Beauty, dark goddess,
We met and parted
As though we parted not.
Like two stopped watches
In a dusty store window,
One golden morning of time.
They crossed before the sun and vanished one by one and reappeared again and they were black in the sun and they rode out of that vanished sea like burnt phantoms with the legs of the animals kicking up the spume that was not real and they were lost in the sun and lost in the lake and they shimmered and slurred together and separated again and they augmented by planes in lurid avatars and began to coalesce and there began to appear above them in the dawn-broached sky a hellish likeness of their ranks riding huge and inverted and the horses’ legs incredibly elongate trampling down the high thin cirrus and the howling antiwarriors pendant from their mounts immense and chimeric and the high wild cries carrying that flat and barren pan like the cries of souls broke through some misweave in the weft of things into the world below.
Miss Rossignol lived in the lazaretto
For Roman Catholic crones; she had white skin,
And underneath it, fine, old-fashioned bones;
Shew flew like bats to vespers every twilight,
The living Magdalen of Donatello;
And tipsy as a bottle when she stalked
On stilted legs to fetch the morning milk,
In a black shawl harnessed by rusty brooches.
My mother warned us how that flesh knew silk
Coursing a green estate in gilded coaches.
While Miss Rossignol, in the cathedral loft,
Sang to her one dead child, a tattered saint
Whose pride had paupered beauty to this witch
Who was so fine once, whose hands were so soft.
In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees.
…from The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey, a debut novel, a magnificent story, a beautiful little crystal of a book and enough evidence for me to bet that as a kid Miss Ivey read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe twice, upset that C.S. Lewis didn’t really know snow.
I’ve often remarked that music to the United States is as wine is to France. It’s one of those never-ending stories.
…T-Bone Burnett, a man whose musical consciousness is unfathomable, who is among America’s greatest cultural forces in the last half century, describing American Epic to Rolling Stone, and making me so excited it hurts.
To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.
The silence of the next few days must have been louder than the sound of all the music ever played since time began.
All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it. And even then, on the rare occasions when something opens within, and the music enters, what we mainly hear, or hear corroborated, are personal, private, vanishing evocations. But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him, then, is of another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant, too, for that same reason. And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours.
The kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing. He who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses it.
The world is a sacred instrument
One cannot control it
The one who controls it will fail
The one who grasps it will lose
People are mysterious entities-
try to take hold of them and you will only lose them.
Thus, sometimes it is better to show the way,
and sometimes it is better to follow.
…three translations from Chapter 29 of the Dao De Jing, which was written a few years back.
That night they rode through a region electric and wild where strange shapes of soft blue fire ran over the metal of the horses’ trappings and the wagonwheels rolled in hoops of fire and little shapes of pale blue light came to perch in the ears of the horses and in the beards of the men. All night sheetlightning quaked sourceless to the west beyond the midnight thunderheads, making a bluish day of the distant desert, the mountains on the sudden skyline stark and black and livid like a land of some other order out there whose true geology was not stone but fear. The thunder moved up from the southwest and lightning lit the desert all about them, blue and barren, great clanging reaches ordered out of the absolute night like some demon kingdom summoned up or changeling land that come the day would leave them neither trace nor smoke nor ruin more than any troubling dream.
Hurley’s population is estimated a bit above 3,000. On game nights, it can feel as if all of them are at The Cliff, a one-of-a-kind stadium where Smiley Ratliff Field is blasted out of rock. Behind one end zone, and behind most of one sideline, is sheer stone. You can get a stiff neck peering up to the tree-topped summit.
This is a good article. A good, accurate, respectful, aware and thoughtful piece of journalism. It involves Appalachia, coal miners, blacks with confederate flag tattoos and high schools with the same painted on their doors, and it’s decent. Not click-bait. Just right and accurate and true. It doesn’t point fingers, doesn’t moralize, doesn’t try to polarize the world or poke fun or turn anyone into a villain.
Amazing. I’m utterly shocked.
Lying is universal – we all do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others’ advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling.
The book was in her lap; she had read no further. The power to change one’s life comes from a paragraph, a lone remark. The lines that penetrate us are slender, like the flukes that live in river water and enter the bodies of swimmers. She was excited, filled with strength. The polished sentences had arrived, it seemed, like so many other things, at just the right time. How can we imagine what our lives should be without the illumination of the lives of others?
Uncle Pumblechook: a large hard-breathing middle-aged slow man, with a mouth like a fish, dull staring eyes, and sandy hair standing upright on his head, so that he looked as if he had just been all but choked, and had that moment come to.
People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands – literally thousands – of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.
Love’s pure free joy when it works, but when it goes bad you pay for the good hours at loan-shark prices.
He was doing quite well until the last sentence, but if you bare your arse to a vengeful unicorn, the number of possible outcomes dwindles to one.
The Internet blew up this week. We learned that 8,000 Chinese students withdrew from US colleges in 2013-2014, for (cough cough whisper….) bad grades, or, perhaps, in some cases… (clear throat) CHEATING! Dun dun dunnnn! Cue all of America collectively seething in righteous fury.
Yet none of the thousand articles written made light of the fact that there were 275,000 Chinese students in America that year. That means a 2.9% withdrawal rate. The same year, DOMESTIC American college students couldn’t turn in a 6-year graduation rate above 60%, and our educators rejoiced that our HIGH SCHOOL drop-out rate dropped from 20% to 19%!
In case math bullied you on the playground, let’s look again. 2.9% of Chinese students in America leave college. 20% of American students leave high school. 40% of American students need 6 years to complete a 4-year degree, and accrue, on average, $35,000+ in debt while doing so.
I don’t even know why I read newspapers.
Julián had once told me that a story is a letter the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.
…from a book that easily and silently slid into no less than the #3 spot on my all-time favorite book list.
“Looking at Appalachia Anew,” says the New York Times, before immediately posting pictures of kids swimming in a river and herding goats. Unbelievable. That’s like saying “The new face of black America!” then posting pictures of Neon and Butch McRae.
Thoughtful and honest journalism from America’s most stalwart news source, folks.
Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.
…from The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, and my current obsession, which I’m fairly certain is the only obsession I’ve ever had. My older brother recommended this book to me a few months ago, and my regret at not having followed his advice a few months sooner only proves the value in having older brothers.
Rest in peace, Mr. King…
(Jump to 33:50 if you like magic…)
Gentlemen, he said
I don’t need your organization, I’ve shined your shoes
I’ve moved your mountains and marked your cards
But Eden is burning, either brace yourself for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards
…Changing of the Guards, Track #1 off of Bobby D-Bop‘s 1978 album Street Legal. It’s a pretty miserable song, actually, until you hear Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem sing it on what is likely the greatest compilation album of all time, and then, suddenly, it’s such a great protest song you don’t know what you’re protesting.
Rocking live version: