"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 February 2024


Ha, cousin Silence, that thou hadst seen that that this knight and I have seen!—Ha, Sir John, said I well?

We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow.

That we have, that we have, that we have. In faith, Sir John, we have. Our watchword was "Hem, boys." Come, let's to dinner, come, let's to dinner. Jesus, the days that we have seen! Come, come.

William Shakespeare, from Henry IV, Act III, Scene II

Happy Birthday, Rossini

Gioacchino Rossini was born on this day in 1792.

The Overture from The Barber of Saville, performed by the Sinfonia Rotterdam, under the direction of Conrad van Alphen ...

28 February 2024



I reached out my hand, England's rivers turned and flowed the other way...
I reached out my hand, my enemies's blood stopt in their veins...
I reached out my hand; thought and memory flew out of my enemies' heads like a flock of starlings;
My enemies crumpled like empty sacks.

I came to them out of mists and rain;
I came to them in dreams at midnight;
I came to them in a flock of ravens that filled a northern sky at dawn;
When they thought themselves safe I came to them in a cry that broke the silence of a winter wood...

The rain made a door for me and I went through it;
The stones made a throne for me and I sat upon it;
Three kingdoms were given to me to be mine forever;
England was given to me to be mine forever.
The nameless slave wore a silver crown;
The nameless slave was a king in a strange country...

The weapons that my enemies raised against me are venerated in Hell as holy relics;
Plans that my enemies made against me are preserved as holy texts;
Blood that I shed upon ancient battlefields is scraped from the stained earth by Hell's sacristans and placed in a vessel of silver and ivory.

I gave magic to England, a valuable inheritance
But Englishmen have despised my gift
Magic shall be written upon the sky by the rain but they shall not be able to read it;
Magic shall be written on the faces of the stony hills but their minds shall not be able to contain it;
In winter the barren trees shall be a black writing but they shall not understand it...

Two magicians shall appear in England...
The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me;
The first shall be governed by thieves and murderers; the second shall conspire at his own destruction;
The first shall bury his heart in a dark wood beneath the snow, yet still feel its ache;
The second shall see his dearest posession in his enemy's hand...

The first shall pass his life alone, he shall be his own gaoler;
The second shall tread lonely roads, the storm above his head, seeking a dark tower upon a high hillside...

I sit upon a black throne in the shadows but they shall not see me.
The rain shall make a door for me and I shall pass through it;
The stones shall make a throne for me and I shall sit upon it...

The nameless slave shall wear a silver crown
The nameless slave shall be a king in a strange country...

Susanna Clarke, from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Benny Goodman Trio, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"

With  Gene Krupa and Teddy Wilson ...



He would declare and could himself believe
That the birds there in all the garden round
From having heard the daylong voice of Eve
Had added to their own an oversound,
Her tone of meaning but without the words.
Admittedly an eloquence so soft
Could only have had an influence on birds
When call or laughter carried it aloft.
Be that as may be, she was in their song.
Moreover her voice upon their voices crossed
Had now persisted in the woods so long
That probably it never would be lost.
Never again would birds’ song be the same.
And to do that to birds was why she came.

Robert Frost


Waugh, Mid Ocean, 1923

Sade, "Stronger than Pride"

Happy Birthday, Montaigne

Let the tutor not merely require a verbal account of what the boy has been taught but the meaning and the substance of it: let him judge how the child has profited from it not from the evidence of his memory but from that of his life. Let him take what the boy has just learned and make him show him dozens of different aspects of it and then apply it to just as many different subjects, in order to find out whether he has really grasped it and make it part of himself, judging the boy's progress by what Plato taught about education. Spewing up food exactly as you have swallowed it is evidence of a failure to digest and assimilate it; the stomach has not done its job if, during concoction, it fails to change the substance and the form of what it is given.

Michel de Montaigne, born on this day in 1533

27 February 2024


The world was introduced to Sade on this day in 1984.

"Cherry Pie" ...


Leopold Kohr and modesty ...
In medieval philosophy, temperament referred to the combination of qualities in a certain proportion, determining the characteristic nature of something. So in physiology one sought to balance the four cardinal humors of the body—the sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholic temperaments—in order to achieve the proper relative proportions. Temperament always implied a due or proportionate mixture, a proper or fitting combination. “To temper” was to bring something to its proper or suitable condition, to modify or moderate something favorably, to achieve a just measure.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, “to temper” came to mean to tune a note or instrument in music to some temperament—that is, to adjust the intervals of the scale in instruments of fixed intonation such as the piano. This was a radical departure from the earlier meaning and signaled the effective disappearance of the ancient notion of proportion in music as in other areas of modern life.

In ethics, values are as opposed to an immanent, concrete proportion as are the sounds of Helmholtz. Like them, values run counter to tonos, the specific tension of a mutuality or reciprocity. As timbre separated from tone, so that one could play a violin’s part on the piano, so an ethics of value—with its misplaced concreteness—allowed one to speak of human problems. If people had problems, it no longer made sense to speak of human choice. People could demand solutions. To find them, values could be shifted and prioritized, manipulated and maximized. Not only the language but the very modes of thinking found in mathematics could norm the realm of human relationships. Algorithms “purified” value by filtering out appropriateness, thereby taking the good out of ethics.

So charming as individuals or small aggregations ... 

When one attempts to utilize or exploit the good, natural inclination is extinguished. Such a propensity, the desire of everything for its own good, was accepted as inherent to all existence and was termed natural love. Even for several generations after Newton, rain was not drawn downward but sought its natural place. Flowers reached up toward the sun. Among people, this attraction was understood as a step toward friendship and friendship as the fruit of civil life. All were called to the other, to friendship.

Kohr lived in the fidelity of friendship, and he served this vision by awakening wisdom, sapientia—a word derived from tasting food. He knew that not any inclination but a certain awareness and feeling, a certain sensitivity to the appropriate, is the necessary condition of friendship. He knew that the historical loss of this knowledge fosters the emergence of social mutations that can be recognized now as monsters. Get Greek melodies from a piano? As well get beauty from economics!

Thanks to Kurt for pointing the way.

Schumann, Bird as Prophet

Yvonne Chen ...


Professors hear a great deal these days about how hard it is to get our students to listen to, much less to engage with, opinions they dislike. The problem, we are told, is that students are either “snowflakes” with fragile psyches or “authoritarians” who care more about their pet causes than about democratic values such as tolerance, compromise and respect for opposing points of view.

Students at Harvard, where I teach, returned from winter break in January to an institution that appeared determined to tackle this problem head-on. An email from the undergraduate dean reminded them that “The purpose of a Harvard education is not to shield you from ideas you dislike or to silence people you disagree with; it is to enable you to confront challenging ideas, interrogate your own beliefs, make up your mind and learn to think for yourself.”

To that end, the university launched the “Harvard Dialogues,” a series of events “designed to enhance our ability to engage in respectful and robust debate.” But so far, the effort seems to consist of little more than talking about talking, with events with titles like “Coming Together Across Difference: Finding Common Ground Across Identities and Political Divides” and “Constructive Dialogue in the Age of Social Media.” Absent from this agenda are real discussions about the actual things that divide us, such as abortion, climate change and Israel-Palestine.

The fact of the matter is that the problem is not our students. It is us: faculty and administrators who are too afraid—of random people on social media, hard-core activists, irritable alumni, assorted “friends” of Harvard—to allow a culture of open debate and dialogue to flourish.

Happy Birthday, Longfellow

Cameron, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1868


Poem for the fiftieth anniversary of the class of 1825 in Bowdoin College Tempora labuntur, tacitisque senescimus annis, Et fugiunt freno non remorante dies.--OVID, Fastorum, Lib. vi.

"O Caesar, we who are about to die
Salute you!" was the gladiators' cry
In the arena, standing face to face
With death and with the Roman populace. 

O ye familiar scenes,--ye groves of pine,
That once were mine and are no longer mine,--
Thou river, widening through the meadows green
To the vast sea, so near and yet unseen,--
Ye halls, in whose seclusion and repose
Phantoms of fame, like exhalations, rose
And vanished,--we who are about to die,
Salute you; earth and air and sea and sky,
And the Imperial Sun that scatters down
His sovereign splendors upon grove and town. 

Ye do not answer us! ye do not hear!
We are forgotten; and in your austere
And calm indifference, ye little care
Whether we come or go, or whence or where.
What passing generations fill these halls,
What passing voices echo front these walls,
Ye heed not; we are only as the blast,
A moment heard, and then forever past. 

Not so the teachers who in earlier days
Led our bewildered feet through learning's maze;
They answer us--alas! what have I said?
What greetings come there from the voiceless dead?
What salutation, welcome, or reply?
What pressure from the hands that lifeless lie?
They are no longer here; they all are gone
Into the land of shadows,--all save one.
Honor and reverence, and the good repute
That follows faithful service as its fruit,
Be unto him, whom living we salute. 

The great Italian poet, when he made
His dreadful journey to the realms of shade,
Met there the old instructor of his youth,
And cried in tones of pity and of ruth:
"Oh, never from the memory of my heart
Your dear, paternal image shall depart,
Who while on earth, ere yet by death surprised,
Taught me how mortals are immortalized;
How grateful am I for that patient care
All my life long my language shall declare." 

To-day we make the poet's words our own
And utter them in plaintive undertone;
Nor to the living only be they said,
But to the other living called the dead,
Whose dear, paternal images appear
Not wrapped in gloom, but robed in sunshine here;
Whose simple lives, complete and without flaw,
Were part and parcel of great Nature's law;
Who said not to their Lord, as if afraid
"Here is thy talent in a napkin laid,"
But labored in their sphere, as men who live
In the delight that work alone can give.
Peace be to them; eternal peace and rest,
And the fulfilment of the great behest:
"Ye have been faithful over a few things,
Over ten cities shall ye reign as kings." 

And ye who fill the places we once filled,
And follow in the furrows that we tilled,
Young men, whose generous hearts are beating high,
We who are old, and are about to die,
Salute you; hail you; take your hands in ours,
And crown you with our welcome as with flowers!
How beautiful is youth! how bright it gleams
With its illusions, aspirations, dreams!
Book of Beginnings, Story without End,
Each maid a heroine, and each man a friend!
Aladdin's Lamp, and Fortunatus' Purse,
That holds the treasures of the universe!
All possibilities are in its hands,
No danger daunts it, and no foe withstands;
In its sublime audacity of faith,
"Be thou removed!" it to the mountain saith,
And with ambitious feet, secure and proud,
Ascends the ladder leaning on the cloud! 

As ancient Priam at the Scaean gate
Sat on the walls of Troy in regal state
With the old men, too old and weak to fight,
Chirping like grasshoppers in their delight
To see the embattled hosts, with spear and shield,
Of Trojans and Achaians in the field;
So from the snowy summits of our years
We see you in the plain, as each appears,
And question of you; asking, "Who is he
That towers above the others?  Which may be
Atreides, Menelaus, Odysseus,
Ajax the great, or bold Idomeneus?" 

Let him not boast who puts his armor on
As he who puts it off, the battle done.
Study yourselves; and most of all note well
Wherein kind Nature meant you to excel.
Not every blossom ripens into fruit;
Minerva, the inventress of the flute,
Flung it aside, when she her face surveyed
Distorted in a fountain as she played;
The unlucky Marsyas found it, and his fate
Was one to make the bravest hesitate. 

Write on your doors the saying wise and old,
"Be bold! be bold!" and everywhere,--"Be bold;
Be not too bold!"  Yet better the excess
Than the defect; better the more than less;
Better like Hector in the field to die,
Than like a perfumed Paris turn and fly.

And now, my classmates; ye remaining few
That number not the half of those we knew,
Ye, against whose familiar names not yet
The fatal asterisk of death is set,
Ye I salute!  The horologe of Time
Strikes the half-century with a solemn chime,
And summons us together once again,
The joy of meeting not unmixed with pain. 

Where are the others?  Voices from the deep
Caverns of darkness answer me: "They sleep!"
I name no names; instinctively I feel
Each at some well-remembered grave will kneel,
And from the inscription wipe the weeds and moss,
For every heart best knoweth its own loss.
I see their scattered gravestones gleaming white
Through the pale dusk of the impending night;
O'er all alike the impartial sunset throws
Its golden lilies mingled with the rose;
We give to each a tender thought, and pass
Out of the graveyards with their tangled grass,
Unto these scenes frequented by our feet
When we were young, and life was fresh and sweet. 

What shall I say to you?  What can I say
Better than silence is?  When I survey
This throng of faces turned to meet my own,
Friendly and fair, and yet to me unknown,
Transformed the very landscape seems to be;
It is the same, yet not the same to me.
So many memories crowd upon my brain,
So many ghosts are in the wooded plain,
I fain would steal away, with noiseless tread,
As from a house where some one lieth dead.
I cannot go;--I pause;--I hesitate;
My feet reluctant linger at the gate;
As one who struggles in a troubled dream
To speak and cannot, to myself I seem. 

Vanish the dream! Vanish the idle fears!
Vanish the rolling mists of fifty years!
Whatever time or space may intervene,
I will not be a stranger in this scene.
Here every doubt, all indecision, ends;
Hail, my companions, comrades, classmates, friends! 

Ah me! the fifty years since last we met
Seem to me fifty folios bound and set
By Time, the great transcriber, on his shelves,
Wherein are written the histories of ourselves.
What tragedies, what comedies, are there;
What joy and grief, what rapture and despair!
What chronicles of triumph and defeat,
Of struggle, and temptation, and retreat!
What records of regrets, and doubts, and fears
What pages blotted, blistered by our tears!
What lovely landscapes on the margin shine,
What sweet, angelic faces, what divine
And holy images of love and trust,
Undimmed by age, unsoiled by damp or dust!

Whose hand shall dare to open and explore
These volumes, closed and clasped forevermore?
Not mine.  With reverential feet I pass;
I hear a voice that cries, "Alas! alas!
Whatever hath been written shall remain,
Nor be erased nor written o'er again;
The unwritten only still belongs to thee:
Take heed, and ponder well what that shall be." 

As children frightened by a thunder-cloud
Are reassured if some one reads aloud
A tale of wonder, with enchantment fraught,
Or wild adventure, that diverts their thought,
Let me endeavor with a tale to chase
The gathering shadows of the time and place,
And banish what we all too deeply feel
Wholly to say, or wholly to conceal. 

In mediaeval Rome, I know not where,
There stood an image with its arm in air,
And on its lifted finger, shining clear,
A golden ring with the device, "Strike here!"
Greatly the people wondered, though none guessed
The meaning that these words but half expressed,
Until a learned clerk, who at noonday
With downcast eyes was passing on his way,
Paused, and observed the spot, and marked it well,
Whereon the shadow of the finger fell;
And, coming back at midnight, delved, and found
A secret stairway leading underground.
Down this he passed into a spacious hall,
Lit by a flaming jewel on the wall;
And opposite, in threatening attitude,
With bow and shaft a brazen statue stood.
Upon its forehead, like a coronet,
Were these mysterious words of menace set:
"That which I am, I am; my fatal aim
None can escape, not even yon luminous flame!" 

Midway the hall was a fair table placed,
With cloth of gold, and golden cups enchased
With rubies, and the plates and knives were gold,
And gold the bread and viands manifold.
Around it, silent, motionless, and sad,
Were seated gallant knights in armor clad,
And ladies beautiful with plume and zone,
But they were stone, their hearts within were stone;
And the vast hall was filled in every part
With silent crowds, stony in face and heart. 

Long at the scene, bewildered and amazed
The trembling clerk in speechless wonder gazed;
Then from the table, by his greed made bold,
He seized a goblet and a knife of gold,
And suddenly from their seats the guests upsprang,
The vaulted ceiling with loud clamors rang,
The archer sped his arrow, at their call,
Shattering the lambent jewel on the wall,
And all was dark around and overhead;--
Stark on the door the luckless clerk lay dead! 

The writer of this legend then records
Its ghostly application in these words:
The image is the Adversary old,
Whose beckoning finger points to realms of gold;
Our lusts and passions are the downward stair
That leads the soul from a diviner air;
The archer, Death; the flaming jewel, Life;
Terrestrial goods, the goblet and the knife;
The knights and ladies, all whose flesh and bone
By avarice have been hardened into stone;
The clerk, the scholar whom the love of pelf
Tempts from his books and from his nobler self. 

The scholar and the world!  The endless strife,
The discord in the harmonies of life!
The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books;
The market-place, the eager love of gain,
Whose aim is vanity, and whose end is pain! 

But why, you ask me, should this tale be told
To men grown old, or who are growing old?
It is too late!  Ah, nothing is too late
Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.
Cato learned Greek at eighty; Sophocles
Wrote his grand Oedipus, and Simonides
Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers,
When each had numbered more than fourscore years,
And Theophrastus, at fourscore and ten,
Had but begun his “Characters of Men.”
Chaucer, at Woodstock with the nightingales,
At sixty wrote the Canterbury Tales;
Goethe at Weimar, toiling to the last,
Completed Faust when eighty years were past.
These are indeed exceptions; but they show
How far the gulf-stream of our youth may flow
Into the arctic regions of our lives.
Where little else than life itself survives. 

As the barometer foretells the storm
While still the skies are clear, the weather warm,
So something in us, as old age draws near,
Betrays the pressure of the atmosphere.
The nimble mercury, ere we are aware,
Descends the elastic ladder of the air;
The telltale blood in artery and vein
Sinks from its higher levels in the brain;
Whatever poet, orator, or sage
May say of it, old age is still old age.
It is the waning, not the crescent moon;
The dusk of evening, not the blaze of noon;
It is not strength, but weakness; not desire,
But its surcease; not the fierce heat of fire,
The burning and consuming element,
But that of ashes and of embers spent,
In which some living sparks we still discern,
Enough to warm, but not enough to burn. 

What then?  Shall we sit idly down and say
The night hath come; it is no longer day?
The night hath not yet come; we are not quite
Cut off from labor by the failing light;
Something remains for us to do or dare;
Even the oldest tree some fruit may bear;
Not Oedipus Coloneus, or Greek Ode,
Or tales of pilgrims that one morning rode
Out of the gateway of the Tabard Inn,
But other something, would we but begin;
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, born on this day in 1807

Happy Birthday, Scruton

Art moves us because it is beautiful, and it is beautiful in part because it means something. It can be meaningful without being beautiful; but to be beautiful it must be meaningful.  Our need for beauty is not something that we could lack and still be fulfilled as people. It is a need arising from our metaphysical condition, as free individuals, seeking our place in a shared and public world. We can wander through this world, alienated, resentful, full of suspicion and distrust. Or we can find our home here, coming to rest in harmony with others and with ourselves. The experience of beauty guides us along this second path: it tells us that we are at home in the world, that the world is already ordered in our perceptions as a place fit for the lives of beings like us.

Sir Roger Scruton, born on this day in 1944, from his best book, Beauty

Keep reminding me.

26 February 2024


Who stays in his nest and doesn’t go out. 
He doesn’t know what birds know best
Nor what I want to sing about, 
That the world is full of loveliness. 
When dewdrops sparkle in the grass 
And earth’s a flood with morning light, 
A blackbird sings upon a bush 
To greet the dawning after night.
Then I know how fine it is to live.

Heh, try to open up your heart 
To beauty; go to the woods someday 
And weave a wreath of memory there. 
Then if the tears obscure your way 
You’ll know how wonderful it is to be alive.

Anonymous Child, written in Terezin Concentration Camp, 1941

Spohr, Grand Nonet for Winds & Strings, F major, op. 31

Performers include soloists of the Mariinsky Orchestra and Saint Petersburg Philharmonic ...


Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.

Jim Harbaugh

25 February 2024


Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band released Against the Wind on this day in 1980.

The title track ...

Trevor Rabin, "Something to Hold On To"


An excellent album ...


Eccles, The Mad Lover Suite

Théotime Langlois de Swarte, fiddle, and Thomas Dunford, lute, perform Aire V ...


An excellent album ...

Purcell, King Arthur, Z. 628

Come if you dare, our trumpets sound.
Come if you dare, the foes rebound.
We come, says the double beat of the thund'ring drum.

Now they change on amain,
Now they rally again;
The Gods from above the mad labor behold,
And pity mankind that will perish for gold,

The fainting Saxons quit the ground,
The trumpets languish in the sound.
They fly! Victoria! the bold Britons cry.

Now the victory's won,
To plunder we run;
We return to our lasses, like fortunate traders.
Triumphant with spoils of our vanquish'd invaders.

TENET Vocal Artists performing from Act I ...


You have to take chances for peace, just as you must take chances in war. Some say that we were brought to the verge of war, of course we were brought to the verge of war. The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art.  If you try to run away from it, if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost. We've had to look it square in the face.  We walked to the brink and we looked it in the face. We took strong action.

John Foster Dulles, born on this day in 1888, from a January 16, 1956 Life article, "How Dulles Averted War"


From his Office Hours series, Victor David Hanson discusses Themistocles' leadership ..
We at the public school of public policy are trying to give people degrees and training, but that does not mean that they have to be quiet and invisible bureaucrats. So what we're trying to do is inculcate the ability, whether it's in themselves or maybe more often they have in others, to spot Mavericks.  If you look at the cursus honorum or the dossier of Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffett or especially Elon Musk, they don't fit the right the right steps to power and yet they're three of the richest most most successful men in the world because they're mavericks, they're eccentrics, they have ideas that go against consensus.  If you can train people who will more likely be in positions in the corporate boardroom or in government to encounter those people rather than to be those people, although some will be those people, then you want to make them open for the uncharacteristic or the maverick and not to be prejudicial just because because their resumés are not what most people would like.  I think that's very important and there does seem to be in these cases a connection with enormously capable minds, instinctive brilliance, common sense, all the the aspects of leadership that in some ways are antithetical to getting along with people or to being approved.

Glass, Etudes

Víkingur Ólafsson studies No. 2...

Happy Birthday, Renoir

Renoir, Spring at Catou, 1873

They tell you that a tree is only a combination of chemical elements. I prefer to believe that God created it, and that it is inhabited by a nymph.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, born on this day in 1841

At work ...

24 February 2024


America's great workhorse red grape produces the world's most wanted Zinfandels ...
The very fact that wine critics, judges, writers and educators have a tendency to dismiss Zinfandel – certainly in contrast to their slavish adoration of Cabernet, Pinot, Malbec and the rest – might well be an attraction for a generation that really doesn't care what the wine intelligentsia thinks and that is really just looking for something fun and enjoyable to drink.


Led Zeppelin released their best album, Physical Graffiti, on this day in 1975.

"Ten Years Gone" ...


An excellent album ...


Tolkien, Bilbo Woke Up with Sun in His Eyes, 1938

Ambition is a path, not a destination, and it is essentially the same path for everybody. No matter what the goal is, the path leads through Pilgrim’s Progress regions of motivation, hard work, persistence, stubbornness, and resilience under disappointment. Unconsidered, merely indulged, ambition becomes a vice; it can turn an man into a machine that knows nothing but how to run. Considered, it can be something else — pathway to the stars, maybe. I suspect that what makes hedonists so angry when they think about overachievers is that the overachievers, without benefit of drugs or orgies, have more fun.

Wallace Stegner




Up into the cherry tree 
Who should climb but little me? 
I held the trunk with both my hands 
And looked abroad in foreign lands. 

I saw the next door garden lie, 
Adorned with flowers, before my eye, 
And many pleasant places more 
That I had never seen before. 

I saw the dimpling river pass 
And be the sky's blue looking-glass; 
The dusty roads go up and down 
With people tramping in to town. 

If I could find a higher tree 
Farther and farther I should see, 
To where the grown-up river slips 
Into the sea among the ships, 

To where the road on either hand 
Lead onward into fairy land, 
Where all the children dine at five, 
And all the playthings come alive.

Robert Louis Stevenson


Dore, Merlin, The Enchanter, 1888


Or Merlin wise I learned a song,—
Sing it low or sing it loud,
It is mightier than the strong,
And punishes the proud.
I sing it to the surging crowd,—
Good men it will calm and cheer,
Bad men it will chain and cage—
In the heart of the music peals a strain
Which only angels hear;
Whether it waken joy or rage
Hushed myriads hark in vain,
Yet they who hear it shed their age,
And take their youth again.

Hear what British Merlin sung,
Of keenest eye and truest tongue.
Say not, the chiefs who first arrive
Usurp the seats for which all strive;
The forefathers this land who found
Failed to plant the vantage-ground;
Ever from one who comes to-morrow
Men wait their good and truth to borrow.
But wilt thou measure all thy road,
See thou lift the lightest load.
Who has little, to him who has less, can spare,
And thou, Cyndyllan's son! beware
Ponderous gold and stuffs to bear,
To falter ere thou thy task fulfil,—
Only the light-armed climb the hill.
The richest of all lords is Use,
And ruddy Health the loftiest Muse.
Live in the sunshine, swim the sea,
Drink the wild air's salubrity:
When the star Canope shines in May,
Shepherds are thankful and nations gay.
The music that can deepest reach,
And cure all ill, is cordial speech:
Mask thy wisdom with delight,
Toy with the bow, yet hit the white.
Of all wit's uses, the main one
Is to live well with who has none.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Purcell, "Music for a While"

Gérard Lesne improvises ...

Happy Birthday, Homer

Homer, Trout Fishing, Lake St. John, Quebec, 1895

Winslow Homer was born on this day in 1836.



When children are playing alone on the green,  
In comes the playmate that never was seen.  
When children are happy and lonely and good,  
The Friend of the Children comes out of the wood.  
Nobody heard him and nobody saw,         
His is a picture you never could draw,  
But he’s sure to be present, abroad or at home,  
When children are happy and playing alone.  
He lies in the laurels, he runs on the grass,  
He sings when you tinkle the musical glass;   
Whene’er you are happy and cannot tell why,  
The Friend of the Children is sure to be by!  
He loves to be little, he hates to be big,  
’Tis he that inhabits the caves that you dig;  
’Tis he when you play with your soldiers of tin   
That sides with the Frenchman and never can win.  
’Tis he, when at night you go off to your bed,  
Bids you go to your sleep and not trouble your head;  
For wherever they’re lying, in cupboard or shelf,  
’Tis he will take care of your playthings himself!

Robert Louis Stevenson

23 February 2024


The Selecter released Too Much Pressure on this day in 1980.

A great version of "Out on the Streets" begins at 6:06 ...

Happy Birthday, Pepys

Kneller, Samuel Pepys, 1689

But, Lord! to see how much of my old folly and childishnesse hangs upon me still that I cannot forbear carrying my watch in my hand in the coach all this afternoon, and seeing what o’clock it is one hundred times; and am apt to think with myself, how could I be so long without one; though I remember since, I had one, and found it a trouble, and resolved to carry one no more about me while I lived.

Samuel Pepys, born on this day in 1633, from his diary entry, Saturday 13 May 1665




General George S. Patton, from a Letter of Instruction, 3 April 1944

Happy Birthday, Handel

Mercier, George Frederick Handel, 1730

In 1743, following the first London performance of his masterpiece, Messiah, a friend congratulated Handel (born on this day in 1685) on the excellent “entertainment” he had provided the audience.

“My Lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them,” Handel humbly replied. “I wish to make them better.”

Herve Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel improves us in two minutes, blasting through some Coronation Anthems ...

22 February 2024


Goines, Domaine Chandon, 1996

Oh, that second bottle, Harry, is the sincerest, wisest, & most impartial downright friend we have, tells us truth of ourselves & forces us to speak truths of others, banishes flattery from our tongues and distrust from our hearts, sets us above the mean policy of court prudence which makes us lie to one another all day for fear of being betrayed by each other at night.

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester


Peale, Charles Willson, George Washington after the Battle of Princeton, 1782

I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain (what I consider the most enviable of all titles) the character of an honest man.

George Washington, from a letter to Alexander Hamilton, August 28, 1788

Whither leadership?

Schubert, Der Leiermann

Anja Lechner and Pablo Márquez perform ...

Happy Birthday, Schopenhauer

“Treat a work of art like a prince: let it speak to you first.”

 Arthur Schopenhauer, born on this day in 1788

Happy Birthday, Washington

Peale, Charles Willson, George Washington, 1787

George Washington was born on this day in 1732.


The Sword was sheathed: in April’s sun
Lay green the fields by Freedom won;
And severed sections, weary of debates,
Joined hands at last and were United States.

O City sitting by the Sea!
How proud the day that dawned on thee,
When the new era, long desired, began,
And, in its need, the hour had found the man!

One thought the cannon salvos spoke,
The resonant bell-tower’s vibrant stroke,
The voiceful streets, the plaudit-echoing halls,
And prayer and hymn borne heavenward from St. Paul’s!

How felt the land in every part
The strong throb of a nation’s heart,
As its great leader gave, with reverent awe,
His pledge to Union, Liberty, and Law!

That pledge the heavens above him heard,
That vow the sleep of centuries stirred;
In world-wide wonder listening peoples bent
Their gaze on Freedom’s great experiment.

Could it succeed? Of honor sold
And hopes deceived all history told.
Above the wrecks that strewed the mournful past,
Was the long dream of ages true at last?

Thank God! the people’s choice was just,
The one man equal to his trust,
Wise beyond lore, and without weakness good,
Calm in the strength of flawless rectitude!

His rule of justice, order, peace,
Made possible the world’s release;
Taught prince and serf that power is but a trust,
And rule, alone, which serves the ruled, is just;

That Freedom generous is, but strong
In hate of fraud and selfish wrong,
Pretence that turns her holy truths to lies,
And lawless license masking in her guise.

Land of his love! with one glad voice
Let thy great sisterhood rejoice;
A century’s suns o’er thee have risen and set,
And, God be praised, we are one nation yet.

And still we trust the years to be
Shall prove his hope was destiny,
Leaving our flag, with all its added stars,
Unrent by faction and unstained by wars.

Lo! where with patient toil he nursed
And trained the new-set plant at first,
The widening branches of a stately tree
Stretch from the sunrise to the sunset sea.

And in its broad and sheltering shade,
Sitting with none to make afraid,
Were we now silent, through each mighty limb,
The winds of heaven would sing the praise of him.

Our first and best!—his ashes lie
Beneath his own Virginian sky.
Forgive, forget, O true and just and brave,
The storm that swept above thy sacred grave!

For, ever in the awful strife
And dark hours of the nation’s life,
Through the fierce tumult pierced his warning word,
Their father’s voice his erring children heard!

The change for which he prayed and sought
In that sharp agony was wrought;
No partial interest draws its alien line
’Twixt North and South, the cypress and the pine!

One people now, all doubt beyond,
His name shall be our Union-bond;
We lift our hands to Heaven, and here and now
Take on our lips the old Centennial vow.

For rule and trust must needs be ours;
Chooser and chosen both are powers
Equal in service as in rights; the claim
Of Duty rests on each and all the same.

Then let the sovereign millions, where
Our banner floats in sun and air,
From the warm palm-lands to Alaska’s cold,
Repeat with us the pledge a century old!

John Greenleaf Whittier

21 February 2024


An excellent album ...


Bad Co. released Run with the Pack on this day in 1976.

"Live for the Music" ...

Gurdjieff, Moderato cantabile

Anja Lechner, violoncello, and Franҫois Couturier, piano, perform ...



An excellent book ...


An excellent album ...

Happy Birthday, Auden

There must always be two kinds of art: escape-art, for man needs escape as he needs food and deep sleep, and parable-art, that art which shall teach man to unlearn hatred and learn love.

W.H. Auden, born on this day in 1907

19 February 2024


Yes released The Yes Album on this day in 1971.

"Perpetual Change" ...

Haooy Birthday, Wakeling

Dave Wakeling was born on this day in 1956.

"Too Nice to Talk To" with The Beat ...


Goines, Corti Brothers Pallido, 1987


Rousseau told us that we are “born free,” arguing that we have only to remove the chains imposed by the social order in order to enjoy our full natural potential. Although American conservatives have been skeptical of that idea, and indeed stood against its destructive influence during the time of the ’60s radicals, they nevertheless also have a sneaking tendency to adhere to it. They are heirs to the pioneer culture. They idolize the solitary entrepreneur, who takes the burden of his projects on his own shoulders and makes space for the rest of us as we timidly advance in his wake. This figure, blown up to mythic proportions in the novels of Ayn Rand, has, in less fraught varieties, a rightful place in the American story. But the story misleads people into imagining that the free individual exists in the state of nature, and that we become free by removing the shackles of government. That is the opposite of the truth.

We are not, in the state of nature, free; still less are we individuals, endowed with rights and duties, and able to take charge of our lives. We are free by nature because we can become free, in the course of our development. And this development depends at every point upon the networks and relations that bind us to the larger social world. Only certain kinds of social networks encourage people to see themselves as individuals, shielded by their rights and bound together by their duties. Only in certain conditions are people united in society not by organic necessity but by free consent. To put it simply, the human individual is a social construct. And the emergence of the individual in the course of history is part of what distinguishes our civilization from so many of the other social ventures of mankind.

Hence we individuals, who have a deep and in many particular cases justified suspicion of government, have a yet deeper need for it. Government is wrapped into the very fibers of our social being. We emerge as individuals because our social life is shaped that way. When, in the first impulse of affection, one person joins in friendship with another, there arises immediately between them a relation of accountability. They promise things to each other. They become bound in a web of mutual obligations. If one harms the other, there is a “calling to account,” and the relation is jeopardized until an apology is offered. They plan things, sharing their reasons, their hopes, their praise, and their blame. In everything they do they make themselves accountable. If this relation of accountability fails to emerge, then what might have been friendship becomes, instead, a form of exploitation.

Know your role ...

In other words, in our tradition, government and freedom have a single source, which is the human disposition to hold each other to account for what we do. No free society can come into being without the exercise of this disposition, and the freedom that Americans rightly cherish in their heritage is simply the other side of the American habit of recognizing their accountability toward others. Americans, faced with a local emergency, combine with their neighbors to address it, while Europeans sit around helplessly until the servants of the state arrive. That is the kind of thing we have in mind when we describe this country as the “land of the free.” We don’t mean a land without government; we mean a land with this kind of government—the kind that springs up spon­taneously between individuals who feel accountable to each other.

Such a government is not imposed from outside: It grows from within the community as an expression of the affections and interests that unite it. It does not necessarily put every matter to the vote; but it respects the individual participant and acknowledges that, in the last analysis, the authority of the leader derives from the people’s consent to be led by him. Thus it was that the pioneering communities of this country very quickly made laws for themselves, formed clubs, schools, rescue squads, and committees in order to deal with the needs that they could not address alone, but for which they depended on the cooperation of their neighbors. The associative habit that so impressed Tocqueville was not merely an expression of freedom: It was an instinctive move toward government, in which a shared order would contain and amplify the responsibilities of the citizens.


An excellent album ...