AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

30 November 2011

Silence.


The clocks are striking, calling to each other,
and one can see right to the edge of time ...

... beyond that there is silence.


- Rainer Maria Rilke, from "To Say Before Going To Sleep"

Stimulating.

They say I'm old-fashioned, and live in the past,
but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!


- Dr. Seuss

From the Waldorf School of Baltimore Mission Statement ... The Waldorf School of Baltimore educates children to think deeply, flexibly, and imaginatively. By bringing together the realm of thinking with the expressiveness of the arts, music, and movement, we foster the child's natural curiosity and sense of wonder while stimulating intellectual awareness. Within a protective and nurturing environment, teachers and staff work in partnership with parents to build a community in which each child's sense of responsibility and self-reliance unfold.

From NBC ...



Read more at Why Waldorf Works.

Thank you, Emily.

Bach, Partita for violin in B-flat minor

Viktoria Mullova performs ...

29 November 2011

Endless.


... the endless variation of the silhouette of a tree stripped bare and laid against the winter sky.

Fascination at Wanderations. Thanks, Jess.

Fulfill.


It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life -- daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

When we are no longer able to change a situation -- we are challenged to change ourselves.


- Viktor Frankel

Read the rest at iJourney.

Jethro Tull, "Dun Ringill"

A perfect song for an almost perfect, rainy November evening ...

In the wee hours I'll meet you
down by Dun Ringill
oh, and we'll watch the old gods play ...


Stank.


Today's windfall was a salame al tartufo from Creminelli, a Piedmontese salumi outfit that recently set up shop in Salt Lake City. Laced with the scent of black truffles, the sausage was earthy, animal, and — yes! — salty. I've been known to criticize the strangely persistent culinary trend of adding that often-overbearing truffle stank to any old dish and considering it improved. But this stuff was gorgeous. It made my afternoon. Perfection.

I highly recommend Saveur, Creminelli, and the stank.

Probe.


As an 8-year-old boy in Denmark, Bruno Frohlich wanted to be a musician. He became a church organist’s assistant, yearning to create the haunting sound that poured from the instrument’s pipes.

But Frohlich soon became more interested in how the organ worked; the church organist arrived one morning to find his young pupil taking apart the instrument with a screwdriver and a hammer.

Frohlich, 64, and now a research anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History, is still fascinated with musical instruments—though he has found a less destructive way to study them. In his laboratory sits a massive CT scanner, which is normally used to create three-dimensional images of human tissue. Frohlich uses it to probe the anatomy of the world’s greatest violins, including those made by Antonio Stradivari between 1677 and 1727.


Read the rest at Smithsonian Magazine.

Happy Birthday, Lewis.


Was joy created always to live under that threat? Always defenseless to those who would rather be miserable than have their self will be crossed? Can you really have thought that love and joy would always be at the mercy of frowns and sighs? The demand of the loveless; that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe; that til they consent to be happy-on their own terms- no one else shall taste joy; that theirs should be the final power; that Hell should be able to veto heaven?

- C.S. Lewis, who was born on this date in 1898

Drop.


Step up and take A View From the Ledge.

28 November 2011

Luís de Narváez, "Quatro diferencias sobre guárdame las vacas"

One of my musical heroes, Xavier Díaz-Latorre, plays some country music from the 16th century.

Head in the clouds.

Opgenhaffen, Swarming, 2001



Thanks, Veerle.

Uncurbed.

William Blake was born on this date in 1757.


Men are admitted into heaven not because they have curbed and governed their passions or have no passions, but because they have cultivated their understandings. The treasures of heaven are not negations of passion, but realities of intellect, from which all the passions emanate uncurbed in their eternal glory.

- William Blake

Happy Birthday, Lully.

French Baroque composer Jean-Baptiste Lully was born on this date in 1632.

Travel'd.


The man who never in his mind and thoughts travel'd to heaven is no artist.

- William Blake

Everything.


Thank you, Keri.

27 November 2011

Peace.

Klimt, Birch in a Forest, 1903


I have found peace because I have always been dissatisfied. My moments of depression and despair turn out to be renewals, new beginnings. If I were once to settle down and be satisfied with the surface of life, with its divisions and its cliches, it would be time to call in the undertaker... So, then, this dissatisfaction which sometimes used to worry me and has certainly, I know, worried others, has helped me in fact to move freely and even gaily with the stream of life.

- Thomas Merton

Looking.

The first step is everything, decisive. This is a complicated story. I don't quite understand myself. But I have an idea of what I want to say. I'm always looking for it. Sometimes it comes easily, sometimes it doesn't come at all. Every time I feel I have to start from scratch.

- Arvo Pärt

Arvo Pärt discusses creation ...



Arvo Pärt, "Für Alina"

Still.


Stardust is
the hardest thing
to hold out for.
You must
make of yourself
a perfect plane—
something still
upon which
something settles—
something like
sugar grains on
something like
metal, but with
none of the chill.
It’s hard to explain.


—Kay Ryan

Totally.


Seriousness is a kind of disease: it is the cancer of the soul. It is only through love and laughter and a tremendous joy in life that you start feeling the presence of something that is beyond. When life becomes an adventure, a dance of ecstasy, then only do you move beyond the confinement of the body and the mind and soar high towards the infinite. If you can love and if you can laugh, totally, wholeheartedly, your life will become such a bliss and a benediction, not only to yourself but to everyone else. You will be a blessing to the world.

- Osho

HAIL, YES!!!


This might sound arrogant, and if it is, it is. We’re Michigan. We have a global education. We’re the winningest program in the history of college football. We have a tremendous staff of guys. The lifeblood for all of us, no doubt, is the guys you bring in your program. We’ve really tried to focus on the guys that fit the mold of Michigan with the integrity and character that we want to have. We want guys who will play with a toughness, play with an accountability and on a team for each other.

Those guys out on the road, they work it and they do a tremendous job. But first and foremost, it’s Michigan.


- Brady Hoke

40-34.

Greatest.


A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the milennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citiziens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.

- Carl Sagan

24 November 2011

Goodness.

Brownscombe, The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, 1914


We set last spring some twenty acres of Indian corn, and sowed some six acres of barley and peas; and according to the manner of the Indians, we manured our ground with herrings, or rather shads, which we have in great abundance, and take with great ease at our doors. Our corn did prove well; and, God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed; but the sun parched them in the blossom.

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming among us, and among the rest their greatest king, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation, and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.


-Edward Winslow, in a letter written from Plymouth in 1621.

22 November 2011

Gratitude.


I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

- G.K. Chesterton

This evening I am grateful to be headed up to the North Woods ...

Chickenfoot, "Big Foot"

Don't you worry, it's gonna be alright
I'm in a hurry, I'm gonna drive all night
Be there in the morning, you can bet your @ss
I got both hands on the wheel, and my big foot on the gas


Tradition.


When I coached at Ohio State and even at Miami, we had really good facilities. When I got here, I was shocked. Our locker room was on the second floor of Yost Field House. We sat in rusty, folding chairs and hung our clothes on nails hammered into a two-by-four bolted into the wall. Those were our "lockers"! My coaches started complaining. "What the hell is this?" they said. "We had better stuff at Miami." I cut that off right away. "No, we didn't," I said. "See this chair? Fielding Yost sat in this chair. See this nail? Fielding Yost hung his hat on this nail. And you're telling me we had better stuff at Miami? No, men, we didn't. We have tradition here, Michigan tradition, and that's something no one else has!"

- Bo Schembechler, from Bo's Lasting Lessons

Decision-making.

If there was a decision-making framework that allowed a fighter pilot to make smart choices ,while flying at near supersonic speeds, and while being shot at, wouldn’t you want to put that to work ... ?


Read the rest at Idea Sandbox.

Yet.


Thank you, Karen.

Happy Birthday, Carmichael.

One the world's most under-rated and under-appreciated composers, Hoagy Carmichael, was born on this date in 1899.

Carmichael and Bacall from To Have and Have Not doing "Am I Blue"



Ever since I was a kid I have loved Hoagy's composition, "Stardust." It was one of the songs that fostered my love of Glenn Miller and a song that I remember playing over and over as dishes were being done ...



... but when I am eventually banished to that proverbial desert island, it'll be Willie's version of "Stardust" that makes the trip with me ...

21 November 2011

MVP


Justin Verlander is the American League’s Most Valuable Player -- the first starting pitcher to win the award in 25 years.

FoxSports.com baseball writer Jon Paul Morosi explained his vote for Verlander: "In the end, a position player is supposed to win the award except in cases of exceptional and historic years by a pitcher, and in my estimation, that is what Verlander had in 2011. It was one of the best pitching performances in multiple generations.

"What made him the MVP was the 16 wins after Tigers losses. According to Elias (Elias Sports Bureau), that was the most since Steve Carlton in ’72 (with the Phillies). That’s staggering. It’s been nearly 40 years since we saw a stopper like this. When you talk about value to the team and impact on the division race, it's him. One of my favorite statistics about his season is that on the day he began his 12-start winning streak, the Indians and Tigers were tied atop the division. By the time it ended, the Tigers already had clinched."


Read the rest at The Freep.

Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser, "Each Time I Go Outside"

Guanzhong, Pine by the Sea, 1976


Each time I go outside
the world is different.
This has happened all my life.

*

The clock stopped at 5:30
for three months.
Now it's always time to quit work,
have a drink, cook dinner.

*

"What I would do for wisdom,"
I cried out as a young man.
Evidently not much. Or so it seems.
Even on walks I follow the dog.

*

Old friend,
perhaps we work too hard
at being remembered.

George Winston, "Thanksgiving"

Open.


Shake out your qualms.
Shake up your dreams.
Deepen your roots.
Extend your branches.
Trust deep water
and head for the open,
even if your vision
shipwrecks you.
Quit your addiction
to sneer and complain.
Open a lookout.
Dance on a brink.
Run with your wildfire.
You are closer to glory
leaping an abyss
than upholstering a rut.
Not dawdling.
Not doubting.
Intrepid all the way
Walk toward clarity.
At every crossroad
Be prepared
to bump into wonder.


- James Broughton, from "Easter Exultet"

GO BLUE!

20 November 2011

Light.


I have admired Brian Ferry's transcendent blog, The Blue Hour, for quite a while. In a recent post he sings the praises of a restaurant which is at the top of my bucket list, Fergus Henderson's St. John. Brian's images provide a more than satisfying glimpse into marrow Nirvana.

I’ll miss tucking a loaf of brown sourdough into my bag for the week, and I’ll miss your friendly staff, your Welsh Rarebit, your seed cake & Madeira, your roast bone marrow & parsley salad, your cauliflower salad, your Negronis, your duck liver on toast, your bacon sandwiches, your custard doughnuts (especially your custard doughnuts), your wine list, your Eccles cake with Lancashire cheese, the light in your bar area in the afternoon, ...

Read the rest at The Blue Hour.

Mind.


Grand Marais

The wind came up so strongly at midnight
the cabin creaked in its joints and between
the logs, the tin roof hummed and shuttered
and in the woods you could hear the dead
trees called widow-makers falling
with staccato crashes, and by 3 a.m.
the thunderous roar of Lake Superior miles away.
My dog Rose comes from the sofa
where she invariably sleeps. Her face is close
to mine in the dark, a question on her breath.
Will the sun rise again? She gets on the bed trembling.
I wonder what the creature life is doing
without shelter? Rose is terribly frightened
of this lordly old bear I know who visits
the yard for the sunflower seeds I put out
for the birds. I placed my hand on his head one night
through the car window when I was drunk.
He doesn't give a shit about violent storms
knowing the light comes from his mind, not the sun.


- Jim Harrison

Head in the clouds.

Over Appleton.


It is the pleasure of the mind which searches into nature and there defines the spirit of which Nature herself is animated.

- Auguste Rodin

Absorbed.

O'Keeffe, Blanket, 1918


Whatsoever you are doing, be absorbed in it so utterly that the mind thinks nothing, is just there, is just a presence ... more and more totality will be coming.

- Osho

Within.


And still it is not enough to have memories. One must be able to forget them when they are many, and one must have the great patience to wait until they come again. For it is not yet the memories themselves. Not until they have turned to blood within us, to glance, to gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves -- not until then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Studies.

Wu Guanzhong, Birds and Branches, undated


... we see a man who is undoubtedly wise, philosophic and intelligent, who spends his time doing what?... He studies a single blade of grass.

- Vincent van Gogh

Observation.

The faculty of creating is never given to us all by itself. It always goes hand in hand with the gift of observation.

- Igor Stravinsky

Stravinsky conducts the "Lullabye Suite" from The Firebird. ...

Look.

O'Keeffe, Calla Lilly Turned Away, 1923


... really look at it, it's your world for a moment.

- Georgia O'Keeffe

19 November 2011

Decide.


"We've got to have a discussion as a group," Babcock said. "Do we want to be a good team or not? Like, life just doesn't go on good for you. You make a decision it's going to go good for you. You decide for yourself that you're going to be successful; you decide for yourself that you're going to make a difference; you decide for yourself that you're going to have a good career.

"No one just gives you stuff. Actually, the other team is trying, too. So we've got to make some decisions."


Read the rest of this sad, sad tale of turnovers at The Freep.

Liberty.


The old liberty tree in Boston was the largest of a grove of beautiful elms that stood in Hanover square at the corner of Orange and Essex streets. It received the name of liberty tree, from the association called the Sons of Liberty holding their meetings under it during the summer of 1765. The ground under it was called Liberty Hall. A pole fastened to its trunk rose far above its branching top, and when a red flag was thrown to the breeze the signal was understood by the people. Here the Sons of Liberty held many notable meetings, and placards and banners were often suspended from the limbs or affixed to the tree.

- George Henry Preble, from Our Flag

Saw a bird with a tear in his eye
Walking to New Orleans my oh my
Hey, now, Bird, wouldn't you rather die
Than walk this world when you're born to fly?

If I was the sun, I'd look for shade
If I was a bed, I would stay unmade
If I was a river, I'd run uphill
If you call me you know I will

Freedom
Liberty
Leave me alone
To find my own way home
To find my own way home

Say what I mean and I don't give a damn
I do believe and I am who I am
Hey now Mama come and take my hand
Whole lotta shakin' all over this land

If I was an eagle I'd dress like a duck
Crawl like a lizard and honk like a truck
If I get a notion I'll climb this tree
Chop it down and you can't stop me

Freedom
Liberty
Leave me alone
To find my own way home
To find my own way home

Went to the well but the water was dry
Dipped my bucket in the clear blue sky
Looked in the bottom and what did I see?
The whole damned world looking back at me

If I was a bottle, I'd spill for love
Sake of mercy, I'd kill for love
If I was a liar, I'd lie for love
Sake of my baby, I'd die for love

Freedom
Liberty
Leave me alone
To find my own way home
To find my own way home


- Robert Hunter

The Persuations, "Liberty"



We must all be foolish at times
It is one of the conditions of liberty


- Walt Whitman

Bulaj.

Bulag, An Afghan Woman, undated


... the most important thing is to follow the small illuminations that we have sometimes in our lives, that give us a kind of security that we are sure what we really want to do. We sometimes forget about it, or we are afraid to realize it.

- Monika Bulaj

Caravaggio with a camera.

Her site is here. Don't miss her essay, entitled "Auras."

17 November 2011

Happy Birthday, Foote.

Shelby Foote was born on this date in 1916.



INTERVIEWER

You talk about the gods and life imitating art. Is that alive in your cosmos?

FOOTE

Yes, I think that it prints things in your mind and clarifies them for you. It’s very useful in doing that. I think that’s one of history’s main jobs—to let men know what happened, before, so they won’t make the same mistake afterward. Also, the Romans believed history was intended to publicize, if you will, the lives of great men so that we would have something to emulate. That’ll do as one of the definitions. It’s really, really and truly, a search for truth. One of the greatest writers that ever lived is William Faulkner. And he’s praised for a great many things. But what Faulkner could really do better than any writer I know, with the exception of Shakespeare—like in music you say with the exception of Mozart—Faulkner could communicate sensations, the texture of things. He could tell you what this feels like [rubs his fingers on the tablecloth]—that particular cloth, the way it rubs on your fingertips. He could make you feel it by describing it. That’s our job. That’s what you have to do, as Conrad said so often. You have to communicate sensation, the belief in what life is, what it’s about, and you do it through learning how to handle a pen. That’s the reason why I have always felt comfortable with the pen in my hand and extremely uncomfortable having some piece of machinery between me and the paper—even a typewriter let alone a word computer, which just gives me the horrors.

Read the rest in his interview in Paris Review's "Art of Fiction" series.

16 November 2011

Uncertain.

Goldsworthy, Bamboo, undated


I think of knowledge as familiarity with facts or formulae; and understanding as the ability to apply the principles of knowledge to new conditions and circumstances. Creativity (I would never limit this term to the arts only) involves understanding and, paradoxically and simultaneously, not knowing; entering a process where ready answers are inadequate to the task, and where the resolution is at first uncertain. You can know a lot about something and be thought to be good at it, yet not know for sure where things are going to come out.

Read the rest here.

Again?


Thanks, Ann!

Pépin.

Chef Pépin discusses the kitchen, food, and, of course, wine ...

Raspbery souffle with Nat King Cole or Ella Fitzgerald ...

Clam Chowder with Frank Sinatra ...

Ham sandwich
(don't blow it, follow directions) with Yves Montand ...

Onion gratinée with Edith Piaf ...

Wine with Albinoni, Chopin, Liszt ...

... and occasionaly Dave Brubeck.




And, of course, more wine.

Thanks, WQXR.

Obey.


One of the classical big dogs, WQXR, has proclaimed November Beethoven Awareness Month.

Begin your awareness here and follow the links.

Restored.

I still prayed
That this night will convince us
And redeem some small thing
Far beyond me



... to drive down and look at the colors of the edge of the world, to tremble, and be restored.

Read the rest here.

Listen.

Thank you, Veerle.

Momentary.

Sloane, Blue Skies with a Touch of Clouds, 1941


Human beings cleave to the existing state of things. All their lives they are striving to hold the moment fast. Their art itself is nothing but the attempt to catch by all means the one particular moment, one light, the momentary beauty of one woman or one flower, and make it everlasting.

- Karen Blixen

Liberty.


The worst thing is not that the world is unfree, but that people have unlearned their liberty.

- Milan Kundera

15 November 2011

Unanimously.


Justin Verlander has won the American League Cy Young Award -- unanimously.

Read the rest at The Freep.

Relive all 24 victories here.

Interest.

Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1921


Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.

- Georgia O'Keeffe

Happy Birthday, O'Keeffe.

O'Keeffe, Dark Iris, 1927


Georgia O'Keeffe was born on this date in 1887.

I'm glad I want everything in the world – good and bad – bitter and sweet – I want it all. I have lived on a razor's edge. So what if you fall off - I'd rather be doing something I really wanted to do. I'd walk it again.

- Georgia O'Keeffe

Feel.


Oh! dreadful is the check - intense the agony -
When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb, the brain to think again;
The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.


- Emily Brontë

Cocteau Twins with Harold Budd, "The Ghost Has No Home"

14 November 2011

Behold.

Caravaggio, Ecce Homo, 1606


Yesterday I stood beside this painting ... 405 year old brushstrokes.

For the next few months, The Columbus Museum of Art is temporary home for a 400-year-old painting by Italian artist Caravaggio. The exhibit marks the first time a Caravaggio has been publicly displayed in Central Ohio.

Read the rest at wosu.org.

More information at The Columbus Museum of Art.

Thanks, Jess, Will, and Frazier. What a day.

"The Doors," "Reading Rainbow"

Take a look
It's in a book
A Reading Rainbow




Thanks, Johanna.

Possible.

Karr, Falling Leaves, 2011


As the cheering continued, Rhyme leaned forward and touched Milo gently on the shoulder.
"They're cheering for you," she said with a smile.
"But I could never have done it," he objected, "without everyone else's help."
"That may be true," said Reason gravely, "but you had the courage to try; and what you can do is often simply a matter of what you *will* do."
"That's why," said Azaz, "there was one very important thing about your quest that we couldn't discuss until you returned.
"I remember," said Milo eagerly. "Tell me now."
"It was impossible," said the king, looking at the Mathemagician.
"Completely impossible," said the Mathemagician, looking at the king.
"Do you mean----" said the bug, who suddenly felt a bit faint.
"Yes, indeed," they repeated together; "but if we'd told you then, you might not have gone---and, as you've discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible."
And for the remainder of the ride Milo didn't utter a sound.


- Norton Juster, from The Phantom Tollbooth

Thanks for the vital inspiration, Jess.

13 November 2011

Manuel de Falla, "Nana"

... like drinking salted water, you drink, and your thirst increases.

- Chinese Proverb

Reality.

Tanzio da Varallo, St. John, the Baptist, 1618


The reality of the other person lies not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says, but rather to what he does not say.

- Khalil Gibran

Sacredness.


There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief ... and unspeakable love.

- Washington Irving

Thank you, Karen.