Sunday, May 31, 2009

Grace to you

Soft Wind by Dragan Todorovic
Keep up prayer from the declining of the sun till the darkness of the night and the morning recitation; surely the morning recitation is witnessed.
And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory.
And say: My Lord! make me to enter a goodly entering, and cause me to go forth a goodly going forth, and grant me from near Thee power to assist (me).
And say: The truth has come and the falsehood has vanished; surely falsehood is a vanishing (thing).

And they ask you about the soul. Say: The soul is one of the commands of my Lord, and you are not given aught of knowledge but a little.
And if We please, We should certainly take away that which We have revealed to you, then you would not find for it any protector against Us.
But on account of mercy from your Lord-- surely His grace to you is abundant.

~ The Holy Qur'an

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Baudolino tries his hand at writing

Rattisbon Anno Dommini Domini mense decembri mclv Cronicle of Baudolino of the fammily of Aulario.

I Baudolino son of Galiaudo Gagliaudo of the Aulari with a head that looks like a lion halleluia gratias to the Allmighty may he forgive me

ego habeo facto the greatest stealing of my life, I mean from the cabbinet of the Bishop Oto I have stollen many pages that may belong to the Immperial Chancellor and I have scraped clean almost all of them excepting where the writing would not come off et now I have much parchmint to write down what I want which is my own story even if I don't know to write Latin.

if they find out the pages are gone God knows the Hell they will raze et may be theyll think it was some spy of the Roman bishops who hate the Emperer Fredericus

but may be nobody cares in the chancellery they write and write even when theres no need and whoever finds them (these pages) can shove them up his...wont do anything about them

ncipit prologus de duabus civilitatibus historiae AD mcxliii conscript saepe multumque volvendo mecum de rerum temporalium motu ancipitq

these lines were allready here before and I couldnt scratch them away so I leave them

if they find these pages now Ive writen on them not even a chancelor will understand them because this lingua here is what they talk at la Frescheta but noboddy knows to write it down but even if its a langwadge noboddy understands they can tell right away its me because everyboddy says we Frescheta people talk a lingua no Kristian ever heard so I have to hide these pages well

Jesu writing is hard work all my fingers ake allready

~ Umberto Eco, Baudolino

Friday, May 29, 2009

Amazing digital photography

Having A Quiet Snooze by David Meredith, UK, who says: "Taken in Southwold, Suffolk. I think this sums up a traditional British summer"

Eyes and Feathers by Abi Dare, UK. A resting flamingo at Slimbridge Wetlands Centre in Gloucestershire

Elegance by Tiberio Taverni, Italy

A mangrove tree in Puerto Princesa Palawan, Philippines, that was shot during a magical sunset, by Ryan Sigua, Philippines

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not Time's fool

Time Stands Still, Linda Plaisted

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come.
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

~ Shakespeare, Sonnet CXVI

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Four Gates to the City

gates by Wolgang Schweizer
To enter a city intact it is necessary to pass through one of the new gates. They are far more difficult to find than their predecessors, for they are tests, mechanisms, devices, and implements of justice. There once was a map, now long gone, one of those ancient charts upon which colorful animals sleep or rage. Those who saw it said that in its illuminations were figures and symbols of the gates. The east gate was that of acceptance of responsibility, the south gate that of the desire to explore, the west gate that of devotion to beauty, and the north gate that of selfless love. But they were not believed. It was said that a city with entryways like those could not exist, because it would be too wonderful. Those who decide such things decided that whoever had seen the map had only imagined it, and the entire matter was forgotten, treated as if it were a dream, and ignored. This, of course, freed it to live forever.

~ Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quatuor pour la fin du temps

Olivier Messiaen was captured by the German army during World War II and was being held as a prisoner of war. While in transit to the prisoner of war camp, Messiaen showed the clarinetist Henri Akoka, also a prisoner, the sketches for what would become Abime des oiseaux. Two other professional musicians were also among his fellow prisoners (violinist Jean le Boulaire and cellist Etienne Pasquier), and Messiaen wrote a short trio for them; this piece developed into the Quatuor for the same trio with himself at the piano. The combination of instruments is unusual, but not without precedent: Walter Rabl had composed for it in 1896, as had Paul Hindemith in 1938.

The quartet was premiered in Stalag VIII-A in Gorlitz, Germany (currently Zgorzelec, Poland) on January 15, 1941, to an audience of about four hundred fellow prisoners of war and prison guards. Messiaen later recalled of the occasion, "Never was I listened to with such rapt attention and comprehension."

Messiaen wrote in the Preface to the score that the work was inspired by text from the Book of Revelation (Rev 10:1-2, 5-7, KJV):

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire ... and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth .... And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever ... that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished ....

Monday, May 25, 2009

On Memorial Day

A U.S. Marine and U.S. Airman join guests attending Memorial Day ceremonies Monday, May 25, 2009, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., where President Barack Obama gave remarks in honor of those who serve and have served in the U.S. military.

SKIMMING lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh--
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched one stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh--
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foemen mingled there--
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve--
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim
And all is hushed at Shiloh.

~ Herman Melville, Shiloh: A Requiem

Sunday, May 24, 2009

There is lifting up

Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart. If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles. Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks. Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver.

For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God. Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows. Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways. When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person. He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands.

~ The Book of Job 22: 21-30, The Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Who we mourn for

Spring and Fall, to a Young Child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

~ Gerard Manley Hopkins

Friday, May 22, 2009

The airbrushing of history

"We authorise followers of this law to assume the title of orthodox Christians; but as for the others since, in our judgement, they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious names of heretics." - Emperor Theodosius.

In AD 381, Theodosius, emperor of the eastern Roman empire, issued a decree in which all his subjects were required to subscribe to a belief in the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This edict defined Christian orthodoxy and brought to an end a lively and wide-ranging debate about the nature of the Godhead; all other interpretations were now declared heretical. Moreover, for the first time in a thousand years of Greco-Roman civilization free thought was unambiguously suppressed. Not since the attempt of the pharaoh Akhenaten to impose his god Aten on his Egyptian subjects in the fourteenth century BC had there been such a widesweeping programme of religious coercion.Yet surprisingly this political revolution, intended to bring inner cohesion to an empire under threat from the outside, has been airbrushed from the historical record. Instead, it has been claimed that the Christian Church had reached a consensus on the Trinity which was promulgated at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381. Historian Charles Freeman shows that the council was in fact a shambolic affair, which only took place after Theodosius' decree had become law. In short, the Church was acquiescing in the overwhelming power of the emperor. Freeman argues that Theodosius' edict and the subsequent suppression of paganism not only brought an end to the diversity of religious and philosophical beliefs throughout the empire but created numerous theological problems for the Church, which have remained unsolved. The year AD 381, Freeman concludes, marked "a turning point which time forgot."

~ Charles Freeman, A.D. 381: Heretics, Pagans, and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lady Liberty

The crown of the Statue of Liberty will open to the public again this July 4th. This view is similar to the one I had a few years ago the only time I've been in NYC. Passing by in a tourist ferry I was definitely misty-eyed as I saw the statue for the first time. Long may she shine.

The hand and flame of the Statue of Liberty, designed by French sculptor Frederic August Bartholdi, are seen at the Universal Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

For it is thus: it is well

Living Well by Robert Hogland
AND in this sight I marvelled highly. For notwithstanding our simple living and our blindness here, yet endlessly our courteous Lord beholdeth us in this working, rejoicing; and of all things, we may please Him best wisely and truly to believe, and to enjoy with Him and in Him. For as verily as we shall be in the bliss of God without end, Him praising and thanking, so verily we have been in the foresight of God, loved and known in His endless purpose from without beginning. In which unbegun love He made us; and in the same love He keepeth us and never suffereth us to be hurt [in manner] by which our bliss might be lost. And therefore when the Doom is given and we be all brought up above, then shall we clearly see in God the secret things which be now hid to us. Then shall none of us be stirred to say in any wise: Lord, if it had been thus, then it had been full well; but we shall say all with one voice: Lord, blessed mayst thou be, for it is thus: it is well; and now see we verily that all-thing is done as it was then ordained before that anything was made.

~ Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chick Corea Gary Burton

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thy eternal summer

A Summer Sky by Nathan Eigenfeld

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st.
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

~ Shakespeare, Sonnet XVIII

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Palanca Negra

At night the savannah comes to claim me.
Thirty females and their calves
in search of a leader. Shaggy manes

down each nape. White bellies, white cheeks
and that dagger of kohl down the nose.
Vibrissae, strands of black glass

under pure white chin. Nefertiti eyelashes,
aching separation of each rust hair, standing proud
from each whiffy pelt. That ready-to-flee gaze

which unleashes the epinephin
in me and in my phantom rival - who drops
to his knees among serpents of fakir shadow,

black icicles of our own shadows, antler, hock
and severed tip, sheath and core of twisted tissue,
bony spike and tine like a bifurcation diagram

in chaos theory. What does he know, this slack
Minotaur, challenging me again
in my forest of petrified keratin?

I am invincible, being extinct. He brandishes
his pair of ring-ridged horns, arcing back
like sabres. But mine are one metre fifty.

I force him down, rough him up
and suddenly as he came he is gone
like a conjuror’s rabbit and

around me is my old horizon, filtering
the grey sand, the puddled stare
of mirages like bubbles in lemonade.

There are no windows here to let in night.
But we, our backstage company of stacked
and Victorian glass eyes: we know that this is night.

You can’t fool us, the seen-it-all,
the past-all-care, inured to managed air
turned cold to keep the straw in us pest-free,

the DNA of hide and bone intact.
Now comes that twitch-tap hiss-tap
on the roof. The rain, with its ghost-knack

of conjuring swollen succulence. The nodes
we dream of, nightly. Stem and inflorescence. Bract
and culm and tiller. Prodigal array of rhizome,

ligule, floret, auricle. Lacy blades, new-flickering
to each lewd breeze. Our mid-length grass
and tremble of rising sap.

~ Ruth Padel, Giant Sable Antelope Would Like a Word with History

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hubble images

This galaxy cluster has provided some of the best evidence found for the existence of dark matter. Known as the Bullet Cluster, it was formed when two smaller galaxy clusters collided with more energy than any other known event since the Big Bang.

The Antennae Galaxies/NGC 4038-4039. These two spiral galaxies began to collide about 300 million years ago. They are some of the youngest and nearest colliding galaxies, giving astronomers one of their best opportunities to study the phenomenon. It may be a preview of what will happen when our galaxy runs into the Andromeda galaxy in a few billion years.

This image captures light from the eruption of the star V383 Monocerotis seven years ago. The light has been echoing through a cloud of dust around the star. Because the light bounces around the dust, it takes a much longer time to reach Earth from 20,000 light-years away.

Friday, May 15, 2009

From the high mountains

deepseablues, Judy Schavrien
Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me. Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time. And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them. O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

~ The Book of Mormon

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Watching time fly

One year in two minutes from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

in the eyes of the people

On the road with her family one month from South Dakota. Tulelake, Siskiyou County, California, September 1939. Photograph by Dorothea Lange.

There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates--died of malnutrition--because the food must rot, must be forced to rot.

The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges, but the kerosene is sprayed. And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quicklime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

~ John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (1939)

Ruby from Tennessee, daughter of migrant worker living in American River camp near Sacramento, November 1936. Photograph by Dorothea Lange.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crazy little thing called Love

Once thievish Love the honeyed hives would rob,
When a bee stung him: soon he felt a throb
Through all his finger-tips, and, wild with pain,
Blew on his hands and stamped and jumped in vain.
To Aphrodite then he told his woe:
'How can a thing so tiny hurt one so?'
She smiled and said; 'Why thou'rt a tiny thing,
As is the bee; yet sorely thou canst sting.'

~ Theocritus, Love Stealing Honey

Monday, May 11, 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

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Better than a speech of a thousand vain words is
one thoughtful word that brings peace to the mind.
Better than a poem of a thousand vain verses is
one thoughtful line which brings peace to the mind.
Better than a hundred poems of vain stanzas is one
word of the dharma that brings peace to the mind.

One who conquers himself is greater than another
who conquers a thousand times a thousand men
on the battlefield. Be victorious over yourself
and not over others. When you attain victory over
yourself, not even the gods can turn it into defeat.

Better than performing a thousand rituals month
by month for a hundred years is a moment's homage
to one living in wisdom. Better than tending the
sacrificial fire in the forest for a thousand years is
a moment's homage to one living in wisdom.

~ The Dhammapada

Saturday, May 9, 2009

From Polotzk to Boston

What an awful stretch of years to contemplate! What a weighty past to carry in memory! How shall I number the days of my life, except by the stars of the night, except by the salt drops of the sea?

But hark to the clamor of the city all about! This is my latest home, and it invites me to a glad new life. The endless ages have indeed throbbed through my blood, but a new rhythm dances in my veins. My spirit is not tied to the monumental past, any more than my feet were bound to my grandfather's house below the hill. The past was only my cradle, and now it cannot hold me, because I am grown too big; just as the little house in Polotzk, once my home, has now become a toy of memory, as I move about at will in the wide spaces of this splendid palace, whose shadow covers acres. No! it is not I that belong to the past, but the past that belongs to me. America is the youngest of the nations, and inherits all that went before in history. And I am the youngest of America's children, and into my hands is given all her priceless heritage, to the last white star espied through the telescope, to the last great thought of the philosopher. Mine is the whole majestic past, and mine is the shining future.

~ Mary Antin, The Promised Land (1912)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Here comes the sun

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A personal adventure

Thoreau asks us to read him carefully. To a degree, he warns us that we can only misread him, as he writes: "The works of the great poets have never yet been read by mankind, for only great poets can read them." But he understands that a reading is often a misreading, that every writer reinvents his own literary predecessors and willfully misconstrues them. And one can only read fully whatever one can fully create, or re-create - in one's own mind and heart. So readers of Walden must commit unreservedly to the text, to the experience described, intuitively grasping whatever truth lies at its core; and some vital part of this truth must come from the reader. Notably, the author does not offer a program of reading; he drops the names of a few well-known writers, including Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare, but he understands that reading is a personal adventure, a journey that involves getting lost in the dark woods - the selva oscura - of Dante's pilgrim. It means leaving behind one's preconceptions, reservations, and prejudices. It involves self-liberation as one invites contact with another world, the one created in the revolutionary language of a major text.

~ Jay Parini, Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Ennis Sisters

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Ennis Sisters

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Ancient of Days

William Blake, The Ancient of Days
All the words of the Ancient of Days are words of wisdom, conveying supernal, concealed mysteries. When the secret word of wisdom, innovated here, ascends, it joins those words of the Ancient of Days. Along with them, it ascends and descends, entering eighteen hidden worlds, which no eye has seen, O God, but You (Isaiah 64:3). Emerging from there, they roam until they arrive, full and complete, presenting themselves before the Ancient of Days. At that moment, the Ancient of Days inhales the aroma of that word and it pleases Him more than anything. Lifting that word, He adorns her with 370,000 crowns. The word flies, ascending and descending, and is transformed into a heaven. So each and every word of wisdom is transformed into a heaven, existing enduringly in the presence of the Ancient of Days. He calls them new heavens, newly created heavens, hidden mysteries of supernal wisdom.

~ The Zohar

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Man-Moth

Moon Bath, Dominique Landau
But when the Man-Moth
pays his rare, although occasional, visits to the surface,
the moon looks rather different to him. He emerges
from an opening under the edge of one of the sidewalks
and nervously begins to scale the faces of the buildings.
He thinks the moon is a small hole at the top of the sky,
proving the sky quite useless for protection.
He trembles, but must investigate as high as he can climb.

Up the facades,
his shadow dragging like a photographer's cloth behind him
he climbs fearfully, thinking that this time he will manage
to push his small head through that round clean opening
and be forced through, as from a tube, in black scrolls on the light.
(Man, standing below him, has no such illusions.)
But what the Man-Moth fears most he must do, although
he fails, of course, and falls back scared but quite unhurt.

If you catch him,
hold up a flashlight to his eye. It's all dark pupil,
an entire night itself, whose haired horizon tightens
as he stares back, and closes up the eye. Then from the lids
one tear, his only possession, like the bee's sting, slips.
Slyly he palms it, and if you're not paying attention
he'll swallow it. However, if you watch, he'll hand it over,
cool as from underground springs and pure enough to drink.

~ Elizabeth Bishop, The Man-Moth

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Light and fire

Beam of light at Antelope Canyon, Can Balcioglu
Who is among you that feareth the LORD,
That obeyeth the voice of his servant,
That walketh in darkness, and hath no light?
Let him trust in the name of the LORD,
And stay upon his God.

Behold, all ye that kindle a fire,
That compass yourselves about with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire,
And in the sparks that ye have kindled.
This shall ye have of mine hand;
Ye shall lie down in sorrow.

~ Isaiah 50: 10-11, The Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version

Friday, May 1, 2009

Saturday Night in Bombay


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