, the myth of the 20th century, with five annihilating words: one night he heard screams.

It [Communism] is not new. It is, in fact, man's second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: "Ye shall be as gods." It is the great alternative faith of mankind. Like all great faiths, its force derives from a simple vision. Other ages have had great visions. They have always been different versions of the same vision: the vision of God and man's relationship to God. The Communist vision is the vision of Man without God.

It is the vision of man's mind displacing God as the creative intelligence of the world. It is the vision of man's liberated mind, by the sole force of its rational intelligence, redirecting man's destiny and reorganizing man's life and the world. It is the vision of man, once more the central figure of the Creation, not because God made man in his image, but because man's mind makes him the most intelligent of the animals. Copernicus and his successors displaced man as the central fact of the universe by proving that the earth was not the central star of the universe. Communism restores man to his sovereignty by the simple method of denying God.

Freedom is a need of the soul, and nothing else. It is in striving toward God that the soul strives continually after a condition of freedom. God alone is the inciter and guarantor of freedom. He is the only guarantor. External freedom is only an aspect of interior freedom. Political freedom, as the Western world has known it, is only a political reading of the Bible. Religion and freedom are indivisible. Without freedom the soul dies. Without the soul there is no justification for freedom. Necessity is the only ultimate justification known to the mind.

Whittaker Chambers, from Witness

01 April 2021

Never.


A PASSING SHIP

A passing ship, I have found the open ocean 
Give me no lip, the waves roll by as I press on 
A sunlit sea, on the first day in April 
How fresh the wind, will you miss me when I'm gone 

How many words, how many songs still unwritten 
How many ships of the line have come and gone 
In the good old days, may they never be forgotten 
They had heavy wind or they had no wind at all 

A passing ship, it is midnight on the ocean 
Had a real long trip, I have been at sea all winter 
When my ship came in, I was giving up the ghost 
I think I should be, leaving those passing ships alone 

When the sea runs high, the sea runs wild and I'm unsteady 
And I think of you, in the warmth of your home and family 
When love is true, there is no truer occupation 
And may this gale, blow us to the ones we love 

Another day, another ocean 
Give me no lip, but stand aside as I pass on 
A sunlit sea, on the last day of October 
How fresh the wind, will you miss me from now on 
I guess I should be leaving passing ships alone

Gordon Lightfoot

Beppe Gambetta, "East Virginia Blues"

Shatter.


Dusk over the lake,
clouds floating
heat lightning
a nightmare behind branches;
from the swamp
the odor of cedar and fern,
the long circular
wail of the loon -
the plump bird aches for fish
for night to come down.

Then it becomes so dark
and still
that I shatter the moon with an oar.

Jim Harrison

Happy Birthday, Porcaro


Jeff Porcaro was born on this day in 1954.

A Chicken Nachos classic, Toto's "Rockmaker", recorded live at the Cork & Cleaver ...

Hang.

"Hang care!" exclaimed he. "This is a delicious evening; the wine has a finer relish here than in the house, and the song is more exciting and melodious under the tranquil sky than in the close room, where the sound is stifled. Come, let us have a bacchanalian chant—let us, with old Sir Toby, make the welkin dance and rouse the night-owl with a catch! I am right merry. Pass the bottle, and tune your voices—a catch, a catch! The lights will be here anon."

This passage, drawn from "The Haunted Manor-House of Paddington" and published by Charles Ollier in Holden's Dollar Magazine in 1848, will, from now on, serve as the inspiration for Thursday evening's "Lighting the Lamp" ritual.

AC⚡DC, "Have a Drink on Me"


The euphony transformed me and inundated my soul in a roguish countenance, the likes of which I had know well in younger days. Such impishness soon drove out the complaints of the day. 

Umberto Limongiello

Miggy.

Miggy going Big Fly on Snow-pening Day ...

Styx, "Fooling Yourself"

With a rare appearance of Olivia Newton-John on lead vocals ...

Aside.


There are two different ways of looking at the world. You can walk on the path, or you can walk through the hedge. And I think that’s the beauty of art, that it just makes you step aside, off the normal way of walking or looking.

Andy Goldsworthy

Happy Birthday, Onofri


Enrico Onofri was born on this day in 1967.

Il Maestro performs the Largo from Vivaldi's "La primavera", accompanied by Maria Cristina Vasi, viola ...

Beauty.


However it is encountered, beauty is always an exception, always in spite of. This is why it moves us.

John Berger

Always.


Happy Opening Day!

Happy Birthday, Chambers


Whittaker Chambers was born on this day in 1901.

It is idle to talk about preventing the wreck of Western civilization. It is already a wreck from within. That is why we can hope to do little more now than snatch a fingernail of a saint from the rack or a handful of ashes from the faggots, and bury them secretly in a flowerpot against the day, ages hence, when a few men begin again to dare to believe that there was once something else, that something else is thinkable, and need some evidence of what it was, and the fortifying knowledge that there were those who, at the great nightfall, took loving thought to preserve the tokens of hope and truth.

Whittaker Chambers, from Odyssey of a Friend: Letters to William F. Buckley Jr. 1954-1961

31 March 2021

Happy Birthday, Angus


Angus Young was born on this day in 1955.

"Live Wire" ...

Please.

Happy Birthday, Haydn


Franz Joseph Haydn was born on this day in 1732.

Simon Murphy and The New Dutch Academy perform the Andante from Haydn's Symphony 101, in D-major (Hoboken 1/101), "The Clock" ...