29 August 2023
Our age has shifted all emphasis to the here and now, and thus brought about a daemonization of man and his world. The phenomenon of dictators and all the misery they have wrought springs from the fact that man has been robbed of transcendence by the shortsightedness of the super-intellectuals. Like them, he has fallen a victim to unconsciousness. But man’s task is the exact opposite: to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious. Neither should he persist in his unconsciousness, nor remain identical with the unconscious elements of his being, thus evading his destiny, which is to create more and more consciousness. As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. It may even be assumed that just as the unconscious affects us, so the increase in our consciousness affects the unconscious.
Carl Jung, from Memories, Dreams, and Reflections
Rysbrack, John Locke, 1760
For where is the man that has incontestable evidence of the truth of all that he holds, or of the falsehood of all he condemns; or can say that he has examined to the bottom all his own, or other men's opinions? The necessity of believing without knowledge, nay often upon very slight grounds, in this fleeting state of action and blindness we are in, should make us more busy and careful to inform ourselves than constrain others.
John Locke, born on this day in 1632, from An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
27 August 2023
Wyeth, Her Room, 1953
Look, my love, on the wall, and here, at this Eastern picture.
How still its scene, and neither of sleep nor waking:
No shadow falls from the tree or the golden mountain,
The boats on the glassy lake have no reflection,
No echo would come if you blew a horn in those valleys.
And look away, and move. Or speak, or sing:
And voices of the past murmur among your words,
Under your glance my dead selves quicken and stir,
And a thousand shadows attend where you go.
That is your movement. There is a golden stillness,
Soundless and fathomless, and far beyond it;
When brow on brow, or mouth to mouth assembled,
We lie in the calm of morning. And there, outside us,
The sun moves on, the boat jogs on the lake,
The huntsman calls.
And we lie here, our orient peace awakening,
No echo, and no shadow, and no reflection.
Schlesinger, G.W.F. Hegel, 1831
The ignorant man is not free, because what confronts him is an alien world, something outside him and in the offing, on which he depends, without his having made this foreign world for himself and therefore without being at home in it by himself as in something his own. The impulse of curiosity, the pressure for knowledge, from the lowest level up to the highest rung of philosophical insight arises only from the struggle to cancel this situation of unfreedom and to make the world one's own in one's ideas and thought.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, born on this day in 1770
Le Sidaner, The Table in the Sun, 1911
Tea is also a sort of spiritual refreshment, an elixir of clarity and wakeful tranquility. Respectfully preparing tea and partaking of it mindfully creates heart-to-heart conviviality, a way to go beyond this world and enter a realm apart. No pleasure is simpler, no luxury cheaper, no consciousness-altering agent more benign. Tea is quiet and our thirst for tea is never far from our craving for beauty.
James Norwood Pratt
26 August 2023
So it is the duty of the artist to discourage all traces of shame
To extend all boundaries
To fog them in right over the plate
To kill only what is ridiculous
To establish problem
To ignore solutions
To listen to no one
To omit nothing
To contradict everything
To generate the free brain
To bear no cross
To take part in no crucifixion
To tinkle a warning when mankind strays
To explode upon all parties
To wound deeper than the soldier
To heal this poor obstinate monkey once and for all
To verify the irrational
To exaggerate all things
To inhibit everyone
To lubricate each proportion
To experience only experience
To set a flame in the high air
To exclaim at the commonplace alone
To cause the unseen eyes to open
To admire only the abrsurd
To be concerned with every profession save his own
To raise a fortuitous stink on the boulevards of truth and beauty
To desire an electrifiable intercourse with a female alligator
To lift the flesh above the suffering
To forgive the beautiful its disconsolate deceit
To flash his vengeful badge at every abyss
It is the artist’s duty to be alive
To drag people into glittering occupations
To blush perpetually in gaping innocence
To drift happily through the ruined race-intelligence
To burrow beneath the subconscious
To defend the unreal at the cost of his reason
To obey each outrageous inpulse
To commit his company to all enchantments.
24 August 2023
22 August 2023
Listen to no one's advice except that of the wind in the trees; it can recount the whole history of mankind.
Claude Debussy, born on this day in 1862
Maria João Pires performs the Arabesque No. 1 ...
21 August 2023
20 August 2023
Chappel, Samuel Adams, 1862
It is a very great mistake to imagine that the object of loyalty is the authority and interest of one individual man, however dignified by the applause or enriched by the success of popular actions. This has led millions into such a degree of dependence and submission, that they have at length found themselves to homage the instruments of their ruin at the very time they were at work to effect it. The true object of loyalty is a good legal constitution, which, as it condemns every instance of oppression and lawless power, derives a certain remedy to the sufferer by allowing him to remonstrate his grievances, and pointing out methods of relief when the gentle arts of persuasion have lost their efficacy. Whoever, therefore, insinuates notions of government contrary to the constitution, or in any degree winks at any measures to suppress or even to weaken it, is not a loyal man.
Samuel Adams, from "Loyalty and Sedition," published in 1748
Shishkin, Mast-Tree Grove, 1898
Hear the voice of the Bard,
Who present, past, and future, sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walked among the ancient trees;
Calling the lapsed soul,
And weeping in the evening dew;
That might control
The starry pole,
And fallen, fallen light renew!
O Earth, O Earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass!
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumbrous mass.
Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
The watery shore,
Is given thee till the break of day.
19 August 2023
Last week, a question was seemingly resolved. But, upon further review, the ruling has been overturned.
The counterargument is clearly delineated (in 4K ultra HD, so you won't miss any subtle nuance) showing Geddy Lee to be the obvious choice.
Here's "La Villa Strangiato" and "Working Man" ...
The question was moot and it's sandwich time.
No audio recordings of Walter Benjamin have survived. His voice was once described as beautiful, even melodious—just the sort of voice that would have been suitable for the new medium of radio broadcasting that spread across Germany in the 1920s. If one could pay the fee for a wireless receiver, Benjamin could be heard in the late afternoons or early evenings, often during what was called “Youth Hour.” His topics ranged widely, from a brass works outside Berlin to a fish market in Naples. In one broadcast, he lavished his attention on an antiquarian bookstore with aisles like labyrinths, whose walls were adorned with drawings of enchanted forests and castles. For others, he related “True Dog Stories” or perplexed his young listeners with brain teasers and riddles. He also wrote, and even acted in, a variety of radio plays that satirized the history of German literature or plunged into surrealist fantasy. One such play introduced a lunar creature named Labu who bore the august title “President of the Moon Committee for Earth Research."
16 August 2023
Rodeniser left Little Kings for us in the tree behind the band room, Smith grabbed the Rust-Oleum from the Main Hardware, Biel just installed a power-booster in the Datsun -- and it's always five plays for a dollar ...
Judas Priest, "Breaking the Law"
Kim Mitchell, "Go for Soda"
Henry Lee Summer, "Wish I Had a Girl"
The Tubes Group, "Sushi Girl"
Van Halen, "Where Have All the Good Times Gone"
There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose.
So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty—describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the things around you, the images from your dreams, the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not yet enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place.
You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke
13 August 2023
Pether, Wooded Hilly Landscape (detail), 1785
Some see nature all ridicule and deformity, and by these I shall not regulate my proportions; and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. As a man is, so he sees.
12 August 2023
The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service.
The fruit of service is peace.
The Latvian Radio Chorus and Sinfonietta Rīga perform under the direction of Sigvards Kļava ...
11 August 2023
Getting the most out of the reading life ...
"What shall I do with all my books?" was the question; and the answer, "Read them," sobered the questioner. But if you cannot read them, at any rate handle them and, as it were, fondle them. Peer into them. Let them fall open where they will. Read on from the first sentence that arrests the eye. Then turn to another. Make a voyage of discovery, taking soundings of uncharted seas. Set them back on their shelves with your own hands. Arrange them on your own plan, so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. If they cannot be your friends, let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition ...
Choose well, choose wisely, and choose one. Concentrate upon that one. Do not be content until you find yourself reading in it with real enjoyment. The process of reading for pleasure in another language rests the mental muscles; it enlivens the mind by a different sequence and emphasis of ideas. The mere form of speech excites the activity of separate brain-cells, relieving in the most effective manner the fatigue of those in hackneyed use. One may imagine that a man who blew the trumpet for his living would be glad to play the violin for his amusement. So it is with reading in another language than your own.
Sir Winston Churchill, from Thoughts and Adventures
10 August 2023
Pozzo, Apoteose de Santo Inacio, 1685
The idle business of show, plays on the stage, flocks of sheep, herds, exercises with spears, a bone cast to little dogs, a bit of bread into fishponds, labourings of ants and burden-carrying, runnings about of frightened little mice, puppets pulled by strings. It is thy duty then in the midst of such things to show good humor and not a proud air; to understand however that every man is worth just so much as the things are worth about which he busies himself.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book VII
Expert knowledge is limited knowledge: and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man who knows only what hurts is a safer guide, than any vigorous direction of a specialised character. Why should you assume that all except doctors, engineers etc., are drones or worse? Surely outside scientific spheres there are vast regions of human thought. Is not government itself both an art and a science?
To manage men, to explain difficult things to simple people, to reconcile opposite interests, to weigh the evidence of disputing experts, to deal with the clamorous emergency of the hour; are not these things in themselves worth the consideration and labour of a lifetime? If the Ruler is to be an expert in anything he should be an expert in everything; and that is plainly impossible. Wherefore I say from the dominion of all specialists, good Lord deliver us.
Sir Winston Churchill, from a letter to H.G. Wells, 17 November 1901
09 August 2023
Huysmans, Izaak Walton, 1672
Quivering fears, heart-tearing cares,
Anxious sighs, untimely tears,
Fly, fly to courts,
Fly to fond worldlings' sports,
Where strain'd sardonic smiles are glosing still,
And Grief is forc'd to laugh against her will:
Where mirth's but mummery,
And sorrows only real be.
Fly from our country pastimes, fly,
Sad troops of human misery.
Come, serene looks,
Clear as the crystal brooks,
Or the pure azur'd heaven that smiles to see
The rich attendance of our poverty:
Peace and a secure mind,
Which all men seek, we only find.
Abused mortals I did you know
Where joy, heart's-ease, and comforts grow,
You'd scorn proud towers,
And seek them in these bowers;
Where winds, sometimes, our woods perhaps may shake,
But blust'ring care could never tempest make,
Nor murmurs e'er come nigh us,
Saving of fountains that glide by us.
Here's no fantastick mask, nor dance,
But of our kids that frisk and prance;
Nor wars are seen
Unless upon the green
Two harmless lambs are butting one the other,
Which done, both bleating run, each to his mother
And wounds are never found,
Save what the plough-share gives the ground.
Here are no false entrapping baits,
To hasten too, too hasty Fates,
Unless it be
The fond credulity
Of silly fish, which worldling like, still look
Upon the bait, but never on the hook;
Nor envy, unless among
The birds, for prize of their sweet song.
We all pearls scorn,
Save what the dewy morn
Congeals upon each little spire of grass,
Which careless shepherds beat down as they pass:
And gold ne'er here appears,
Save what the yellow Ceres bears,
Blest silent groves, oh may ye be,
For ever, mirth's best nursery !
May pure contents
For ever pitch their tents
Upon these downs, these meads, these rocks, these mountains.
And peace still slumber by these purling fountains:
Which we may, every year,
Meet when we come a-fishing here.
Izaak Walton, born on this day in 1593, from The Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's Recreation
Richardson, John Dryden, 1733
EPILOGUE to CONSTANTINE the GREAT
Our hero's happy in the play's conclusion,
The holy rogue at last has met confusion:
Though Arius all along appeared a saint,
The last act showed him a True Protestant.
Eusebius (for you know I read Greek authors)
Reports that after all these plots and slaughters
The court of Constantine was full of glory,
And every Trimmer turned addressing Tory;
They followed him in herds as they were mad:
When Clause was king, then all the world was glad.
Whigs kept the places they possessed before,
And most were in a way of getting more;
Which was as much as saying, gentlemen,
Here's power and money to be rogues again.
Indeed, there were a sort of peaking tools,
Some call them modest, but I call 'em fools,
Men much more loyal, though not half so loud;
But these poor devils were cast behind the crowd.
For bold knaves thrive without one grain of sense,
But good men starve for want of impudence.
Besides all these, there were a sort of wights
(I think my author calls them Teckelites),
Such hearty rogues against the King and laws,
They favoured ev'n a foreign rebel's cause;
When their own damned design was quashed and awed,
At least they gave it their good word abroad:
As many a man who, for a quiet life,
Breeds out his bastard not to nose his wife.
Thus o'er their darling plot these Trimmers cry
And though they cannot keep it in their eye,
They bind it prentice to Count Teckely.
They believe not the last plot; may I be cursed
If I believe they e'er believed the first;
No wonder their own plot no plot they think —
The man that makes it never smells the stink.
And, now it comes into my head, I'll tell
Why these damned Trimmers loved the Turks so well.
Th' orig'nal Trimmer, though a friend to no man,
Yet in his heart adored a pretty woman:
He knew that Mahomet laid up for ever
Kind black-eyed rogues for every true believer;
And, which was more than mortal man e'er tasted,
One pleasure that for threescore twelve-months lasted.
To turn for this may surely be forgiven:
Who'd not be circumcised for such a heaven!
John Dryden, born on this day in 1631
The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done—men who are creative, inventive, and discoverers.
The second goal of education is to form minds which can be critical, can verify, and not accept everything they are offered. The great danger today is of slogans, collective opinions, ready-made trends of thought. We have to be able to resist individually, to criticize, to distinguish between what is proven and what is not.
So we need pupils who are active; who learn early to find out by themselves, partly by their own spontaneous activity and partly through material we set up for them, and who learn early to tell what is verifiable and what is simply the first idea to come to them.
Jean Piaget, born on this day in 1896
The conviction reigns that it is only through the sacrifices and accomplishments of the ancestors that the tribe exists--and that one has to pay them back with sacrifices and accomplishments; one thus recognizes a debt that constantly grows greater, since these forebears never cease, in their continued existence as powerful spirits, to accord the tribe new advantages and new strength.
Friedrich Nietzsche, from On the Genealogy of Morals
Thank you, Kurt.