"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

29 November 2017


An excellent book ...



Hopper, Men Sitting at a Cafe Table, 1907

Certainly work is not always required of a man. There is such a thing as a sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.

George MacDonald

It's sandwich time.


Any distinction made between literature and life is misleading. Literature for me is not merely the best part of life; it is itself the form of life, which has no other form.

Harold Bloom


No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond. Someday you'll be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.

C.S. Lewis


Execupundit on complexity ...

When we fall in love with an idea, it is easy to overlook just how complicated it may appear to others and how complicated it may in fact be. Our minds can easily glide over the swamps and ravines in order to imagine the view from the mountain top.



Waterhouse, Circe Invidiosa, 1892

If it were simply the case that insanity is evil, then this would be said truly. But, in truth, the greatest goods come to us from madness when it is given as a divine gift. For the prophet at Delphi and the priestesses at Dodona have completed many fine things for Greece both in public and private, because they were insane. But when they are in their right minds, they have done little or nothing.

And if we speak about the Sibyl and the rest—however many provide prophecy while inspired and by predicting many things for many people have improved their lives—we should clearly be spending a long time describing it all. This is also worthy of acknowledging, that the ancients who gave things names did not belief that madness was shameful or worthy of reproach. For they would not have interwoven this name—mania—with that finest art by which the future is judged.

No, instead, since it is a divine dispensation and because it is noble, they named it according to their belief. These days people call it the mantic art, callously adding a tau. When they name sane people’s investigation of the future through other means like bird omens and similar signs—since they must provide from their own perspective the mind (nous) and inquiry (historia) by means of human thought (oiêsis)—they call it oionoistic thought and make it more reverent by adding an omega as current people do. How much more complete and honorable prophecy is to augury both in name and in its action the ancients assert it is that much superior because madness is divine in origin and sanity is human.



We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.

Philip Pullman

Bach, Orchestral Suite No.3 in D major, BWV 1068

Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the helm of Concentus Musicus Wien ...


Happy birthday, Lewis.

C.S. Lewis was born on this day in 1898.

In those days a boy on the classical side officially did almost nothing but classics. I think this was wise; the greatest service we can do to education today is to teach fewer subjects. No one has time to do more than a very few things well before he is twenty, and when we force a boy to be a mediocrity in a dozen subjects we destroy his standards, perhaps for life. Smewgy taught us Latin and Greek, but everything else came in incidentally. The books I liked best under his teaching were Horace’s Odes, Aeneid IV, and Euripides’ Bacchae. I had always in one sense "liked" my classical work, but hitherto this had been the pleasure that everyone feels in mastering a craft. Now I tasted the classics as poetry.

C.S. Lewis

Surprised by Joy ...

28 November 2017


This evening the ancient and sacred rite of the Welsh Rarebit will be performed and repeated as needed ...

WELSH RAREBIT (to feed six)
A knob of butter
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp English mustard powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
200ml Guinness
A very long splash of
Worcestershire sauce
450g mature strong Cheddar
cheese, grated
4 pieces of toast

Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour, and let this cook together until it smells biscuity but is not browning. Add the mustard powder and cayenne pepper, stir in the Guinness and Worcestershire sauce, then gently melt in the cheese.

When it’s all of one consistency, remove from the heat, pour out into a shallow container and allow to set. Spread on toast 1cm thick and place under the grill. Eat when bubbling golden brown.

This makes a splendid savoury at the end of your meal, washed down with a glass of Port, or a steadying snack.

Fergus Henderson, from The Complete Nose to Tail



An excellent book ...


If food is fundamental to life and a substance upon which civilizations and cultures have built themselves, then food is also fundamental to the imagination. Perhaps the deepest emotional exposure we have of imagination is that which we experience in childhood. Just as food studies is becoming important in the field of general literature, so too is it becoming important in the field of children’s literature.

Whether in memoir, fiction or poetry, writers continually hark back to childhood experiences of food, even when the intended audience is adults rather than children, as with Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. Food experiences form part of the daily texture of every child’s life from birth onwards, as any adult who cares for children is highly aware; thus it is hardly surprising that food is a constantly recurring motif in literature written for children.

Happy birthday, Blake.

Phillips, William Blake, 1807

William Blake was born on this day in 1757.


And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.

William Blake


Paule, The Oarsmen, 1932

Give the work force a chance to work with pride, and the three percent that apparently don’t care will erode itself by peer pressure.

W. Edwards Deming


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.

Things wabi-sabi have no need for the reassurance of status or the validation of market culture. They have no need for documentation of provenance. Wabi-sabi-ness in no way depends on knowledge of the creator's background or personality. In fact, it is best if the creator is no distinction, invisible, or anonymous.

Pare down to the essence, but don't remove the poetry.

Leonard Koren, from Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers


Blake, The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun (detail), 1810

There are certain words associated in the public mind with modernism in the arts and modernism in music in particular. Modern music can sound wild and even savage. Like much  else in the modern arts, contemporary music can open a door to the dark side of human nature and our thoughts, our fears and our experiences. Yet it is modern music that sparkles and bedazzles as generations of composers fell in love with new bright instrumental colours and experimental orchestrational vividness. And in spite of the retreat of faith in Western society, composers over the last century or so have never given up on their search for the sacred.


"Recovering the Sacred in Music" ... HERE.

Nick Drake, "River Man"

27 November 2017

Leonard Cohen, "Night Comes On"


We are great fools. “He has spent his life in idleness,” we say; “I have done nothing today.” What, have you not lived? That is not only the most fundamental but the most illustrious of your occupations.  To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately.

Harold Bloom


So simple, yet seemingly unattainable today, when every act is looking to the trappings and willing to do anything to achieve them. AC/DC always led with its music, it fought in the trenches, experienced the highway to hell, and then suddenly emerged the biggest band on earth. I’d call it artist development, but it was something different. The sound was always the same, it was just refined, it was like an adolescent turning into an adult. It was always the same person underneath, no matter who the band worked with, it sounded like them.

Thank you, Cultural Offering.


The Jam, "Going Underground"


Best efforts will not substitute for knowledge.

W. Edwards Deming



The birds, they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be
Ah, the wars
They will be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
Bought and sold
And bought again
The dove is never free

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

We asked for signs
The signs were sent:
The birth betrayed
The marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
Of every government
Signs for all to see

I can't run no more
With that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
A thundercloud
And they're going to hear from me

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

You can add up the parts
But you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march
There is no drum
Every heart, every heart
To love will come
But like a refugee

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

Leonard Cohen


Receptivity requires a nimbleness, a fine-honed sensitivity in order to let one's self be the vehicle of whatever vision may emerge.

Rollo May

24 November 2017


Thanksgiving is the winding up of autumn. The leaves are off the trees, except here and there on a beech or an oak; there is nothing left on the boughs but a few nuts and empty birds’ nests. The earth looks desolate, and it will be a comfort to have the snow on the ground, and to hear the merry jingle of the sleigh-bells.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Led Zeppelin, "No Quarter"

Stevie Wonder, "I Was Made To Love Her"

ACϟDC, "Gone Shootin'"


“What I would do for wisdom,”
I cried out as a young man.
Evidently not much.
Or so it seems.
Even on walks
I follow the dog.

Jim Harrison

Thank you, Kurt.

Dogs rule.


The wind that makes music in November corn is in a hurry.  The stalks hum, the loose husks whisk skyward in half-playing swirls, and the wind hurries on. A tree tries to argue, bare limbs waving, but there is no detaining the wind.

Aldo Leopold


Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry



An excellent album ...

Kevin Fowler, "Right or Wrong"

Jason McBride, fiddle ...



Jamey Johnson, "Up on Cripple Creek"

It's sandwich time ...

I love it when guys like Jamey Johnson smoke an original band's version of a song.


Who doesn't at times feel like an exception to all general rules?

Jim Harrison


Fling me across the fabric of time and the seas of space. Make me nothing and from nothing -- everything.


Sainte-Colombe, Suite in E minor

Jordi Savall performs the Prelude ...


How sweet the morning air is! See how that one little cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic flamingo. Now the red rim of the sun pushes itself over the London cloud-bank. It shines on a good many folk, but on none, I dare bet, who are on a stranger errand than you and I. How small we feel with our petty ambitions and strivings in the presence of the great elemental forces of Nature!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle