Friday, May 31, 2013


Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:29 AM

A meditation on this morning's New York Times  obituaries:

IMAGE- NYT obits for Andrew Greeley and Mulgrew Miller, and an ad for Greater Fort Lauderdale

Happy birthday to jazz pianist Clint Eastwood.

Related material: Skylark in this journal and Return to Paradise.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Lovely Bones*

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 8:48 AM

An adaptation for the late Barbara Lea

Man's spirit will be flesh-bound, when found at best,
But úncúmberèd: meadow-dówn is nót distréssed
For a ráinbow fóoting it nor shé for her bónes rísen.

— After Gerard Manley Hopkins, Society of Jesus

* "And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it."

    — Alice Sebold

Thursday, May 12, 2011

But Seriously…

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:00 AM

Yesterday's "Succor" cited the New York Lottery of Tuesday— Midday 489, Evening 886.

One interpretation of these numbers—

  • 489 as the number of a page in the Collected Poems  of Wallace Stevens
    with verses that suggested to one author the following questions:
    "How can one express one's sense of the ground of things?
    What is the structure of Being itself…?" — Thomas Jensen Hines
  • 886 as a number applied recently to a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins
    with the notable phrase "the unchanging register of change"

Some background from Tuesday—

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rhyme Scheme (continued)

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:23 AM

In memory of CCD co-creator Willard S. Boyle, who died Saturday

Rhyme Scheme (St. Lucia's Day, 2002), with updated link to Hopkins.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday August 25, 2008

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:23 AM
For the Feast of
St. Louis

The concluding paragraph of Erich Heller's 1953 essay, "The Hazard of Modern Poetry"–

"'The poetry does not matter.' These words from Mr. T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets acquire an all but revolutionary significance if we understand them not only in their particular context but also in the context of a period of poetry in which nothing mattered except poetry. Against this background the Four Quartets themselves appear, in all their complexity, as the poetry of simple civic virtue– the poetry of a poet trying to read the writing of the law that has become all but illegible. This, you may say, has nothing to do with poetry. On the contrary, it is one of the few truly hopeful signs that this civic virtue could once more be realized poetically. For in speaking to the hazard of modern poetry I did not wish to suggest that the end had come for singers and skylarks. There will always be skylarks; perhaps even a few nightingales. But poetry is not only the human equivalent of the song of singing birds. It is also Virgil, Dante, and Hölderlin. It is also, in its own terms, the definition of the state of man."

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Thursday April 22, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 10:07 PM


"It's become our form of modern classicism."

— Nancy Spector in 
   the New York Times of April 23, 2004

Part I: Aesthetics

In honor of the current Guggenheim exhibition, "Singular Forms" — A quotation from the Guggenheim's own website

"Minimalism refers to painting or sculpture

  1. made with an extreme economy of means
  2. and reduced to the essentials of geometric abstraction….
  3. Minimalist art is generally characterized by precise, hard-edged, unitary geometric forms….
  4. mathematically regular compositions, often based on a grid….
  5. the reduction to pure self-referential form, emptied of all external references….
  6. In Minimal art what is important is the phenomenological basis of the viewer’s experience, how he or she perceives the internal relationships among the parts of the work and of the parts to the whole….
  7. The repetition of forms in Minimalist sculpture serves to emphasize the subtle differences in the perception of those forms in space and time as the spectator’s viewpoint shifts in time and space."

Discuss these seven points
in relation to the following:

by S. H. Cullinane

Logos and Logic

Mark Rothko's reference
to geometry as a "swamp"
and his talk of "the idea" in art

Michael Kimmelman's
remarks on ideas in art 

Notes on ideas and art

of the 4×4 square

The Grid of Time

Judgment Day
(2003, 10/07)

Part II: Theology

Today's previous entry, "Skylark," concluded with an invocation of the Lord.   Of course, the Lord one expects may not be the Lord that appears.

 John Barth on minimalism:

"… the idea that, in art at least, less is more.

It is an idea surely as old, as enduringly attractive and as ubiquitous as its opposite. In the beginning was the Word: only later came the Bible, not to mention the three-decker Victorian novel. The oracle at Delphi did not say, 'Exhaustive analysis and comprehension of one's own psyche may be prerequisite to an understanding of one's behavior and of the world at large'; it said, 'Know thyself.' Such inherently minimalist genres as oracles (from the Delphic shrine of Apollo to the modern fortune cookie), proverbs, maxims, aphorisms, epigrams, pensees, mottoes, slogans and quips are popular in every human century and culture–especially in oral cultures and subcultures, where mnemonic staying power has high priority–and many specimens of them are self-reflexive or self-demonstrative: minimalism about minimalism. 'Brevity is the soul of wit.' "

Another form of the oracle at Delphi, in minimalist prose that might make Hemingway proud:

"He would think about Bert.  Bert was an interesting man.  Bert had said something about the way a gambler wants to lose.  That did not make sense.  Anyway, he did not want to think about it.  It was dark now, but the air was still hot.  He realized that he was sweating, forced himself to slow down the walking.  Some children were playing a game with a ball, in the street, hitting it against the side of a building.  He wanted to see Sarah.

When he came in, she was reading a book, a tumbler of dark whiskey beside her on the end table.  She did not seem to see him and he sat down before he spoke, looking at her and, at first, hardly seeing her.  The room was hot; she had opened the windows, but the air was still.  The street noises from outside seemed almost to be in the room with them, as if the shifting of gears were being done in the closet, the children playing in the bathroom.  The only light in the room was from the lamp over the couch where she was reading.

He looked at her face.  She was very drunk.  Her eyes were swollen, pink at the corners.  'What's the book,' he said, trying to make his voice conversational.  But it sounded loud in the room, and hard.

She blinked up at him, smiled sleepily, and said nothing.

'What's the book?'  His voice had an edge now.

'Oh,' she said.  'It's Kierkegaard.  Soren Kierkegaard.' She pushed her legs out straight on the couch, stretching her feet.  Her skirt fell back a few inches from her knees.  He looked away.

'What's that?' he said.

'Well, I don't exactly know, myself."  Her voice was soft and thick.

He turned his face away from her again, not knowing what he was angry with.  'What does that mean, you don't know, yourself?'

She blinked at him.  'It means, Eddie, that I don't exactly know what the book is about.  Somebody told me to read it once, and that's what I'm doing.  Reading it.'

He looked at her, tried to grin at her — the old, meaningless, automatic grin, the grin that made everbody like him — but he could not.  'That's great,' he said, and it came out with more irritation than he had intended.

She closed the book, tucked it beside her on the couch.  She folded her arms around her, hugging herself, smiling at him.  'I guess this isn't your night, Eddie.  Why don't we have a drink?'

'No.'  He did not like that, did not want her being nice to him, forgiving.  Nor did he want a drink.

Her smile, her drunk, amused smile, did not change.  'Then let's talk about something else,' she said.  'What about that case you have?  What's in it?'  Her voice was not prying, only friendly, 'Pencils?'

'That's it,' he said.  'Pencils.'

She raised her eyebrows slightly.  Her voice seemed thick.  'What's in it, Eddie?'

'Figure it out yourself.'  He tossed the case on the couch."

— Walter Tevis, The Hustler, 1959,
    Chapter 11

See, too, the invocation of Apollo in

A Mass for Lucero, as well as 

Wednesday 15 January 2003

"The invocation of the Lord is relentless…."


Wednesday 15 January 2003

Karl Cullinane —
"I will fear no evil, for I am the
meanest son of a bitch in the valley."

Thursday April 22, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:14 PM


Picture said to be of
a Japanese Skylark,
Hibari or Alauda japonica.
Photo: 05/2002, Nagano, Japan.

A false definition of “inscape”:

Brad Leithauser, New York Review of Books, April 29, 2004:

“Not surprisingly, most Hopkins criticism is secular at heart, though without always acknowledging just how distorted—how weirdly misguided— Hopkins himself would find all interpretations of a spiritual life that were drawn purely from the outside. For him, a failure to see how divine promptings informed his shaping internal life—his ‘inscape,’ his own term for it—was to miss everything of his life that mattered.”

A truer definition:

“By ‘inscape’ he [Hopkins] means the unified complex of characteristics that give each thing its uniqueness and that differentiate it from other things.”

A false invocation of the Lord:

Brad Leithauser, New York Review of Books, Sept. 26, 2002:

“I’d always thought ‘Skylark’ quite appealing, but it wasn’t until I heard Helen Forrest singing it, in a 1942 recording with Harry James and his Orchestra, that it became for me something far more: one of the greatest popular songs anybody ever wrote. With her modest delivery, a voice coaxing and plaintive, Forrest is a Little Girl Lost who always finds herself coming down on exactly the right note—no easy thing with a song of such unexpected chromatic turns. On paper, the Johnny Mercer lyric looks unpromising—antiquated and clunky:

Have you seen a valley green with Spring
Where my heart can go a-journeying,
Over the shadows and the rain
To a blossom-covered lane?

But in Helen Forrest’s performance, ‘Skylark’ turns out to be a perfect blend of pokiness and urgency, folksiness and ethereality—and all so convincing that it isn’t until the song is finished that you step back and say, ‘Good Lord, she’s singing to a bird!’ “

For Hopkins at midnight in the garden of good and evil, a truer invocation:

Friday, December 27, 2002
12:00 AM

Saint Hoagy’s Day

Today is the feast day of St. Hoagy Carmichael, who was born on the feast day of Cecelia, patron saint of music. This midnight’s site music is “Stardust,” by Carmichael (lyrics by Mitchell Parish). See also “Dead Poets Society” — my entry of Friday, December 13, on the Carmichael song “Skylark” — and the entry “Rhyme Scheme” of later that same day.

Friday, December 27, 2002

Friday December 27, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Saint Hoagy’s Day

Today is the feast day of St. Hoagy Carmichael, who was born on the feast day of Cecelia, patron saint of music. This midnight’s site music is “Stardust,” by Carmichael (lyrics by Mitchell Parish). See also “Dead Poets Society” — my entry of Friday, December 13, on the Carmichael song “Skylark” — and the entry “Rhyme Scheme” of later that same day.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Saturday December 14, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:44 AM

Back to Bach

Our site music now moves from the romantic longing of “Skylark” to a classical theme: what might be called “the spirit of eight,” by Bach:

Canon 14

Fourteen Canons on the First Eight Notes
of the Goldberg Ground – BWV 1087

For more details, click here.

For a different set of variations on the theme
of “eightness,” see my note

Generating the Octad Generator.

For more details, click here.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Friday December 13, 2002

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:27 PM

Rhyme Scheme

"The introduction of Charge-Coupled Devices (CCDs)
has dramatically changed the methods
astronomers use to view objects."
— Santa Barbara Instrument Group, Inc.

"They should have sent a poet." 
— Jodie Foster in the film version
of Carl Sagan's Contact

star cluster

M16 Nebulous Star Cluster.
300 second Model ST-7
CCD image
taken through a
7", f/7 Astrophysics refractor
utilizing the self-guiding mode.

"Say 'Abba,'
Jesus told
his followers. 
'Our Father.'"



— Rhyme

On the question of what reality is:
"Under what circumstances do we think things are
real? ….

This question speaks to a small, manageable problem
having to do with the camera and not
what it is the camera takes pictures of."

Erving Goffman,    
Frame Analysis, An Essay on
the Organization of Experience
Harper & Row, 1974, p. 2

Friday December 13, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Dead Poets Society

Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound, when found at best,
But úncúmberèd: meadow-dówn is nót distréssed
For a ráinbow fóoting it nor hé for his bónes rísen.

—  The Caged Skylark,

Gerard Manley Hopkins,
Society of Jesus

In accordance with this sentiment,
this midnight in the garden of good and evil
is the occasion for a change of site music
to “Skylark,” by Hoagy Carmichael
(lyrics by Johnny Mercer).

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