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

18 December 2017


Thank you, Wrath of Gnon.


It may be that the greatest challenge facing those who love classical music in our modern age is the one facing those who do not also love Beauty. Those who reject the idea of Beauty, who deny its value, or who relegate it to meaninglessness – as in fact so many of today’s most vocal proponents of classical music emphatically do – are at a loss to explain what it is that music offers us. What makes it worth conserving? What gives it meaning or makes it relevant to our lives? If classical music is not about beauty, then what is it about?



Sir Roger Scruton's documentary, Why Beauty Matters ...


In the theater of the past that is constituted by memory, the stage setting maintains the characters in their dominant roles.   If we want to go beyond history, or even, while remaining in history, detach from our own history the always too contingent history of the persons who have encumbered it, we realize that the calendars of our lives can only be established in its imagery.

We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.

I was born in a country of brooks and rivers, in a corner of Champagne, called Le Vallage for the great number of its valleys. The most beautiful of its places for me was the hollow of a valley by the side of fresh water, in the shade of willows. My pleasure still is to follow the stream, to walk along its banks in the right direction, in the direction of the flowing water, the water that leads life towards the next village.  Dreaming beside the river, I gave my imagination to the water, the green, clear water, the water that makes the meadows green.  The stream doesn’t have to be ours; the water doesn’t have to be ours. The anonymous water knows all my secrets. And the same memory issues from every spring.

Gaston Bachelard

Happy birthday, Keith.

Keith Richards was born on this day in 1943.

"I Wanna Hold You"

15 December 2017


Come, bring with a noise,
My merry, merry boys,
The Christmas Log to the firing;
While my good Dame, she
Bids ye all be free;
And drink to your heart's desiring.

With the last year's brand
Light the new block, and
For good success in his spending,
On your Psaltries play,
That sweet luck may
Come while the log is a-tinding.

Drink now the strong beer,
Cut the white loaf here,
The while the meat is a-shredding;
For the rare mince-pie
And the plums stand by
To fill the paste that's a-kneading.

Robert Herrick


Chatham, Winter at Baker Springs, 2000

It was beginning winter.
An in-between time.
The landscape still partly brown:
The bones of weeds kept swinging in the wind,
Above the blue snow.
It was beginning winter.
The light moved slowly over the frozen field,
Over the dry seed-crowns,
The beautiful surviving bones
Swinging in the wind.
Light traveled over the wide field;
The weeds stopped swinging.
The wind moved, not alone,
Through the clear air, in the silence.

Theodore Roethke


Marco demonstrates the technique for finely chopping an onion ...

Jerry Jeff Walker, "Gettin' By"

John Inmon, guitar ...


The Kinks, "Father Christmas"

14 December 2017

A Charlie Brown Christmas.

King's College Choir, "In Dulci Jubilo"


An excellent album ...


Few places in the world still teach fine arts the old way, where form is everything, but the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts is one of them.  It’s the oldest art school in Russia and students from all over the world dream of studying within its ancient walls, they believe it’s a place that sets the gold standard in teaching classic art.

Thank you, Rachel.


An excellent album ...

I remember well the occasion of Kurt introducing me to this one ... homemade cookies and Winter Welcome

13 December 2017



Sometimes you never realize the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

Dr. Seuss


van Gogh, Self-portrait with Straw Hat, 1887

I feel what Pa and Ma instinctively think about me (I don’t say reasonably).  There’s a similar reluctance about taking me into the house as there would be about having a large, shaggy dog in the house. He’ll come into the room with wet paws — and then, he’s so shaggy. He’ll get in everyone’s way. And he barks so loudly.

In short — it’s a dirty animal.

Very well — but the animal has a human history and, although it’s a dog, a human soul, and one with finer feelings at that, able to feel what people think about him, which an ordinary dog can’t do.

And I, admitting that I am a sort of dog, accept them as they are.

Vincent van Gogh


"Your behaviors, you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed,” he said. “It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re going to give up, how much of your intellectual independence."


Thank you, Cultural Offering.


Blake, Self-portrait, 1802

Thank God I was never sent to school, 
To be Flog'd into following the Style of a Fool.

William Blake


We must beware of needless innovation, especially when guided by logic.

Winston Churchill

Alfred Brendel.

... performs the Haydn Sonata in E-flat major, Hob. XVI/49, L.59, and Mozart's Sonata No.14 in C minor, K.457 ...


I have a great need to learn what the norm is by dealing with what is not the norm ... with the grotesque and the fantastic.

Alfred Brendel


Robert Plot was born in December 1640 and baptized on 13 December, which many have quite reasonably taken to be his birthday. Plot lived a remarkable life, becoming first Keeper of the Ashmolean, Oxford’s first professor of Chemistry and the secretary of the Royal Society, and happily taking on the appellation of “the learned Dr. Plot.”

His book The Natural History of Oxford-shire of 1676, addressed to King Charles II, is almost as impressive as its author. Amongst its many noteworthy passages is the first known description of a dinosaur bone, though Plot did not know what exactly he was detailing.

Come we next to such as concern the Members of the Body: Amongst which, I have one dug out of a quarry in the Parish of Cornwell, and given me by the ingenious Sir Thomas Pennyston, that has exactly the Figure of the lowermost part of the Thigh-Bone of a Man or at least of some other Animal… 


This is so neat!  The digitized volume is HERE.


Scruton’s immediate problem, one that Americans face as well, is that much of England’s cultural, social, religious, and political history has been ignored or dismissed as irredeemably imperialist, racist, sexist, and intolerant. These politically incorrect sins, bred in the bone of the nation, could not be washed away, it was believed, but could be covered over by a new public teaching of egalitarianism, multiculturalism, and social justice. Such reeducation, Scruton says in England: An Elegy (2000) was already becoming evident in his own boyhood schooling in the late 1950s. He innately rebelled against it, desiring “to be reconciled with the thing that everyone denounced, which some called England, some Britain, some the ruling classes and most just ‘them.’” Such reconciliation is, he thinks, a way of reintroducing neighbors and fellow citizens to the shared “language, customs, territory, and common interest in defense . . . which enable people to call on the sacrifices that make communities durable.” Why do we have a culture of the rule of law? Look to the loyalties of place, home, and membership, and the expectations of respect that these forge, and there lie the origins of the legitimacy of law. When people know to whom they belong and to whom they are accountable, the social and political aspects of our personhood find their legitimate space for trust and devotion to a public thing.


12 December 2017


There is a word in Old English which belongs wholly to that civilization - "dustsceawung," meaning contemplation of dust. It is a true image of the Anglo-Saxon mind, or at least an echo of that consciousness which considered transcience and loss to be part of the human estate; it was a world in which life was uncertain and the principal diety was fate or destiny or "wyrd."

Peter Ackroyd



Curtis, Prayer to The Sun, Hopi, 1906

It is time to speak your Truth. Create your community, be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader. This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold onto the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its own destination. The Elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and rejoice.

Hopi Elder Proverb


The mind is the soul.

Peter Ackroyd


Mackintosh, Gilardia, 1914

Oh teach the mind t' aetherial heights to rise,
And view familiar, in its native skies,
Thy source of good; thy splendor to descry,
And on thy self, undazled, fix her eye.
Oh quicken this dull mass of mortal clay;
Shine through the soul, and drive its clouds away!
For thou art Light. In thee the righteous find
Calm rest, and soft serenity of mind;
Thee they regard alone; to thee they tend;
At once our great original and end,
At once our means, our end, our guide, our way,
Our utmost bound, and our eternal stay!

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

Platti, Sonata No. 1 in G minor

Konstanze Waidosch, cello, Bernhard Reichel, theorbo ...


Wretched men cringe before tyrants who have no power, the victims of their trivial hopes and fears. They do not realise that anger is hopeless, fear is pointless and desire all a delusion. He whose heart is fickle is not his own master, has thrown away his shield, deserted his post, and he forges the links of the chain that holds him.  Contemplate the extent and stability of the heavens, and then at last cease to admire worthless things.

It follows that those who have reason have freedom to will or not to will, although this freedom is not equal in all of them. Human souls are more free when they persevere in the contemplation of the mind of God, less free when they descend to the corporeal, and even less free when they are entirely imprisoned in earthly flesh and blood.

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

Happy birthday, Sinatra.

Frank Sinatra was born on this day in 1915.

"I've Got the World on a String"

11 December 2017

Happy birthday, Solzhenitsyn.

Cultural Offering remembers Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's birthday ...

In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn


A Christmas Carol.

From 1971 ...



I’ve decided to make up my mind
about nothing, to assume the water mask,
to finish my life disguised as a creek,
an eddy, joining at night the full,
sweet flow, to absorb the sky,
to swallow the heat and cold, the moon
and the stars, to swallow myself
in ceaseless flow.

Jim Harrison



In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Christina Rossetti


Star Walk is an interactive astronomy guide that shows celestial objects in the exact positions on the sky above you, providing detailed information about them. It helps anyone even remotely interested in astronomy find their way across the sky, determine where to look for any object, rewind or fast-forward time to see how celestial bodies move. It inspires curiosity about the universe and helps users understand amazing cosmic phenomena.

The best application out there.



I will read long books and the journals of dead writers. I will feel closer to them than I ever felt to people I used to know before I withdrew from the world. It will be sweet and cool this friendship of mine with dead poets, for I won’t have to touch them or answer their questions. They will talk to me and not expect me to answer. And I’ll get sleepy listening to their voices explain the mysteries to me. I’ll fall asleep with the book still in my fingers, and it will rain.

Tennessee Williams

Happy birthday, Harrison.

Jim Harrison was born on this day in 1937.

1. Eat well, of course, avoiding the ninny diets and mincing cuisines that demonize appetite and make unthinkable a tasty snack of hog jowls. We’re all going to die. Might as well enjoy a little fat along the way.

2. Pursue love and sex, no matter discrepancies of desire and age. Romance is worth the humbling. Doing it outdoors on stumps, in clearings and even swarmed by mosquitoes is particularly recommended.

3. Welcome animals, especially bears, ravens and wolves, into your waking and dream life. An acceptance of our common creaturedom is essential not just to the health of the planet but to our ordinary happiness. We are mere participants in natural cycles, not the kings of them.

4. Rather than lighting out for territory, we ought to try living in it.

5. And finally, love the detour. Take the longest route between two points, since the journey is the thing, a notion to which, contaminated by the Zen-fascist slogans of advertising (“just do it!”), we all pay lip service but few of us indulge.

Grab a bottle (forget the glass), toast Le Grand Ours, and watch ... HERE.


Alan Trammel has been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.



Henry of Huntingdon, from 1135 AD ...



Education [is] the conversation between generations.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Thank you, Kurt.

David Brooks' "Eulogy Virtues" ... HERE.


A excellent album ...