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

31 January 2018


Yeoman, Dorset Coast Moonrise, n/d


There are certain half-dreaming moods of mind in which we naturally steal away from noise and glare, and seek some quiet haunt where we may indulge our reveries and build our air castles undisturbed.

Washington Irving, from "The Mutability of Literature"

Orkestra Obsolete, "Blue Monday"


Happy birthday, Merton.

Thomas Merton was born on this day in 1915.

We must begin by frankly admitting that the first place in which to go looking for the world is not outside us but in ourselves. We are the world. In the deepest ground of our being we remain in metaphysical contact with the whole of that creation in which we are only small parts. Through our senses and our minds, our loves, needs, and desires, we are implicated, without possibility of evasion, in this world of matter and of men, of things and of persons, which not only affect us and change our lives but are also affected and changed by us. The question, then, is not to speculate about how we are to contact the world – as if we were somehow in outer space – but how to validate our relationship, give it a fully honest and human significance, and make it truly productive and worthwhile for our world.

Thomas Merton

A short documentary on Merton's Hermitage is HERE.


President Trump recognizes Staff Sergeant Justin Peck, an Army Medic, who responded to the critical injury of Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy.
“Staff Sergeant Justin Peck has served in the United States Army for eight years. In November 2017, he was part of a team, along with Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, that was conducting a multi-day mission with partner forces in Raqqa, Syria to clear IEDs from territory previously controlled by ISIS. After the team had located and disarmed seven IEDs, Chief Petty Officer Stacy was clearing the second floor of a hospital building when he was struck by an IED blast and severely wounded. Without hesitation, Staff Sergeant Peck, who was holding a position outside the building, rushed to Stacy’s location on the uncleared, IED-ridden second floor. Staff Sergeant Peck’s actions – including applying a tourniquet, placing an endotracheal tube, and performing artificial respirations and CPR – were directly responsible for saving Chief Petty Officer Stacy’s life.”

Thank you, Kurt. We are indeed blessed to be protected by The Best of The Best.

30 January 2018


The Blue Moon – second of two full moons in one calendar month – will pass through the Earth’s shadow on January 31, 2018, to give us a total lunar eclipse. Totality, when the moon will be entirely inside the Earth’s dark umbral shadow, will last a bit more than one-and-a-quarter hours. The January 31 full moon is also the third in a series of three straight full moon supermoons – that is, super-close full moons. It’s the first of two Blue Moons in 2018. So it’s not just a total lunar eclipse, or a Blue Moon, or a supermoon. It’s all three … a super Blue Moon total eclipse!

My heading will be 292° at 0738 tomorrow morning. How 'bout you?

Paul Weller, "Long Long Road"

Robert Plant, "Going to California"


Gardner, Little Coyote, Fort Laramie, 1868

The dog soldiers were the elite military organizations in the tribe. They were the last line of defense for the people. And so they were greatly esteemed. The warriors in the society were outfitted with a particular sash, which trailed the ground. And each member carried a sacred arrow. And in time of battle, the dog soldier would impale the sash to the ground and stand the ground to the death. They had a song which only the members could sing, and only in the face of death. So you can imagine that children, when they saw a dog soldier go by, must have just -- Ahhh, wow! Look at that guy, he's a dog soldier!

N. Scott Momaday


When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!

Miguel Cervantes

Telemann, Don Quixote Ouverture-Suite, TWV 55:G10

Tbilisi State Chamber Orchestra, "Georgian Sinfonietta," puts on their scarves and performs the Overture under the direction of Christoph Mayer. Gioergi Kuzanashvili, theorbo ...

That theorbo sounds neat.


Allow your judgments their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened. Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.

In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn’t matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything!

Rainer Maria Rilke

25 January 2018

Ziggy Marley, "Black Cat"


Curtis, Winter, Apsaroke, 1908

Colin Hay, "Circles Erratica"

Billy Squier, "You Should Be High Love"

INXS, "Love Is (What I Say)"

Happy birthday, Burns.

Nasmyth, Robert Burns, 1789

Robert Burns was born on this day 1759.

One night as I did wander,
When corn begins to shoot,
I sat me down to ponder
Upon an auld tree root;
Auld Ayr ran by before me,
And bicker'd to the seas;
A cushat crooded o'er me,
That echoed through the braes.

Robert Burns

Happy birthday, Chelios.

Chris Chelios was born on this day in 1962.

24 January 2018


Google Arts & Culture has an outstanding exhibition on The Polish Military Resistance Movement at Auschwitz ... HERE.


Berry, The Pathfinder, 1943

Without geography, you're nowhere.

Jimmy Buffett


Neither a lofty degree of intelligence or creativity nor both go to the making of genius.  Only love can do that.  Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart



An excellent book ...


Vanbrugh, Temple of the Four Winds, Castle Howard, York, 1724

To seek the timeless way we must first know the quality without a name.

There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit ...

... in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness.

This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named.

Christopher Alexander

23 January 2018


Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours.

Herman Hesse

Chopin, Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21

Arthur Rubinstein performs with the London Symphony Orchestra, André Previn, conducting ...


Turner, Mountain Study: A View of North Wales, 1799

To hunt birds' nests on summer morns,
So far my leisure seemed to run,
I've paused to wonder where I'd got
And thought I'd got beyond the sun;
It seemed to rise another way,
The very world's end seemed as near;
Some strange bush pointed where it lay,
So back I turned for very fear
With eager haste and wonder-struck,
Pursued as by a dreaded spell,
Till home—Oh, could I write a book,
I thought, what wonders I could tell!
And when again I left the town
To the world's end I thought I'd go
And o'er the brink just peep adown
To see the mighty depths below.

John Clare


Turner, Staffa, Fingal's Cave, 1832

You are that vast thing that you see far, far off with great telescopes.

Alan Watts



Turner, On Lake Lucerne Looking Toward Fluelen, 1843

One summer evening (led by her) I found
A little boat tied to a willow tree
Within a rocky cove, its usual home.
Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in
Pushed from the shore. It was an act of stealth
And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice
Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on;
Leaving behind her still, on either side,
Small circles glittering idly in the moon,
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light. But now, like one who rows,
Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point
With an unswerving line, I fixed my view
Upon the summit of a craggy ridge,
The horizon's utmost boundary; far above
Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.
She was an elfin pinnace; lustily
I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
Went heaving through the water like a swan;
When, from behind that craggy steep till then
The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
As if with voluntary power instinct,
Upreared its head. I struck and struck again,
And growing still in stature the grim shape
Towered up between me and the stars, and still,
For so it seemed, with purpose of its own
And measured motion like a living thing,
Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned,
And through the silent water stole my way
Back to the covert of the willow tree;
There in her mooring-place I left my bark, -
And through the meadows homeward went, in grave
And serious mood; but after I had seen
That spectacle, for many days, my brain
Worked with a dim and undetermined sense
Of unknown modes of being; o'er my thoughts
There hung a darkness, call it solitude
Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes
Remained, no pleasant images of trees,
Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields;
But huge and mighty forms, that do not live
Like living men, moved slowly through the mind
By day, and were a trouble to my dreams.

William Wordsworth


Your group identity is not your cardinal feature. That’s the great discovery of the west. That’s why the west is right. And I mean that unconditionally. The west is the only place in the world that has ever figured out that the individual is sovereign. And that’s an impossible thing to figure out. It’s amazing that we managed it. And it’s the key to everything that we’ve ever done right.

Jordan Peterson

Cultural Offering points to a recent exchange between two individuals ...


The danger of tests and league tables and so on is that they demand clear, unequivocal, one-dimensional results. In order to give the sort of result that can be tabulated and measured, they force every kind of response to a piece of writing through a sort of coarse-grained mesh so that it comes out black or white, on or off, yes or no, this or that. In a multiple-choice test there’s no provision to say both, or all of them sometimes but mostly this, or this today but that yesterday and who knows what tomorrow, and not at all something else quite different from any of these, and certainly not ever I love this. It made my heart turn over, I was so happy when I read it.

Here’s the truth about how children respond to literature. It comes from a book by a great teacher and storyteller called Marie L. Shedlock. She said this:
My experience, in the first place, has taught me that a child very seldom gives out any account of a deep impression made upon him: it is too sacred and personal. But he very soon learns to know what is expected of him, and he keeps a set of stock sentences which he has found out are acceptable to the teacher. How can we possibly gauge the deep effects of a story this way? Then again, why are we in such a hurry to find out what effects have been produced by our stories? Does it matter whether we know today or tomorrow how much a child has understood? For my part, so sure do I feel of the effect that I am willing to wait indefinitely.
Incidentally, that doesn’t come from the 1960s; it was from a book called The Art of the Storyteller, published in 1915.

There is no human purpose in this incessant, frenzied testing at all. The children who are supposed to be at the heart of the educational process are turned into little twitching cells of response, like the nerve in the leg of Galvani’s famous frog. That’s all they have to do: to twitch or kick appropriately. Nothing else matters. The depth of their lives, the richness and complexity of their emotions, the trouble and difficulty, the love and the hope and the fear and the exhilaration and the joy of being alive and conscious, all that is irrelevant. It’s cut off and thrown away. All we want is the little kicking twitching frog’s leg. If enough of them kick this box, then the school will go up in the league tables, to universal applause – what a good school! What dedicated teachers! What a wise and far-seeing education system we have! If too many little twitching frogs’ legs kick that box, then the school will go down, to universal condemnation: useless teachers; feeble leadership; name them and shame them.

Testing and league tables are a coarse way of dealing with learning, but they’re not only coarse; they’re a stupid way of assessing human achievement, but they’re not only stupid; they’re a cruel way of dealing with children, but they’re not only cruel. You can be coarse and stupid and cruel carelessly, ignorantly, without realising what you’re doing, and when it’s pointed out you can see your mistake, and do things in a better way. But there’s a willed quality to this. Plenty of clever and well-qualified people have sat down and worked this out deliberately. Plenty of commentators in the press have jeered at those who criticise it. Plenty of ignorant politicians have hitched their opportunistic wagons to tests and SATs and league tables, aware of nothing but the way things were going, and eager to be going in the same direction, leading from behind as usual. All of those people wanted things to be like this.

And meanwhile, they miss what is going on when a child writes a story.

Philip Pullman


D-wight Lightnin', "What I Don't Know"

Stuart Duncan, fiddle ...

Led Zeppelin, "Carouselambra"



Happy birthday, Manet.

Manet, Oysters, 1863

Édouard Manet was born on this day in 1832.

When you've got it, you've got it. When you haven't, you begin again. All the rest is humbug.

Édouard Manet


22 January 2018


Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—

And I love the rain.

Langston Hughes


The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.

James Baldwin

Happy birthday, Byron.

Westall, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, 1813

Lord George Gordon Byron was born on this day in 1788.

A song.

Fill the goblet again ! for I never before
Felt the glow which now gladdens my heart to its core;
Let us drink !  ---  who would not ?  ---  since, through life's varied round,
In the goblet alone no deception is found.
I have tried in its turn all that life can supply;
I have bask'd in the beam of a dark rolling eye;
I have loved !  ---  who has not ?  ---   but what heart can declare
That pleasure existed while passion was there?
In the days of my youth, when the heart's in its spring,
And dreams that affection can never take wing,
I had friends !  ---  who has not ?   ---  but what tongue will avow,
That friends, rosy wine! Are so faithful as thou?
The heart of a mistress some boy may estrange,
Friendship shifts with the sunbeam --- thou never canst change;
Thou grow'st old --- who does not ?  ---  but on earth what appears,
Whose virtues, like thine, still increase with its years?
Yet if blest to the utmost that love can bestow,
Should a rival bow down to our idol below,
We are jealous !  ---  who's not ?  ---  thou hast no such alloy;
For the more that enjoy thee, the more we enjoy.
Then the season of youth and its vanities past,
For refuge we fly to the goblet at last;
There we find --- do we not ? --- in the flow of the soul,
That truth, as of yore, is confined to the bowl.
When the box of Pandora was opened on earth,
And Misery's triumph commenced over Mirth,
Hope was left, --- was she not ? --- but the goblet we kiss,
And care not for Hope, who are certain of bliss.
Long life to the grape!  for when summer is flown.
The age of our nectar shall gladden our own:
We must die --- who shall not ?  ---  May our sins be forgiven,
And Hebe shall never be idle in heaven.

Lord Byron