(On The Music Box – The Small Faces~Ogden Nut Flake)
Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.Miguel de Unamuno
Saturday… worked a half day at one of our clients. Came home, dealt with extended family issues, made lots of calls, and headed down for a nap. Actually a very extended nap. My first week back at work, and I am lagging a bit. We spent a quiet evening, a bit of dinner, and we are working through The Lord Of The Rings again. Rowan has been busy as a bee with studies, and Mary is just the ball of energy that she always is. Working on bids for new jobs, and the magazine print edition.
Tonight’s entry starts out with an excursion into minimalism again. We stop by the early 20th century for the quotes, back to Taoist China for some tales, and to the present to Wendell Berry for the poetry. Our Art is provided by one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelites…
and that really is all I have to say on that.
I hope your weekend is a beauty, and spring in full bloom for ya. I hope you are getting your gardens ready!
On The Menu:
Philip Glass: Metamorphosis 1
Antonin Artaud Quotes
Tales of the Tao…
Wendell Berry Poems For Your Beauty…
Philip Glass – Einstein On The Beach
Art: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Philip Glass: Metamorphosis 1
Antonin Artaud Quotes:
All true language is incomprehensible, like the chatter of a beggar’s teeth.
Hell is of this world and there are men who are unhappy escapees from hell, escapees destined ETERNALLY to reenact their escape.
I myself spent nine years in an insane asylum and I never had the obsession of suicide, but I know that each conversation with a psychiatrist, every morning at the time of his visit, made me want to hang myself, realizing that I would not be able to cut his throat.
It is not opium which makes me work but its absence, and in order for me to feel its absence it must from time to time be present.
No one has ever written, painted, sculpted, modeled, built, or invented except literally to get out of hell.
So long as we have failed to eliminate any of the causes of human despair, we do not have the right to try to eliminate those means by which man tries to cleanse himself of despair.
There is in every madman a misunderstood genius whose idea, shining in his head, frightened people, and for whom delirium was the only solution to the strangulation that life had prepared for him.
Those who live, live off the dead.
When we speak the word ”life,” it must be understood we are not referring to life as we know it from its surface of fact, but to that fragile, fluctuating center which forms never reach.
Written poetry is worth reading once, and then should be destroyed. Let the dead poets make way for others.
Tales of the Tao…
“The Ship Approaches”
A ship bearing the flag of Xinhua, Mings homeland, approached the island. It had been seven years since Mings body was cast upon the shore, accompanied only by wave-tattered planks and the clothes on his back. Ming saw the flag from atop a tree, where he was about to take a nap, and slowly walked towards the beach.
News spread quickly of the ship from Mings homeland. Men, women, and children all gathered around the beach and wept, for in the seven years Ming had lived with them, a great, contemplative peace had enveloped the land.
Will you now abandon us, those who have given their food, shelter, and caring, to go back to your homeland? the carpenter asked.
You know as well as I that it must be done.
Then will you give us a final tale before your departure?
The beach was silent, broken only by the low rumble of rolling waves. The townspeople looked up from their glum shoegazing in anticipation.
I will tell seven tales for the seven years you have supported me. Then I will depart.
Then the carpenter said “Tell us the tale of a carpenter.”
And Ming began the tale of a carpenter.
Young-Carpenter-Crooked-Toes left his woodshop, family, and friends to find peace and quiet. After a long days journey, he came upon a stream, surrounded by forest and far from civilization, where he would find peace and quiet. Thinking he was all alone, Young-Carpenter-Crooked-Toes took off his shoes, dropped his sack onto a nearby rock, and laid down on the cool, damp grass. He stretched his crooked toes towards the stream, while his arms reached up towards a pile of leaves. Before he could grab hold of his future headrest, however, his peace and quiet was interrupted by a fly. ZZZZ! It zoomed around, over rocks, through branches and around his head in a chaotic course that rivaled the currents of the Yangtze.
He followed No-Stop-Fast-Fly with his eyes for three hours, waiting for him to land. Losing his temper, Young-Carpenter-Crooked-Toes yelled at No-Stop-Fast-Fly to land and let him enjoy his peace and quiet he so rightly deserved. ZZZZ! He flew for another three hours, circling Young-Carpenter-Crooked-Toes, buzzing in his ear, landing on his nose, and skimming its legs along the stream before landing on top of the pile of leaves hed gathered. Boiling like a pot of duck broth, he cursed No-Stop-Fast-Fly, accusing him of mockery and theft.
Move, fly! he shouted.
No-Stop-Fast-Fly stood his ground, rubbing and stretching his legs on Young-Carpenter-Crooked-Toes pile of leaves.
Move, fly! he repeated.
All of this commotion attracted the attention of Wang Chi, who was traveling home from the copper mines. He climbed a nearby tree and watched Young-Carpenter-Crooked-Toes yell at the fly for half an hour. Finally, his stomach hurt from laughing so hard that he climbed down and revealed himself.
Why do you yell at this fly, carpenter? he asked.
This stupid fly has stolen my peace and quiet, as well as my pile of leaves.
No-Stop-Fast-Fly licked the dew off a leaf and nestled himself between its ruffles.
You wouldnt discuss carpentry with a blacksmith would you? And yet you expect a fly to understand the ways of human communication. Who is the stupid one, Leaves-For-Brains?
Wang Chi bent his knees, leaning towards the pile of leaves and blew. No-Stop-Fast-Fly flew across the stream, landing on another pile of leaves, yawned, and fell asleep.
I see your toes and am reminded of the gnarled oak. Would I beg of you tips on running? Certainly not. Likewise, you would be a fool to ask me for hair grooming tips. My head is shinier than the rocks rubbed smooth by sand and water in that stream.
Young-Carpenter-Crooked-Toes was amazed with Wang Chis wisdom and begged him to explain the ways of the universe to him. He was surprised to see Wang Chis face darken at this request.
I see youve learned nothing. How can you explain The Way to someone who has no experience of its beauty? Can you describe the sea to an inland farmer? A hoe to a ship captain?
Young-Carpenter-Crooked-Toes begged Wang Chi to tell him where to begin his search for The Way. Wang Chi honked Young-Carpenter-Crooked-Toes nose and ran away singing. Young-Carpenter-Crooked-Toes smiled and understood.
Then the fisherman said tell us the tale of a fisherman.
And Ming began the tale of a fisherman.
Huotian strutted across the beach, proudly displaying the large fish on a rope dangling down his back. Stretching from his neck to the top of his calves, it was the largest of the season. Other fishermen smiled as children asked Huotian if they could touch it. Never denied, they ran their small fingers across its slimy back, putting their fingers into its mouth, and daring each other to poke its eyes.
The fish was covered in herbs freshly plucked from the forest and cooked over hot coals. Huotian was honored and allowed to sit at the senior table, where the village elders sat. That night, as the whole town feasted on fish, steamed dumplings, and rice wine in the square, an old man, whiskers thin and long like a cat, came to the senior table and asked if he could have a small morsel to eat.
Ive traveled many miles and am now out of food. I was a fisherman in my younger years, and could repay you tomorrow if I was allowed to borrow a boat.
The senior table discussed the matter and decided to let the old man eat.
At the end of the next day, the old man walked across the beach empty-handed. The other fishermen, including Huotian, who were comparing their catches, giggled and meowed as he walked towards them.
Old Man Whiskers must have been too scared of the water, Huotian said. The others laughed.
My body doesnt have the strength it used to. I couldnt haul my catch into the boat, so I tied it to a tree. Will any of you help an old man repay his debt?
Laughing at the old mans weakness, they went to the shore and untied the rope from the tree. Huotian loosely grabbed the rope, expecting an easy yank, and ended up with rope splinters when it didnt budge. It took four men to haul the fish, larger than a fishing boat, to town. That night, the town feasted again on fish, accompanied with white rice and berry juice. The old man sat at the senior table, where he quietly ate. Huotian watched him the entire time.
The next day, Huotian vowed to catch a fish larger than the old mans. He caught three large fish in under an hour, throwing them all back in order to have room for a larger fish. All day he caught fish, one as large as his catch two days ago, throwing each one away. At the end of the day Huotian dragged his feet across the beach, empty-handed, sitting down on a tree stump polished smooth by the sand. He looked to his right and saw the old man walking along the beach, a small food satchel in hand. Huotian called out to him.
Ive been defeated once. Let me reclaim my honor. I challenge you to a fishing contest.
The old man smiled and bid him good day.
Then you are afraid of being beaten.
The old man walked towards Huotian. His long whiskers blew against his narrow shoulders as the salty air traveled over the sand into town.
Your fishing skills are extraordinary, and you provide more than enough food for both your family and townspeople. There is no need to compete with me to prove your fishing ability. I will not accept your challenge.
If you will not accept my challenge willingly, I will force it upon you.
Huotian stood up, raised his arms, and charged the old man. The old man stood his ground, watching Huotians eyes, burning with anger as he ran towards him. As Huotian reached out, the old man stepped aside. Huotian fell face first into the sand.
If you compete with no one, no one can compete with you.
Then the cook said “Tell us the tale of a cook.”
And Ming began the tale of a cook.
Cook Wang was to prepare a delicious mushroom soup for his parents, who were coming to visit that afternoon. He sharpened his cleaver and began to chop the onions, mince the ginger, slice the lemongrass stalks, and simmer the broth, but was overtaken with panic when the mushrooms hed bought were nowhere to be found.
Will you help me find the shiitakes? he asked his wife. She rolled up the calligraphy scroll shed been working on and helped search the kitchen. There were no mushrooms in the cupboard, and none in the drawers. They went down to the cellar, but found only ginger root and potatoes. The market was closed that day, so he would have to hunt down his own mushrooms.
Angered, he took his cleaver and stomped to the nearby forest. One by one, he tried chopping through vines, but made little progress. The cleaver became duller with every swipe, and soon he could no longer tell which side was the blade. Seeing what little progress hed made, Cook Wang sulked back home, hurling his cleaver into a tree in disgust.
Mrs. Wang looked up from her calligraphy to see her husband dragging his feet home. She asked him what had happened, and he explained how the cleaver couldnt slice through the vines.
That is the fools way. Try again, she casually told him, sitting back down to her calligraphy.
He sat down inside, pondering what his wife had told him. Looking up, he saw his fathers old sword, used in combat only once, and removed it from its sheath. It glistened in the sunlight. He ran his finger along the blade and a small cut formed on his finger. It was perfect.
Cook Wang skipped to the nearby forest, unsheathed his fathers sword, and began hacking away at the vines. Zip! Swish! The vines fell like rotten bamboo and hung limp on either side of him. Soon, he reached a stream, running fast and cold from the melting snow on top of Mt. Sanwu. He dipped his toe into the water and a cold chill crawled up his spine. Cook Wang dipped his finger into the water his entire hand cramped up, causing him to drop his fathers sword. He cried out as it floated away on the icy current.
Mrs. Wang looked up from her calligraphy to see her husband dragging his feet home. She asked him what had happened, and he explained how there was no way to cross the stream, and how it had consumed his fathers sword.
That is the scholars way. Try again, she casually told him, sitting back down to her calligraphy.
Cook Wang walked along the edges of the forest, pondering what his wife had told him. Time was running out. His parents would be here soon. They were expecting a fine mushroom soup and would be very disappointed in him if it didnt have any mushrooms. He walked farther along the edge of the forest and noticed an open area hed never seen before. Coming closer, Cook Wang realized it was a walking trail leading directly into the heart of the forest.
Skipping along the trail, he came across a group of rotting logs. Growing on top were hundreds of mushrooms, brown, woody shiitakes, larger than the palm of his hand.
Mrs. Wang looked up from her calligraphy to see her husband skipping and twirling like a dancer. She asked him what had happened, and he told her about the trail and the logs with mushrooms.
That is The Way, she told him, casually sitting back down to her calligraphy.
Wendell Berry Poems For Your Beauty…
Though the air is full of singing
my head is loud
with the labor of words.
Though the season is rich
with fruit, my tongue
hungers for the sweet of speech.
Though the beech is golden
I cannot stand beside it
mute, but must say
“It is golden,” while the leaves
stir and fall with a sound
that is not a name.
It is in the silence
that my hope is, and my aim.
A song whose lines
I cannot make or sing
sounds men’s silence
like a root. Let me say
and not mourn: the world
lives in the death of speech
and sings there
The Country of Marriage
I dream of you walking at night along the streams
of the country of my birth, warm blooms and the nightsongs,
of birds opening around you as you walk.
You are holding in your body the dark seed of my sleep.
This comes after silence. Was it something I said
that bound me to you, some mere promise
or, worse, the fear of loneliness and death?
A man lost in the woods in the dark, I stood
still and said nothing. And then there rose in me,
like the earths empowering brew rising
in root and branch, the words of a dream of you
I did not know I had dreamed. I was a wanderer
who feels the solace of his native land
under his feet again and moving in his blood.
I went on, blind and faithful. Where I stepped
my track was there to steady me. It was no abyss
that lay before me, but only the level ground.
Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep on going in.
How many times have I come to you out of my head
with joy, if ever a man was,
for to approach you I have given up the light
and all directions. I come to you
lost, wholly trusting as a man who goes
into the forest unarmed. It is as though I descend
slowly earthward out of the air. I rest in peace
in you, when I arrive at last.
Our bond is no little economy based on the exchange
of my love and work for yours, so much for so much
of an expendable fund. We dont know what its limits are
that puts it in the dark. We are more together
than we know, how else could we keep on discovering
we are more together than we thought?
You are the known way leading always to the unknown,
and you are the known place to which the unknown is always
leading me back. More blessed in you than I know,
I possess nothing worthy to give you, nothing
not belittled by my saying that I possess it.
Even an hour of love is a moral predicament, a blessing
a man may be hard up to be worthy of. He can only
accept it, as a plant accepts from all the bounty of the light
enough to live, and then accepts the dark,
passing unencumbered back to the earth, as I
have fallen time and again from the great strength
of my desire, helpless, into your arms.
What I am learning to give you is my death
to set you free of me, and me from myself
into the dark and the new light. Like the water
of a deep stream, love is always too much. We
did not make it. Though we drink till we burst
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore
to drink our fill, and sleep, while it
flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning
to its rich waters thirsty. We enter,
willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy.
I give you what is unbounded, passing from dark to dark,
containing darkness: a night of rain, an early morning.
I give you the life I have let live for love of you:
a clump of orange-blooming weeds beside the road,
the young orchard waiting in the snow, our own life
that we have planted in this ground, as I
have planted mine in you. I give you my love for all
beautiful and honest women that you gather to yourself
again and again, and satisfyand this poem,
no more mine than any mans who has loved a woman.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my childrens lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
A Meeting in A Part
In a dream I meet
my dead friend. He has,
I know, gone long and far,
and yet he is the same
for the dead are changeless.
They grow no older.
It is I who have changed,
grown strange to what I was.
Yet I, the changed one,
ask: “How you been?”
He grins and looks at me.
“I been eating peaches
off some mighty fine trees.”
Philip Glass – Einstein On The Beach