Sunday, November 15, 2009

The soft rain that heals

The Wing Collector by ThisYearsGirl
Like her mother, in whom lay the motherhood of all the world, Mara put her arms around Lilith, and kissed her on the forehead. The fiery-cold misery went out of her eyes, and their fountains filled. She lifted, and bore her to her own bed in a corner of the room, laid her softly upon it, and closed her eyes with caressing hands.

Lilith lay and wept. The Lady of Sorrow went to the door and opened it.

Morn, with the Spring in her arms, waited outside. Softly they stole in at the opened door, with a gentle wind in the skirts of their garments. It flowed and flowed about Lilith, rippling the unknown, upwaking sea of her life eternal; rippling and to ripple it, until at length she who had been but as a weed cast on the dry sandy shore to wither, should know herself an inlet of the everlasting ocean, henceforth to flow into her for ever, and ebb no more. She answered the morning wind with reviving breath, and began to listen. For in the skirts of the wind had come the rain--the soft rain that heals the mown, the many-wounded grass--soothing it with the sweetness of all music, the hush that lives between music and silence. It bedewed the desert places around the cottage, and the sands of Lilith's heart heard it, and drank it in. When Mara returned to sit by her bed, her tears were flowing softer than the rain, and soon she was fast asleep.

~ George MacDonald, Lilith

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gregorio Allegri

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What's in a book?

“Now” - said a good book unto me -
“Open my pages and you shall see
Jewels of wisdom and treasures fine,
Gold and silver in every line,
And you may claim them if you but will
Open my pages and take your fill.

“Open my pages and run them o’er,
Take what you choose of my golden store.
Be you greedy, I shall not care -
All that you seize I shall gladly spare;
There is never a lock on my treasure doors,
Come - here are my jewels, make them yours!

“I am just a book on your mantel shelf,
But I can be part of your living self;
If only you’ll travel my pages through,
Then I will travel the world with you.
As two wines blended make better wine,
Blend your mind with these truths of mine.

“I’ll make you fitter to talk with men,
I’ll touch with silver the lines you pen,
I’ll lead you nearer the truth you seek,
I’ll strengthen you when your faith grows weak -
This place on your shelf is a prison cell,
Let me come into your mind to dwell!”

~ Edgar Guest, A Book

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cell animation

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Zoroaster in search of a Friend

To what land shall I flee, whither to flee?
From the nobles and from my peers I am cut off, nor do the people love me,
Nor the Liar rulers of the land.
How am I to please thee, Mazda Ahura?
I know wherefore, O Mazda, I have been unable to succeed.
Only a few herds are mine and I have but few people.
I cry unto thee, O Ahura, grant me the support a friend gives to a friend.

~ Zarathustra

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Princess and the Goblin

Illustrated by Arthur Hughes
I have said the Princess Irene was about eight years old when my story begins. And this is how it begins.

One very wet day, when the mountain was covered with mist which was constantly gathering itself together into raindrops, and pouring down on the roofs of the great old house, whence it fell in a fringe of water from the eaves all round about it, the princess could not of course go out. She got very tired, so tired that even her toys could no longer amuse her. You would wonder at that if I had time to describe to you one half of the toys she had. But then, you wouldn't have the toys themselves, and that makes all the difference: you can't get tired of a thing before you have it. It was a picture, though, worth seeing--the princess sitting in the nursery with the sky ceiling over her head, at a great table covered with her toys. If the artist would like to draw this, I should advise him not to meddle with the toys. I am afraid of attempting to describe them, and I think he had better not try to draw them. He had better not. He can do a thousand things I can't, but I don't think he could draw those toys. No man could better make the princess herself than he could, though--leaning with her back bowed into the back of the chair, her head hanging down, and her hands in her lap, very miserable as she would say herself, not even knowing what she would like, except it were to go out and get thoroughly wet, and catch a particularly nice cold, and have to go to bed and take gruel. The next moment after you see her sitting there, her nurse goes out of the room.

~ George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin

Monday, October 19, 2009

Santana & Friends

Sunday, October 18, 2009

18 October

Father of me, thou art my bliss secure.
Make of me, Maker, whatsoe'er thou wilt.
Let fancy's wings hang moulting, hope grow poor,
And doubt steam up from where a joy was spilt--
I lose no time to reason it plain and clear,
But fly to thee, my life's perfection dear:--
Not what I think, but what thou art, makes sure.

George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bullet Ballet

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Apples, flowers, music, lambs

Autumn landscape in Houyet by pol ledent
To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

~ John Keats

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The diary of a young girl

Wednesday, February 23, 1944

This morning, when I was sitting in front of the window and taking a long, deep look outside at God and nature, I was happy, just plain happy. . . . as long as people feel that kind of happiness within themselves, the joy of nature, health and much more besides, they'll always be able to recapture that happiness.

Riches, prestige, everything can be lost. But the happiness in your own heart can only be dimmed; it will always be there, as long as you live, to make you happy again.

Whenever you're feeling lonely and sad, try going to a loft on a beautiful day and looking outside. Not at the houses and the rooftops, but at the sky. As long as you can look fearlessly at the sky, you'll know that you're pure within and will find happiness once more.

Tuesday, April 11, 1944

Who has inflicted this on us? Who has set us apart from all the rest? Who has put us through such suffering? It's God who has made us the way we are, but it's also God who will lift us up again. In the eyes of the world, we're doomed, but if, after all the suffering, there are still Jews left, the Jewish people will be held up as an example. Who knows, maybe our religion will teach the world and all the people in it about goodness, and that's the reason, the only reason, we have to suffer. We can never be just Dutch, or just English, or whatever, we will always be Jews as well. And we'll have to keep on being Jews, but then, we'll want to be.

Be brave! Let's remember our duty and perform it without complaint. There will be a way out. God never deserted our people. Through the ages Jews have had to suffer, but through the ages they've gone on living, and the centuries of suffering have only made them stronger. The weak shall fall and the strong shall survive and not be defeated!

~ Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The blink of an eye

Looking in the eye of time by Marja Sterenborg
"Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye?" He paused again, his eyes misty now, then went on. "I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life.

~ Chaim Potok, The Chosen

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Long Day by Laura Garcelon
One token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling; it brings up in an instant everything that is past; it seizes the present with the avidity of lightning; it grasps after the future with the fierceness of a tiger; it moves the mind backward and forward, from one thing to another, until finally all enmity, malice and hatred, and past differences, misunderstandings and mismanagements are slain victorious at the feet of hope.

~ Joseph Smith

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Prayer

Worship V by Anthony Crudup
Not only in my summer let me sing
When Beauty storms my senses and my soul,
When mine is the mysterious and dark
Delight of one who feels the quivering
Tumultuous heart surrender utterly,
Idolatrous of that bright deity.
Let me not ever lose the moment when
I stand, transfigured, on the shining verge
Of dreams beyond all telling and I glimpse
The realm where earth and heaven subtly merge.
O God, when in my winter I shall walk
The quiet and the twilight ways along,
Let me feel still a breath upon my brow
And find in snow the silver seeds of song.

~ Adelaide Love

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra

Maria Schneider is from Windom, Mn.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shards of a Shattered Vessel

dreamland by roberto lorenzoni
Our purpose in life is spiritual transformation, and every encounter with a stranger is an opportunity to draw closer to that purpose. Every human being is a universe, and, like all universes, every person is still in the process of creation. When we come into someone's life, we enter an alternate world, and by entering it we change it. This is much more than just a philosophical concept or the premise for a science fiction novel. Right now, there are almost certainly hundreds of people within a few miles of you, and more likely there are thousands. Most of these people have no idea that you exist, yet each of them comprises an entire universe, just as you do. Each of them carries all of creation in their hearts and minds. When you cross paths with a stranger, a dimension comes into being, one in which both of you reside. Every interaction with a new person is an opportunity to transform both your life and theirs. This is an immense opportunity, if only we choose to recognize and take advantage of it. Every encounter with a stranger is a chance to start over.

~ Rav P.S. Berg, The Essential Zohar

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Travel by thought

Love by Naomi Skarzinski
Shakespeare, Sonnet XLIV

If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then, despite of space, I would be brought
From limits far remote, where thou dost stay.
No matter then although my foot did stand
Upon the farthest earth removed from thee;
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land,
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But, ah, thought kills me that I am not thought
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,
But that so much of earth and water wrought,
I must attend time's leisure with my moan.
Receiving naught by elements so slow,
But heavy tears, badges of either's woe.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Height and depth perception

Man by Michelangelo
Modern man has penetrated the self and found much that is shocking and unspeakably dark. By a Freud, a Niebuhr, a Heidegger, the viper within man has been widely heralded. But this, for all its professed depth, has been too shallow.

For deeper still, in and not just below all in man that needs healing and redeeming, are the remnants and rudiments of glory. As one uncovers that level he recognizes not one but two; not just his depths but his heights, not just himself but God.

~ Truman G. Madsen, Eternal Man

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais

Helen Morton of the Three Bugs Fringe Theatre company performs Ophelia drowning during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at the Apex Hotel swimming pool on August 11, 2009 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The play is inspired by Sir John Everett Millais' 1852 painting (top) entitled 'Ophelia', depicting the character from Shakespeare's play 'Hamlet'.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

At One O'clock in the Morning

heart of darkness by Paul Grand
Alone, at last! Not a sound to be heard but the rumbling of some belated and decrepit cabs. For a few hours we shall have silence, if not repose. At last the tyranny of the human face has disappeared, and I myself shall be the only cause of my sufferings. At last, then, I am allowed to refresh myself in a bath of darkness! First of all, a double turn of the lock. It seems to me that this twist of the key will increase my solitude and fortify the barricades which at this instant separate me from the world. Horrible life! Horrible town!

~ Charles Baudelaire

Monday, August 10, 2009

Prayers for Daily Living

Iguazu Falls National Park, Argentina by Javier Etcheverry
Great Spirit,
Whose voice
I hear in the wind;
Whose breath gives
life to the world.
Hear me.

I come to you as one of
your many children.
I am small and weak;
I need your strength and wisdom.
May I walk in your beauty?

(Thanks Clint)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Fault of It

Agua Through the Archway by Dave Wilson
Some may have blamed us that we cease to speak
Of things we spoke of in our verses early,
Saying: a lovely voice is such as such;
Saying: that lady's eyes were sad last week,
Wherein the world's whole joy is born and dies;
Saying: she hath this way or that, this much
Of grace, this way or that, this much
Of grace, this little misericorde;
Ask us no further word;
If we were proud, then proud to be so wise
Ask us no more of all the things ye heard;
We may not speak of them, they touch us nearly.

~ Ezra Pound

Friday, August 7, 2009

Nathanael West, 1903-1940

But the gray sky looked as if it had been rubbed with a soiled eraser. It held no angels, flaming crosses, olive-bearing doves, wheels within wheels. Only a newspaper struggled in the air like a kite with a broken spine.


He sat in the window thinking. Man has a tropism for order. Keys in one pocket, change in another. Mandolins are tuned G D A E. The physical world has a tropism for disorder, entropy. Man against Nature … the battle of the centuries. Keys yearn to mix with change. Mandolins strive to get out of tune. Every order has within it the germ of destruction. All order is doomed, yet the battle is worth while.

Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bill Evans

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years

Leave the Light On, Gage Opdenbrouw
I thought once how Theocritus had sung
Of the sweet years, the dear and wish'd-for years,
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
I saw, in gradual vision through my tears
The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years -
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was 'ware,
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair;
And a voice said in mastery, while I strove,
'Guess now who holds thee!' - 'Death,' I said. But there
The silver answer rang, 'Not Death, but Love.'

~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Vanity of words

Music of the Spheres by Elisha Miller
"Noise has one advantage. It drowns out words." And suddenly he realized that all his life he had done nothing but talk, write, lecture, connect sentences, search for formulations and amend them, so in the end no words were precise, their meanings were obliterated, their content lost, they turned into trash, chaff, dust, sand; prowling through his brain, tearing at his head, they were his insomnia, his illness. And what he yearned for at that moment, vaguely with all his might, was unbounded music, absolute sound, a pleasant and happy all-encompassing, over-powering, window-rattling din to engulf, once and for all, the pain, the futility, the vanity of words. Music was the negation of sentences, music was the anti-word! And lulled by that blissful imaginary uproar, he fell asleep.

~ Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Monday, August 3, 2009

Remembrance of things past

Last Memory by Joel Duggan

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste.
Then can I drown an eye unused to flow
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancelled woe,
And moan th' expense of many a vanished sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored, and sorrows end.

~ Shakespeare, Sonnet XXX

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Spite, resentment, horror


Hatred is wise beyond its years.
Hatred is intent, clever, and patient,

sophisticated and implacable.
When hatred enters the garden

it consumes every rose and cabbage,
every ear of corn, every hollyhock.

Hatred is diligent, it is cellular,
it is replicable. If we cut off

hatred's head, ten new murders
grow from the pod of its head.

And now abideth hatred, invidia,
and Schrecklichkeit, ripening black fruit

for the bounty of empire's orchard,
and the chiefest of these is hatred.

~ Donald Hall

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Garden of Symmetry

Hubble image of Galaxy Triplet ARP 274

The widespread success of science is too significant an issue to be treated as if it were a happy accident that we are free to enjoy without enquiring more deeply into why this is the case. Achieving scientific success is a special ability possessed by humankind, exercised in the kind of universe that we inhabit. I believe that a full understanding of this remarkable human capacity for scientific discovery ultimately requires the insight that our power in this respect is the gift of the universe's Creator who, in that ancient and powerful phrase, has made humanity in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Through the exercise of this gift, those working in fundamental physics are able to discern a world of deep and beautiful order - a universe shot through with signs of mind. I believe that it is indeed the Mind of that world's Creator that is perceived in this way. Science is possible because the universe is a divine creation.

~ John Polkinghorne, Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship

Friday, July 31, 2009

Learn by going. . .

Afternoon Shadows by Konnie Kim
The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

~ Theodore Roethke

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jan Garbarek

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The strength of water

River Awakening by Natham Eigenfeld
If you do not quarrel, no one one earth will be able to quarrel with you. . . Recompense injury with kindness. . . To those who are good I am good, and to those who are not good, I am also good; thus all get to be good. To those who are sincere I am sincere, and to those who are not sincere I am also sincere; and thus all get to be sincere. . . The softest thing in the world dashes against and overcomes the hardest. . . There is nothing in the world softer and weaker than water, and yet for attacking things that are firm and strong there is nothing that can take precedence of it.

~ Lao-tse

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Mother by Bob Burns
Ode VI

O Dark Lady the living never
see, who frightens us who are alive,
and you, Dark Lord of those who dwell
in the night that is forever,
hear our prayer: we wish the stranger well
and ask that he may arrive
without pain
on the vast plain
that holds all those below
where the waters of Styx flow,
and after the many troubles he has seen
may a just god exalt him and wash him clean.

And you who appear as a beast in Hades' lair,
the growling guardian there,
as our ancient legends say,
where strangers pass by but only one way,
may he have a gentle passage, free of danger,
O child of Earth and Tartaros, bless this stranger,
who comes to the dark plain of the dead. Keep
him well, I pray you, who are eternal sleep.

~ Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus

Monday, July 27, 2009

The bond of perfectness and peace

Path to Inner Peace by Karen H.
See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires. Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated. And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.

~ Doctrine and Covenants 88:123-125

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Now, and at the hour of my death

Violin at sunset by Jamie Marie
Daisy began to play Mendelssohn's On Wings of Song and they fell silent. Jehangir thought this time the music was more tender, pouring so sweetly out of the violin he could almost taste it. It reminded him of honey pouring from a spoon in delicate golden threads. When he had a sore throat, his mother mixed honey with lemon juice to make the throat smooth.

Daisy finished the piece, and they clapped again. She began putting the violin away. "Is that all?" said Nariman. "You can just as well practice here today."

"You don't want to listen to all my rubbish, Professor Vakeel."

He convinced her that he did. But her sheet music and stand were downstairs, so she played a few more pieces from memory, then returned the violin to its case, promising to come the next day if he really wanted.

"Promise me one more thing."


"Promise me that when I'm dying, you'll come to play for me."

Daisy said she was sure he had many years ahead of him.

"The number of years is not the issue. I want your violin to fill my ears when my breath is leaving me--whenever that may be. Is that a promise?"

He held out is hand to her. She hesitated, but was unable to refuse him. Her hand clasped his, to seal the pact: "Promise," she said.

~ Rohinton Mistry, Family Matters

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A little night music

Friday, July 24, 2009

Within the clay-cold hill

Dreaming Black White and Red by Tara Dev
To Emily Dickinson

You who desired so much--in vain to ask--
Yet fed you hunger like an endless task,
Dared dignify the labor, bless the quest--
Achieved that stillness ultimately best,

Being, of all, least sought for: Emily, hear!
O sweet, dead Silencer, most suddenly clear
When singing that Eternity possessed
And plundered momently in every breast;

--Truly no flower yet withers in your hand.
The harvest you descried and understand
Needs more than wit to gather, love to bind.
Some reconcilement of remotest mind--

Leaves Ormus rubyless, and Ophir chill.
Else tears heap all within one clay-cold hill.

~ Hart Crane

Thursday, July 23, 2009

When beauty is bone deep

Vanitas by Gage Opdenbrouw
Boris, in the meantime, had been looking at Athena, and had let a fantasy take hold of his mind. He thought that she must have a lovely, an exquisitely beautiful, skeleton. She would lie in the ground like a piece of matchless lace, a work of art in ivory, and in a hundred years might be dug up and turn the heads of old archeologists. Every bone was in place, as finely finished as a violin. Less frivolous than the traditional old libertine who in his thoughts undresses the women with whom he sups Boris liberated the maiden of her strong and fresh flesh together with her clothes, and imagined that he might be very happy with her, that he might even fall in love with her, could he have her in her beautiful bones alone. He fancied her thus, creating a sensation on horseback, or trailing her long dresses through the halls and galleries at Court, with the famous tiara of her family, now in Poland, upon her polished skull. Many human relations, he thought, would be infinitely easier it they could be carried out in the bones only.

~ Isak Dineson, Seven Gothic Tales

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What's for dinner?

Clear Turtle Soup
Turbot with Lobster Sauce
Haunch of Mutton
Sweetbreads after the mode of Villeroi
Grenadines of Veal
Roast Partridge
Queen Mab Pudding
Strawberry Ice

Amontillado 1858
Champagne Pfungst, 1889
Adriatic maraschino liqueur
Chateau d'Yquem

(From the menu of the Dictionary Dinner,
The Queen's College, Oxford,
12 October, 1897)

~ Simon Winchester, The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Monday, July 20, 2009

The shining shade

When most I wink then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected,
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou whose shadow shadows doth make bright -
How would thy shadow's form, form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made,
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

~ Shakespeare, Sonnet XLIII

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Jefferson Bible

But while this syllabus is meant to place the character of Jesus in its true and high light, as no impostor Himself, but a great Reformer of the Hebrew code of religion, it is not to be understood that I am with Him in all His doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance towards forgiveness of sin; I require counterpoise of good works to redeem it, etc., etc. It is the innocence of His character, the purity and sublimity of His moral precepts, the eloquence of His inculcations, the beauty of the apologues in which He conveys them, that I so much admire; sometimes, indeed, needing indulgence to eastern hyperbolism. My eulogies, too, may be founded on a postulate which all may not be ready to grant. Among the sayings and discourses imputed to Him by His biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same Being. I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore to Him the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of His disciples.

~ Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William Short, 13 April, 1820

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Vanity of vanities

Sun Ripe Corn by Derek Smith
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

~ Ecclesiastes 1:2-11, The Holy Bible: The Authorized King James Version

Friday, July 17, 2009

this nothing this heaven

RINGS OF TIME by Kat Busby
Just This

When I think of the patience I have had
back in the dark before I remember
or knew it was night until the light came
all at once at the speed it was born to
with all the time in the world to fly through
not concerned about ever arriving
and then the gathering of the first stars
unhurried in their flowering spaces
and far into the story the planets
cooling slowly and the ages of rain
then the seas starting to bear memory
the gaze of the first cell at its waking
how did this haste begin this little time
at any time this reading by lightning
scarcely a word this nothing this heaven

~ W. S. Merwin, The Shadow of Sirius

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"it's amazing what's down there"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A young child and her books

I learned from the age of two or three that any room in our house, at any time of day, was there to read in, or to be read to.

It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them--with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. Still illiterate, I was ready for them, committed to all the reading I could give them.

~ Eudora Welty: One Writer's Beginnings

Eudora Welty's Library, Jackson, Mississippi

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

To vanish, mad with light

Bring Me the Sunflower

Bring me the sunflower so I can transplant it
here in my own field burned by salt-spray,
so it can show all day to the blue reflection of the sky
the anxiety of its golden face.

Darker things yearn for a clarity,
bodies fade and exhaust themselves in a flood
of colors, as colors do in music. To vanish,
therefore, is the best of all good luck.

Bring me the plant that leads us
where blond transparencies rise up
and life evaporates like an essence;
bring me the sunflower sent mad with light.

~ Eugenio Montale

Monday, July 13, 2009


Charles Darwin and his son

While pregnant, Emma wrote a letter to Charles (though they were living together), worried that if he did not believe, he would not be saved; so if she died she would never see him again.

Darwin meanwhile was publishing his Journal of Researches, later known as Voyage of the Beagle.

'While I talk to you face to face I cannot say
exactly what I wish.' Her back aches all the time;
she never goes out. His friend's wife has died
in childbirth. 'You say you are uncertain
about Christian Revelation but your opinion
is still not formed.' He's told her his discoveries:

she'd love him to be right in everything. She's very afraid
he's not. 'Faith is beyond our comprehension,
not provable in the scientific way you like.
I believe you sincerely wish to learn the truth.
But there are dangers in giving up Revelation
and Christ's offer of eternal life. And in the sin--

I know you will have patience with your own
dear wife -- of ingratitude for His suffering,
casting off what has been done. For you,
for everyone. I do not wish an answer.
It is satisfaction for me just to write. My fear
is for the afterlife. I cannot say how happy

you make me in this one, nor how dearly I love you.
I thank you for all the affection, which makes
my happiness more and more each day.
But everything that concerns you concerns me.
I should be most unhappy if I thought
we would not belong to each other for eternity.'


Darwin left Emma's letter, with his message on it, for her to find after his death in 1882.

He kept her note all his life. He must have said
something then, but he wrote to her too
on the outer fold. (No one knows when.
He was maybe quite old. He wasn't blind
to where his thought led, what she thought
she'd lose.) 'When I am dead, know
I have kissed and cried over this many times.'

~ Ruth Padel, Darwin: A Life in Poems

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Third state of consciousness

Paradise Dawn by Charles Bergman
The human being has two states of consciousness:
one in this world, the other in the next. But there is
a third state between them, not unlike the world of
dreams, in which we are aware of both worlds, with
their sorrows and joys. When a person dies, it is only
the physical body that dies; that person lives on in a
nonphysical body, which carries the impressions of his
past life. It is these impressions that determine his next
life. In this intermediate state he makes and dissolves
impressions by the light of the Self.

In that third state of consciousness there are no
chariots, no horses drawing them or roads on which to
travel, but he makes up his own chariots, horses, and
roads. In that state there are no joys or pleasures, but
he makes up his own joys and pleasures. In that state
there are no lotus ponds, no lakes, and rivers, but he
makes up his own lotus ponds, lakes, and rivers. It is
he who makes up all these from the impressions of his
past or waking life.

~ The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Saturday, July 11, 2009

That high magic to low puns

Mad Scream by jean-louis bouzou
She remembered John Nefastis, talking about his Machine, and massive destructions of information. So when this mattress flared up around the sailor, in his Viking's funeral: the stored, coded years of uselessness, early death, self-harrowing, the sure decay of hope, the set of all men who had slept on it, whatever their lives had been, would truly cease to be, forever, when the mattress burned. She stared at it in wonder. It was as if she had just discovered the irreversible process. It astonished her to think that so much could be lost, even the quantity of hallucination belonging just to the sailor that the world would bear no further trace of. She knew, because she had held him, that he suffered DT's. Behind the initials was a metaphor, a delirium tremens, a trembling unfurrowing of the mind's plowshare. The saint whose water can light lamps, the clairvoyant whose lapse in recall is the breath of God, the true paranoid for whom all is organized in spheres joyful or threatening about the central pulse of himself, the dreamer whose puns probe ancient fetid shafts and tunnels of truth all act in the same special relevance to the word, or whatever it is the word is there, buffering, to protect us from. The act of metaphor then was a thrust at truth and a lie, depending where you were: inside, safe, or outside, lost. Oedipa did not know where she was. Trembling, unfurrowed, she slipped sidewise, screeching back across grooves of years, to hear again the earnest, high voice of her second or third collegiate love Ray Glozing bitching among "uhs" and the syncopated tonguing of a cavity, about his freshman calculus; "dt," God help this old tattooed man, meant also a time differential, a vanishingly small instant in which change had to be confronted at last for what it was, where it could no longer disguise itself as something innocuous like an average rate; where velocity dwelled in the projectile though the projectile be frozen in midflight, where death dwelled in the cell though the cell be looked in on at its most quick. She knew that the sailor had seen worlds no other man had seen if only because there was that high magic to low puns, because DT's must give access to dt's of spectra beyond the known sun, music made purely of Antarctic loneliness and fright. But nothing she knew of would preserve them, or him. She gave him goodbye, walked downstairs and then on, in the direction he'd told her.

~ Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

Friday, July 10, 2009

Photos from National Geographic

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dawn Upshaw

Bailero, folksong for voice & orchestra (Chants d'Auvergne, Series 1, No. 2)
Composed by Joseph Marie Canteloube
Performed by Lyon National Opera Orchestra
with Frederic Tardy, Jean-Michel Bertelli, Dawn Upshaw
Conducted by Kent Nagano

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006)

Mahfouz did not shrink from controversy outside of his work. As a consequence of his outspoken support for Sadat's Camp David peace treaty with Israel in 1978, his books were banned in many Arab countries until after he won the Nobel prize.

Like many Egyptian writers and intellectuals, Mahfouz was on an Islamic fundamentalist "death list". He defended Salman Rushdie after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini condemned Rushdie to death in 1989, but also criticized his Satanic Verses as "insulting" to Islam. Mahfouz believed in freedom of expression and although he did not personally agree with Rushdie's work, he did not believe that there should be a fatwa condemning him to death for it. He also condemned Khomeini for issuing the fatwa, for he did not believe that the Ayatollah was representing Islam.

In 1989, after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's fatwa calling for Salman Rushdie and his publishers to be killed, Mahfouz called Khomeini a terrorist. Shortly after Mahfouz joined 80 other intellectuals in declaring that "no blasphemy harms Islam and Muslims so much as the call for murdering a writer." The Rushdie incident also provoked fundamentalist Muslims to regret not having made an example of Mahfouz, one telling a journalist:

If only we had behaved in the proper Islamic manner with Naguib Mahfouz, we would not have been assailed by the appearance of Salman Rushdie. Had we killed Naguib Mahfouz, Salman Rushdie would not have appeared.

The appearance of The Satanic Verses brought back up the controversy surrounding Mahfouz's Children of Gebelawi. Death threats against Mahfouz followed, including one from the "blind sheikh," Egyptian theologian Omar Abdul-Rahman. Like Rushdie, Mahfouz was given police protection, but in 1994 Islamic extremists almost succeeded in assassinating the 82-year-old novelist by stabbing him in the neck outside his Cairo home. He survived, permanently affected by damage to nerves in his right hand. After the incident Mahfouz was unable to write for more than a few minutes a day and consequently produced fewer and fewer works. Subsequently, he lived under constant bodyguard protection. Finally, in the beginning of 2006, the novel was published in Egypt. . .

~ from Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Keep looking up

Monday, July 6, 2009

A river made of time and water

river of fog by Azem Ramadani
Ars Poetica

To gaze at the river made of time and water
And recall that time itself is another river,
To know we cease to be, just like the river,
And that our faces pass away, just like the water.

To feel that waking is another sleep
That dreams it does not sleep and that death,
Which our flesh dreads, is that very death
Of every night, which we call sleep.

To see in the day or in the year a symbol
of makind’s days and of his years,
To transform the outrage of the years
Into a music, a rumor and a symbol,

To see in death a sleep, and in the sunset
A sad gold, of such is poetry
Immortal and a pauper. For poetry
Returns like the dawn and the sunset.

At times in the afternoon a face
Looks at us from the depths of a mirror;
Art must be like that mirror
That reveals to us this face of ours.

They tell how Ulysses, glutted with wonders,
Wept with love to descry his Ithaca
Humble and green. Art is that Ithaca
Of green eternity, not of wonders.

It is also like an endless river
That passes and remains, a mirror for one same
Inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
And another, like an endless river.

~ Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Little Interlude

Foot Bridge by kathy libby
Amory wandered slowly up the avenue and thought of the night as inevitably his--the pageantry and carnival of rich dusk and dim streets . . . it seemed that he had closed the book of fading harmonies at last and stepped into the sensuous vibrant walks of life. Everywhere these countless lights, this promise of a night of streets and singing--he moved in a half-dream through the crowd as if expecting to meet Rosalind hurrying toward him with eager feet from every corner. . . . How the unforgettable faces of dusk would blend to her, the myriad footsteps, a thousand overtures, would blend to her footsteps; and there would be more drunkenness than wine in the softness of her eyes on his. Even his dreams now were faint violins drifting like summer sounds upon the summer air.

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Signers, July 4, 1776

Friday, July 3, 2009

July 3, 1883, Franz Kafka is born

Bokeh Melody by Khantipol Kasemsant
Logic may indeed be unshakeable, but it cannot withstand a man who is determined to live. Where was the judge he had never seen? Where was the High Court he had never reached? He raised his hands and spread out all his fingers. But the hands of one of the men closed round his throat, just as the other drove the knife deep into his heart and turned it twice.

~ Franz Kafka, The Trial

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Chambered Nautilus

is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sail the unshadowed main,–
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,–
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn;
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:–

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Chambered Nautilus

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Reading is long, life is short

Portrait of Marie Adelaide of France in Turkish Costume, 1753, by Jean-Etienne Liotard

A magic curtain, woven of legends, hung before the world. Cervantes sent Don Quixote journeying and tore through the curtain. The world opened before the knight errant in all the comical nakedness of its prose.

For it is by tearing through the curtain of pre-interpretation that Cervantes set the new art going; his destructive act echoes and extends to every novel worthy of the name; it is the identifying sign of the art of the novel.

~ Milan Kundera, The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The whatsoever things

Soft Flow of Light by Anne Vis
Be careful [afflicted] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

~ Philippians 4: 6-8, The Holy Bible, The Authorized King James Version

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pa Ingalls - Pioneer GeekDad?

Book Illustration by Garth Willaims
Somewhere along the line, some folks may have gotten the idea that Little House on the Prairie is “just for girls” and that the plot mostly involves Laura Ingalls running through the tall grass in a calico dress.

But I’m reading the book to my boys right now and there’s a lot more D.I.Y. than dresses.

Much of the book is about Pa building the house. This guy was a serious maker — to the point of being a little crazy: “A man doesn’t need nails to build a house or make a door.” Would it have been that hard to throw a box of nails in the Conestoga before heading West, Pa?

This is life before Home Depot. Basically, he’s got the few hand tools he brought on the wagon. No lumber, just trees. No bricks, just rocks. No cement, just mud. And so on and so on. And if he can’t get the project done before winter, it’s going to be one heck of a cold spell.

But Pa gets down to it. We hear in detail how he split logs into planks using a system of wood blocks, an axe and an iron wedge. We see the house go up log by notched log. And then the chimney stone by stone.

How do you make a door that locks without nails, a lock, a knob, a hinge or any other hardware? “First he hewed a short, thick piece of oak. From one side of this, in the middle, he cut a wide, deep notch. He pegged this stick to the inside of the door….”

I needed two cordless drills, two different power saws, a Workmate and a shopping spree in Lowe’s lumber aisle to build an Adirondack chair this weekend, and this guy is hewing, whittling and pegging a whole house. Then he makes the furniture and digs a well. Luckily, he finally got some nails to put the roof on.

This book is a must read for all kids, especially future Makers of either sex.

Book Illustration by Garth Williams
From here

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