AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

23 March 2017

21 March 2017

Seen.

Obata, Evening Moon, 1930


II

I have seen in my solitude
very clear things
that are not true.

Antonio Machado

Technique.


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

Gordon Lightfoot, "Shadows"

Won't you reach out love and touch me
Let me hold you for awhile
I've been all around the world
Oh how I long to see you smile
There's a shadow on the moon
And the waters here below
Do not shine the way they should
And I love you, just in case you didn't know

Moved.


Monasteries of the mind are an effort to reconnect with the past and disengage psychologically from the present. For millions of Americans, their music, their movies, their sports, and their media are not current fare. Instead, they have mentally moved to mountaintops or inaccessible valleys, where they can live in the past or dream of the future, but certainly not dwell in the here and now.


Thank you, Execupundit.

Propriety.

Vanderlyn, James Madison, 1816


I, sir, have always conceived - I believe those who proposed the constitution conceived,and it is still more fully known, and more material to observe, those who ratified the constitution conceived, that this is not an indefinite government deriving its powers from the general terms prefixed to the specified powers - but, a limited government tied down to the specified powers, which explain and define the general terms.

James Madison, speech before Congress, February 6, 1792

I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shape and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject. What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. And that the language of our Constitution is already undergoing interpretations unknown to its founder, will I believe appear to all unbiased Enquirers into the history of its origin and adoption.

James Madison, letter to Henry Lee, June 25, 1824

The best reason to be assigned, in this case, for not having made the Constitution more free from a charge of uncertainty in its meaning, is believed to be, that it was not suspected that any such charge would ever take place; and it appears that no such charge did take place, during the early period of the Constitution, when the meaning of its authors could be best ascertained, nor until many of the contemporary lights had in the lapse of time been extinguished. How often does it happen, that a notoriety of intention diminishes the caution against its being misunderstood or doubted!

James Madison, letter to Joseph Cabell, October 30, 1828

Maestra.

Today.

1994.


"The Calling"

Sam Bush, "Girl from the North Country"

Freedom.

Obata, Upper Lyell Fork, near Lyell Glacier, 1930


Although my grandmother lived out her long life in the shadow of Rainy Mountain, the immense landscape of the continental interior lay like memory in her blood. She could tell of the Crows, whom she had never seen, and of the Black Hills, where she had never been. I wanted to see in reality what she had seen more perfectly in the mind's eye, and traveled fifteen hundred miles to begin my pilgrimage.

Yellowstone, it seemed to me, was the top of the world, a region of deep lakes and dark timber, canyons and waterfalls. But, beautiful as it is, one might have the sense of confinement there. The skyline in all directions is close at hand, the high wall of the woods and deep cleavages of shade. There is a perfect freedom in the mountains, but it belongs to the eagle and the elk, the badger and the bear. The Kiowas reckoned their stature by the distance they could see, and they were bent and blind in the wilderness.

Descending eastward, the highland meadows are a stairway to the plain. In July the inland slope of the Rockies is luxuriant with flax and buckwheat, stonecrop and larkspur. The earth unfolds and the limit of the land recedes. Clusters of trees, and animals grazing far in the distance, cause the vision to reach away and wonder to build upon the mind. The sun follows a longer course in the day, and the sky is immense beyond all comparison. The great billowing clouds that sail upon it are shadows that move upon the grain like water, dividing light. Farther down, in the land of the Crows and Blackfeet, the plain is yellow. Sweet clover takes hold of the hills and bends upon itself to cover and seal the soil. There the Kiowas paused on their way; they had come to the place where they must change their lives. The sun is at home on the plains. Precisely there does it have the certain character of a god. When the Kiowas came to the land of the Crows, they could see the darklees of the hills at dawn across the Bighorn River, the profusion of light on the grain shelves, the oldest deity ranging after the solstices. Not yet would they veer southward to the caldron of the land that lay below; they must wean their blood from the northern winter and hold the mountains a while longer in their view. They bore Tai-me in procession to the east.

N. Scott Momaday, from "The Way to Rainy Mountain"

Show.


Thank you, Megan.

Matters.

Over the weekend, coach Geno Auriemma provided some sage advice -- body language matters ...

Live.

Glenn Miller Orchestra, "(I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo"

Resting.


The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring- cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said 'Bother!' and 'O blow!' and also 'Hang spring-cleaning!' and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, 'Up we go! Up we go!' till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

'This is fine!' he said to himself. `This is better than whitewashing!' The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.

'Hold up!' said an elderly rabbit at the gap. 'Sixpence for the privilege of passing by the private road!' He was bowled over in an instant by the impatient and contemptuous Mole, who trotted along the side of the hedge chaffing the other rabbits as they peeped hurriedly from their holes to see what the row was about. 'Onion-sauce! Onion-sauce!' he remarked jeeringly, and was gone before they could think of a thoroughly satisfactory reply. Then they all started grumbling at each other. 

'How stupid you are! Why didn't you tell him ——' 'Well, why didn't you say ——' 'You might have reminded him——' and so on, in the usual way; but, of course, it was then much too late, as is always the case.

It all seemed too good to be true. Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting— everything happy, and progressive, and occupied. And instead of having an uneasy conscience pricking him and whispering 'whitewash!' he somehow could only feel how jolly it was to be the only idle dog among all these busy citizens. After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.

Kenneth Grahame, from The Wind in the Willows

Exquisite.


Thanks, hopeleslie.

Tee.



Paul Shaffer with Bill Murray, "Happy Street"

No.

Dog.

Happy birthday, Bach.

Haussmann, Bach, 1748


Johann Sebastian Bach was born on this day in 1685.

What I have achieved by industry and practice, anyone else with tolerable natural gift and ability can also achieve.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Pablo Casals performs one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, Bach's Cello Suite No.1 in G major, BWV 1007 (the Sarabande is at 8:09) ...



Bach: A Passionate Life ...

Pleasure.


Do not be afraid of cooking as your ingredients will know, and misbehave. Enjoy your cooking and the food will behave; moreover it will pass your pleasure on to those who eat it.

Fergus Henderson

Happy birthday, Dad.


My Dad was born on this day in 1937.

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.

Umberto Eco

Happy birthday, Dad. I Love you!

20 March 2017

Passing.

Curtis, Cheyenne, 1900


I devoted thirty-three years to gathering text material and pictures for The North American Indian. I did this as a contribution; without salary, direct or indirect financial returns. When I was done with the last volume, I did not possess enough money to buy a ham sandwich; yet the books will remain the outstanding story of the Indian.

The passing of every old man or woman means the passing of some tradition, some knowledge of sacred rites possessed by no other...consequently the information that is to be gathered, for the benefit of future generations, respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost for all time.

The thought which these pictures are meant to convey is that Indians as a race, already shorn of their tribal strength and stripped of their primitive dress, are passing into the darkness of an unknown future.

Edward Sheriff Curtis

Dirk Powell, "Waterbound"

With Jerry Douglas, Tim O'Brien, and Bruce Molsky ...

Siesta.

Once.


AS FOR POETS

As for poets
The Earth Poets
Who write small poems,
Need help from no man.

The Air Poets
Play out the swiftest gales
And sometimes loll in the eddies.
Poem after poem,
Curling back on the same thrust.

At fifty below
Fuel oil won't flow
And propane stays in the tank.
Fire Poets
Burn at absolute zero
Fossil love pumped backup

The first
Water Poet
Stayed down six years.
He was covered with seaweed.
The life in his poem
Left millions of tiny
Different tracks
Criss-crossing through the mud.

With the Sun and Moon
In his belly,
The Space Poet
Sleeps.
No end to the sky-
But his poems,
Like wild geese,
Fly off the edge.


A Mind Poet
Stays in the house.
The house is empty
And it has no walls.
The poem
Is seen from all sides,
Everywhere,
At once.

Gary Snyder

Transformed.


Nature, the things we associate with and use, are provisional and perishable; but, so long as we are here, they are our possession and our friendship; sharers in our trouble and gladness, just as they have been the confidants of our ancestors. Therefore, not only must all that is here not be vilified or degraded, but, just because of that very provisionality they share with us, all these appearances and things should be, in the most fervent sense, comprehended by us and transformed. Transformed? Yes, for our task is to stamp this provisional, perishing earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its being may rise again, ‘invisibly’ in us. We are the bees of the invisible.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Fromages.

Hummel, Trumpet Concerto in E major, S.49

Wynton Marsalis performs the Rondo with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Raymond Leppard ...

Success.


I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening, and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when people start getting corrupted by life. Let him or her be the only judge; not your reputation, not your wealth, not your standing in the community, not the decorations on your lapel. If you do not feel ashamed, you are successful. All other definitions of success are modern constructions; fragile modern constructions.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Happy birthday, Bingham.

Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Mississippi, 1845


George Caleb Bingham was born on this day in 1811.

To the beautiful belongs an endless variety. It is seen not only in symmetry and elegance of form, in youth and health, but is often quite as fully apparent in decrepit old age. It is found in the cottage of the peasant as well as the palace of kings.

George Caleb Bingham

19 March 2017

Pärt, "Summa"

The Dublin Guitar Quartet performs ...

Need.


Beauty matters. It is not just a subjective thing but a universal need of human beings. If we ignore this need we find ourselves in a spiritual desert. There is a deep human need for beauty and if you ignore that need in architecture your buildings will not last. The skill of the true artist is to show the real in the light of the ideal and so transfigure it.

Roger Scruton

Ry Cooder, The Slide Man.

Allison de Groot, Bruce Molsky, & John Reischman, "Walk Along John to Kansas"

Lunchtime music ...

Full.


From Mario Batali's introduction to A Really Big Lunch ...

Our friendship moved from pen pals to real pals that night, and I knew I had finally shaken hands, shared abrazos fuertes, and broken bread with not only an eternal friend but a mentor, a spiritual leader, a confidant, and a man who shared my passion for all things above and beyond the world of food, and who wrote sentences that stretched beyond the wildest poetry of my imagination, resonating with stories of the friends and associates who eat well, drink Lambrusco and vin de pays as well as Bordeaux from the fifties and sixties, work hard, play hard, and experience the natural world in full.

CONNECT 

Become.


To be or to think that you have become everything that is ever going to be done in one particular place, is generally either a symptom of blindness, foolishness, or laziness.

Mario Batali

Dowland, "Can She Excuse My Wrongs"

Sting(s) perform with Edin Karamazov ...

Reversal.


There is no remedy against this reversal of the natural order. Man cannot escape from his own achievement. He cannot but adopt the conditions of his own life. No longer in a merely physical universe, man lives in a symbolic universe. Language, myth, art, and religion are parts of this universe. They are the varied threads which weave the symbolic net, the tangled web of human experience. All human progress in thought and experience refines and strengthens this net. No longer can man confront reality immediately; he cannot see it, as it were, face to face. Physical reality seems to recede in proportion as man's symbolic activity advances. Instead of dealing with the things themselves man is in a sense constantly conversing with himself.

He has so enveloped himself in linguistic forms, in artistic images, in mythical symbols or religious rites that he cannot see or know anything except by the interposition of this artificial medium. His situation is the same in the theoretical as in the practical sphere. Even here man does not live in a world of hard facts, or according to his immediate needs and desires. He lives rather in the midst of imaginary emotions, in hopes and fears, in illusions and disillusions, in his fantasies and dreams. “What disturbs and alarms man,” said Epictetus, “are not the things, but his opinions and fantasies about the things.”

Ernst Cassirer 

Domeniconi, Koyunbaba, Op.19

Edin Karamazov performs the Moderato ...

Journey.


POEM FOLDED into a BOAT and OFFERED to the BOGUE FALAYA

Where will words take me today
And where, silent waters, will you ship the words
From what troubles shall I be lifted
What will you show me
What do birds speak of in the wet grass
On this journey how many footsteps
How many crickets shall I scatter
If I crouch like this how long
Before a fox brushes past
How long since fog lifted its net
And released my soul to leap

Alison Pelegrin

Necessary.


The TESTING TREE

 1
              On my way home from school
                      up tribal Providence Hill
                               past the Academy ballpark
              where I could never hope to play
                      I scuffed in the drainage ditch
                               among the sodden seethe of leaves
              hunting for perfect stones
                      rolled out of glacial time
                               into my pitcher's hand;
              then sprinted lickety-
                      split on my magic Keds
                              from a crouching start,
              scarcely touching the ground
                      with my flying skin
                              as I poured it on
              for the prize of the mastery
                      over that stretch of road,
                             with no one no where to deny
              when I flung myself down
                      that on the given course
                              I was the world's fastest human.
                                  
2
              Around the bend
                     that tried to loop me home
                             dawdling came natural
              across a nettled field
                     riddled with rabbit-life
                            where the bees sank sugar-wells
              in the trunks of the maples
                     and a stringy old lilac
                            more than two stories tall
              blazing with mildew
                     remembered a door in the
                            long teeth of the woods.
              All of it happened slow:
                      brushing the stickseed off,
                            wading through jewelweed
              strangled by angel's hair,
                      spotting the print of the deer
                            and the red fox's scats.
                  Once I owned the key
                          to an umbrageous trail
                                thickened with mosses
                  where flickering presences
                          gave me right of passage
                                as I followed in the steps
                  of straight-backed Massassoit
                          soundlessly heel-and-toe
                                practicing my Indian walk.
                               
3
              Past the abandoned quarry
                     where the pale sun bobbed
                            in the sump of the granite,
              past copperhead ledge,
                     where the ferns gave foothold,
                            I walked, deliberate,
              on to the clearing,
                     with the stones in my pocket
                            changing to oracles
              and my coiled ear tuned
                      to the slightest leaf-stir.
                            I had kept my appointment.
              There I stood in the shadow,
                      at fifty measured paces,
                            of the inexhaustible oak,
              tyrant and target,
                      Jehovah of acorns,
                           watchtower of the thunders,
              that locked King Philip's War
                      in its annulated core
                           under the cut of my name.
              Father wherever you are
                      I have only three throws
                           bless my good right arm.
              In the haze of afternoon,
                     while the air flowed saffron,
                           I played my game for keeps --
              for love, for poetry,
                     and for eternal life --
                           after the trials of summer.
                              
4
              In the recurring dream
                     my mother stands
                           in her bridal gown
              under the burning lilac,
                     with Bernard Shaw and Bertie
                           Russell kissing her hands;
              the house behind her is in ruins;
                     she is wearing an owl's face
                           and makes barking noises.
              Her minatory finger points.
                     I pass through the cardboard doorway
                           askew in the field
              and peer down a well
                    where an albino walrus huffs.
                           He has the gentlest eyes.
              If the dirt keeps sifting in,
                    staining the water yellow,
                           why should I be blamed?
              Never try to explain.
                    That single Model A
                           sputtering up the grade
              unfurled a highway behind
                    where the tanks maneuver,
                          revolving their turrets.
              In a murderous time
                    the heart breaks and breaks
                          and lives by breaking.
              It is necessary to go
                    through dark and deeper dark
                          and not to turn.
              I am looking for the trail.
                    Where is my testing-tree?
                           Give me back my stones!
   
Stanley Kunitz

Happy birthday, Cano.

Cano, St. John's Vision of Jerusalem (detail), 1636


Alonso Cano was born on this day in 1601.

Thank you, Dr. Richardson.

Today.

2002.


"Far Side of the World"

Ramadan is over,
The new moon's shown her face,
I'm halfway round the planet,
In a most unlikely place. Following my song line
Past bamboo shacks and shops
Behind a jitney packed like sardines,
With bananas piled on top. 

I ran away from politics,
It's too bizarre at home.
Away I flew, tuned into Blue
"Maybe Amsterdam or Rome" 
Awakened by a stewardess,
With Spain somewhere below.
On the threshold of adventure,
God I do love this job so. 

So while I make my move
On the big board game
Up and down a Spanish highway,
Some things remain the same.
Girls meet boys
and the boys tease girls
I'm heading out this morning,
For the Far Side of the World. 

Oh, I believe in song lines
Obvious and not
I've ridden them like camels
To some most peculiar spots. 
They run across the oceans
Through mountains and saloons
And tonight out to the desert
Where I sit atop this dune. 

I was destined for this vantage point
Which is so far from the sea
I've lived it in the pages of Saint-Exupery 
From Paris to Tunisia
Casablanca to Dakar
I was riding long before I flew
Through the wind and sand and stars. 

Caravan
Ride that hump
And Timbuktu's a jillion bumps
Sleeping bags and battle flags
Are coiled and furled
That's the way you travel
To the far side of the world! 

A Sunset framed by lightening bolts
Burns a lasting memory
And a string of tiny twinkling lights
adorn the sausage tree.
While the embers from the log fire
Flicker, fly, and twirl
Then drift off toward the cosmos
From the Far Side of the World.

Well, it's Christmas and my birthday
and so to that extent
The Masai not the wise men
Are circling my tent.
I teach them how to play guitar
They show me how to dance
We have rum from the Caribbean
And Burgundy from France. 

New Year's Eve in Zanzibar
With Babu and his boys
High up on the rooftop
You can relish all the noise. 
They are dancing on the tables
People bouncing like gazelles
Two 0-0-1 is ushered in
With air raid horns and bells. 

Time to sing time to dance
Living out my second chance. 
Cobras and sleeping bags are coiled and curled
That's the way it happens
On the Far Side of the World. 

Back at home, it's afternoon
Six thousand miles away.
I will still be there when I get through
Attending this soiree 
There are jobs and chores and questions
And plates I need to twirl,
But tonight I'll take my chances,
On the Far Side of the World.
That's the way it happens
On the Far Side of the World.

Transcend.


Technical knowledge is not enough. One must transcend techniques so that art becomes an artless art, growing out of the unconscious.

Suzuki

Beethoven Mass in C major, Op. 86

The Vienna Boys Choir performs the Kyrie ...


Thanks, Mom and Dad.