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

The Ambisinister Archimage © 2008. Design By: SkinCorner