AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

07 December 2016

Smashing.

McClelland, Sailor Smashing Identification Models of Japanese and German Aircraft, 1942

06 December 2016

Diana Krall, "East of the Sun (West of the Moon)"



Thank You, Jessica.

Mood.

Hall, Sunrise, undated


We’d lived in nice places before, but this was different, and the first time we listened to the loons wail like wolves through the night, we knew we were lifers. Everyone needs something in the landscape to orient by: a mountain, a garden, a lake. We took our cues from Number 10’s mood. Was it a swimming day? A sailing day? A day to simply watch the light play across the surface? We named every corner. Birch Point. Cedar Shore. Loon Lagoon. We discovered the log where the turtles like to sun, and the water lilies where the catfish gang hides out. When our son and his friends got bigger, we sent them to the rope swing on their own.

But mostly we swim. We like to say that we enjoy the lake in every season—there’s the occasional miraculous Christmas ice skate—but let’s face it: November through April is an acquired taste. Mostly we leave it to the ice fishermen, unmoving black specks on a grainy white scrim. For us, rebirth comes in April, when the ice breaks up and the loons come barreling in like overenthusiastic summer people. I don’t know how they get the word at their Atlantic winter quarters, but they arrive as soon as the first channels open. They don’t even have enough runway to take off again, though when the ice gets soft, my son and I launch our canoe and use it like an icebreaker to help them. They hang tough until late fall—the parents leaving first, the kid a few weeks later, just ahead of the ice.

Sting, "Soul Cake"

Happy birthday, Eisenstaedt.

Eisenstaedt, Lumberyard, Seattle, 1937


Alfred Eisenstaedt was born on this day in 1898.

Reverie.

Homer, The Trapper, 1870


In our childhood, reverie gave us freedom.  We still dream of liberty as we dreamed of it when we were children.  Those original solitudes leave indelible marks on certain souls.  Their entire life is sensitized for poetic reverie, for a reverie which knows the price of solitude.

Gaston Bachelard

Nectar.

Rousseau, Still Life with Oysters, 1787


THIS BE the OYSTER

This be the cup, brimming fathoms of nectar
This, the well that flows from forever

This be the saltcellar, trencher of tears,
and also the teardrop, stone-wept from ocean

This be the stone, lost among cairns,
and there, another, hidden in middens

This be the hull that casts off its seed—
thus grows the reef, encrusted with life—

This, ancient vessel, anchored to reef,
This be the ark where life resides

and this, tiny cradle, bearer of treasure,
This be the oyster, slow-rocked by tides.

Mary Elder Jacobsen

Grace.


You need to read Gaston Bachelard outside, slowly, with great patience. You need to be free to pick up a stone, feel the breeze on your face, enjoy the Sun’s warmth on your skin, hear the water tinkling at your feet. Read him—this subversive humanist, one critic says—in the library and you won’t get it; you’ll toss the book and run away. Read him in the fresh air of outdoors and his unique way of thinking will insinuate itself into the way you see the world and reawaken, even energize, something you probably didn’t know you had: an imagination with taproots in the unconscious reverie of substances. Read him at his pace and Bachelard will school you in the slow grace of true poetry.

Richard Leviton

Today.

1977.


"Running On Empty"

05 December 2016

Help.


Who will help the tree when all the kids who built forts in the woods are dead and the people who vote spent their little time outdoors only on the trail, hands jammed in pockets, leaving the woods untouched and unloved?

04 December 2016

Mushrooms.

Potter, Lepiota friesii, 1895


When you think of Beatrix Potter, you might think of one of her beloved creations: the gullible Jemima Puddleduck, impertinent Squirrel Nutkin or, of course, the foolhardy Peter Rabbit, risking it all in Mr McGregor’s garden for a few broad beans and radishes.

You’re probably less likely to think of mushrooms.

CONNECT

02 December 2016

Neil Young, "Cortez the Killer"

Merry.


Don’t trouble your head with sickly thinking: take a cup, and be merry.

Billy Squier, "Whadda Ya Want from Me?"

Happy Friday!

Still.

Curtis, The Vanishing Race, 1904


For all our talk about suppression of human rights in other countries, and despite a nostalgic sentimentality about the noble Red Man, the prejudice and persecution still continues. American hearts respond with emotion to Indian portraits by George Catlin and Edward Curtis, to such eloquent books as Black Elk Speaks and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, to modern films and television dramas in which the nineteenth-century Indian is portrayed as the tragic victim of Manifest Destiny; we honor his sun dances and thunderbirds in the names of our automobiles and our motels.
       
Our nostalgia comes easily, since those stirring peoples are safely in the past, and the abuse of their proud character, generosity, and fierce honesty – remarked upon by almost all the first Europeans to observe them – can be blamed upon our roughshod frontier forebears. The tribes who once owned this country were simply in the way of the white man’s progress, and so most of the Eastern tribes were removed to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), and the western tribes mostly banished or confined to arid wastes that no decent white man would want. By a great historical irony, many of these lands were situated on the dry crust of the Grants Mineral Belt, which extends from the lands of the Dene people in Saskatchewan to those of their close relatives, the Dine, or Navajo, in New Mexico and Arizona, and contains North America’s greatest energy resources. More than half of the continent’s uranium and much of its petroleum and coal lie beneath Indian land, and so the Indians are in the way again.  After 400 years of betrayals and excuses, Indians recognize the new fashion in racism, which is to pretend that the real Indians are all gone.

We have no wish to be confronted by these "half-breeds" of today, gone slack after a century of enforced dependence, poverty, bad food, alcohol, and despair, because to the degree that these people can be ignored, the shame of our nation can be ignored as well. Leonard Peltier’s experience reflects more than most of us wish to know about the realities of Indian existence in America; our magazines turn away from articles about the Indians of today, and most studies of Indian history and culture avoid mention of the 20th century. But the Indians are still amongst us.  “We are your shadows,” one man says and the qualities they were known for in their day so of glory still persist among many of these quiet people, of mixed ancestry as well as full-blood, who still abide in the echo of the Old Way.

Peter Matthiessen, from In the Spirit of Crazy Horse

Happy birthday, Callas.


Maria Callas was born on this day in 1923.

Performing "Una voce poco fa," from Rossini's, The Barber of Seville ...



Don't miss this.

Closely.


The birdcalls begin their praise.
And it's their right.  We listen closely.
(We behind masks, in costumes!)
What do they call? a little willfulness,

a little sadness, and such huge promise,

sawing away at the half-locked future.
And in between, healing in our hearing:
the beautiful silence that they break.

Rainer Maria Rilke


Painting by Jacob Collins.

01 December 2016

Protect.

Björk, "It's Oh So Quiet"



Thank you, Casey.

Shapes.


Nina Kraus explains how the neuroscience of sound, language, and music shapes human communication.

Universe.

Bach, Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248

Nikolaus Harnoncourt leads Concentus Musicus Wien ...

Cantatas 1-3


Cantatas 4-6

Security.


Nothing in England exercises a more delightful spell over my imagination than the lingerings of the holiday customs and rural games of former times. They recall the pictures my fancy used to draw in the May morning of life, when as yet I only knew the world through books, and believed it to be all that poets had painted it; and they bring with them the flavor of those honest days of yore, in which, perhaps with equal fallacy, I am apt to think the world was more homebred, social, and joyous than at present. I regret to say that they are daily growing more and more faint, being gradually worn away by time, but still more obliterated by modern fashion. They resemble those picturesque morsels of Gothic architecture which we see crumbling in various parts of the country, partly dilapidated by the waste of ages and partly lost in the additions and alterations of latter days. Poetry, however, clings with cherishing fondness about the rural game and holiday revel from which it has derived so many of its themes, as the ivy winds its rich foliage about the Gothic arch and mouldering tower, gratefully repaying their support by clasping together their tottering remains, and, as it were, embalming them in verdure. 

Of all the old festivals, however, that of Christmas awakens the strongest and most heartfelt associations. There is a tone of solemn and sacred feeling that blends with our conviviality and lifts the spirit to a state of hallowed and elevated enjoyment. The services of the Church about this season are extremely tender and inspiring. They dwell on the beautiful story of the origin of our faith and the pastoral scenes that accompanied its announcement. They gradually increase in fervor and pathos during the season of Advent, until they break forth in full jubilee on the morning that brought peace and good-will to men. I do not know a grander effect of music on the moral feelings than to hear the full choir and the pealing organ performing a Christmas anthem in a cathedral, and filling every part of the vast pile with triumphant harmony. 

It is a beautiful arrangement, also, derived from days of yore, that this festival, which commemorates the announcement of the religion of peace and love, has been made the season for gathering together of family connections, and drawing closer again those bands of kindred hearts which the cares and pleasures and sorrows of the world are continually operating to cast loose; of calling back the children of a family who have launched forth in life and wandered widely asunder, once more to assemble about the paternal hearth, that rallying-place of the affections, there to grow young and loving again among the endearing mementos of childhood.

There is something in the very season of the year that gives a charm to the festivity of Christmas. At other times we derive a great portion of our pleasures from the mere beauties of Nature. Our feelings sally forth and dissipate themselves over the sunny landscape, and we “live abroad and everywhere.” The song of the bird, the murmur of the stream, the breathing fragrance of spring, the soft voluptuousness of summer, the golden pomp of autumn, earth with its mantle of refreshing green, and heaven with it deep delicious blue and its cloudy magnificence,—all fill us with mute but exquisite delight, and we revel in the luxury of mere sensation. But in the depth of winter, when Nature lies despoiled of every charm and wrapped in her shroud of sheeted snow, we turn for our gratifications to moral sources. The dreariness and desolation of the landscape, the short gloomy days and darksome nights, while they circumscribe our wanderings, shut in our feelings also from rambling abroad, and make us more keenly disposed for the pleasure of the social circle. Our thoughts are more concentrated; our friendly sympathies more aroused. We feel more sensibly the charm of each other’s society, and are brought more closely together by dependence on each other for enjoyment. Heart calleth unto heart, and we draw our pleasures from the deep wells of loving-kindness which lie in the quiet recesses of our bosoms, and which, when resorted to, furnish forth the pure element of domestic felicity.

The pitchy gloom without makes the heart dilate on entering the room filled with the glow and warmth of the evening fire. The ruddy blaze diffuses an artificial summer and sunshine through the room, and lights up each countenance in a kindlier welcome. Where does the honest face of hospitality expand into a broader and more cordial smile, where is the shy glance of love more sweetly eloquent, than by the winter fireside? and as the hollow blast of wintry wind rushes through the hall, claps the distant door, whistles about the casement, and rumbles down the chimney, what can be more grateful than that feeling of sober and sheltered security with which we look round upon the comfortable chamber and the scene of domestic hilarity?

Washington Irving, "Christmas"

Today.

1975.


"Light Up," the perfect song for putting up Christmas lights ...

Home.

King's College Choir, "The Holly and The Ivy"

30 November 2016

Age-long.


I know now that the revelation is from the self, but from that age-long memoried self, that shapes the elaborate shell of the mollusk and the child in the womb, that teaches birds to make their nest; and that the genius is a crisis that joins that buried self for certain moments of our trivial daily mind.

W.B. Yeats

Protect.

Robin Williams, " A Tale of the Deeds of the Tuatha Dé Danann"

A bardic account of the two battles of Moytura, the sacred megalithic complex in Sligo. From the magical lore of ancient Ireland, this tale recounts conflicts of the ancestors at the dawn of the world. Stark, strange, beautiful, violent and hinting always at hidden truths, this of all ancient Celtic stories presents an insight into Druidic allegorical teachings.

Steve Winwood, "John Barleycorn Must Die"

Bow.

Wyeth, Wessaweskeag, 1962


RELUCTANCE

Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question "Whither?"

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

Robert Frost 

Happy birthday, Palladio.

Picart, Palladio, 1716


Andrea Palladio was born on this day in 1508.

Andrea Palladio: Through the Eyes of Contemporary Architects ...

Toh Shimazaki


David Chipperfield


Sir Richard McCormac


Roger Zogolovitch

Jim Malcolm, "The Wild Geese"

Possibilities.

Hall, The Poetry of Moving Water, undated



“Basically I take a lot of photos when I’m fishing or hiking,” Hall says. “I keep a fairly large file of possibilities and a smaller file marked, ‘YES.’ Typically, I’ll click onto an early morning or dusk photograph and usually it’s low light, or really foggy. I love walks in the hills during snowstorms. It eliminates all the extraneous stuff in the background. For me it’s a gift of possibilities. I also carry a sketchbook and take notes.”

CONNECT


Dave Hall's website is HERE.

Paddy Moloney, "Ar Eirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí"

Lucky.

Technique.

Vaughan Williams, Symphony No. 6 in E minor, "Pastoral"

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra performs under the direction of  Andrew Manze ...

Happy birthday, Twain.


Mark Twain was born on this day in 1835.

Be good and you will be lonesome.

Mark Twain.

Happy birthday, Churchill.


Winston Churchill was born on this day in 1874.

This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Winston Churchill

Churchill and The Cabinet War Rooms ...



Don't miss this.

Sting, "Englishman in New York"

Now.


don't wait for the man standing in the snow
to cut off his arm. help him now.


Ikkyu

29 November 2016

Look.


One short pause between
The leaky road here and
The never-leaking Way there:
If it rains, let it rain!
If it storms, let it storm!

A Crazy Cloud, out in the open,
Blown about madly, as wild as they come!
Who knows where this cloud will go, where the wind will still?
The sun rises from the eastern sea, and shines over the land.

Forests and fields, rocks and weeds - my true companions.
The wild ways of the Crazy Cloud will never change.
People think I'm mad but I don't care:
If I'm a demon here on earth, there is no need to fear the hereafter.

Every day, priests minutely examine the Dharma
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters sent by the wind and rain, the snow and moon.

Monks these days study hard in order to turn
A fine phrase and win fame as talented poets.
At Crazy Cloud's hut there is no such talent, but he serves up the taste of truth
As he boils rice in a wobbly old cauldron.

Bliss and sorrow, love and hate, light and shadow, hot and cold, joy and anger, self and other.
The enjoyment of poetic beauty may well lead to hell.
But look what we find strewn all along our Path:
Plum blossoms and peach flowers!

Ten days in this temple and my mind is reeling!
Between my legs the red thread stretches and stretches.
If you come some other day and ask for me,
Better look in a fish stall, a sake shop, or a brothel.

Returning to the City from the Mountains

Crazy Cloud blown by who knows what wild wind.
In the mountains by day, in the city by night.
I shout katsu and wield the staff when I see fit,
Even Rinzai and Tokusan would be no match for me.

Ikkyu

Mahler, Symphony No. 5

Daniel Barenboim vividly leads the Chicago Symphony ...

Unnoticed.


Three old hermits took the air
By a cold and desolate sea,
First was muttering a prayer,
Second rummaged for a flea;
On a windy stone, the third,
Giddy with his hundredth year,
Sang unnoticed like a bird:
'Though the Door of Death is near
And what waits behind the door,
Three times in a single day
I, though upright on the shore,
Fall asleep when I should pray.'
So the first, but now the second:
'We're but given what we have eamed
When all thoughts and deeds are reckoned,
So it's plain to be discerned
That the shades of holy men
Who have failed, being weak of will,
Pass the Door of Birth again,
And are plagued by crowds, until
They've the passion to escape.'
Moaned the other, 'They are thrown
Into some most fearful shape.'
But the second mocked his moan:
'They are not changed to anything,
Having loved God once, but maybe
To a poet or a king
Or a witty lovely lady.'
While he'd rummaged rags and hair,
Caught and cracked his flea, the third,
Giddy with his hundredth year,
Sang unnoticed like a bird.

W.B. Yeats

Horowitz.

Vladimir Horowitz in a 1987 program entitled Kalvierabend, featuring the works of Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and Liszt ...