A Little Learning, a Little Yearning

[Image above shows the Parthenon, and its reflection in the facade of the New Acropolis Museum. Click image for more information and the original photo.]

From whiskey river:

Just Thinking

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.

Been on probation most of my life. And
the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
count for a lot — peace, you know.

Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.

This is what the whole thing is about.

(William Stafford [source])


There is a bitter aftertaste when one swallows the truth, sometimes. It may be years before it becomes apparent, so long that you’ve forgotten that first taste, but it does come. It comes when, having thought you swallowed truth whole, what you got was only a morsel. Further, the spreading bitterness derives from understanding that what you thought was true was, actually, true, but not in the way you thought or wanted it to be.

(Terrance Keenan [source (p. 169)])

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Costs of Creation

From whiskey river:

The Midnight Club

The gifted have told us for years that they want to be loved
For what they are, that they, in whatever fullness is theirs,
Are perishable in twilight, just like us. So they work all night
In rooms that are cold and webbed with the moon’s light;
Sometimes, during the day, they lean on their cars,
And stare into the blistering valley, glassy and golden,
But mainly they sit, hunched in the dark, feet on the floor,
Hands on the table, shirts with a bloodstain over the heart.

(Mark Strand, The Continuous Life [source])


The important thing about despair is never to give up, never wrap up and put away a sterile life, but somehow keep it open. Because you never can know what’s coming; never. That’s the great thing about life, the crucial thing to remember. You may beat your fists on a stone wall for years and years, and every consideration of common sense will say it’s hopeless, forget it, spare yourself; and then one day your bleeding hand will go through as if the wall were theatrical gauze; you’ll be in another realm where birds are singing and love is possible, and you’d have missed it if you’d given up, because it might be only that one day the wall was not stone.

(Allen Wheelis, from The Illusionless Man [source])

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Art Forms

[Above, the trailer for the short film Lost and Found, an adaptation of the children’s book of the same name by Oliver Jeffers. For stills from the movie, visit the Cartoon Brew link above, and STUDIO aka.]

From whiskey river:

Recipe for an Ocean in the Absence of the Sea

You have the ingredients on hand,
Get to the edge of something,
yourself best of all, and take
yourself in hand. Take, I mean, your hand,
trace out the blue menaces
released and lapsing there,
watch closely around the wrist: they will
remind you what you must do,
They are what you must do. Be
them, until there is nothing but them,
then you are ready. Now take
time, all there is in the house —
it does not have to be yours. Take time
and never for a moment
losing track of what changes
back into yourself, bitter enough
so that you will need almost
no salt, mix well and then leap
over the edge. Wait there. When you can
wait no longer, it is done.
Serve at once. It does not keep.

(Richard Howard [source])


The world of the arts is by no means always comfortable, but neither is it likely ever to be boring. It is full of surprises, humor, traps for the unwary, and challenges to smugness. It is a world of moods as well as of revelation, of beliefs and fears, of unpleasant truth as well as of delicious fantasy. Perhaps it is arrogant to say that anyone who does not venture into this world is only half-interested in life. I say it, nonetheless.

(Russell Lynes, The Fine Edge of Awareness)

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Stories in the Trees

[The artwork above comes from a fantastic — fantastically rich, but also just literally fantastic — Web site called The Hermitage, from the mind and imagination of artist Rima Staines. She and her companion Tui seem to have a life straight out of fiction, as you can see from her blog. Check out their “wandering house,” which is to a motor home as a cottage is to an office, and her handmade clocks (!).]

From whiskey river:


Our stories lie down in the orchard,
their time is not now, but something is
coming, something is going away. They

rise to the stars, and wait to be told.
There are listeners who know how little
we know, how much we are feeling.

We had to go our own way, a little off course,
always, no matter how specific the directions
seemed at the time. In this universe if we’re lucky,

we will live in our children’s stories,
their tales that will turn us to legend,
some absurd truth that has nothing to do

with our plans, our meticulous records.
No matter what stories we discard or keep,
they will give us a life we cannot imagine.

(Jeanne Lohmann, from The Light of Invisible Bodies [source])

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Sudden, Radiant Magic

From whiskey river:

In the morning I mused
It won’t return, the magic of life
it won’t return

Suddenly in my house the sun
became alive for me
and the table with bread on it
and the flower on the table
and the glasses
And what happened to the sadness
In the sadness too, radiance.

(“Zelda” (Zelda Schneersohn Mishkovsky), from The Spectacular Difference)


Gazing at the Cascade on Lu Mountain

Where crowns a purple haze
A shimmer in sunlight rays
The hill called Incense-Burner Peak,
from far

To see, hung over the torrent’s wall,
That waterfall
Vault sheer three thousand feet, you’d say
The Milky Way
was tumbling from the heavens, star on star.

(Li Bai, a/k/a Li Po)


Stuff your eyes with wonder… Live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.

(Ray Bradbury)

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I See

Speak Coffee to Me‘s most recent “ad of the week” is this glittering little diamond, a brief film (directed by Azazel Jacobs) “about looking at art.” A nice little fable for those who just don’t get the point of so-called non-representational art, it’s from the Web site of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

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[Image above, “Where the Wild Things Are,” a tribute to Maurice Sendak
by elmicro of the deviantArt site. Click the image to see the original.]

Today marks Maurice Sendak’s 81st birthday.

This year also marks the 45th anniversary of the publication of Where the Wild Things Are.  From 100 Best Books for Children:

After creating art for almost fifty books by other authors, Sendak took up a project of his own begun in November 1955, a saga called “Where the Wild Horses Are.” But since he couldn’t draw horses very well, he tried to think of another character he might use — eventually focusing on “Wild Things.” That idea brought back childhood memories of his Brooklyn relatives — aunts, uncles, cousins — who would come visiting and eat his family food. They pinched his cheeks and cooed over him, saying, “You’re so cute, I could eat you up.” Sendak brought these relatives and the movie King Kong together in his story caldron. As Sendak drew and redrew the Wild Things — at first quite skinny and under-nourished — they gained weight and density.

The writer’s favorite fan letter reads: “How much does it cost to get to where the Wild Things are? If it is not expensive, my sister and I would like to spend the summer there.”

The book’s grip on the popular imagination — at least in the US, among the generations which have grown up since 1964 — boggles the mind. And among artists and illustrators? Pfft: words don’t suffice.

(For example, just check out, the deviantArt site where thousands of indie/professional artists display their work online. Do a search on “wild things” and you get over 12,000  hits, among them the illustration which tops this post: Max giving a Wild Thing as good as he gets.  Not all of those hits refer to the book, but a lot — I mean, a lot — of them do.)

Here’s a video of Sendak talking about “his work, childhood, [and] inspirations”:

Finally, if you follow such things you probably already know about the forthcoming film version of Where the Wild Things Are, from director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Dave Eggers. Here’s the trailer for it:

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Crossing the Line

For me, the last few days of May and the first few of June, in most years, are veined with ambivalence.

First, there’s May 29. As you may have put together by your own clever self, that’s The Missus’s and my anniversary. This has always been an easy date for me to remember, because it was also my Dad’s birthday. Somewhere around here was also my maternal grandmother’s birthday. And finally, because I have many happy childhood memories of Memorial Day — which used to fall every year on May 31 — the very end of the month always seems to carry with it an assertive whiff of celebration and commemoration.

But then we come to the small matter of June 4, 1988…

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There Are Some Cures for Pre-Summertime Blues

Wanted to draw your attention to a couple of recent donations to the “life is complex and frustrating, so let’s go have some fun!” cause.

First, you can generally look to the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog for a pick-me-up. (And before breakfast, say researchers, is when 99% of the populace most needs picking up. (The other 1% need it most while they’re sitting on barstools and fantasizing about Mr. or Ms. Right, as the case may be.))

But today’s post, “Some Cartoons for You,” just made me grin from ear to ear. (It might even have made the grin wrap around to the back of my neck — an alarming sight, no doubt, for the people behind me in the elevator this morning.) As is usually the case at 7-Imp, the focus is on children’s books and illustrators — specifically, in this case, illustrators who favor a cartoon-like style of art.

It’s pretty darned hard for me to look at this without smiling, and it’s not even the whole image (from “Mr.” [Tom] Warburton’s 1000 Times No — see a reproduction of the entire page at the 7-Imp site):

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From whiskey river:

As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.

(Native American Indian saying)

Not from whiskey river:

Don Juan and don Genaro stood up and stretched their arms and arched their backs, as if sitting had made their bodies stiff. My heart began to pound fast. They made Pablito and me stand up.

“The twilight is the crack between the worlds,” don Juan said. “It is the door to the unknown.”

He pointed with a sweeping movement of his hand to the mesa where we were standing.

“This is the plateau in front of that door.”

He pointed then to the northern edge of the mesa.

“There is the door. Beyond, there is an abyss and beyond that abyss is the unknown.”

Don Juan and don Genaro then turned to Pablito and said good-by to him. Pablito’s eyes were dilated and fixed; tears were rolling down his cheeks.

I heard don Genaro’s voice saying good-by to me, but I did not hear don Juan’s.

Don Juan and don Genaro moved towards Pablito and whispered briefly in his ears. Then they came to me. But before they had whis­pered anything I already had that peculiar feeling of being split.

“We will now be like dust on the road,” don Genaro said. “Perhaps it will get in your eyes again, someday.”

Don Juan and don Genaro stepped back and seemed to merge with the darkness. Pablito held my forearm and we said good-by to each other. Then a strange urge, a force, made me run with him to the northern edge of the mesa. I felt his arm holding me as we jumped and then I was alone.

(Carlos Castaneda, Tales of Power — the last words of the book. I always thought Castaneda’s entire “Don Juan” series would have ended perfectly at this point, but no: he went on to write numerous further books, none of which attained the convincing — and impeccable — power of the early ones.)

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