Birthday wish list

24 September 2013 § Leave a comment

24 September

October is close at hand; birth month festivities shall soon commence; and, once again, I curl up to read Peter Pan and to formulate a tiny list from the endless books and music that I wish to reside in my soul.  At the moment, though, one thing crowds out all the others.

The album cover sends a clear message: "Take this music with you when you go fishing. You will not regret it."

The album cover sends a clear message: “Take this music with you when you go fishing. You will not regret it.”

I’ve anticipated the arrival of this new music for a while.  It may be the only album I’ve ever anticipated.  Chris Thile playing Bach is almost a thing of divinity.  Of course, NPR knows everything and already has a thing about it.

These sonatas and partitas are for you.


Hm.  Perhaps it’s better just to put Chris Thile himself on my birthday list.  I would approve of him as my court musician.


Fix your mind on something fine

23 September 2013 § Leave a comment

22 September

One of my favourite things to do, aside from mocking haikus, writing haikus, and driving friends away from the study of philosophy by unstudied exuberance, is attending music festivals.  Of course nothing can ever be as good as Merlefest, especially with three particular friends and three particular, rather starry humans—namely, Chris Thile and les frères Avett—yet yesterday’s twelve hour lark at Rhythm and Roots was its own realm of delight.  After befriending the locals of the next village over (Johnson City), dancing to music was the only thing to do.


Time for a family reunion.

No more words should populate this post, as it concerns music.  For a Flogging Molly-esque experience, a beautiful fiddler boy, and a study in how marriage and illegal alcohol production make your music better, see The Whiskey Gentry.  (Also: never burn my still house down.)  If you seek a spirit animal, a curiosity named Big Mike, or a song about Cherokees, see The Apache Relay.  If your tastes tend more towards your pre-birth years and some wild times in Birmingham, listen to St Paul and the Broken Bones.  You may weep when you listen to their music; it is absurdly good.

St Paul and assorted bones.

St Paul and assorted bones.

The last thing we saw was Spirit Family Reunion.  These humans are beautiful, and their music is beautiful, and there must be some way for me to suddenly become related to all of them.  They are from Brooklyn, which I have alternately attempted to ignore and to overcome.

Hell is not being able to dance when you hear them.

Hell is not being able to dance when you hear them.

The only sad thing now is having to wait another year to go again.

Plato and the good life

21 September 2013 § Leave a comment

21 September

I’m listening to Thelonious Monk as rain patters steadily, casting my vision of this afternoon’s outing to a music festival in a perspective rather dripping than otherwise.  The petrichor is marvellous, though.

Living the monk life.

Living the monk life.

I wrote this a while ago after reading Gorgias and an article that was written more recently.  Better to publish splintered musings than to leave them sitting there forever?

Consider this: rhetoric as unethical knack.

If we seek the good life—that is, if we decide what the good life is and set our minds and hearts to seek it—we must eventually run up against questions about the relationship between our personal lives and tenets of individualism on one side and the life of the community on the other.

The main point of Plato’s Gorgias (the title echoes a Greek Sophist who is a figure in the book) is Socrates’s argument that to do wrong is worse than to suffer wrong.  Defining “worse” as more harmful and, specifically, as more disastrous to the soul, Socrates extends his argument to the realm of contemporary politics and to oratory more generally.  His conversation partners, teachers and practitioners of oratory, assert the importance of rhetoric as a weapon in one’s arsenal in view of the contemporary culture: Individual citizens had to defend themselves in court.

As securing the jury’s support was essential, then, to one’s self-protection, one employed language to his own ends, whether right or wrong—if he was shrewd.  If smart, he perhaps noticed that this was counter-productive in light of his convictions about society, culture, and government.  If wise, he used rhetoric for good ends only and as fitting with his underlying philosophical stance; that is, how he defines the good life.  The good life, rather than a vague idea of the correct way to secure one’s happiness, must be seen as the result of a specific posture of the mind.

Sticking to our own contemporary ideas, we may consider the good life as something that extends from our conception of success.  What is best?—we seek this, and we seek to be the fittest, so that we can succeed in what we think is best.  Fittest, though, may be shrewdest and not necessarily best; and good may be better than best, according to this definition.

If you really want to know about the good life, read War and Peace.

War and Peace

The translation that currently envelopes me.

Falling haiku

14 September 2013 § Leave a comment

14 September

Leaves fall fall fall fall
Fall fall fall fall fall fall fall
Fall fall fall fall leaves

Four years ago, I read War and Peace under this tree on East as autumn fell . . .

Four years ago, I read War and Peace under this tree on East as autumn fell . . .

Name the game

9 September 2013 § Leave a comment

8 September

An abrupt venture from the sacred to the profane.

After enjoying the Djoković-Wawrinka and Nadal-Gasquet matches, which remained, to our relief, in the realm of tennis, we have plunged into confusion.  Surely Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka cannot be playing the same dignified game—a game of refined vigour—a game marked by a blend of quick strategy, pure athleticism, and mental endurance.

The gentleman's game.  Thank you, René Lacoste.

The gentleman’s game. Thank you, René Lacoste.

No, it must be something else.  A few possibilities:

1)  Child birthing contest; or, how to discard the fruit of all of your Lamaze classes and exhibit irrational breathing and far too much yelling.  Such terrifying primal yawps make the yelling of the men seem tame and quiet.  This is more the fault of Azarenka, who emits sounds somehow reminiscent of both sirens and screams of pain.  Serena evokes more of a fight-or-flight response or, actually, just a flight response.  My theory is that she surreptitiously had surgery to replace all of her human muscles with horse muscles and that she must be the one to reform with strict justice and stricter brute force the stop-and-frisk policy mess.  I am extremely scared of her, and her occasional presence in New York is the reason I am not moving there.

2)  Passive-aggressive protest of fashion week; or, how to ensure that most of America will see the lining rather than the outside of your tennis skirt.  This is more of Serena’s (longtime) problem.  The least she could do is wear a skirt with an interesting lining material instead of the same colour, complemented by—something else we are not supposed to see—her grey stretchy shorts underneath.  The wind also ensures that we view this colour combination as frequently as possible.  At least Serena does not seem to mind.

Maria Sharapova is judging you.

Maria Sharapova is judging you.

Further comments are impossible, since the past bit of time has been occupied by writing rather than by actually watching the match.

I started Early—took my Dog—

6 September 2013 § Leave a comment

6 September

Our household (read: mother and I) floats weepingly through this day as we contemplate the imminent death of our dog.  In a feeble state, he cannot walk very well, but he looks happy, and we make slow perambulations round the house.  How is it possible to love an animal who does nothing? (asked I).  Oh, but it is possible, but he does so much (replied mother).  One gets a pet and loves it, knowing that it will die, and then the time comes for it to die, and death appears sudden and rude.  How vulgar, really, to pluck a pet-love—worse almost than such an ending of human-love, which is at least tied enough to time to transcend time.  Perhaps pet-love can turn transcendent, though—a mystery, for a dog’s thoughts unveil themselves through intuition only.  Mostly he is just there, watching, witnessing, being in a way that, in retrospect, ties things together—for fifteen years, most of my life.

Dogs exhibit perfect cyclical days.  Or this dog does, at least.  Awake, eat, receive pets after the human’s breakfast, walk, lap water, wander, receive pets after the human’s lunch, wander, eat, find and inhabit centre of evening human sociability, drink water, sleep.  Add ablutions and it would be religious.  They are monklike in a way: cloistered, ministering (albeit unknowingly) to unspoken human needs, yielding to the day and its ways, yet maintaining (though in large part not from self-created exigency) time-bound discipline.

Cineri gloria sera est, so here it is now.

Oh Sammy.

Full steam ahead

5 September 2013 § 2 Comments

5 September

I wrote an article.  Addendum: the only way I support business school is in its enabling of someone to start a brewery in Durham.  At some point, it could be convenient if I began to drink beer by more than the thimbleful.

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