Walden Pond - Concord, MA.jpg

Quotable

The fleet astronomer can bore
And thread the spheres with his quick-piercing mind:
He views their stations, walks from door to door,
Surveys, as if he had designed
To make a purchase there; he sees their dances,
And knoweth long before
Both their full-eyed aspècts, and secret glances.
— George Herbert, Vanity (I) (1-7)

“Rip Van Winkle’s Lilac” – Melville’s Premonitory Vision of Posthumous Fame

Herman Melville read and studied the poetry of the great romantics. And so he likely had read, at least once, John Keats’s sonnet, “When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be.”

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And feel that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

Compare Keats’s sonnet with these lines of verse that conclude Melville’s prose-and-verse piece, “Rip Van Winkle’s Lilac.” Keats, young; Melville, elderly; both writing in verse to express their hope for posthumous literary fame and glory. Neither knew wide-spread fame while alive, but because of the few friends and family who did understand and appreciate their work, they each flourished creatively.

                                Came about
That neighbors, unconcerned before
When bloomed the tree by lowly door,
Craved now one little slip to train;
Neighbor from neighbor begged again.
On every hand stem shot from slip,
Till, that region now is dowered
Like the first Paradise embowered,
Thanks to poor, good-for-nothing Rip!

Some think those parts should bear his name;
But, no, — the blossoms take the fame.
Slant finger-posts by horsemen scanned
Point the green miles–To Lilac Land.
Go ride-there down one charmful lane,
O reader mine, when June’s at best,
A dream of Rip shall slack the rein,
For there his heart flowers out confessed.
And there you’ll say,–O, hard ones, truce!
See, where man finds in man no use,
Boon Nature finds one–Heaven be blest!

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Spielberg’s “Lincoln” with Daniel Day-Lewis – Going in My Collection

What a movie! See it while it is still in theaters. Daniel Day-Lewis brings Lincoln to life – he was born to play the part. Sally Fields, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones – and, of course, Director Spielberg, how many Academy Awards can one movie get? I think Tony Kushner will be remembered as much for the “Lincoln” screenplay as his wonderful, powerful screenplay for “Angels in America.”

George Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel, and Alan Turning: “The Vertigo of the Modern”

A roller coaster ride for your mind — have a look at this documentary, “Dangerous Knowledge,” on the work of Georg Cantor, Kurt Gödel, and Alan Turing. YouTube changes its offerings for all sorts of reasons, so you might need search a bit if this video link goes bad. At one point, the narrator uses a most memorable phrase to characterize what it is to be “modern”— I can only paraphrase:

The vertigo of the modern: the whirlpool of thinking about thinking about thinking about thinking . . .

Ken Nordine: Alive and Well – Word Jazz Forever

Ken Nordine - Stare with Your Ears

Ken Nordine-Stare with Your Ears

This morning I found myself remembering the early 1960′s when I used to listen to Ken Nordine on AM radio while doing homework. He was the first poet I ever heard perform and to this day I have never heard anyone deliver lines of verse better. I have been to many poetry readings, most readers have a strange, stilted, stiff, and stylized delivery that has little to do with the meaning of the words. I’m sure you know what I mean. Most singers—folk and country especially—render their lyrics with rhythms, pitch, tone, and inflection that express so much more faithfully the meaning of the lines they perform. Ken Nordine is unique in that while he does not sing his lines, the manner in which he speaks them is essentially musical–spoken song, or as he calls it, “word jazz.”

Podcasts of many of his performances and shows are available at his Word Jazz website: http://www.wordjazz.com

If you have not yet had the pleasure of hearing Ken Nordine — please, treat yourself, have a listen to his “Infinite O’Clock.”

 

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Culture, Philosophy, Humor

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Word CrimesYou may remember that about a year ago Robin Thicke's song "Blurred Lines" created a [...]

Slavoj Žižek - On IdeologyOne of the more interesting lessons Hegel's dialectical method has contributed to our understan [...]

Sean Carroll vs William Lane Craig - God and CosmologyDoes the universe need an explanation for its existence, or can it be understood as a self-containin [...]

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on the Media's Bullshit Coverage of Malaysian Flight 370The recent, and now tragic, disappearance of Malaysian Flight 370, somehow turned into a journalisti [...]

Edward Snowden - Here's How We Take Back the InternetWhatever our feelings about Edward Snowden as a person are, and what his actions say about him (hero [...]

Lucretius - De Rerum Natura - Death Is Nothing to UsAccording to the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, one of the greatest impediments to human flouri [...]

A Message from Your Kids' Teachers: You Suck!Somehow we've gotten embedded in our collective mind the idea that educating our children is so [...]

Fox News' Sexist Remarks on Hillary Clinton's AgeWe all know that since Republican presidential candidates have an uncanny ability to get caught in e [...]

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Why The Cosmos Shouldn't Make You Feel SmallAs you probably know, Carl Sagan's famous documentary series Cosmos is getting what I hope will [...]

Conservatives to Poor, Hungry People: Fuck You!Sometimes I wonder if this is all just some twisted dream, of a society run by psychopathic, corrupt [...]

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It was announced Thursday that Fresno Buddhist Temple, a Pure Land community, has made a donation of [...]

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The tent is up! This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Kimberly Arcand at the Chandra X-Ray Obse [...]

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Three Perimeter Faculty Receive NSERC Discovery GrantsMonday Jul 14, 2014 Three members of Perimeter [...]

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