Monday, January 30


It is said that all the sciences can trace their roots to Aristotle: but the science of cosmic aesthetics started with Sarutobi Sasuke, a famous ninja (a samurai who mastered many fantastic arts, including that of making himself invisible, chiefly to spy upon an enemy). The first step for a ninja is learning how to shorten distances by shrinking the earth, that is, how to transcend the law of gravity. For the satellite, this is a piece of cake. So, just as Mozart mastered the newly-invented clarinet, the satellite artist must compose his art from the beginning suitable to physical conditions and grammar. Satellite art in the superior sense does not merely transmit existing symphonies and operas to other lands. It must consider how to achieve a two-way connection between opposite sides of the earth; how to give a conversational structure to the art; how to master differences in time; how to play with improvisation, in-determinism, echos, feedbacks, and empty spaces in the Cagean sense; and how to instantaneously manage the differences in culture, preconceptions, and common sense that exist between various nations. Satellite art must make the most of these elements (for they can become strengths or weaknesses), creating a multitemporal, multispatial symphony...

-- Nam June Paik, in "Art & Satellite" Nam June Paik: Art for 25 Million People: Bon Jour Mr. Orwell: Kunst und Satellite in der Zunkunft (1984)

Nam June Paik 20 July 1932 - 29 January 2006

Sunday, January 29

complex interlocking

I find it nearly impossible free ice to write about Jeepaxle my work. The concept I planetarium struggle to deal with ketchup is opposed to the logical community lift tab inherent in language horses and communication. My fascination with images open 24 hrs. is based on the complex interlocking if disparate visual facts heated pool that have no respect for grammar. The form then Denver 39 is second hand to nothing. The work then has a chance to electric service become its own cliché. Luggage. This is the inevitable fate fair ground of any inanimate object freightways by this I mean anything that does not have inconsistency as a possibility built-in. .

The outcome of a work is based icy ice on amount of intensity concentration and joy that is pursued roadcrossing in the act of work. The character of the artist has to be responsive and lucky. Personally I have never been interested in a defensible reason post card for working achievement functionally is a delusion to do a needed work short changes art. It seems to me that a great part Indian moccasins of urgency in working lies in the fact that one acts freely friends and associates may become more closely allied with you real soon. U.S. postage stamps — sanitarily packaged — save a trip to post office shapes . . files . . cleans with key chain forget to bring it with you . . . to make something the need of which can only fishing 7 springs be determined after its existence and that judgment subject to change at any moment. 15'18". It is extremely important that art be unjustifiable.

-- Robert Rauschenberg, "Note on Painting" in Pop Art Redefined by John Russell and Suzi Gablik

Rauschenberg's Combines at the Met

Rauschenberg's photography in Studies for Chinese Summerhall

Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange (ROCI)

Saturday, January 28


What is originality? To see something that has no name as yet and hence cannot be mentioned though it stares us all in the face. The way men usually are, it takes a name to make something visible for them. Those with originality have for the most part also assigned names.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche The Gay Science
Translated by Walter Kaufmann

Gray Room

Although you sit in a room that is gray,
Except for the silver
of the straw-paper,
And pick
At your pale white gown;
Or lift one of the green beads
Of your necklace,
To let it fall;
Or gaze at your green fan
Printed with the red branches of a red willow;
Or, with one finger,
Move the leaf in the bowl—
The leaf that has fallen from the branches of the forsythia
Beside you...
What is all this?
I know how furiously your heart is beating.

-- Wallace Stevens

Thursday, January 26


After moonrise had woken me that morning, and after I had danced, I looked around. I was in a metal world. The unflawed slopes of snow on the mountains across the valley were fields of iron. The deeper moon-shadows had a tinge of blue to them; otherwise, there was no colour. Ice gleamed like tin in the moonlight. Everything was neuter greys, black and sharp silver-white. The hailstones which had fallen on me earlier lay about like shot or ball-bearings, millions of them, drifted up against each rock or nested in snow-hollows. My face felt burned by the cold. The air smelled of minerals and frost...

I began walking the monochrome ridge. These were the only sounds I could hear: the swish of my breathing, the crunch my foot made when it broke through a crust of hard snow, the wood-like groans of plate ice cracking and sinking as I stepped down on it. Once, stopping on a crag-top, I watched two stars fall in near-parallel down the long black slope of the firmament.

-- Robert Macfarlane "Nightwalking" Granta 90

on Mountains of the Mind by Robert Macfarlane

more writing by Robert Macfarlane

Tuesday, January 24

at the press of a switch

The scent organ was playing a delightfully refreshing Herbal Capriccio -- rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender, of rosemary, basil, myrtle, tarragon; a series of daring modulations through the spice keys into ambergris; and a slow return through sandalwood, camphor, cedar and new-mown hay (with occasional subtle touches of discord -- a whiff of kidney pudding, the faintest suspicion of pig's dung) back to the simple aromatics with which the piece began. The final blast of thyme died away; there was a round of applause; the lights went up. In the synthetic music machine the sound-track roll began to unwind. It was a trio for hyper-violin, super-cello and oboe-surrogate that now filled the air with its agreeable languor. Thirty or forty bars -- and then, against this instrumental background, a much more than human voice began to warble; now throaty, now from the head, now hollow as a flute, now charged with yearning harmonics, it effortlessly passed from Gaspard Forster's low record on the very frontiers of musical tone to a trilled bat-note high above the highest C to which (in 1770, at the Ducal opera of Parma, and to the astonishment of Mozart) Lucrezia Ajugari, alone of all the singers in history, once piercingly gave utterance.

-- Aldous Huxley Brave New World

Sunday, January 22

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep and take my waking slow.

Great nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

-- Theodore Roethke

Saturday, January 21

the colors of Saint Agnes

The colours in the big portasanta marble columns that stand round the altar -- a deep pink with grey inclusions -- provide the church with the keynote for its colour scheme. The background colour throughout is pale and darker grey for the marble floors and apse walls, the painted side walls, most columns, and all capitals. The pink is picked up by the eight pink marble sections of the dome over the altar, with its grey and white cornices, ribs, finials, and capitals. It deepens into porphyry in the gorgeous small columns holding up the dome, the echoing porphyry verticals of the pilasters in the apse, and the porphyry horizontal band above them; and it metamorphoses into purples in the robes of the figures in the mosaic above. Gold gleams from the mosaic background and from the ceiling; ochre and pink (an exact match for the pink of the columns) are the main colours of the ceiling, together with plum and blue for the sunken coffers...

During the annual week of festivities in honour of Saint Agnes, red and plum velvet hangings with gold embroidery clothe the apse; there are red hangings at the parapets of the gallery and also at the door to the canonry from the street. Passersby note the hangings and know that the church of Sant'Agnese is celebrating its feast. The clergy wear seventeenth-century red-and-gold vestments on the saint's special day, January 21. Pink and purple flowers (orchids on the occasions I have been there) deck the altar. The overall effect is delicate, solemn, and intensely female.

-- Margaret Visser, describing Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura in The Geometry of Love

Friday, January 20

always something more

Music is the most entirely human of the fine arts, and has the fewest analoga in nature. Its first delightfulness is simple accordance with the ear; but it is an associated thing, and recalls the deep emotions of the past with an intellectual sense of proportion. Every human feeling is greater and larger than the exciting cause, -- a proof, I think, that man is designed for a higher state of existence; and this is deeply implied in music, in which there is always something more and beyond the immediate expression.

-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge "On Poesy or Art"

Thursday, January 19

falling through space

Late one evening I stepped out of my little hut in the rice paddies of eastern Bali and found myself falling through space. Over my head the black sky was rippling with stars, densely clustered in some regions, almost blocking out the darkness between them, and more loosely scattered in other areas, pulsing and beckoning to each other. Behind them all streamed the great river of light with its several tributaries. Yet the Milky Way churned beneath me as well, for my hut was set in the middle of a large patchwork of rice paddies, separated from each other by narrow two-foot-high dikes, and these paddies were all filled with water. The surface of these pools, by day, reflected perfectly the blue sky, a reflection broken only by the thin, bright green tips of new rice. But by night the stars themselves glimmered from the surface of the paddies, and the river of light whirled through the darkness underfoot as well as above; there seemed no ground in front of my feet, only the abyss of star-studded space falling away forever.

I was no longer simply beneath the night sky, but also above it -- the immediate impression was one of weightlessness. I might have been able to reorient myself, to regain some sense of ground and gravity, were it not for a fact that confounded my senses entirely: between the constellations below and the constellations above drifted countless fireflies, their lights flickering like the stars, some drifting up to join the clusters of stars overhead, others, like graceful meteors, slipping down from above to join the constellations underfoot, and all these paths of light upward and downward were mirrored, as well, in the still surface of the paddies. I felt myself at times falling through space, at other moments floating and drifting. I simply could not dispel the profound vertigo and giddiness; the paths of the fireflies, and their reflections in the water's surface, held me in a sustained trance. Even after I crawled back to my hut and shut the door on this whirling world, I felt that now the little room in which I lay was itself floating free of the earth.

-- David Abram The Spell of the Sensuous

interview with David Abram

Monday, January 16


When Wells went to lunch at the college dining room, a group of students always gathered around his piece, watching the progress and remarking about the careful and intuitive way he was working. When he came back he would walk around the room and touch each student-piece, talk a little about it and make a few suggestions, passing easily from one table to another. It would seem that he was not really "instructing" the student. But he was a powerful presence just by his being there, especially by his working along with the students in that room day in and day out. His teaching was done by his personal presence, his atmosphere, and above all by the work he was doing among them. It was as if they were in the atelier of a fifteenth century Italian master sculptor, allowed to watch as long as they kept their hands busy working on their own pieces. This seemed to me then, as it seems to me now, the highest level of teaching. One might call it in Chinese manner the "Teaching-No-Teaching-Method."

-- William Harris "Charles Wells: Sculptor and Printmaker"

Charles Wells

Charles Wells etchings

what lies beyond

The responses to beauty in art and to beauty in nature are interdependent. As Wilde pointed out, art does more than school us on how and what to appreciate in nature. (He was thinking of poetry and painting. Today the standards of beauty in nature are largely set by photography.) What is beautiful reminds us of nature as such -- of what lies beyond the human and the made -- and thereby stimulates and deepens our sense of the sheer spread and fullness of reality, inanimate as well as pulsing, that surrounds us all.

-- Susan Sontag, in "An argument about beauty" Daedalus Fall 2005

Sunday, January 15


Their beautiful names - styrax, patchouli, frangipani, amber, myrrh, geraniol, opoponax, heliotrope - and their familiar/strange aromas attracted my curiosity, and I bought over a hundred bottles. Soon I found myself actively collecting the primary materials of perfumery - in Madrid I found a crumbling apothecary's with dozens of mysteriously labeled phials; in San Francisco I discovered the strange olfactory world of Chinatown, of five spices and jasmine and ginseng; a woman I met in Ibiza gave me a minute bottle containing just one drop of an utterly heavenly material called nardo (I later came to think that this was probably spikenard oil, extracted from a shrub growing at between six and eight thousand feet on the Himalayas and used by wealthy Indian ladies as a prelude to lovemaking).

-- Brian Eno, in "Scents and Sensibilities" Details Magazine July 1992

Friday, January 13

the color of shadows

In travelling over the Harz in winter, I happened to descend from the Brocken towards evening; the wide slopes extending above and below me, the heath, every insulated tree and projecting rock, and all masses of both, were covered with snow or hoar-frost. The sun was sinking towards the Oder ponds. During the day, owing to the yellowish hue of the snow, shadows tending to violet had already been observable; these might now be pronounced to be decidedly blue, as the illumined parts exhibited a yellow deepening to orange.

But as the sun at last was about to set, and its rays, greatly mitigated by the thicker vapours, began to diffuse a most beautiful red colour over the whole scene around me, the shadow colour changed to a green, in lightness to be compared to a sea-green, in beauty to the green of the emerald. The appearance became more and more vivid: one might have imagined oneself in a fairy world, for every object had clothed itself in the two vivid and so beautifully harmonising colours, till at last, as the sun went down, the magnificent spectacle was lost in a grey twilight, and by degrees in a clear moon-and-starlight night.

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Theory of Colours
Translated by Charles Lock Eastlake

Thursday, January 12

Words, for E

The sky is blue, or something. Anyway it's there.
Your words are hands, stroking me, stroking the sky,
Blue sky, names, people. It's marvellous. I'm king.
And your words are a line of ships. The guns fire.
Blue sky, names, people. I take the salute.

You are beautiful, sometimes. Now.
I feel for words for you. The ship rising, falling,
The horizon, a line rising, falling, behind your hair.
Words rise, spray. I like to think of you as giving
Structure. A gentleness. A constancy.

-- Tom Leonard

Wednesday, January 11


A clown in our language is called a heyoka. He is upsidedown, backward-forward, yes-and-no man, a contrarywise. Everybody can be made into a clown, from one day to another, whether he likes it or not. It is very simple to become a heyoka. All you have to do is dream about the lightning, the thunderbirds. You do this, and when you wake up in the morning you are a heyoka. There is nothing you can do about it.

Suppose you have a dream. What happens then? It is very unpleasant to talk about. What I mean is that a man who has dreamed about the thunderbirds, right away, the next morning, he's got a fear in him, a fear to perform his act. He has to act out his dream in public.

If I had a heyoka dream now which I would have to re-enact, the thunder-being would place something in that dream that I'd be ashamed of. Ashamed to do in public, ashamed to own up to. Something that's going to want me not to perform this act. And that is what's going to torment me. Having had that dream, getting up in the morning, at once I would hear this noise in the ground, just under my feet, that rumble of thunder. I'd know that before the day ends that thunder will come through and hit me, unless I perform the dream. I'm scared; I hide in the cellar; I cry; I ask for help, but there is no remedy until I have performed this act. Only this can free me. Maybe by doing it, I'll receive some power, but most people would just as soon forget about it.

The wise old people know that the clowns are thunder-dreamers, that the thunder-beings commanded them to act in a silly way, each heyoka according to his dream. They also know that a heyoka protects the people from lightning and storms and that his capers, which make people laugh, are holy. Laughter -- that is something very sacred, especially for us Indians.

-- John Fire and Richard Erdoes Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions

Monday, January 9


Did not Goethe speak of those "objects that favor man"? If we would hear an object invite us to enjoy life, if we would hear this excellent advice to be happy in the world of things, in the "order of things," let us reread the passage in which Brosse is meditating on that loveliest of all fruits -- the peach.

It is round. Objects of happiness are always round. Happiness rounds out everything it enters. But the peach's roundness is of course a full, substantial, inner roundness. This is no mere embodiment of some Platonic form in a geometry of ideas; the ball formed by the peach will never be a sphere. Its perfection stems from its irregularities. "The peach is irregular, like flesh and, like flesh, resistant to all geometrical synthesis."

-- Gaston Bachelard, in the preface to L'ordre des choses by Jacques Brosse
Translated by J.A. Underwood

Friday, January 6


As far back as I can remember, things seen or heard or smelled, things tasted or touched, have provoked in me an answering vibration. The stimulus might be the sheen of moonlight on the needles of a white pine, or the iridescent glimmer on a dragonfly's tail, or the lean silhouette of a ladder-back chair, or the glaze on a hand-thrown pot. It might be bird song or a Bach cantata or the purl of water over stone. It might be a line of poetry, the outline of a cheek, the arch of a ceiling, the savor of bread, the sway of a bough or a bow. The provocation might be as grand as a mountain sunrise or as humble as an icicle's jeweled tip, yet in each case a familiar surge of gratitude and wonder wells up in me.

Now and again some voice raised on the stairs leading to my study, some passage of music, some noise from the street, will stir a sympathetic thrum from the strings of the guitar that tilts against the wall behind my door. Just so, over and over again, impulses from the world stir a responsive chord in me -- not just any chord, but a particular one, combining notes of elegance, exhilaration, simplicity, and awe.

-- Scott Russell Sanders Hunting for Hope

Thursday, January 5


The faculty of creating is never given to us all by itself. It always goes hand in hand with the gift of observation. And the true creator may be recognized by his ability always to find about him, in the commonest and humblest thing, items worthy of note. He does not have to concern himself with a beautiful landscape, he does not need to surround himself with rare and precious objects. He does not have to put forth in search of discoveries: they are always within his reach. He will have only to cast a glance about him. Familiar things, things that are everywhere, attract his attention. The least accident holds his interest and guides his operations. If his finger slips, he will notice it; on occasion, he may draw profit from something unforeseen that a momentary lapse reveals to him.

-- Igor Stravinsky Poetics of Music
Translated by Arthur Knodel and Ingolf Dahl

Wednesday, January 4

the green man

I turned the radio on, mid-sentence. A distant voice from the BBC World Service was describing something very strange - a face made out of leaves, a pagan carved image found in Christian cathedrals, a descendant of the horned god of the woods, the spirit of nature, lover of the Goddess.

-- Nigel Rushbrook, from Canterbury Green Man

... our universe came into existence in its particular form so that God could look on his works through our unclouded eyes. The Green Man, watcher and transmitter of life, is a perfect symbol of this process. If we take this image to look inwards, then we see the dark garden of the imagination woken up by the rays of the sun of consciousness. That dawn sets in train the process of psychic photosynthesis through which the symbols of the soul are renewed and flourish.

-- William Anderson The Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth

Like antlers, like veins of the brain the branches
Mark patterns of mind on the red winter sky;
'I am thought of all plants,' says the Green Man,
'I am thought of all plants,' says he.

The hungry birds harry the last berries of rowan
But white is her bark in the darkness of rain;
'I rise with the sap,' says the Green Man,
'I rise with the sap,' says he.

The ashes are clashing their boughs like sword-dancers,
Their black buds are tracing wild faces in the clouds;
'I come with the wind,' says the Green Man,
'I come with the wind,' says he.

The alders are rattling as though ready for battle
Guarding the grove where she waits for her lover.
'I burn with desire,' says the Green Man,
'I burn with desire,' says he.

In and out of the yellowing wands of the willow
The pollen-bright bees are plundering the catkins;
'I am honey of love,' says the Green Man,
'I am honey of love,' says he.

The hedges of quick are thick with may blossom
As the dancers advance on the leaf-covered King;
'It's off with my head,' says the Green Man,
'It's off with my head,' says he.

Green Man becomes grown man in flames of the oak
As its crown forms his mask and its leafage his features;
'I speak through the oak,' says the Green Man,
'I speak through the oak,' says he.

The holly is flowering as hayfields are rolling
Their gleaming long grasses like waves of the sea;
'I shine with the sun,' says the Green Man,
'I shine with the sun,' says he.

The hazels are rocking the cups of their nuts
As the harvesters shout when the last sheaf is cut;
'I swim with the salmon,' says the Green Man,
'I swim with the salmon,' says he.

The globes of the grapes are robing with bloom
Like the hazes of autumn, like the Milky Way's stardust;
'I am crushed for your drink,' says the Green Man,
'I am crushed for your drink,' says he.

The aspen drops silver of leaves on earth's salver
And the poplars shed gold on the young ivy flowerheads;
'I have paid for your pleasure,' says the Green Man,
'I have paid for your pleasure,' says he.

The reedbeds are flanking in silence the islands
Where meditates Wisdom as she waits and waits;
'I have kept her secret,' says the Green Man,
'I have kept her secret,' says he.

The bark of the elder makes whistles for children
To call to the deer as they rove over the snow.
'I am born in the dark,' says the Green Man,
'I am born in the dark,' says he.

-- William Anderson

Tuesday, January 3


"And what of this?" says an airy spark, no friend to meditation or deep thought. "What means this catalogue or scale, as you are pleased to call it? Only, sir, to satisfy myself that I am not alone or single in a certain fancy I have of a thing called beauty; that I have almost the whole world for my companions; and that each of us admirers and earnest pursuers of beauty (such as in a manner we all are) if peradventure we take not a certain sagacity along with us, we must err widely, range extravagantly, and run ever upon a false scent. We may (in the sportsman's phrase) have many hares afoot, but shall stick to no real game, nor be fortunate in any capture which may content us.

"See with what ardour and vehemence the young man, neglecting his proper race and fellow-creatures, and forgetting what is decent, handsome, or becoming in human affairs, pursues these species in those common objects of his affection, a horse, a hound, a hawk! What doting on these beauties! What admiration of the kind itself! And of the particular animal, what care, and in a manner idolatry and consecration, when the beast beloved is (as often happens) even set apart from use, and only kept to gaze on and feed the enamoured fancy with highest delight! See in another youth, not so forgetful of human kind, but remembering it still in a wrong way! Φιλόκαλος of another sort, a Chaerca. Quam elegans formarum spectator! See as to other beauties, where there is no possession, no enjoyment or reward, but barely seeing and admiring; as in the virtuoso-passion, the love of painting and the designing arts of every kind so often observed. How fares it with our princely genius, our grandee who assembles all these beauties, and within the bounds of his sumptuous palace incloses all these graces of a thousand kinds? What pains! study! science! Behold the disposition and order of these finer sorts of apartments, gardens, villas! The kind of harmony to the eye from the various shapes and colours agreeably mixed and ranged in lines, intercrossing without confusion, and fortunately coincident. A parterre, cypresses, groves, wildernesses. Statues here and there of virtue, fortitude, temperance. Heroes' busts, philosophers' heads, with suitable mottoes and inscriptions. Solemn representations of things deeply natural -- caves, grottoes, rocks, urns and obelisks in retired places and disposed at proper distances and points of sight, with all those symmetries which silently express a reigning order, peace, harmony, and beauty! ... But what is there answerable to this in the minds of the possessors? What possession or propriety is theirs? What constancy or security of enjoyment? What peace, what harmony within?"

--Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times

Monday, January 2

tasting notes for Thomas Hardy's Ale

1993 Immature aroma; sweet, fruity, and noticeably alcoholic. A slightly saline front on the palate, a peach and apricot sweetness, and a warming brandy-like finish.

1990 Very full, complex aroma, with a deep fruitiness and notes of burnt toast, dark chocolate, and anise. Well-developed body, with lingering alcohol on the finish.

1987 The fruitiness had aged out of this one, leaving a curious chocolate-mint aroma. Thin body, with notes of chocolate, fresh dates, and burnt spice. Quick finish.

1987 This was a special additional bottling of the '87, aged in sherry casks. A huge, smoky aroma; a woody body with notes of vanilla bean, sherry, and black cherry. An unusually dry finish.

1984 Spoiled. Black cherry, currant, and licorice in the aroma. Tart, acidic body and finish.

1982 Some deterioration, with bitter chocolate, anise, and mulled fruit in the aroma, and sour cherry, bitter chocolate, and red and black currants in the musty, astringent body. Woody, bitter-sour finish.

1974 Complex nose, suggesting chocolate, caramel, dates, allspice, roasted chestnuts, marshmallows, and other aromas. The body had more in common with whiskey than with beer -- very dry, with notes of wood, walnuts, bitter chocolate, and a hint of brine. The finish was drier still and very woody.

1968 Rich, full aroma with notes of crème brûlée, cognac, bitter chocolate, and tanned leather. Lightly fruity and tannic in the front, leading to a complex body of burnt wood, dried black currants, vintage port, fino sherry, and a faint hint of bitter chocolate. Lingering, off-dry finish with a suggestion of fresh dates.

-- Stephen Beaumont, in "The Brewer of Casterbridge" Saveur No.4 (1995)

Sunday, January 1


I am not what I am, and I am what I am not.

-- Jean-Paul Sartre  Being and Nothingness