"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 April 2024

Happy Birthday, Duke

Somehow, I suspect that if Shakespeare were alive today, he might be a jazz fan himself—he’d appreciate the combination of spirit and informality, of knowledge and humor, all the elements that go into a great jazz performance. And I am sure he would agree with the simple and axiomatic statement that is so important to all of us—when it sounds good, it is good.

Duke Ellington, born on this day in 1899

"It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" ...


Allan Bloom, speaking at DePauw University, September 11, 1987 ...
These are the charmed years when you can, if you so choose, become anything you wish ... [you] also have the opportunity to survey your alternatives -- not merely those current in your time or provided by careers, but those available to you as human beings. The importance of these years for an American cannot be overestimated. They are civilization's only chance to get to him.


The unforeseen is the most beautiful gift life can give us. That is what we must think of multiplying in our domain. Art is inconceivable without risk, without inner sacrifice; freedom and boldness of imagination can be won only in the process of work, and it is there the unforeseen I spoke of a moment ago must intervene, and there no directives can help.

Boris Pasternak

28 April 2024



Mr. Wade lists the elements of a healthy temperament ...
  • Courage and Kindness
  • Patience and Urgency
  • Range and Focus
  • Feeling and Detachment
  • Curiosity and Indifference
  • Thought and Action
Great list.  

I would add listening and speaking out.

Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, "Emperor"

Alina Bercu performs with the Orchestra of the Liszt University, under the direction of Nicolás Pasquet ...


van Eyck, Man in a Red Turban, 1433

I thoroughly enjoyed over twenty-five years in the food service industry (I miss it like an addict) which overlapped into my career as a teacher, which I have been aspiring to for twenty years.  I was kicked out of college twice before I finally figured myself out. My undergraduate degrees in the History of Art and Historic Preservation of Architecture have made every single day of my life full and more greatly appreciated.  Any success I have enjoyed in my personal and professional lives is due to my training and continued devotion to the arts.  


Light’s hand is swift, its penmanship
neat and precise. It jotted down a memo
on this square of paper, then left it behind,
a lost list of shadows burned by a paper clip
rusting away. Five men in half-light,
standing under the roof of an open porch,
holding a string of dead mallards.
One man grins and points at the camera,
his fingertip bright as a spark, reaching out,
touching the shimmering film of the future.

Ted Kooser


Ari Weinzweig on Mother Trees ...
Philosopher Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.” Deep knowledge, it seems reasonable to say then, would be wisdom. “Mother Trees” bring knowledge and wisdom that can be accessed by everyone in our organization. In fact, a few hours before the dinner on May 7, Joan will be teaching a class for Zingerman’s staff who would like to come and learn from her. 

At the start of Finding the Mother Tree, Simard says,
This is not a book about how we can save the trees.
This is a book about how the trees might save us.
Following Simard’s insightful lead, we too might do well to look more closely at how the words and wisdom of our organizational “Mother Trees” can help us to reground and see things in more effectively holistic ways. If you have a few minutes, you might reflect on who the “Mother Trees” are in your ecosystem, how you have learned from them, and how you can continue to learn from them for many years to come. Wisdom, cultural insight, and the long-term health of our organizations might well depend on them. Let me know what you learn!

The people I’m thinking of as organizational “Mother Trees” here at Zingerman’s have been such positive influences on what we have done over the years. Like Joan Nathan, it’s hard to imagine the Zingerman’s Community without their influence. In Joan’s case, it’s with food and cooking. With Peter Block (who I was honored to have interview me last week in Cincinnati at a book event at 50 West Brewing Company), it’s philosophy and learning to lead without relying on power and authority. With Wendell Berry, it’s about understanding old-school agriculture, traditional ways of life in rural communities, and developing more holistic and more helpful ways to see the world. Grace Lee Boggs teaches me how to push for positive change, honor the humanity of everyone we meet, and stick with what we believe in even if others around us have not. There are others as well, but you get the idea. All of these people, these “Mother Trees,” have a presence that contributes to the quality of the work we do. And all of them, quietly, without drama, inform and inspire. As Suzanne Simard says:
It’s not always about becoming bigger and better in a traditional or a visible way that we might measure as wealth, for example, or power. You know, the most powerful parts of our social systems can be the elder that has aged and is guiding younger people, or guiding their culture. And yet, they can be almost invisible in the hierarchy of our social system.
The “Mother Trees” in our organizational ecosystems do just that. Their impact is almost invisible to an average onlooker, but their impact is, ultimately holistically, enormous. Suzanne Simard summed up all this in a 2017 journal article about Mother Trees, in which, she writes, 
Elders fill a special role in any community, having earned the respect of the tribe for their life-long wisdom, knowledge, and teaching. They help link individuals to the broader community as a whole, and connect the past with the future. Not all old individuals are elders, nor are all elders old. In my family, grandmothers and grandfathers usually filled the role of elders … connecting the family through the ages. 
I have taken to calling these elders “Mother Trees” because they appear to be nurturing their young. Mother Trees thus connect the forest through space and time, just like elders connect human families across generations.
As I’ve said, this strikes me as very much the role that Joan and the others I’ve listed above have played here over the years. In the spirit of which, Zingerman’s would be a different organization without her and without the wisdom from all these other wonderful “Mother Trees.” Their wisdom, I’m confident, will continue to inform what we do for decades to come. Thankfully for me and so many others, most of them record their thoughts in the form of books and articles. It’s a lovely coincidence I suppose that their deeply rooted philosophies and perspectives will be kept alive on paper—from trees—for centuries to come.

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said in an interview the other day,
Think about the people we want as our leaders, and just look at that as sort of a template … Humility … Empathy … Resilience … Accountability, kindness, compassion, and ambition for something larger than themselves not for themselves. Those are the leaders that have led us. And that means the citizens respect those kinds of leaders.

Bach, Cello Suite No.2 in D Minor, BWV 1008

Yo-Yo Ma performs the Prelude ...


Hall, The Deluge, 1830

The Bodleian Map Room explores Edward Quin's 1830 atlas ...
The beauty of Quin’s atlas comes from this sense of mystery achieved by revealing the known parts of the World according to the period of the map, with the rest of the World covered by thick, dark billowing clouds. With our knowledge of the World growing with each map the clouds withdraw a little further and more of the World is revealed.


Thanks, Ann.

27 April 2024


A woman I know says that to look at the Sleeping Bear late in the day is to feel the same emotion that comes when you listen to Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, and she is entirely right. The message is the same. The only trouble is that you have to compose a planet, or great music, to say it persuasively. Maybe man–some men, anyway–was made in the image of God, after all.

Bruce Catton, from Waiting for the Morning Train


A rabbi was asked by one of his students “Why did God create atheists?” After a long pause, the rabbi finally responded with a soft but sincere voice. “God created atheists” he said, “to teach us the most important lesson of them all – the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs an act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that God commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his actions are based on his sense of morality. Look at the kindness he bestows on others simply because he feels it to be right. When someone reaches out to you for help. You should never say "I’ll pray that God will help you."  Instead, for that moment, you should become an atheist – imagine there is no God who could help, and say "I will help you."

Martin Buber

Thank you, Karen.


An excellent album ...


As to the ham sandwiches, well they are the logical downfall of a generation that knows not herring.

Happy Birthday, Grant

Our great modern Republic. May those who seek the blessings of its institutions and the protection of its flag remember the obligations they impose.

Ulysses S. Grant, born on this day in 1822


You see, in The Syndics, Rembrandt is true to life, although even there he still goes into the higher — into the very highest — infinite. But yet — Rembrandt could do something else — when he didn’t have to be true in the literal sense, as he did in a portrait — when he could — make poetry — be a poet, that’s to say Creator. That’s what he is in The Jewish Bride. Oh, how Delacroix would have understood that very painting! What a noble sentiment, fathomlessly deep. One must have died many times to paint like this — is certainly applicable here. Still — one can speak about the paintings by Frans Hals, he always remains — on Earth. Rembrandt goes so deep into the mysterious that he says things for which there are no words in any language.  It is with justice that they call Rembrandt — magician — that’s no easy occupation.

Vincent van Gogh in a letter to his brother, Theo, 10 October 1885

25 April 2024


Argue for the Proms to be strictly classical and you’re likely to be told to lighten up. Yet one cannot fail to notice that our countless pop and rock festivals feel no similar obligation to include classical artists in their line-ups: they do what they do, loud and proud. Endless debates about the Radio 3 schedules go over similar ground, pitting “fusty” purists against more chilled-out listeners who insist the station will die if it doesn’t adapt to changing times. Meanwhile, Radio 1 continues to do its own thing. I like an eclectic mix of music as much as the next person, but I feel it is legitimate to ask why only one type has to make all the concessions.

It is a similar story in universities. Most music lecturers who were students in the 1980s and 1990s will have taken an academic degree course devoted entirely to classical music. By the 2000s a wide array of different types of music started to feature on the curriculum, and this diversification was seen by most as a good thing.

We have reached a point where the pendulum has swung so far the other way that classical music is struggling to maintain a foothold at all on some university music courses. If any academic were to propose a degree course based entirely around classical music — and I imagine few would dare — they would be regarded as eccentric at best, politically dubious at worst.

This is the nub of the embarrassment. Classical music is no longer simply something that people enjoy listening to, playing, studying and writing about; rather, it has been intensely politicised. The relentless elitism barbs have already done a great deal to turn people off classical music, but in recent years these historically illiterate insults have morphed into something even worse, as the elitism stereotype has merged with wider debates about equality in ways that are making the classical music world very edgy indeed.

There is no reason why classical music shouldn’t appeal to people from all social backgrounds as it used to in the past ... It is downright insulting to suggest that classical music cannot speak to people from non-white backgrounds. Yet narratives that construct such music as the preserve of a privileged, white “elite” abound, and they are even hinted at, or even asserted explicitly, by the very institutions we would expect to be championing the arts.
I wake up every morning, vigorous in anticipation of how Josquin, Telemann, or Mozart will add to the joy with which I drink my tea, eat a bagel, or listen to the birds.  

What's the alternative?


Watkins-Pitchford, Brendon Chase, 1944 

Denys Watkins-Pitchford's motto, taken from an old Cumbrian gravestone ...
The wonder of the world
The beauty and the power
The shapes of things,
Their colours, light and shades
These I saw,
Look ye also while life lasts.

Bach, Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042

Viktoria Mullova performs the adagio with Music of the Baroque, directed by clangist Jonathan Cohen ...


Steve points to Matthew Crawford's essay on AI's ability to alleviate the burden of thinking ...

Mechanized judgment resembles liberal proceduralism. It relies on our habit of deference to rules, and our suspicion of visible, personified authority. But its effect is to erode precisely those pro­cedural liberties that are the great accomplishment of the liberal tradition, and to place authority beyond scrutiny. I mean “authori­ty” in the broadest sense, including our interactions with outsized commercial entities that play a quasi-governmental role in our lives. That is the first problem. A second problem is that decisions made by algorithm are often not explainable, even by those who wrote the algorithm, and for that reason cannot win rational assent. This is the more fundamental problem posed by mechanized decision-making, as it touches on the basis of political legitimacy in any liberal regime.


I have lived the lives of Napoleon, Caesar, d’Artagnan. So I always encourage young people to read books, because it’s an ideal way to develop a great memory and a ravenous multiple personality. And then at the end of your life you have lived countless lives, which is a fabulous privilege.

Umberto Eco

24 April 2024

The Jam, "Art School"


 Watkins-Pitchford, Bluebells Flowered in the Clearings of the Big Wood, 1960

"I have come back once more to you all once more …" Pan paused, and in the silence not a foot moved or a wing rustled, "and then I shall indeed be gone until that day when we shall all return, yes, all, gnomes and wild forgotten things alike, to the land where once we lived."

B.B., from The Little Grey Men



The lid of its box had a colorful picture
of a four-masted clipper unzipping
a blue ocean that had been loosely

laid out, its folds rolling, its opened
lapels showing a foamy white lining,
far more color right there on that flat

cardboard carton than on the millions
of pieces inside, all the same gray
like lead soldiers, and all fastened

together, tab to tab, plastic cast
as one piece, much like the long folds
of dolls that my Grandmother Kooser

snipped out of the Ames Daily Tribune
just to entertain me and my sister,
though all that had happened before

I’d grown older and ready to take on
an expensive, elaborate ship-model
kit with an accordion-fold of thin

paper instructions, hundreds of words
I had almost no patience for reading,
wanting to start where I wanted to

start, gluing together the few pieces
I recognized, laying the miniature
oars over the laps of the lifeboats,

etc., but this time I made myself
follow directions, having made wastes
of other such kits—fighter planes,

locomotives and cars—and I laid it
all out in my room on a card-table,
the halves of the hull, all the sails,

full, quarter and jib, like seashells,
all of the miscellaneous pieces
that a ship had to have to be real,

right down to the thin little ladders
of rigging to climb to the yardarms,
there to sit, keeping my balance

despite a stiff breeze, looking out
over the sea of my room, the night
with its crickets like ropes and spars

creaking below my screen window,
the waves I could feel going slack
at their edges, the faraway harbors

with their busy bazaars going quiet,
the salty nets drawn up and drying,
their glass floats like small bubbles

in the night’s iridescence, as I bent
squinting over the bits of that ship
I was building to dream me away.

Ted Kooser

Paul Weller, "Wild Wood"



An excellent album ...


Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom's door.

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.

From Samuel Taylor Coleridge's, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"


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.


Cole, Clouds, 1838


I should have begun with this: the sky.
A window minus sill, frame, and panes.
An aperture, nothing more,
but wide open.

I don't have to wait for a starry night,
I don't have to crane my neck
to get a look at it.
I've got the sky behind my back, at hand, and on my eyelids.
The sky binds me tight
and sweeps me off my feet.

Even the highest mountains
are no closer to the sky
than the deepest valleys.
There's no more of it in one place
than another.
A mole is no less in seventh heaven
than the owl spreading her wings.
The object that falls in an abyss
falls from sky to sky.

Grainy, gritty, liquid,
inflamed, or volatile
patches of sky, specks of sky,
gusts and heaps of sky.
The sky is everywhere,
even in the dark beneath your skin.
I eat the sky, I excrete the sky.
I'm a trap within a trap,
an inhabited inhabitant,
an embrace embraced,
a question answering a question.

Division into sky and earth —
it's not the proper way
to contemplate this wholeness.
It simply lets me go on living
at a more exact address
where I can be reached promptly
if I'm sought.
My identifying features
are rapture and despair.

Wislawa Szymborska


van Gogh, Self-Portrait, 1889

Everything in men and in their works that is truly good, and beautiful with an inner moral, spiritual and sublime beauty, I think that that comes from God, and that everything that is bad and wicked in the works of men and in men, that’s not from God, and God doesn’t find it good, either. But without intending it, I’m always inclined to believe that the best way of knowing God is to love a great deal. Love that friend, that person, that thing, whatever you like, you’ll be on the right path to knowing more thoroughly, afterwards; that’s what I say to myself. But you must love with a high, serious intimate sympathy, with a will, with intelligence, and you must always seek to know more thoroughly, better, and more. That leads to God, that leads to unshakable faith.

Vincent van Gogh, from a letter to his brother, Theo van Gogh, June 1880.

Bach, Widerstehe doch der Sünde, BWV 54

Víkingur Ólafsson performs his transcription ...

23 April 2024

Happy Birthday, Shakespeare

Taylor, William Shakespeare, 1611

Fall to them as you find your stomach serves you. No profit grows where is no pleasureta'en. In brief, sir, study what you most affect.

William Shakespeare, born on this day in 1564, from The Taming of the Shrew

22 April 2024

Happy Birthday, Kant

von Stägemann, Immanuel Kant, 1790

Enlightenment is man's release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man's inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude!  Have courage to use your own reason! -- that is the motto of enlightenment.

Immanuel Kant, born on this day in 1724


From PBS' American Masters series,The Incomparable Mr. Buckley ...

A kind of poet.

21 April 2024


Siouxsie released Tinderbox on this day in 1986.

"Lands End" ...


Depeche Mode released Sounds of the Universe on this day in 2009.

"Miles Away/The Truth Is" ...

Happy Birthday, Smith

Robert Smith was born on this day in 1959.

"Play for Today" ...


Thanks, Kurt.


New laws I can get behind ...
Mackinac Island is one of the few places in the U.S. where cars are prohibited. Electric bicycles, which are supposed to be limited to people with mobility challenges, have become common there, however, and critics say they’re going too fast.  

To help remedy the situation, The state Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would set speed limits as low as 10 miles per hour for electric bikes on the island. The bill passed on a bipartisan vote.
While they're at it, go on ahead and ban selfies up there, too.


The child walks between her father and mother,
holding their hands. She makes the shape of the y
at the end of infancy, and lifts her feet
the way the y pulls up its feet, and swings
like the v in love, between an o and an e
who are strong and steady and as far as she knows
will be there to swing from forever. Sometimes
her father, using his free hand, points to something
and says its name, the way the arm of the r
points into the future at the end of father.
Or the r at the end of forever. It’s that forever
the child puts her trust in, lifting her knees,
singing her feet out over the world.

Ted Kooser


You may delay, but time will not. 

Benjamin Franklin


Watt, Skylark Days, n/d


Ethereal minstrel! pilgrim of the sky!
Dost thou despise the earth where cares abound?
Or, while the wings aspire, are heart and eye
Both with thy nest upon the dewy ground?
Thy nest which thou canst drop into at will,
Those quivering wings composed, that music still!

Leave to the nightingale her shady wood;
A privacy of glorious light is thine;
Whence thou dost pour upon the world a flood
Of harmony, with instinct more divine;
Type of the wise who soar, but never roam;
True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home!

William Wordsworth

Charpentier, Te Deum, H.146

Hervé Niquet puts Le Concert Spirituel through their paces ...

Happy Birthday, Muir

Toward midday, after a long, tingling scramble through copses of hazel and ceanothus, I gained the summit of the highest ridge in the neighborhood; and then it occurred to me that it would be a fine thing to climb one of the trees to obtain a wider outlook and get my ear close to the Æolian music of its topmost needles. But under the circumstances the choice of a tree was a serious matter. One whose instep was not very strong seemed in danger of being blown down, or of being struck by others in case they should fall; another was branchless to a considerable height above the ground, and at the same time too large to be grasped with arms and legs in climbing; while others were not favorably situated for clear views. After cautiously casting about, I made choice of the tallest of a group of Douglas Spruces that were growing close together like a tuft of grass, no one of which seemed likely to fall unless all the rest fell with it. Though comparatively young, they were about 100 feet high, and their lithe, brushy tops were rocking and swirling in wild ecstasy. Being accustomed to climb trees in making botanical studies, I experienced no difficulty in reaching the top of this one, and never before did I enjoy so noble an exhilaration of motion. The slender tops fairly flapped and swished in the passionate torrent, bending and swirling backward and forward, round and round, tracing indescribable combinations of vertical and horizontal curves, while I clung with muscles firm braced, like a bobo-link on a reed.

In its widest sweeps my tree-top described an arc of from twenty to thirty degrees, but I felt sure of its elastic temper, having seen others of the same species still more severely tried--bent almost to the ground indeed, in heavy snows--without breaking a fiber. I was therefore safe, and free to take the wind into my pulses and enjoy the excited forest from my superb outlook. The view from here must be extremely beautiful in any weather. Now my eye roved over the piny hills and dales as over fields of waving grain, and felt the light running in ripples and broad swelling undulations across the valleys from ridge to ridge, as the shining foliage was stirred by corresponding waves of air. Oftentimes these waves of reflected light would break up suddenly into a kind of beaten foam, and again, after chasing one another in regular order, they would seem to bend forward in concentric curves, and disappear on some hillside, like sea-waves on a shelving shore. The quantity of light reflected from the bent needles was so great as to make whole groves appear as if covered with snow, while the black shadows beneath the trees greatly enhanced the effect of the silvery splendor.

Excepting only the shadows there was nothing somber in all this wild sea of pines. On the contrary, notwithstanding this was the winter season, the colors were remarkably beautiful. The shafts of the pine and libocedrus were brown and purple, and most of the foliage was well tinged with yellow; the laurel groves, with the pale undersides of their leaves turned upward, made masses of gray; and then there was many a dash of chocolate color from clumps of manzanita, and jet of vivid crimson from the bark of the madroños, while the ground on the hillsides, appearing here and there through openings between the groves, displayed masses of pale purple and brown.

John Muir, born on this day in 1838, from "A Wind-storm in the Forests"

20 April 2024


On this day in 1979, The Rock and Roll Rooster released one of the greatest rock albums ever made, Gimme Some Neck.

"Buried Alive"


I fear you will never arrive at an understanding of God so long as you cannot bring yourself to see the good that often comes as a result of pain. For there is nothing, from the lowest, weakest tone of suffering to the loftiest acme of pain, to which God does not respond. There is nothing in all the universe which does not in some way vibrate within the heart of God. No creature suffers alone; He suffers with His creatures and through it is in the process of bringing His sons and daughters through the cleansing and glorifying fires, without which the created cannot be made the very children of God, partakers of the divine nature and peace.

George MacDonald


Nobody has seen the trekking birds take their way towards such warmer spheres as do not exist, or rivers break their course through rocks and plains to run into an ocean which is not to be found. For God does not create a longing or a hope without having a fulfilling reality ready for them. But our longing is our pledge, and blessed are the homesick, for they shall come home.

Isak Dinesen, from "The Diver"


Hugh Aldersey-Williams explores the lifelong calendrical project of Robert Marsham and asks, "What can we learn from observing the progression of spring — a hawthorn’s first flowering, the return of birdsong on a particular day?"
Noticing signs of spring is not confined to the scientifically minded, of course. It is an idea with a long provenance. Buddhist monks in Japan were recording the arrival of the cherry blossom as far back as the ninth century. Some of Marsham’s “data points” (such as the swallow and the cuckoo) have long held a place in popular lore and folk songs. The old English saying “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” — a warning not to remove outer clothes too soon in the year — is usually supposed to refer to the month of May. But English May weather is highly variable, and it is more likely that the saying refers to the May tree, or hawthorn, which generally flowers at some point during that month (long after it has come into leaf). Whether it does so early or late is determined chiefly by the weather conditions, making it a more reliable index for an appropriate choice of dress than a calendar date.

Robert Marsham’s project was handed down in the family and only came to a halt in 1958 when his great-great-great-granddaughter Mary died and her descendants were advised that their amateur contribution was no longer required, presumably judged to be no match for modern scientific methods. Despite its abrupt termination, it is the unbroken long run — 222 years — of Marsham’s “Indications of Spring” that gives it lasting scientific worth. There are a few patchy early records for places in the UK, but Marsham’s is the first truly systematic dataset, according to Tim Sparks, a professor of zoology and quantitative biology at the universities of Cambridge, Liverpool, and Poznań. “It is the longest such record for the UK and has been of immense value in determining the variability in spring and in its response to prevailing weather conditions. He inspired many others to do likewise.” Marsham’s record stretches back far enough that it can serve as a baseline for the investigation of changes that have already happened in the more recent past as well as for ongoing studies of the present situation.

One merit of Marsham’s idea is surely that it is so easily grasped. You do not need to be a scientist to understand his results — or to begin recording your own data. In the mid-nineteenth century, the observation of seasonal changes in nature acquired its own name — phenology — as the gentleman scientists of the Victorian age began to add their contributions. Today, Marsham’s pioneering work inspires successor projects around the world, many of them examples of “citizen science”, relying on the participation of members of the public.


"That's the duty of the old," said the Librarian, "to be anxious on the behalf of the young. And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old."

They sat for a while longer, and then parted, for it was late, and they were old and anxious.

Philip Pullman, from The Golden Compass


Thomson, The Tent, 1915

We do not dislike everything that shines, but we do prefer a pensive luster to a shallow brilliance, a murky light that, whether in a stone or an artifact, bespeaks a sheen of antiquity.

Of course this “sheen of antiquity” of which we hear so much is in fact the glow of grime. In both Chinese and Japanese the words denoting this glow describe a polish that comes of being touched over and over again, a sheen produced by the oils that naturally permeate an object over long years of handling—which is to say grime. If indeed “elegance is frigid,” it can as well be described as filthy. There is no denying, at any rate, that among the elements of the elegance in which we take such delight is a measure of the unclean, the unsanitary. I suppose I shall sound terribly defensive if I say that Westerners attempt to expose every speck of grime and eradicate it, while we Orientals carefully preserve and even idealize it. Yet for better or for worse we do love things that bear the marks of grime, soot, and weather, and we love the colors and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them. Living in these old houses among these old objects is in some mysterious way a source of peace and repose.

Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, from In Praise of Shadows

Polka Family, "Right Outside the Door"


Ari Weinzweig on attending to authenticity ...
Being attentive to little things that others might miss, Meyerowitz makes clear, is a skill we can work to master. It’s not, though, an exact science. As Meyerowitz says, “Be open to your own intuition and instincts and you will find your way.” What your way will reveal, I can’t know, but I do know that when we’re tuned in we start to see a wealth of amazing things that are all around us. Interesting insights may well ensue. As Meyerowitz says,
At any given moment there is the possibility to say “Ah!” You catch your breath. You are inspired. You are at that moment suddenly feeling alive and awake. Some connection with the whole, has pressed itself to your senses. In that moment, there’s the tiniest little change—so tiny, it’s been smothered by all the energy around you—at that moment you stop.
Meyerowitz shares a great example that came from his time in Paris many years ago. As he sets the scene: “You’re walking down the street and all of a sudden you come to this sweet spot where you catch the smell of a buttery croissant.” I can certainly relate and maybe you can as well. You notice the subtle smell, and in a wonderful way, it calls to you. But then, Meyerowitz reminds us, the logical mind might likely kick in: You probably weren’t looking for a croissant. Maybe you already ate breakfast earlier, and stopping to see more might make you a few minutes late for your meeting. The tendency for most of us, then, would simply be to keep walking. As Meyerowitz says, “You take two steps and it is gone!” Our mind is quickly occupied by other things. Meyerowitz suggests we do the opposite. We would do well, he says, to back up and follow our nose. Go closer. Explore. Learn more. What we find just might change our lives.