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 February 2018

Chris Wall, "Better Things to Do"

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Happy birthday, Pepys.

Kneller, Samuel Pepys, 1689


Samuel Pepys was born on this day in 1633.

Fight the good fight; and always call to mind that it is not you who are mortal, but this body of ours. For your true being is not discerned by perceiving your physical appearance. But what a man's mind is, that is what he is not that individual human shape that we identify through our senses.

Samuel Pepys

Inquiry.

Reynolds, Self-portrait, 1748


The principal advantage of an academy is, that, besides furnishing able men to direct the student, it will be a repository for the great examples of the art.  These are the materials on which genius is to work, and without which the strongest intellect may be fruitlessly or deviously employed.  By studying these authentic models, that idea of excellence which is the result of the accumulated experience of past ages may be at once acquired, and the tardy and obstructed progress of our predecessors may teach us a shorter and easier way.  The student receives at one glance the principles which many artists have spent their whole lives in ascertaining; and, satisfied with their effect, is spared the painful investigation by which they come to be known and fixed.

This first degree of proficiency is, in painting, what grammar is in literature, a general preparation to whatever species of the art the student may afterwards choose for his more particular application.  The power of drawing, modelling, and using colours is very properly called the language of the art; and in this language, the honours you have just received prove you to have made no inconsiderable progress.

When the artist is once enabled to express himself with some degree of correctness, he must then endeavour to collect subjects for expression; to amass a stock of ideas, to be combined and varied as occasion may require.  He is now in the second period of study, in which his business is to learn all that has hitherto been known and done.  Having hitherto received instructions from a particular master, he is now to consider the art itself as his master.  He must extend his capacity to more sublime and general instructions.  Those perfections which lie scattered among various masters are now united in one general idea, which is henceforth to regulate his taste and enlarge his imagination.  With a variety of models thus before him, he will avoid that narrowness and poverty of conception which attends a bigoted admiration of a single master, and will cease to follow any favourite where he ceases to excel.  This period is, however, still a time of subjection and discipline.  Though the student will not resign himself blindly to any single authority when he may have the advantage of consulting many, he must still be afraid of trusting his own judgment, and of deviating into any track where he cannot find the footsteps of some former master.

The third and last period emancipates the student from subjection to any authority but what he shall himself judge to be supported by reason.  Confiding now in his own judgment, he will consider and separate those different principles to which different modes of beauty owe their original.  In the former period he sought only to know and combine excellence, wherever it was to be found, into one idea of perfection; in this he learns, what requires the most attentive survey and the subtle disquisition, to discriminate perfections that are incompatible with each other.

It is indisputably evident that a great part of every man’s life must be employed in collecting materials for the exercise of genius.  Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory.  Nothing can come of nothing.  He who has laid up no materials can produce no combinations.

To a young man just arrived in Italy, many of the present painters of that country are ready enough to obtrude their precepts, and to offer their own performances as examples of that perfection which they affect to recommend.  The modern, however, who recommends himself as a standard, may justly be suspected as ignorant of the true end, and unacquainted with the proper object of the art which he professes.  To follow such a guide will not only retard the student, but mislead him.

On whom, then, can he rely, or who shall show him the path that leads to excellence? The answer is obvious: Those great masters who have traveled the same road with success are the most likely to conduct others.  The works of those who have stood the test of ages have a claim to that respect and veneration to which no modern can pretend.  The duration and stability of their fame is sufficient to evince that it has not been suspended upon the slender thread of fashion and caprice, but bound to the human heart by every tie of sympathetic approbation. There is no danger of studying too much the works of those great men, but how they may be studied to advantage is an inquiry of great importance.

However the mechanic and ornamental arts may sacrifice to fashion, she must be entirely excluded from the art of painting; the painter must never mistake this capricious changeling for the genuine offspring of nature; he must divest himself of all prejudices in favour of his age or country; he must disregard all local and temporary ornaments, and look only on those general habits that are everywhere and always the same.  He addresses his works to the people of every country and every age; he calls upon posterity to be his spectators, and says with Zeuxis, In æternitatem pingo (Paint in Eternity).

Joshua Reynolds

Treasures.


On the following morning, the sun darted his beams from over the hills through the low lattice window. I rose at an early hour, and looked out between the branches of eglantine which overhung the casement. To my surprise Scott was already up and forth, seated on a fragment of stone, and chatting with the workmen employed on the new building. I had supposed, after the time he had wasted upon me yesterday, he would be closely occupied this morning, but he appeared like a man of leisure, who had nothing to do but bask in the sunshine and amuse himself.

I soon dressed myself and joined him. He talked about his proposed plans of Abbotsford; happy would it have been for him could he have contented himself with his delightful little vine-covered cottage, and the simple, yet hearty and hospitable style, in which he lived at the time of my visit. The great pile of Abbotsford, with the huge expense it entailed upon him, of servants, retainers, guests, and baronial style, was a drain upon his purse, a tax upon his exertions, and a weight upon his mind, that finally crushed him.

As yet, however, all was in embryo and perspective, and Scott pleased himself with picturing out his future residence, as he would one of the fanciful creations of his own romances. "It was one of his air castles," he said, "which he was reducing to solid stone and mortar." About the place were strewed various morsels from the ruins of Melrose Abbey, which were to be incorporated in his mansion. He had already constructed out of similar materials a kind of Gothic shrine over a spring, and had surmounted it by a small stone cross.

Among the relics from the Abbey which lay scattered before us, was a most quaint and antique little lion, either of red stone, or painted red, which hit my fancy. I forgot whose cognizance it was; but I shall never forget the delightful observations concerning old Melrose to which it accidentally gave rise. The Abbey was evidently a pile that called up all Scott's poetic and romantic feelings; and one to which he was enthusiastically attached by the most fanciful and delightful of his early associations. He spoke of it, I may say, with affection. "There is no telling," said he, "what treasures are hid in that glorious old pile. It is a famous place for antiquarian plunder; there are such rich bits of old time sculpture for the architect, and old time story for the poet. There is as rare picking in it as a Stilton cheese, and in the same taste—the mouldier the better."

Washington Irving, from "Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey"

22 February 2018

Communicate.


Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.

Carl Jung

Utopia, "Last of the New Wave Riders"

Heart.

Chatham, Approaching Storm, 1991


From a recent Russell Chatham interview done by Cowboys & Indians Magazine ...

C&I:  Back to the brush.  What do you want people to ultimately take from your paintings, including for the few who can take pride in owning one?

CHATHAM:  Excitement.  A rush or an energy that comes from something I've put my heart into without false motive or artifice.  When art is working, there's a certain joy that's conveyed.  Along with a feeling play -- the sense that what the artist was doing when he created this was having a helluva good time.  I think people are naturally attracted to that energy, often without really even knowing it, but that's what's making it work for them.

When it comes down to it, that's pretty much what it's always really about, right?  Something that's just it.

Tinariwen, "Sastanàqqàm"

Happy birthday, Washington.

Stuart, George Washington, 1796


George Washington was born on this day in 1732.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent -- it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

George Washington

Happy birthday, Lowell.

Merritt, James Russell Lowell, 1882


James Russell Lowell was born on this day in 1819.

Once to ev'ry man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
'Twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble,
When we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
And 'tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses
While the coward stands aside.
Till the multitude make virtue
Of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs,
Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv'ries ever
With the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties,
Ancient values test our youth;
They must upward still and onward,
Who would keep abreast of truth.

Tho' the cause of evil prosper,
Yet the truth alone is strong;
Tho' her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above His own.

James Russell Lowell

Promises.


DARK WATER

In the midnight Arctic Seas,
stained tropical rivers at dawn,
the Gulf Stream at noon,
where thin shafts of light
chisel down into blue black;
a small creek in the evening shade
beneath willows and sycamores;
in northern rivers,
where salmon lie
in deep veridian hollows.
It is always the dark water
which promises the most.

Russell Chatham

Happy birthday, Peale.

Peale, Self-portrait, 1828



Rembrandt Peale was born on this day in 1778.

Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in D major, RV 208, "Grosso Mogul"

Enrico Onofri performs with Il Giardino Armonico, under the direction of Giovanni Antonini ..

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

21 February 2018

Law.

Beyond.


I never tried to be anything other than a dreamer.   I never paid any attention to people who told me to go out and live.  I belonged always to whatever was far from me and to whatever I could never be.  Anything that was not mine, however base, always seemed to me to be full of poetry.  I only ever desired what was beyond my imaginings.

Fernando Passoa, from The Book of Disquiet

20 February 2018

Mozart, Violin Concerto No.5 in A major, K.219

Nikolaus Harnoncourt leads the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Gidon Kremer, fiddle ...

Happy birthday, Adams.

Adams, Moon and Clouds, Kern River Basin, Sierra Nevada, California, 1936



Ansel Adams was born on this day in 1902.

In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.

Ansel Adams

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

17 February 2018

Breeze.


The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

Rumi

15 February 2018

Dog.

Mukwa.


Mukwa ... bear medicine.

Otherworldly.

The otherworldly sounds of skating on thin ice ...

Lyle Lovett, "Pantry"

My dear, I have something to ask you
And I'll try to get it right
You've heard the Light Crust Doughboys
All sing of Martha White

Oh, the way to someone's heart, dear
That old expression's true
So as long as we're apart
Here's my request of you

Don’t cheat on me with cornbread
Don’t cheat on me with beans
And don't cheat on me with bacon
Cooked up in collard greens
And don't cheat on me with biscuits
With jelly sweet and blue
Keep it in that place
Where you know it will be true

Keep it in your pantry

Now, I hate that I am leaving
And leaving you behind
But soon I'll be returning
With a healthy appetite
Oh, and if you are not hungry
As you once were before
I'll know you have betrayed me
Behind that kitchen door

Keep it in your pantry

Now, I've dined the whole world over
I've had the fries of France
The melons of Verona
And the sausage of Gdansk
No matter where I've been to
From Houston down to Rome
Nothing's quite as tasty
As what's cooking right at home

Keep it in your pantry

Freedom.

Repin, What Freedom!, 1903

Happy birthday, Praetorius.


Michael Praetorius was born on this day in 1571

Unholy Rackett performs a dance suite from Praetorius' Terpsichore compendium ...

14 February 2018

Mozart, Oboe Quartet in F major, K.370/368b

The Swiss Camber Soloists perform ...

Sing.


The RIVER

Yes, we'll gather by the river,
the beautiful, the beautiful river.
They say it runs by the throne of God.
This is where God invented fish.
Wherever, but then God's throne is as wide
as the universe. If you're attentive you'll
see the throne's borders in the stars. We're on this side
and when you get to the other side we don't know
what will happen if anything. If nothing happens
we won't know it, I said once. Is that cynical?
No, nothing is nothing, not upsetting just
nothing. Then again maybe we'll be cast
at the speed of light through the universe
to God's throne. His hair is bounteous.
All the 5,000 birds on earth were created there.
The firstborn cranes, herons, hawks, at the back
so as not to frighten the little ones.
Even now they remember this divine habitat.
Shall we gather at the river, this beautiful river?
We'll sing with the warblers perched on his eyelashes.

Jim Harrison

Mozart, "Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio!" K. 418

Olga Zinovieva, soprano, Leo Duarte, oboe, perform with The Bach Orchestra of the Netherlands, conducted by Pieter Jan Leusink ...

This.

Jamey Johnson, "'Til the Rivers All Run Dry"

Still.

13 February 2018

Dennis Quaid, "Closer to You"

With Bonnie Raitt and the Neville Brothers ...

Buckwheat Zydeco, "On a Night Like This"

Rouler.

Excellent ...

Excellent albums ...

Happy birthday, Piazzetta.

Piazzetta, Christ Appears to Peter and Paul, 1728


Giovanni Battista Piazzetta was born on this day in 1682.

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Professor Longhair, "Tipitina"

With The Meters ...

Loaned.


The DEBTORS

They used to say we’re living on borrowed
time but even when young I wondered
who loaned it to us? In 1948 one grandpa
died stretched tight in a misty oxygen tent,
his four sons gathered, his papery hand
grasping mine. Only a week before, we were fishing.
Now the four sons have all run out of borrowed time
while I’m alive wondering whom I owe
for this indisputable gift of existence.
Of course time is running out. It always
has been a creek heading east, the freight
of water with its surprising heaviness
following the slant of the land, its destiny.
What is lovelier than a creek or riverine thicket?
Say it is an unknown benefactor who gave us
birds and Mozart, the mystery of trees and water
and all living things borrowing time.
Would I still love the creek if I lasted forever?

Jim Harrison

Today.

Pitchers and catchers report today!