"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

31 March 2024


Creti, Astronomical Observations, 1711


Yes, quiet as a tomb
this dark surrounding us,
the only moving stone the one
we’ve watched these nights

of early sping, staring
as the brushstroke of its tail
comes clear and clustered stars
bloom into view from what

had seemed the emptiest
of places in the sky.
They light this country road,
converting us to shadows

between the ready fields
where in a few months more
we’ll watch our kids
chase fireflies again,

catching and holding one
in a cupped cave of hands
to show us before letting it go,
its fitful trail the path

of some brief comet
on an earthly scale,
another evening’s praise
for this uncertain, only life.

James Scruton


The Smiths released Louder Than Bombs on this day in 1987.

"Panic" ...

Happy Birthday, Young

This is Angus Young of AC⚡DC and he was born on this day in 1955.

Off their Easter album, here's "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be" ...


Veronese, The Resurrection of Christ, 1571

1 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 worshiped 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.


Rabbi Sacks on defeating death ...
Life is good, death is bad. Life is a blessing, death is a curse. These are truisms for us. Why even mention them? Because they were not common ideas in the ancient world. They were revolutionary. They still are.

How then do you defeat death? Yes there is an afterlife. Yes there is techiyat hametim, resurrection. But Moses does not focus on these obvious ideas. He tells us something different altogether. You achieve immortality by being part of a covenant – a covenant with eternity itself, that is to say, a covenant with God.

When you live your life within a covenant something extraordinary happens. Your parents and grandparents live on in you. You live on in your children and grandchildren. They are part of your life. You are part of theirs. That is what Moses meant when he said, near the beginning of this week’s parsha:
It is not with you alone that I am making this covenant and oath, but with whoever stands with us here today before the Lord our God as well as those not with us here today.

Deut. 29:13-14
In Moses’ day that last phrase meant “your children not yet born.” He did not need to include “your parents, no longer alive” because their parents had themselves made a covenant with God forty years before at Mount Sinai. But what Moses meant in a larger sense is that when we renew the covenant, when we dedicate our lives to the faith and way of life of our ancestors, they become immortal in us, as we become immortal in our children.

30 March 2024


Stephen Fry reads Nick Cave's letter answering the question, in regard to artificial intelligence, "What's wrong with making things faster and easier?"
There are all sorts of temptations in this world that will eat away at your creative spirit but none more fiendish than that boundless machine of artistic demoralization, ChatGPT.  As humans we so often feel helpless in our own smallness, yet still we find the resilience to do and make beautiful things and this is where the meaning of life resides.  Nature reminds us of this constantly.  The world is often cast as a purely malignant place but, still the joy of creation exerts itself.  As the sun rises upon the struggle of the day the great crested grebe dances upon the water, it is our striving that becomes the very essence of meaning ...

Barry Manilow. "It's a Miracle"

From his Easter album ...


Pretenders released Extended Play on this day in 1981.

"Porcelain" ...

Thanks, Ors.

Happy Birthday, Clapton

Eric Clapton was born on this day in 1945.

"Five Long Years" ...


Holbein the Younger, The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, 1521

62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Happy Birthday, van Gogh

When you say in your last letter "what a riddle there is in nature," I echo your words. Life in the abstract is already a riddle, reality turns it into a riddle within a riddle.

And who are we to solve it? All the same, we ourselves form a particle of it, of the society of which we ask, Where is it going, to the devil or to God?

Yet the sun rises, says V. Hugo.

Long, long ago, in L’ami Fritz by Erckmann-Chatrian, I read a remark by the old rabbi that has often come to mind since: "We are not alive in order to be happy, but we must try to deserve happiness."  Taken in isolation, this thought seems a little pedantic, at least one could interpret it as a little pedantic, but in the context in which the remark occurred, namely on the lips of the sympathetic figure of old Rabbi David Sechel, it struck me deeply and I often think of it. Also when drawing – one shouldn’t count on selling one’s drawings, but one has a duty to make them such that they have value and are serious. For one may not become nonchalant or indifferent, even if one is disappointed by one’s circumstances.

Vincent van Gogh, born on this day in 1853, from a letter to his brother, Theo, Sunday, 10 December 1882



You move as though the moon
pulls you, though it's away is nominal
when compared to the wind,
the atmospheric pressure, 
the will of your waves
to creep up the shore
and caress the dunes.

reminding me I do not need 
a moon to move.

Mae Stier

29 March 2024


Velázquez, Christ Crucified, 1632

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

28 March 2024


Ibanez' RBI-sac fly is all it took.



Think in the morning. 
Act in the noon. 
Eat in the evening.
Sleep in the night.
He who has suffer'd you to impose on him knows you. 
As the plow follows words, so God rewards prayers. 
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction. 
Expect poison from the standing water. 
You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough. 
Listen to the fools reproach; it is a kingly title! 

William Blake


An excellent pickle ... 


Here we go!


Led Zeppelin released Houses of the Holy on this day in 1973.

"The Rain Song" ...

26 March 2024


An excellent album ...


Thin Lizzy released Jailbreak on this day 1976.

"Cowboy Song" ...

Jimmy Buffett, "Mozambique"

With Emmylou ...

I love it when a cover is better than the original.


When looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.

Joseph Campbell


Done and done.

Mozart, Piano Trio in G Major, KV 564

Isabelle Faust, violin, Sol Gabetta, cello, and Kristian Bezuidenhout, fortepiano ...


My students would call Michael Wade "Big Brain" ...
Life becomes much more enjoyable if you don't believe in or fall prey to moods. 

Choose to be in a good mood.  

More of this in the echo chamber, please.

Happy Birthday, Campbell

The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos. Finally, the mind breaks the bounding sphere of the cosmos to a realization transcending all experiences of form - all symbolizations, all divinities: a realization of the ineluctable void.

Joseph Campbell, born on this day in 1904, from The Hero With a Thousand Faces

Bizet, Symphony in C

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra performs, Gordan Nikolić, principal violin and director ...

Happy Birthday, Frost


I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. 
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Robert Frost, born on this day in 1874

25 March 2024


Triumph released Progressions of Power on this day in 1980.

"Tear the Roof Off" ...

Happy Birthday, John

Elton John was born on this day in 1947.

"Rotten Peaches" ...


An excellent book ...

Van Morrison, "On Hyndford Street"

Early mornings when contemplation was best ...


Hodgkin, Gull's Eggs in a Box, 1918


The glass stems of the clouds are breaking
the gray flowers are caught up
and carried in silence to their invisible mountain
a hair of music is flying
over the line of cold lakes
from which our eyes were made
everything in the world has been lost and lost
but soon we will find it again
and understand what it told us when we loved it

W.S. Merwin

Telemann's Trio Sonata in C Minor TWV 42:C2

Tabea Debus, recorder and histrionics, Katharina Sprecklesen, oboe, Satoko Doi-Luck, clanger, and Jonathan Manson, cello, perform ...


An excellent album ...


Chatham, Rain Sweeping Over Sweet Grass Basin, 2005

If religion is meant to save, to awe, to cleanse, to fortify, then my faith is found at the tops of mountains and in the secrecy of woods, in the cradle of rivers, and at the bottom of the sea. I find in the solitude of nature reason and purpose. I have slept with solitude for so long that I have made her my friend, my accomplice. she follows me in the fields, the woods, the rivers, faithful as a shadow.

Guy de la Valdene, from The Fragrance of Grass

Happy Birthday, O'Connor

I suppose I read Aristotle in college but not to know I was doing it; the same with Plato. I don’t have the kind of mind that can carry such beyond the actual reading, i.e., total non-retention has kept my education from being a burden to me. So I couldn’t make any judgment on the Summa, except to say this: I read it for about twenty minutes every night before I go to bed. If my mother were to come in during the process and say, "Turn off that light. It’s late," I with lifted finger and broad bland beatific expression, would reply, "On the contrary, I answer that the light, being eternal and limitless, cannot be turned off. Shut your eyes," or some such thing.”

I too am blessedly unburdened by my education. The university was no more than an intellectual match-making service, an instrument of exposure – to writers and a large library that permitted me to read them. I remember the reassuring thrill of knowing the campus library was open twenty-four hours a day. If I needed Tertullian, Hobbes or George Herbert at 3 a.m., they were a short walk away.

For the purposes of education, I found most fellow students an irritation to be endured, which I suppose taught me something. Even with several excellent teachers I remained, for good and ill, an autodidact but not always, I hope, a know-it-all. I was acutely aware of my ignorance but resented most intermediaries – critics, interpreters, systematizers – and felt only aversion for grand theories. To this day I like to meet a book on my terms, without a middle-man, because most of the best books teach me how to read them. My request is simple: Don’t tell me what to think; show me what you know.

Flannery O’Connor, born on this day in 1925, from a letter to “A.”, August 9, 1955

24 March 2024


An excellent gin ...



Pursue the authentic—decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in through the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

Louise Erdrich, from "Advice to Myself"

Thanks, Jess.

Schmeltzer, Sonatae Unarum Fidium

Eva Jornet, Ganassi recorder, Lixsania Fernández, viola da gamba, and Edwin García, theorbo, perform the Sonata Seconda ...


Hannah Arendt on personal responsibility ...
Politically, the weakness of the argument has always been that those who choose the lesser evil forget very quickly that they chose evil ...

The precondition for this kind of judging is not a highly developed intelligence or sophistication in moral matters, but rather the disposition to live together explicitly with oneself, to have intercourse with oneself, that is, to be engaged in that silent dialogue between me and myself which, since Socrates and Plato, we usually call thinking. This kind of thinking, though at the root of all philosophical thought, is not technical and does not concern theoretical problems. The dividing line between those who want to think and therefore have to judge by themselves, and those who do not, strikes across all social and cultural or educational differences. In this respect, the total moral collapse of respectable society during the Hitler regime may teach us that under such circumstances those who cherish values and hold fast to moral norms and standards are not reliable: we now know that moral norms and standards can be changed overnight, and that all that then will be left is the mere habit of holding fast to something. Much more reliable will be the doubters and skeptics, not because skepticism is good or doubting wholesome, but because they are used to examine things and to make up their own minds. Best of all will be those who know only one thing for certain: that whatever else happens, as long as we live we shall have to live together with ourselves.
On preserving strength in desperation ...
But how is it with the reproach of irresponsibility leveled against these few who washed their hands of what was going on all around them? I think we shall have to admit that there exist extreme situations in which responsibility for the world, which is primarily political, cannot be assumed because political responsibility always presupposes at least a minimum of political power. Impotence or complete powerlessnes is, I think, a valid excuse. Its validity is all the stronger as it seems to require a certain moral quality even to recognize powerlessness, the good will and good faith to face realities and not to live in illusions. Moreover, it is precisely in this admission of one’s own impotence that a last remnant of strength and even power can still be preserved even under desperate conditions.


An excellent album ...

23 March 2024


There was no way I could think it over without a second Calvados. After thinking it over, I decided that the really prudent thing was to go out and buy another bottle.

Michel Houellebecq

The Cars, "Up and Down"

K÷93, "Giving Up the Ghost"

Hooky, Geordie, and Jaz ...


The only sensible choice …

They have the guts to tell the truth: will you listen?


The last great album from Journey (before they were brutally castrated by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named), Departure, was released on this day in 1980.

"Where Were You" ...

Happy Birthday, Ocasek

Ric Ocasek was born on this day in 1944.

"Fix on You" ...


Firing Line from October 16, 1989 includes Buckley's "Walter Mitty Rush," playing the clanger with the Phoenix Symphony (beginning at 17:11) ...


Reynolds, Samuel Johnson, 1769

Some degree of self-approbation is always the reward of diligence; and I cannot, therefore, but consider the laborious cultivation of petty pleasures, as a more happy and more virtuous disposition, than that universal contempt and haughty negligence, which is sometimes associated with powerful faculties, but is often assumed by indolence when it disowns its name, and aspires to the appellation of greatness of mind.

It has been long observed, that drollery and ridicule is the most easy kind of wit: let it be added that contempt and arrogance is the easiest philosophy. To find some objection to every thing, and to dissolve in perpetual laziness under pretense that occasions are wanting to call forth activity, to laugh at those who are ridiculously busy without setting an example of more rational industry, is no less in the power of the meanest than of the highest intellects.

Our present state has placed us at once in such different relations, that every human employment, which is not a visible and immediate act of goodness, will be in some respect or other subject to contempt; but it is true, likewise, that almost every act, which is not directly vicious, is in some respect beneficial and laudable. "I often," says Bruyere, "observe from my window, two beings of erect form and amiable countenance, endowed with the powers of reason, able to clothe their thoughts in language, and convey their notions to each other. They rise early in the morning, and are every day employed till sunset in rubbing two smooth stones together, or, in other terms, in polishing marble."

Samuel Johnson, from The Adventurer


Social media algorithms may be giving us a push, recommending content to us that drives “engagement”, the most surprising, outrageous and often toxic material. But we shouldn’t blame algorithms steering us away from serious and thoughtful exposure to different points of view. We are quite capable of choosing that for ourselves.


If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.

Thomas Merton


We are so concerned to flatter the majority that we lose sight of how very often it is necessary, in order to preserve freedom for the minority, let alone for the individual, to face that majority down.

William F. Buckley Jr., from The Jeweler's Eye


According to the disposition of the state and the liberty allowed us, we shall either extend or contract our activities; but at all events we shall stir ourselves and not be gripped and paralyzed by fear. He indeed will prove a man who, threatened by dangers on all sides, with arms and chains clattering around him, will neither endanger nor conceal his courage: for self-preservation does not entail suppressing oneself. Truly, I believe, Curius Dentatus used to say that he preferred real death to living death; for the ultimate horror is to leave the number of the living before you die.


Schenck, Sonata No. 1, Op. 2

Tatiana Senderowicz, theorbo, Amy Brodo and Roy Whelden, viola da gamba, performing ...


I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. 

Patrick Henry, from his speech given before the Virginia Provincial Convention on this day in 1775.